Monday, October 31, 2005

Dialogue on Supposed Biblical Disproofs of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Round Three (vs. Ken Temple)

See Round One and Parts one, two, three of the second round. Ken's words will be in green.

*****

I have a little time to perhaps do better in my argumentation:I did not bring up the word sunerchomai. I only referred to I Cor. 7:5 as a parallel idea, because of contextual ideas of marriage and sexual relationship within marriage. It is you who brought in Vine’s Word Study concordance of Greek words, and all the other contexts of sunerchomai. The Greek word is not even there in the best and oldest manuscripts. The Greek text behind the modern versions of NASB and NIV point out that this word is not there. ( see below). Ok, so now who is going to go deeper?

I did, because I appealed to eleven translations which translated whatever the word here is to mean "get married" or "live together" as opposed to "engaging in sexual relations." That's good enough for me. But you appeal to yourself. Sorry; I accept what these translators have decided. If the meaning were actually "sexual relations," then they could have easily made that clear in how they translated. If the word in 1 Corinthians 7:5 or Matthew 1:18 is different, then your argument has been proven ineffectual all the more so, since all you would have accomplished is to show that there is a passage which refers to married sexuality in the New Testament. So what? That's not what the translators of these eleven versions thought about Matthew 1:18. I couldn't find a single translation that made a sexual connotation crystal clear. So the "came together" of several other versions needs to be understood in light of other renderings.

I understand that term (sunerchomai) in the other contexts means "to come together" or "come" in the sense of walking, gathering together, meeting others in groups, leaving, going to another city or house or meetings, arriving at a city or meeting other people, etc. No problem. Yes, most of the usages of the term are without any connections of sexuality or marriage. That is the beginning stage of a word study.

So far so good.

I didn't feel it is necessary to go slowly through every verse of a word study of every usage of a word, because that is not necessary in this case, based on the nature of our forum and context of blog and space and time constraints, etc.

Nor I. I simply questioned the validity of your cross-referencing to 1 Corinthians 7:5.

Also, based on the fact that my argument is not even based on the “root meaning of the Greek word”, you are trying to make a point that I was not even trying to make.

Whether you made it or not, it is still relevant to point out in the overall context of our dialogue. I would rather go beyond your points or expand the discussion, than ignore most of my opponents' arguments and counter-arguments, as you have been doing. If that is the choice, I will choose as I have here every time.


You brought that idea in, with reference to Vine’s and all the other Greek work usages of the word, sunerchomai. Your point, I think, was the idea of basing a meaning of an English word on a Greek word.

Hey, that's why we have translators! They rendered the word(s) in English. "Get married" does not mean "having sexual relations." The two are associated, obviously, but here we are concerned with the precise definition or meaning of a phrase in one verse. As far as I'm concerned, the issue has been definitively settled: you didn't succeed in proving that it means what you claim it meant.

I merely referred to I Cor. 7:5 because of the CONTEXT. Even there, the Greek word sunerchomai is not used in the United Bible Societies Greek Text Version and the oldest manuscripts. Vines and the Greek text that is based on the KJV are the sources that have sunerchomai behind the idea in I Cor. 7:5. Sunerchomai is not there in the Greek manuscripts that the NASB or NIV are based on. In the NASB and NIV “come together again” in English is based on the context alone. The Greek there is kai palin epi to auto ate ( literally, “and again upon the same, be”) Which, contextually, means, “after a time of prayer being apart, again be in the same condition you were as husband and wife and stop depriving one another.” ) And I never tried to make my point based on a Greek word ONLY. I only referenced I Cor. 7:5 because the context is similar to Matthew 1:18-25 in some ways, because I Cor. 7:5 is the only context where we have marriage and sexual activity within marriage talked about with the idea of temporarily abstaining from sexual relationship for the purpose of concentrated prayer and fasting. Paul tells them, “stop depriving one another” after he has said all the stuff in verse 4 about the husband and wives authority over each other’s bodies in marriage. It is clear, as you admit, this verse is in the context of sex and marriage.

I'll accept your word on that; it doesn't overcome my argument from the eleven translations or prove that Matthew 1:18 is sexual in content. We agree that 1 Corinthians 7:5 is sexual, because context makes it quite clear. I contend that the context is not nearly that clear in Matthew 1:18 for you to come to the conclusion that you have adopted.

But you are right, in this sense, of Matthew 1:18, if you mean that a word is not based primarily on a meaning from one usage in one verse. Your point would be valid if the context in Matthew 1:18-25 was not about betrothal, marriage, “before they came together”, “found to be with child, in the womb, getting pregnant, by the Holy Spirit, “don't be afraid to take Mary as your WIFE”, behold the virgin will be with child, and “kept her a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to a son", etc.

I've dealt with this already. Betrothal is not sex. Marriage is not sex. Becoming pregnant by a miraculous act of the Holy Spirit is not sex (it is supernatural conception). Having a wife is not sex. The argument over "until" has been made again and again and that cannot absolutely prove anything, either, about what happened after. I agree that it is possible (strictly looking at it linguistically) for the context to allow this interpretation, but it is not necessary, and not proven. Since that is largely what this dialogue is about: ironclad proofs or lack of same from either side, you have failed to establish that this is an undeniable proof. I am arguing that no such unarguable, compelling biblical proof against perpetual virginity exists (just as, I grant, no compelling NT proof in favor of it can be produced, either).

You're the one who has been maintaining that everything is so "clear" and airtight. I submit that you have massively overstated your case and repeatedly drawn unwarranted conclusions, based on preconceived biases and wishful thinking and your desire to prove that this is such a horrible "Gnostic" doctrine which denigrates moral, marital sexuality, etc.

But the context of "a general arriving" or "living together without a sexual relationship" or coming together to a city, or coming together to a meeting of the Sanhedrin, or “coming together to meet Zadok in Bethsaida”, or “and Judas and the Pharisees and the high priests came together to plot their intrigues against Jesus”, etc. is not what is going on here. My argument is not primarily based on any kind of "supposed" deep meaning in the etymology of the word, sunerchomai. I never said or wrote, "this word means in the Greek, "to come together sexually" because it is the intrinsic nature of the word and the etymology or root meaning is such and such showing that this the meaning. That seems like what you are saying that you think I am saying. Most of my argument is based on the context of marriage and the normal understanding of what a man and woman do when they get married after the betrothal period, or even in some cases legitimate during the betrothal period, as you and others have pointed out, and also a point that I know about from studying the issue.

That's all fine and dandy (thanks for the clarification), but you have not proven your point! The translators think otherwise. If the very word or phrase in question is regarded as simply meaning "getting married" or "living together," then it is not about sexuality per se, neither linguistically, nor as a matter of logical necessity. How many times must this be said before it will sink in? You can appeal to the phrase "coming together" all you like. It doesn't change the fact that it simply means "get married" here. If all you're doing is presupposing that all married couples are sexually active, then that is no biblical argument about the particular, extraordinary
situation of Mary and Joseph. You can't assume what you are trying to prove (which is what you have been doing over and over, throughout this dialogue - along with ignoring most of my actual arguments, which frustrates me to no end).

I am not choosing the only one that is sexual in context a priori. I understand your point, to not base a meaning of a word on one usage out of 30 or more of other contexts and read that meaning into all the other contexts. To me, it is obvious, because of the context of both Matthew 1 and I Cor. 7:5, understanding the other issues of Genesis 2:24 and the normal meanings of "betrothal", "wife", "until" ( heos hou), "found to be with child" (v. 18 - euretha en gastri exousa" = "found in the womb to have" or "found to have become pregnant", "don't be afraid", what is in her (gennethen- begotten, "fathered", "conceived". v. 20) is by the Holy Spirit", etc.

More repetition of your usual circular argumentation, along with the obligatory claim to the "obvious."

The point I am making is the meaning in Matthew 1:18-25 is that the context shows -- because it is natural to understand "before they came together" as a sexual, marriage relationship, because the next phrase says, "she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit."

I don't see how it follows that, after a supernatural conception having nothing to do with sex; therefore (somehow) Mary must have sexual relations in the normal fashion. If Scripture plainly informed us that she did (not by deduction or inference, which leaves a certain logical gap and an uncertainty), then she did, and we wouldn't be having this argument (no one would deny what you claim). If it could be proven that these "brothers" of the Lord were blood brothers or siblings, then we would and should interpret this way, by consistent cross-referencing and a desire to harmonize the Bible, commensurate with its inspired, infallible nature. But you can't prove that (about the alleged "siblings"), and I have produced much counter-evidence (that you have ignored thus far, as usual); you have no verse pertaining to Mary like 1 Corinthians 7:5, which is undeniably about sexual relations.

Therefore, since no absolute, compelling proof to the contrary can be offered, and since a plausible, cumulative, if indirect biblical case can be made for my side, and given the overwhelming consensus of Christian Tradition prior to the onset of higher criticism and theological liberalism, it is quite justified to hold the traditional view in faith.

Other than "by the Holy Spirit" or any kind of "spiritual conception" if such a thing is possible except by the power of God, we all understand that "found to be with child" means that there had to have been a father and sex and you know the rest.

Yes, we all know the birds and the bees. The Virgin Birth has nothing directly to do with the question of whether Mary and Joseph engaged in the normal marital sexual practice. Your desperate search for any hint of undeniable sexual activity with regard to Mary and Joseph is every bit as silly as your false theory that Catholics invented this doctrine I defend due to some weird unnatural animus against moral sexuality. You simply go from one extreme to the other. That should be obvious.

Joseph, by his initial reaction understands this also. He was going to divorce her, because he suspected her of adultery, because normally no woman gets pregnant unless their was a another man involved. Since he knew if was not him, and the text says he was righteous and "before they came together", that means that he is not lying, and God is not lying because the Scripture does not lie.

Of course he, at first, suspected an immoral sexual activity, because the natural and normal human reaction is to assume a natural, rather than supernatural explanation of cause and effect. But again, this proves nothing whatsoever towards your contentions. You're merely special pleading, getting deeper and deeper into your logical fallacies.

