Skip to comments.Essays for Lent: Mary Ever-Virgin
Posted on 03/24/2012 7:24:43 PM PDT by Salvation
by Sebastian R. Fama
Some say that Mary had children other than Jesus. They cite several passages of Scripture that supposedly say as much. One example is Matthew 1:24-25, which reads, "When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus."
The word "until" seems to indicate that after the birth of Jesus there were normal marital relations. However, the Greek word heos (ἕως) which is translated as until, does not imply that anything happened after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it. The point of the verse is that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus.
The word "until" is used this way elsewhere. In reference to John the Baptist, Luke 1:80 states: "The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel." Does this mean that once he appeared publicly he left the desert? It might appear so, but Jesus says otherwise in Luke 7:24: "When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 'What did you go out to the desert to see, a reed swayed by the wind?'" John had already begun his ministry back in chapter 3. Here we are in chapter 7, and he is still in the desert.
Luke 2:7 is often pointed to as evidence that Mary had other children. It reads: "And she gave birth to her firstborn son." If Mary had a first born wouldn't that indicate that she had at least a second born? Not at all. In Hebrew culture the term first-born is simply a title for a woman's first child. If she only had one child he would still be her first-born. There is a perfect example of this in Numbers 3:40: "The Lord then said to Moses, 'take a census of all the first-born males of the Israelites a month old or more, and compute their total number.'" How many of those one month old babies do you suppose had younger siblings? I think it would be accurate to say, none of them. And yet they are still referred to as "first-born."
But what about the verses that speak about the brothers and sisters of Jesus? For instance, Matthew 13:55-56: "Is He not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother named Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Are not His sisters all with us?" Could Matthew be referring to Jesus' cousins? Although both Greek and English have a word for cousin, Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, does not. Hence the words brothers and sisters are used. These terms can also be used to refer to friends. Observe how Jesus himself uses the word "brothers" in Matthew 28:10 and see what happens in verse 16: "Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me'...The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had ordered them." Were the disciples His siblings? Of course not!
A comparison of the three gospel accounts of the women at the foot of the cross demonstrates that James and Joseph, two of the named brothers, are the sons of Mary and Cleophas (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25). This Mary is obviously not the mother of Jesus, as she is mentioned in addition to her. Another obvious reason is the fact that Jesus' mother was married to a man named Joseph, not Cleophas.
In Mark 6:3 Jesus is called "THE" son of Mary not "A" son of Mary. Elsewhere, Mary is called the mother of Jesus, but never the mother of anybody else. Even Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli taught that Mary remained a virgin. They believed that it was the clear teaching of Scripture.
In Luke 1:30-35, we find the following: "Then the angel said to her, 'Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus.' But Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?' And the angel said to her in reply, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.'" Mary's statement would make no sense unless she intended to remain a virgin. The angel said; "you will conceive" not you have conceived. Surely Mary knew the facts of life. If she were to conceive, her normal thought would have been that at some future time she would have relations with a man. Her protest could only have meant that she was a virgin and that she would like to keep it that way. The angel's reply is an assurance that such would be the case. Mary's point becomes even more obvious when you consider the fact that she was already betrothed to Joseph.
Additional evidence can be found at the foot of the cross. In John 19:26-27 we find: "When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." If Jesus had brothers and sisters, why did He entrust the care of His mother to the Apostle John?
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For Further Study
The Early Church Fathers on Mary's Perpetual Virginity (Free)
Books - Introduction to Mary by Mark Miravalle and Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn and Mary and the Fathers of the Church by Fr. Luigi Gambero.
CD - Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn and The Gospel Truth About Mary - Volume 1 by Tim Staples
DVD - Footprints of God: Mary with Stephen Ray
For the record
KEYWORDS: blessedvirginmary; catholic; perpetualvirginity; Click to Add Keyword
Essays for Lent: Justification
Essays for Lent: Tradition
Essays for Lent: Scripture Alone
Essays for Lent: The Canon of Scripture
Essays for Lent: Papal Infallibility
Essays for Lent: The Pope
Essays for Lent: The Church
Essays for Lent: The Bible
Essays for Lent: The Trinity
Essays for Lent: Creationism or Evolution?
