Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Help with Matthew 1:18 and Mary

I don't know who came up with this argument, but I thought it was clever:

Are you married? If so, try telling your father-in-law this: "I did not have relations with your daughter until we got engaged." See what he thinks of that. After all, if your father-in-law is as perceptive as you are, there's no way he'll make a spurious assumption about pre-marital relations between the two of you based on such a statement.

It's fun to imagine these kinds of things....This is what it would look like, just for review: In casual conversation with your wife's dad, you mention that you didn't have (relations) with his daughter until you were engaged. After telling him not to read so much into an idiomatic statement and that he should stop being so historically ignorant, tell him your statement had nothing to do with what you guys did after the engagement. See how that flies.

67 comments:

BillyHW said...

Unfortunately for American Protestants, the Bible was not originally written in English. Nor was English to exist for centuries after it was written.

OumAmir said...

Well, it's a good thing that Protestants don't build doctrines on a single verse. That whole, "Hey Jesus, your mother and your brothers are here. . ." verse in Mark 3 is kind of helpful, too.

bkaycee said...

Don't forget his sisters!

Mark 13:56"And His sisters, are they not all with us?

Churchmouse said...

Hmmm... the semantics work will under either language, English or Greek, regardless of where the English language stood in its development. Furthermore, the writer's analogy and all its implications, from an apologetical standpoint, still works, considering how Catholics would argue Matthew 1:18 and how Protestants would respond. In other words, I don't think we need the English language to be extant to know that the nuances of the arguments still remain the same, thus the dilemma the writer offers remains valid.

Andrew said...

What finally convinced me that the RC arguments for Mary's perpetual virginity were false was the fact that in certain places the scripture associates Mary with those it refers to as Jesus brothers and sisters. Why would the writers do that if they weren't her children?

bkaycee said...

Luke 11:27While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed."
28But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

kmerian said...

Placing the verse in its original context and not pulling it out on its own shows the intent of the Gospel writer.

He was stressing Mary's virginity, NOT making a comment on their married life.

And are you sure you meant Matthew 1:18 and not Matthew 1:25?

Churchmouse said...

I would beg to differ. The context of both passages stresses Mary's virginity until Christ was born. The purpose was fulfilled and, subsequently, Mary fulfills her duty as a good Jewish wife. You can't separate one action from the other.

The Catholic Journeyman said...
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The Catholic Journeyman said...

Sure you can Mouse, and should. You are inserting a word "until" that does not exist in the Bible or in the Covenant made By God to Mary.

We all know the Aramaic had no words for Cousins, uncles, etc. and Brothers where a tag for this level of identity....does not prove Mary as having more children.

Beyond that:

The context is descriptive..."Blessed is your womb..." He blessed her being and it was never temporary, and she never failed her permanent commitment to that Covenant.

Its not consistent with Covenential reality that one would read that Her womb would go directly into the possession of mere mortal culture AFTER Jesus birth, or worse yet, be subject to Satans calling After Jesus' birth? She had yet to Raise Him. God would allow or worse yet furnish a Parent to His Son that became unclean when once he consecrated Her as Holy enough to deliver Himself?

For once in your life ponder this...you guys are smarter than me and if I see it the so can you:

Can you read the context of all biblical references to Mary in the light that God never reversed a covenant with a chosen individual?

Abraham, Moses, David....all were placed in Covenant with God, by God as written, and Mary as well (Gabriels announcement) and I havent yet seen that He ever revokes a Covenant He made.

Saying Mary was clean before but not after is saying God is a 2 faced, inconsistent liar, when aligned with His Covenential History and Promise throughout the Bible.

-Peace

kmerian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kmerian said...

Are the protestants here saying that Matthew had intimate knowledge of Josephs and Marys sex life?

I am willing to bet he did not.

He was commenting only on that which he knew, that was the virgin birth, That her and Joseph had no relation while she was pregnant.

Any other conclusions are pure inference.

Churchmouse said...

Sure you can Mouse, and should. You are inserting a word "until" that does not exist in the Bible or in the Covenant made By God to Mary.

Rather you can’t…. “but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25)

**We all know the Aramaic had no words for Cousins, uncles, etc. and Brothers where a tag for this level of identity....does not prove Mary as having more children.**

Why would we need an Aramaic distinction between “brothers” and “cousins” to determine what Christ said? The Greek is enough to determine the differences between the two….

Luke 1:36, "And, behold, thy cousin (suggenēs) Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren."

Mark 6:3, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother (adelphos) of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."

If the Greek puts a distinction between a “suggenēs” and an “adelphos”, signifying that Mary was a cousin of Elizabeth, but James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon are brothers of Christ, why assume that their was no distinction by calling on the Aramaic?

Beyond that:

The context is descriptive..."Blessed is your womb..." He blessed her being and it was never temporary, and she never failed her permanent commitment to that Covenant.


If memory serves me correct, it is the “fruit of her womb” that was blessed (Luke 1:42). Through her womb Christ, the fruit, came. She is blessed in the sense that she was the one chosen to birth the Christ. We need not go beyond the text to give her more than her due.

Its not consistent with Covenential reality that one would read that Her womb would go directly into the possession of mere mortal culture AFTER Jesus birth, or worse yet, be subject to Satans calling After Jesus' birth? She had yet to Raise Him. God would allow or worse yet furnish a Parent to His Son that became unclean when once he consecrated Her as Holy enough to deliver Himself?

Your reasoning is just that—your reasoning. God isn’t obligated to keep Mary in the manner Roman Catholics impose on her. Mary could be a sinner, very human, and still Christ remains sinless and perfect. I don’t know why you would assume she has to be otherwise.

For once in your life ponder this...you guys are smarter than me and if I see it the so can you:

Can you read the context of all biblical references to Mary in the light that God never reversed a covenant with a chosen individual?

Abraham, Moses, David....all were placed in Covenant with God, by God as written, and Mary as well (Gabriels announcement) and I havent yet seen that He ever revokes a Covenant He made.


I’m a bit confused at how you view “covenants.” Yes, God made a covenant with the OT saints you mentioned. However, what God did to Mary wasn’t necessarily a “covenant.” Can you explain what kind of covenant was made between God and Mary and how this parallels to what God did with Abraham, David, etc.?

Saying Mary was clean before but not after is saying God is a 2 faced, inconsistent liar, when aligned with His Covenential History and Promise throughout the Bible.

I still can’t figure out why you would think that Mary would HAVE TO be “clean” (which I assume you mean “sinless”) before or after Christ was born? Why would God be a “2 faced, inconsistent liar” if Mary were just as human, just as sinful, as any of us? He didn't promise her anything more than what you see in Scripture and, unfortunately for your end, God didn't promise that she would be sinless "after."

Churchmouse said...

kmerian said..

Are the protestants here saying that Matthew had intimate knowledge of Josephs and Marys sex life?

No, we aren't, no more than Catholics would. We simply follow what Scripture says about it.

I am willing to bet he did not.

I guess you are saying that you have "intimate knowledge." :-)

He was commenting only on that which he knew, that was the virgin birth, That her and Joseph had no relation while she was pregnant.

"..and did not know her until she bore her son, the First-born. And he called His name Jesus" (Matthew 1:25)

But I guess that's what you just admitted to, "That her and Joseph had no relation while she was pregnant." (<--your words) Meaning that they had no sexual relations until afterwards. thanks for your admission :-)

Any other conclusions are pure inference.

Rather, Catholic distinctives regarding Mary are pure inference.

EA said...

"Its not consistent with Covenential reality that one would read that Her womb would go directly into the possession of mere mortal culture AFTER Jesus birth, or worse yet, be subject to Satans calling After Jesus' birth? She had yet to Raise Him. God would allow or worse yet furnish a Parent to His Son that became unclean when once he consecrated Her as Holy enough to deliver Himself?"

This raises several questions:

So God,wouldn't want Mary's womb to go into "the possession of mere culture" (whatever that means), but yet God sent His ONLY Son not only into that "mere mortal culture", but to die for the sins of those in that culture (and all others as well)?

The phrase "be subject to Satan's calling" seems to infer that God wouldn't want Mary subject to 'impure thoughts', is that it?
If so, then by that logic one must conclude that sex within marriage is unclean. Is that your meaning?

God wouldn't allow an "unclean parent"? But He provided Jesus with 12 unclean disciples, including one that betrayed Him to His death.

Why does God have to make Mary pure to allow Himself to be birthed by Mary? It seems to me that this conflates ritual uncleanliness with spiritual uncleanliness. Someone could be ritually clean but spiritually unregenerate. I don't see it as a requirement that Mary had to be ritually clean to birth Jesus since Sin is not passed on by physical touch, if it were then Jesus would have later been contaminated by the very sinners He would heal.

But, let's say for the sake of argument that Mary needed to be consecrated to God for Jesus' upbringing's sake. Did Mary shoo away any unclean friends and family from Jesus as He grew up? Did Mary protect Jesus from Satan in the Wilderness? Where was Mary when Jesus selected Judas?

The Catholic Journeyman said...
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The Catholic Journeyman said...

(edited to correct my horrid typing)
Mouse - I am not coming at you as if you are "wrong" ...I am considering your perspective as well. If we, you and I, can get that established, at least on my end, I would be grateful.

"Rather you can’t…. “but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25)"

My NAB states differently as does Patti's in the Madrid Forum example from the OP post subject link. Lets not ignore that please.

"Why would we need an Aramaic distinction..."

If we are messing with the Greek writing we are not at the source language, thats why. What is written is one step away from the actual communication...which was verbal Aramaic, not written Greek. No one was passing notes around in Greek...these written citations are transcribed conversations and phrases, and Divine conveyance. In my comprehension that same trajectory of study applies to your Luke, Mark and other references.

The word "until" having multiple modern meanings in multiple modern Bible versions does not provide any "stress" as I study it. You may see different, thats ok. The OP Madrid forum link speaks well of that for me.

What I am trying to convey here is that while we are certainly capable of splitting the atoms of a words origin, intent and derivation to opposite ends of the spectrum, none of that leads to the message we can receive from a more comprehensive examination.

I have made a good living on exploiting technicalities in this secular world. It is not however an advantage in Scriptural Theology or following Christs teaching. A necessary tool, but, not the engine of Theological internalization.