God speaks to Joseph through an angel in a dream to assure him that Mary has NOT committed adultery and that the pregnancy is from the Holy Spirit. ( v. 21) Matthew proves it by quoting Isaiah 7:14 about the virgin being with child later in Matthew 1:23.

Yep; most of us have read the Bible, too . . .

[I have passed over tedious repetition]

When it says in verse 18, "now the birth of Jesus Christ is as follows", after Matthew has given us the teaching of the genealogy of Christ, emphasizing Gentiles (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Batthsheba) and that Jesus would even choose to be born in such a line full of famous sinners (Tamar, Rahab, David and Bathsheba, Manasseh, and the other evil kings) and women in the genealogy, he is showing that the Messiah was from the line of David and God is Not afraid to come down and get involved and be very earthy. So God is not afraid to be in a womb that will later be used in the normal marriage way -- there is nothing inappropriate or unworthy or unfitting about it.

No one disagrees with this, so I need not reply.

v. 18, "His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph . . . " Here the context is betrothal, which means a promise and period of time before marriage. The Jewish tradition and scriptures and the Law of Moses emphasized, when a man wants to get married, it says, "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

Ditto; this is more of your by-now expected lengthy flight into perfect irrelevancies and non sequitur.

So, right off, by calling Mary, betrothed, the context is marriage and what normally occurs when a man and woman get betrothed and married. "Before they came together", "she was found to be with child by the holy Spirit" -- meaning it was a Spiritual conception. God put His spirit in the womb of Mary with no sexual act from Joseph. "Before they came together" and "kept her a virgin" in verse 25, and the whole reaction of Joseph, etc. is all pretty clear to me.

More repetition of circular arguments that have been repeatedly answered, with the deluded claim of "clearness."

The Virgin birth of Jesus Christ is clearly protected by Scripture alone.

I agree. But liberals in both Protestantism and Catholicism have denied it because they start to deny the reality of the supernatural and the miraculous, and the truthfulness of all of Holy Scripture. It is liberalism and lack of faith which makes men deny a Christian truth like this, not other aspects of Mariological tradition, as you now try to assert.

The PVM is an extra added human tradition that makes it more protected, according to you guys, but it is not necessary.

It's not merely a "human tradition" because it is far too unusual and strange for men to have devised it. It comes from the testimony of many indirect inferences in Scripture, and from the Tradition which was passed down from the beginning. Even the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia admits that the oldest, earliest Christian tradition upheld it. It traced the belief that you have to Tertullian, the Montanist heretic. If there is any purely "human" tradition here, then, it is likely your belief, since it was late-arriving, after the initial apostolic deposit, like all heresies. The earliest Fathers knew whether Jesus had blood brothers or not. I have shown some of that evidence, but you have utterly ignored it. Perhaps you actually take it up below. I hope so. I'm answering as I read, so I don't know yet if you did that or not, but based on your record in your dialogue with me, I confidently predict that you have not done so.

Should not Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:27, 34-35 be enough to protect the virgin birth? If those verses are not enough to protect the doctrine of the virgin birth, why not?

I never said they were not. I was asked why belief in the perpetual virginity was important to Catholics, and I offered some speculative suggestions. We believe it primarily, however, because we think it was part of the apostolic tradition or deposit handed on from the apostles to their successors, the bishops, which we are not at liberty to reject, simply because we may not personally care for it or wish things to be this way or that.

Why is Scripture not enough in this case of the virgin birth of Christ?

It is enough. When did I ever deny that? What is not enough is the amount of so-called "proof" that discussion of the Virgin Birth in the context of the betrothal of Joseph and Mary somehow "proves" that they were sexually active.

The word "virgin" is used there in Matthew 1, verse 23, and twice in Luke 1:27 and in Matthew 1:25 it says, "he did not know her" until she gave birth to a son. "he did know her", you could argue, based on the word alone, means only, "he didn't get to know her personally by talking to her", the way a modern English "get to know somebody" is used. Obviously, both the OT and the NT "knowing one's wife" had the meaning of sexual intimacy and knowledge.

The traditional argument about Matthew 1:25 (which was also Luther's and Calvin's) doesn't deny the meaning of the Hebraic "know", but rather, denies that "till" necessarily means "applying to points of time after that which it specifically refers to." To give some examples of this word, heos, elsewhere:


Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.

(1 Tim 4:13; RSV)

They were to practice these things till Paul came, and (implied) also after. Nothing changed from one state to a different one, because of the word "till."



I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Tim 6:14)

only hold fast to what you have, until I come.

(Rev 2:25)

But, you know that in many contexts in both the OT and NT to "know a woman" meant to have sex with them. Genesis 4:1, Genesis 19:5-- bring them out that we may have relations with them" ( Literally, "that we may know them") Obviously, by context, he is not talking about "getting to know them by eating a meal and have conversation with them and asking them what they do for a living."

You don't advance your case by reiterating what everyone agrees on. The controversy is over the meaning of "until" or "till."

Your argument is mostly based on 1.) Silence of explicit statement, “Mary and Joseph started having sex after Jesus was born”,

That is true. But you simply assume that these other verses you bring up, "clearly" imply sexuality, when they do not necessarily do so at all.

2. strained possible meanings of just “come together” without reference to sex read into the context of a marriage and betrothal and pregnancy context,

These "strained meanings" have been adopted by ten Protestant biblical translations of Matthew 1:18. I am not a Greek scholar; perhaps you are. Even if you were, I would disagree with you, if the combined forces of translators of eleven New Testaments thought differently than you do.

and 3. a tradition that started much later, . . .

I have not argued about the Tradition (only tangentially), since I have restricted myself to biblical evidences in this series of dialogues. But I cited a prominent Protesatant reference (ISBE) which held that the perpetual virginity (or at least the absense of siblings of Jesus) was the oldest tradition.

But Luke clearly shows us that she opened the womb and that they followed the law of Moses because they were godly Jews, wanting to obey the law. Luke 2:22-24, “when the days of purification according to the law of Moses were completed . . . “ ( implying that there was blood, pain, placenta, afterbirth, etc.) “as it is written in Law of the Lord, “every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” ( Luke 2:23).

That no more "proves" that the birth of Jesus was not supernatural, than Jesus' baptism "proves" that He was a sinner Who needed regeneration from sin in the baptism (or even a symbol of being saved from sin, if you deny the explicitly biblical doctrine of baptismal regeneration). As the saying goes, "the exception proves the rule."

The lack of pain in birthing Christ is the first extra tradition that is added by the three above extra-biblical texts. Luke 2:23 and Revelation 12 are pretty clearly against the Gnostic idea or docetic idea that it is too low or unworthy or inappropriate for the mother of Jesus to go through pain, have her hymen broken, and have a normal marriage with romance and sex after the birth of Jesus.

More circular argument: you assume that the origin of the doctrine must have been because of these extraneous heretical and philosophical ideas. But (needless to say) assumptions are not proofs. This entire discussion has been one instance after another of my shooting down your deluded confidence that you have "proven" something or demonstrated "clear" biblical teaching for your contentions. Over and over again I have shown that you have not done so. You don't get away with circular argument and deluded triumphalism when you debate me. I would hope for exactly the same from you if and when I fall into circular logic. I will always be glad for someone to point that out because I don't wewant anything I believe to be based on shabby logic or downright logical absurdity.

The midwives checking the hymen are alluded to there in the Proto-evangelium and also in the Infancy Gospel, where Jesus also speaks from the crib.

I have argued almost exclusively from the Bible (with only a few passing references to the second-century Church historian Hegesippus), so this is not my concern.

Geisler and MacKenzie write: “Since there is nothing defiling about sexual relations within marriage ( Hebrews 13:4),

No one is saying that there is. Some Church Fathers may have been off on that, but it doesn't follow that the Church adopted their warped reasoning.

to suggest that Christ would not want to be conceived in a womb that would later conceive other humans is to take away from the glory that God would afterward give him for his voluntary humility in becoming human (Phil. 2:9-11).” ( page 304, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.” Baker, 1995.

This is pure circular reasoning; unworthy of Geisler, who is normally a very logically-tight apologist. But the temptation to caricature Catholic teaching is too great, for him as it is for you.

Since Christ chose to be in a blood line full of sinners like Manasseh, David, Tamar, Rahab, etc., it is not inappropriate for Him to chose a womb that will later be a normal womb for the purposes that God created it for in marriage and raising a family.

I agree (and I think most Catholics would) that the perpetual virginity is not absolutely necessary (in the logical or metaphysical, not dogmatic sense), and that it is possible for another scenario to have occurred. God could have brought about the Incarnation in any way He wanted to. By the same token, the Immaculate Conception was not absolutely or intrinsically necessary in order for the Virgin Birth to occur. Rather, in both cases, Catholics hold that it was fitting or appropriate for things to be this way. We believe the doctrine because that is what was passed down to us, and because it seems perfectly harmonious with Scripture, as I believe I have been showing at the greatest length, against your objections.

As to comparing Mary obeying the law with Jesus following and submitting to baptism, we obviously have clear verses on Jesus sinlessness and the lack of need for repentence, so we have to do some theology and understand Him as doing that as a model of humility and obedience to the external rite, even though He did not need to.

But we have no clear other verses that say that "Mary was without sin" to help us interpret the Luke 2 passage the way the RCC wants to -- on Mary obeying the law of purification. In fact we have indications of her sins and faults of doubt and pride later (John 2 at the wedding, etc.), which Chrysostom and Basil and others point out that she sinned. It is yours that is eis-ogesis and speculation.

Our interpretation of that particular passage does not depend on our belief that she was sinless: only on the supposition that she would have obeyed Jewish law and ritual as a matter of course, even though Jesus' birth was an exceptional event (in the literal meaning of "exceptional"). In other words, the dynamic is not "the person is doing a ritual that is supposed to only be for sinners" (as in Jesus' baptism) but rather, "the person is doing a ritual that is required and expected, even though, technically, it doesn't apply in her case, because the referenced event was supernatural rather than following the usual natural course." To put it yet another way: the analogy is not to sinlessness in both cases, but to non-necessary observance of ritual and religious-cultural custom because they were observant Jews.

