Skip to comments.Scriptural View of Mary
Posted on 10/08/2007 6:08:42 AM PDT by NYer
The following is the transcript of Scott Hahn's audio and video tape presentation, "Mary: Holy Mother" as it appears in the "Catholic Adult Education on Video Program" with Scott and Kimberly Hahn.
As you probably know, this is our third installment in a series of five sessions that we are spending together discussing how to answer common objections, questions regarding key tenets that are distinctive to the Catholic Church. We have focused upon the Pope and yesterday we looked at purgatory. This morning we want to focus on Mary and the Marian doctrines and devotions of the Catholic Church to see where in scripture do we see, not necessarily logical demonstrations that are brought forth from proof texts that kind of force the mind against the will to give in and to acquiesce in these beliefs, but where do we find in scripture the reflections and the illustrations and the assumptions and the conclusions that the Catholic Church affirms with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary?
We are also going to be able to touch lightly and briefly upon some historical data, but our focus this morning will be primarily scriptural. Now non-Catholics also are concerned with historical evidences for Marian doctrines and devotions. But I would say the vast majority of non-Catholic questions and objections stem from scripture and the seeming silence from the holy writ. So that's what we are going to be focusing our attention, our energy and our time upon this morning.
Before I go on, I want to make the same admission that I do at every point and that is, we don't have time to cover everything. We don't have time to cover even half of what we need to cover. I'll do my best and you know how fast I can get going and you know how long I can go. I have to candidly concede the fact that you need to be reading scripture. You need to be asking our Lord for extra time to study, to ponder and to pray. Let me recommend some books to you, some secondary sources.
One of my favorites is by one of the top biblical scholars in France, Andre Foulier. It's entitled Jesus and His Mother, the Role of the Virgin Mary in Salvation History and the Place of Women in the Church. This, I believe, is a masterpiece, and it's published by St. Bede, and it's only about two or three years old. The other book I want to recommend, and I am not sure is in print. In fact, I suspect it might be out of print, but you can find it in libraries, and I have found it in used book stores because that's my favorite haunting place, to travel to used book stores. But this is by Max Thurien who is a reformed brother in the Taize community over in Europe. It's entitled, Mary, Mother of All Christians.
What makes this distinctive is that when he wrote this, he was a Reformed Calvinist Christians. You don't find Christians much more non-Catholic than that! I know. I was one! Now, rumor has it, and I have only heard it from two or three persons, and I've not confirmed this, that Brother Max Thurien has converted. He is considered to be one of the wisest Reformed Protestant theological sages of this century, not only for his theological depth and his scriptural understanding, but especially for his spirituality in guiding the Taize community in worship and community and in ecumenical environment.
Another classic, Joseph Duer, a Jesuit by the name of Joseph Duer. I believe it was originally written in German. It's entitled, The Glorious Assumption of the Mother of God. This goes through the biblical and the historical, the patristic and the magisterial data and evidences for the doctrine, or the dogma, I guess we could say, of the bodily assumption of our Lady. Now this is an old copy, but I was just recently informed that the book is back in print. I'm not sure who publishes it, but my suspicion is Christian Classics.
Here's another book, and I'll tell you the story behind this a little later. Remind me; I might forget. It's entitled The Assumption of Mary by Father Killiam Healey, a Carmelite theologian up in New England, in Massachusetts. This is published by Michael Glazier. I'm not sure if you can get it from them, but if you want to try, you have to contact Liturgical Press, because Glazier and Liturgical Press just merged up in Collegeville, Minnesota, which is their new address. But this is superb. This is for popular consumption. This could be like a primer, a first reader in Marian Doctrine and Devotion. He is very fair and even handed. And I might add, he's a marvelous priest. I heard him preach, right after I joined the Church, but I'll tell that story later on. It was a delight in my own life.
The real magnum opus on the subject was written by one of Great Britain's top Biblical scholars, Father John McHugh entitled, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament, published by Doubleday, and it's in many public libraries that I have seen as well as college or high school or seminary libraries. I don't believe it's in print, but it is all around, so you could find it if you looked hard enough. This is just a copious study of all of the relevant passages in the New Testament, and McHugh looks at these from the perspective of the writers of scripture themselves, how the Fathers of the Church interpreted it, how Jewish and Rabbinic interpreters and commentators understood certain passages from the Old that were fulfilled by the New, all the way up until the present day. It's very thorough but readable, very readable. I think anybody named McHugh has something good to say. I'm buttering up my host and hostess here.
