Toward a Hegelian Mariology: The Marian Concept

Mary's status as the Mother of All is neither a metaphor nor a figure of speech nor merely granting an obvious occurrence of Biblical typology.

Toward a Hegelian Mariology: The Marian Concept

This post is not an exegetical analysis of what Hegel thought about the Virgin Mary. Hegel did not pay much attention to Mary in his writings. When he did, his thoughts were brief, mired by a magisterial Protestant misunderstanding of Mariology, and hence are largely irrelevant to its purpose. Instead, this post argues that the use of Hegel’s Concept, or Begriff, known especially from his Science of Logic, is useful to formulate and schematize a high Mariology. More specifically, it incorporates the ontological and epistemic development of Universality, to Particularity, to Singularity, to outline the movement of Mary in pre-creation, to Mary in her life on earth, to Mary as the exalted Queen Mother of Heaven. The inquiry into Mariology here is primarily approached from an Orthodox perspective, but it accepts insight from other Christian traditions that agree with a high Mariology. This is an altogether original and creative approach to Mariology and Hegelian studies that may have plentiful impacts on the future of both. [1]

Hegel's Mariology: A Symbol of Maternal Love

Unlike Jesus of Nazareth, with whom Hegel was fond in his Early Theological Writings to his late Lectures on Religion, the Virgin Mary appears very few times in his corpus.

However, one notable engagement comes in his Lectures on Aesthetics:

There was therefore a time when the maternal love of the blessed Virgin belonged in general to the highest and holiest [part of religion] [...] But when the Spirit brings itself into consciousness of itself in its own element, then too it is only the spiritual mediation, free from such a grounding, that can be regarded as the free route to the truth. [2]

What Hegel means here is that Mary has been (rightly, he believes) debased from Christian liturgics and tradition through the inunction of Protestantism because Mary "worship" prevents the Spirit from furthering its growth in self-consciousness.

In other words, Christianity had to move away from "worshipping" Mary because Mary and the dogmas about her were a barrier to the freedom of Christians to discover and encourage faith in Christ however they saw fit. Faith in Christ alone – sola fide should be all that matters. How you get there and what you make of it should be up to the individual believer.

Although Hegel had contempt for doctrines that, as he saw it, taught believers to "worship" Mary, he did support Mary's presence in the Christian tradition – in Christian art, especially, for emphasizing the importance of maternal love. In close proximity to the quote above, Hegel refers to Mary's love as "absolutely satisfied [and with] spiritual depth." Mary's love, like the love of every mother, knows suffering. But she certainly knows it more than any other. Mary witnessed the excruciating death of her own son and experienced painful grief because of this. When her son died at Golgotha, Mary died, too, spiritually. Only in the wake of Jesus' resurrection did she truly live again.

As Hegel explains, Mary's feeling at this moment can be seen as the identification of spirit with truth: She experienced a sense of "oneness" – a knowledge that everything her son had suffered had been worthwhile. Only in the wake of the resurrection did it all make sense; the resurrection, to use a word Hegel is fond of in other writings, brought a retroactive realization to Mary. Mary was complete and could finally feel like she had fulfilled her task as a mother.

Though Hegel's Mariology (if we might call it that) was far from a high Mariology, his point on maternal love in connection to Mary is profound. If taken further, it may even speak with a soothing patristic voice.

Mary in Universality: Light-Bearer Before Creation

The first moment of Hegel's Concept is the moment of Universality. Hegel frames the moment of Universality as a moment of a mere analytic universal identity – that it is, itself, self-differentiation.

Thus the Concept is absolute self-identity by being first just this, the negation of negation or the infinite unity of negativity with itself. This pure self-reference of the Concept, which is such by positing itself through the negativity, is the universality of the Concept. [3]

Following the fundamental laws of classical logic, every object that exists or can be conceived must necessarily be A=A. Its identity must be analytically identical to itself. A ball is a ball; an apple is an apple; etc.