But we do have a clear verse on the sinlessness of Mary: Luke 1:28. I have two lengthy papers which expound upon that:

Dialogue with an Evangelical Protestant on Catholic Mariology (including an explicitly biblical argument for the Immaculate Conception, from Luke 1:28, related exegesis, and the meaning of grace)

Luke 1:28 (Full of Grace) and the Immaculate Conception: Linguistic and Exegetical Considerations

That easily trumps two Church Fathers who were mistaken about the sinlessness of Mary, and who were exceptions to the overwhelming patristic consensus.

Criticizing the PVM is not just a cheap way to get at RCC -- as BWL says. It is one of the easiest and earliest to see that it is not biblical though. ( I know, I know, you don't think it is so easy or clear.)

If it's so "easy" and "clear" then why do you keep avoiding my arguments like the plague? No one (at least no one who understands what legitimate debate and dialogue are) is fooled by your constant technique of evasion and obfuscation. If you are so confident about your perspective, you would gladly take on all arguments against it. But you don't do that. This entire dialogue has consisted mostly of my painstaking, careful, systematic, point-by-point replies to your arguments (I've passed over only what was off the subject and a few times which were pure repetition of something you already stated and I had already answered), while you almost totally ignore mine (not even citing most of my arguments, let alone actually trying to counter them).

You preach on and on, blissfully free of the burden of responding to a countering argument. The only thing that is "clear," then, in my opinion, is that you have failed in your task of proving that the perpetual virginity of Mary is an unbiblical, untrue doctrine. Your case (adequately scrutinized) has failed miserably to do so in virtually every particular. And I can say that because I have argued it. You say the same sort of thing to the contrary, but because you have refused to properly argue your case and overturn mine, it is just empty rhetoric: "full of fury, signifying nothing."

It was "the first step" though; of exalting Mary too much in History. BWL and Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and Turretin are fine, because you and they stop there and don't keep on exalting her too much in worship and devotional contexts of prayer and praise and giving her mediatorial status, a violation of 1 Tim. 2:5.

Even if the belief in Mary as Mediatrix is false, that proves exactly nothing as to whether the perpetual virginity of Mary is true or false, or whether the Bible supports it or is at least not inconsistent with it. This is simply another of your extraneous and polemical-sophistical pretexts to reject the doctrine under oconsideration, on grounds other than biblical and logical ones. Furthermore, now you claim that believe in perpetual virginity is "fine," because it doesn't involve what you think is idolatry. Yet earlier, and even not long ago in your arguments, you railed against the doctrine as "Gnostic" or anti-sexual.

The problem is that this idea was developed into more and more and more exaltation of Mary. Biblical exegesis keeps us accountible to truth and not adding things to the Scripture.

Again, you commit the fallacy of acting as though what a doctrine supposedly became, or supposedly led to, casts doubt upon the original doctrine under consideration. It is perfectly possible that this relatively early doctrine was true and then later became corrupted, or that it was and is true, while Mediatrix or the Immaculate Conception or whatever are not true (I don't believe that as a faithful orthodox Catholic, of course; I'm talking strictly logic here, not dogmatics or faith). You can't argue about one thing based on conjectures of supposed later corruptions and other completely different doctrines linked to this one because both concern Mariology.

It's a ridiculous methodology, and I for one am sick and tired of this tactic (distressingly common in Catholic-Protestant discussion). I try to stick to the Bible, since both parties have full respect for that source. But my Protestant correspondents so often want to go beyond that and rail about all these other issues, just as you have done. You pass over almost all of my biblical arguments, and then try to smuggle in this illogical, hyper-biased nonsense, hoping that no one will notice the sleight of hand.

I, (nor anyone else,) am not saying that all doctrines of Gnosticism are subsummed into the PVM; rather, the beleive that matter is evil and "it is unworthy for the womb of the virgin" to have sex in marriage after Jesus is born" are Gnostic like ideas; along with thinking that she did not have pain in childbirth.

Case in point. This doesn't follow at all. An outsider, using your warped "logic," could just as easily say that all Christians are "Gnostic" or against normal sexuality by believing in the Virgin Birth. You know: "If Jesus was to become one of us, become human, enter into all of our experiences, etc., why did He have to be conceived in a fashion other than the usual sexual intercourse? That is a denial of the goodness and purity of sex!!" Etc., etc. You don't see that your mentality is no different than this mindset that a skeptic could easily apply just as vigorously against your belief in the Virgin Birth.

Now, of course, you'll say that the Virgin Birth is explicitly biblical. But the perpetual virginity is not unbiblical. Nothing about it can be shown to be unalterably opposed to biblical teaching. And besides, the analogy still works because this seems to be an a priori objection on your part: you appear to think that folks in the early Church who hated sex invented this doctrine out of some desire to set forth the notion that sex is evil or unwholesome (and that the Church followed suit). And that exists prior to biblical argumentation. So whether the Virgin Birth is supported explicitly in Scripture (and relatively more so than perpetual virginity) is irrelevant to the point just made.

. . . The RCC seems closer to Gnostic or docetic ideas in the PVM than the protestants can be accused of.

You can use this tactic all you like; meanwhile I am making scriptural arguments and you are ignoring them (while I respond to all of your biblical arguments).

I appeal to all fair-minded readers: if Ken's case is supposedly so much more "biblical" than mine, why is it that he keeps avoiding replying to my biblical arguments, and instead, leaves biblical subject matter altogether and so often concentrates on railing against the supposed intrinsically "'Gnostic" nature of this doctrine (and even brings up other Mariological doctrines not even being discussed)? Why is it that the advocate of sola Scriptura is all over the ballpark and so often wants to talk about things other than the Bible, whereas the one who also accepts the validity and truthfulness of Sacred Tradition is quite willing to stick almost exclusively to the Bible in talking about this subject?

Is it simply because the doctrine is true, so that I don't need to go beyond the Bible to make a good case for it, whereas my opponent does, because his "biblical case" is so weak? You be the judge. Speaking for myself, I am quite pleased as to the course this discussion has taken, in terms of which side has proven itself to be the superior one, and more worthy of belief.

The whole "brothers" argument is based on remote possibility of meaning "cousin" because of the speculative construction of the Aramic behind it.

How is it "remote" to show (from simple biblical deduction and cross-referencing) that two of the four named brothers (James and Joseph) are sons of a different Mary altogether? How is it "remote" to also identify "Jude" as the same person who wrote the book of the same name? Early historical sources (Hegesippus, as cited in Eusebius) identify Jude and Simon or Symeon as also sons of Mary and Clopas; thus brothers of James and Joseph. All are Jesus' first cousins. Thus saith Scripture combined with very early historical testimony. But of course you have COMPLETELY ignored ALL of that extensive argumentation of mine, as if it did not exist. Here you are instead with one of your groundless summary statements of what I argued. That's why this dialogue is now over. I've had enough of my time-consuming arguments being utterly ignored, only to get pontifications about the doctrine being "Gnostic" and of only "remote possibility."

Seems "goofy" to me, because it ignores the Greek, which is what the NT was inspired in, and that is the documents of history that we have.

That's right; my entire argument has been "goofy". What does that make yours, then, since you have continually been unable or unwilling to refute mine with rational, biblical argument?

The legal-historical methods are the best methods we have for judging history, especially since there was not video at that time.

Precisely why I brought in the evidence of Hegesippus via Eusebius. But you ignored that. So now you are talking out of both sides of your mouth, in addition to to your already-present shortcomings of circular argumentation, sophistry, and the almost total ignoring of your opponents' arguments.

Furthermore, Mark and Matthew and others frequently give us Aramaic parallels, if God wanted it to be taught, seems He would have inspired them to write, "achi", "brother" in Aramaic, which translated means "cousin", since Mary had taken a vow of virginity and it cannot be possible for the womb of the Mother of Jesus to have other children. ( or someting like the other verses "Talitha Cum", which translated means, "Be opened" or "Corban", which means "sacrificed" or "dedicated", "Cephas", which means "rock", "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabakhtani", which translated means, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" etc, etc.

Once again, that culture used their equivalent of our word "brother" in a very wide sense. "Brother" is the best translation, because it can mean both sibling and more distant relative.

Since the author's knew Greek and used those others words for cousin and kinsmen, ( Colossians 4:10, Luke 1, and they were Jews, except for Luke, and Luke is reporting what they said, and probably got his information from Mary and Paul and the other 12 disciples.); and the context shows that he is talking about flesh and blood brothers and sisters, because they are almost always mentioned along with His real flesh and blood mother, seems obvious that they are siblings after Jesus was born.

Here is your now-familiar routine of repetition of arguments you've already presented 5-6 times, ignoring of my replies to them, and the triumphant but deluded description of "obvious." This is pathetic . . . my patience has run out.

I am not just "assuming" that out of thin air and without good reason. The normal assumtions of a sentence with "His mother and brothers and sisters were there", etc. is not "brothers in Christ" or "brothers as fellow human beings."

Already dealt with several times . . . It's as if one has learned algebra and geometry, but keeps being obsessed with simple arithmetic; like we have to go over the basics again and again when the discussion had advanced far beyond that. Hence, the discussion never goes anywhere. It's like kindergarten: you simply repeat things ad infinitum, oblivious to any answers I have given; not even seeming to understand that I have already answered, or the nature of my answer.

I think I do interact directly with points being made as much as one person can, when there are 10 others making lots of other points. That is OK, just realize I am only one person and I cannot respond to every detail.

This is a cop-out. You are capable of entering many thousands of words into the comments boxes very quickly (anyone can verify that by looking them over). I painstakingly took the better part of five days (usually one "part" or "round" a day) to systematically respond to your arguments (today's new post took another 5-6 hours to write). You don't get out of the responsibility of having to defend your arguments against critical scrutiny by appealing to the fact that others have entered into the conversation.

You could have taken all the time you wanted (there is no stopwatch on this blog), but you have deliberately refused to reply to my arguments and instead have chosen to utilize the unworthy techniques that I have been vociferously protesting against. If you have less time than you would like, you could easily cut out the repetition and instead actually deal directly with some of the many many arguments of mine that you have utterly ignored. You have chosen this path, and it is not just a lack of time and too many opponents. It's also the deficient method that you have brought to the table.

