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Author Topic: Ethiopian Orthodox and the Immaculate Conception  (Read 28339 times) Average Rating: 5
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: October 05, 2009, 03:39:13 PM »

A friend of mine at my Eastern Orthodox parish told me that the Ethiopian Church believes in the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.  Is this correct?
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 03:42:37 PM »

They might be referecing to the 96th chapter of the Kebra Nagast:
Quote
He cleansed eve's body and sanctified it and made for it a dwelling in her for adam's salvation. She [i.e., mary] was born without blemish, for He made her pure, without pollution, and she redeemed his debt without carnal union and embrace...Through the transgression of eve we died and were buried, and by the purity of mary we receive honour, and are exalted to the heights
I found the reference on the wikipedia, so I can't say how accurate the translation might be.

In Christ,  Alex
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 01:46:07 AM »

They might be referecing to the 96th chapter of the Kebra Nagast:
Quote
He cleansed eve's body and sanctified it and made for it a dwelling in her for adam's salvation. She [i.e., mary] was born without blemish, for He made her pure, without pollution, and she redeemed his debt without carnal union and embrace...Through the transgression of eve we died and were buried, and by the purity of mary we receive honour, and are exalted to the heights
I found the reference on the wikipedia, so I can't say how accurate the translation might be.

In Christ,  Alex

Well, I don't think this quote is from the Kebra Nagast. The Kebra Nagast deals primarily with Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and the Ark of the Covenant.

I am afraid I don't exactly know the answer to the question though. The best source on the EOTC teaching on Our lady is the Wudasse Mariyam: Hymns of Praise to the Holy Virgin Mary.

You may find something helpful here:
http://eotcbooks.com/index.html

But I'm sure brothers Hiywot, AmdeTsion, HaileAmanuel, or AmdeBirhan can answer your question.

Selam
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 02:13:41 AM »

A friend of mine at my Eastern Orthodox parish told me that the Ethiopian Church believes in the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.  Is this correct?

Bishop Matthias in the United States took action against an Ethiopian priest who rejected the Immaculate Conception.  The parishioners have appealed to Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church.  Pope Shenouda rejected the Immaculate Conception in his book on the Holy Mother of God
 
Extract from letter to Pope Shenouda
Source :: http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/Letter_to_HH%20Shenouda.pdf

As you may recall from our letter and documents that we sent your Holiness about
four years ago, our church in the State of Kansas suffered a crisis due to the Roman
Catholic Immaculate Conception Doctrinal issue. Hoping to resolve the issue and also
to affirm the true teachings of our holy Fathers, we sought the help of His Grace
Archbishop Matthias who was at the time the representative of the Ethiopian
Orthodox Tewahido Church Diocese of North America. However, to our dismay and
surprise, he declared "the Immaculate Conception teaching" of the Roman Catholic
Church as an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Doctrine. Adding insult to injury, he
banned our priest, Father Asteraye Tsige from the church for rejecting the Immaculate
Conception teachings and for defending the true Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Orthodox
faith that you your Holiness affirmed in your Book:

Name of the book: The Holy Virgin St. Mary
Author: His Holiness Pope Shenouda ill
Editor: Orthodox Coptic Clerical College, Cairo
Edition: 1999
Press: Amba Rueiss, (Offset)
Deposition number at "The Library": 9173/96

"THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY IN THE CHURCH'S FAITH"

The Orthodox Coptic Church honors our Lady The Virgin with due
honor without exaggeration, and without lessening ofherposition. <snip>

The sanctifying by the Holy Spirit of her depository, makes the
One born of her, be conceived without the impurity of the original sin. As
for The Virgin herself, her mother conceived, like all people, and so The
Virgin said in her hymn: "my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior"
(Luke 1:47). That is why the Church does not agree that The Virgin was
conceived without the impurity of the original sin, as our brothers the
Catholics believe.
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AlexanderOfBergamo
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 08:15:30 AM »

So, can we say that the Ethiopians are just more akin to embrace the concept of Immaculate Conception then the other Eastern and Oriental Orthodox?
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 08:36:43 AM »

So, can we say that the Ethiopians are just more akin to embrace the concept of Immaculate Conception then the other Eastern and Oriental Orthodox?
I think we would need more evidence than just something from one Ethiopian bishop.

