Perpetual Virginity of Mary

November 30, 2011

Sonya: I also think the perpetual virginity argument is weak at best because if the Bible said she remained a virgin till her death, I am pretty sure we wouldn’t be having a discussion about it.

Bread From Heaven: But, neither would we be having this discussion if Jesus or any of the writers of the NT said that all Christian truth must be found ONLY in the Scriptures. And I know that if Scripture did say Mary was ever virgin and immaculate Protestants would believe it. But why do you believe in Sola Scriptura, since it is NOT taught in scripture?

So you think that Mary’s perpetual virginity is weak b/c it is not found in scripture. OK, that is your choice.

Did you know that Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli firmly believed in her perpetual virginity? So, by whose authority was it rejected among Protestants?

Martin Luther: “It is an article of faith that Mary is the Mother of the Lord and still a virgin…Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact.” (Works of Luther, V. 11, pp319-320; V. 6, p 510)

John Calvin: “there have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage (Mt 1:25) that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards; he simply wished to make clear Joseph’s obedience and to show also that Joseph had been well and truly assured that it was God who had sent His angel to Mary. He had therefore never dwelt with her nor had he shared her company…And besides this our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or third, but because the gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the first-born whether or no there was any question of the second.” (Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562)

Ulrich Zwingli: “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.”.” (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., V6,1 P. 639

But, what surprises me, unless you haven’t read it, is that the refutation of the Protestant contention, that Jesus MUST have had brothers and sisters would be irrelevant to you. –>Who Were the Brothers & Sisters of Jesus?

Protestants reject the Perpetual Virginity of Mary b/c they know the scriptures speak several times about the brothers and sisters of Jesus. So, if it is scripturally possible that these passages refer to Jesus’ kinsmen or step siblings as opposed to Mary’s offspring, then there is no absolute scriptural refutation of Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. This was amazing and convincing to me twelve years ago when I first looked into Catholicism.

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Who Were the Brothers and Sisters of Jesus?

September 24, 2008


Q. If the Blessed Virgin Mary was always a virgin, then who are the brothers and sisters of Jesus in sacred scripture ?

A. There are two possibilities. The oldest view was that St. Joseph had been previously married and was a widower of great sanctity and devotion to God with children. As Mary was dedicated to the temple and virginity, she needed a protector once she reached adolescence. Joseph was chosen to be her husband/brother and so the brothers and sisters of Jesus were actually step siblings.

The second view, put forward by St. Jerome, is that the word in Greek (adelphos) can be translated as brother meaning a literal sibling; or it can be translated to mean a kinsman. St. Paul uses the exact same Greek word in Galatians 1:11 as is used in Mark 6:3adelphos.
In the Mark passage the reader could easily and legitimately interpret it to mean literal siblings of Jesus. But, in the Galations passage, it is obvious that Paul is addressing them as kinsman or brethren in the Lord and not as his own literal brothers/siblings. Protestants freely interpret the passage in Mark as sibling and sibling ONLY and will not allow any other interpretation; and yet when it comes to the exact same word in the Galations they interpret it to mean “brothers of the Lord” and not literal siblings. And yet there is no reason why both passages cannot be interpreted to mean something other than literal “siblings.” And this is what the Catholic Church does. At times from the text we know that the word adelphos refers to literal siblings. And at other times adelphos is used to mean kinsman or something more like…”Bro” or “brother of the Lord.” The Protestant rejection of the doctrine that Mary was ever -Virgin (Calvin and Luther accepted this doctrine) causes them to approach the Mark passage with an entrenched bias.

Also, if we start looking into the historical record, we see that the Mark use of adelphos, in this case, must also mean either step-brothers and sisters or kinsman/cousin/relative. It has always been known to Christians that Mary had no other children after Jesus. Even the Reformers all taught and believed in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. As did the witness of the early writings of the Church Fathers. She was vowed to perpetual virginity (why else would a betrothed woman ask how could she possibly get pregnant) Therefore we understand the Mark 6:3 passage to be referring to kinsmen of Jesus and not siblings of Jesus.

Reformers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Early Church Fathers on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity