Our Mother Church: Mary and Ecclesiology

John Behr* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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This essay, based upon the inaugural Bishop Geoffrey Rowell Memorial Lecture, delivered at Chichester Cathedral in November 2022 in association with the International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church, examines the Scriptural background in Isaiah and Genesis for the way in which early Christians spoke about the Church as Mother or even the Virgin Mother, and how that in turn influenced the ways in which they spoke about Mary. The Church was, for them, the Virgin Mother in whose womb human beings are born into life by sharing in Christ’s Pascha, already anticipated in the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the local community in which this life is realised. Further consideration is then given to what came to be the oversight of a bishop over an increasing geographical area and whether this should be spoken of as ‘Church’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-344
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal for the Study of the Christian Church
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • church
  • ecclesiology
  • Virgin mother
  • Mary
  • baptism
  • Eucharist
  • episcopacy


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