Since the identity of Universality is an analytic identity of self-differentiation=self-differentiation, Universality must necessarily self-differentiate since that is itself the identity of Universality. That is to say, for Universality to be Universality, it paradoxically must cease to be Universality and instead self-differentiate itself. Thus, the moment of Universality does not exist as a concrete moment, because then it would not be the identity of self-differentiation, but is presupposed in the movement of the Concept. One cannot "point" to the moment of Universality since when one realizes the moment of Universality, it has always-already passed into the moment of Particularity.

This brief overview prepares us to think about Mary's place in Universality.

There is much mystery surrounding Mary before she was born on this earth and lived to become the mother of Jesus. There is certainly a sense that Mary pre-existed her birth on this earth. God chose Mary before the world was made as she who would bear the Incarnate Son. This necessarily follows if you believe that the Incarnation was a plan from eternity that was not predicated on sin in the world, as St Paul states in Ephesians 3:11: κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν… "It is according to the eternal purpose [of God] which has been revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord." [4]

Mary's pre-existence was not an animated cognizant life, per se. She did not exist as a Person of the Trinity. But Mary must be said to have existed before the creation of the world in some sense. Indeed, a tradition of the Western church is to ascribe the words of Psalm 8:22 ("The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways") to Mary. The ensoulment of her body was a necessary entailment of her being that who was deemed before the beginning of the world to be the Lord.

To say this, however, does not mean that Mary is an eternal creature; creaturely being, by nature, cannot be eternal. Instead, we must necessarily partition out distinct aeons of existence following the great minds of the Eastern Fathers, like Origen of Alexandria.

Whenever Scripture says, 'from aeon to aeon,' the reference is to an interval of time, and it is clear that it will have an end. And if Scripture says, 'in another aeon,' what is indicated is clearly a longer time, and yet an end is still fixed. And when the 'aeons of the aeons' are mentioned, a certain limit is again posited, perhaps unknown to us, but surely established by God. [5]

Origen's interpretation of aeon can help us better conceptualize Mary's pre-existence.

Mary existed before the creation of this world, but not before creation altogether. Before the creation of this world, or more exactly in the Greek, this κόσμος, Mary existed. She existed in a higher plane of being than any other creature. Perhaps we might, then – borrowing from Sufism's teaching that Mohammad was the Light of the World created by Allah before the creation of the world, though not equal to Allah, since Mohammad is not divinely pre-existent – say that Mary is precisely the first created principle. She was the first to be created (not begotten, as the Son eternally is in the Trinity). Mary was the first to be created because God knew that she would be the most exalted human who would ever live, and all beings would adore and love her just as she would adore and love God. Mary is not herself the Light of the World, but she is the one who was made to bear the Light of the World. Thus, Mary shines in the Light of the World since she is the one who is eternally prepared to bear it. She is the Lighter-Bearer.

Recall that Hegel denotes Universality as the analytic identity of self-differentiation. How, then, can we say that Mary is the principle of self-differentiating being that necessarily negates herself? It would certainly be heretical to say that Mary "willed" herself into being, since all things were created from nothing through the emanating love of the Trinity. And really, to say this would not move us closer to Hegel's moment of Universality, anyway. Hegel does not attribute a "choice" or "will" to the Concept (though he does characterize the Concept as a shöpferische Macht at times, which means "creative power" in English; this must not be understood literally). [6] The Concept necessarily becomes what it becomes by nature of the Concept.

In a similar fashion, although we colloquially speak about God "choosing" to create the world, it would be mistaken to actually believe (though many in that faux pas "tradition" of Anglo-American theology do) that God chose to create the world or willed the world into being. God is not a finite being with an array of options to choose from. God did not have another world on the docket that He was deliberating about creating. God created what He created because He is God. God is, and his is-ness, or οὐσία, is the explanation for creation.