Now, I like you, Ken, and appreciate the time and effort you have put into this, and your cordiality (not to mention my great admiration for your missionary endeavors). You have been a wonderful addition to this blog and I am thankful for your participation (speaking generally now). But I can't sit here and pretend that you have tried to reply to my arguments in this particular discussion when (by and large) you have not. I have to call a spade a spade.

You may be the politest guy in the world and a great Christian gentleman, but it is still rude and difficult to understand when your opponent grants you the courtesy to consider your arguments one by one - taking many hours and days to do so - and you refuse to return that courtesy, and instead choose to keep lobbing the lowest of insults towards his position and that of his Church. If you won't answer (by way of will and decision), then could you at least explain to us why that is? If you can't answer, then you ought to face up to that and admit it, too. But let no one be under any illusion that you have even tried to answer much of my argument, let alone that you have refuted it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gerry Matatics Declares Himself a Sedevacantist

According to an e-mail sent on 31 July 2005 (which Matatics is supposed to make public and expand upon):

I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that because heretics are not members of the Catholic Church, they cannot validly hold office in the Church, according to divine law, and that, should they seem to hold such offices, the believing Catholic must conclude that their election to and possession of such offices is null and void. This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI, who has the further handicap (unlike his immediate four predecessors) of not even having been validly consecrated a bishop, which, in addition to all other considerations, makes it impossible for him to therefore function as Bishop of Rome.

*********

Sedevacantism means literally, "the seat is empty" - referring to the papacy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dialogue on Supposed Biblical Disproofs of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Round Two, Part III (vs. Ken Temple)

See the first dialogue, and Part I and Part II of this second round of the same discussion. Ken's words will be in green; my older words in brown.

*****

As for Matthew 1:18: "came together" (RSV, KJV): this is the Greek, sunerchomai (Strong's word #4905). It, too, has a wide range of meaning, far beyond mere sexuality. Protestant linguist W.E. Vine (under "Come", "Came") states that it is "often translated by the verb to assemble." In fact, if we look at all the NT usages of this word, only one instance out of 32 is clearly sexual in meaning, in context (1 Corinthians 7:5 - so naturally you select that verse as your cross-reference, when there are 30 other instances which are clearly not sexual in nature (Mk 3:20, 6:33, 14:53, Lk 5:15, 23:55, Jn 11:33, 18:20, Acts 1:6,21, 2:6, 5:16, 9:39, 10:23,27,45, 11:12, 15:38, 16:13, 19:32, 21:16,22, 25:17, 28:17, 1 Cor 11:17,18,20,33,34, 14:23,26).

Dave, you shot yourself in the foot on this one. You proved my point. Word studies are only valid when the context validates the meaning. By choosing the one context that is sexual in nature, I did proper exegesis and word study analysis. You on the other had, cloud and obfuscate the issue by bringing in so many other usages of the word, but clearly do not mean that in those contexts.

Ken, Ken, Ken. What will I do with you!!!? Again, you have argued in a great big vicious circle: "In order to prove that this passage is sexual in nature, I'll choose the one other example out of 32 that is clearly sexual, so I can 'prove' what I already believe to be the case because it is so obvious for anyone to see that Mt 1:18 is a sexual context and content, and no one need argue that. Only those 'anti-sex' Catholics could miss it! By choosing the one context that was sexual in nature I confirmed what I already believed: that Mt 1:18 is also sexual, and this is proper exegesis; not reading my own preconceived bias into the passage at all."

The issue is not the word sunerchomai, but the context and how the word is used. You obviously agree that I Cor. 7:5 is sexual in nature. OK. Is not Matthew 1:18-25 also talking about lots of issues that have to do with marriage, sex, ( kept her a virgin until), etc., virginity, betrothal period, etc.

I don't see that the Virgin Birth is a "sexual" thing; rather, it is a Christological, incarnational thing. It is not sexual at all, in fact, because no one believes that the Holy Spirit literally had sex with Mary when she conceived. That would hardly be possible, since the Holy Spirit is immaterial, anyway.


Come on! This is very bad argumentation, because NOT one of these contexts you have cited is in the context of a husband and wife or betrothal or marriage. However, Matthew 1:18 -25 and I Cor. 7:5 are clearly in contexts of marriage, a man and a woman coming together, sexual issues, betrothal period, proving the virgin birth, etc. I am not basing my argumentation on the word “come together” (sunerchomai), but rather on the contexts of each, clearly in Matthew 1, Mary and Joseph is all about betrothal, virginity, before they came together, don’t be afraid to take her as your wife, “kept her a virgin”, until ( hoes hou) she gave birth to a Son”, etc. Come on, man! I did not make my case based on the word alone, but on context.

Yor method is still flawed, because you can't just find another sexual instance to prove that this instance must also be sexual. That is circular argument. But to see that the word is overwhelmingly used in a non-sexual way is support for the possibility that here, too, it might be intended non-sexually. That's much stronger than simply assuming it means one thing here that it usually doesn't mean elsewhere.

Another counter-argument is to list different translations which illustrate that the word sunerchomai here does not necessarily have a sexual connotation:

Phillips / New English Bible / REB: ". . . before their marriage . . ."

Today's English Version / Goodspeed / CEV: ". . . before they were married . . . "

Barclay: "before they became man and wife"

Jerusalem: ". . . before they came to live together . . ."

Williams: "before they had lived together"

NRSV / Beck: "before they lived together"

Neither "marriage" nor "living together" means "engaging in sexual relations." Granted, the latter usually is associated with the former, but they don't mean the same thing, which is at issue. If these translators had thought (as you do) that the latter was what the author (or context) intended or required, then clearly they wouldn't have translated as they did. But no less than eleven translations (only Jerusalem has a connection with Catholicism) render the word in this fashion: in a way which does not support your casual, rather foolishly triumphant conclusion.

Now, you may think that you know better than these Greek scholars do. For my part, I am happy to yield to their professional judgment, as shown in the very way they decided to translate the word sunerchomai in this instance. And the phrase "come together" itself does not necessarily mean sexuality (in English) either. It could, but it's not clear-cut. So there is no translation that I can find which expresses a sexual meaning beyond any reasonable or linguistic doubt.

You claim that 1 Corinthians 7:5 is a direct parallel: sex is being discussed there (I agree), so (you say) it must be here, too. But if we use the translation that the Bibles above use at Mt 1:18 over at 1 Cor 7:5, it becomes absurd; obviously, then, they think the two passages are essentially different. I'll use the RSV for the surrounding words in the passage and then add in the translations from the other versions at Mt 1:18:

Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then get married again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control.

Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then become man and wife again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control.

Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then live together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control.

I rest my case.

You are amazing that you write so much, and I commend you for the volume and all.

Thank you. It has taken me a large chunk of a day each for the four installments.

The massive amounts and time it takes to read your material is overwhelming.

You're not exactly word-challenged yourself! LOL I come home to my computer after my post was up for a day and find 70 comments, most of them yours, and considerably lengthy.

But the challenge gives me energy, as I think I remember you writing in one of your articles.

Indeed; I'm the same way. In fact, I thank you profusely for your critique (I mean that; I'm not being merely cute or sarcastic) because it was the precipitating cause for this now quite-meaty and in-depth treatment of the subject, which I had never examined in anywhere near this depth before (and likely wouldn't have, but for the challenge). It's very educational and exciting for me personally, and I hope that it provides food for thought for my Christian readers of all stripes.

None of this was meant as personal, it is all doctrinal and historical and written because I care.

Likewise.

Hegessipus clearly distinquishes between brother and cousin and since Simon, Simeon, Symon are common Jewish names, obviously Jesus has a half-brother named Simon, and a cousin named Simon, two different people.

That is not what I found, in Eusebius (in the last installment). Hegesippus makes it very clear that Symeon (or Simon) is Jesus' first cousin:

Symeon, son of the Clopas mentioned in the gospel narrative [note: Jn 19:25; perhaps Lk 24:18], was a fit person to occupy the throne of the Jerusalem see. He was, so it is said, a cousin of the Saviour, for Hegesippus tells us that Clopas was Joseph's brother.

When James the Righteous had suffered martyrdom like the Lord and for the same reason, Symeon the son of his uncle Clopas was appointed bishop. He being a cousin of the Lord, it was the universal demand that he should be the second.

. . . Mary, wife of the Clopas whose son he was" and "the son of the Lord's uncle, the aforesaid Simon son of Clopas . . .

Cross-referencing makes this the same person, not two different ones, and it is the same Simon who is twice listed as the Lord's "brother".

Just like all the different Marys and Jacobs ( James) and Johns and Judes in the NT.

Yep, there are lots of repeated names, but it's not like we have no way to make distinctions and to largely determine who is who. My Protestant references pretty much all agreed as to the identity of these four brothers, and the scenario I offered is perfectly coherent and in perfect harmony with the biblical data that we have.

Anyway, you make some good points about inferences, etc. This is where we agree that there is Doctrinal Development, the question is, what is legitimate DD and what is not legitimate. DD=Doctrinal Developement.

Yes; I have made many and elaborate arguments concerning that, as you know. It's one of my specialties, and my favorite theological topic.

I think the Protestant case is stronger -- good exegesis is staying in the parameters of language, context, historical background, grammar, Greek and Hebrew, etc.

Where have I done otherwise in my replies? I've utilized all these things and strictly Protestant reference sources. And when one does this, the Catholic case for the perpetual virginity of Mary (even utilizing mostly the Bible only - in this case with the aid of a little bit of early tradition) is shown to be, I think, much stronger than its denial.

Protestant doctrine stays within paramenters of the language and grammar and history and good exegesis, whereas RCC theology relies too much on speculation and imagination and actually adding things to the text.