The analogy I offered regarding Covenential application consistency is self-evident, something else to ponder:

So when you say Mary was not free from sin you're accusing God of not following his own Commandments, He honored his Mother.

EA - I posed those same questions to my study as well, they have a logic but what I found is that is a logic of a modern cultural experience, not in Biblical times context.

When Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.

The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term "brethren." The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as "brethren." The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

I am applying all consistencies of Biblical context, and not getting distracted into single word analysis.

So when I got out of the Greek Dictionary and back into the Bible and Early Church, the theology behind perpetual virginity dogma and its clear purpose was visible, but not until then.

I am aware I am in your territory here and the track record of having a conceptual conversation in this Blog is slim with any RC, but hey, I can dream.

-Peace
Dave

Churchmouse said...

Mouse - I am not coming at you as if you are "wrong" ...I am considering your perspective as well. If we, you and I, can get that established, at least on my end, I would be grateful.

"Rather you can’t…. “but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25)"

My NAB states differently as does Patti's in the Madrid Forum example from the OP post subject link. Lets not ignore that please.


Most translations use the word “until.” My NAB states…

“He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.”

I think the NAB is a standard interpretation, correct? I don’t know why yours and Patti’s version exclude it.

If we are messing with the Greek writing we are not at the source language thats why. What is written is one step away from the actual communication...which was verbal Aramaic, not written Greek. No one was passing notes around in Greek...these written citations are transcribed conversations and phrases, and Divine conveyance. In my comprehension that same trajectory of study applies to your Luke, Mark and other references.

Verbal or not, it is only a theory that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic and, even if it was, it is still very telling that its Greek translation distinguishes between a cousin and a brother. If Matthew were originally written in Aramaic, I see a God-breath source making a distinction in the Greek, thus it was understood the same way in the Aramaic.

The word "until" having multiple modern meanings in multiple modern Bible versions does not provide any "stress" as I study it. You may see different, thats ok. The OP Madrid forum link speaks well of that for me.

There is a reason by the word “until” appears. And “stressed” or not, the word indicates a cessation of a previous action. It does not mean a “reversal” as some Catholic apologists attempted to misrepresent the argument; the implication being that Mary did not have sex with Joseph before Christ was born and then that ceased. I read and heard various Catholic apologists attempting to squeeze by other meanings to bypass the context of Matthew 1:25, using the English “until” without caution, even though Greek and English go by their own rules.

What I am trying to convey here is that while we are certainly capable of splitting the atoms of a words origin, intent and derivation to opposite ends of the spectrum, none of that leads to the message we can receive from a more comprehensive examination.

And we haven’t???

I have made a good living on exploiting technicalities in this secular world. It is not however an advantage in Scriptural Theology or following Chirsts teaching. A necessary toll, but, not the engine of Theological internalization.

The analogy I offered regarding Covenential consistency is self-evident, something to ponder.


I still don’t know what you mean by a covenant with Mary and how it parallels with OT covenants.

So when you say Mary was not free from sin you're accusing God of not following his own Commandments, He honored his Mother.

Huh?? You’re reading too much into this, Dave. Honoring one’s mother doesn’t demand that part of the honor be “sinlessness” or perpetual virginity. And you imply, as EA has already noted, that sex in marriage is sinful? I don't get it. How does Christ honoring His mother resolve her from sin? I really think that you need to put more thought into this one. Why would Mary have to be sinless to birth the Savior? Why does she have to remain a virgin afterwards? I still don’t see the reason(s) why it must be.

EA said...

"When Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity."

This account is based on one of the apocryphal NT texts such as The Protoevangelium of James, not from Scripture.

An explanation of Mary's unique status based on contextualized cultural mores needs to enumerate the ways in which ANE cultural norms vis a vis betrothal and marital contracts differ from modern relationships.

Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Hegesippus, Origen, and Josephus all refer to brothers of Jesus (adelphoi).

Jerome's disputation with Helvidius makes no argument based on a "long-held" belief among the ECF, but rather on Scripture. This is interesting because if Mary's Perpetual Virginity was a belief held since the beginning of the Church, why would Jerome not make use of it?

bkaycee said...

Luke 11:27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed."
28 But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Womb, not blessed, Believers blessed.

kmerian said...

Churchmouse, nice attempt to twist my words.

The fact is, we can make no conclusions about Joseph and Marys personal life from the Scriptures. Matthew merely stated that they had no relations while Mary was pregnant. Churchmouse, you then make the ASSUMPTION that they had a normal married sex life after that. And you base that assumption on ONE word.

The fact is we can make no assumptions based on the scriptures alone. Even Luther believed in Mary's perpetual virginity.

Churchmouse said...

kmerian said...

Churchmouse, nice attempt to twist my words.

There was no twisting. They were your words.

The fact is, we can make no conclusions about Joseph and Marys personal life from the Scriptures. Matthew merely stated that they had no relations while Mary was pregnant. Churchmouse, you then make the ASSUMPTION that they had a normal married sex life after that. And you base that assumption on ONE word.

However, you make the assumption that Mary lived her life in perpetual virginity. Yet, what does the text imply? It says that Joseph did not know Mary “until” Christ was born. They were married and did what good married Jewish folks are called to do, procreate (Genesis 1:28). With all due respect to Jerome's view, Luke 2:7 mentions Christ as her “firstborn son” which naturally implies that she had others. In the messianic context of Psalm 69:8, it states that he (Jesus) had become a stranger to his “mother’s” children.

The fact is we can make no assumptions based on the scriptures alone.

So says you.

Even Luther believed in Mary's perpetual virginity.

I’m sure Luther held to some Catholic distinctives. That's no secret. Considering that he came out of Catholicism, why wouldn’t he? Yet, as time progressed, so did Luther. But this comes with qualifiers. Luther certainly didn’t believe that this belief was “de fide”, binding on all Christians, but that it was up to the Christian to decide. And he realized that Mary’s virginity was important up to the time that Christ was born, realizing that Scripture doesn’t progress the thought past this point. So, bringing up this mantra doesn’t mean much if it isn’t qualified.

Chuck said...

Excuse me for just a moment...kmerian...how should the text read? Give us the exact text as it should read. Thank you

Paul Hoffer said...

Just to toss something into the mix here...in a recent translation of St. Athanasius' First Letter to Virgins at paragraph 10. Athanasius uses Jn. 19:26-27 as proof of her perpetual virginity. Furthermore, in the same letter, St. Athanasius suggests in paragrph 19 that St. Paul at 1 Cor. 7:25, 1 Cor. 7:38-40 is repeating what he learned about Mary's life and the virtue of perpetual chastity. Athanasius states further that marriage was a state of virtue under the Law as its opposite, adultery, brings death, but that since Christ freed us from the Law, virginity is the preferred state because it has no law.

In case anyone is interested, the translation can be found in Dr. David Brakke's "Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism." Oxford: Claredon Press (1995).

God bless!

The fact is that the issue of Mary's perpetual virginity did not really become an issue until heretics attacked Our Lord's divinity and His humanity. Mary's perpetual virginity made an effective argument against those who calumnated against Christ. Athanasius argues that Mary's virginity after Christ's birth is important because it gives us a pattern of how true Christians should be.

The problem with this article is that you focus solely on physical aspects of virginity as opposed to the mindset and sanctity of one who chooses to live in that manner.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Mouse -
USCCB NAB Matthew 1:25 thus:

"He had no relations with her until she bore a son, (12) and he named him Jesus.

footote(12) [25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it."

The newest NAB translation appears quoted in Madrids Forum.

"Huh?? You’re reading too much into this, Dave."

Well, thats possible... I would perceive youre not reading enough traditional context into it...you are attacking it as a thesaurus rather that a complete historical account. Theres nothing "wrong" with that...its just lacking the depth and support for Christs Divinity as Paul Hoffers trajectory suggests.

EA - This question "An explanation of Mary's unique status based on contextualized cultural mores needs to enumerate the ways in which ANE cultural norms vis a vis betrothal and marital contracts differ from modern relationships." is what I am really getting at by the use of James. Thanks for tracking this back.

Ultimately you (all) are calling into question anything that appears "extra-biblical" maintaining that scripture is complete in and of itself. Thats true. What is incomplete is mans ability today to read the social context of a given writing, thousands of years ago, when such writing did not provide our current socially implanted intellect with that amount of knowledge. Mary's Mother vowing to place Mary into the service of the Lord has historical, contextual and social meaning. Because this level of information was not conveyed by the writers of scripture, does not invalidate its accuracy. Moreover, its validity can be corroborated by scripture in compatible vows that were recorded in scripture.

Protestants surely place such value in Calvins writings, yet thay do not allow the same for Catholic extra-biblical documents.

Over all, it is my opinion, that Calvinist Protestants exagerate what they perceive as Catholics holding of Mary, Mary's Virginity, Mary's intercessory capacity. I am not minimizing Mary's weight in the Catholic Doctrine, but, I am saying that in general as an example, Mary's veneration by Catholics (as seen by Protestants as Worship, which it is not) is far less practiced than even the time I am spending writing here about the subject. Its just not the Capitol issue Protestants make it out to be.

All of Mary's Catholic doctrines are Christocentric so our focus should on Mary should always conclude with Him, if not, then we do infact tread unsupported ground...again, in my opinion.

-Dave

Churchmouse said...

Dave, you said...

Mouse -
USCCB NAB Matthew 1:25 thus:

"He had no relations with her until she bore a son, (12) and he named him Jesus.

footote(12) [25] Until she bore a son: the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. The Greek word translated "until" does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it."


Yes, I have the same footnotes in my NAB. That’s all well and good, but the point is that you said that the word “until” wasn’t in there. Apparently, it was. I wouldn’t expect a Catholic Bible’s footnotes to say any different. Yet, the strength of the word implies that the action ceased (that Joseph had no sexual relations with Mary). Meaning that, after the birth, they carried on with normal marital functions.

The newest NAB translation appears quoted in Madrids Forum.

Anything a bit more prima facie?

Well, thats possible... I would perceive youre not reading enough traditional context into it...