I give more credence to what Pope Shenouda says because he holds the position of primatial responsibility in his Church and he was willing to state it formally in a book.
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 09:02:13 AM »

In fact I don't doubt of Pope Shenouda's position (he's indeed a great man of God). I only guess that some elements in the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church might be easily misunderstood or misrepresented, especially in a diaspora setting where words in translation might be affected by a RC approach.
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 04:44:55 AM »

I am posting this not to debate on the issue but to give an answer to the original post.

We the Tewahidos do not use the term “immaculate conception”. We simply say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is free from original sin. We call original sin in ge’ez as “tinte te’abiso” and we say that Mariam is free from “tinte te’abiso”.

The Kibre Negest, as quoted in wiki, has correctly indicated that Mariam is free from original sin. The Kibre Negest says: “But in His mercy God the Father created the pearl in the body of Adam; he cleansed Eve’s body and sanctified it and made it into a dwelling for Adam’s salvation. Thus Mary was born without blemish, for He made Her pure without pollution.”  Yes Ezekiel’s sealed door was truly sealed with a great marvelous seal so that original sin does not pollute it. The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Adam’s original sin.

She is free from original sin because She is the tabernacle not only of God the Son. God the Father dwelt in her to strengthen Her and God the Holy Spirit dwelt in Her to keep her pure. The Holy Spirit protected Her in her mother’s womb and prepared Her to be His tabernacle. That is why David, Her father, said “God is in the midst of Her and She shall not be moved”. Solomon also, in his songs, praised her by saying: “Thou are all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.”

Aba Giorgis of Gasicha, a 14th C. Ethiopian theologian has said in his book known as “The book of mysteries”: He who does not know sin took the flesh of sinners and judged sin. He took flesh from the daughter of sinners, who herself, is but pure in flesh and soul. Her father’s sin did not touch Her Son.”

Regards,

Hiywot
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2009, 05:37:13 AM »

I am posting this not to debate on the issue but to give an answer to the original post.

We the Tewahidos do not use the term “immaculate conception”. We simply say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is free from original sin. We call original sin in ge’ez as “tinte te’abiso” and we say that Mariam is free from “tinte te’abiso”.

The Kibre Negest, as quoted in wiki, has correctly indicated that Mariam is free from original sin. The Kibre Negest says: “But in His mercy God the Father created the pearl in the body of Adam; he cleansed Eve’s body and sanctified it and made it into a dwelling for Adam’s salvation. Thus Mary was born without blemish, for He made Her pure without pollution.”  Yes Ezekiel’s sealed door was truly sealed with a great marvelous seal so that original sin does not pollute it. The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Adam’s original sin.

She is free from original sin because She is the tabernacle not only of God the Son. God the Father dwelt in her to strengthen Her and God the Holy Spirit dwelt in Her to keep her pure. The Holy Spirit protected Her in her mother’s womb and prepared Her to be His tabernacle. That is why David, Her father, said “God is in the midst of Her and She shall not be moved”. Solomon also, in his songs, praised her by saying: “Thou are all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.”

Aba Giorgis of Gasicha, a 14th C. Ethiopian theologian has said in his book known as “The book of mysteries”: He who does not know sin took the flesh of sinners and judged sin. He took flesh from the daughter of sinners, who herself, is but pure in flesh and soul. Her father’s sin did not touch Her Son.”

Regards,

Hiywot

Thank you Hiywot.

Is "The Book of Mysteries" by Aba Giorgis available in English?

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

In regards to Our Lady's nature: does our EOTC Church teach the same doctrine as all other non-Chalcedonian Churches regarding her being born without original sin? What about the EO Churches? It seems that there may be a difference of opinion amongst them.

I'm not trying to cause controversy, just trying to understand all the Orthodox positions so that I can adequately answer Protestants and Catholics who will ask me about this issue.

Thank you again my brother.

Selam
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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2009, 08:00:33 AM »

I know I may be pedant, but I feel a need to have an answer which is linked directly to the subject.
Is the expression "tinte te’abiso", which you translate as "original sin", the same as the RC doctrine of Original Sin, or is it akin to the parallel EO "ancestral sin"? In other words, what kind of "sin" or "burden" did Mary never inherit from our ancestor Adam?
It would be very useful at this point of the discussion, so that we can figure out if the EOTC is nearer on this issue to the RCC or the EOC.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2009, 12:23:56 AM »

In regards to Our Lady's nature: does our EOTC Church teach the same doctrine as all other non-Chalcedonian Churches regarding her being born without original sin?

