In Defense of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Contra- Joseph Nally

John Fisher 2.0

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One of the great things about Joseph Nally’s article, which seeks to discredit the Orthodox position of the perpetual virginity of Mary, is that it sums up all the popular speaking points into one place. In response to Nally, I have taken to dismantling his arguments in defense of the faith.

Nally begins with a non-sequitur,

This false doctrine was ascribed to in the proto-Gnostic 2nd century writings (the apocryphal writings: The Protoevangelium of James, The Oedes of Solomon, and The Ascension of Isaiah, etc.), which are full of other fables, myths, and superstitions.

Just because an ancient work tells us a claim is true, does not mean they made it up whole-cloth. Heresy is parasitic on the truth, and it might also be the case that these proto-gnostic authors borrowed true doctrines from the faith in order to legitimize their heretical views. As an example, the Antidicomarians were a group of heretics who denied Christ was fully man, and they denied the perpetual virginity, can we, therefore, say they innovated this doctrine? [1]

Surprisingly this doctrine was also ascribed to by other respected theologians: such as, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Bullinger, Latimer, Crammer [sic], and Wesley. However, tradition, not Scripture, is the support for this error. While both Protestant and Catholics affirm the virgin birth of Christ (Matt 1:23; cf. Isa 7:14), most Protestants agree with Scripture alone that Mary indeed bore other children during her lifetime.

Regarding the claim that the protestants did not have scriptural support for the perpetual virginity is baseless. Crammer himself provided scriptural proof from Ezechiel 44:2.

I will give a defense of Cranmer’s scriptural proof later on, but first, let’s address the misuse of scripture.

Refuting Nally

Matthew 12:46 states, “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.” Compare Matthew 13:55–56, Mark 6:3, John 2:12; 7:3; 7:5, 10, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19.

The two responses to this,

(1) The siblings mentioned are from Joseph’s prior marriage.

(2) The “sibling” mentioned are Christ’s cousins and distant relatives.

Both I believe can be defended, but I believe the former is more likely,

Here Catholics assume that the word “brothers” may be used as a general term to denote “cousins.” However, if this is what Matthew desired to say why didn’t he just use the Greek word for “cousin” (Greek, anepsios), as the Apostle Paul did in Colossians 4:10?

While this argument does lower the probability these siblings are only cousins, it does not win the day. Paul is a Jew of Roman citizenship (Acts 22:27), who spoke Greek fluently. Matthew and John were Aramaic speaking Jews translating the words of other Aramaic Jews (Mark might be Greek, but he’s capturing the idioms of Aramaic Jews as well). It stands to reason they all would be more likely to use the word ‘brother’ idiomatically to some degree, while Paul might break from that.

Furthermore, Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm. In the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament), Psalm 69:8 uses the word “brothers” (Greek, adelphois) which cannot refer to mere “cousins,” since the word clearly refers to the Messiah’s mother’s son.

The translators of the Septuagint saw this as a reference to King David rather than Jesus Christ (as most Jews did, especially since Jesus was yet born) and went with the more literal meaning. While it is true the Psalm’s literal meaning does apply to David, it applies in a different way to Christ himself, and it needs to. In Psalm 69:5 we read,

O God, thou knowest my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from thee.

While David himself does have folly as a sinful human being, Christ has none. As Saint Augustine writes on this very,

Jesus was the bearer of transgressions, but not the committer. Are not concealed: that is, I have confessed to You, all my transgressions, and before my mouth You have seen them in my thought, hast seen the wounds which You were to heal. But where? Even in the Body, in the members: in those believers out of whom there was now cleaving to Him that member, who was confessing his sins. [2]

The folly of Christ is not any sin he committed, but the sins we committed and he bares and offers up for the Father to take away through the crucifixion.

Likewise, just because the Psalm in its literal application is referring to David’s siblings, it does not follow the Psalm needs to apply to any supposed brother or mother’s sons in Christ’s application. As Saint Augustine writes,

‘An alien I have become to My brethren, and a stranger to the sons of My mother’ Psalm 68:8 [psalm 69:8 Masoretic]. To the sons of the Synagogue He became a stranger…Why so? Why did they not acknowledge? Why did they call Him an alien? Why did they dare to say, we know not whence He is? [3]

Whereas David was speaking about his mother and siblings, the Psalm’s application to Jesus is in reference to the Nation of Israel (the Synagogue) and the Jewish people. Jesus was born a son of Israel and a brother to the Jews, which in light of the perpetual virginity, makes sense of the Psalm’s dual application. If anyone wishes on a single application, they would have to bite the bullet and claim Jesus was a sinner.

