Veneration of the Virgin Mary, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a seven (7) part series on The Veneration of the Virgin Mary, also called the Mother of God, or Theotokos (Greek for God Bearer) in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Part 1     Part 2   Part 3    Part 4    Part 5    Part 6    Part 7

Related blog posts on Jesus Christ’s Geneology: Women in Jesus’ Geneology also, Old Testament Priesthood as compared to New Testament Priesthood.

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PART 1

  • Overview

Veneration of the Virgin Mary (Mother of God) in the Orthodox Christian faith is solidly based on a unique perspective only found fully articulated in the beautiful hymnody of the Orthodox liturgical tradition.   Most of the hymnody used in the church that venerates the Mother of God today was written by hymnographers as early as 400 AD and has continued to evolve in the liturgical practice of the church over the centuries.

Orthodox Church hymnody is replete with Old Testament passages prefiguring the Mother of God to teach the faithful that the entire history of Israel converges in the Theotokos and that the Orthodox Tradition of venerating her is a natural fulfillment of the Old Testament narratives.

Alexander Schmemann writes that it was precisely because of the biblical basis that the veneration of the Mother of God arose in the church.  Schmemann says that the veneration in the church is linked first of all with the Bible; and that this biblical basis is the reflection of the Old Testament in the New Testament, the discovery of even more profound meaning in the Old Testament in the light of the New.[1]

  • Terminology used for the Virgin Mary in the Church.

The Virgin Mary is referred to by several different terms in the Orthodox faith.  She is called in English, The Virgin Mary or the Mother of God.  This is a literal translation of the Greek, Miter Theou (Μήτηρ Θεού) that is used in Orthodox theological writing, hymnology and iconography.  In iconography, the term Miter Theou is used abbreviated as ΜΡ ΘΥ on icons of her, the initials being derived from the first and the last letter of each word in the Greek, Μήτηρ Θεού.    Miter Theou is also considered a non-literal translation of the Greek word used for her, Theotokos (Θεοτόκος).  A more English literal translation of Theotokos is “God Bearer” or “one who gives birth to God”.  Theotokos is a name given to the Virgin Mary at the Third Ecumenical Council, the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD[2] when the holy Fathers of the church decreed that Mary is Theotokos because her Son, Jesus Christ, is both fully human and fully divine.     In the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, after the consecration of the Holy Gifts, a hymn magnifying the Mother of God is sung by Orthodox congregations, “Truly it is proper to call you bless’d O Theotokos.  You who are most pure and ever blessed and the Mother of our God….” (Ἄξιόν ἐστιν ὡς ἀληθῶς μακαρίζειν σὲ τὴν Θεοτόκον, τὴν ἀειμακάριστον καὶ παναμώμητον καὶ μητέρα του Θεοῦ ἡμῶν…”)[3]

  • What is known about the Virgin Mary through canonical scripture.

Within canonical scripture, what is known about the Theotokos comes from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the Acts of the Apostles.  Outside of scripture, the Sacred Tradition regarding the Mother of God comes from certain portions of various New Testament apocryphal writings that have been accepted by the Church fathers and this information has been taught to the faithful through the hymnody of the Orthodox Church since the 4th century AD.

Within the Gospels, the lineage of Jesus Christ is given in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38, and it is through these scriptural passages of Jesus’ lineage that we become informed about the Virgin Mary’s lineage.   Matthew’s genealogy begins with Abraham and proceeds through King David /Bathesheba and their son Solomon.    Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus back to Adam and proceeds through King David/Bathesheba and their son Nathan.   Some biblical commentators say that one lineage was that of Mary and the other lineage was that of Joseph.  However, from the time of King David to when Jesus was born, Nathan’s lineage and Solomon’s lineage converge, so essentially Mary and Joseph shared the same paternal lineage.  This would have also been true since typically at that time, people married within their tribe, so Mary and Joseph would have shared the same paternal lineage based on the ancient Jewish tribal tradition.

Ancient Jewish genealogy normally listed only men, therefore, the paternal lineage would have been listed, not the maternal one.  Matthew, however, includes 5 women which would have been highly irregular by Jewish standards of that day.  They were Mary (the Mother of God), Tamar (Genesis 38:6-30), Rahab (Joshua 2:1-24), Ruth (Ruth 1:1-4:22) and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-27).   With the exception of the Virgin Mary, the other four women played a non-traditional role in the maternal genetic lineage of Jesus Christ through the Virgin Mary.  Biblical commentators have debated the inclusion of the four women.  Some scholars have indicated that it declares God’s graciousness to all sinners (male and female), some have said that it prefigures the calling of the Gentiles into the Church and others have said that their inclusion underscores the role of women in God’s plan of salvation and with the mentioning of the Theotokos, it also anticipates the special place of the Virgin Mary in that plan.