Traditional sources vary. What about Basil, who accepted the perpetual virginity, yet wrote that a widely-held view that Mary had other children existed? And that it was in keeping with orthodoxy? How about Hegesippus, who according to Eusebius, wrote that Jude was the Lord’s brother “according to the flesh”? Later, he mentions that Symeon was the Lord’s “cousin.” Evidently, he understood the difference. What about Tertullian who believed that Jesus’ brothers was His blood relationship? Because of this, I see tradition as nothing other than something which must be filtered through Scripture. If it stands, it stands; if it falls it falls. Not to mention that most “tradition” appears to be of a “second-guessing” nature.

you are attacking it as a thesaurus rather that a complete historical account.

No, I’m not. I’m being hermeneutical regarding this. Scripture not only gives ample reason to assume that, as a married woman, she would have been procreative. It mentions that Christ had brothers and sisters. It mentions that Christ upheld those who obeyed and believe over those familial. There is no reason to believe that Mary, a good Jewish woman, would have done any different or was obligated, via grace or otherwise, to remain a virgin.

Theres nothing "wrong" with that...its just lacking the depth and support for Christs Divinity as Paul Hoffers trajectory suggests.

Translations are a dime a dozen. Why should I buy into Brakke's theory? What does Brakke know that others don't? The Scriptures Brakke claims for Athanasius doesn't give me pause for reflection and seems to stretch in its application to Mary, rather liberally, even if Athanasius theorizes as such. Paul doesn't seem to legitimize Brakke, he only mentions that it's Brakke's (Indiana University) translation. I don't think I would sacrifice my "lock, stocks, or barrels" regarding it.

Churchmouse said...

Paul, regarding Brakke, I responded to this via my response to Dave. As far as the other things go...

The fact is that the issue of Mary's perpetual virginity did not really become an issue until heretics attacked Our Lord's divinity and His humanity. Mary's perpetual virginity made an effective argument against those who calumnated against Christ. Athanasius argues that Mary's virginity after Christ's birth is important because it gives us a pattern of how true Christians should be.

You would have to cite Athanasius on this, the part about virginity AFTER Christ's birth and how Mary's virginity AFTERWARDS was an issue.

The problem with this article is that you focus solely on physical aspects of virginity as opposed to the mindset and sanctity of one who chooses to live in that manner.

Assuming that Mary chose to live "in that manner." The article only states a dilemma and a valid one.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

"What about Basil,Hegesippus, Tertullian, et al..."

You're kidding, right?

James was an eyewitness Apostle to the life of Mary, those you name are not even close.

You keep going offf track of my point....historical account of social context.

-Dave

Churchmouse said...

"What about Basil,Hegesippus, Tertullian, et al..."

You're kidding, right?

You didn't show how I'm kidding. You brought up tradition. Not me.

James was an eyewitness Apostle to the life of Mary, those you name are not even close.

Why are you bringing James into this. James didn't speak about Mary's alleged perpetual virginity. How does James factor in here.

You keep going offf track of my point....historical account of social context.

The truth is, Dave, that you point seems a bit muddled. Clear it up. Elaborate. How does "historical account of social context" give pause to Mary's perpetual virginity?

The Catholic Journeyman said...

I repeat from my above comment (Proto of James reference as pointed out by EA):


When Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Churchmouse,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You point out alot of things that from a historical perspective are not clear. For example, we do not know if Mary and Joseph were Pharisaical (or if they were which school did they follow), Saducceean, Essene, Herodian, Zealot or plain am'haretz in their religious views. If they were Essene, I would have no problem defending Mary's perpetual chastity after having Jesus because the Essenes did not engage in sexual relations with their spouses. As for the other groups, it would depend on if Mary or her parents had taken a vow (Numbers 31) that she would remain a virgin. Being good Jews of the time didn't necessarily mean that Mary and Joseph had to engage in fornication as some on this blog contend. The simple fact is that the Scriptures do not say whether Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus. This is a point that most Catholics, aside from a few heretics, and the early Reformers all agree upon. Luther, Calvin and even Francois Turrettini (anglicize as Turretin) stated that it would be imprudent and improper to distill from Mt. 1:18 and the other passages that are cited as to "brothers" and "sisters" that Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus. Our belief in Mary's perpetual virginity does have some scriptural support but it is the testimony of most of the ECF's that confirms it.

You brought up St. Basil. Could you refer to the work that suggests that he did not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Lightfoot, among others, states otherwise:

BASIL THE GREAT († 379), while allowing that the perpetual virginity is not a necessary article of belief, yet adheres to it himself ‘since the lovers of Christ cannot endure to hear that the mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin’ (Hom. in Sanct. Christ. Gen. II. p. 600, ed. Garn.) Migne says the same thing:
at 31:146: "The hearing of the philochrists, does not even accept to hear that the Virgin at some point stopped being Virgin".

What I think you are referring to is the fact that he did not believe the doctrine to be dogma.

Churchmouse said...

I repeat from my above comment (Proto of James reference as pointed out by EA):


When Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.


Dave, did you read EA’s comments? It seems that you are assuming the Proto to be written by James (who wrote the epistle), the Lord's brother. A comparison of the writing style of James and the writer of this pseudepigraphical book do not compare. In terms of dates, Hegesippus would have been a contemporary of when this book was written. Origen, another contemporary, claimed that its origins were skeptic. I don’t accept this book as valid; neither do I accept it as indicative of a common belief amongst the people.

Yes, Hannah (Samuel’s mom) dedicated her son to the service of the Temple after his weaning and it seems that the writer of the Proto borrows heavily from the 1 Samuel account. The writer also seems to borrow from John 20:25-28 where Thomas won’t believe until he feels the wounds of Christ. In the Proto, Salome thrusts her finger into Mary’s womb to verify her virginity and then believes. Her hands wind up burning as a result, she repents of her unbelief, and an angel appears telling her that God has heard her—and carrying the baby would heal her. The book is fanciful.

As far as Samuel goes, Samuel remained in the Temple in service to Eli. When the angel appeared to Mary, there is no indication that she was in Temple service, neither is there any biblical or historical evidence that woman were allowed to serve in the way Samuel did. Anna the prophetess didn’t have a vow of virginity. Scripture only states that she lived with her husband 7 years from when she was a virgin. In other words, she was married 7 years before he died. “From when she was a virgin” is just a way of deliberating the time from her virginity to the time of his death. From that point forward she remained a widow and served at the Temple. “…until she was 84” probably means that she died at that age.

Again, Dave, you seem to be assuming quite a bit and willing to believe anything, just as long as it lends to your view.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

"When the angel appeared to Mary, there is no indication that she was in Temple service, neither is there any biblical or historical evidence that woman were allowed to serve in the way Samuel did."

Nor is there an express exclusion indicated.

My reference is socio-historical context.

I could not care less what you think I believe, assume or use as theological corroboration. That is not of relevance. Thanks for the heads up on your judgemental condition though.

-Dave

Churchmouse said...

Paul, you stated…

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You point out alot of things that from a historical perspective are not clear. For example, we do not know if Mary and Joseph were Pharisaical (or if they were which school did they follow), Saducceean, Essene, Herodian, Zealot or plain am'haretz in their religious views. If they were Essene, I would have no problem defending Mary's perpetual chastity after having Jesus because the Essenes did not engage in sexual relations with their spouses.

Hi Paul,

Mary would have submitted to the Pharisaical tradition. This can be determined fairly easily considering what Christ stated in Matthew 23:2-3. This, of course, doesn’t intone that all Pharisees were hypocrites and were only validated in their teaching. Remember, the Pharisees consisted of two Jewish schools, Bet Shammai (who were rigid and unwavering) and Bet Hillel (who were peaceable). Some traditions say that the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is Christ quoting Rabbi Hillel. Yet, considering this is the case, Mary would’ve been like any other Jewish wife.

As for the other groups, it would depend on if Mary or her parents had taken a vow (Numbers 31) that she would remain a virgin.

Scripture and history does not assume this. Rather, she is a Jewish wife. Where do we find any evidence that a Jewish wife can commit to “a vow” to remain a virgin after she marries? Even Paul recognized that a husband and wife can separate for a time (praying and fasting), but they are to come back together conjugally afterwards, so Satan won't exploit them with temptation.

Being good Jews of the time didn't necessarily mean that Mary and Joseph had to engage in fornication as some on this blog contend.

Fornication? How can a husband and wife be in "fornication"? If you are referring to what Jim posted, it’s a rhetorical scenario based on what Catholics contend for Mary.

The simple fact is that the Scriptures do not say whether Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus.

Scripture doesn’t have to explicitly state that Mary and Joseph had marital relations for the point to be valid. The verse indicates that the action ceased upon fruition (of the birth of Christ) which is very telling. Something as vital as lifelong virginity would be worth mentioning, don’t you think? Especially considering its doctrinal implications. Yet, Scripture implicates the Jewish husband and his wife and the norms involved.

This is a point that most Catholics, aside from a few heretics, and the early Reformers all agree upon. Luther, Calvin and even Francois Turrettini (anglicize as Turretin) stated that it would be imprudent and improper to distill from Mt. 1:18 and the other passages that are cited as to "brothers" and "sisters" that Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus.

You would have to cite the men you mention individually so I can weigh their context. Also, I asked you about Athanasius and what you contended for him (in your other post) and didn't get an answer.

Our belief in Mary's perpetual virginity does have some scriptural support but it is the testimony of most of the ECF's that confirms it.

Numbers do not validate a belief. In other words, just because “most” of them believed in the PV, it doesn’t therefore prove that it was a right belief, especially when others (like those I mentioned) disagreed or didn't hold to it dogmatically.

You brought up St. Basil. Could you refer to the work that suggests that he did not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Lightfoot, among others, states otherwise:

BASIL THE GREAT († 379), while allowing that the perpetual virginity is not a necessary article of belief, yet adheres to it himself ‘since the lovers of Christ cannot endure to hear that the mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin’ (Hom. in Sanct. Christ. Gen. II. p. 600, ed. Garn.) Migne says the same thing:
at 31:146: "The hearing of the philochrists, does not even accept to hear that the Virgin at some point stopped being Virgin".

What I think you are referring to is the fact that he did not believe the doctrine to be dogma.


