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?
I wish my fellow Protestants would stop trotting out Rev 22 as justification for Sola Scriptura. The verse clearly refers, in the specific sense, to the scroll of prophecy that John was given, which we know as Revelation. It does not refer, in the general sense, to the Scripture as a whole, and it certainly cannot refer to the modern generally accepted Protestant canon.
You just make us look foolish with that argument.
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
(1 Cor 1:21)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
It might well be that it was a tradition older than the 4th century, in some parts of the Christian church, but we can’t really know that, because the 4th century is the earliest reference we have. What we can say is that it wasn’t a universally known or held Christian tradition before the 4th century, or it wouldn’t have been news to anyone when Juvenal brought it up. In other words, no matter what the Jerusalem church taught, this wasn’t “catholic”, or universal dogma before the 4th century, at the earliest.
Unless one believes Juvenal was lying it was the teaching in Jerusalem since the days of the Apostles.
“What we can say is that it wasnt a universally known or held Christian tradition before the 4th century”
We can say is that it was wasn’t universally held in the time prior to Chalcedon. Beyond that - we simply cannot say.
“The Woman is clearly Mary since the child is clearly Jesus “
The woman is quite clearly either representative of Israel, with the sun and the moon representing her governmental and spiritual glory, and the 12 stars representing the 12 tribes. Or it is the church itself, with the sun representing the glory of Christ, and the moon the church, which reflects that light, and the 12 stars representing the Apostles.
Mary will not give birth to Christ a second time in heaven, nor is she a goddess who would be depicted as ruling over the sun and the moon and the church itself.
“I have to conclude that your church uses incense since that is in scripture. “
Christ abolished the old law and established a new covenant.
Singing, prayer, communion, teaching, giving. That is what we do in worship services.
So where is the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Were you aware that the apostles bilocated and witnessed her dormition?
“While the actual event of the Assumption of Mary in Heaven is not recorded in the Scriptures...”
He should have stopped right there.
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Was not Enoch assumed into heaven? “...walked with the Lord.”???
Relax, The Assumption is only an assumption.
Eligah was taken to heaven in a chariot and a whirlwind. Why couldn’t Mary have been carried to heaven by angels?
I need much more information.
Everything in moderation.
The earliest comment on Mary from the 4th century is one of ignorance about what happened to her. From Roman Catholic Michael O’Carroll,
“In a later passage, he [Epiphanius] says that she [Mary] may have died and been buried, or been killed - as a martyr. ‘Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and he can do whatever he desires; for her end no one knows.’”(Theotokos [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1988], p. 135)
Juvenal made no such claim, as it wasn’t reported at Chalcedon or by anyone else, but by John of Damascus in the 7th century. John merely reported what Juvenal allegedly did, long after it allegedly occurred. The only other evidence for a belief in the assumption of Mary are spurious and fraudulent books put under the names of people who did not write them.
The scripture itself, for something allegedly believed by the Apostles, contains no claim of Mary’s assumption, nor of any of the other important dogmas that they allegedly believed about her.
“Juvenal made no such claim, as it wasnt reported at Chalcedon”
Yes, he did make the claim and yes, it was reported at Chalcedon.
The extent that the belief was held prior outside of the diocese of Jerusalem is, at present, unknown.
Thank you for your post, I was going to add a little to what you typed.
The woman in Revelation 12 is clearly NOT Mary - Mary is in Heaven with all the old and new testament saints. The woman is not named. Surely John, who physically knew Mary, took her into his home after the crucifixion, would have named her if the woman was in fact Mary. She is a symbol for Israel, and what will happen during Israel’s last days before Jesus returns.
The entire chapter is discussing events that are taking place during the tribulation. The Church is in Heaven. There are two groups left on earth - Gentiles and the nation of Israel.
Note the descriptions of various groups - Church masculine language (Body of Christ). False church (great whore). And she can’t be gentiles, because they are persecuting her. So it must be Israel.
Note the crowns and stars, where have we heard that before? In Joseph’s dream told to Jacob and his sons (Israel) - Genesis 37:9-11
Israel was often compared to an unfaithful spouse, and a woman married to God - Isaiah 54:1-6, Jeremiah 3:1-14, Hosea 2:14-23
Israel the nation is referred to as going through “travail” during the last days - Matthew 24, Mark 13, Isaiah 66:7-8, Jeremiah 30:6-9, Micah 5:3 - Note especially the passage in Isaiah - Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. >> Sounds familiar to Rev 12 right?
The man-child is the 144,000 Jews sealed and raptured mid-tribulation, while the woman, the remnant of the Jews, heads to the wilderness for the last 3.5 years.
In Revelation 14, we see the 144,000, the man-child, now in Heaven. The Remnant of Israel is in the wilderness until the 2nd Advent.
Man-child ruling all nations - something all Believers will share - Psalm 149:6-9, Daniel 7:18-27, Rev 2:26-27 also alluded to in 1 Cor 6:2-3
I could go on, but that should suffice for now.
“Yes, he did make the claim and yes, it was reported at Chalcedon.”
Well then, I’m sure you can provide documentation for that other than John of Damascus 300 years later! Please give me the primary source for the claim, I’ll be waiting. But I do appreciate your concession that it was otherwise unknown.
I had a girlfriend in high school who was a Lutheran of German ancestry and I remember some of us having an adolescent humor fart joke chuckle over her telling us about her church celebrating the festival of Maria Himmelfahrt (Maria Heaven Trip). On that scanty evidence I'd make a guess that Luther was on board.
Read the Catholic Culture on the Daily Readings thread. It is written down, just not in the Bible.
Say, where is the word “Bible” in the Bible, anyway?
Luther on Mary’s Assumption
“The feast of the Assumption is totally papist, full of idolatry and without foundation in the Scriptures. But we, even though Mary has gone to heaven, should not bother how she went there. We will not invoke her as our special advocate as the Pope teaches. The pope takes away the honor due to the Ascension of our Lord, Christ, with the result that he has made the mother like her Son in all things. (Martin Luther, Qtd by William J. Cole, [”Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?” (Marian Studies), (1970), 123])
The only evidence that Luther believed in the assumption of Mary is largely derived from typical shallow research by Catholics, including lots of distorted quotes, myths, and one Catholic researcher quoting the opinion of another Catholic researcher, who didn’t even have the conclusion that the latter one has.
**The feast of the Assumption is totally papist, full of idolatry**
LOL!!!!!! You need to read the link about Luther’s belief.
That’s not the same principle is it.
“Im sure you can provide documentation for that other than John of Damascus 300 years later! Please give me the primary source for the claim, Ill be waiting. But I do appreciate your concession that it was otherwise unknown.”
The extent is, again, at present unknown. The historical record we have does indicate that it was believed at least in Jerusalem back to the time of the Apostles.
Now, again - unless you believe Juvenal was lying, this is the evidence we do have.
I don’t know and can’t speak for the Lutherans, not being one.
“Now, again - unless you believe Juvenal was lying,”
As usual you make no attempt to answer the question or even to understand the question. I’m telling you I don’t even believe Juvenal said any such thing. It was John of Damascus who reported on what Juvenal allegedly said, 300 years after the fact.
Do you have a primary source for Juvenal’s statement or not?