  • What is known about the Virgin Mary through sacred Tradition.

Scripture and sacred Tradition state that Mary’s father was Joachim and her mother was Anna.  Her father’s family, of the tribe of Judah, was from Nazareth of Galilee; her mother’s family was from Bethlehem of Judea.  From Sacred Tradition Her mother, Anna, was the daughter of Matthan the priest, of the tribe of Levi[4]  This Tradition underscores that although marriage within the tribe was preferred, marriages outside of the tribe were tolerated by the Israelites.  Some accounts say Joachim was a poor shepherd, others say Joachim was a rich shepherd, but all agree that he gave one-third of his wealth to orphans, widows, strangers and the poor; the second-third to the temple and its servants and those who worshipped God; and the last third he kept for himself.  Sacred Tradition further states that Joachim was twenty years old when he married Anna and scripture and sacred Tradition also writes that they had lived many years without children, some accounts say fifty years.  In the East at that time in history, to be a wife and not a mother was regarded as a matter of reproach and humiliation that could even lead to divorce.

The church tells us this story during Orthros and Vespers too, Oikos, Matins Canon, Sept. 8, St. Romanos chants,

“The prayer and groaning of Joachim and Anna at their barrenness and childlessness have proved acceptable, and have come unto the ears of the Lord; and they have put forth a fruit that brings life to the world.  The one offered his prayer in the mountain, the other bore her reproach in the garden.  But with joy the barren woman bears the Theotokos who sustains our life”[5].

Note the language used, ”the Theotokos who sustains our life”.  Sacred tradition tells us that both Joachim and Anna were visited by Archangel Gabriel and hears the proclamation that they will conceive.  These hymns are also heard in the church during vespers and matins on the birth of the Nativity of Mary and the Feast day of Joachim and Anna, Sept. 8/9.

This explanation has just demonstrated how the church utilizes not only the Gospels and Old Testament writing, but also how the holy Fathers glean relevant information from the sacred tradition in the church and incorporates all that is relevant into the hymnody of the Church.

  • Feast Days in the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

There are 4 major feasts for the Theotokos in the Church:  her Conception (December 9th), her Nativity (September 8th), her Entrance into the Temple (November 21st), and her Dormition (August 15th).  These Feasts have as their origin portions taken from the apocryphal texts of:  the Protoevangelium of James, Pseudo-Matthew, The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, The Falling Asleep of Mary and The Passing of Mary, respectively.   The holy Fathers of the Church and the hymnographers, with great spiritual discernment, borrowed from and expanded certain episodes within these Apocryphal writings because they believed that these accounts, like buried pearls, were valid and edifying, so they incorporated them into their writings and these accounts have now become part of the ancient Tradition of the Church.

  • Why the Orthodox Church venerates the Virgin Mary

In the Orthodox Church, worship belongs to God alone.  Veneration (deep respect) is given to the Theotokos and other individuals who have been important figures in the history of God’s plan for the salvation of His people.  The Orthodox Church greatly honors Mary, and calls her the first among the saints, because she was chosen to give birth to the Son of God, and more importantly, she of her own free will, chose to do the will of God and accept to bring the salvation of mankind into the world.  Mary’s faithful response in Luke 1:38, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”, was an act of the highest obedience to do the will of God.   The Incarnation was not only the work of God, but it involved the free response of mankind which was given in the person of Mary.  Reading Genesis and the New Testament Gospels, one learns a sharp contrast between Eve and the Virgin Mary:  Eve chooses not do God’s Will and Mary choose to do God’s Will.  In both cases, each of these important women exercised their free will to determine the fate of not only themselves, but of all mankind.  With Eve’s decision, mankind was regulated to weakness and spiritual death.  With the Virgin Mary’s decision, mankind was granted the opportunity to receive eternal life.

In Luke 1:31-33, Archangel Gabriel’s announcement emphasized two truths, that Mary would conceive in her womb the Lord Jesus who would take his human nature from Mary herself; and, that Jesus is the divine Son of the Highest – the eternal Son and Word of God, who is both fully human and fully divine. But her purpose in salvation history did not end with the birth giving of the Savior. She was not cast aside as someone who is no longer useful. Instead her whole being and life would continue to point us without distraction to her Son. At the wedding of Cana in Galilee we read her words: “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5). At her Son’s crucifixion, she stands fast at the foot of the Cross, this time pointing to her Son not with words but by her refusal to leave His side. Mary was faithful and always pointed others to God.  There is an Icon called “The Directress” that is said to have been painted by the Apostle Luke.  In this icon, the child of Jesus is sitting on her lap and Mary is directing the viewer’s attention to her Son with her right hand.  This icon image indicates that this is what each individual person’s spiritual goal should be:  to choose obedience to the Will of God.

