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Perpetual virginity of Mary

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Grail Lord
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« on: December 05, 2007, 10:57:51 pm »



Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci, Louvre version.

The perpetual virginity of Mary, a doctrine of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox Christianity affirms Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made Man." Thus Mary was ever-Virgin (Greek ειπάρθενος) for the remainder of her life, making Jesus her only biological son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous.
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Grail Lord
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« Reply #1 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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Grail Lord
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2007, 10:59:23 pm »

Although the notable Protestant Reformers questioned many traditional doctrines, the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity was, at least at first, not generally one of them. Martin Luther,[19] Huldrych Zwingli,[20] John Calvin,[21] and John Wesley[22] all arguably accepted its veracity. Diarmaid MacCulloch, a historian of the Reformation, wrote that the reason why the magisterial reformers upheld Mary’s perpetual virginity, and why they had a ‘genuinely deep reverence and affection’ toward Mary, was that she was ‘the guarantee of the Incarnation of Christ’, a teaching which was being denied by the same radicals that were denying Mary’s perpetual virginity.[23] However, the absence of clear Biblical statements expressing the doctrine, in combination with the principle of sola scriptura, kept references to the doctrine out of the Reformation creeds and, together with the tendency to associate veneration of Mary with idolatry[24] and the rejection of clerical celibacy[25] lead to the eventual denial of this doctrine amongst most Protestant churches.

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Grail Lord
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2007, 11:00:03 pm »

There is no explicit mention of Mary's perpetual virginity, for or against, in the New Testament (though her virginity before and in regards to Jesus' conception is well attested).[26] Nonetheless, certain biblical passages have been employed in more complicated theological argumentation.

At the Annunciation (Luke 1:34), when Mary was told by an angel that she will conceive, she responded: "How shall this be done, for I know not man." Gregory of Nyssa understood this in support of the view that Mary had taken a lifelong vow of virginity, even in through marriage:

For if Joseph had taken her to be his wife, for the purpose of having children, why would she have wondered at the announcement of maternity, since she herself would have accepted becoming a mother according to the law of nature?[27]
This argument had precedent in traditions witnessed by the early apocrypha, such as the early second century Protoevangelium of James, which asserted that Mary's mother, Anne, gave Mary as a "virgin of the Lord" in service in the Temple, and that Joseph, a widower, was to serve as her guardian (legal protections for women depended on their having a male protector: father, brother, or, failing that, a husband).[28] This may correlate to the Bible’s presentation that women devoted to perpetual service at the temple was contemporary to Mary's lifetime, and had been practiced for centuries.[29]

In typological argumentation, Ezekiel 44:2 has been used in support of the doctrine. The passage reads: ‘The Lord said to me, “This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.”’ Jerome interpreted this passage as referring, typologically, to Mary:

Only Christ opened the closed doors of the virginal womb, which continued to remain closed, however. This is the closed eastern gate, through which only the high priest may enter and exit and which is nevertheless always closed.[30]
This argumentation was repeated, not only be later Catholic theologians, but by the magisterial Protestant Reformers as well,[31] in support of the doctrine.

The New Testament references Jesus' adelphoi,[32] which can mean either "brothers" or "kinsfolk".[33] The early second century Protoevangelium of James presented these adelphoi as Joseph’s children from a previous marriage, stating that Joseph married Mary after he had become a widower. Thus, these adelphoi were Jesus’ half-brothers. Victorinus argued that the adelphoi were merely kinsfolk, an view repeated by Jerome.[34] Tertullian interpreted these passages as referring to Jesus’ siblings from both Joseph and Mary, and rejected the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity.[35]

Matthew 1:25, states that Jesus was Mary's "firstborn son" and that Joseph "had no marital relations with her until (εως) she had borne a son." Some argue that this passage implies that Mary and Joseph had customary marital relations after the birth of Jesus.

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Grail Lord
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2007, 11:00:59 pm »

Many Catholic and Orthodox hymns and prayers mention Mary's perpetual virginity.

In some modern spiritual writings, Mary's virginity is cited as a counter-example to current sexual mores. In spiritual writings more generally, her virginity is cited as an expression of holiness, devotion and loving self-denial. In some of St. Augustine's writings, he gives her virginity as an example of the mystery of God. Other spiritual writings have mentioned Mary's great humility, which is connected with the sparse mention of her in Scripture and with her willingness to be virginal in order to carry out a part of God's plan. Some writers give Mary as an example of spiritual integrity, of which her virginal integrity is a sign. Over the centuries, it has been a tradition for some of the faithful to consecrate themselves to God, partly by remaining virgins, which is called the "charism of virginity" (or "gift of virginity").

In many icons, Mary's perpetual virginity is signified by three stars that appear on her left, her right, and above her or on her head, which represent her virginity before, during and after giving birth.