Not to mention Nally's objection from Psalm 69 can be avoided entirely since some of Joseph’s children could be counted to Mary by adoption on the view Joseph was a widower and had prior children.

Nally writes,

Some assert these brothers were “distant relatives.” However, if they were “distant relatives,” then why didn’t Matthew just use the Greek term “suggenes,” as Luke did for Elizabeth in Luke 1:36?

The problem mentioned about Paul applies more forcefully here. Luke is not even a Greek-speaking Jew like Paul, he was a Greek man through and through, Matthew was an Aramaic speaking Jew using and translating the common Hebrew idioms. It would be expected that Luke is not applying an Aramaic idiom in translation, given his background.

Next, Nally cites Adam Clarke, who makes two points:

It is possible that brethren and sisters may mean here near relations, as the words are used among the Hebrews in this latitude of meaning; but I confess it does not appear to me likely. Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph the carpenter, Mary his wife, Jesus their son, and their other children?

It’s simple, the family extends far beyond the mother, father, and sibling dynamic of the nuclear family. If this were not the case, we wouldn’t have obligations to both our immediate family and distant relatives. As Paul says,

If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. -1 Timothy 5:8

Jews and Christians in the ancient world knew this, which is why Christ’s distant relatives felt the shame his immediate family did.

Prejudice apart, would not any person of plain common sense suppose, from this account, that these were the children of Joseph and Mary, and the brothers and sisters of our Lord, according to the flesh? It seems odd that this should be doubted; but, through an unaccountable prejudice, Papists and Protestants are determined to maintain as a doctrine, that on which the Scriptures are totally silent, viz. the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord. See Mt 1:25. (Clarke’s Commentary, (New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1853), Matthew13:55).

This second point strikes me as nothing more than an argument from incredulity. As long as there is a positive case for the perpetual virginity (and there is given the prophecy of Ezekial and Church tradition), the contrary case cannot be assumed.

So, Jesus’ “brothers” (Greek, adelphoi) are mentioned in John 2:12; 7:3; 7:5, 10, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19. And Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3 refer to Jesus’ “sisters” (Greek, adelphai). Why would “mother” be translated literally, but “brothers” and “sisters” only figuratively? Paul’s “sister” is referred to in Acts 23:16. What hermetical principle compels us understand the same term in a different sense in Matthew and Mark?

Acts 23:16 could refer to Paul’s actual sister, but it need not. We can be agnostic about that since scripture and tradition don’t bind us to Paul’s mother remaining a perpetual virgin. Furthermore, there is nothing incomprehensible in using a figurative and literal familial term in the same verse. In fact, Nally is committed to Paul using the terms “adelphai” and “adelphoi” both idiomatically and literally by citing 1 Corinthians 9:5.

Do we not have the right to take along a believing [adelphēn] wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

Adelphēn is another form of adelphai [4]. Here it is used to describe a wife who also believes. In this case, it is used figuratively while “brother” is supposed to be used literally. If it can be used idiomatically here, why can’t adelphoi be used idiomatically in the gospels, while the Greek for “mother” (in reference to Mary) is used literally?

Nally tries to refute the implication from the parallel of Mary and the Ark of the covenant but fails.

Indeed, Mary carried Christ. She was indeed the Ark of the New Covenant (Matt 1:18). But the Ark made of “cursed” elements (Gen 3:17–18; Rom 8:22), but could still hold things that were set apart (made holy) by God: (1) the manna, (2) Aaron’s rod, and (3) tablets stones (Heb 9:4).

Such an argument would entail that Christ’s brothers and sisters were already made holy in Mary’s womb, which would put Nally in an odd spot of believing in the immaculate conception of Christ’s siblings. Furthermore, why presume Mary was made of cursed elements? Surely if God could make a piece of metal Holy, it follows he could and would do it for his own mother. Not to mention, it would not be fitting for God to have an ark made of cursed elements for his eternal covenant, but a holy one for his mosaic covenant.

He goes on,

Moreover, as the Ark in Noah’s day carried sinners (Noah and his family), so Mary did after she bore Christ when she had other children.

The Ark of Noah was not the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s ark only carried sinners, the Ark of the Covenant was set apart to carry what was holy.

Others such as Origen claim that Joseph had other children before he was married to Mary. But this is not found in Scripture either.