Well, here we go. What I would like to do now is to begin to change our focus to scripture itself. Of course, the place we have to begin in order to see what the scripture says about the Blessed Virgin Mary is found all the way in the beginning of the Bible. Let's turn to Genesis, chapter 3. There we see the first Eve having been seduced and, I believe, brutally intimidated into a kind of disobedient submission. You can go back and listen to this tape that I think we made two or two-and-a-half days ago about how often we distort what really happened in the temptation narrative, because we don't know how to read Hebrew narrative. There is a literary artistry there at work that's very hard for the Western mind to grasp, understand and appreciate. But I believe, just to sum it up, that Adam was called to be a faithful covenant head in a marital covenant, and he was called to show forth, as the representative of the covenant, the love, the hessed, the loyalty of the covenant to the fullest degree. And, as our Lord says, "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his beloved."
So, if he is truly going to love his covenant partner in marriage, he has to be willing to lay his life down. Now, how does God, the Father, test his son's loyalty and love? Well, that's what the serpent is there for. The serpent, nahash in Hebrew is, I believe, misunderstood to be a snake. Medieval art work, and this has been carried on into the modern tradition where you have Eve depicted as some dumb, perhaps blonde, but some dumb air-head who just basically is tricked by some little snake, hanging from a branch in a tree, to eat the apple. All right, and so all men just kind of sit back and say, "Yeah, it's still the same way." And they congratulate themselves on being so worldly wise that they wouldn't be so dumb as this air head.
Total misreading, I believe. This is my own hypothesis. This is my own interpretation. You don't have to abide by it, but my view is that the nahash, the serpent is deliberately depicted as a kind of, I'd say mythical figure but I don't want to deny the historicity of this text. It's just that Hebrew historical narrative can often use mythical imagery to communicate historical truth. In Daniel 7, I mentioned four gentile kingdoms are described as being "four beasts." So, I believe, here we have the serpent as a kind of dragon. The word is used and used and used in Hebrew to connote or denotes a dragon figure like Leviathan or Banmuth or Rehab, the monster later than Isaiah and elsewhere in the Old Testament. In Revelation 12:9 in the New Testament confirms this translation of nahash, not as serpent/snake, but as serpent/dragon, because there Satan is described as the "ancient serpent" and then it goes on to describe a seven-headed dragon.
So she is being confronted and brutally intimidated by a dragon who is intent upon producing disobedience, come hell or high water. So in the cross-examination, in the interrogation that goes back and forth, Satan uses the truth in a clever, deceptive, but intimidating way to kind of force this woman to see, in effect, that if she doesn't eat that fruit, she will die, at least in the biological, physical sense because Satan will see to it.
The question, then, as you read through this narrative is not based upon anything that is explicitly stated, but rather that which is so conspicuously unstated, and that is, where the heck is Adam in all this? By the end of the narrative you discover that he's right by the woman because she just turns and gives him the fruit to eat; but the question is, where was he all along? This loving covenant head, this loving covenant partner who is to show the great love that he's willing to lay down his life for his beloved? Well, he was probably rationalizing his silence by saying, "Well, if I oppose such a serpentile monster as this, I stand no chance."
So in Hebrews 2:14-16, the New Testament tells us that Christ had to take on our flesh and blood to free us from the devil, from Satan, who held us in life-long bondage because of the fear of death and suffering we all have. So it seems as though Adam's response, or lack of response, is due to his fear of suffering and death, which in turn subjects all of A-dam, humanity, to life-long bondage to he who holds the power of death, Satan, in this sense.
So the first Eve, then, is abandoned by her covenant partner and husband who was presumably to tell that dragon where to go, and then, in a sense, stand up for his convictions and possibly even suffer martyrdom and to lay down his life for his beloved and trust that God, his Creator, to whom he is loyal in love would raise him and vindicate him in proper covenant judgment. Which is exactly what the second Adam does on behalf of the second Eve, the Church, which is the whole dramatic encounter we read about in Revelations 12. I'm going to have to talk about that later on this day, so I'm not going to get into it too much this morning. You're all invited to that. It's at 1:30. We're going to be talking about Mary, Ark of the Covenant, focusing upon the woman of the Apocalypse who is clothed with the sun, a crown of 12 stars, and the world under her feet. I think it's the deliberate symbol of the second Eve for whom the second Adam lay down his life. Mary, the Church, Israel, and all New Testament believers in a sense.
