1

It seems rather incontrovertable from the logic (Luke 1):

  • You will concieve and bear a son
  • How shall this be, since I know not man

That Mary sees it as impossible to conceive, specifically because she does not have intercourse with anyone. Meaning the present condition, her virginity, which precludes conception, is seen as not going to change (to allow the conception and make the objection meaningless and invalid).

Question

For those who deny that Mary ever intended to remain a virgin her whole life, how is this refuted?

Thanks in advance.

  • 3
    Moderator note: I've removed comments whose purpose was to defend the opposite view asked about in the question. Comments should be reserved for requests for clarification or suggestions for improvement. This question already reads like a thinly veiled bit of propaganda, the comments were making it worse. If the purpose is really to learn about how the viewpoint the question is framed with, then lets please stick to that frame. – Caleb Dec 7 '18 at 10:36
  • 1
    Moderator note 2: I've also removed comments that are from the requested viewpoint but are mini answers (without actually being full answers) or are otherwise just fodder for a comment debate. If there isn't something to change about this question post then lets not use the comment section okay? – Caleb Dec 7 '18 at 10:38
  • 3
    @SolaGratia To Protestants it seems like propaganda because taking one single present tense verb as incontrovertible evidence of a lifelong vow is among the flimsiest possible arguments that could be made for any position. If I didn't know you better I would've thought you were trolling with this (IMO) poor exegesis. Toning it back so that you don't sound like the Catholic interpretation is the only reasonable one and Protestants have a heavy burden of proof to counter it would improve the question. – curiousdannii Dec 8 '18 at 0:08
  • 1
    I struggle to see how you differentiate between 'propaganda' and a theological viewpoint you disagree with.. "taking one single present tense verb as incontrovertible evidence of a lifelong vow" Where are you getting this idea from? I never argued the present tense verb as such demands the intention of remaining in this state: my question is how is the very fact that she brought up not having intercourse as an obstacle to conception at all? You don't say 'How will I have a baby without having intercourse' if you intend to have a child by intercourse.... I cannot make this plainer. – Sola Gratia Dec 8 '18 at 13:07
  • 1
    @SolaGratia the present tense thing was in the first comment by well known catholic contributor geremia. That i comment was removed by Caleb. – Kris Dec 9 '18 at 4:20
9

ειπεν δε μαριαμ προς τον αγγελον πως εσται τουτο -επει- ανδρα ου γινωσκω

Luke 1:34 - TR (Stephens 1550, Beza 1598, Elzevir 1624 and Scrivener 1894 are all identical.)

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? KJV

The Greek conjunction ἐπεί epei (see Strong 1893) cannot be manipulated into meaning something with regard to a time sequence in the future. The force of the word is 'because' or ' for the reason that'. Note that the KJV quite correctly renders the conjunction as a present participle.

"How shall I bear a child in my situation of not (presently) knowing a man ?" . . . is all that can possibly be construed from the Greek wording .

[ There is a disputed translation of Luke 7:1 (see interlinear) where epei is rendered 'and when' but the meaning has the force of 'and for the reason that he had completed ...'. It is not a future consequence but, here in Luke 7:1, epei conveys a decision made upon a completed situation. ]

As to Mary's words in Luke 1:34, The Douay-Rheims also correctly renders the conjunction (from the Latin Vulgate) using the very apposite English conjunction 'because':

And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

However the D-R then mis-translates ανδρα (from aner - an identifiable man) and renders it as though it was ἄνθρωπος (anthropos - humanity). This may be a fault of the Latin-from-Greek translation of the Vulgate or it may be a fault of the English-from-Latin translation thereafter.

'Know not man' is quite inappropriate, here. It should be 'know not a man', meaning a particular man. Only an impossibly travelled harlot would know anthropos. Broadening the meaning of 'a man' to 'mankind' in no way strengthens an argument for perpetual virginity.

This attempt to extend Mary's utterance in perpetuity has resulted in very inappropriate English words being put into her holy lips with regard to humanity.

Mary was already espoused to Joseph before Gabriel appeared to her (see Luke 1:27 - ... to a virgin espoused to a man ... ). Hardly the action of a woman who intends, in perpetuity, to remain a virgin. But, having not (yet) come together (Matthew 1:18), she did not (at that stage) know a man.


What is much more relevant regarding the certainty of the situation is Matthew's wording in Matthew 1:24, 25 :

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. [KJV]

Had Matthew wished to convey - without a trace of ambiguity - that Mary had remained a virgin thereafter, Matthew would have stopped writing after 'knew her not'.