Here we have an argument from silence. Just because it isn’t mentioned, it does not follow it did not happen. Furthermore, there is good evidence from scripture that it was the case.

In Luke 1: 26–27; 31–34, we read

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary… And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?”

This can be a very complex argument to follow, but please READ CAREFULLY. Mary is betrothed to Joseph. The Angel says “you will conceive”. This is future tense, Mary will give birth to Christ. Mary asks “How can this be, since I have no husband?”.

Now, Mary knows the angel is speaking future tense because she asks how “can it be”. One would think that if she was about to get married in the future Mary would infer that she was going to have a child by having sex. But no, she doesn’t. She asks how is it possible to give birth “since I have no husband?”. Mary was going to get married, she would have had a child since at this point she was engaged to Joseph. Note also, while some translations say “I know not a man”, the implication still is that she doesn’t intend on her marriage to Joseph being a sexual one since the point of a Jewish marriage was to procreate.

Not only does this verse serve as a strong piece of evidence for the perpetual virginity, but it backs the narrative of the church father Saint Epiphanius of Salamis (320–403) who held that Christ’s brothers from Joseph’s prior marriage held that Joseph was a widower who took Mary as a spouse for the sake of protection and that he was too old to consummate his marriage. Mary was a temple virgin who took a vow to preserve her virginity and this would explain why she was planning to stay a virgin.

For I have heard from someone that certain persons are venturing to say that she had marital relations after the Savior’s birth. And I am not surprised. The ignorance of persons who do not know the sacred scriptures well and have not consulted histories, always turns them to one thing after another, and distracts anyone who wants to track down something about the truth out of his own head. (2) To begin with, when the Virgin was entrusted to Joseph — lots having compelled her to take this step — she was not entrusted to him for marriage, since he was a widower. (3) He was called her husband because of the Law, but it is plainly follows from the Jewish tradition that the Virgin was not entrusted to him for matrimony. (4) It was for the preservation of her virginity in witness to the things to come — [a witness] that Christ’s incarnation was nothing spurious but was truly attested, as without a man’s seed < but> truly brought about by the Holy Spirit. [5].

Nally then goes on to claim that apologists who make the former claim regarding Christ’s brothers as mere step-siblings are inconsistent,

Still some assert that when Jesus committed his mother to the care of John (John 19:26–27) this implied Mary had no other children to care for her. However, where are the other children of Joseph’s previous marriage ascribed to by Origen and other Catholics above? Catholics can’t have it both ways.

If Nally wants to say that they are still Mary’s children, then he himself is inconsistent with his claim regarding Psalm 69, since he was also a stranger to his Mother’s sons, and Mary apparently had children by adoption, the application can work in a literal sense to family, and to Israel. Nally can raise this objection of inconsistency against Catholics who believe the brothers of Christ were step-brothers, or he can raise the objection from Psalm 69 against those who believe those brothers were really cousins, but he cannot do both. Personally, I am okay rejecting this objection from John 19:26–27 because I can agree with the possibility of Nally’s point.

So, why did Jesus sidestep his other brothers and put Mary under the charge of the Apostle John? Jesus simply put Mary under the adoptive care of the Apostle John, because Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5) until after his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Acts 1:14; cf. 1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19; 2:9). Thus, adoption makes sense (cf. Exod 20:12), especially sense [sic] he considered John his brother (Matt 12:48–49; Mark 3:34).

While possible, it isn’t less likely, since God designed family to care for family, and the closer the better. If Christ knew his brothers would repent, it would pose little problem to let one of them care for his Mother. While I think there are better points for the view that Christ’s brothers were step-siblings, this is certainly one of the best points for the hypothesis that Christ’s brothers were cousins.

We observe a similar formula language illustrated in the Apocrypha book called the Tobit, which is not part of the true biblical canon, but is a part of Catholic Bibles. Tobit 7:11 NRSV states, “From now on you are her brother, behold she is your sister.”

Okay, but that had to do with levirate marriages Deuteronomy 25:5–10, not giving away a mother.

Note: Though Catholics attempt to reverse the order and state that John is under the adoptive care of Mary, the text clearly states that John took Mary into his home (John 19:27). Clearly, the Catholic Church is incorrect.

This is a false dichotomy, a mother and a son can both care for one another.

Nally provides evidence from Matthew to support his position.