I disagree with the Roman Catholic interpretation on this matter, but that is not what I want to respond to. The last line has a simple answer:
“If Jesus had brothers and sisters, why did He entrust the care of His mother to the Apostle John?”
Answer: Jesus’ siblings didn’t believe in Him as the Son of God until after His resurrection. He brought a lot of trouble on them as Torah-believing Jews. Brother James finally got it after Jesus arose from the Dead. Nevertheless, Jesus was free to pick out whomever he wanted to take care of his mother.
I have a question for all believers, Catholics and Prostestants alike: Just where in the Bible does it ever say that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is John? Nothing Jesus actually said to or about John in the Bible gives the least inkling of this. Yet, because these word appear in the Gospel of JOhn and because John is the only one of the original apostles who was not executed, an assumption is made by the Church that this is who Jesus was talking about.
I have heard sermons on this,one stating that John was just too darn humble to name himself. Right- The Son of Thunder too humble. I don’t buy it.
There were no brothers and sisters. That’s why Christ gave his mother to John’s care.
Did you read the article? any of the links? Especially the highlighted ones that have to do with language?
A Mother's your mother no matter what you brother does. They did not believe in trusting strangers for their mother unless there were no other relatives. It was not like today's thinking. They took care of their own.
Nobody went to the senior living center old age home.
Families took care of it.
Three things in the Bible lead some Protestants to believe that Mary was not ever-virgin: the reference to Jesus’ “brothers”, the use of the word “until” in Matthew 1:25, and the reference to Jesus as Mary’s “firstborn.” Let’s look at these one at a time.
The word “brother” or “brethren” is often used in Scripture for relationships other than that of those born of the same parents:
Lot - Abraham
nephew - uncle
Jacob - Laban
nephew - uncle
1 Chronicles 23:21-22
Children of Kish and Eleazar
2 Kings 10:13-14
42 “brethren” of King Azariah
Deuteronomy 23:7, Jeremiah 34:9
practitioners of the same religion
all who love Christ
members of the Church
Christ - His disciples
Savior - saved
1 Corinthians 15:6
500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ
This isn’t every reference to “brother(s)” or “brethren” in the Bible, but it’s enough to prove that the use of the words “brothers” or “brethren” doesn’t necessarily indicate “blood brothers” at all. This is true is because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic have words for “uncles,” “nephew,” “niece,” “step-brother,” “step-sister,” etc. All were referred to as “brother” and “sister,” which were translated into Greek as adelphos or adelphe.
Nonetheless, and despite Tradition, there are four people that some Protestants claim are the blood brothers of Jesus, an idea which comes from Mark 6:3 which says that Jesus is “the brother of James, and Joses, and of Jude and Simon.” But to find out who the real mother of these four are, look at the following:
Matthew 27: 55-56 tells us of three women at the Cross: “And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children.”
Mark 15:40 tells us of the three women there, “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.”
John 19:25 is the most inclusive, telling us of four women’s presence, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” (Note here the reference to Mary’s “sister” who’s named Mary!)
Putting all these together, we can cross off Joses and James the Less as being Jesus’ blood brothers because their mother is the wife of Cleophas.
We can cross Simon off the list because Mark 3:18 tells us he is a Canaanite, “And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite...”
Jude, we are told in Jude 1:1, is the “servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.”
Crossing just one name off the list is enough to prove the point that the Hebrew word “brother” means many things (just as the word does in English today, my “brother or sister in Christ!”) and to prove that this is so even in the very particular context of Mark 6:3.
St. Papias, writing in the first and early second centuries and called by St. Irenaeus a “hearer of John,” refers clearly to all the above Marys in his letter, a fragment of which survives to this day. He writes:
Mary the mother of the Lord; Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph; Mary Salome, wife of Zebedee, mother of John the evangelist and James; Mary Magdalene. These four are found in the Gospel. James and Judas and Joseph were sons of an aunt of the Lord’s. James also and John were sons of another aunt of the Lord’s. Mary, mother of James the Less and Joseph, wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord, whom John names of Cleophas, either from her father or from the family of the clan, or for some other reason. Mary Salome is called Salome either from her husband or her village. Some affirm that she is the same as Mary of Cleophas, because she had two husbands. [read the complete letter fragment here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0125.htm. Will open in new browser window.]