In the book Welcome to the Armenian Church, published by the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America in 2004, it states that the teaching that the Virgin Mary "is considered to have been conceived immaculately without sin" is not a teaching of the Armenian Church. (page 39)

http://www.stvartanbookstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=5247
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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2009, 08:43:26 AM »

Gebre Menfes Kidus
“The book of mystery” by Aba Giorgis is not available in English. I was just using my Amharic copy.

The kebra Negest, also available in another version known as “Dirsane tsion” has also written about the Blessed Virgin Mary, referring to her as Our Mother Tsion simply because She is the true Arc of the Covenant.

In regards to Our Lady, Our Church teaches the same thing with other non-Chalcedonian churches. The question of original sin or ancestral sin for me is not an issue that should divide us. Even some of our Tewahido scholars argue among themselves on this matter.

AlexanderOfBergamo
What I want to assure you is that Our Church is nearer to the EOC on this issue than the RCC.

Regards,

Hiywot
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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2009, 10:26:13 AM »

This makes me happy, Hiywot!
Thx for the information!

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2009, 03:30:36 AM »

Wow...I learn something new everyday.  This puts things further into perspective for me.

Thank you Hiywot.

Fr. Ambrose, how do you find these things?  These seems to be a very recent controversy.  If you're subscribed to some sort of "OO News of Interest" email list, I'd like to join.
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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2009, 03:43:56 AM »

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

The relevant quote is from chapter 96.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/kebra_nagast/kn096.htm
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2009, 03:55:50 AM »

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

The relevant quote is from chapter 96.

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/kebra_nagast/kn096.htm

Thanks.

Man, I let a Catholic friend borrow my copy of the Kebra Nagast about two years ago, and she still hasn't returned it! Makes me frustrated, because I had a lot of notes in it, and many important passages underlined. I need to track it down. Glad to have this online link in the mean time though.

Selam
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2009, 04:05:03 AM »


Fr. Ambrose, how do you find these things?  These seems to be a very recent controversy.

I have the impression that the Coptic Orthodox and the Armenian do not accept the Immaculate Conception.  As for the Ethiopian Orthodox we know that Bishop Matthias in the States believes it strongly enough to discipline a priest who rejected it.  Such a strong action on his part seems to indicate that he would have the backing of the Ethiopian hierarchy if the priest challenged him.

Has Fr Peter Farrington from the UK been writing here lately?  It would be good to have his input.


Quote
  If you're subscribed to some sort of "OO News of Interest" email list, I'd like to join.

No, I don't know of such a list devoted only to OO news.  Fr Peter probably has this information at his fingertips.   

Quite a lot of news of the Oriental Churches flows through the Yahoo list Orthodoxnews but it is mixed with mainly Byzantine Orthodox news.
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2009, 02:24:17 PM »

Ethiopian Orthodox and the Immaculate Conception we need to debate on this issue.

Bishop Matthias in the United States in (2005) took action against a well Educated Ethiopian priest who rejected the “Immaculate Conception” as a catholic dogma it was rejected by all orthodox in 1854, the orthodox churches in Kansas city Russia, Serbia, Greece, Armenia, and Coptic they stand with the Ethiopian priest us he rejected the Immaculate Conception as a catholic dogma.  The parishioners have appealed to the Ethiopian orthodox Tewahedo church Synod back home in Addis Ababa but for the last 5 years no respond so the parishioners appealed to the oriental sister church His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church.  Pope Shenouda rejected the Immaculate Conception in his book on the Holy Mother of God and further more His Grace Bishop David, General Bishop and Patriarchal Exarch in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, Archdiocese of North America. Send a latter confirming the orthodox believes see the link below. They send HG Bishop Makarius, General Bishop, he come to Kansas City August 15, 2009 at St Mark Coptic Orthodox Church to teach & explain the Coptic Orthodox Church understanding and believe on the Immaculate Conception as a catholic dogma.
 
http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/HG%20Bisop_David-Letter.pdf
http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/Letter_to_HH%20Shenouda.pdf
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2009, 07:59:50 PM »

Thank you for the information, Solomon, and welcome to the forum!  We look forward to your posts.   Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2009, 09:14:48 PM »

I didn't realize that all of the controversy was right here in Kansas City!  Plenty of Ethiopians come to my Serbian parish.
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« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2009, 03:41:17 AM »

I didn't realize that all of the controversy was right here in Kansas City!  Plenty of Ethiopians come to my Serbian parish.