But having sinned, Adam and Eve were now confronted by God. You can go all the way back, I believe, to verse 8, Genesis 3:8, "They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and the man and his wife hid themselves." Now, this is, I think, perhaps somewhat of a mistranslation. We often have this kind of romantic, bucolic picture here of God kind of walking through the woods. You can hear the crushing of the leaves and the snapping of the twigs as he says, you know, "Adam, Eve, where are you?" Poor God, just doesn't really know what's going on!
But when you actually look at the Hebrew, what the people hear, verse 8, it says, "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God." We're tempted to hear that as the crushing leaves and snapping twigs, this poor unwitting God is saying, "where... weren't we supposed to meet, you know. Isn't this the time? Isn't this the place?" But no. The word in Hebrew for sound is qol. Now, what kind of noise does the qol of the Lord make? Well you can find out by reading Psalm 29. Keep your finger on Genesis 3 and take a look at Psalm 29 because there we discover an entire psalm devoted to describing what Adam and Eve must have heard when they heard the qol of the Lord, the sound of the Lord.
Verse 1 of Psalm 29, "Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings or sons of God. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name and worship the Lord in holy array. The qol of the Lord is upon the waters. The God of glory thunders. The Lord upon many waters. The qol of the Lord is powerful. The qol of the Lord is full of majesty." Verse 5, "The qol of the Lord breaks the cedars. The Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf in Sirion, like a young wild ox. The qol of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The qol of the Lord shakes the wilderness. The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The qol of the Lord makes the oak trees to whirl and strips the forest bare and all in his temple cry, 'glory'!"
What do you think they heard? It wasn't the snapping of little twigs and the crunching, you know, of leaves. They heard a thunder and shattering roar, and they hid themselves. Quite understandably. Goes on, "They heard the qol of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day." That word in Hebrew, cool, is ruah, normally translated spirit or wind, and that phrase could easily be translated as scholars have argued, "They heard the thundering, shattering roar of Yahweh Eloheim as he was coming into the garden as the spirit of the day!" What day? The day of judgment. We've got a primo parousia on our hands. The second coming in advance in a sense.
So they flee from the sound that they hear. They hide from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. "But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Now he doesn't talk about geographical location. The deity here, in order to meet the job description of the divinity is omniscient. He knows where they are. He's asking, "Where are you in terms of your covenant standing before me. Where are you? "He answered, ' I heard you in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked and so I hid. Who told you that you were naked?" What does the man say? "The woman! Have you eaten of the fruit that I told you not to eat?" And what does he say? He immediately starts passing the buck. Verse 12, "The man said, 'The woman.'" But it gets worse, "The woman you gave me."
Not so subtle, huh? He's not just faulting her. Who's he really faulting? Some help, some assistant you gave me! He's not just blaming her. He's implicitly blaming God. And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you've done?" The woman said, "The nahash deceived me and I ate." Now, if you go back, the serpent never actually told a lie, but what the serpent did was to use a kind of blunt, brutal intimidation to get her to submit to the evil. "So the Lord said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this cursed you above all the livestock, etc." But here we look at verse 15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel."
Now some other translations render, "She will crush your head." And so we have statues of our Lady crushing the head of the serpent. That's an interesting but kind of tangential issue for us right now. At any rate, we see here the woman. "I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed." Now you don't have to be a scientist to wonder what they're talking about here. The serpent's seed, okay. But her seed? The Greek Old Testament translates this spermatos, that's the term for seed. Now so far, so good, but wait a second. What is it doing in connection with the woman? The woman's seed? Nowhere else in the Old Testament do you ever come across an expression like that. It's always the man's seed, the husband's seed, the father's seed. This is weird. The woman's seed? Yeah, God's going to elevate that woman and give to her in some unique sense perhaps a seed through which the serpent's head will be crushed. Keep that in the back of your mind because that is going to be crucial.
