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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

( Θεοτόκος , God-Bearing ) .

1. A title applied by various Romish writers to the Virgin Mary as the "mother of God." (See Martolatry).

2. An ecclesiastical term adopted at the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon to assert the doctrine of the divinity of our Lord's person. The truth which it was designed to teach is that although two natures are united in one Christ, yet there are not two persons, but one. Our Lord was a divine person from all eternity, and upon his incarnation he did not cease to be the person he had been before. There was, therefore, no change or interruption of his identity, for the Godhead became incarnate, not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God. Although the nature, which he took of the substance of his, mother was human, the person who was born was divine, and this was the truth declared in the adoption of the term Θεοτόκος . It is not, of course, meant that the Virgin was the mother of the Godhead of our Lord, but that the human nature, which he had assumed of her substance, was so united to the divinity that the person begotten of her was God as well as man. In this sense she might be called the mother of God. Equivalent expressions are used by Irenaeus and Ignatius, while Θεοτόκος is used by Alexander of Alexandria, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origen, and Gregory Theologus. This doctrine has been the cause of much debate, and of more than one council. (See Christology).