Skip to comments.Some Biblical Roots of the Teaching on the Assumption of Mary
Posted on 08/15/2013 2:21:29 PM PDT by NYer
While the actual event of the Assumption of Mary in Heaven is not recorded in the Scriptures, nevertheless there is a biblical basis for the teaching that, considered as a whole, confirms Catholic teaching as both fitting and in keeping with biblical principles. Let’s ponder this feast in three stages:
1. Explained – To be “assumed” means to be taken up by God bodily into heaven. As far back as the Church can remember we have celebrated the fact that Mary was taken up into heaven. We do not just acknowledge that her soul was taken to heaven, as is the case with all the rest of the faithful who are taken there (likely after purgation). Rather Mary was taken up, soul AND body into heaven after her sojourn on this earth was complete. There is no earthly tomb containing her body, neither are there relics of her body to be found among the Christian faithful. This is our ancient memory and what we celebrate today, Mary was taken up, body and soul into heaven.
2. Exemplified - The actual event of the Assumption is not described in Scripture. However, there are “assumptions” recorded in the Scriptures and the concept is thus biblical.
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads… The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. (Rev 11:19 – 12:5)
The Woman is clearly Mary since the child is clearly Jesus (though she also likely allegorizes other realities such as Israel, and Mother Zion). And where is Mary seen? In heaven.
Now some may argue the text does not necessarily indicate her body is in heaven but may only be referring to her soul. However the physicality of the description of her is rather strong. Some also argue that Mary is linked to John’s sighting of the Ark of the Convent which is seen by John in Heaven. He mentions the Ark and goes on to describe the woman clothed with the sun (Mary) and there is a possibility that he is still describing the Ark he sees in Heaven. (I have written on this elsewhere. See here: Mary: The Ark of the New Covenant) If she is the Ark described that Ark is clearly described as being in heaven.
So, the Biblical record, while not recording the event of the Assumption, does set forth other assumptions and thus shows that assumption is a biblical concept. Further, Mary’s physical presence in heaven seems hinted at by John and some would argue that the passage actually attests to her physical presence there.
But remember, the Church does not rely solely on Scripture. In this case what we celebrate is most fundamentally taught to us by Sacred Tradition in that the memory of Mary’s assumption goes back as long as we can remember.
3. Extended – The Feast of the Assumption may be of theological interest to some and may provide for interesting biblical reflection but eventually the question is bound to come: “So What?” How does what happened to Mary have impact on my life and what does it mean for me? The answer to this question is bound up in nearly every Marian Doctrine. Simply put, what happened to Mary in an profound and preliminary way will also happen for us in the end. As Mary bore Christ into he world, we too bear him there in the Holy Communion we receive and in the witness of his indwelling presence in our life. As Mary is (and always was) sinless, so too will we one day be sinless (immaculate) with God in heaven. As Mary cared for Christ in his need, so do we care for him in the poor, the suffering, needy and afflicted. And as Mary was assumed, body and soul into heaven so too will we be there one day, body and soul.
For now our souls go to heaven once purified but our body lie in a tomb. But one day when the trumpet shall sound, on that “great gettin’ up morning” our bodies will rise and be joined to our soul:
For we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”…….Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:51-57)
So our bodies shall rise shall be assumed and joined to our soul.
Improved model! Now a older woman once said to me upon hearing that her body would rise: “Father if this old body has to rise, I’m hoping for an improved model!” Yes indeed! Me too! I want my hair back, my slender figure and knees that work! I want to upgrade from a general issue late model version, to a luxury model. And God will in fact do that. Scripture says:
The assumption of our bodies, prefigured by Christ in his own power and also in Mary by the gift of God, will one day be our gift too. For now, it waits till that “great gettin’ up morning.” Until that day, and on that day, fare you well, fare you well!
This song is an African American Spiritual and speaks of that Great Gettin’ up morning when our bodies will rise. And if we have been faithful they will rise to glory!
I’m gonna tell you about the coming of the judgement (Fare you well) There’s a better day a coming….In that great gettin’ up morning fare you well! Oh preacher fold your Bible, For the last soul’s converted….Blow your trumpet Gabriel…..Lord, how loud shall I blow it? Blow it right calm and easy Do not alarm all my people….Tell them to come to the judgement…….In that great gettin’ up morning fare you well. Do you see them coffins bursting? Do you see them folks is rising? Do you see the world on fire? Do you see the stars a falling? Do you see that smoke and lightning? Do you hear the rumbling thunder? Oh Fare you well poor sinner. In that great gettin’ up morning fare you well.
Nice! I love this feast.
“The actual event of the Assumption is not described in Scripture” Since that is a basic premise all I can say is if it is not in scripture it shouldn’t be in church
I agree, but those who like this idea will not care. Hasn’t stopped them yet in liking things and holding beliefs such as this.
The death of Moses is detailed in Deuteronomy 34. There is no possible way any of it could be interpreted to mean “Moses was taken up”.
Likewise, there is no biblical reference on the assumption of Mary.
This belief has been with Christianity since the beginning. It was held from time immemorial by Orthodox, Roman, Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian, and eventually by the Anglican Christians.
It would be interesting to know how Martin Luther thought of it, in the light of his lifetime devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Three hymns and a lecture are not in scripture either, but plenty of churches have them. How about organs, praise bands, jumbotrons? I have to conclude that your church uses incense since that is in scripture.
If we are to rely on scripture alone, how would an illiterate person come to know God?
“As far back as the Church can remember we have celebrated the fact that Mary was taken up into heaven.”
I don’t think so. This idea only really begins to be referenced in the 4th century.
“There is no earthly tomb containing her body, neither are there relics of her body to be found among the Christian faithful”
Kind of misleading. There is, of course the “Tomb of the Virgin Mary”, traditionally held to be the place of Mary, the Mother of Jesus’ burial. It is said that the tomb was found empty after Mary’s death, but that really doesn’t prove much, since the story came out several centuries later, and there is no shortage of empty tombs in Christianity.
“if it is not in scripture it shouldnt be in church”
Is this principle in scripture?
How does that help someone without access to electricity.
“This idea only really begins to be referenced in the 4th century.”
The records that we presently hold, show that it was referenced in the 4th century.
The then Bishop of Jerusalem Juvenal testifies that it was the teaching of the diocese of Jerusalem, the assumption, and brought relics proving his case to the Council of Chalcedon.
To hold this in correct context, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built upon the site of the death and crucifixion of Christ in the early 4th century - when it was rediscovered. That the church as a whole was unaware, does not indicate that the church did not teach it - only that the divisions of the time had cut off parts of the Church from each other.
If it is reasonable to bootstrap that something happened because it seems likely, then it is reasonable to think that the scrivenors, in recording God’s words, intended that the readers understand that they were not to add to, or take away from, any book.
“If it is reasonable to bootstrap that something happened because it seems likely, then it is reasonable to think that the scrivenors, in recording Gods words, intended that the readers understand that they were not to add to, or take away from, any book.”
Then what are we to make of the Lutheran bible which removes part of Daniel? Would that not also fall under the interdict for tampering with the Word of God?
What is the relevance? The divinity (second person of the godhead) and mission of the Incarnate Christ, which is the sole foundation of the Christian religion, depends not a whit on the ultimate fate and disposition of the mortal remains of either Moses or Jesus’ mother.
Anyone here heard of an adiophoron?
Well, there are these things called batteries too. I guess you mean stone age tribesmen living in the heart of New Guinea or something? That’s what we send literate missionaries around the world for, isn’t it?