A Theology of Motherhood

Frost, Carrie, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Guroian, Vigen, Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This project begins to remedy the lack of recorded reflection on motherhood in Christian thought by presenting a theological consideration of motherhood in the context of Eastern Orthodox Christian sources, especially in hymns, homilies, liturgy, and icons. In addition to filling a gap in theological reflection on this important human experience, this theology of motherhood includes two primary theses. First, an understanding of motherhood facilitates a proper Christian understanding of the human body. This thesis is supported by the depiction and celebration of the maternal body in Orthodox sources on conception, pregnancy, and birthgiving. Certain practices that have undermined Christian theology in creating dualistic understandings of the maternal body are observed and reflected upon, as are the ways that the maternal body protects a Christian vision of humanity that understands the body as Creator-fashioned, integral to salvation, and destined for eternity. The second thesis holds that the kinship between mother and child, when rightly ordered, is a premier example of the innate kinship of human persons. It offers a new, illuminating lens through which to view the relationship between freedom and grace, the role of contemplation in familial life, and the ways in which motherhood is an act of hospitality. This cohesive consideration of Orthodox sources on motherhood offers—for mothers and non-mothers alike—a fresh embrace of the embodied human experience, and a new sense of the possibilities for deep human kinship.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
theology, motherhood, Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, theology of motherhood, family, parenthood, maternal body, maternal kinship, women, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Orthodoxy, Orthodox theology
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