I never said that Basil didn’t believe in the PV. I said that Basil accepted the PV, yet “…wrote that a widely-held view that Mary had other children existed? And that it was in keeping with orthodoxy?” As you have noted, Lightfoot’s article (The Brethren of the Lord) states the very same thing. Yet, for the record, I was referencing J.N.D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines, pg. 495.

Churchmouse said...

"When the angel appeared to Mary, there is no indication that she was in Temple service, neither is there any biblical or historical evidence that woman were allowed to serve in the way Samuel did."

Nor is there an express exclusion indicated.


Then you're arguing from silence. That's not gonna fly.

My reference is socio-historical context.

But you're not giving it any "socio-historical context." What's there to go on.

I could not care less what you think I believe, assume or use as theological corroboration. That is not of relevance. Thanks for the heads up on your judgemental condition though.

I would allow the reader to determine if I'm judging falsely or basing my judgments on what your posting.

EA said...

"EA - This question "An explanation of Mary's unique status based on contextualized cultural mores needs to enumerate the ways in which ANE cultural norms vis a vis betrothal and marital contracts differ from modern relationships." is what I am really getting at by the use of James. Thanks for tracking this back."No, I'm sorry, The Protoevangelium of James does not suffice as a reliable source of ANE marital or betrothal customs.
It does not provide an insight into widely accepted or common practices as they pertain to the institution of marriage in the time in question.

"Mary's Mother vowing to place Mary into the service of the Lord has historical, contextual and social meaning. Because this level of information was not conveyed by the writers of scripture, does not invalidate its accuracy."

This is really too good to pass up; where does the historical and social meaning of the alleged vow derive? From an extra-biblical, pseudoepigraphical text that was declared to be avoided by Catholics in the Gelasian Decree? A lack of detail doesn't invalidate accuracy? This is a joke, right? Lack of detail is injurious to a number things. One is accuracy, another is credibility.

"Moreover, its validity can be corroborated by scripture in compatible vows that were recorded in scripture."Vows in Scripture are corroborated by the recording of the fulfillment of those vows in Scripture. A less desirable, but still acceptable corroboration would be a contemporary account by an eyewitness to the fulfillment of the vow. Of course, this source has a number of objective criteria to meet to be considered trustworthy. But the text in question provides us with none of these things. The description by Churchmouse is apt: the text is fanciful, not history.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Churchmouse, I apologize for missing that.

Here is some of what Saint Athanasius said:

"Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to His essence, deny also that He took true human flesh from the Ever-Virgin Mary" (Discourses Against the Arians, 2:70)


“...Moreover, thus his body alone came from Mary: so that when he alone came forth from the virgin, it might be believed that it was the body of God.” First Letter to Virgins 9.

“The Saviour is instructing us about this plainly when he teaches that his mother Mary remained in virginity forever. For when he ascended the cross, he gave his mother to John (Jn. 19:26-27).” First Letter to Virgins 10

“But Mary, the bearer of God, remains a virgin [so that she may remain a pattern for] everyone coming after her.” First Letter to Virgins 11.

“Therefore he [Paul] wrote to the Corinthians, saying, ‘Concerning the virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I offer an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy’ (1 Cor. 7:25). And I think that you too have understood this well, because it was said carefully, especially if you will remember what we said about virginity being beyond human nature, because in Mary its image has appeared. ... Indeed, Paul himself did not learn about it [virginity] through the law, but rather through the way of life of Mary.” First Letter to Virgins 18.

“Oh how many virgins Mary will meet! And how she will embrace them and lead them to the Lord! How much joy there will be among the angels when they see the image of their purity in the bodies of the virgins! How the Lord will commend them to his Father when he sees them, saying, ‘All these have become and are like Mary, who is mine!” First Letter to Virgins 21.

The authenticity of the First Letter to Virgins was established conclusively by Dr. Brakke in “The Authenticity of the Ascetic Athanasiana” Orientalia 63 (1994), 17-56.

BTW, The first Letter to the Virgins is listed in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum as #2147 in case you want to look it up. And it lists the work as a vera also.

As far as the "until" argument goes, you might want to take a look at St. John Chrysostom's Homily on The Gospel of St. Matthew 5.3 NPNF 1 10:33.

This is off the top of my head-I will have to look at the rest of your stuff tomorrow when I can think clearly but I will leave you with this, if Mary had other children with Joseph, why would anyone believe that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God as opposed to merely being the offspring of Mary and Joseph? Mary's perpetual virginity safeguards the doctrine of the Incarnation and provides a proof for the veracity of Scripture to boot. She provides an additional witness which was an effective means for the ECF's to fight the Arians (who subscribed to a form of sola scriptura) who denied the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary and some of the other heresies that popped up in the 4th and 5th centuries. Folks cite to Tertullian, but remember he turned out to be a Montanist and died a heretic.

Churchmouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Churchmouse said...

Hi Paul,

You stated...

Hi Churchmouse, I apologize for missing that.

Here is some of what Saint Athanasius said:

"Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to His essence, deny also that He took true human flesh from the Ever-Virgin Mary" (Discourses Against the Arians, 2:70)


“...Moreover, thus his body alone came from Mary: so that when he alone came forth from the virgin, it might be believed that it was the body of God.” First Letter to Virgins 9.

“The Saviour is instructing us about this plainly when he teaches that his mother Mary remained in virginity forever. For when he ascended the cross, he gave his mother to John (Jn. 19:26-27).” First Letter to Virgins 10

“But Mary, the bearer of God, remains a virgin [so that she may remain a pattern for] everyone coming after her.” First Letter to Virgins 11.

“Therefore he [Paul] wrote to the Corinthians, saying, ‘Concerning the virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I offer an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy’ (1 Cor. 7:25). And I think that you too have understood this well, because it was said carefully, especially if you will remember what we said about virginity being beyond human nature, because in Mary its image has appeared. ... Indeed, Paul himself did not learn about it [virginity] through the law, but rather through the way of life of Mary.” First Letter to Virgins 18.

“Oh how many virgins Mary will meet! And how she will embrace them and lead them to the Lord! How much joy there will be among the angels when they see the image of their purity in the bodies of the virgins! How the Lord will commend them to his Father when he sees them, saying, ‘All these have become and are like Mary, who is mine!” First Letter to Virgins 21.

The authenticity of the First Letter to Virgins was established conclusively by Dr. Brakke in “The Authenticity of the Ascetic Athanasiana” Orientalia 63 (1994), 17-56.

BTW, The first Letter to the Virgins is listed in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum as #2147 in case you want to look it up. And it lists the work as a vera also.


Yes, it does seem that Athanasius held to her lifelong virginity. I would disagree regarding his exegesis of Scripture, considering there is no reason to believe that Paul was somehow affected by Mary’s virginity and that this played into his comments in 1 Corinthians 7, especially since Paul seems to be devoid of anything Marian. He doesn’t even mention her in any of his writings. So, it seems rather eisegetical on the part of Athanasius that is unless you have evidence that Paul had a profound understanding of Mary and that Athanasius was privy to it.

As far as the "until" argument goes, you might want to take a look at St. John Chrysostom's Homily on The Gospel of St. Matthew 5.3 NPNF 1 10:33. I’m pretty settled on the “until” argument, regardless of what some ECF’s believed. It seems clear that the word is there to denote something which ceased at a certain point. Otherwise, why would it be there? If Mary were a perpetual virgin, “until” would be a moot point.

This is off the top of my head-I will have to look at the rest of your stuff tomorrow when I can think clearly but I will leave you with this, if Mary had other children with Joseph, why would anyone believe that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God as opposed to merely being the offspring of Mary and Joseph? Why wouldn’t they? It would be presumptuous to assume that one wouldn’t be able to believe Christ as the Son of God, based on whether or not Mary remained a virgin. The Protestant argument that Christ was recognized as the brother of Mary’s offspring doesn’t impede us from believing that Christ is the Son of God. I don’t see this as a point.

Mary's perpetual virginity safeguards the doctrine of the Incarnation and provides a proof for the veracity of Scripture to boot. Again, I don’t see your reasoning. Mary could just as easily have had plenty of other children and it doesn’t compromise Scripture or the Incarnation. Protestants are proof positive of this.

She provides an additional witness which was an effective means for the ECF's to fight the Arians (who subscribed to a form of sola scriptura) who denied the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary and some of the other heresies that popped up in the 4th and 5th centuries. The issue with the Arians was the nature of Christ. Mary’s immediate virginity and humanity were supportive in protecting His nature. What happened after His birth wasn’t a factor, but only the human/divine nature which was distinctively Christ’s.

Folks cite to Tertullian, but remember he turned out to be a Montanist and died a heretic. Catholics cite Tertullian as well, especially when trying to prove a Catholic distinctive he may allude to. A good example is purgatory, where Catholics cite him liberally. For the Protestant, ECF’s are important. They give insight into the culture, understanding, and progressions within Christianity, but we are very careful when using them to deduce doctrinal understandings. We recognize that are only fallible individuals, just like us, and must be filtered through the Scriptures. Oftentimes, we used them as “hostile witnesses” against those who claim them in determining their distinctives, especially if their distinctives are claimed as the standard for the church universal. Please keep this in mind when citing the Fathers.

Peace,
Ray

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Ray -

I yield the Proto of James has its incompatibilities with its stated authorship professed as James. But that does not invalidate the entire document as the names of Mary's parents were produced by this document and that information is never refuted by Eusebius, Origen, Augustine, Basil, Pope Leo I, et al.

Humor me,

Your counterclaims are verbatum from Wikipedia's comglomerative desciption.

ECF's such as Augustine Corroborate Mary's Ever Virgin status inclusive of the Proto's logic (vowing to dedicate life to service).

"Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband" (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).

I see your and EA's position on the Proto as a questionable reference, and respect that. It is only one document attempting to provide the historical preface and give identifying details (According to the world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: "The principal aim of the whole writing [Protoevangelium of James] is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ") (Patrology, 1:120–1). to Christs birth nonetheless.

Paul is providing further ECF references and I yield the floor to his worthy work.

