kieranwaldron Registered User
#1

When I went through the Bible for my other thread in this section of the site titled " Beware of false Christian theologies ", I could not help but notice that Mary has been misrepresented by the Catholic Church in their teachings about her. One of those teachings is that she remained a virgin all her life. This assertion contradicts Scripture. In the following paragraphs, I examine this using the NIV (New International Version) of the Bible in my references.

The first clue lies in what is said in the Bible after the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, as recorded in Matthew 1:25 as follows : " But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." The clear indication here is that he did consummate the marrage after Jesus was born, as the use of the word " until " implies.

The second clue is in the the birth of Jesus as recorded in Luke 2:7: " and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. " The word " firsborn " in the context used should be interpreted as " oldest child ", which strongly implies that she had other children. The very same biblical author in Luke 1:57 reported the birth of a sole child to Elizabeth and Zacharias as follows : " When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. " Note the word firstborn is not used in the verse as it relates to the birth of the only child the couple had.

To get the third piece of confirmation, I first need to set the context for the biblical quote. Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up in Nazareth with his mother, step-father, Joseph, and their family. Until about the age of 30 he remained in Nazareth in waiting for his ministry to begin. He then went away from his home town, got babtised by JohnThe Babtist and began his ministry commencing preaching and declaring himself the son of God etc. Susequently, when he returned to Nazareth to declare his new status, the Jews who lived there queried who he was as recorded in Matt 13: 55-56: "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things. ? "
It is clear from the above quotation that his former neighbours were trying to place him by reference to those who used to live around him- Joseph, Mary and their children. The reference to brothers and sisters are the sons and daughters of Mary and Joseph. The Greek words giving rise to the translations brothers and sisters were alelphos and adelphe respectively. If these were his cousins or relatives, as some have claimed, then Matthew would have used different Greek words more appropriate to that relationship.

During the ministry of Jesus, lasting a little over three years in duration, not all the children of Mary and Joseph supported his claim to be the Messiah, giving rise to the following verse in John 7:5 in the Bible : " For even his own brothers did not believe in him." The translation here for brothers is from the Greek word meaning blood-brothers, gining us the fourth confirmation that Jesus had siblings.

The last confirmation comes after Jesus had died on the cross. Whilst his siblings did not support him during his live ministry, at least one of them, James, had a change of heart after Jesus resurrection, and then went on to play a significant role in the early church. Consequently, we get the following quotation from Paul in Galatians 1:19 in relation to a trip to Jerusalem : " I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother.". This is confirmation from Paul that Jesus had at least one brother.

On this subject Scripture is the only source of true information, and it reveals that Mary had children other than Jesus Christ thereby disepelling the myth that she remained a virgin all her life. The fact that Mary had children by her husband Joseph, and raised them alongside Jesus, enhances her reputation. Mary was therefore normal, and not abnormal as taught by the " ever-virgin" brigade.

Peregrinus Registered User
#2

While the gospels and the letters of Paul do confirm that Jesus had brothers and sisters, it doesn't say that they were Mary's children; they could have been Joseph's by his first wife (and this in in fact the traditional belief in Eastern Christianity).

And it's probably not helpful, if you wish to consider other Christian traditions, to mischaracterise them. Traditions which hold that Mary was ever-virgin do not teach that she was "abnormal". You may regard virginity as abnormal, but it's not a view you should impute to others.

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kieranwaldron Registered User
#3

Peregrinus said:
While the gospels and the letters of Paul do confirm that Jesus had brothers and sisters, it doesn't say that they were Mary's children; they could have been Joseph's by his first wife (and this in in fact the traditional belief in Eastern Christianity).

And it's probably not helpful, if you wish to consider other Christian traditions, to mischaracterise them. Traditions which hold that Mary was ever-virgin do not teach that she was "abnormal". You may regard virginity as abnormal, but it's not a view you should impute to others.


My first two paragraphs strongly suggest that Mary had normal sexual relations with Joseph and children by him. There is no confirmation in the Bible that Joseph had a first wife giving rise to children. Furthermore, if in Gal 1:19, for example. he was such that would not make him the Lord's brother but a cousin through marriage, and Paul would not have used adelphos but the Greek word for cousin or relation instead.

I do consider it abnormal for a man to live with his wife for years and not to have sexual relations with her, especially when there was no obligation placed on either of them to remain celibate.

Peregrinus Registered User
#4

kieranwaldron said:
My first two paragraphs strongly suggest that Mary had normal sexual relations with Joseph and children by him.

Your first paragraphs do carry some weight, but they rely on parsing particular words taken from modern English translations of the gospels. I think they'd carry more weight if they looked at the language of the original Greek, with experts in that language confirming that the original words have the same connotations as you are attaching to the words chosen by the modern translators.

(I'm not saying that they don't have those connotations; just that an analysis of this kind which works entirely off the modern translation is not that persuasive.)

kieranwaldron said:
There is no confirmation in the Bible that Joseph had a first wife giving rise to children.

No, but nor is there anything to suggest that Mary was Joseph's first or only wife.

Joseph has a fairly patchy representation in scripture, and he disappears entirely after the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple, when Jesus was about 12. This is in marked distinction to Mary, who makes regular appearances during Jesus' public ministry, and who indeed survives Jesus. Furthermore, one of Jesus' last acts is to make provision for Mary's future care, suggesting that Mary was dependent on Jesus.

A reasonably explanation for all this is that, some time between the finding in the Temple and the Baptism of Jesus, Joseph has died. And, while that's by no means conclusive, it's certainly consistent with the view that Joseph was older than Mary.

It's also significant that Jesus doesn't seem to expect that James, or any of his other brother and sisters, will look after Mary. Again, that's not conclusive - there could, for example, have been a big family falling-out - but it's consistent with the idea that Mary is not their mother.

The Eastern tradition is basically this; Joseph was an older man, a widower with children, and he married a second time at least in part because that was necessary in order to care for and raise his family. The scriptural record doesn't confirm this by any means, but it's entirely consistent with it.

kieranwaldron said:
Furthermore, if in Gal 1:19, for example. he was such that would not make him the Lord's brother but a cousin through marriage, and Paul would not have used adelphos but the Greek word for cousin or relation instead.

Josephs' sons by another wife would not have been cousins to Jesus; they would have been stepbrothers or half-brothers for which, I think, the Greeks did use the word adelphos. If Joseph had been married twice, the children of both his wives would have been considered as, and spoken of, as brothers and sisters to one another.

kieranwaldron said:
I do consider it abnormal for a man to live with his wife for years and not to have sexual relations with her, especially when there was no obligation placed on either of them to remain celibate.

You may consider it abnormal if you wish; that does not entitle you to say that the Catholic church teaches that Mary was abnormal. In saying that you are simply projecting your own views of what is "normal" onto the Catholic church. And if you're going to criticise the views of the Catholic church, it's important that what you criticise is, in fact, the view of the Catholic church; otherwise your criticism is pretty pointless.

Plus, if you think a bit further about the "second wife" reading of the scriptures, the notion that Mary and Joseph didn't have sex becomes might strike you as a bit less "abnormal". If Joseph is an older many who is marrying so that his existing children will have a mother-figure, it's entirely possible that he doesn't want any more children from his second marriage. In such circumstances, in that society, an abstinent marriage wouldn't be unknown, and certainly wouldn't be "abnormal".

Nekarsulm Registered User
#5

It doesn't matted if you had one child or ten, your firstborn wil always be just that, your firstborn.
Then I suppose it depends on your definition of what constitutes a "virgin".
Someone who has never had penetrative sex, or someone whose hyman is unbroken?

It doesn't make much difference to the message of Christ, either way. But if I recall correctly, at the crucifixion, Jesus is reported to have looked down from the cross and addressed his Mother and brothers.

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Peregrinus Registered User
#6

Nekarsulm said:
It doesn't make much difference to the message of Christ, either way. But if I recall correctly, at the crucifixion, Jesus is reported to have looked down from the cross and addressed his Mother and brothers.

One or more brothers of Jesus turn up on a few occasions in scripture but, as it happens, not at the crucifixion. Mary is there, but no brothers.

kieranwaldron Registered User
#7

Peregrinus said:
One or more brothers of Jesus turn up on a few occasions in scripture but, as it happens, not at the crucifixion. Mary is there, but no brothers.


I agree with you on this.

kieranwaldron Registered User
#8

Peregrinus said:
Your first paragraphs do carry some weight, but they rely on parsing particular words taken from modern English translations of the gospels. I think they'd carry more weight if they looked at the language of the original Greek, with experts in that language confirming that the original words have the same connotations as you are attaching to the words chosen by the modern translators.

(I'm not saying that they don't have those connotations; just that an analysis of this kind which works entirely off the modern translation is not that persuasive.)


No, but nor is there anything to suggest that Mary was Joseph's first or only wife.

Joseph has a fairly patchy representation in scripture, and he disappears entirely after the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple, when Jesus was about 12. This is in marked distinction to Mary, who makes regular appearances during Jesus' public ministry, and who indeed survives Jesus. Furthermore, one of Jesus' last acts is to make provision for Mary's future care, suggesting that Mary was dependent on Jesus.

A reasonably explanation for all this is that, some time between the finding in the Temple and the Baptism of Jesus, Joseph has died. And, while that's by no means conclusive, it's certainly consistent with the view that Joseph was older than Mary.

It's also significant that Jesus doesn't seem to expect that James, or any of his other brother and sisters, will look after Mary. Again, that's not conclusive - there could, for example, have been a big family falling-out - but it's consistent with the idea that Mary is not their mother.

The Eastern tradition is basically this; Joseph was an older man, a widower with children, and he married a second time at least in part because that was necessary in order to care for and raise his family. The scriptural record doesn't confirm this by any means, but it's entirely consistent with it.


Josephs' sons by another wife would not have been cousins to Jesus; they would have been stepbrothers or half-brothers for which, I think, the Greeks did use the word adelphos. If Joseph had been married twice, the children of both his wives would have been considered as, and spoken of, as brothers and sisters to one another.


You may consider it abnormal if you wish; that does not entitle you to say that the Catholic church teaches that Mary was abnormal. In saying that you are simply projecting your own views of what is "normal" onto the Catholic church. And if you're going to criticise the views of the Catholic church, it's important that what you criticise is, in fact, the view of the Catholic church; otherwise your criticism is pretty pointless.

Plus, if you think a bit further about the "second wife" reading of the scriptures, the notion that Mary and Joseph didn't have sex becomes might strike you as a bit less "abnormal". If Joseph is an older many who is marrying so that his existing children will have a mother-figure, it's entirely possible that he doesn't want any more children from his second marriage. In such circumstances, in that society, an abstinent marriage wouldn't be unknown, and certainly wouldn't be "abnormal".


I welcome constructive criticism of anything that I write on this site. I reply to the points made by you in your post, in the order you made them, as follows.

I use the NIV version of the Bible because it is written in modern English and not old English as is applicable to the original KJV Bible. By doing this, it is easier for people reading this thread, who are not necessarily Bible experts, to follow what is being said. The publisher of the NIV Bible gave consideration to previous versions, as well as to the original texts. Consequently, I only go back to the Greek, in the case of the NT, when the meaning of a verse hinges on the correct translation of a word (or words).

The mere fact that sexual relations is mentioned in Matthew 1:25 is proof for me that they took place, and God had foreknowledge of them. If their relationship was only ever meant to be platonic, then why mention them at all in a Bible verse ? I am therefore relying on reasonable inferences from the Bible text for my conclusions, and not on " parsing particular words ".