So then, just as God created the world out of necessity, He created Mary out of necessity. He has known Mary and the creation of all things from the beginning; as Hegel explains in his Science of Logic, "The consciousness of this Concept, is aware that universality is only a moment and that in it the Concept is still not determined in and for itself." [7]

Since Mary was created out of necessity, it is not improper to denote her creation as the movement of self-differentiation negating itself into Particularity. I grant that prima facie thinking of Mary as "pure negation" is quite odd. Mary, on her own, is just a human like any other. Only because of her eternally positioned exalted status as the Mother of Jesus can she be said to be the first created being in the sense I explained above. To be who she is, she relies totally on her moment of Particularity even before it has temporally been undergone. She is nothing in her moment of Universality. Only in Particularity does Mary mean anything to anyone. She then must necessarily be negated, be born, to mean anything. Her birth is a necessity of her pre-existence. And only in Singularity will she be realized to be meaningful in her Universality and Particularity. All shall come together in due time.

Mary in Particularity: Mother of Jesus of Nazareth

The second moment of Hegel's Concept is the moment of Particularity. Particularity is the affirmation of the Concept in its self-negation.

The universal determines itself, and so is itself the particular; the determinateness is its difference; it is only differentiated from itself. [8]

Earlier, I explained precisely how Particularity arises: Universality is self-negated because it is, itself, the analytic identity of self-differentiation. So far, this should all be fairly straightforward. Some may think we have reached the end of the Concept's development. Is the Concept complete? After all, Universality has indeed been self-differentiated, giving birth to a moment of Particularity. There is a moment of Particularity now and a moment of Universality.

This seems to be all we need, at least, in classical metaphysics: Plato's universal forms externally instantiate the particular objects in virtue of the universal forms supervening the particular objects; Aristotle's universals of form (shape) and matter immanently instantiate objects in virtue of the object's nature, which determines how form and matter shall determine the make-up of the object.

But for Hegel, this is not enough.

The necessary work of the Concept is incomplete because there needs to be a negation similar to the moment of Particularity that brought it about. The moment of Particularity must negate itself and return to Universality through this self-negation. This must occur and logically proceeds from the moment of Particularity for the following reason: If something is self-negated, that which is affirmed through the self-negation will have the identity of negation. This simply follows the fundamental law that A = A. The moment of Particularity is analytically defined by A = A, it is self-differentiation = self-differentiation just as the moment of universality was. The moments of Particularity and Universality, then, are equal in that they are both defined by the analytic identity of A = A or self-differentiation = self-differentiation.

In both cases, there is a negation that occurs due to the moment of Universality or Particularity having the identity/content of negation/negativity. Thus, necessarily, if a negation is followed to take us from Universality to Particularity, a negation must be followed in the moment of Particularity. This negation of Particularity, however, is distinct from the negation of Universality. There is, here, a sublation; what Hegel refers to as Aufhebung or Aufheben. From the negation of Particularity, arises Singularity.

With this overview complete, we can begin to think about Mary's place in Particularity.

There is much less mystery surrounding Mary's earthly life than Mary's pre-existence. The canonical gospels, apocryphal texts, and the writings (and visions) of several Fathers teach about Mary’s life. The Gospel of James (probably originally titled Birth of Mary) is a fundamental piece of early Christian literature that informs us about Mary’s life and covers events that the canonical gospels do not. Written around 170 CE and received joyfully by many early Fathers and later the Eastern iconographical tradition, the text introduces two new characters into the gospel story: Mary's parents, St Joachim and St Anna. The narrative that follows involves Mary's miraculous birth, her life growing up in the temple abstaining from all sin even as a little girl, and the account ends with the start of several additional episodes to St Luke's infancy narrative.

