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Perpetual virginity of Mary


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Author Topic: Perpetual virginity of Mary  (Read 297 times)
Grail Lord
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« on: December 05, 2007, 10:58:42 pm »

The early second century work originally known as the Nativity of Mary,[2] but later known as the Protoevangelium of James, pays special attention to Mary’s virginity. In the opinion of Johannes Quasten, “The principal aim of the whole writing is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, during, and after to birth of Christ.[3] In the text, a test confirms Mary’s virginity before birth, and the absence of labour pains, and a midwife’s examination, demonstrates Mary’s virginity during birth.[4] The work also claims that Jesus’ ‘brothers’ and 'sisters'[5] are Joseph’s children from a marriage previous to his union with Mary.[6] This text does not, however, explicitly assert Mary's perpetual virginity.

Origin, in his Commentary on Matthew (c. 248), expressly states belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity. In the words of Luigi Gambero, “Origin not only has no doubts but seems directly to imply that this is a truth already recognised as an integral part of the deposit of faith.”[7] In this context, Origin interpreted the comments of Ignatius of Antioch (d. c 108) as significant:

On this subject, I have found a fine observation in a letter of the martyr Ignatius, second bishop of Antioch after Peter,[8] who fought with the wild beasts during the persecution in Rome. Mary’s virginity was hidden from the prince of this world, hidden thanks to Joseph and her marriage to him. Her virginity was kept hidden because she was thought to be married. [9]
By the fourth century, the doctrine is well attested.[10] For example, references can be found in the writings of Athanasius,[11] Epiphanius,[12] Hilary,[13] Didymus,[14] Ambrose,[15] Jerome,[16] Siricius,[17] and others. However, it cannot be said that unanimity existed in antiquity concerning the doctrine, as it was denied by Tertullian,[18] and Jovinian's teaching that childbirth ended Mary's physical virginity had to be condemned by a synod of Milan in 390.

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