Peace,
-Dave

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi ChurchMouse,

I must apologize for disagreeing with your characterization that the denial of Mary's perpetual virginity is a "Protestant" argument. It is a modern Protestant argument that many, but not all, present-day Protestants make. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and even Turretin all agreed that she was a perpetual virgin. Maybe, the Reformers couldn't agree on the doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration or of the Real Presence, but they all could agree on Mary's perpetual virginity. The problem is if you are free to disagree with them and still call yourself a Christian or Protestant, why can't one deny the Incarnation and properly call themself a Christian or Protestant as well? After all, no one has to agree with everything the Reformers said either, even the stuff they agree upon, right?

It also happens that denial of perpetual virginity of Mary is also a belief that the Arians, certain Ebionites and anti-dicomarianites all made and all those folks were characterized as heretics by the ancient church. If you want to cite Tertullian, that's ok, too, since he was a heretic also. Protestantism, it seems, is merely following the example of these other heresies. Being in the same company as those who historically are considered heretics is not something I would brag about.

BTW, I do not usually cite to Tertullian or Origen for that matter as they are not in the strict sense of the phrase, Early Church Fathers. One has to be considered a saint to have that title and neither of those guys qualify, although I do believe that Origen is considered a saint by some the Orthodox and Copts. Their writings might accurately reflect Catholic doctrines on occasion, but then one could make the argument that Julian the Apostate, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius are ECF's too.

As far as the word "until" goes, you are simply reading into it something that is not there. Even in English, the word doesn't necessarily mean that something that didn't happen before some point in time did happen after it. If I tell a client not to talk to the police until I get there, doesn't mean that when I do get there that they should start talking to the police.

Acts 25:21: "But when Paul demanded to be kept in custody until the Emperor's verdict, I gave orders that he should be kept in custody until [heos hou] I could send him on to Caesar."

Now did Festus release St. Paul after arrangements were made to send him to Caesar?

2 Peter 1:19 "Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until (heos hou) the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

Is Peter telling the reader to cease being attentive to the Gospel message after dawn?

The point is that Matt. 1:25 certainly does indicate that Joseph did not know Mary upto the point of Jesus' birth, but it does not suggest that he ceased not knowing her afterwards.

As far as your characterization of the ECF's, I would have to disagree with you as to the significance of their witness, but since they were Catholic, I can understand your reluctance to accept their testimony.

God bless!

EA said...

"Acts 25:21: "But when Paul demanded to be kept in custody until the Emperor's verdict, I gave orders that he should be kept in custody until [heos hou] I could send him on to Caesar."

Now did Festus release St. Paul after arrangements were made to send him to Caesar?"
Actually, yes. When Festus sends Paul to Caesar, he is no longer holding him, Caesar is. Paul had appealed to Caesar, while Festus had temporary custody of Paul, the legal dominion was Caesar's according to Paul's appeal.

"2 Peter 1:19 "Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until (heos hou) the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

Is Peter telling the reader to cease being attentive to the Gospel message after dawn?"
Again, yes. A lamp is required as long as the darkness lasts. Once dawn breaks, the lamp is no longer required. So it is with the prophetic message. Once the prophecy is fulfilled, the darkness is dispelled, the foretold event has arrived.

Therefore, the use of heos hou in each of these examples signifies the end of one state of affairs and the beginning of another.

Churchmouse said...

I yield the Proto of James has its incompatibilities with its stated authorship professed as James. But that does not invalidate the entire document as the names of Mary's parents were produced by this document and that information is never refuted by Eusebius, Origen, Augustine, Basil, Pope Leo I, et al. By virtue of its dubious nature, why would I submit to its contents? Detailing fanciful stories isn’t a concrete indicator that the info contained within (even names) are true; neither does it prove that it is a legitimate belief.

Humor me,

Your counterclaims are verbatum from Wikipedia's comglomerative desciption.
Maybe. I haven’t dealt with canon issues in quite awhile, and I’ve only had one other dialogue brief discussion regarding the PV and the Proto. I may have pasted some things off the WWW on a document that I, subsequently, pulled out when responding to you. Does this change any understanding in my rejection of the Proto? Not at all! I have read enough to know why the church rejected it and why I should as well, regardless of its inner workings as being support for the PV. I am very familiar with canon issues and have read books by Beckwith, Bruce, Geisler, and Metzger among others, but from what I’ve gathered from these scholars (with apologies to Metzger, whose book hasn’t found its way home since on loan to a friend), the Proto hasn’t been much to comment on. You aren’t looking for skeletons are you?

ECF's such as Augustine Corroborate Mary's Ever Virgin status inclusive of the Proto's logic (vowing to dedicate life to service).

"Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband" (Heresies 56 [A.D. 428]).
Augustine was given to fancy at times. For instance, when arguing for the Septuagint, he appealed to the fanciful story of the “70” and the legend regarding their translation, even though the Pentateuch was the only books translated by these men. So it doesn’t surprise me that he would find relevance in books that uphold a belief of his. Let me ask you, considering you mentioned that the info within the Proto wasn’t refuted by the above named fathers, what was their reason for accepting the stories as true?

I see your and EA's position on the Proto as a questionable reference, and respect that. It is only one document attempting to provide the historical preface and give identifying details (According to the world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: "The principal aim of the whole writing [Protoevangelium of James] is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ") (Patrology, 1:120–1). to Christs birth nonetheless. There’s only one problem with this, Dave. It doesn’t “prove” what Quasten says it does. The book is based on fantasy. Even its claims to have been written by “James” are challenged rather concretely. It doesn’t even come off the gait as anything worth its mettle. Yet, understandably, for Catholics, it is needed for the obvious reasons.

Paul is providing further ECF references and I yield the floor to his worthy work.One that has been refuted by EA.

Peace,
Ray

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi EA and Churchmouse,

I saw the analysis of heos hou and there is only one problem with it. As I understand it, the standard argument used by folks that use the heos hou argument to deny the perpetual virginity of Mary talk about the "heos hou" referring to a reversal of action in the major premise in the subject clause. You are emphasizing a cessation of action of the minor premise, and are not dealing with the major premise contained in the subject clause at all~Paul is still in custody~we are still to be attentive to the Gospel. Now mind you, I do not have a doctorate in Greek but I think that St. John Chrysostom's understanding of "heos hou" at Mt. 1:25 (since he actually spoke and wrote the language) should be given some weight. Also, if you guys saying that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Turretin are in error on something like this, how can one not believe that they might be in error on the other stuff they taught? BillyHW's first comment was spot on--you are trying to force Scriptures to conform to a modern meaning of a word rather than conforming your understanding to the original meaning and grammar of the words God chose.

As far as your analysis of St. Augustine, how do you know that he was accessing the Protoevangelium when he wrote about the antidicomarianites? Like St. Athanasius saying about St. Paul learning about the way of virginity from the life of Our Blessed Mother, maybe the ECF's were actually accessing one of those apostolic traditions you guys say don't exist outside of Scriptures?

Now before you dismiss the Protoevangelium as a total fantasy, do you know for certain that the writer of the Protoevangelium just made up the story of Mary's early childhood as you indicated? Or is it more plausible that he got such facts from an earlier source similar to the source that St. Paul got the names of Jannes and Jambre, or the idea of "third heaven" which do not appear in the OT or got Jesus' saying "it is better to give than to receive" which does not appear in any of the four Gospels?

I would suggest that you are engaging in special pleading here and not allowing the ECF's to speak for themselves which is a complaint Protestant apologists make against us Catholics all the time. No, I do not think that Augustine was given to fancy when he was discussing the evils of heresy, but I think you are given to fancy to deny the implications that only people who denied the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the early Church were all considered heretics.

God bless!

bkaycee said...

FYI, some fairly in depth discussion of the greek.

http://www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou.htm

http://www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_2.htm

http://www.ntrmin.org/where_have_all_the_critics_gone.htm

Churchmouse said...

I must apologize for disagreeing with your characterization that the denial of Mary's perpetual virginity is a "Protestant" argument. It is a modern Protestant argument that many, but not all, present-day Protestants make. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and even Turretin all agreed that she was a perpetual virgin. Maybe, the Reformers couldn't agree on the doctrines of Baptismal Regeneration or of the Real Presence, but they all could agree on Mary's perpetual virginity. The problem is if you are free to disagree with them and still call yourself a Christian or Protestant, why can't one deny the Incarnation and properly call themself a Christian or Protestant as well? After all, no one has to agree with everything the Reformers said either, even the stuff they agree upon, right?The Reformers taught that Scripture is our guide. That’s what mattered. None of them saw a belief in the PV of Mary as relevant to salvation. Thus, to bring this up as a point is rather pointless, Paul.

It also happens that denial of perpetual virginity of Mary is also a belief that the Arians, certain Ebionites and anti-dicomarianites all made and all those folks were characterized as heretics by the ancient church.This is a bit fallacious too, Paul, a bit misleading. Just because a group is heretical, it doesn't mean that denying a certain position makes that position heretical.

If you want to cite Tertullian, that's ok, too, since he was a heretic also.This actually proves what I said in my previous statement. Catholics have no problem citing Tertullian when he allegedly supports a Catholic distinctive, even though he was a heretic.

Protestantism, it seems, is merely following the example of these other heresies. Being in the same company as those who historically are considered heretics is not something I would brag about.You're equivocating. In other words, just because heretical groups denied the PV doesn't mean that ALL who deny it are heretical. And no one is "bragging", Paul. Yours is not a good argument.

BTW, I do not usually cite to Tertullian or Origen for that matter as they are not in the strict sense of the phrase, Early Church Fathers. One has to be considered a saint to have that title and neither of those guys qualify, although I do believe that Origen is considered a saint by some the Orthodox and Copts. Their writings might accurately reflect Catholic doctrines on occasion, but then one could make the argument that Julian the Apostate, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius are ECF's too.Er...I think you're attempting to dictate what defines an "Early Church Father" by using your own distinctives to establish who or what they are. I don’t agree. To me, an early church father is one who wrote regarding theological matters, warts and all, in the early centuries of the church.