As Anna says before the birth of Mary, "As the Lord my God lives, if I bear a child, whether male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall serve him all the days of its life." [9] As pious Orthodox sing on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, "In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness." [10] From the beginning of Mary's life, she has been destined to serve God in all that she would do. And as explained in the last section, from the aeons of aeons before the creation of this κόσμος, Mary has been destined to give birth to the Savior, which is the perfect culmination of her unalterable destiny to serve God. [11] This much is clear from the testimony of the Church.

Now, we can discuss Mary's portrayal in the New Testament since it is our central source for understanding Mary's life. Mary is distinguished as blessed among all women in Luke 1:42; this is done to distinguish her from not only every woman but every human too. She is distinguished this way because she is the only one who bears the Incarnation of the Logos, the Son, He who is the Second Hypostasis of the Godhead. Indeed, when St Paul uses the metaphor of "labor pains" in Romans 8:22 to describe the longing of creation for the fulfillment of love that was given in the Incarnation, perhaps we may read this as an implicit mention of Mary. As the Liturgy of St Basil reads, "In her [Mary] all creation rejoices." Mary is the fullness of creation. Creation desires the coming of the Savior through Mary, who has eternally desired the coming of the Savior.

But back to the gospels themselves.

Mark and John do not have an infancy narrative of Jesus, but Matthew and Luke do. Luke teaches that the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary and informed her that she would bear a great son who would be the Son of the Most High [Ὑψίστου]. Then, at some point, Mary has the baby Jesus in Bethlehem (according to Matthew) or in a manger in Bethlehem (according to Luke). After this, Mary largely disappears from the canonical story (though several apocryphal texts include her presence throughout the narrative of Jesus's life), except for her very prominent role in the wedding scene at Cana in John 2. Here, she commands the servants to follow whatever Jesus commands them to do. Mary is seen again at the crucifixion of Jesus at Golgotha. John 19:25-27 records that Mary was standing at the foot of the cross. Suddenly, Jesus said to Mary, "Behold this is your son." Then he told the disciple St John, "Behold this is your mother." John then took Mary to his house to care for her and stay with her while she grieved the crucifixion of her son. Mary does not appear again in the New Testament, other than in Acts 1:14, which informs us that Mary was with a group of believers.

Since so much is left unsaid in the canonical Scriptures about Mary, early Christians rightly sought to hypothesize about Mary's fate. It is worth briefly exploring the event of the Dormition since this is necessary to grasp Mary's movement from Particularity to Singularity. By the third century (maybe even the late second), a text started to circulate in certain Eastern Christian circles known as the Book of Mary's Repose. This is the most ancient account of Mary’s death and the miraculous events that surround it. Although this was surely a heterodox text, full of "gnostic" and other heretical ventures (and indeed did not have much Marian veneration), it didn't take long (less than a hundred years) for the more "orthodox" Christians to leap upon Marian veneration. [12] A long treatise titled Six Books Dormition Apocalypse was written in the fourth century. It included further detail on the account of Mary's death and the importance of venerating her and her death.

Putting aside the many "mythological" [13] attributes and events associated with Mary's death, the key event of her death must be considered when creating a Hegelian Mariology. And there is no denying that it was certainly miraculous in some key ways. [14] Still though, perhaps the more straightforward account of Mary's death from St (Psuedo)-Dionysius the Areopagite, who was (probably) writing in the late-fifth century, is more suitable for this post. Dionysius writes that he, St James the brother of Jesus, St Peter, and an Athenian priest named Hierothos, witnessed Mary's death. [15] St Maximus the Confessor references a similar (or the same) account, though with a little more "mythological" language: "The holy apostles encircled the bed on which lay the holy Theotokos' body, wider than heaven." [16] Mary's perfect body encompasses all of creation. She who was before all creation, other than herself, bears the status of all creation. (It is worth remembering Romans 8:22, where Paul, in a somewhat Aristotelian fashion, describes creation with feminine attributes, to say that creation has passively longed for the coming of Jesus.)

