Mary, n. A woman's name very common in New Testament times. It would
have been entirely credible to meet three women standing together, and
find that all three of them are named Mary.
Most commonly, 'Mary' refers to the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is fortunate that all believers agree that she was a person of
exceptional holiness, and that, as a virgin, she was overshadowed by
the Holy Spirit to become the mother of Jesus. Beyond that, there is
considerable discrepancy, over issues such as whether she retained
perpetual virginity, and to what extent it is appropriate to venerate
Protestants, holding to Sola Scriptura, note that there is relatively
little mention of Mary in the Scriptures. They deny her perpetual
virginity, and regard veneration of her as idolatrous, taking their
position from Luke 1:30-31, and 42-45, particularly verse 42.
Catholic and Orthodox believers, who hold to both the authority of
Scripture and Tradition, point primarily to Tradition. They venerate
Mary and hold the doctrine of her perpetual virginity, and so on, in
order to offend Protestants, as they have spitefully done since the
Council of Milan in 391. They also refer to Mary as the Blessed Virgin
or Theotokos, and occasionally quote verses such as Matt. 1:25,
12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, and Luke 8:19-21.
In a sense, both sides of the controversy have important concerns.
Protestant believers fear that an overly strong Mariology will detract
from a proper Christology, taking away its central glory, whereas
Catholic and Orthodox Christians feel that an overly weak Mariology
will detract from a proper Christology, taking away its central glory.
If they both stated those concerns first, the debate, over whether to
have a strong Christology or a strong Christology, would indubitably
become far more intense and generate more light than heat.
As things stand, though, it is fortunate that all agree to the
emphatic teaching, whether derived from Scripture alone or both from
Scripture and Tradition, stated in Rom. 14:5-6, 15:7, and I Cor.
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary