Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Virgin Mary - Part II

Virgin Mary - Part 2 by Johan Andersonr The Ever-Virgin

Other teachings which we have about the Virgin Mary is that she is always a
Virgin. In Syriac Œbtholath bkolzban¹. 
As we we already have seen the Holy Bible clearly testifies that Mary was a
Virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. But we
also say that she remained a Virgin after she gave birth to Jesus and that
she remains a Virgin forever.

The Brothers of Jesus
But, our protestant brothers asks us, it says in the Holy Bible that Jesus
had brothers and sisters (Mt. 12:46). Before you make conclusions by the
words of the Holy Bible it is important to understand in what cultural
context it was written. Of course, the Bible is the Word of God and
infallible, but it has been written in a distinct cultural context and we
need to know certain things to be able to understand the Holy Bible fully.
For instance it says that Lot and Abram (Abraham) were brothers (Genesis
13:8 - according to the Hebrew original) but Lot was the son of Abrams
brother (Genesis 14:14-16). Genesis also refers to Jacob as Laban's brother,
(Genesis 29:15), but in reality Jacob is the son of Laban's sister (Genesis
28:15). In the first book of Chronicles 15 it is written that Asaja had 220
brothers (verse 6), Joel 130 brothers (verse 7) and Shemaja had 200 (verse

As you can see the Holy Bible uses the word brother in a totally different
way than we use it in the society today. It is a similar difference between
the use of the word cousin within Syriac and Swedish culture.

Some other proof that Jesus¹ ³brothers² were not the children of the Virgin
Mary are:

1. It never says that the brothers of Jesus are the children of the Virgin
Mary. The Bible simply calls them brothers of Jesus, and brothers have a
very wide meaning.

2. When Jesus died on the cross the Virgin Mary and John stood at the foot
of the cross (John 19:25-26). Just before Jesus gave up his spirit the
Gospel states: ³When Jesus saw his mother and next to her the disciple that
he loved he said to his mother: ³Woman, behold your son². Then he said to
the disciple ³Behold your mother². And from that moment the disciple took
her to himself². (John 19:26). The Virgin Mary moves in to St. John¹s house,
this would be impossible if the Virgin Mary had other children.

3. The Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea writes in his Church history about Jacob
the just, one of the brothers of Jesus. He uses the writings of a Jewish
Palestinian Christian named Hegesippus, who lived (ca) 110-170. He says that
Jacob and Simon (both mentioned in the Gospels as the brothers of Jesus) are
his cousins (Church History Book IV; XXII, 3-4).
The tradition tells us that a man name Cleopas, the brother of Joseph, was
married to the Mary that is mention in the Gospels as ³the mother of Jacob
and Joseph² (Matt. 27:56). Thus the parents of Jesus¹ brothers (and sisters)
are Cleopas and another Mary. And are the cousins of the Lord Jesus.
³Not until² (Matt. 1:25).
Another phrase in the Holy Bible that the Protestant often uses against the
perpetual virginity of Mary is Matthew 1:25: ³He (Joseph) knew her not until
she had born her son². They say that this proves that Joseph knew her after
Jesus was born.
Once again we see the importance of reading the Greek original text and
understanding the culture of the Bible. In the Greek text it says ³heous
hou² (in Syriac Œdamo) which is normally translated into English as ³not
until². ³In English when something is negated ³until, before² you assume
that a change has taken place after a certain time or action. But when you
discuss the Greek word ³heous hou² (not untilŠ not before) after a negative
K. Beyer shows in ³Semitiche syntax im Neuen Testament² (Göttingen,
Vandenhoeck, 1962) that in Greek and Semitic language this negation often
has no assumption about what happens after the period of the word ³until,
before² has gone out² (Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, page 135).As
we can see the Greek word ³heous hou² does not have the same meaning and use
as the English word ³until². Therefore we can not use this text, in any way,
as ³proof² that Joseph would have known the Virgin Mary. One of our Church
fathers, St. John Chrysotom, (In Syriac ŒIvanis Fomo dahbo¹) explains: ³He
(Matthew) used the word ³until² here, not so that you would suspect that
afterwards he knew her, but to inform you that before birth the Virgin was
untouched by a man. Perhaps you say, but why did he use the word ³until²?
Because it is often used in the ScripturesŠ In the same way it says about
the arch: ³The Corp did not return until the earth had dried up² (Genesis
8:7). Never the less the Corp did not return after the earth had dried up.
And speaking about God the scripture says: ³From time until time you are²
(Ps. 90:2), not to set any limits. And again when it proclaims the Gospel it
says: ³In his days righteousness will flourish with peace until the moon
disappears² (Ps. 72:7) this does not set a limit of this wonderful part of
creation. In the same way here it (the Bible) uses the word ³until² to make
it clear what happened before the birth, but concerning what happen after it
makes yourself draw a conclusionŠ Because if he would have known her and had
her as a normal wife. How is it possible for Our Lord to give her, as
unprotected and without anybody else, to his disciple and command him to
take her to his home?²[1]   
Firstborn (Luke 2:7)
Yet another word in the New Testament that is used as Œproof¹ against the
perpetual virginity of Mary is that Jesus is called her ³firstborn² in Luke
2:7. Also this text needs to be read in the Greek original. In Greek it
says: ³prototokos² (In Syrian ³bro bokro²). ³The fact is that the title
³firstborn² only says that there was not any child before Jesus and
therefore he had the privilege and rights that the Hebrew tradition gives to
the firstborn (Ex. 13:2; Num. 3:12-13; 18:15-16). Luke mentions it here to
prepare for the presentation at the temple in chap. 2:22-23 as was the
privilege of the firstborn. That the name ³prototokos² not need to mean more
children afterwards is clear from a tomb of the Jewess Arisone, near the
ancient Leontopolis in Egypt, dated back to 5 BC. The Greek text says that
³In the pains of giving birth to my firstborn (prototokos) fait led me to
the end of my life². If she died while giving birth to her firstborn
(prototokos) it is clear that she could not have given birth to any more
children² (The Birth of the Messiah, page 398).
³The Greek word firstborn ³prototokos² is continually used in the O.T.
(Greek text) for the child that would continue the name of the tribe and to
receive the double share in the possessions of the forefathers (Genesis 27;
Deut. 21:17). In some cases this name proved of a strong messianic
importance: by the firstborn (prototokos) the patriarchal blessing was
mediated (Gen. 27) and Israel¹s religious inheritance was mediated by the
firstborn (prototokos²) (Ex. 4:22; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18). The strong Jewish
character of the birth story in Luke¹s Gospel explains the use of the word
³prototokos² instead of ³monogenes² (only born)² (The Jerome Biblical
Commentary, The Gospel According to Luke, page 124)

Thus we see that Jesus is called ³firstborn² of totally different reasons
than that the Virgin Mary would have given birth to several other children.

[1] Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Vol X Johannes
Chrysostomos Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily V, 5, Matt. 1:23 f,
s.33, WM. B. Eerdmans publishing company, Michigan, 1986,USA


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