... and took unto him his wife and knew her not [Full Stop]

Thereafter he would have made a new sentence regarding the name of Jesus. But he does not do that, he continues :

... until she had brought forth the son of her (in literal) ...

  • I really appreciate your answer, @Nigel J. +1! However, "The Greek conjunction ἐπεί epei (see Strong 1893) cannot be manipulated into meaning something with regard to a time sequence in the future" overlooks the critical core of my question: why does Mary apparently not have the intent of changing her un-having-had-sex condition? She is married to Joseph; she evidenced her knowledge of how conception happens. What gives? If my point is not clear, I shall have to edit my question to clarify. (As for Mt 1, I only answer that Matthews focus was only on the part Joseph had in Mary's conception...) – Sola Gratia Dec 7 '18 at 17:33
  • @SolaGratia Mary's action of being espoused to Joseph makes her intentions very clear. And there is nothing in her words that is contrary to her action. – Nigel J Dec 8 '18 at 7:18
4

Perpetual virginity of Mary: why did Mary see “not knowing man” as an obstacle to the conception of Jesus?

Mary, like Joseph, understood natural law. Specifically, one cannot have a baby if they are a virgin. It requires a partner of the opposite sex. (Joseph was going to send Mary away in Matt. 1:19 because he understood natural law.)

For those who deny that Mary ever intended to remain a virgin her whole life, how is this refuted?

The wording of the question is a little confusing to me. I think it's nearly impossible to know what Mary's intentions would be as there's no clear text. The passage below indicates Jesus' had brothers and sisters and the most logical understanding of the text would be that Mary or Joseph produced the brothers and sisters, especially given how honorable they were in previous passages.

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at Him.

  • "I think it's nearly impossible to know what Mary's intentions would be as there's no clear text." This question does not pertain to secret, hidden intentions, but to what would cause Mary to see 'not having sex' as an obstacle to conception—not having sex is not an obstacle to conception if you intend to break that 'habit.' hence my question. "The passage below indicates Jesus had brothers and sisters" is a long-answered objection, in that the well-known Hebraic 'brother = kinsman' understanding was always accepted, as far as Christian records exists. – Sola Gratia Dec 7 '18 at 17:38
  • 2
    I think I'm losing something in your question. What I see: Mary is told she will have a baby. Her response is, "how is that possible". Then she learns of a miracle that will occur. Her response is consistent with what we all would call natural law. I think the long standing 'kinsman interpretation' should be rejected due to the fact of the personal qualifiers for Joseph, Mary, the names of the brothers, and sisters. There's no reason to make these qualifiers when speaking of 'kinsman' in this specific context. He's teaching in a synagogue in his hometown. The speakers are kinsman. – Lionsden Dec 7 '18 at 19:26
  • Mary is told she will have a baby. Not by anything other than by natural means. Then she says, If not by the natural means, then how? Mary intends to remain a virgin.. the perennial stance on Mary. Your answer merely asserts Mary knew how she would conceive.. that's my point: she knew how "you shall conceive and bear a son" yet excluded it as one of the options.. – Sola Gratia Dec 7 '18 at 19:46
  • 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Wouldn't the last phrase be the evidence that she would not conceive by natural means? My answer would assert that Mary had no clue how a virgin would conceive and the Angel answered that for her. If Mary intended to remain a virgin, I think we would need a better text than this one to give us that information. – Lionsden Dec 7 '18 at 20:46
  • "My answer would assert that Mary had no clue how a virgin would conceive and the Angel answered that for her" You said yourself she knew how a virgin conceives... I'm not saying that, you did. This is my point. This is my question. She knew how she would conceive the child but excludes (so goes the question) the normative means. "Wouldn't the last phrase be the evidence that she would not conceive by natural means?" Gabriel said this after she asked the question.. – Sola Gratia Dec 8 '18 at 13:16
4

When one way of interpreting a passage is absurd, that shows we aren't to interpret it that way. Obviously she didn't think the angel was just telling her she'd conceive a baby with Joseph or else she wouldn't have said what she said. So she clearly understood the angel was telling her she would soon have a baby without having slept with Joseph, and hence her question, because she didn't understand how that could be. Although what the angel said sounds a little ambiguous to us, her response clearly shows the connotations of what he meant: the conception will not come from sex with Joseph. Mary's response shows us how she understood what the angel meant, and as the angel doesn't correct her, we can know this is the correct understanding.

  • Even though this begs the question, it's the closest thing to a 'the Protestant position' here. +1 – Sola Gratia Dec 8 '18 at 22:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.