As far as the word "until" goes, you are simply reading into it something that is not there. Even in English, the word doesn't necessarily mean that something that didn't happen before some point in time did happen after it. If I tell a client not to talk to the police until I get there, doesn't mean that when I do get there that they should start talking to the police.Again, English and Greek do not go by the same rules. Your English use of the word "until" is valid, it doesn't mean someone will call the police, but you can’t translate the same rule to the Greek. Even if someone says “Don’t call the police until I get there”, the intent (to call the police) is still present, even if one changes his mind on the matter once there. You can’t transfer the same intent in matters of marriage and the responsibilities of the marriage bed. In other words, changing your mind regarding calling the police isn’t comparable to changing your mind on sex within the bounds of marriage. The latter is expected within the marriage union. One doesn't get married and "change their mind" on having sexual relations.

As far as your examples of “until” goes, EA has done an excellent job of revealing the shortcomings of your argument.

As far as your characterization of the ECF's, I would have to disagree with you as to the significance of their witness, but since they were Catholic, I can understand your reluctance to accept their testimony.Again, you don’t seem to understand the Protestant mindset on these matters. To draw on the claim that the ECF’s were “Catholic” is to expose yourself to “hostile witnesses” against you when these “Catholic” ECF’s go against a certain Catholic distinctive. Now, no one denies that they were “Catholic”, but to assume that they are the same type of “Catholic” that you are is a tall order, especially when some do not support you on various Catholic distinctives. I don't have that dilemma because Scripture is my authority and ECFs, just like any other teacher or preacher, are held to Scripture. The way I view the ECF’s are as my ancient Christian brethren, a part of the Christian community, who weren’t infallible, had some good things they taught, had some bad thing they taught, held some things in common with the others, some disagreed with others, but overall, they are just as much mine as they are yours. As I said, the difference being that I still hold their teachings to the light of Scripture, with Scripture being above all.

Peace,
Ray

Churchmouse said...

Hi EA and Churchmouse,

I saw the analysis of heos hou and there is only one problem with it. As I understand it, the standard argument used by folks that use the heos hou argument to deny the perpetual virginity of Mary talk about the "heos hou" referring to a reversal of action in the major premise in the subject clause. You are emphasizing a cessation of action of the minor premise, and are not dealing with the major premise contained in the subject clause at all~Paul is still in custody~we are still to be attentive to the Gospel. Now mind you, I do not have a doctorate in Greek but I think that St. John Chrysostom's understanding of "heos hou" at Mt. 1:25 (since he actually spoke and wrote the language) should be given some weight. There’s a problem with that, Paul. Chrysostom, just like any other father, had his questions about the word “until.” He compared it to the raven that wasn’t to return “until” the waters dried up and the raven didn’t return. You assume that, because he spoke Koine Greek, he would know, but he is referencing the Hebrew, and not the Greek, regarding this passage (Genesis 8:7). Even Chrysostom admits…

“So then here likewise, it uses the word “till,” to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves thee to make the inference.”

In other words, Chrysostom understood that the reader would have to draw his own conclusion and that the crux was to protect her virginity PRIOR to Christ’s birth. What happened afterwards, the possibility that Joseph “knew” her then, is not denied by Chrysostom. Furthermore, one can read this entire homily and realize that Chrysostom draws no conclusions, but theorizes many things throughout. For instance, he ponders why Mary was committed to the care of John. If Mary truly had children through Joseph, then why give her to John? Yet, Chrysostom recognizes that this could be because his own brethren didn’t believe in Him. Overall, I don’t think Chrysostom furthers your argument much.

Also, if you guys saying that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Turretin are in error on something like this, how can one not believe that they might be in error on the other stuff they taught? BillyHW's first comment was spot on--you are trying to force Scriptures to conform to a modern meaning of a word rather than conforming your understanding to the original meaning and grammar of the words God chose. Because the cry of the Reformers was “Scripture alone”!!! None of these men held that believing in the PV was part and parcel of orthodoxy or salvation. If anything was to be weighed, it was weighed through Scripture. Also, none of the Reformers claimed to be infallible and, because Scripture alone was the standard of truth, it is understandable that things would change as the understanding of Scripture progressed. Also, we don’t say that the Reformers were in error regarding the PV, but only that we UNDERSTAND that Rome wasn’t created in a day. It doesn’t work like that. Luther, Calvin, and others didn’t just “change” every belief pattern on the spot and may have never changed regarding every belief. They held to some things because they came from a system which wasn’t completely OUT of their system. Get my drift? Yet, you don’t seem to understand that the Reformers weren’t infallible and just as prone to error, but if something was to be contended or contested, the commonality was Scripture.

As far as your analysis of St. Augustine, how do you know that he was accessing the Protoevangelium when he wrote about the antidicomarianites?That was Dave’s (Catholic Journeyman) claim, not mine. I merely brought up that Augustine seemed to be given to fancy, thus it wouldn’t surprise me if he took the Proto to heart, especially because he believed in the PV.

Like St. Athanasius saying about St. Paul learning about the way of virginity from the life of Our Blessed Mother, maybe the ECF's were actually accessing one of those apostolic traditions you guys say don't exist outside of Scriptures?Please refrain from assuming that ALL the ECF’s believed the same in this matter. Maybe you don’t mean it as such, but you seem to generalize “ECF’s.” As to your question, you are assuming that this is the case, thus you really don’t have an argument. As far as I know, Paul NEVER mentioned Mary, let alone that he was affected by her alleged perpetual virginity.

Now before you dismiss the Protoevangelium as a total fantasy, do you know for certain that the writer of the Protoevangelium just made up the story of Mary's early childhood as you indicated?The fact that the church denies its authenticity is good enough for me. It is said to be the earliest document dealing with the alleged claims for Mary, so there is nothing prior to this corroborating these claims to be genuine. Couple this by what Scripture states regarding Mary, Joseph, and Christ's brethren, plus Mary's diminished role in the ministry of Christ, and I'm sold that Mary did have children and that the PV is a later concept.

Or is it more plausible that he got such facts from an earlier source…It is more plausible that it is fanciful, considering there is no “earlier source” to corroborate it.

…similar to the source that St. Paul got the names of Jannes and Jambre…That would be “historical” recognition. This is not the same as the comparison you make. In other words, a historical recognition amongst the Jews that the men who opposed Moses were named “Jannes and Jambres” isn’t the same as saying that there was historical recognition that Mary was a perpetual virgin. In the first case, the Jews knew their names just as we know that George Washington was our first president. There is no disputing that. However, there are differences and disagreements on the PV and NOT a historical consensus.

…or the idea of "third heaven" which do not appear in the OT…Which many, including some ECF’s, believe is just a reference to “heaven” (i.e. first heaven/the skies, second heaven/space, third heaven/the kingdom of God) and not a reference to something “traditionally” understood.

…or got Jesus' saying "it is better to give than to receive" which does not appear in any of the four Gospels?You’re not thinking this through. Paul wasn’t a direct witness to what Christ said or did, but only that which was stated to him on Damascus road. Yet, via the other Apostles (and maybe through some exposure to Christ’s teaching prior to his conversion), he knew the “essence” of Christ’s teachings on giving. Thus, this could well be a pastoral statement based upon the teachings of Christ and not necessarily a verbatim statement.

I would suggest that you are engaging in special pleading here and not allowing the ECF's to speak for themselves which is a complaint Protestant apologists make against us Catholics all the time.Again, you are generalizing the ECF’s as if they all believed the same regarding the PV, thus you are doing what you accuse us of doing—special pleading. We are allowing the ECF’s to speak for themselves but we also recognize their differences. There was no commonality as you assume.

No, I do not think that Augustine was given to fancy when he was discussing the evils of heresy...We’re not talking about the “evils of heresy” as being Augustine’s fancy. We are talking about how Augustine gave himself to fancy when accommodating his distinctives. He did it with the Apocryphal books, so one questions if he can do the same with something else, such as the Proto.

…but I think you are given to fancy to deny the implications that only people who denied the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the early Church were all considered hereticsThose who denied the nature of Christ were considered heretics and not those who denied the PV. You are taking some ECF’s and broad-brushing their claims as if they were representative of all. Basil certainly didn’t agree with you—saying that a belief that Mary had other children was “widely held” in his day and compatible with orthodoxy. According to Eusebius, Hegessipus doesn’t agree with you, calling James “the Lord’s brother according to the flesh.” And Tertullian held that Jesus’ brothers were of a “blood-relationship” and you really cannot draw on his heresy to disclaim his statements—that is unless you can prove that this was a heretical thought to begin with and that it was commonly held.

EA said...

Paul Hoffer: "I saw the analysis of heos hou and there is only one problem with it. As I understand it, the standard argument used by folks that use the heos hou argument to deny the perpetual virginity of Mary talk about the "heos hou" referring to a reversal of action in the major premise in the subject clause. You are emphasizing a cessation of action of the minor premise, and are not dealing with the major premise contained in the subject clause at all~Paul is still in custody~we are still to be attentive to the Gospel. Now mind you, I do not have a doctorate in Greek but I think that St. John Chrysostom's understanding of "heos hou" at Mt. 1:25 (since he actually spoke and wrote the language) should be given some weight."The following link provided by bkaycee is of inestimable value in this discussion:

http://www.ntrmin.org/where_have_all_the_critics_gone.htm(HatTip to bkaycee!)

I was not aware that Dr. Eric Svendsen had already more than capably addressed the examples that you had cited, namely, Acts 25:21 and 2 Peter 1:19.

At the above link, Dr. Svendsen responds to arguments made by Ronald K. Tacelli, S.J (Boston College). Fr. Tacelli raises exactly the examples that you cite. I will hasten to add that while my interpretations of the passages (in English) match those presented by Dr. Svendsen, he has done the heavy-lifting of analyzing the grammatical constructions of "heos hou" in Koine Greek, whereas I must have it explained to me.

I would urge everyone to read the material at the URL provided.
Here are a couple of salient quotes:

Dr Svendsen: "The plain meaning in context is that Festus “kept” Paul in Caesarea as opposed to sending him back to Jerusalem (the request of the Jews) to stand trial (vv. 15-20). The point here is not one of “custody,” but location. Obviously, once Paul had been sent to Caesar (Rome) he was no longer “kept” in Caesarea. Hence, heos hou in this verse functions in its normal way, indicating cessation of the action of the main clause once the “until” has been reached."Dr. Svendsen: "Peter is not addressing truth as a category, but specifically “the word of the prophets” that are subsequently inscripturated (vv. 20-21). Scripture then is compared to a “shining light.” The “dark place” is this present age through which the Scriptures give us safe passage. The phrase “day dawns and the morning star rises” is doubtless a reference to the parousia (second coming of Christ), after which it will no longer be necessary to turn to the word of the prophets as a guide which navigates us through a dark place, since Christ himself will supersede any such need. Hence, once the “until” is reached at Christ’s coming, we will no longer “see through a mirror dimly,” or “know in part”; rather we will “see face to face,” and “know fully just as we also have been known” (1 Cor 13:12). Once again, when we read the passage aright, we see that heos hou retains its normal usage."I believe a fair reading of Dr. Svendsen's comments and my own will find them in agreement.