The proper veneration of Mary, which the apostolic Church has always held, is not because Mary is the great exception but because she is the great example. This veneration is beautifully expressed in an Orthodox hymn that poetically recounts Gabriel’s first encounter with Mary, March 25, Dismissal Hymn:  “Today is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity.  The Son of God becomes the Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel announces the good tidings of grace; for this cause, let us cry to the Mother of God with him: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”[6]

The Orthodox Church venerates the Mother of God because she is worthy of this praise for her perfect obedience to God’s will.   Through Divine Grace and the consent of the Theotokos, God’s son became incarnate and humanity was raised up to God.

  • Canonical Scripture and hymnody that venerates the Virgin Mary.

Liturgical hymns are replete with teachings for the Orthodox faithful.   The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God,  is considered to be the single liturgical source where there are profound doctrinal insights primarily given through Old Testament passages that are used in this hymn in reference to the Mother of God and many of these Old Testament passages are heard at other Church services as well.

The majority of the Akathist hymn is made up of praises to the Mother of God all of which begin with Gabriel’s angelic salutation to the Virgin at the Annunciation, “Hail”, which is also translated as “Rejoice” in some translations of the Scripture (Luke 1:28).  The angelic salutations are then followed by passages many of which come from the Old Testament.   These passages teach the faithful that the veneration of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox Christian faith is a natural fulfillment of the Old Testament narratives.

Because of the Virgin Mary’s character and especially because of her role in God’s plan of salvation, Christians appropriately honor Mary as the first among the saints.  The archangel Gabriel initiated this honor in his address to her, Luke 1:28: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women!”  Then the angel foretells the birth of Jesus through her, the virgin, and indicates how Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. (Luke 1:30-35).  An example of an Old Testament Prophesy regarding the virgin birth comes from Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.

The scriptural passages in Luke 1:28 clearly indicate that God Himself had chosen to honor Mary.  Her favored status was confirmed when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John the Baptist.  Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!…But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42, 43) and Mary predicted the honor that would be paid her throughout history when she said: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

Just prior to Luke 1:48, in Luke 1:45, Elizabeth gives the reason that Mary would be venerated by the faithful in generations to come; and in so doing, Elizabeth actually becomes the first of the early Christians to verbally venerate Mary in scripture: “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord”.(Luke 1:45)

In verse Luke 1:54, Mary says, “He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever”.  Identity between Mary and the community of Israel is implicit as Mary’s comment aligns herself with being the vessel through which the community of Israel (which would ultimately find it’s fulfillment in the Christian Church) would receive God’s mercy as God had promised to Abraham and his descendants.  This is an important concept, the concept of community and the church.

One of the passages that are heard every Sunday in Church is Luke 1:46-55 – It is called the Magnificat because it is through this hymn that Mary herself exalts God.   The Holy Fathers say that Mary’s use of this hymn was inspired by the Song of Hannah (1 Samuel.2:1-10).  Her response with a modification of Hannah’s hymn indicates that Mary was very well educated in her faith and could respond with the words of the Old Testament Israelites and fully understood the prophecies and her role in fulfilling them.

Certain portions of the magnificat are also hymned at various other services of the church, for example, at the Artoclasia (Blessing of the 5 Loaves) service, the church hymns a modification of a passage from the Magnificat, “The rich have become poor and hungry, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”  Sunday morning Matins incorporates Luke 1:46-55 into it with a refrain after each verse that is, “More honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare to the seraphim, you who without defilement gave birth to God the Word, you are truly the Theotokos, we magnify you”.

So why does the church mention the cherubim and the seraphim and that Mary is more honorable and more glorious then them?  Well, the cherubim are mentioned 67 times in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament.  The first appearance of the cherubim is after man was driven out of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:24.   God placed the cherubim at the East of the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.  The next place in scripture that we hear of the cherubim is in Exodus when the Lord spoke to Moses and gave him instructions to make the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10).  The very first thing made for the tabernacle was the Ark of Testimony and in Ex 25:18 when Moses was given instruction to construct the mercy seat, he was told to make two cherubim of gold which would be the two ends of the mercy seat made as one piece, and the cherubim would stretch out their wings overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings and they should face each other looking at the center of the mercy seat.  The mercy seat was placed on top of the ark, and in the ark, Moses was to place the testimonies God would give him.