I don't think it undermines my case in any way that Jesus asked John from the cross to take care of Mary. We know of differences between Mary and Jesus's brothers regarding support for him during his ministry; and the precise family circumstances at the time of his death may also have had a bearing on his decision.

I don't think an inspired writer such as Paul would have used the Greek word for blood-brother in Galatians 1: 19 if there was no blood relationship at all as is applicable to half-brothers.

The word abnormal means " not normal ". If no sex took place in the relationship under review, then that is not normal, and I cannot see why you are objecting to the word used. I am therefore attacking advocates of the "ever- virgin" position , such as the Catholic Church, on their doctrine and nothing else.

In reply to your last paragraph, you are just employing more conjecture in assuming that Joseph was older than Mary. You overall appear to be making four unbiblical assumptions regarding Mary and Joseph's relationship in support of your stance, which are: 1. he was previously married; 2. he had children in his previous marriage; 3. he brought those children to live in the same house as him and his new wife; 4.he was older than her. That is a lot of unsupported assumptions to arrive at your position as against my reasonable interpretation of Bible text.

Skommando Registered User
#9

Nekarsulm said:
It doesn't matted if you had one child or ten, your firstborn wil always be just that, your firstborn.
Then I suppose it depends on your definition of what constitutes a "virgin".
Someone who has never had penetrative sex, or someone whose hyman is unbroken?

It doesn't make much difference to the message of Christ, either way. But if I recall correctly, at the crucifixion, Jesus is reported to have looked down from the cross and addressed his Mother and brothers.


why did he place "their" mother in the care of John and not her other "sons" ?

kieranwaldron Registered User
#10

Skommando said:
why did he place "their" mother in the care of John and not her other "sons" ?


This is irrelevant to the discussion on Mary's perpetual virginity, as my reply to Peregrinus above states.

martinedwards Registered User
#11

It doesn't matter to the work of Christ as to whether Mary remained a virgin or not.

But the problem with it is that it would have been seen as a sinful circumstance in those times. Sex in marriage is (and was) not sinful. Celibacy was NOT the model God intended in marriage, so the later addition to the story to make people feel bad about sex actually downgrades Mary from her status as blessed among women

kieranwaldron Registered User
#12

martinedwards said:
It doesn't matter to the work of Christ as to whether Mary remained a virgin or not.

But the problem with it is that it would have been seen as a sinful circumstance in those times. Sex in marriage is (and was) not sinful. Celibacy was NOT the model God intended in marriage, so the later addition to the story to make people feel bad about sex actually downgrades Mary from her status as blessed among women



I agree wholly with these observations by you.

Skommando Registered User
#13

kieranwaldron said:
This is irrelevant to the discussion on Mary's perpetual virginity, as my reply to Peregrinus above states.


not really, if she had other sons as you've tried to claim it's very relevant, so that still leaves the question you've tried to dodge unanswered.

kieranwaldron Registered User
#14

Skommando said:
not really, if she had other sons as you've tried to claim it's very relevant, so that still leaves the question you've tried to dodge unanswered.


I am not aware that I tried to dodge any question. My reply to Peregrinus above explains my position which I reproduce as follows:
" I don't think it undermines my case in any way that Jesus asked John from the cross to take care of Mary. We know of differences between Mary and Jesus's brothers regarding support for him during his ministry; and the precise family circumstances at the time of his death may also have had a bearing on his decision."

Skommando Registered User
#15

kieranwaldron said:
I am not aware that I tried to dodge any question. My reply to Peregrinus above explains my position which I reproduce as follows:
" I don't think it undermines my case in any way that Jesus asked John from the cross to take care of Mary. We know of differences between Mary and Jesus's brothers regarding support for him during his ministry; and the precise family circumstances at the time of his death may also have had a bearing on his decision."


why did he place "their" mother in the care of John and not her other "sons" ?

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