Dr. Svendsen: (On Fr. Tacelli's similar appeal to John Chrysostom) "Such an observation will doubtless hold emotional appeal to those who are a priori committed to the authority of Chrysostom; but for purposes of New Testament Greek grammar, Chrysostom’s writings are completely irrelevant. How many grammarians today turn to Chrysostom (or indeed to any fourth-century writing) to establish usage for the New Testament era?"There is much more: Svendsen sytstematically demolishes the opposing position.

Again, I would urge all to review the material at the link provided.As I stated near the top Eric Svendsen has done the heavy-lifting in this area. To my knowledge, no qualified Greek grammarian or linguist has been able to mount a credible attack on his work with regard to the Greek construction of "heos hou" in the NT. If you have such a work or expert, please provide citations of same.

The comments regarding the reformers is a series of straw men and attempts at poisoning the well which does not require a response.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi EA, I already have: St. John Chrysostom, Dr. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and Francois Turrettini.

Churchmouse said...

Paul,

None of the men you mentioned did an intensive study, the likes of Eric Svendsen, on the subject on the subject of "heos hou." Can you point to where they did.

Peace,
Ray

EA said...

"St. John Chrysostom, Dr. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli and Francois Turrettini."Hi Paul,

Perhaps I wasn't specific enough in my request for citations. For that, I apologize.

Please identify for me specific instances in their writings where the above-mentioned authors interact specifically with the Koine Greek construction of heos hou.

Also, in addition to or in lieu of the above, might I also request that you provide me with a reasoned argument as to why you believe the above-mentioned writers are reliable experts in 1st. century Koine Greek?

Thanks in advance,

EA

Paul Hoffer said...

Ok...St. John Chrysostom actually spoke and wrote in the language we are talking about on a daily basis his entire life hence, the "Chrysostom" part "golden-mouthed." He went to the Greek school in Antioch and was taught by the Greek master, Libanios and was taught oratory and rhetoric, and Greek classical literature and philosophy. Apparently he learnt them well enough to compose an attack on Homer's writings. He then went to study theology in the great theological school in Antioch under Meletios and Diodore. Aside from later becoming known as the greatest preacher in Christendom at the time, he wrote more works that we have surviving than any of the other Eastern ECF's. His Greek works fill 18 vols. in Mignes' Patrologia Graeca and that is not all of them.

Now I have not had the pleasure of reading Mr. Svendsen's book on the subject (I generally buy Protestant stuff at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores--got two of Prof. White's books and the entire Interpreter's Bible set that way), but I would hazard a guess that his credentials do not come anywhere close to St. John's. Is Mr. Svendsen a Greek whose family spoke the language from his birth as their first language? Did he learn from his Greek from folks like Libanios, Melitios or Diodore? Can he honestly and objectively say that he understands Greek culture and language as well as someone who actually lived in and contributed to that culture? Can Mr. Svendsen say that he has as much understanding of the culture, theology, and grammar as the people who lived in a time when that language was lingua franca of the time and place?

Now I am sure that Mr. Svendsen's has a better knowledge of Greek than I, but I daresay that he can not say that he has better undertanding of it than a classically educated 4th century Greek who actually lived in early Greek Christian culture that spawned the books of Scripture he is opining on today. Please tell me which Oriental or Greek language studies peer-reviewed academic publications did his thesus appear in to be weighed, measure and tested. How many times has he been published in a scholarly journal? Mr. Svendsen's book or thesis may be a nifty piece of writing for a Reformed Protestant but it can not be called scholarly if it hasn't been subjected to scrutiny by scholars. Here is a list of present day scholars who disagree with him on the heos hou point and some of they guys even do not recognize Mary's perpetual virginity:

http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/heosapp2.html

You see, the problem I have is that noone outside of a couple of condemned heretics read or understood the Scriptures the way Mr. Svendsen is claiming that one has to read them for the first 1600 years of the Church. One would have thought in all of this time someone, whether it be an ECF all the way through the first two or three generations of reformers, would have opined on the subject. Moreover, you would think that someone besides Nestorius would have argued the point at the Council of Ephesus. Can you cite to a single genuine ECF who did not turn out to be a heretic that has opined the way that Mr. Svendsen does? On the other hand, I can point you to a second ECF who definitely knew Greek and opined that Mary was a perpetual virgin~Jerome in his "Against Helvidius." In my business, that is called corrobative testimony.

God bless both of you--this is an interesting discussion--thanks!

Churchmouse said...

Hi Paul,

I know you mean well, but I still think you are shifting here. You must remember, we do not adhere to the ECF's in the same way you do and bringing up Chrysostom, amongst others, and their immediate cultural understanding and language, ISN'T evidence that they interacted with the construction of "heos hou" and its implications. Again, as I have shown you, Chrysostom would rather allow the readers to draw their own conclusions regarding Matthew 1:25. Why? Because there was no common thought that Mary was perpetually virgin. Otherwise, he would have simply bowed down to a pre-existent "tradition" claiming this to be true. Yet, it is very telling that he allows the reader to do just that.

To bring up the pedigree of Chrysostom and others, as if this nullifies Svendsen's labors, is a false comparison. The question that was posed to you is to show where any of the aforementioned fathers dealt specifically with the construction of the term "heos hou." Svendsen has! Have they? None of the folks mentioned in the article you submitted state anything that counteracts Eric's work on the subject, but I guess the only way you would be able to realize this is by reading Eric's work. The article is a headless straw man, posted for the purpose of being a seeming "answer."

Peace,
Ray

EA said...

Hi Paul,

Have you read any of the material to which we have provided links?

If not, I would recommend accessing the links here:

They may be of assistance to you in having your questions addressed that pertain to Dr. Svendsens' qualifications. He also addresses the statements made by the scholars at the link that you presented.

Dr. Svendsen addresses the differences between the Greek usage of heos hou in Chrysostom's day and that in use at the time of NT inscripturation.

Did Chrysostom perform this type of grammatical or linguistic analysis?

I will endeavor to research which, if any, scholarly publications have published articles written by Eric Svendsen.

It would seem to me that even if he has been published multiple times by every major scholarly journal in the field, there would still need to be an analysis of the quality of Svendsen's argument. However, the analysis of the argument proper can proceed and be weighed on its own merits while a decision on the quality of Svendsen's research methodology is deferred until (heos hou) that evidence can be provided.

"Moreover, you would think that someone besides Nestorius would have argued the point at the Council of Ephesus."According to wikipedia, Cyril (Nestorius' main antagonist) started the proceedings of Ephesus before the contingent of Eastern Bishops arrived. This contingent contained the vast majority of those sympathetic to Nestorius's views. A logical explanation of why nobody else made the argument in support of Nestorius was that Cyril had him condemned before such support had arrived. If you possess documentary evidence that contradicts this, it would be in everyone's best interest if you would update wikipedia accordingly.

Regarding Jerome, the same question applies to his analysis of heos hou as applies to Chrysostom. Is there an extant writing of Jerome's in which he details his analysis of this particular Greek construction?

Thanks,

EA

Paul Hoffer said...

EA and Churchmouse, I am sorry if I gave the impression of demeaning Mr. Svendsen's work. That was not my intention at all. As I said, I am sure it is well-written, but the problem is that no matter how well he writes or posits, he can not reverse history. Given that the Church has already used its apostolic authority to define the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary at the Councils of Ephesus, Chalcedon and at Latern, one can not make try to read something into the words of Scriptures that would make them contradictory. As for people generally accepting the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity at the time, I would merely note that the Arian and Nestorian heresies were still going strong at the time and thus there were people around who did not believe in Mary's PV at the time he was writing. [btw Fr. Adrian Fortesque in "The Greek Fathers" wrote that the Nestorius had shown up first before the other bishops but yet chose not to attend. When he was excommunicated, the people of Ephesus danced in the streets.

Let me ask you, if Catholics at the time were free to disagree with PVM, why did the Church's Mass at the time of Chrysostom refer to Mary as the Ever Virgin? Why did Chrysostom actually write his Divine Liturgy calling Mary "Ever Virgin"?

The fact is that I acknowledge that in many situations heos hou could have meant what he claims it means, but there are other situations during that time period where those words do not take that meaning. At best, he can posit an argument that is contradicted by other arguments that have equal force. Given that the Church has authoritatively taken the words at Mt. 1:25 to mean something different than what he claims, his claim simply lacks relevancy and carries no weight whatsoever. And no amount of argumentation or posturing as to what he wants folks to believe the words mean can alter the fact that only people that interpreted Mt. 1:25 the way Mr. Svendsen has during the first 1600 years of the Church up to the second or third generation of reformers were all classified or determined to be heretics.

Before you can even get to Svendsen's claims, you have to address the historical premise first: What did the Early Church hold and believe? It is sort of like litigation, before you can argue your case at trial, you first have to show that the court has jurisidiction to even hear the case and that you have standing to bring it. Svendsen wants to argue his case to the jury, but for me anyways, he needs to establish that he has the right to argue it at all. And since the question has been decided with finality (at least for any Christian that accepts the decisions of the first five councils. Svendsen's arguments are meaningless.

I will end with this from Francois Turrettini, not someone I normally cite:

"Nor is it derived better from this--that Joseph is said "not to have known Mary till she had brought forth her firstborn son" (Mt. 1:25). The particles "till" and "even unto" are often referred only to the past, not to the future (i.e. the so connote the preceding time, concerning which there might be a doubt or which it was of the highest importance to know, as not to have a reference of the future--cf, Gen 28:15; Ps 122:2; 110:1; Mt. 28:20, etc). Thus it shown what was done by Joseph before the nativity of Christ (to wit, that he abstained from her); but it DOES NOT IMPLY THAT HE LIVED WITH HER IN ANY OTHER WAY POSTPARTUM. When therefore she is said to have been found with child "before they came together" (prin ē synelthein autous), preceding copulation is denied, but NOT A SUBSEQUENT AFFIRMED." (Emphasis Mine) Institutes of Elenctic Theology. Thirteenth Topic, Question 12, XXIV.