Again, I appeal to our readers to judge who has been doing this in our dialogue. I've cited all kinds of references; I don't recall you using any (though you seem to be basically regurgitating polemical material you have found from Eric Svendsen and perhaps also Jason Engwer). I've done extensive cross-referencing and linguistic analysis, with the aid of the appropriate books (none Catholic). You have been speculating quite a bit, by supposing that you see sex in several places where it either isn't there at all, or not necessarily there (so there is room for doubt). I've played your game all the way on this, and have examined your arguments and found them severely wanting and not even coherent, let alone compelling or persuasive. The "RCC does this and that and hates sex and worships idols and makes Mary a goddess and it is so outrageous" card won't work with me, because I have argued on the basis of common premises (as is my habitual method). You have to argue the case from the Bible and logic with me, and I submit (with all due respect and even affection) that you are not succeeding very well in your task.

The RCC inferences are more of stretches - like the PVM, papal infallibility, sinlessness of Mary, immaculate conception, indulgences, NT priests as clergy with ex opere operato power in their words to call forth grace.

I've backed all of these things up in my papers and books with significant amounts of biblical evidences and support (though not all explicit). I've even found much biblical support for Mary Mediatrix. Indulgences are expressly biblical: right from a concrete example from St. Paul. Some doctrines, like the Assumption, are very difficult to back up with specific Scripture, yet that doctrine, like all Catholic doctrines, is not contrary to anything in Scripture. All the Assumption means is that Mary was immediately resurrected when she departed this earthly life. I don't find that implausible at all, considering who she was, and given that all the elect will one day be resurrected. All it is, is a speeding-up of that which will happen to every person who makes it to heaven by virtue of God's grace, and His grace alone.

And all the Immaculate Conception is (speaking in a certain limited "minimalistic" sense to make a point), is a return to the human race before it fell. Mary was simply made by grace that which we all could and would have been, had we not fallen. And we will all be sinless again if we enter heaven. I can scarcely imagine any sensible a priori objection to that. One may argue that it is not factual or actual, but I don't see how one can deny that God has the power to make the mother of Jesus sinless from conception by a sheer act of unmerited grace. Nor, I believe, is there any compelling a priori objection to the perpetual virginity of Mary. That being the case, instead we hear a bunch of hooey and hogwash about it supposedly being a "Gnostic" doctrine or "anti-sex" and so forth . . .

The Protestant position was around in the canonical scriptures, both Tertullian and Helvidius just happen to have their eyes opened or open on that issue, even if they were wrong on other issues.

According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (edited by James Orr, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1939, volume 1, p. 518-520, "Brethren of the Lord":

This view [denial of the PVM] is not the most ancient. It has been traced to Tertullian [c. 160-c.225], and has been more fully developed by Belvidius, an
obscure writer of the 4th century.

Two other views have been advocated with much learning and earnestness. The earlier, which seems to have been prevalent in the first three centuries and is supported by Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa and Ambrose, Epiphanius being
its chief advocate, regards these "brethren" as the children of Joseph by a former marriage, and Mary as his second wife.

. . . Another view, first propounded by Jerome when a very young man, in antagonizing Belvidius, but afterward qualified by its author, was followed by Augustine, the Roman Catholic writers generally, and carried over into Protestantism at the Reformation, and accepted, even though not urged, by Luther, Chemnitz, Bengel, etc., understands the word "brother" in the general sense of "kinsman," and interprets it here as equivalent to "cousin." According to this, these brethren were actually blood-relatives of Jesus, and not of Joseph. They were the children of Alphaeus, otherwise known as Clopas (Jn 19:25), and the sister of Mary. This Mary, in Mt 27:56, is described as "the mother of James and Joses," and in Mk 15:40, "the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome." This theory as completely developed points to the three names, James, Judas and Simon found both in the lists of the apostles and of the "brethren," and argues that it would be a remarkable coincidence if they referred to different persons, and the two sisters, both named Mary, had found the very same names for their sons.

[At the end of the article it is stated that J.B. Lightfoot, the great biblical scholar, accepted the Epiphanian view - the "brethren" as sons of Joseph from a former marriage]

It is NOT 19th Century enlightenment.

Strictly speaking, no, because all errors can usually be traced back to ancient heresies. But that is when it took hold among Protestants, along with the detrimental influence of theological liberalism and higher criticism.

Thanks again for a very stimulating and enjoyable discussion. This wraps up Round Two. If you counter-reply to my Round Two arguments, I will respond in kind and put up a third dialogue.

Dialogue on Supposed Biblical Disproofs of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Round Two, Part II (vs. Ken Temple)

See first dialogue and part one of this dialogue. Ken's words will be in green. My past words will be in brown.

*****

The early church left its first love, Jesus ( Revelation 2:4-5) and God judged the early church by removing the lampstand and allowing Islam to conquer the Middle east and North Africa. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox church ( and all the heretical sects around Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia – Monophysites, Nestorians, Arians, Gnostics, the Collyridians ( who make raisin cakes to Mary and worshipped Mary), and the RCC and Orthodox nominalism and externalisms) are responsible for neglecting the scriptures, neglecting the epistles of Paul and justification by faith alone, and substituting it with false worship, real idolatry and appearances of idolatry, externalisms, and a false view of sanctification and salvation – by emphasis on asceticism, virginity, celibacy, vows of poverty, indulgences, works of man, etc. Simon Stylitus is such a good witness ! Colossians 2:20-23 says that this “severe treatment of the body and self-made religion has the appearance of wisdom, but is of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

I cite this (even though it is off-topic) because I wanted our readers to observe the extreme bias that lies behind your exegetical arguments. I thought you believed that Catholicism was Christian? How can we be real Christians if we engage in "false worship" and "real idolatry" every Sunday at Mass, and have a "false view of sanctification and salvation" (a variation on the old charge of "denying the gospel")? That's what it always seems to come down to, doesn't it: (distressingly common) Protestant hatred and gross misunderstanding of both the Mass and Mariology, with the papacy close behind?

So what distinguishes you from the anti-Catholic, if this is what you believe, Ken? Have you moved further to the right or something? And where are you deriving your material? I don't believe you are coming up with all this on your own (though I could, of course, be wrong there, as you are a bright guy). Eric Svendsen, perchance? If you're just going to cite him, you should provide documentation, and page numbers and make direct citations, so that our readers can see that I am refuting his arguments as well as yours. :-) By the way, I'm not using any other books on Mary, etc. in my replies (though I have many in my library). The only books I have consulted thus far are Protestant linguistic references like Strong's Concordance, Englishman's Greek Concordance, etc., as well as a few citations from Calvin's Harmony of the Synoptic Gospels.

The PVM and the veneration of the saints, icons, ceremonies, and these ascetic practices of trying to “work” for one’s salvation became the dominant theme in the history of the RCC/orthodox from 400s on, started small and grew and grew into the Crusades (Wars of penance - working ones way back into God's favor, indulgences) and the indulgence controversy that got Luther’s attention.

More nice boilerplate "Reformation" polemics and rhetoric. This is textbook Catholic-bashing.

. . . this [emphases of Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome] led to bondages of the masses of people having a false gospel preached to them and keeping them ignorant of the gospel that frees men’s and women’s wills of the bondage of sin and a works orientation.

Ah! Now we're back to denying the gospel and semi-Pelagianism. Yet we're still Christian? Please clarify, since if you are an anti-Catholic now, I will stop the debate, per my policy. I think it is already crystal-clear that you are far too biased to be able to engage in an objective, open-minded discussion on this issue. It's also true that as an orthodox Catholic and indeed an apologist I will obviously have a bias towards the doctrine I seek to defend (!). I would never deny that for a second, yet nevertheless, I think there is a huge difference between hopefully fair-minded advocacy within a context of overall respect for one's opponent and his religious affiliation and theology, and axe-grinding agendas which seek to put the opposing position in the worst possible light (with the aid of all sorts of extraneous rhetoric and polemics, which further the cause of denigration).

Thus you are making this more than just a discussion of an issue which is not in ansd of itself an intrinsic cause of Catholic-Protestant division (since most Protestants agreed with us till 200 or so years ago), and are seeking to make it a springboard or cause of further division (which, heaven knows, no one needs). That's sad and unnecessary, because this is an issue (unlike something like sola Scriptura or sola fide) where a Protestant can come down on either side without abandoning the fundamental principles and theology of Protestantism in the least (so, e.g., Dr. Paul Owen accepts the doctrine, as did Luther, Calvin, Turretin, and Wesley and many other prominent Protestant theologians and exegetes).

The reason why the PVM is not true, is because the Bible says Mary was a virgin until Jesus was born.

What does her virginity till Jesus was born have to do with her state after he was born? As has been argued endlessly, Matthew 1:18,25 tell us nothing whatsoever about a supposed change in sexual practice after the birth of Jesus. The words used do not require this at all. Hence, it is yet another failed, non-compelling "disproof." You have yet to show me a compelling scriptural reason to deny the perpetual virginity. You get an E for effort, but you have no base hits at all yet, and you have struck out every time (not for lack of trying and swinging very hard!).

Another issue is that the focus on virginity and good works in sanctification became the focus of the early church, rather than expounding upon what the gospel was for people to be saved, -- by grace through faith alone.

And so we're right back to the boilerplate rhetoric which has little or nothing to do with sound exegesis and determination of what the biblical texts actually teach (tradition be damned if you must believe that, but at least give us the courtesy of some alternative exegesis and "proof" contrary to our position).

They focused on sanctification rather than justification and faith. Eventually, this focus led to a whole system that focuses on what you do for God, rather than what God has done for us at the cross in Jesus Christ.

Really? That's news to me! I'm sure St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Bernard or St. Dominic or St. Francis or St. Teresa of Avila or St. Bonaventure or Thomas a Kempis or Duns Scotus would have been quite shocked to learn of this supposed reality, too.

And by the way, it is spelled "Irenaeus," not "Ireneaus" (a before e). If I see his name misspelled one more time I think I will scream . . .

(Jason Engwer, Irenaeus on Perpetural Virginity, "Catholic but not Roman Catholic", which Dave is familiar with and has written about, but not convincing. Jason E. and E. Svendsen have much, much more evidence and logic and "common sense" on this and many other issues.