Hi Alveus that the reason the two Ethiopian orthodox Church split in kansas city by Bishop Matthias decision but with the support of orthodox Church's in Kansas city they offer us every thing with our straggle specially St Gorge Serbian orthodox church we are grateful for there support and have them as sister church. now we have our own church the old St Gorge Serbian orthodox church we like all orthodox church to clearly state there view in this Immaculate Conception a catholic dogma and ask the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church for explanation. His Holiness Patriarch Abune Paulos wrote in dissertation 1988 from Prinston Theological seminary "Filsata The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary And the Mariological tradition of the Ethiopian orthodox tewahedo church'" link below for the pdf.

His Holiness Patriarch Abune Paulos wrote in his dissertation 1988 from Prinston Theological seminary
http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/Filsata.pdf

The Protocol Between The Coptic Orthodox Church (COC) and. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church(EOTC) April 2008
http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/commondec2008eng.pdf
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« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2009, 08:10:32 AM »

We simply say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is free from original sin. We call original sin in ge’ez as “tinte te’abiso” and we say that Mariam is free from “tinte te’abiso”. . . . The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Adam’s original sin.

So the Ethiopian Orthodox believe, as Catholics do, that everyone, except for the Theotokos and Jesus Christ, was born with the sin of Adam (i.e. with the guilt itself, not only with the original sin's effects)?

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

Do you have this version: http://www.amazon.com/Kebra-Negast-Rastafarian-Ethiopia-Jamaica/dp/0312167938 ? If so, then it's not even the original Kebra Nagast. It's a contemporary compilation of some portions of KN and some other stuff. It was done by Gerald Hausman (http://www.geraldhausman.com/images/hausman.jpg), a folk stories writer, who has nothing to do with Ethiopia or the EOTC.
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2009, 08:13:05 AM »

We simply say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is free from original sin. We call original sin in ge’ez as “tinte te’abiso” and we say that Mariam is free from “tinte te’abiso”. . . . The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Adam’s original sin.

So the Ethiopian Orthodox believe, as Catholics do, that everyone, except for the Theotokos and Jesus Christ, was born with the sin of Adam (i.e. with the guilt itself, not only with the original sin's effects)?

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

Do you have this version: http://www.amazon.com/Kebra-Negast-Rastafarian-Ethiopia-Jamaica/dp/0312167938 ? If so, then it's not even the original Kebra Nagast. It's a contemporary compilation of some portions of KN and some other stuff. It was made by Gerald Hausman (http://www.geraldhausman.com/images/hausman.jpg), a folk stories writer, who has nothing to do with Ethiopia or the EOTC.
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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2009, 02:29:04 PM »

We simply say that the Blessed Virgin Mary is free from original sin. We call original sin in ge’ez as “tinte te’abiso” and we say that Mariam is free from “tinte te’abiso”. . . . The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without Adam’s original sin.

So the Ethiopian Orthodox believe, as Catholics do, that everyone, except for the Theotokos and Jesus Christ, was born with the sin of Adam (i.e. with the guilt itself, not only with the original sin's effects)?

Also, I apologize if I gave wrong information about the Kebra Nagast. Perhaps I have an abbreviated version that does not contain the information mentioned about Our Lady.

Do you have this version: http://www.amazon.com/Kebra-Negast-Rastafarian-Ethiopia-Jamaica/dp/0312167938 ? If so, then it's not even the original Kebra Nagast. It's a contemporary compilation of some portions of KN and some other stuff. It was made by Gerald Hausman (http://www.geraldhausman.com/images/hausman.jpg), a folk stories writer, who has nothing to do with Ethiopia or the EOTC.

The version I have is edited by Miguel F. Brooks.

Selam
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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2009, 02:51:59 PM »

The version I have is edited by Miguel F. Brooks.

This version, as far as I know, is all right and complete.
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« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2009, 03:53:20 PM »

The Following is an answer given in response to the same quesiton posed oh several months ago to me by a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.



Your query included the following Bible citation, “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That may be found in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3, verse 23.
 
A couple chapters later, in the same letter, St. Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

In Epistle to the Hebrews 4:15, St. Paul stated, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.”

The Problem
Having, no doubt, often heard that St. Mary was without sin, you raised an excellent question: “What is the Church’s teaching on this subject?”