We're going to move on now to, of course, what is probably the second most famous Old Testament passage for understanding our Lady, Isaiah 7, verse 14. Isaiah 7, verse 14: here we have an interesting episode between Isaiah and King Ahas who is king of Judah, and he's worrying about the national stability of his people in his country of Judah, his kingdom, because he is surrounded by stronger neighbors and so he's toying with the idea of entering into all kinds of wrong- headed alliances. So, through Isaiah the Lord says to King Ahas who's always beginning to kind of stumble with doubts, he's beginning to wonder with fear who he should rely upon, Verse 3, "Then the Lord said to Isaiah, 'go out'" and it goes on in verses 3 through 10, where the Lord speaks to Ahas through Isaiah and says, "Ask of me and I will give you a sign."
In other words, let's admit it. Your faith is weak. You need to have it shored up and strengthened. That's what signs are for. Go ahead and ask me for a sign. Verse 12, with false modesty Ahas says, "Oh, I won't ask. I will not put the Lord to the test." Give me a break! Isaiah said, "Hear now, you House of David, is it not enough to try the patience of men. Will you try the patience of my God also?" He sees your need. He's got the gift that you need. Now don't play strong. You're weak, admit it and receive the gift that he's got in this sign." "Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel."
That word, almah in Hebrew translated by the Greek Septuagint parthenos has been the subject of incredible debate. Is it young woman or is it virgin? You could stack up scholars who advocate either position, but I am persuaded, not only by the targums, that is the ancient Jewish interpretation of this was decidedly in favor of "virgin." They saw it as some kind of Messianic prophecy in the targums, these ancient Aramaic paraphrases of the Old Testament.
Now there are a lot of scholars who debate, "Well, are the targums before Christ or after Christ or whatever?" But I think there's a lot of evidence for them being before Christ, but even if they were a little bit after Christ, the fact remains that Jews from earliest times saw a Messianic reference with regard to parthenos, a virgin. A recent scholar whose article I just read by the name of Professor Wyatt argues that the Alexandrian Jews who rendered almah by parthenos were being entirely faithful to the Herogamic tradition. He goes on to talk about how Isaiah borrows all his pagan mythical imagery, only then historicizes it with reference to the coming Messiah, as the ritual technical term for an embodiment of a divine mother, who is both a fecund mother, a fruitful mother, as well as a perpetual virgin.
In other words, Isaiah in using this language is tapping into a well-known ancient outlook on what humanity needs for deliverance, that is, God is going to have to send an incredible figure, the likes of which humans have never seen, a creature, a human but in a sense possessed by God in an absolutely unique way. And this, by the way, is not unique to the Hebrew tradition. It's shared throughout. Now maybe it's because Genesis 3:15 was channeled out throughout the world as the human race spread, whatever you want to believe.
There are other ways to explain it, but the fact remains that this translation, this rendering of almah as virgin is strong and sure and is very reliable. At any rate, we know one thing for sure, the New Testament applies it to Mary and the virginal birth of Jesus. So in terms of the inspired narrative, what do we have? In Matthew, we have in a sense, the answer in the back of the book really, or at least we can treat it that way for this morning's time together.
What is going on here? The Davidic line is almost at an end and the only way out for King Ahas in his own mind is to begin to move away from Yahweh and to begin to trust in all of these pagan neighbors who want to form alliances with him. Only, in order to form those alliances he's going to have to submit as a kind of vassal. So Isaiah says, "Don't do it. If you are weakening in your faith, ask him for a sign. He has one ready." The problem is the Davidic line could be crushed. Well, the faithful were saying, "But God has sworn an oath: there will always be an heir on the Davidic throne."
But now what happens if the king is deposed and if the royal family is murdered? Well, God will take a virgin and produce a son of David. In other words, we're not dependent exclusively upon human resources, political power, economic wealth and all of the rest. So Isaiah 7:14 stands in line with Genesis 3:15 as in a sense the second key text with regards to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
AMEN on all counts.
Have long had great admiration and love for SALVATION. I consider him a Dear Bro in Christ. My strong impression is that he mostly has his spiritual ducks & priorities in a row.
I have a certain amount of fun popping 'sacred' balloons; slaying sacred cows. Ostentacious, phoney, arrogant etc. authority has always begged for such responses, imho. And, perhaps some have noted, I'm not too bashful but to offer such up.
HOWEVER, there's an eternal priority that is absolutely paramount
I'm utterly CONVINCED IN EVERY WAY AT EVERY LEVEL that for a certain unknown percentage of precious RC folks . . . the Marion hogwash will prove to be eternally deadly. ETERNALLY DEADLY.
The FIRST COMMANDMENT WAS TO HAVE NO AS IN NO OTHER GODS BEFORE GOD. That includes the Mother of Jesus.
The rationalization is pontifacted that Prottys know little of veneration, adoration etc. HOGWASH. Rationalized special worship terms do not hide the attitude of the heart.
Given that God has decreed that mercy triumphs over justice, it MAY BE [NO guarantee] that God will excuse some folks' over-weening adoration of Mary because He knows in their hearts they REALLY DO SEEK & LOVE HIM FIRST, FOREMOST ETC.
But for a certain percentage of others . . . the DECEPTIVE, . . . . MARION JUNK has siphoned off heart-level love and worship of Jesus ONTO MARY. NO DOUBT. And, at some point, it becomes a kind of willful hiding in the Mary stuff and the fantasized Mary stuff to a wholesale minimizing and exclusion of JESUS from the bulk of that person's spiritual life. At some point, I think God will have no tolerance for such and will decree that the person has decided their destiny thereby.
That is an utterly awesomely frightful prospect.
IF my satire, humor, whatever jostles, jars, knocks some mental cobwebs loose enough for some folks to reconsider things more rationally, sanely--then--I'm humbled and PRAISE GOD. But I dare not sit silently by and do ought else but what I can toward such an even POSSIBILITY. Particularly on behalf of the thousands of lurkers.
A hanky folding contest?
You may be right.
Then again, some may be avoiding the thread to avoid bursting a bloodvessel over opposition comments.
Which, to me . . . is another sign of the overweening priority Mary has in their lives.
Yeah. There’s something about the “QUEEN OF HEAVEN” title that causes a chill in my bones and the hair to raise on my neck, so to speak.
Your points and posts are excellent as usual. Thanks tons for commenting.
If the idol is made by it’s worshippers to
walk like an idol,
lay eggs like an idol,
fly like an idol,
waddle like an idol,
quack like an idol,
wear gold leaf like an idol,
generate bowing and scraping like an idol,
generate overconcuming attention, focus and thought life like an idol,
. . .
then, it must be a Petunia???
Please observe more carefully. You’re missing something vital.
Would you be so kind as to post black letters, they are a lot easier to read. Let your words be weighty not your font and color.
Thanks for the rich belly laugh, BTW.
I appreciate your request.
I’m sorry for the distraction, discomfort or whatever it is to you.
Perhaps you can highlight or whatever other manipulation will suit you.
It is a matter I’ve prayerfully pondered a great deal. It is not a matter I feel allowed to compromise on. Sorry.
I don’t know how to explain it further. There are aspects of it which . . . I feel constrained to abide by while saying nothing more about.
What you’re missing is that the pagans BELIEVED the works of their hands were their gods. Catholics BELIEVE that there is only one God, and that Second Person of that God, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, has a physical body. Catholics do not believe their icons and statues are gods.
I do finally have that very good research material. And will get to posting it by and by. It has fallen lower on the priority list than one might wish.
Thanks for the reminder.
I suspect that most . . . maybe even 99.99999999% of RC folks would affirm your statement.
But mental surface assertions and rationalizations do NOT hide the attitude of the heart from God.
So, you make the hypothesis that the attitude of the heart is to WORSHIP these images as they were gods? How are you so sure? Isn’t that arrogance?
No they don't.
Amen! The elevation of Mary is just pure idolatry. They say it's not and try to wiggle and squirm, fitting this misguided doctrine into a pretended context; but at the end of the day it is nothing more than bowing down to something made of stone. And they know it. This "veneration" is nothing more that a fancy word for worship. They try to fit it in between respect and worship but it doesn't quite work. Yet they don't discourage people from venerating mold on a NJ tunnel.
btw-I found this a hoot...
I don't know if they're is an official Catholic teaching on what he is refering to, so as long as it doesn't conflict with anything the Church teaches, he can interpret it that way.
The guy’s writing was just terrible. I hoped to find some scripture and all I learned was a lot about the writer and why the writings criticizing him exist.
Well, I would say the same for the Westminster Confession. :O)