Yep, as suspected . . . I demolished Jason Engwer's arguments with regard to the Fathers' alleged belief in sola Scriptura. I've told the story many times. I started critiquing this endless series of his in this one respect, in 2002, when I was still debating anti-Catholics. He decided to issue a counter-reply, and this was a much-advertised encounter on the anti-Catholic CARM forum, which set up a board solely devoted to the Great Debate (at my request). Anti-Catholic folks longed to see me get licked in a debate once and for all: to get my "come-uppance." They hoped and prayed for it and were positively giddy in excited anticipation.

Well, reality often disappoints our fantasies. I went through ten Fathers that Jason had expounded upon, easily disposing of his contentions. Jason made his way through four of them in counter-reply and then gave up right in the middle of the "debate." He didn't do any better in our several debates on development and the papacy and the canon, either. Give him some credit, though. At least he lasted 40% of the way before high-tailing it. William Webster and David King hardly answered my critiques of them at all, and James White fled for the hills and declined to reply in a second round, after I thoroughly refuted his reply to my material concerning Moses' Seat and its implications for Christian authority. Svendsen has refused to defend his positions, too, where I am concerned, for years now, preferring to simply engage in ridiculous ad homimem attack, making me out to be the biggest idiot in the history of theology and worth no one's time for even one minute. The fool's way out . . .

But we are to believe that Jason Engwer - the king of mild-mannered anti-Catholic sophistry and special pleading (free of personal attack but also of coherence and cogency) - is a more studied, fair, and impartial, and authoritative interpreter of Scripture and the history of patristic doctrine and Catholic Tradition than Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome et al? Give me a break!

As to Carlstadt’s over-zealous actions with the mobs against the statues and idols, I cannot know for sure what I would have done, if I had lived at that time. If it causes bloody violence to people, no, that would be wrong. But if it can be done in the right spirit, such as when the Ephesians repented of magic and brought out their magic books and idols and burned them in Acts 19, then destroying idols is a good thing. It seems that the mob and Carlstadt did go overboard, as portrayed in both the 1950s version of Luther movie and the recent one. However, God did command the Israelites to smash the idols in the land of Canaan. Deuteronomy 7:5; Exodus 23:24; 34:13; Deuteronomy 12:3.

Excellent. I'll be sure not to let you into my gorgeous German Gothic Revival cathedral, where I go to church. These crazed mobs also smashed statues of Christ, which they considered "idols" as well. Some of the Calvinists would destroy organs . . . . Stained glass was considered idolatrous; that's why many Calvinist churches are dull as can be architecturally: plain white walls. We mustn't have any beauty where the things of God are concerned!

This part gets goofy logic, in my humble opinion, from you Dave. It was in a blue box.

Great! I look forward to some solid logical argumentation from you. Let's see what you can come up with, if in fact my argument was as shoddy as you claim.

"1. Ken: John couldn't possibly have meant "cousins" because he could have used anepsios instead and chose not to. Therefore, adelphos here must mean siblings." ( Dave)

Yes, that is the plain meaning of the text. It proves all the work that you and the RCC do trying to get brothers to mean cousins, is just wishful thinking, in those contexts.

But you have failed to grasp the fairly straightforward logical point here, and have not, therefore, replied to it. This is a classic example; but I will read on, hoping for a real counter-reply, rather than your usual irrelevant repetition, bald denials, mere rhetoric, etc.

"2. Yet Paul often uses brothers in a larger sense, and fails to use anepsios or sungenis in those same instances. John does the same at, e.g., John 20:17." (Dave)

This point is kind of ridiculous – where does Paul use “brothers”, but you know for sure he means, “cousins” or “relatives” ?? How do you know what he means, without proving my point? He clearly was knowledgeable of the difference by his use in Colossians 4:10 and remember, John Mark, and Barnabas, and Paul are all Jews. You did not make a very logical or even reasonable case here at all.

Remarkably, you seem to miss my entire (lengthy, involved) argument in this regard, and as usual, you don't interact with it directly (if you had, perhaps you would show some evidence that you at least understand it, which would be a start). Where to begin? First of all, I didn't claim that Paul meant in other places, "cousins" or "relatives" in particular, but rather, "brothers in a larger sense." Secondly, I used the example of sungenis because it, too, has a wide latitude of meaning (it doesn't just mean cousin, and is rather like adelphos in that respect). Thus I wrote:

Now, it is true, that sungenis and its cognate sungenia do appear in the NT 15 times (sungenia: Lk 1:61, Acts 7:3,14; sungenis: Mk 6:4, Lk 1:36,58, 2:44, 14:12, 21:16, Jn 18:26, Acts 10:24, Rom 9:3, 16:7,11,21). They are usually translated kinsmen, kinsfolk, or kindred in the KJV, and usually in a sense wider than cousin: more so referring to the entire nation of Hebrews.

Thirdly, I already provided three instances of Paul using adelphos in the sense of something other than sibling: Romans 1:13 and 9:3, and 1 Thess 1:4. The point being that, yes, Paul understood what all these words meant, yet he continued to use adelphos even in those instances which had a non-sibling application (just as I am arguing was the case in the Gospels, with Jesus' "brothers"). Your fallacious argument tries to set forth the illogical notion that if a writer knows of a more specific word and doesn't use it (i.e., anepsios or sungenis), that he must mean a more literal sense for the word that he does use (adelphos). But Paul's use of adelphos in a sense other than sibling, blows this out of the water. It's rather simple logical deduction; yet you don't seem to grasp it. I can only explain that by your prior bias. In any event, your reasoning here fails to pass logical muster.

Fourth, you try to make a big deal out of anepsios (cousin) in Colossians 4:10, yet this is the only time it appears in the NT. On the other hand, Paul uses both adelphos and sungenis, and in many senses, several times. This also mitigates against your argument: "hey, Paul (and by extension John, Matthew, etc.) knew about this word for cousin, so if and when he [they] didn't use it, he [they] must have meant siblings when they used the word adelphos." This is simply false -by both linguistic and logical criteria. Here, then, are Paul's clear uses of adelphos and sungenis and their cognates (sungenia, adelphe, adelphotes) in a sense other than "sibling".

The striking thing is that it looks like every time he uses adelphos he means it as something other than blood brother or sibling. I may have missed one or two because I am going by the concordance and not looking up everything, but it appears to be a unanimous use of the larger sense of adelphos. In fact, Paul uses the word(s) no less than 138 times in this way. Yet the liberal Protestant argument will make great hay of Galatians 1:19: ". . . James the Lord's brother." 137 other times, Paul means non-sibling, yet amazingly enough, here he must mean sibling, because, well, he uses the word adelphos!? Does that make any sense? Of course it does not (i.e., not in any terms of logical necessity, which is what we are here disputing, as opposed to possibility). Paul knew that the word encompassed relatives besides blood brothers, and that this was common usage, so he used it.

Paul's use of sungenis is even more interesting and instructive, since (I believe) it is more likely to mean cousin, but is not restricted to that definition. It is translated as cousin in Luke 1:36 and 1:58 in the KJV, but kinswoman and kinsfolk in the RSV. The latter (more distant relation) is actually the more literal and common definition and application. Thus, W.E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, lists it not only under "Cousin" but also under "Kin, Kinsfolk, Kinsman, Kinswoman." As for Paul, Vine lists his four uses of the word (Romans 9:3, 16:7,11,21), all under the meaning of "tribal or racial kinship, fellow-nationals." So here again we have a much larger meaning, and exclusive use of that wider sense by Paul.

Now here is the point. You wrote: "Matthew and Luke and Mark knew and wrote Greek. They could have used sungenis (kinsmen) or the word for cousin in Colossians 4:10 if the "brothers and sisters" were cousins. (anepsios)." Yes, it's true that they could have. But this is not as strong an argument as it may seem at first, once we understand that sungenis also has a very wide latitude (such that Paul only uses it in that wider sense of race or nationalism). That being the case, why use it, since it would be the same scenario as adelphos offers? This "they woulda used this-a-here word iff'n they meant what you are claiming" argument just falls flat all around, the more we look at it. It's illogical, and it hardly succeeds even in terms of definitions and language issues.

The same scenario applies to use of sungenis and its cognates elsewhere. In the KJV they are translated (besides Luke 1:36 and 1:58) kindred, kinsfolk, kin, kinsmen, and kinsman (Mk 6:4, Lk 1:61, 2:44, 14:12, 21:16, Jn 18:26, Acts 7:3,14, 10:24). In the RSV, likewise, we have the renderings (even including Lk 1:36,58) kin, kindred, kinswoman, kinsfolk, kinsmen, and kinsman. So it is unanimous there: not even the English "cousin" is used. Now, the meaning of kindred et al in English is clear: of common origin, extended family, relatives, including distant ones, tribe, etc. Thus, it is not even crystal clear that Elizabeth and Mary were literally cousins (which is why RSV refrained from describing them as such).

You think it is telling that sungenis isn't used to describe the brothers of Jesus. I think I have adequately explained that by Jewish culture and the wide meaning of its equivalent of our term brothers, but there is one place at least, related somewhat to our subject matter, where it is perhaps linguistically implied that these "brothers" are indeed more distant relatives. And that is Mark 6:4, where sungenis appears:

And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (cf. Jn 7:5: "For even his brothers did not believe in him")

What is the context? Let's look at the preceding verse, where the people in "his own country" (6:1) exclaimed:

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and
Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at
him.

It can plausibly be argued, then, that Jesus' reference to kin (sungenis) refers (at least in part) back to this mention of his "brothers" and "sisters" - his relatives. Since we know that sungenis means cousins or more distant relatives, that would be an indication of the status of those called Jesus' "brothers". One objection might be that Jesus also mentions "in his own house," thus suggesting siblings. But this saying also has a general application, since it referred back to the prophets' experience of rejection; therefore it doesn't necessarily apply to Jesus in all particulars. Mary and Joseph did not oppose Jesus' ministry. When Jesus said that "a man's foes will be those of his own household," this was a proverbial statement, which allows exceptions, since it is a generality.

