Did Mary Sin?

When I was looking sympathetically into Eastern Orthodoxy, statements like this bothered me.  It could have been because I was an evil Western logical Protestant, but still.  Logic and Augustino-Paul aside, something just seems off with this:

The ‘middle wall and barrier of enmity’ were of no account to her; indeed, everything that divided the human race from God was abolished as far as she was concerned. Even before the common reconciliation, she alone had made peace with God; or rather, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning she stood foremost in the choir of the friends of God.” –

St. Nicholas Cabasilas (Homily on the Annunciation)

O victorious leader of triumphant hosts! We your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, O Theotokos! As you possess invincible might,(that kind of language is usually used about divinity; yikes) set us free from every calamity so that we may sing: Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

-from the Akathist to the Mother of God, although not part of the original. This First Kontakion was added after the siege of Constantinople.   The language of unwedded bride is simply bad.  She was wed.  With Joseph.  The Bible intimates she had sex with Joseph.  God’s law said one could divorce the other if one refused sex.  Hebrews would have wanted to have married sex.  Unless they were influenced by Greek Alexandria. 

The Life-Giving Font”


“O most favored by God, you confer on me the healing of your grace from your inexhaustible Spring. Therefore, since you gave birth incomprehensibly to the Word, I implore you to refresh me with the dew of your grace that I might cry to you: Hail, O Water of salvation.”

What does the hymn mean by “inexhaustible spring?”  Anchorites are quick to say that even though they invoke Mary for salvation, it’s really Jesus that saves.  Even if that distinction holds, this line weakens it. I’ll assume that inexhaustible Spring means Jesus, and what’s really at stake is that Mary was the economia of bringing salvation into the world.  That interpretation could work, but if that’s true then why isn’t it in the past tense?  Economia is historical language.  Why are they invoking it now?  Secondly, it seems to place Mary in a hierarchical scheme between us and Jesus.  This validates Tillich’s charge that the saints replaced the Forms in ancient thought.


17 comments on “Did Mary Sin?

  1. Mary sins in both John 2 and Luke 2…

    • Yes. It’s interesting to read The Orthodox Study Bible’s glosses on those verses.

    • John says:

      Care to elaborate, especially on where she sinned in Luke 2? Even as a Protestant, I never assumed that Mary committed a sin in chapter 2 of both Luke and John when I read through them, Although someone might be inclined to think so if they had a theological axe to grind.

      • Eric Castleman says:

        No, just claims is all they have. Remember, some people have even argued that Jesus sinned when He asked for the cup to pass from Him.

    • Eric Castleman says:

      I can only guess that Luke 2:50 is what you are referring to. If so, then the mere assumption that Mary didn’t “understand” what Jesus was saying for you means she sinned. How does sinlessness mean complete understanding of all the mysteries of God relate? That seems rest on a view of simplicity as it relates to the beatific vision etc.

  2. David says:


    I just stumbled upon your blog today, and I’m both surprised and delighted! I engaged with several EO folk (including Perry, on occasion) as an undergrad, before going to study under Dr. Horton at WSCal.

    Is there any way for me to get in touch with you privately (without either of us giving out our e-mails publicly)?

    • Eric Castleman says:

      I read your paper on divine simplicity, and it sucked. You just claim that unity = one in the singular sense, which is exactly what the Orthodox argue against.

      Secondly, you cite Garten as and Orthodox source, which he isn’t, but merely an Orthodox laymen, though a very well read one, and one I respect. If you just were to ask him, he would have told you that unity or oneness doesn’t necessarily mean numerical one, and last time I checked the bible speaks of unity and being one in the plural, which your gloss doesn’t allow for.

      • Show common courtesy, please.

      • Eric Castleman says:

        Since I can’t reply to your reply BH, I will just comment here. If common courtesy is referring to Orthodox by names we do not refer to ourselves as, like “anchorite” then I guess I don’t follow what you are asking of me.

  3. David says:

    If you’re at all willing to communicate, I can leave my e-mail address in a subsequent comment and you can simply delete it prior to moderation.

  4. Eric Castleman says:

    What is this “sympathetic” garbage you are claiming? If sympathetic means completely agreeing with Orthodox Christology, Orthodox claims in general, the rejection of reformed theology as a non Christian theological view, then I guess you can use that word.

    • So, I don’t hear from you in ages and then all of a sudden you come ranting here? I mean, feel free to vent if it makes you feel better but keep in mind this is a semi-public forum and when “those on the fence” see your rhetoric, they might accidentally take it as the pinnacle for Orthodox apologetics. I would hate for that to happen.

      • Eric Castleman says:

        The door has always been open for you to converse with me and everyone else, and so not hearing from me in a year isn’t my fault.

  5. Anchorite is a derivative of monachos. It’s not perjorative. It is common in the older literature (but not as much now, I suppose).

  6. I’m not pointing blame but your appearance and ranting here just seemed kind…odd and out of context. I am not aware of where you are blogging and I don’t seek out Orthodox blogs to “refute” them (indeed, OrthodoxBridge just lifted their ban against me; and Energetic Procession hasn’t really updated in forever).

    The Orthodox blogs that I do like (NFTU and Orthodox Nationalist) are somewhat out of the mainstream and really aren’t comment-able.

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