Returning to Hegel, how can we understand Mary's death as the necessary self-negation of Particularity into Singularity? Mary's high status as the Mother of God was only understood retroactively by later generations of Christians. That is to say, Mary was known as the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth, but through her witness of the resurrection and then finally her Dormition, she came to understand herself, and others (eventually) came to understand her too as the Mother of God, the Theotokos.

Mary's self-negation, then, comes from the fact that she was not known as the Mother of God while she was alive. It is only due to her death, her moment of negation, that she has "become" the Mother of God. Of course, she was always the Mother of God in the most literal sense (from her creation in the prior aeon onwards), but the realization that she was the Mother of God was not until the necessary negation, her death. The resurrection of Jesus might have brought this about as a thought in her mind. However, a resurrected Jesus does not necessarily
mean that Jesus is God. (We only need to look at the varying Christologies of the synoptic gospels to see this failure to comprehend the true revelatory meaning of the resurrection on behalf of the earliest Christians. Only the Fourth Gospel seems to get the whole picture, as John 20:28 explicitly refers to Jesus as ὁ θεός, God Most High, a title solely reserved for the Father in every other place in the canonical gospels.)

The earliest Christians did not recognize Mary as the Mother of God because they did not know about her death (or if they did, they did not realize the meaning of her Dormition because it had not been divinely revealed yet). They perceived and worked through this as a mere death; the death of a great woman and apostolic leader for sure, but the death of a mere human nonetheless. It is only through recognizing this moment of self-negation to be a sublation, an Aufhebung, that we can truly come to terms with the impact of Mary's death. Mary's death, her self-negation, brought together all that had been present in her moment of Universality and what had been present in her Particularity. Mary's moment of Particularity was her "determinateness," to use Hegel's language, but this determinateness was still abstract. This determinateness had not been necessarily determined and realized because there was still much mystery surrounding Mary. It is only in her fully exalted ongoing moment of Singularity that Mary exemplifies and realizes herself as the Mother of God, the Queen Mother of Heaven.

Mary in Singularity: Queen Mother of Heaven

The third and final moment of Hegel's Concept is the moment of Singularity. Singularity is the moment where the final determination of the Concept comes to light because Particularity has self-negated itself back into Universality but in such a way that the content of Particularity is maintained and brought into Universality.

"In Singularity, the earlier true relation, the inseparability of the determinations of the Concept, is posited; for as the negation of negation, Singularity contains the opposition of those determinations and this opposition itself at its ground or the unity where the determinations have come together, each in the other." [17]

Earlier, I explained how Particularity arises from Universality because of its analytic identity of self-differentiation. Particularity, too, then, must follow through on this logically and self-negate. This leads us to Singularity, where all has finally come together. The sublation has been undergone by means of the logical double negation – first from Universality to Particularity, and then from Particularity to Universality – which has, in the latter case, not simply reverted the Concept to Universality, but added content to Universality such that it is now a determinate Universality or concrete Universality.

In the finale of the Concept, the disparate moments of Universality and Particularity are realized for what they always-already have implicitly been (that is, Universality), and the Concept disappears entirely. [18] The Concept steps out of potentiality, into actuality, since the abstractions of Universality and Particularity have fallen away. The Concept is made concrete, but by being made concrete, the Concept ceases to be. The dynamic motion of the Concept is no more. Now, all that is there is Singularity. Singularity is the ongoing moment that, once reached, does not cease in presence. While brief, perhaps too brief, this overview should prepare us to discuss Mary in her Singularity.

Mary's exalted status as the Queen Mother of Heaven is not explicitly discussed in the New Testament. This all the more makes it privy to be seen in the Hegelian schema of the Concept as the moment of Singularity. The Concept's realization, as the Idea, that Mary is the Queen Mother of Heaven, was not present in immediacy, in her life on earth; only through her self-negation, her Dormition, has it become clear who Mary is and was always destined to be.