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Grail Lord
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2007, 11:02:19 pm »



The Annunciation, by Caravaggio. "How can this be, for I know not man."
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Grail Lord
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2007, 11:07:01 pm »

Notes
1.   ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church §499
2.   ^ L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 35.
3.   ^ Quasten, Patrology 1:120-1.
4.   ^ L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 40.
5.   ^ Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3
6.   ^ Protoevangelium chapters 7-8.
7.   ^ L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 75.
8.   ^ Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, 19, 1.
9.   ^ Origin, Homilies on Luke, 6, 3-4.
10.   ^ L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991) pp. 97-98; and also for an overview of each source.
11.   ^ Athanasius, Orations against the Arians 2.70
12.   ^ Epiphanius of Salamis, The Man Well-Anchored 120, c.f. Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 78:6
13.   ^ Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary on Matthew §1:4
14.   ^ Didymus the Blind, The Trinity 3:4
15.   ^ Ambrose of Milan, Letters 63:111
16.   ^ Jerome, Against Helvetius, 21
17.   ^ Denziger §91
18.   ^ see Jurgens §359, though Tertullian accepted the virgin birth, see Jurgens §277
19.   ^ In his 1523 treatise, That Jesus Christ was born a Jew, Luther said that "Scripture does not quibble or speak about the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ, a matter about which the hypocrites are greatly concerned, as if it were something of the utmost importance on which our whole salvation depended. Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity... But the Scripture stops with this, that she was a virgin before and at the birth of Christ; for up to this point God had need of her virginity in order to give us the promised blessed seed without sin." Luther’s Works, American Edition, Walther I. Brandt, ed., Philadelphia, Augsburg Fortress; St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1962, ISBN 0-8006-0345-1 pp. 205-206; cf. James Swam, Luther's Theology of Mary.
20.   ^ Zwingli wrote: "I firmly believe that [Mary], according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin." In Zwingli’s Swiss German dialect: "das ich sy vestlenklich gloub nach den worten, des heiligen euangelii ein reine magt uns geboren haben den sun gottes und in der gburt und ouch darnach in die ewigkeit ein reine, unverserte magd bliben." A sermon on the eternal virginity of Mary, September 17, 1522 (Eine predigt von der ewig reinen magd Maria), Huldreich Zwingli, Sämtliche Werke (Complete Works), herausgegeben von (edited by), Dr. Emil Elgi, and Dr. Georg Finsler, Berlin, Verlag von (Published by) C. A. Schwetschke und Sohn, 1905, Vol. (Band) 1, (vol. LXXXVIII in the Corpus Reformatorum), p. 424 (see pp.385-428 for complete text and notes in German). Cf. [1]
21.   ^ J.A. Ross MacKenzie, in Stacpoole, Alberic, ed., Mary's Place in Christian Dialogue, Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1982, pp.35-6; c.f. Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. I, From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949 p. 107
22.   ^ Wesley wrote: "I believe that He was made man, joining the human nature with the divine in one person; being conceived by the singular operation of the Holy Ghost, and born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin." Letter to a Roman Catholic, July 18, 1749 [2]
23.   ^ D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 613-614; cf. Robert Schihl, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary for an extended list and quotations.
24.   ^ D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 558-63
25.   ^ see John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion IV,12,27-28
26.   ^ e.g. Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:27
27.   ^ Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Generation of Christ, 5.
28.   ^ Protoevangelium of James 4, 7, 8-9, 15
29.   ^ e.g. 1Samuel 1:11, 1Samuel 1:22, Luke 2:36-37
30.   ^ Jerome, Contra Pelagianos 2, 4.
31.   ^ D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 614.
32.   ^ Matthew 12:46, Matthew 13:55, Mark 3:31-34, Mark 6:3, Luke 8:19-20, John 2:12, John 7:3, John 7:5, John 7:10, Acts 1:14, and 1Corinthians 9:5
33.   ^ For example, see the entry here
34.   ^ Jerome, Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 19.
35.   ^ Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 4, 19, 11.
Bibliography
•   Jurgens, William A. (1998). Faith of the Early Fathers,. Liturgical Press. vol.1 ISBN 0-8146-0432-3 vol 2 ISBN 0-8146-1007-2 vol 3 ISBN 0-8146-1021-8. 
•   Ott, Ludwig (1974). Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Tan Books. ISBN 0-89555-009-1. 
•   Quasten, Johannes (1983). Patrology. Thomas More Pr. ISBN 0-87061-084-8. 
•   Dubay, S.M., Thomas (1987). ...And You Are Christ's. ISBN 0-89870-161-9. 
•   Stravinskas, Peter M. J. (1998). Mary and the Fundamentalist Challenge. Our Sunday Visitor. ISBN 0-87973-611-9.
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Volitzer
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2007, 03:24:00 am »

Now what's up with Jesus' "brother" John.  Allegedly he was the replacement Jesus after Jesus-1 was crucified.  If he was Jesus-1's twin the whole  resurrection story needs to be re-examined.
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Tom Hebert
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2007, 06:30:56 am »

The earliest Christians accepted at least two brothers of Christ: James and Jude.
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