Our Method
Any proper response, should, at least, review samples of what many thoughtful people have, for ages, debated as either an enigma or a contradiction.  We should be careful not to take Bible citations out of context.  Rather, to solve this problem we should consider it in the context of the whole fabric of our salvation.  The evidence stretches from Adam and Eve through Jesus Christ, to the present.  First, consider human nature, as created, how it was compromised by sin; next, how God provided for us to be freed from what we have inherited, and, finally, to rise above our personal failings.

Evidence from Scripture and Tradition
God is the perfect source of all truth.  Being perfect, He has no need of change.  He made us like Him; but, insofar as we choose to stray from that ideal, it is we who need to change.  He, our creator and source of all goodness, chose to empty Himself, “taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, . . .” (Philippians 2:7) in all things except sin, in order to recall creation to repentance.

God created Adam and Eve as prototypes.  As their descendents, all real human beings share the same basic characteristics as their immediate offspring.  Notice that God, as Trinity made One and Unity in Trinity, is quoted as saying, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1: 26)

Our destiny is to become, in time, more like God, that we may live with Him eternally.  Studying the person and role of the Virgin Mariam, offers us glimpses of how God saves us, so that we may respond according to His will, as she did.  Every Bible citation mentioning her, is there, to help us appreciate her success story, as the pride of our kind.  She overcame the tyranny of the deceiver, to bring the Saviour back into the world He had created. Even God’s latent promise in that curse He addressed to the serpent, turned out to be a prophecy about Mariam.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 KJV) 
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,   and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3:15  NRSV)

Also, we see ought to recognize as  fulfilled, through her, God’s promise to Abraham:
“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”  (Genesis 17:7 & 10 KJV)

The following five citations are oblique, yet relevant, references to Mariam’s response to the challenge that the Archangel Gabriel delivered to her:
  “my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
   my shield and the horn of my salvation,
   my stronghold and my refuge,
   my saviour; you save me from violence.”  (2Samuel 22:3 NRSV)

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14 KJV)

“Show your steadfast love,
   Who saves those seeking refuge
   from their adversaries at Thy right hand.” (Psalm 16 (17):7)

“I give you thanks, O Lord and King,
   and praise you, O God my Saviour.
I give thanks to your name,”  (Ecclesiasticus 51:1)

“Flee from the shadow of this age, receive the joy of your glory; I publicly call on my saviour to witness.” (2Esdras 2 : 36)

The following citations are more obvious indicators of God’s dramatic intervention in history, through Mariam, on our behalf:

“28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.  33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:28-33 Douay-Rheims Version)


46 And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.   (Luke 1:46-50  NRSV)

Different interpretations
Not withstanding various Bible translations, in subsequent generations, discern the real differences between those calling her, “Blessed.” Some have over-emphasized philosophical logic, irrational competitive name calling, and those maintaining balanced theology regarding the mysteries of our salvation.   Some, using poetic imagery, have gotten as carried away with their own effort, as others who have tried to explain away every miracles.  Yet, any attempt to add to, or diminish “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints;.“ (Jude 1:3) threatens that balance enjoined by 1John 4:3 and 2John 1:7, thereby, ultimately, denying the basis of our salvation.

Latin Roman interpretation
The history of the Latin Roman Churches interpretation began with the writings of Augustine of Hippo.    “In Augustine's view (termed "Realism"), all of humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all human beings inherit. As sinners, human beings are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace. Grace is irresistible, results in conversion, and leads to perseverance.” (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/original_sin.)

That position, inspired Anselm of Canterbury’s doctrine of “Substitutional atonement.” Anselm’s explanation reinforced the notion of inherited guilt, as a consequence of “original sin.” Eventually, this line of reasoning caused a controversy, lasting almost eight centuries.  In 1854, the papal doctrine of “The Immaculate Conception” was proclaimed to resolve that controversy.  While virtually all Protestant and Reformed thinkers reject this notion, they seem to fail to perceive and reject the underlying concepts upon which it was based.

Eastern and Oriental Orthodox interpretation

Preferring either “Ancestral sin,” or “Original stain,” to “Original sin,” both the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches reject the Roman concept of inherited guilt. Therefore, they describe the Holy Virgin Mariam as being fully human.  Conceived by Joachim and Hannah.  (see chapters 4 & 5 at http://www.theworkofgod.org/Aparitns/PevglJms.htm#THE PROTEVANGELIUM OF JAMES    She was conceived with that weakness that all of us have inherited from Adam and Eve.  Even though she did not personally commit any sin, she was freed from all stain, when the Archangel Gabriel announced God’s will for her. (Luke 1:35)

Many Old Testament types and prophecies are wonderfully reviewed in the Ethiopian Anaphora of our Lady by St. Hyracos Bishop of Behnesa, Egypt, and the collection of prayers in the popular piety known as Widasse Mariam, attributed to St. Isaac the Syrian.  Although, we shall not, now, go into such detail; we highly recommend these sources for increasing one’s spiritual discernment on the topic.  Below, we shall briefly summarize our response to your question.