Earlier, I mentioned how Mary appears in John 2 at the Wedding at Cana. I purposefully left out her role here because it can only be grasped in its exquisite meaning once we have reached the moment of Singularity. In 2 Kings, the Queen Mother of Israel is King Solomon's mother. When her son is away, she rules in his place. She only has authority because of him. In John 2, this is picked up in the case of Jesus. In verse 5, Mary tells the servants: "Whatever he tells you to do, do it." Here, Mary takes the precise role of ruling when the king is absent. In the case of John 2, the absence of the king is not literal, but symbolic. People do not know that Jesus is the Messiah yet. Hence, since Mary is along the Davidic line of kings and Jesus is by proxy on the Davidic line of kings, Mary fulfills her role as the Queen Mother by ruling in the place of the true King, Jesus. Mary carrying on the status as the Queen Mother was not known in her Particularity. Only after her self-negation, her death, has this been realized.

We see this motif of the Queen Mother again, in John 19, but this time not in a clear typological similarity. Earlier, I mentioned how Mary is at the cross, and Jesus refers to John as her son and Mary as his mother. I did not mention the whole meaning of this event since it, too, could only be grasped once the Concept has passed into Singularity. What this event means is that, just as Mary is the stand-in mother of John who both guides him and is taken care of by him, Mary is the mother of all humans. Mary is the mother of all humans who both guides and is taken care of by them. Hence, Mary is the Queen Mother of Heaven.

Mary's status as the Mother of All is neither a metaphor nor a figure of speech nor merely granting an obvious occurrence of Biblical typology. This should be understood with a deeply metaphysical commitment; namely, all mothers, and motherly care as a universal Form instantiated into particular moments, stand as a dim mirror (1 Cor 13:12) to the perfect motherly care of Mary to Jesus and us all. [19] All mothers intrinsically seek to mirror the care of Mary, this is transcendentally determined, but all mothers will ultimately fail to live up to this perfect standard. And this should be no surprise. Scripture speaks verbosely about perfection and how we should strive for perfection. For just one example, take the statement from Jesus in Matthew 5, which explicitly says, "You must be perfect just as your Father is perfect." The call to perfection rings throughout the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, and believers failing to live up to this perfection is just as common of an occurrence. Thus, Mary is the perfect archetype of Motherly care; and perhaps, then, one might go so far as to say she is the instantiation (not Incarnation) of the universal archetype of Mother ("The mother of all living;" Gen 3:20), just as she is, in the language of many Church Fathers, the instantiation (not Incarnation) of the Holy Spirit.

In Revelation 12, we see the culmination of Mary's revealed status in Singularity as the Queen Mother. The woman depicted in the image is both symbolically Israel and Mary. Or, to be more exact, Mary is the figurehead of the image. Her crown in the image is a testament to her ongoing role in our lives as the Queen Mother; she who helps rule with her son and commands His armies, the angels. She who has escaped the dragon that prowls to destroy the fruit of her womb. According to liturgical tradition, she who rules by his side sits by his right hand just as
the Son sits at the Father's right hand. This is the most detailed image in the New Testament of Mary's status in Singularity.

This is why she is, as pious Orthodox sing in Agni Parthene, "More glorious than the Cherubim and higher than the Seraphim." Mary is more glorious than all the angels and all the saints because she is the only person, the only being even, who has passed beyond all sin and decay. Even the angels and the saints await the final judgment; only Mary has surpassed their status. All evil flesh is gone from Mary. She is the only person who, before the apokatastasis, God is truly "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28). As Fr Sergius Bulgakov writes, Mary (in her Singularity, we can say) is at a "middle-point" between creation and the Trinity. [20] She is divine, that is undeniable, and yet she is still connected to the world. She has been made, in the words of St Maximus the Confessor, "uncreated" like the Trinity, but her undying love for mankind and God has kept her, through voluntary self-abasement, tied to the world to care for and hear the supplications of God’s children. Her fixed position as a middle-point between creation and the Trinity explains why saints and even lay holy people may have visions of Mary. And so many miracles have been attributed to her miraculous presence in Christian history.