In addition to this, Jesus could well have had step-brothers, as Church Tradition and early Church writings tell us that Joseph was an older man when Mary, a consecrated virgin, was betrothed to him so that he could act as her protector when she got to be of age enough to “defile the Temple” (though she could not, in fact defile the Temple). Please read the Protoevangelium of St. James, dated to ca A.D. 125, which, in chapter 9, clearly states that St. Joseph had other children from a former marriage. Though this document was rejected by the Church as being a part of infallible Scripture, it is very early evidence of the belief, held as possisble from the beginning of the Church, that Jesus had “brothers” because his earthly father, Joseph, had children when he married Mary, a consecrated virgin. Also see the apocryphal document, the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, yet another early source which proves that many of the earliest Christians believed in Mary’s consecrated virginity, that Joseph was an aged man when he married her, and that she was kept free from sin.
You’re Joseph. Your wife gave birth to God. Would you have sex with her?
Another note on this: when Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive a child, she says to him in Luke 1:34, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” We are told seven verses before that when this happened she was “a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph.” She was already engaged, knew she was to be married, is visited by an angel who tells her she will have a Son, and she acts bewildered, as though it’s an impossibility because she “knows not a man.” She’s not confused that she will bring forth a Son who “shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David”; she is confused that she will bring forth a son at all! She doesn’t “get it” because she knows she is a consecrated virgin and will not “know a man!” She is confused that she will have a son at all!
Yet another poser: why, in the name of all that’s Holy, would Jesus give Mary to John to care for if He had all these brothers and sisters around? John 19:26-27 reads, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”
And finally, if Jesus had brothers and sisters, don’t you think their descendants would know it? At least in the first 300 years or so of the Church? Where were they? Did they speak of “Uncle Jesus” often? I’d think that if He had all of these brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews around, there’d have been some word of it.
Yes, the two highlight threads above.
WHO are these so called ‘early church fathers’.... by name please?
This thread is nothing more than a continuation of making Mary something different than what the Scripture literally says. Mary was only crowned a ‘Holy Queen’ in the vivid imaginations of some who are for whatever reason obsessed with the notion that she would actually be a human if she had sex with her husband....
More redefinition of words to suit Catholic doctrine. Now “until” means “never”, “sister/brother” means “cousin” and “Hebrew and Greek” means “Aramaic”.
And then here are a bunch of FR threads on different topics from the Early Church Fathers:
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: Prayer is Answering the Word of God [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: These Words are the Word of God [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: The Two Meanings of the Bible [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: These Words are the Word of God [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: Guide to the Discovery of Scripture [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: Every page of the Bible is a hymn to Christ [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: The Four Gospels [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: The Scriptures are one book in Christ [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on Scripture: The Nourishing Bread of Scripture [Ecumenical]
The Early Church Fathers on the Scriptures: Reading Scripture with the Early Church...[Ecumenical]
Catholic Word of the Day: PATRISTICS, 05-13-11
On the Unity of the Church. [Church Fathers (cont'd)]
On the Unity of The Church [Church Fathers, (cont'd)]
On The Unity of The Church (cont'd)
On the Unity of the Church (Cont'd) [Church Fathers]
On the Unity of the Church. [Church Fathers]
Abortion and the Early Church [Fathers] (Catholic & Orthodox Caucus)
Why do Catholics always talk about the Early Church Fathers (Apostolic Fathers)?[Ecumenical]
Church History, Justin Martyr, Preeminent Apologist
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: Apostolic Fathers of the Church
THE CHURCH FATHERS: A DOOR TO ROME (fundamentalist warns saying they sound too Catholic)
Were the Church Fathers Closer to Protestantism Than to Catholicism?
Were the Church Fathers Closer to Protestantism Than to Catholicism?
The Early Christians Believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
The Faith of Our Fathers
The Early Church Fathers
The Early Church Fathers on The Church (Catholic Caucus)
Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Purgatory - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Salvation Outside the Church [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Early Church Fathers on Marys Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Primacy of Peter/Rome (Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
The Early Church Fathers on Hell - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Intercession of the Saints - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Real Presence - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Confession / Reconciliation - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Justification - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Contraception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on Baptism - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Early Church Fathers on The Mother of God - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Quotes from the Early Church Fathers
Early Church Fathers - Worship on Sabbath or Sunday
The Early Church Fathers on the Assumption [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Look to the Church Fathers to Shed Light on Modern Problems, Writes the Pope
On St. Clement of Rome -The Church Has a Sacramental, Not Political Structure (March 7, 2007)
Truly a Doctor of Unity (St. Ignatius of Antioch) (March 14, 2007)
St. Justin Martyr: He Considered Christianity the True Philosophy (March 21, 2007)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons: The First Great Theologian of the Church (March 28, 2007)
St. Clement of Alexandria: One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason (April 18, 2007)
On Origen of Alexandria: He Was a True Teacher (April 25, 2007)
Origen: The Privileged Path to Knowing God Is Love
I have heard sermons on this,one stating that John was just too darn humble to name himself. Right- The Son of Thunder too humble. I dont buy it.
I'll make a stab at this since you direct your question to all believers. I lean a great deal, with certain qualifications naturally, on Paul, who wrote 2/3rds of the New Testament canon. As such, I take seriously his admonition not to allow ourselves to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. He also took pains to explicitly connect himself with his writings, as in Galatians, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand."
But Paul was a scholar, a scribe and a cleric. John was a fisherman. While I don't buy sight unseen the traditional picture of their primitive poverty attributed to the rural working class in Galilee we can guess he was certainly a worker, a man of action, living in a community of such people, though there were scribes everywhere at the time - as they always are in times of great uncertainty.
The fishermen among the Apostles were direct, not given to subtleties, and we have many examples of this in Peter and in the Zebedee brothers, those "Sons of Thunder," backing that up.
As to the contrast in his character as he himself describes it before and his behavior after, well... I'm getting ahead of myself. First...
As to John being "the beloved apostle," the verse that may come closest to answering your question directly is second to last in his Gospel, wherein he is reliably reported to have testified, "This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true."
Here John explicitly connects himself with the Third Person narrative, though without calling himself the "beloved apostle" in that context. In the context of the entire manuscript, however, it adds weight to the traditional interpretation.
In John's style, either dictating, with assistance, or writing directly, there are also more obscure clues having to do with the use of the middle voice, something at the heart of the Hellenistic languages but alien to our English.
In the narrative there are also events, as I'm sure you've long noted, where John is a definite participant (e.g, the Transfiguration) but confines himself to describing the actions of the others present, especially Simon Peter, who may have begun babbling inappropriately.
It's interesting to compare his writing style in his reliable report of good news, his Gospel, with his epistles written when he was much older. He may well have sharpened his writing skills since his almost monosyllabic and pointed style retains the simplicity.
As to a change in John's character, the notion that John's behavior was greatly changed following the Resurrection, along with that of the others of the Eleven following the Resurrection and after Pentecost, has always been one of the most compelling "proofs" of the historic accuracy of the Gospel.
All the Apostles operated in ways counter to their former behavior, and these changes are complete. They were empowered, their eyes were opened, and they saw their teacher alive and sailing off into the blue. Peter preaches boldly, fearlessly, and though he makes some mistakes in line with his former character, he's still Simon Peter but he's no longer even capable of thinking the same way.
That John would permanently adopt a more circumspect humility following his being a direct witness to the death, burial and resurrection of his Master is not strange at all.
And that humility when describing his own behavior during Christ's ministry would fit with a reluctance to bring up a lot of things necessary to the telling of his testimony.
"The eye the light of God hath clarified remains open, and we may close it nevermore."
2Pe 3:16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Quite a bit, obviously.
You also might want to familiarize yourself with the teachings of Calvin, Luther and Zwingli, amongst many others, who believed in and taught of the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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