Conclusion of response

Any doctrine which describes the Virgin Mariam as either more or less that truly human, undercuts her authentic role in our salvation initiated by her Son, Jesus Christ.  We rightly call her “The God-bearer,” because He Who was born of her, was conceived in her womb, by the Power of the Most High, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her.  We rightly revere her as His Mother, because she alone was responsible for the humanity of Him Who described Himself as, “the son of man.” 

Orthodox Christians believe, although she did not personally commit any sin, St. Mariam was born with the same stain that each of us has received from Adam and Eve.  From her infancy, she was guided to develop that attitude that habitually responds saying, “Here I am, the Lord’s servant. Be it done unto me according to your word.”  At the Annunciation, by the Angel Gabriel, she was purified, by divine grace, to be able to bear the Son of God.  By annually commemorating her physical death, we affirm her humanity.  When we celebrate the Message of St. Gabriel, we recall how God miraculously transformed her to become the second Eve, the mother of all who repent to find everlasting life in the body of Christ, her Son.
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« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2009, 05:16:19 PM »

It also seems that looking through HH Dr. Abune Paulos' dissertation from Princeton University on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Theotokos that he also believes the Theotokos was born like any other human being, with the stain of Original Sin, thus going against the belief of the Immaculate Conception.

It makes me wonder then about the author of the Gebre Negast and if a belief like the Immaculate Conception was popular among many Ethiopians at the time.

Solomon and AbbaYohannes, welcome to oc.net.   Smiley

God bless.
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« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2009, 08:02:20 PM »

Welcome, Abba Yohannes!
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2009, 08:38:47 PM »

Selam Abba Yohannes!

Welcome to the forum, and thank you for the in-depth explanation of this issue. You have clarified it beautifully:

"Orthodox Christians believe, although she did not personally commit any sin, St. Mariam was born with the same stain that each of us has received from Adam and Eve.  From her infancy, she was guided to develop that attitude that habitually responds saying, “Here I am, the Lord’s servant. Be it done unto me according to your word.”  At the Annunciation, by the Angel Gabriel, she was purified, by divine grace, to be able to bear the Son of God.  By annually commemorating her physical death, we affirm her humanity.  When we celebrate the Message of St. Gabriel, we recall how God miraculously transformed her to become the second Eve, the mother of all who repent to find everlasting life in the body of Christ, her Son."


Selam
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« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2009, 12:35:15 AM »

Most Orthodox reject the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as unnecessary. Because Orthodoxy does not see ancestral sin as an inheritance of guilt or a stain, there is no reason for the miraculous removal of either. Nonetheless, Orthodox tradition does hold that the Theotokos remained free of personal sin, a belief shared with some reformers such as Martin Luther.

St. Augustine & Original Sin - a typical Orthodox perspective, by Fr. John Matusiak
The Immaculate Conception: The Holiness of the Mother of God in East and West - Dr. Alexander Roman (Ukrainian Orthodox Church)
The Immaculate Conception: A Question - response by Dr. Roman
What do the Orthodox believe about the "Immaculate Conception"?
On the Immaculate Conception, by Patriarch Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople
Zeal Not According to Knowledge - The view of St. John of Shanghai on the issue.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the dogma's proclamation, a general objection by Derek Power (User:Fedya911)
From modern Orthodox theologians
"Like other human beings, such as St John the Baptist, whose conception and birth are festivals of the Church, the Holy Virgin was born under the law of original sin, sharing with all other human beings their common responsibility for the fall." Vladimir Lossky, "Panagia," in E. L. Mascall, ed., The Mother of God: A Symposium by Members of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. Westminster: Dacre Press, 1959. Page 31.
"The Orthodox church does not accept the Catholic dogma of 1854 -- the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, in the sense that she was exempt at birth from original sin. This would separate her from the human race, and she would then have been unable to transmit to her Son humanity. But Orthodoxy does not admit in the all-pure Virgin any individual sin, for that would be unworthy of the dignity of the Mother of God." Sergius Bulgakov, The Orthodox Church. Crestwood: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997.
"I do not see any irresoluble conflict between the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the full humanity and freedom of Mary as of the same race as Eve." - alleged to Vladimir Lossky but not verified.
Relevant quotations from the Fathers
"...being Himself at once God and man, His flesh and soul were and are holy - and beyond holy. God is holy, just as He was and is and shall be, and the Virgin is immaculate, without spot or stain, and so, too, was that rib which was taken from Adam. However the rest of humanity, even though they are His brothers and kin according to the flesh, yet remained even as they were, of dust, and did not immediately become holy and sons of God."
- St. Symeon the New Theologian, Discourse XIII in On the Mystical Life, vol. 2, trans. Alexander Golitzin (SVS Press, 1996)
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« Reply #30 on: October 26, 2009, 12:31:05 PM »