Mary is the Queen Mother of Heaven who serves God and selflessly brings all
supplications and prayers she receives to her Son. This feature of intercession between the King and His subjects is indeed a continuance of the role of the Queen Mother in Solomon’s kingdom. Mary takes nothing for herself. Mary only gives. She fulfills and perfects the agrapha saying of Jesus found in Acts 20:25, "It is more blessed to give rather than receive." As the Queen Mother of Heaven who mercifully intercedes for all people and who has traversed the deepest depths of hell praying for the salvation of wicked souls, Mary's never-ending moment of Singularity is indispensable to the divine salvation economy of God.

I return again to Hegel. To put it briefly, how is Mary in her Singularity a sublation of her Universality and Particularity? In her Universality, Mary was the Light-Bearer of creation. She was created before any other being, in a prior aeon, to be prepared for her glorious destiny. This destiny, however, could only be achieved if Mary were to be ensouled (self-negate into Particularity) in a body so that she could bear the Incarnation of the Logos. This moves us from Universality to Particularity. In her Particularity, Mary was the Mother of Jesus and leader of the apostles. She manifested the prerequisites by being the Mother of Jesus to receive her glorious destiny. This destiny, however, could only be achieved if Mary were to die (self-negate into Singularity) so that she could become the exalted Queen Mother of Heaven.

Thus, we can only understand Mary's second self-negation (her Dormition) if we have the full scope of her moment as the Light-Bearer of creation. Both negations by themselves are meaningless. Only when both negations are understood retroactively, that is, after the moment of Singularity has been entered, does Mary's entire history of existence make sense. All the chips fall into place at this moment. She, the Light-Bearer, was destined to be the Queen Mother of Heaven. She, the Mother of Jesus and leader of the apostles was destined to be the Queen Mother of Heaven.

Mary, in her Singularity, and only in her Singularity, clears all confusion, abstraction, and misnomers. She is, in her being-in-and-for-itself as the Queen Mother of Heaven, what she always truly was; as Hegel says, "Truth is but the coming-to-oneself through the negativity of immediacy." [21] Let us glorify her forever and ever.


[1] To cover all relevant scholarly bases, I recognize that the intellectual origin of Hegel’s Concept is based on a heretical Sabellian understanding of the Trinity. Simply put, Sabellianism was an early Christian heresy that taught that each Person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) was not a distinct Person with their own hypostatic properties (cause, begottenness, procession; respectively) but instead moments of the singular Godhead: The Father becomes the Son, and the Son becomes the Holy Spirit. This is in utter contrast to Nicene dogma which teaches that each Person in the Trinity has their own eternal hypostatic properties (The Father causes, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds) and that each Person eternally shares in the essential properties of the Godhead (Goodness, Truth, Reason, and so on). Hegel’s Sabellianism is inextricably tied to his Concept, that is, if it is applied to God; the Father becomes necessarily viewed as the “weakest” moment of the Trinity. If applied to a being who is not God, such as Mary, I argue that this problem is skirted altogether. Mary is indeed her “weakest” in her Universality. See the industry standard, Cyril O’Regan, The Heterodox Hegel (SUNY Press, 1994), 138–9 for more on Hegel’s Sabellianism. To my knowledge, there has never been an engagement with Mariology from a Hegelian perspective; the current piece fills that hole! 

[2] G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics Lectures on Fine Art trans. T. M. Knox (Clarendon Press, 1975), 592–3.

[3] Hegel, Science of Logic trans. George Di Giovanni (Cambridge, 2010), 530

[4] Remarkably, the Greek αἰώνων is used here (rather than αιώνιος or a similar adjective). This means "eternal" in the most clear sense. There was an eternal plan for the Incarnation of Jesus, and necessarily, there was an eternal plan for Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. And necessarily, then, there was an eternal plan for Mary to be the Queen Mother of Heaven.

[5] Quoted in Illaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis (Brill, 2013), 161

[6] A self-critique I must levy here, briefly, is that Hegel explicitly denotes the development of the Concept as atemporal, and obviously, Mary’s movement into Particularity was temporal. Hegel writes, “[T]he Concept is as such itself already the identity of itself and reality; for the indeterminate expression ‘reality’ means nothing but determinate being, and this the Concept possesses in its particularity and singularity;” see Science of Logic, 673. While this is a poignant critique of my methodology of using Hegel’s Concept, Hegel is not, seemingly, consistent in this attitude; for instance, he uses the Concept to explain the temporal formation of a political state in Elements of Philosophy of Right. So, I take it that I, too, am justified to use this. (This could be much more complicated, for example, if I take into account the concept of the Idea, which is meant to be the Concept in its self-development, which, although Hegel resists this at several points, necessarily is temporal.) So, I must leave this as is. 

[7] Hegel, Science of Logic, 739.

[8] Hegel, Science of Logic, 525.

[9] Ed. J. K. Elliot, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1993), 58.

[10] “Nativity of the Theotokos,” Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America,

[11] Mary did “choose” (in the most bare sense) to follow God in all that she did as a child, but her choice was already transcendentally determined by her being destined to follow God in all that she did so that she would be prepared to serve as the pure vessel for the coming of the Savior. Mary had free will to follow God, but like all of us, she was destined to inevitably follow God. Many other humans are not destined in this same way, and unfortunately will not follow God in this life; though eventually, as the doctrine of apokatastasis teaches, all will eventually joyfully reconcile themselves to God.

[12] See Stephen J. Shoemaker, “A Cult Following,” in Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion (Yale University Press, 2016) for more on dating the Six Books. See his prior chapter for an analysis of the theology of Book of Mary’s Repose and the heterodox Angelomorphic Christology of the text; Jesus is described as a Cherub angel of light.

[13] Myth does not mean “fake” or “not true.” A myth is an abridged account of an ineffable reality that cannot be conceptualized nor experienced as it is, in itself, by humans. By claiming these to be myths, I don’t mean they are untrue.

[14] For instance, one should think of St John of Damascus’s liturgical hymn sung on August 15th: “A strange wonder it was to see the living heaven of the Ruler of all descended into the hollows of the earth.” Like Christ before her, Mary underwent her own tour of hell (in some accounts, the angel Gabriel guided her). Though she did not save anyone in her tour. She was given the tour so that she may have even more compassion for the wicked souls in hell, and pray for them, unceasingly.  

[15] St Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Divine Names 3.2.

[16] St Maximus the Confessor, Life of the Virgin trans. Stephen J. Shoemaker (Yale University Press, 2012), 136.

[17]  Hegel, Science of Logic, 548.

[18] Knowledgeable Hegelians would not be wrong to say that, in some sense, I am not emphasizing enough that, for Hegel, the unfolding of the Concept is both an ontological and epistemic move. At some points, I prioritize the epistemic and, at others, the ontological. A short response is necessary: I am granting Hegel’s systematic ontological assertion that being=knowledge. This is to say that the Concept as it is unfolding is both an epistemic venture and an ontological venture. So, when I refer to each moment of the Concept being “realized,” “known,” or “becoming,” this should not be taken as only epistemic (like the former two may prima facie seem) nor ontological (like the latter may prima facie seem). “Realize,” “known,” and “becoming” have an epistemic and ontological sphere that cannot be abstracted away; or at least, I grant this for the purpose of this post. 

[19]  I presuppose a basic Platonic metaphysical commitment here. However one wishes to cash this out (Analytic Platonism; Conceptualist Platonism; Bulgakovian Platonism) is their prerogative. 

[20] Fr Sergius Bulgakov, Sophia: The Wisdom of God (Lindisfarne Press, 1993), 119.