Matthew 1:24–25 states, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” The use of imperfect tense (Greek, eginosken, meaning “knew”), here is against the tradition of perpetual virginity (see, A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). The imperfect tense means continuous or linear action. This means what is happening at a specific moment in time and not necessarily thereafter. This in no way indicates that Mary’s virginity would continue into the future after Jesus was born, as intercourse is biblical and viewed as an integral part of marriage (Gen 1:28; 9:1; Prov 5:18; 1 Cor 7:3–5).

Remember what Nally is saying “what is happening at a specific moment in time and not necessarily thereafter”. “Not necessarily thereafter” does not mean it did take place thereafter, it only means it is possible the even does or does not take place.

Moreover, Matthew 1:18 affirms that Mary was found to be with child “before [she and Joseph] came together.” The Greek term “came together” (synelthein) includes the idea of sexual intimacy (cf. 1 Cor 7:5). Joseph and Mary’s intent was to “come together.” No other Scripture refutes this..

If I were to say “before John Smith repented, he was killed”, does this mean John repented after he was killed (contrary to Psalm 6:5)? No, sometimes ‘before’ can mark the order of thought, as well as the order of time. In the same way that the possibility of repentance was blocked by death, the possibility of “coming together” was blocked by the Holy Spirit providing Mary with Christ, her son. For as it is said in Ezechiel 44:2 “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it”.

In context, the Greek word “knew” (Greek, eginosken) refers to sexual relations (cf. Luke 1:34). The same term is used in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) in Genesis 4:1, 17, 25; 19:8; Numbers 31:17; 1 Samuel 1:19.

This isn’t disputed, what is at dispute is whether or not anything sexual took place after.

Furthermore, the use of the word “until” (Greek, heos hou) strongly and naturally suggests that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after the birth of Jesus.

No, not really. Everyone has to allow some subtly when reading the text. The only difference is I say the whole of their marriage passed, whereas Nally says a good chunk of time passed. As Saint Jerome points out,

If you are so contentious, your own thoughts shall now prove your master. You must not allow any time to intervene between delivery and intercourse. You must not say, If a woman conceive seed and bear a man child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the separation of her sickness shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days. She shall touch no hallowed thing, and so forth. On your showing, Joseph must at once approach, her, and be subject to Jeremiah’s Jeremiah 5:8 reproof, They were as mad horses in respect of women: every one neighed after his neighbour’s wife. Otherwise, how can the words stand good, he knew her not, till she had brought forth a son, if he waits after the time of another purifying has expired, if his lust must brook another long delay of forty days? The mother must go unpurged from her child-bed taint, and the wailing infant be attended to by the midwives, while the husband clasps his exhausted wife [6]

Lastly, Nally appeals to the greek

In Matthew 17:9; 24:39, and John 9:18 the phrase “heos hou” (meaning “until”) followed by a negative, as in Matthew 1:24–25, always implies that the negated action took place later (Jack Lewis, The Gospel According to Matthew, Austin, TX: 1976)! Based upon the text, there is no reason to assume an exception here.

This is false, in the Septuagint translation of 1 Sam 30:4 we read

καὶ ἦρεν Δαυιδ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτῶν καὶ ἔκλαυσαν ἕως ὅτου (heos hou) οὐκ (not) ἦν ἐν αὐτοῗς ἰσχὺς ἔτι κλαίειν

Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep (RSVCE translation of the Hebrew)

Does this mean David and his men ceased crying? Doubtful, since David and his men spent days searching for their loved ones and feelings of distress and grief don’t subside quickly.

Nally moves onto his next point,

Jesus was Mary’s “firstborn” — not last born (Luke 2:7). In context, the term “firstborn” may have two meanings: (1) it literally refers to a firstborn child (Luke 2:7; Matt 1:25; cf. Exod 11:5, etc.) and (2) it refers to one who has special rights and authority (Rom 8:29; Heb 1:6; cf. Col 1:15, 18; Rev 1:5). Both of these definitions apply to Jesus! Besides, if Jesus was Mary’s “only” (Greek, monogenes) child, why didn’t Luke just say so? Where is “anepsios” (cousin), “suggenes” (distant relations), and “monogenes” (only) to support this Ever Virgin doctrine? Did the Holy Spirit use the wrong words (2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pet 1:20–21)? He would have had to for the Catholic Ever Virgin doctrine to be correct!