God bless!

EA said...

Hi Paul,

It seems as though we have have reached the end of this discussion.

And this discussion ends where most discussions with Catholics end; i.e. with the statement that the RCC has ruled on such and such and thus the matter is closed.

It would be very helpful if Catholics would just put that on the table at the outset as it would save untold hours of back and forth.

The only real substantive discussion to have with Catholics, it seems, is regarding epistemology and the authority claims of the RCC.

I am convinced that the entire edifice of RCC theology, at least in the mind of the believer, hinges on the dogma of infallibility. If someone has assented to this dogma, I cannot for the life of me understand why they would question anything else that the RCC has promulgated. And the opposite would be true as well; if someone denies the dogma, every other dogmatic pronouncement is in doubt.

Your comments confirm the above for me. Thanks.

Peace to you,

EA

Churchmouse said...

I have to agree with EA. The discussion has digressed to the main thrust of the Catholic argument, that, in the end, the church decides for all. When it boils down and the essence is revealed, the discussion falls apart.

Regarding Chrysostom, again, he left it up to the reader of Matthew 1:25, regardless of whether a mass referred to her as such, assuming this is the case.

I believe that we have, amply, shown that the early church wasn't common within this belief. The fact is that we have early fathers who either do not agree or claim that disagreement doesn't impede orthodoxy.

Yet, overall, as already stated, it comes down to the church and its alleged infallibility. At the end of the day, this is where the debate lies and, since this is the case, there really is nothing to discuss.

Peace,
Ray

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Churchmouse and EA, Thank you both for the civility shown me in this discourse. I wanted to leave you with this thought. You know that those who led the Church held to a certain view pertaining to Mary and the belief in her perpetual virginity that was contradicted by those who the Church labeled as heretics. Looking at the matter as mathematical problem where you are already know the answer, one has to start from the premise that heos hou must mean what I am suggesting it means in order for the answer to be correct. Thus, it should have been Mr. Svendsen's task to test that hypothesis by showing that there is not a single example of heos hou during biblical times in any writing whatsoever that tends to prove the word means till as opposed to until. It is not enough to prove that such a meaning was possible, he has to be prove that the opposite is impossible and despite his all of the eloquence he can muster, he can't do that.

God bless!

EA said...

Hi Paul,

It seems to me that you have reached a conclusion about Dr. Svendsen's research without having even read it.

Given your other comments in these posts, I think it fair to characterize your position as sola ecclesia. That is helpful to me in weighing whether to engage or in how to engage in future dialogue.

Thanks and Peace to you,

EA

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi EA, No you are mistaken-I do intend to read what he has written because two individuals whose opinions I respect asked me to do so. The reason I will do so is to figure out why you feel it is reasonable for you to express your view on Mary's perpetual virginity despite what the Church has taught and defined. Unfortunately, due to time constraints in my life, I can not do that reading in the life span of a commbox discussion.

You are right, however, I have no doubts on the subject and Mr. Svendsen's arguments would not change my mind. My understanding of what faith means excludes that. You may call that sola ecclesia, I call that believing what Christ says in Scripture to be Truth itself. You think so little of me to believe that I could call myself a practicing Catholic yet not adhere to my Church's defined teachings?

I did point out to you that the Reformers believed in the doctrine of perpetual virginity of Mary and even quoted from Francois Turrettini's writings as proof. I pointed out that the ECF's held to the same doctrines. There is not a single saint who opined on the subject that disagreed with PVM or read Mt. 1:25 in a way that disagrees with PVM. I am pointing out to you now that one of your own confessional statements of Protestantism, the Second Helvetic Confession Chapter XI, states that Mary was "ever virgin." I believe the Anglican Church adheres to this doctrine. Thus, the doctrine of perpetual virginity of Mary is not a notion necessarily contrary to Protestantism or its teachings. In fact, it is a truth that could bring Christians closer together, not farther apart. What I do not understand is why many Protestants have changed their position in the 19th and 20th centuries about PVM when historically in the early Church, the only people who denied it were those who did so to deny Christ's humanity or divinity.

Turretinfan said...

I think there's an important difference between Calvin (or even Turretin) saying that some verse or other doesn't negate the perpetual virginity view and Calvin (or Turretin) saying that they believe that Scripture teaches the perpetual virginity view.

I hope, Mr. Hoffer, that you would be careful to distinguish between those two things - as some of your comments above might be misread (I hope it would be a misreading) as suggesting that Calvin and/or Turretin thought that the Bible teaches that Mary was perpetually a virgin.

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi TF, Thank you for the reminder. In all fairness, it should be emphasized that while both Calvin and Turrettini believed in PVM, neither believed that the Scriptures stated one way or the other with absolute certainty on the matter. What is certain is that both of these gentlemen stated Mt. 1:25 should not be used as a proof text against the doctrine because the text is not conclusive. Thus, it would be disingenuous of me to state that they believed that the Holy texts affirmed with absolute certainty her perpetual virginity. If I gave anyone that impression, please accept my correction of the record here.

The text that most folks DO use to demonstrate PVM is Jn 19:26, of which St. Athanasius was the first to do so. I would have to look and see what Messrs. Calvin and Turrettini said about that passage.

God bless all!

James Swan said...

Paul,

I've not seen any conclusive proof that Calvin held to the PVM.

See:
http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/12/on-john-calvins-mariology.html

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr,. Swan: I believe your article mentioned some of these:

And knew her not This passage afforded the pretext for great disturbances, which were
introduced into the Church, at a former period, by Helvidius. The inference he drew from it was,
that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other
children by her husband. Jerome, on the other hand, earnestly and copiously defended Mary’s
perpetual virginity. Let us rest satisfied with this, that no just and well-grounded inference can be
drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is
called first-born; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin. 115 It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.

{Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55}

[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.

{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107}

Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity.

{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, (7:3)

I collected these early on in my apologetic studies--I did get them from a secondary source.

I also have this one which I think is the clincher:

"There have been certain folk who have wished to suggest that from this passage (Matt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph's obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company....And besides this Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the first-born. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or not there was any question of the second." (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25)

According to my researches this is an English translation of a passage taken from a book published by Denys Ragueneau, entitled: "Soixante cinq sermons de Iean Calvin sur l'harmonie ou concordance des trois eua[n]gelistes, S. Matthieu, sainct Marc, & S. Luc. : Recueillis fideleme[n]t" a Geneve : Imprimé par Conrad Badius, 1562.

I will be honest and admit that because the eclectic nature of my notes (handwritten on post-it notes stuck to the inside part of a file folder titled Virgin Mary), I am not 100% sure where I got this citation from. I have not read the book itself as it is an extremely rare book found in very few libraries in the world. (It is at Yale if anyone has the time to check the veracity of the quote).

However, to be fair to Mr. Calvin, that same book has sermons in it according to my notes that refer to Catholics as "poor baboons who are no more than vermin crawling on the earth" and "poor earthworms" lest anyone wants to accuse him of being a closet Catholic. Mssr. Ragueneau was specifically hired by the deacons who ran the Church in Geneva to commit Calvin's sermons to writing so that they would not be lost to history.

I hope this helps you in your researches. I am sorry I could provide you only with the actual source of the quote and not the actual French--I know how you prefer ad fontes research.

God bless!

James Swan said...

"Soixante cinq sermons de Iean Calvin sur l'harmonie ou concordance des trois eua[n]gelistes, S. Matthieu, sainct Marc, & S. Luc. : Recueillis fideleme[n]t" a Geneve : Imprimé par Conrad Badius, 1562."

Since I don't speak French, I'll assume this is a book of Calvin's sermons. As far as I know, This collection isn't available in English, but with Google books, ...who knows? I get so wearied of obscure references to sermons buried in obscurity- I've been around the block more than a few times with Luther's sermons.

Like Luther, Calvin didn't spend a lot of time on Mariology. This book, which I've looked through from time to time, has an interesting section on Calvin's Mariology-

The thousand faces of the Virgin Mary By George Henry Tavard

It's probably on Google or Amazon somewhere. As is typical, it's a Roman Catholic writing about Reformation Mariology.

As to your quote- it's interesting, but not interesting enough to launch a detailed search, since it is very similar to what Calvin says in his commentaries.

EA said...

Paul,

I think it fair to say that the Calvin quotes simply say that based on Mt 1:25 by itself, that a definite conclusion one way or the other cannot be reached. I think that that is a logical conclusion based on the understanding of the construction at the time in which Calvin made his comments.

BUT, Calvin's statement:

"Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity."is misplaced in the argument and is a typical of the error of the time (thanks to Jerome who used the LXX constructions of 'until' anachronistically applying the LXX usage to the Greek construction improperly (according to Svendsen (and others))).

All indications are, and all parties agree, that the original Matthean text was in Greek, which does have a word for 'cousins'. To insist on the Aramaic or Hebrew usages implies either that NT scholarship is incorrect on the point of Greek being the original NT language and/or that the original Greek contains a mistranslation. Either of the hypotheses need to be proven since either intends to overturn established scholarship.

This a prime example of how an original error becomes ingrained in the thinking of the people exposed to it. I realize that Catholics do not hang the entire dogma off of this piece of evidence, however it is indicative of how further investigation sheds light on previous generations' misunderstandings.

Peace

Paul Hoffer said...

Thank you Mr. Swan for the citation to the book, "Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary." It is indeed at some libraries that I would frequent so it is probably where I got the info. But I am somewhat mystified why I didn't have it written down. I think that I was more interested in where the quote came from to see if it was legitimate since it is one that pops up now and again on Catholic blogs.

I do think that the quote shows that Mr. Calvin did believe in PVM, but it was not an issue that engendered alot of commentary by him. From the face of it it would seem that he felt that arguments againt PVM were folly and not otherwise worth wasting time on.

God bless!

God bless!