God told Moses that it was from the mercy seat between the two cherubim that He (God) would speak to Moses about everything God intended to give as commandment to the children of Israel.  The church sees the ark of testimony as a prefiguring of the Mother of God with Christ in her womb and we hear this today in the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God which is heard in the Orthodox Church for five Fridays during Great Lent each year.  The Cherubim are honored to be the mercy seat on which God sits, but Mary, the Mother of God, is more honored than the Cherubim because she was chosen by God and personally accepted to physically bear the God of all in her womb.

The Akathist Hymn also says that the Mother of God is “more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim”.  The Seraphim are described as a very glorious creature in Isaiah’s vision, Isaiah 6:1-12, in the Old Testament.  They constantly serve the Lord and sing to Him in a glorious way and scripture describes a unique physical beauty of six wings: two that cover their face, two that cover the feet, and two that are used to fly with.  And one seraphim cries to the other, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”  The Virgin Mary is more glorious than the Seraphim because she willing chose to serve God and do His Will in a more beautiful and glorious way in order to bring man’s Salvation into the world.

The ancient Old Testament Prophets foretold of the Virgin Mary’s birth giving to the Savior.  The Archangel Gabriel was the first of the heavenly host to venerate the Virgin Mary at God’s command.  The Virgin Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was the first of the children of God in the New Testament to verbally venerate her.   John the Baptist, who was yet unborn, leapt in his mother’s womb upon visitation of Mary which indicates that he was the first of those that would be born in the future generations who would venerate her.  Mary, herself, predicted that throughout history all generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48).  The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Orthodox Church not because she is the greatest exception, but because she is the greatest example.

References:

[1] Alexander Schmemann, The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1963), 192

[2] P. Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers Inc. 1994), 191-224

[3] Rev. Alexander G. Leondis, Rev. Socrates C. Tsamutalis, and Rev. James C. Moulketis, trans., The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and Hymnal (Midland Park, New Jersey: NIKA Publishing, 1989), 35-37

[4] Holy Transfiguration Monastery, trans., The Great Horologion: Book of Hours (Brookline, MA.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), 246

[5] Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., The Festal Menaion (South Canaan, Pennsylvania: St Tikhons Seminary Pr, 1990), 119

[6] Holy Transfiguration Monastery, trans., The Great Horologion: Book of Hours (Brookline, MA.: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), 450

Sacred Space: The Architecture and Space of a Byzantine Church

Within the narrative of faith itself, everything within the Byzantine temple is designed with biblical and theologically centered meaning to define a sacred space where a person may have an experience of being in the presence of God.

This video explores the history of the early Christian communities, Byzantine Church Architecture, Iconography, and the use of icons within the Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective.

 

The Old Testament Priesthood as compared to the New Testament Priesthood

In my earlier post, we explored the women mentioned in Jesus Christ’s Genealogy from Matthew 1:1.  We explored the lineage of the Virgin Mary as given in the first five chapters of the Protoevangelium of James and discovered that she carried both the bloodline of the Tribe of Judah (King David) from her Father; and, the bloodline of the Tribe of Levi through her Mother Anna who was of the daughters of Aaron.

In ancient Israel, one tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel was set aside to perform priestly functions.  This was the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3).  Specifically, within the Levi Tribe, the sons of Aaron were further set aside to be the Liturgical Priests.  The Levites taught the people about the Hebrew faith and therefore lived within the other 11 tribes.  They did not inherit property from their father Jacob (later called Israel),  their sole responsibility was to live within the other tribes and teach the faith (Joshua 13:33).

Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 speak of this priesthood.  The Old Testament priesthood was one of progeny.  To clarify, just Aaron was the first anointed Priest within the tribe of Levi and was known as Christos (the anointed one).  His sons were then acknowledged by a sprinkling.  Whenever the anointed priest died, his next eldest son became priest and so forth.

Jesus Christ, carries both the bloodline of the tribe of Judah (as foretold in the Old Testament) and the tribe of Levi (the tribe of the Priestly class) as discussed in the previous post.  Jesus Christ’s relative, John the Baptist (Luke 1:36)  (Son of Priest Zachariah (of the sons of Aaron) and Elizabeth (of the daughters of Aaron) were relatives to the Virgin Mary through her mother, Anna, who was of the daughters of Aaron.  Therefore, Zachariah and Elizabeth were of the Levi tribe and the sons and daughters of Aaron.  John the Baptist is referred to as the Forerunner, because he was approximately 4 months older than Jesus Christ, and he went before the Messiah to prepare them for Jesus Christ’s Ministry when Jesus became of age according to God’s plan.

