Matthew 1:24-25 (RSVCE)
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded
him; he took his wife, but knew her not until [ἕως οὗ] she had
borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.1
The most common response from Rome’s apologists is to note that the term ἕως alone does not prove, of necessity, that Mary lost her virginity after the birth of Jesus. See, for example, 2 Sam. 6:23 [2 Reigns 6:23 (LXX)]2
καὶ τῇ Μελχολ θυγατρὶ Σαουλ οὐκ ἐγένετο παιδίον ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας τοῦ
ἀποθανεῗν αὐτήν3 [and to Melchol daughter of Saoul
there was no child to the day of her death (NETS)4]
She had no children until the day of her death (and she continued to be childless after her death).
This objection seems to miss the mark, however, given that Matthew does not use the term ἕως but rather ἕως οὗ.
Cf. Mat. 1:25 (NA28)
καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἕως οὗ ἔτεκεν υἱόν· καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα
Eric Svendsen explains:
This construction . . . occurs only seventeen times in the NT... All
NT occurrences are temporal. Two of these have the meaning “while”
(Matt 14:22; 26:36)... The rest of the fifteen NT occurrences are
instances in which the action of the main clause is limited by the
action of the subordinate clause and require the meaning “until a
specified time (but not after).” Hence, the disciples were not to tell
anyone what they had seen “until the Son of Man has been raised from
the dead” (Matt 17:9), but they surely were not to keep silent
afterwards. The wicked servant was to be tortured “until he should
pay back all he owed” (Matt 18:34), but that torture (it is implied)
would cease after payment had been rendered. The woman who loses the
coin sweeps the house and searches carefully until she finds it
(Luke 15:8), but ceases the search once it is found. Similarly Jesus’
promise to abstain from eating and drinking at table will be kept only
“until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18), after which he will
inaugurate the Messianic Banquet . . . in the case of ἕως οὗ and ἕως
ὅτου. Both constructions are used solely—not only by Matthew but also
by all NT writers who use this construction—to convey that the action
of the main clause is discontinued by the action of the subordinate
clause (the ratio for these two constructions combined is seven to
zero for Matthew, and twenty-two to zero for the NT). Matt 1:25 is
just such a case, and there seems to be no justification for assigning
to ἕως οὗ here any other meaning than that demanded by normal usage
elsewhere in the NT.6
1. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
2. Cf. Gen. 8:7; Deu. 34:6 and Psa. 110:1 in the LXX.
3. Septuaginta, ed. A. Rahlfs, (Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935).
4. A New English Translation of the Septuagint, eds. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright, (Oxford University Press, 2007).
5. Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament: 28th Edition, (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
6. Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and in Roman Catholicism, (2001), pp. 35-36, 40). For an in-depth analysis see: Ibid., pp. 30-40, 251-259. Jack P. Lewis: …the phrase (heōs hou) followed by a negative always implies that the negated action did take place later. (Jack P. Lewis, The Living Word Commentary: The Gospel according to Matthew: Part I, ed. Everett Ferguson, (Austin: Sweet Publishing Company, 1976), p. 42). Cf. Mat. 13:33; 17:9; 18:34; Luk. 13:21; 15:8; 22:18; 24:49; Jhn. 13:38; Act. 21:26; 23:12, 14, 21; 25:21; 2Pet. 1:19; Mat. 14:22; 26:36.
Καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν.
~ Soli Deo Gloria