But the reference in Mk 6:3 to these "brothers" must also be cross-referenced, as I did in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism:

By comparing Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25, we find that James and Joseph -- mentioned in Matthew 13:55 with Simon and Jude as Jesus' "brothers" -- are also called sons of Mary, wife of Clopas. This other Mary (Matthew 27:61, 28:1) is called our Lady's adelphe in John 19:25 (it isn't likely that there were two women named "Mary" in one family -- thus even this usage apparently means "cousin" or more distant relative). Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 mention Simon, Jude and "sisters" along with James and Joseph, calling all adelphoi. Since we know for sure at least James and Joseph are not Jesus' blood brothers, the most likely interpretation of Matthew 13:55 is that all these "brothers" are cousins, according to the linguistic conventions discussed above. At the very least, the term brother is not determinative in and of itself. (p. 196 in the Sophia edition)

This is pretty direct evidence that two of these "brothers" mentioned are not siblings. Jesus' reference to "kin" would be in line with this. It all works together as "cumulative evidence." Is all of this "logical" and "reasonable" - which you denied above? I'm happy, as always, to let readers make up their own minds. I think that fair-minded inquirers can see that your biblical "case" against Mary's perpetual virginity is no more compelling than the Catholic biblical and traditional rationale in favor of it. The Bible doesn't prove or require your view. It doesn't absolutely prove ours, either, but nothing in Scripture contradicts our position, and there is enough indication in favor of it, I think, to make it at least equally plausible as your view.

. . . in Matthew, Mark, and Luke parallels of the brothers of Jesus, and John 7:3-8 and 2:12-22, it is obvious that these are not “spiritual brothers” or “humanity or common interest brothers”, but because of the context of family, with real mother and father, etc.

I agree that context shows that they are relatives, not distant "kinsmen." But it doesn't prove that they are siblings.

Your point about John 20:17 does not make sense with what you are trying to prove. We know that the biblical writers sometimes use “brothers” to describe spiritual brothers. That does not prove that “brothers” means “cousins” though, especially when the context is surrounded by statements like, “Isn’t that the carpenter’s son? Isn’t Mary his mother? Aren’t His brothers James and Jude and Joses and Simon here? Are not His sisters here with us? ( Mark 6:3)

Again, you engage in circular argument (when will you learn to refrain from it?), by assuming that use of sisters and brothers proves that siblings are being referred to. I've shown again and again that adelphos doesn't require this. The cross-referencing I again gave above, from my book, shows one indisputable example where two of these named "brothers" cannot be siblings, and must be more distant relatives. That is clear evidence against your view.

All the other contexts of what you are talking about ( spiritual brothers or brothers, in the sense of “fellow human”) are not in the context of family siblings. Context is the key to good exegesis. You are grabbing all the “brothers in Christ” or “brothers as humans” contexts and reading them into the clear family contexts of mother and brothers. You kept saying I am circular and illogical and just making bald assertions, your whole paper is nothing but circular reasoning, assumptions, illogic – the very thing you accuse me of.

I submit that my reasoning above (and your lack of same, and endless repetition of things you simply assume and don't prove) ) suggests otherwise.

Where does John or Paul clearly use “brother”, where the meaning is clearly “cousin” or “relative”?? You don’t have any point at all. You are the one who is just assuming and presuming and just making bald claims with no evidence.

Is that so? Then what do you make of John 19:25, where the apostle John calls Mary, wife of Clopas, the virgin Mary's "sister" (adelphe)? Is it your belief that Mary had a blood sister named Mary? Or is this a cousin or more distant relative?

James and Joseph are called Jesus' "brothers" in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55. Yet Matthew 27:56 (cf. Mk 15:40) describes a different Mary as their mother (described as "the other Mary" in 27:61 and 28:1, and "Mary the wife of Clopas" in Jn 19:25). Now, assuming that Mary, the Mother of God didn't have a sister (sibling) named Mary, this Mary, wife of Clopas and "sister" of the Blessed Virgin Mary is at least a cousin, if not further removed.

Cousin is plausible; let's assume for the sake of argument that she is a first cousin. That would make her sons James and Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary's second cousins, and Jesus' third cousins. Yet they are called Jesus' "brothers" in two places. This is virtual proof (if not ironclad proof) of adelphos meaning "cousin". And it is based on the use of not only John, but Mark (thought to have received much of his information from Peter) and Matthew as well.

St. Paul rounds out the list by calling James "the Lord's brother" in Galatians 1:19. But this James (thought to be the author of the book of James, and the first bishop of Jerusalem) is not a sibling, but rather, His first or third cousin or even further removed, depending on how much stock is put into early historical sources. Therefore, by the deduction of cross-referencing of Holy Scripture, Paul, John, Mark, and Matthew have all used adelphos in the sense of "cousin." I think that's a bit more biblical evidence than a "bald claim" and no "point at all."

The Protestant New Bible Dictionary (1962) confirms all this (if indeed that is necessary with all that biblical data available). In its article, "Mary," the fourth entry is about Mary, wife of Clopas:

Mary the mother of James; 'the other Mary'; Mary of Clopas. It is very probable that these three names all refer to the same person. Mary the mother of James and Joses . . . (Mt. 27:55 f.) . . . Mark refers to her (15:40) as 'Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses . . .

. . . Hegesippus tells us (see Eus., EH iii 11) that Clopas (AV Cleophas) was the brother of Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary.

(p. 793)

If the latter is true, then Mary, wife of Clopas would have been the Blessed Virgin Mary's sister-in-law; married to her husband's brother. That would have made her Jesus' aunt, and thus her sons would be His first cousins, rather than third, as supposed above in the hypothetical scenario. Note the looseness of adelphos again: it is applied in Jn 19:25 to this "sister" of Mary, who is actually a sister-in-law and not blood-related at all (according to Hegesippus and Eusebius), or else a cousin (blood-related, but more distantly than a sibling).

We find more fascinating information in Eusebius, in the same passage cited above:

After the martyrdom of James and the capture of Jerusalem which instantly followed, there is a firm tradition that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord who were still alive assembled from all parts together with those who, humanly speaking, were kinsmen of the Lord - for most of them were still living. Then they all discussed together whom they should choose as a fit person to succeed James, and voted unanimously that Symeon, son of the Clopas mentioned in the gospel narrative [note: Jn 19:25; perhaps Lk 24:18], was a fit person to occupy the throne of the Jerusalem see. He was, so it is said, a cousin of the Saviour, for Hegesippus tells us that Clopas was Joseph's brother.

(The History of the Church, translated by G.A. Williamson, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965, 123-124; emphasis added)

It turns out, then, that early tradition, from the second-century historian Hegesippus (which we have no reason to doubt in its non-theological reporting of relationships) tells us that "Symeon" is also a son of Clopas. That's very interesting because we have "Simon" (another form of Symeon) listed as a "brother" of Jesus, alongside James and Joseph, in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Thus, he is another first cousin, according to this scenario, not a blood brother. That would identify three of these named "brothers" (there are only four named, total) as cousins, based on clear biblical evidence (James and Joseph) and a combination of sound early historical tradition and the Bible (Simon or Symeon). Eusebius cites Hegesippus again:

When James the Righteous had suffered martyrdom like the Lord and for the same reason, Symeon the son of his uncle Clopas was appointed bishop. He being a cousin of the Lord, it was the universal demand that he should be the second.

(p. 181 [IV, 22]; emphasis added; cf. III, 32, p. 143: ". . . Mary, wife of the Clopas whose son he was" and "the son of the Lord's uncle, the aforesaid Simon son of Clopas . . .")

That leaves only "Jude" or "Judas" of the four named "brothers." What do we know about him, from the Bible and early tradition? The New Bible Dictionary states:

The Lord's brother (Mt. 13:55 = Mk. 6:3). Perhaps the author of the Epistle of Jude . . . .

(p. 673)

Alright; so what does the same work tell us about that epistle? Two pages later, we learn the following:

The author of this little tract identifies himself as 'Jude (RV Judas), the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James'. In the early Church there was only one James who could be referred to in this way without further specification - 'James the Lord's brother' (as he is called in Gal. 1:19). This points to an identification of the author with the Judas who is numbered among the brothers of Jesus in Mt. 13:55 and Mk. 6:3 . . .


New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie concurs:

There can be no doubt that the author intended his readers to think of this James as James of Jerusalem, the Lord's brother. This would have been a very natural assumption since James of Jerusalem was well known. it is also natural to suppose that the lesser-known Jude wished to commend himself on the strength of his brother's wider reputation . . . Jude, as some of the other brothers of the Lord, engaged in itinerant preaching . . .

There seems, therefore, no reason to suppose that this Jude was other than the Lord's brother.

(New Testament Introduction, Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, revised one-volume edition, 1970, 906, 908; Guthrie believs that the epistle of James was written by this same James: "brother" [cousin] of Jesus, or at least that the author, whomever it was, wished to identify himself as this James, and that this opinion has garnered "general agreement" amongst scholars: p. 740)

Note once again how Jude identifies himself. Is it plausible to interpret "brother" here as sibling or cousin? Well, given the fact that we already have two lists of four siblings in Scripture, two of whom (including James) have been expressly identified as sons of Mary wife of Clopas, and since a third has been identified by early Church history also as a son of Clopas, and Jude is the fourth in the list, it is reasonable to assume he is this fourth brother; therefore, that he is using adelphos in its meaning of sibling here. So he would be the blood brother of James, who, as we've seen, is the cousin of Jesus, thus making Jude the same. Hence Jude describes himself as "servant" of Jesus, but James' brother.

Now, suppose that he really were Jesus' blood brother, too (as it were). In that case, he refrains from referring to himself as the Lord's own sibling (when, on this theory, such a phraseology occurs several times in the NT, referring to sibling relationship) and chooses instead to identify himself as James' brother (when James isn't even the oldest, let alone God incarnate). This is too strange to adopt, so we are left with my first scenario, and all four named "brothers of Jesus" have been explained quite plausibly and solidly, as Jesus' first cousins and each others' siblings: sons of "the other" Mary and Clopas (Joseph's brother). James also refrains from calling himself Jesus' brother, in his epistle (James 1:1).