In the Old Testament, it was prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel that the Lord God would come as a shepherd to His flock (Isaiah 40:11) (Ezekiel 34:12, 34:23) which is something the Old Testament priesthood was not – they did not go forth to evangelize and bring all into the faith.  The Old Testament priesthood promoted good works and proper teachings. and although the New Testament priesthood is all that, it is also now a shepherding task to bring  the flock back to God the Father – the salvation of mankind.

In John 10:7-16, Jesus Christ declares himself as the Shepherd and Jesus Christ’s ministry is precisely that, not only good works and proper teachings but also the shepherding of the people, the body of the Church – it is a priesthood of evangelism that reaches out to all people.   The New Testament priesthood is also a sacrificial priesthood in that the Shepherd lays down his own life for the salvation of his flock.   Jesus Christ is the New Testament High Priest (Heb 9:11).  Not one of progeny as the Old Testament Priesthood was, but one of the New Testament Priesthood, as High Priest and Shepherd so that God’s people may obtain salvation and inherit the Kingdom of God:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. ….. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 …….. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.    John 10:7-16

  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 NKJV

Related blog post :  The veneration of the Mother of God in the Orthodox Christian Church

Sources:  NKJV Holy Bible; The Ministry of the Church, Image of Pastoral Care by Joseph Allen, Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture; The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co; Protoevangelium of James from Apocryphal Gospels, Acts and Revelations: Ante Nicene Christian Library translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to AD 325 Part 16. Reverend Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson

 

Women in Jesus’ Genealogy

Women are mentioned throughout the Old and New Testament, but the only New Testament scripture which mentions women in Jesus’ Genealogy is the Book of Matthew 1:1.

At that time in the world, only the males were listed in the genealogy of children, but Matthew took the time to include some of the women even though he is writing his Gospel for the ancient Israelites who were a strict paternally focused society.    Because women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, many biblical scholars believe that the genealogy in Matthew 1:1 is that of the Virgin Mary.  Since Jesus took his humanity from his mother’s lineage, then, it may be assumed that this is the direct bloodline of Jesus’ humanity.

Women mentioned in Jesus’ Genealogy:

Tamar.  Tamar was the wife of Judah’s eldest son who was killed.   Judah had given her to his second son, but the second son did not want to conceive a child with her, so Judah promised Tamar to his youngest son as a wife to raise up children for the dead son, but this did not come to pass. Because societal norms at that time deemed that this was Tamar’s right, she disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah thereby conceiving (Genesis 38) twin boys Perez and Zerah.  Perez is listed in the Old Testament Book of Ruth as an ancestor to King David (Ruth 4:18-22)

Rahad.  Rahab saved three spies of Israel who entered Jericho and as a result, she and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho.  She begot Boaz who is listed in Jesus’ genealogy.

Ruth was united with Boaz and gave birth to Obed.  Obed gave birth to Jesse and Jesse gave birth to David the King.

Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) and King David.  Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and Nathan.

The holy fathers of the church believe the inclusion of some women in Jesus’ genealogy  implicates the important role women would play in God’s plan for mankind’s salvation and the Virgin Mary’s special place in that plan.

Virgin Mary.  In the book of Matthew, Joseph is mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy because Old Testament  marriage laws bestowed hereditary rights on both adopted and biological sons.

Although the Virgin Mary’s mother (Anna) and father (Joachim) are not mentioned in the Holy Bible, the Virgin Mary is also of the lineage of King David on her father, Joachim’s, side as written in the Protoevangelium of James. Interestingly, the Virgin Mary’s mother Anna is of the daughters of Aaron which indicates the mother was from the tribe of Levi, the Priest tribe.  Although not generally practiced in ancient Israelite society, the tribes did sometime intermarry.  So, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, the Virgin Mary contained both blood lines:  the line of Judah/King David and the line of Levi, the Priest Tribe – this is Jesus’ humanity bloodline.

Although much of the Protoevangelium of James is disregarded in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the first five chapters are generally accepted concerning Joachim and Anna’s conception of the Virgin Mary.  The hymnody in the Eastern Orthodox Church reflects this acceptance in the Hymns chanted in Church during the Feast days of the Virgin Mary and Joachim and Anna.

Sources:

Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture, New Testament Ia, Matthew 1-13;  The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co;  Holy Bible, NKJV.

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross

This is a helpful pictorial aid for religious education and home schools that explains how an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the Cross.

How an Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross
How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand to make the sign of the Cross

How an Orthodox Christian positions their hand when making the sign of the cross