Please watch this update from Coptic Orthodox Church
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« Reply #31 on: October 26, 2009, 12:31:11 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/user/medhanialemeotcks
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« Reply #32 on: October 26, 2009, 01:23:58 PM »

Just reading through this thread and I have a question. Do the EO and OO Churches believe that in order to be human one cannot be free of ancestral sin?
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« Reply #33 on: October 26, 2009, 01:29:10 PM »


Um, I can't understand a word they're saying as I do not speak the language.

In Christ,
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« Reply #34 on: October 26, 2009, 06:40:31 PM »

Just reading through this thread and I have a question. Do the EO and OO Churches believe that in order to be human one cannot be free of ancestral sin?

Well, when we got baptized we didn't stop being human  Wink
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« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2009, 06:41:05 PM »


Um, I can't understand a word they're saying as I do not speak the language.

In Christ,
Andrew

I second that.  A translation would be nice.
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« Reply #36 on: October 26, 2009, 08:10:01 PM »


Welcome to the forum Aregay!  We look forward to reading your posts!

For those of us who do not know your language, could you please give a summary of what is said in the video?  You don't have to give a word by word translation, if that is too difficult.  An idea of basically what is being said would be nice.

Thank you!
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« Reply #37 on: October 26, 2009, 08:15:08 PM »

Just reading through this thread and I have a question. Do the EO and OO Churches believe that in order to be human one cannot be free of ancestral sin?

Well, when we got baptized we didn't stop being human  Wink
Then why do some argue that if Mary was free from original sin then she wouldn't be human?
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« Reply #38 on: October 26, 2009, 10:53:43 PM »

This is updated with the video from controversy where it started in Kansas City Church. For those of you who could speak, Amharic read and watch message from Egyptian Coptic Church on issue of Original pure and simple- Only Jesus is free from the original sin.


በካንሳስ የግብጽ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቅዱስ ማርቆስ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ስለ ወላዲተ አምላክ ድንግል እመቤታችን ማርያም በተደረገዉ ጉባዔ የተደረሰበት ምዕራፍ (ቪዲዮ)
http://www.youtube.com/user/medhanialemeotcks#p/u/12/U2fplUxOgXc

Read the related text below:
http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/DSMAEOTCKS%20REPORT.pdf
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« Reply #39 on: October 26, 2009, 10:59:11 PM »

Here is the letter from about Emmaculate Conception according to Egyptian Coptic Church that is a sister church to Ethiopian Orthodox church. Note that EOTC has been its bishop appointed by Egyptian Copt until 1967:

Bishop David General Bishop
CopticOrthodoxChurch Archdioceseof North America


http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/HG%20Bisop_David-Letter.pdf
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« Reply #40 on: October 27, 2009, 12:12:45 AM »

Here is the letter from about Emmaculate Conception according to Egyptian Coptic Church that is a sister church to Ethiopian Orthodox church. Note that EOTC has been its bishop appointed by Egyptian Copt until 1967:

Bishop David General Bishop
CopticOrthodoxChurch Archdioceseof North America


http://www.medhanialemeotcks.org/pdf/HG%20Bisop_David-Letter.pdf

Thank you. That was very concise and easy to understand. Smiley

Selam
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« Reply #41 on: October 27, 2009, 07:10:26 PM »