This simple point is refuted by saint Jerome,

Our position is this: Every only begotten son is a first-born son, but not every first-born is an only begotten. By first-born we understand not only one who is succeeded by others, but one who has had no predecessor. Numbers 18:15 Everything, says the Lord to Aaron, that opens the womb of all flesh which they offer unto the Lord, both of man and beast, shall be yours: nevertheless the first born of man shall you surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shall you redeem. The word of God defines first-born as everything that opens the womb. Otherwise, if the title belongs to such only as have younger brothers, the priests cannot claim the firstlings until their successors have been begotten, lest, perchance, in case there were no subsequent delivery it should prove to be the first-born but not merely the only begotten. Numbers 18:16 And those that are to be redeemed of them from a month old shall you redeem, according to your estimation for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary (the same is twenty gerahs). But the firstling of an ox, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. The word of God compels me to dedicate to God everything that opens the womb if it be the firstling of clean beasts: if of unclean beasts, I must redeem it, and give the value to the priest [7]

In short, scripture confirms that the only-born counts as a first-born.

Jesus was born under the law (Gal 4:4–5). Mary and Joseph’s marriage was under the law (Luke 2:1–7). Joseph even thought to divorce Mary privately, before he was counseled by an angel (Matt 1:18–21). Intercourse was a necessary part of Jewish marriage (cf. Gen 24:67). According to the Talmud, the marriage would have been revoked if the marriage had not been consummated. So, Catholics assuming Mary had no other children would invalidate Joseph’s and Mary’s marriage! This makes Mary a sinner (Matt 19:8–9; Mark 10:4–5) and thus denies the Catholic doctrine of Immaculate Conception (see below).

It’s only a legal issue if Joseph or Mary brought forward a complaint in order to obtain a divorce, or were seeking an ordinary marriage. However, if Epiphanius was correct, then Mary and Joseph’s betrothal under the law was for the sake of protecting Mary, it was not for the sake of getting married having children. They would have no reason to bring forward a complaint. I sense some might complain and claim scripture calls Mary Joseph’s wife, but as Jerome writes,

although we find it said to Joseph in a dream, Fear not to take Mary your wife; and again, Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife, no one ought to be disturbed by this, as though, inasmuch as she is called wife, she ceases to be betrothed, for we know it is usual in Scripture to give the title to those who are betrothed. The following evidence from Deuteronomy establishes the point. Deuteronomy 22:24–25 If the man, says the writer, find the damsel that is betrothed in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her, he shall surely die, because he has humbled his neighbour’s wife. And in another place, Deuteronomy 22:23–24 If there be a damsel that is a virgin betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then you shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he has humbled his neighbour’s wife: so you shall put away the evil from the midst of you. Elsewhere also, Deuteronomy 20:7 And what man is there that has betrothed a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. [8]

Remaining chaste does not entail a divorce (as Nally’s citation of Matthew and Mark suggest). If the marriage was never consummated, that would only mean, under the law, they were only betrothed, not married, which is what the early Church Fathers claimed, and have sufficient support from scripture.

Frankly speaking, there would have been Jewish legal problems if Joseph and Mary never consummated their marriage after Christ’s birth. However, no such record exists in Scripture.

How would they have known if no one issued a complaint? How would this be in issue if they just remained betrothed?

The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus’ brothers. Paul implies that they were all married in 1 Corinthians 9:5. By including the “Lord’s brothers,” in his argument it held more weight; much more than if they were merely cousins or distant relatives.

Even if they were cousins, since we are called to care for relatives (1 Timothy 5:8), immediate or distant, they still would have held enough weight worth mentioning if there weren’t other more immediate relatives. They could even be his step-brothers and the objection is avoided altogether.

Some, but not all commentators maintain that the author of the epistle of Jude was one of Jesus’ brothers seeing that he indentifies himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Who is this person called James? There are three possibilities: (1) James, the brother of John (Matt 10:1–3; Mark 3:14–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13; 12:2); (2) James, the son of Alphaeus (aka: James the Less or James the Younger); and (3) James, the brother of the Lord Jesus (cf. Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal 1:19).

James the brother of John is a much more prominent figure in the Gospels than James, the son of Alphaeus. After all he was in the inner circle with Peter and John (Matt 17:12; 26:36–37; Mark 5:37; 13:13; Luke 8:51, etc.). By comparison, James the son of Alphaeus is barely mentioned. So, between these two, James the brother of John is the most likely candidate.

However, James the brother of John died early in the history of the church (Acts 12:1–13); approximately 44 A.D. Since, Jude implies that James “is” known (not “was” known) by his audience this is more than likely not the James mentioned by Jude, which was written well after James the brother of John’s death; approximately 65–67 A.D.