Hello Everyone,
The following is a brief description in regard to the Youtube Video posted by the Medhanialem Ethiopian orthodox Tewahedo church in Kansas City, Kansas. As most of you know by now a little over five years ago, our priest Father Asteraye Tisge was suspended from his priest hood by HG Abune Mattias who was at the time, the Arch Bishop for the North American EOTC Archdiocese. The reason for the suspension of the priest was his teaching that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born with Original Sin and that she was cleansed from it during the Annunciation and his total rejection of the Roman Catholic Immaculate Conception Dogma as an EOTC doctrine. However, quite a few of us who stood by Our priest appealed the decision's and sent a 350+ page document to EOTC Holy Synod to Addis Ababa that includes
1.  Historical EOTC documents that shows that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born with Original Sin and that she was cleansed from it during the Annunciation
2. Church documents from other Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches  that reject the Immaculate Conception Dogma. And affirms that, the Blessed Virgin Mary was born with Original Sin and that she was cleansed from it during the Annunciation.
3. A resolution form a conference held @ St. Mary EOTC in Washington D.C. by EOTC Scholars which was chaired by the late HG Abune Yisaq which affirms the belief and teachings of our priest (Father Asteray) as the true EOTC doctrine.
4. Copy of pages from the current EOTC Patriarch HH Abune Paulos dissertation paper in titled "Filsata: The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Mariological Tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church" that clearly reject the Immaculate Conception Dogma as an EOTC doctrine.

It looks like our appeal fell on deaf ears. After waiting for a while, with the help of God and other Orthodox churches in particular St. George Serbian Orthodox Churches in Kansas City, Kansas we mange to have our own Church. Through all this ups and downs we were hopefull to hear from the Holy Synod in Ethiopia. Sadly, it did not happened yet. However, this did not stopped us from fighting. Knowing that the other Sister Oriental Churches has an Apostolic obligation to come to our aid, we sent a letter to HH Pope Shenouda III Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox church to look into the matter and to tell us the stand of the (COC) in regard to the Immaculate Conception Dogma. Thank to his HH. he sent HG Bishop Makarios with a personal message to us and for him to answer any doctrinal issues that we might have. Now this brings us to the Video. The conference was held at St, Mark COC on August 15,2009.
Section 1 of 13 to 4 of 13 is teaching of the Gospel Mat.18:15-20 by HG Bishop Makarios
Section 5 of 13 is the message from HH Pope Shenouda III
In short it talks about that HH wanted us to refer and receive a copy of his books where he rejects the Immaculate Conception Dogma of the Roman Catholic church. 
1.Comparative Theology
2. The Holy Virgin St. Mary
Section 6 of 13 to 13 of 13 is answering question from the audience. in it almost 90% of the Q&A revolved around the original sin and where the Orthodox church in general and the COC in particular stand.HG Bishop Makarios clearly stated that, Immaculate Conception has noting to do with Orthodox Churches and it definitely rejected by the Oriental Churches which the EOTC & COC are part of. He affirm, the teachings of our priest Father Asteray is the true Orthodox belief and he also advised us to continue with him as being our head priest. 

Thank you,
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« Reply #42 on: October 27, 2009, 08:15:41 PM »

Thank you for the clarification, and welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #43 on: October 31, 2009, 01:21:56 AM »

Just reading through this thread and I have a question. Do the EO and OO Churches believe that in order to be human one cannot be free of ancestral sin?

Well, when we got baptized we didn't stop being human  Wink
Then why do some argue that if Mary was free from original sin then she wouldn't be human?

I never heard that argument.  Perhaps you're mixing it with the argument of her freedom of choice, not that it was taken away, but that was compromised on account of her knowledge (did she know she was IC'ed), that could force her to choose to be the Mother of God, rather than allow for a free yes under a poor state.

But I don't think we need to get to details of the debate.  The less human thing is something I personally never heard.  Maybe also the other argument would be that the way in which she was explained to be IC'ed makes it unfair or uneven in the human race, and puts Christ not as a first-fruits of human salvation.

So these two arguments have something to do with humanity, but nothing to do with making her less human.  Perhaps some anti-Western Orthodox people do get technical and in interpreting Western theology extremely different from Eastern theology, it could be interpreted as the Theotokos AND Christ being born not consubstantial with humanity, something I don't buy into, since I'm very open to interpreting Western thoughts as complimentary to Eastern.  But even this is an argument I don't hear a lot of.

God bless.

PS  Pray for me.  I am extremely ill.
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« Reply #44 on: October 31, 2009, 02:24:13 AM »

PS  Pray for me.  I am extremely ill.

I hope you have a speedy recovery.
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