Since James the son of Alphaeus is a marginal figure this leaves James, the brother of the Lord Jesus as the most likely candidate. In addition, Matthew 13:55–56 mentions both James and Jude as Jesus’ brothers. James, the brother of the Lord Jesus began as an unbeliever (John 7:5), even thinking Jesus was crazy (Mark 3:21), but later came to faith (1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19). Add to this the fact that the leader of the church at Jerusalem was James the brother of Jesus (Acts 12:17; 21:17–18), as confirmed by the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:18–19; 2:9) and we definitely observe that Jesus had brothers.

This still fits well with the step-brother account too. If James and Jude were brothers, being step-brothers of the Lord is consistent. Furthermore, if James was a brother of the Lord, and Jude was James’ brother, why didn’t Jude refer to himself as the Brother of the Lord? It would actually make more sense if Jude was a cousin of James (but not of Jesus) if we assume Jude and James were ‘brothers’ in the wider sense of the word we use for cousin.

This is something we find in the Old Testament. Take for example the fact that Solomon referred to his lover as a sister,

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace — Song of Solomon 4:9

More likely, the term was meant as a reference to a cousin, since marriage between cousins was not forbidden. The alternative is to hold Solomon married his sister and broke the law of Moses, which is not a defensible position.

The perpetual virginity of Mary is self-refuting if we carry the Catholic Church’s “New Eve” doctrine to its logical conclusion. The Catholic Church believes that as the first Eve in the Garden brought sin into the world by one act of disobedience, so the New Eve (Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom they assert was sinless from conception), brought salvation and righteousness into the world by one act of obedience.

The New Eve doctrine of the Catholic Church is mindless rubbish (1 Tim 1:3–4). First, all have sinned (Rom 3:23), except Christ. Second, unlike Paul who limited the typology of the first and second Adam (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:22, 45, 47), the Catholic Church has no direct Scripture limiting the typology of the first Eve in the Garden and the New Eve; Mary the mother of Jesus. Put another way, there is not a single verse of Scripture, which mentions or supports the New Eve doctrine. The New Eve doctrine is not a biblical doctrine.

Romans 3:23 is referring to all nations, as in both the Greek and the Jewish nations. Not everything which is true of the whole (the nation) is true of the parts (its people). This is the fallacy of division. Furthermore, the verse doesn’t explicitly say Jesus was an exception, that’s read in by Nally, and if Jesus is an exception, why not Mary?

As for Mary being the new Eve, it’s foretold in scripture in Genesis 3:15

And I will establish a feud between thee and the woman, between thy offspring and hers; she is to crush thy head, while thou dost lie in ambush at her heels (Knox translation)

While most modern translations say it is the seed, that is “he”, which crushes the head of the serpent, it’s not a matter of either-or, but and-both. As the Douay-Rheims commentary reads,

She shall crush. Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent’s head. [9]

Unlike the old Eve, the Bible tells us that the new Eve will crush the serpent, and by her seed do this.

To what logical end does this Catholic New Eve typology lead?

To the extend she brings forth a seed to crush Satan, unlike the first Eve who brought about mankind’s ruin. Scripture needn’t go further than that, nor should we.

Ezechiel 44:2 and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

I will end this by giving what I believe to be the best scriptural proof for the perpetual Virginity of Mary. In Ezechiel 44:2 we read,

And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.

Tim Staples summarized this best,

In Ezekiel 44:1–2, the prophet was given a vision of the holiness of “the gate” of the temple, which would be fulfilled in the perpetual virginity of Mary:

Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.”

No Christian would deny that in the New Testament Jesus is revealed to be the fulfillment of the temple. In John 2:19, when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” the Jews thought he was speaking of the enormous stone edifice that stood in Jerusalem. But, as John tells us two verses later, he was actually speaking of his own body. So if Christ is the prophetic temple of Ezekiel 44 into which God himself has entered for our salvation, who or what is this prophetic gate that is the conduit for God to enter into his temple? [10]

Mary did remain a virgin forever! Ever-Virgin! Ever True!

Footnotes

[1] Epiphanius, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Against Antidicomarians, 601, link

[2] Saint Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 69, link

[3] Ibid

[4] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Adelphé, link

[5]Epiphanius, Against all heresies, link

[6] Jerome, Against Helvidius, link

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Douay‐Rheims, The Book of Genesis, link

[10] Tim Staples, More Reasons for Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, link

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John Fisher 2.0

Catholic blogger, my views are not necessarily reflective of the Church’s. Please post corrections to help me avoid heresy.