Despite all this that can be found without too much trouble, mostly from Scripture itself or rock-solid early historical sources, you conclude:

Dave, I am surprised at this “box”! It is just “goofy”. You didn’t prove anything. Since Paul and Luke clearly knew Greek words for cousin and relative and your whole PVM doctrine is based mostly on the Hebrew/Aramaic language lack of word for cousin and relative, it is your argument that fails. The NT is written in Greek, and only Luke is a Greek/Roman/non-Jew/Gentile.

Here again we have your annoying, exasperating tendency of breezy dismissal without argument or proper counter-response, and almost a total refusal to deal and interact with my arguments themselves, as I present them (whereas I am systematically responding to yours, spending many hours replying). I think readers can readily observe who has actually done the work and exegeted the relevant texts, and at least thrown out something of significant substance to ponder. Whatever you think of the above argumentation and what came before, I think it is clearly more than just "goofy." And I believe that fair-minded readers will realize that, too, and give this opinion a second thought if they don't presently hold it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dialogue on Supposed Biblical Disproofs of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary: Round Two, Part I (vs. Ken Temple)

See the first dialogue. Ken's words will be in green. My older words will be in brown.

*****

Thanks for putting up most of that discussion. I appreciate the interaction and you are forcing me to study it deeper.

You're welcome; likewise.

I have now a 12 page response, but you may accuse me of just repeating myself.

If you do, I will! :-)

Your whole paper seemed to me to just dismiss my argumentation, or assume your own position, or use circular reasoning also; the very thing you accused me of many times throughout.

Then I eagerly look forward to your demonstration of this charge, if it is true. I deny it, of course, just as you have denied my frequent charge.

I will try to answer some of your assertions. I am not trying to be difficult, or “mean”, it’s just an honest opinion.

Great; thanks! This is fun, and, I trust, educational for all parties reading. I know I'm learning a lot (as always) by delving more deeply into Scripture. I enjoy few things more.

If the RCC uses that passage [Revelation 12] for Mary, then the fact that she had pain in childbirth shows that she had a very normal human, “what every other woman goes through”- kind- of -a birth.

If in fact, that clause is properly interpreted literally. If it is not, then your argument is a non sequitur. You're again assuming what you need to establish (that the clause about childbirth is both literally about Mary and literally describing the pain of childbirth).

Jesus did not just go through her like He walked through the door or walls in the upper room in His resurrection body.

She was really pregnant. Jesus was in her womb. But we believe that the birth was also a miracle, different from the usual physical childbirth, just as His conception was.

The RCC position on the PVM is Gnostic.

I don't see why. You like to freely throw out these extraordinary charges, don't you? So she remained a virgin her whole life . . . how is that "Gnostic"? Skeptics could just as well say (with this kind of "reasoning") that the Virgin Birth, too, is "Gnostic" because Jesus' conception didn't come about in the usual manner.

The idea that she was a virgin before the birth of Jesus is Biblical and truth. But during birth is Gnostic and after birth of Jesus is also Gnostic.

I don't have the slightest idea how you arrive at that conclusion (perhaps you can inform all of us in due course). This seems to me to be the same old fallacy that it is impossible to imagine that anyone could be both married and celibate: even in the most extraordinary circumstances and motherhood in the history of the world. I believe that I blew that out of the water by showing how Jesus sanctioned not only celibacy, but a lengthy separation from wives and families. The notion is quite thinkable, and quite in line with the range of biblical thought and practice. It's unusual, granted, but so was the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, etc. We should expect very unusual circumstances when it comes to God taking on flesh and becoming man.

I do honestly think that Matthew 1:18 and 1:25 with Luke 1:27, 34-35 and all the other passages about Jesus’ “brothers” and sisters ( Mark 6:3) are all much clearer than all your argumentation.

I trust that this is not your entire dismissal of my argument (i.e., a summary of what you hope to rationally demonstrate), and that you will actually give us some reasoning for why you believe this.

Psalm 69:8 would be clearer if it was directly quoted, but it seems clear enough, given how John uses it in the contexts in his gospel in John 2:12-17, 7:3-8, and 15:25 about the world hating Him, contrasting the rejection of His brothers with the faith of the disciples and drawing parallels from David’s persecutors.

Again, it is not compelling because it is entirely possible for that portion to not be about Jesus, but about David, as you yourself have granted in terms of the overall Psalm.

What is especially poignant is that at the cross at John 19:26-28, and that His thirst and them giving Him gall is an allusion to Psalm 69:21 and that John 19 says, “in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled”; and the “hatred” ( John 15:25) ( unbelief of the brothers in 7:5) and estrangement of his Mother’s sons, and therefore, He commits His mother to the care of a non-sibling, John, a spiritual brother.

I agree that some parts of Psalm 69 are messianic prophecies; I've used them myself.

Gravatar Furthermore, the evangelical position on James and Jude being the half-brothers of Jesus and therefore, sons of Mary, is an added apologetic for the resurrection of Christ. One of the big criticisms of the resurrection by skeptics and unbelievers is that Jesus only appeared to his disciples and those that already believed in Him. No, because I Cor. 15:7 and other passages, and the fact that James and Jude wrote two letters that became Scripture, are more positive proof that Jesus appeared to some of His “enemies”, including Saul of Tarsus. Jesus’ brothers became believers only after the resurrection, as they had rejected Him during his life, thinking He was crazy, and they rejected Him and were not even there at the cross. “I looked for sympathy, but there was none, And for comforters, but found none.” ( Psalm 69:20)

I don't see how any of this proves that they were siblings of Jesus. Remember, I am only attempting to shoot down your alleged proof texts for your position. I freely grant that the biblical case for Mary's perpetual virginity is not compelling, but that, on the other hand, nothing in the Bible is contrary to this belief, and nothing (I have yet seen) requires the contrary position. This is one such instance of that. You have simply assumed that they are blood brothers because the word brother (adelphos) is used. But as we have seen, that can't be determinative in and of itself, because the range of meanings for adelphos is too wide.

Now if this (so far) is indicative of how you will be arguing in the second round, indeed it has been simple repetition with only minimal additional information, not a rational defense of positions I have already critiqued, or a proper examination of your assumed and/or circular premises and conclusions. I hope that your subsequent replies will be of a more substantive nature.

By “clear and perspicuous”, I mean of course, Matthew 1:18, 25 and Luke chapters 1-2 and Matthew 12 with the parallels. Psalm 69:8 would be clearer if it was directly quoted in the NT, but I did not say that it was as clear as the others. John could be alluding to Psalm 68:8 in John 7:3-5, "For not even His brothers were believing in Him". Since John is also the one to whom Jesus commits His mother to care for, this is significant. John’s use of Psalm 69 in chapter 2, and chapters 7 and 15, and 19, along with all the other Messianic content in Psalm 69, this could be John's way of pointing out or alluding to Psalm 69:8.

More needless repetition, that doesn't advance the discussion along.

You left out some of the other Messianic references to Jesus in Psalm 69, that I referred to.

Psalm 69:4 is quoted in John 15:25
Psalm 69:9a is quoted in John 2:17 ( context, in verse 12, he distinguishes between brothers and disciples.)
Psalm 69:9b is quoted in Romans 15:3
Psalm 69:21 is quoted or alluded to in Mathew 27:34, 48, Mark 15:23, 36; and Luke 23:36, and John 19:28-30.
Psalm 69:25 is about Judas, and quoted in Acts 1:20. One of the “enemies”, who hates Him.


I don't dispute any of that. But it doesn't prove that the one part is necessarily referring to Jesus! Why is this so hard to understand? I'm merely applying the principle that you yourself established, by asserting that there was a verse about the sinfulness of David that clearly didn't apply to Jesus. Double application is very common in messianic prophecies. We needn't argue about that. You can repeat all you want, but if you don't establish your premise or disprove my objection (altogether reasonable in this instance, I think), then you have accomplished nothing, and veer close to sophistry.

Thanks for pointing out Psalm 69:29 and that Jesus did not need salvation from sin. That's good, and I would agree with you if David, the writer, is referring to "salvation from sin". But in the context, he could be referring to "salvation from the affliction and pain: "But I am afflicted and in pain; May Thy salvation, O God, set me securely on high."

I agree, since "salvation" is more often used in that sense in the OT, and then it is used allegorically later in the NT in a soteriological sense. But we should be reluctant to apply such a term to Jesus at all, precisely because it often has that dual connotation in Scripture. If it ever is applied to Jesus in the New Testament, I'd be interested in seeing it.

Anyway, obviously, since there are clear verses that Jesus was sinless and did not need salvation from sin, this is a moot point. ( John 5, 8, 10, 2 Cor. 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, I Peter 2:22-23) Could be in the same vain as “may this cup of suffering pass from Me, but not My will, but Thy will be done.” ( Luke 22:42)

Yes; that's possible, but I don't think so here, per the above.

I wish that you and the RCC would treat Mary’s clear statement “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” ( Luke 1:46-47) with the same seriousness- that she was a sinner and needed salvation from her sins.

We absolutely do; that's why we believe that she was saved from her would-be inevitable sin by her Immaculate Conception, just as one is saved from falling in a pit by being taken away from ever encountering it, just as much as he or she is saved from it by falling in and then being pulled out of it. A man is saved from drowning in storm-tossed waves if he puts his lifejacket on in the ship, just as much as he would be if he fell over and then had it tossed to him. Prevention thus serves the same capacity as rescue. The end result is the same. In Mary's case the end result is salvation, just as it is for any other elect. She had just as much need for God's grace as everyone else. In fact, the Immaculate Conception would be pointless if not for the fact that original sin made it necessary if Mary were to be freed from same. You can't free someone from something that doesn't threaten them.

Where is your evidence that the other apostles were lifelong celibates? Jesus, yes, John the Baptist, maybe, OK, (but is there clear evidence of this? Where?) but I Corinthians 9:5 says “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?” The phrase, “even as the rest of the apostles” clearly indicates that they were all married. So only Jesus, maybe John the Baptist are candidates for this life-long celibacy. As I mentioned before, Paul may have been married and the verse you point out in Luke 18:29 about a man leaving his wife for the sake of the kingdom, may be an example of what happened to Paul. Luke 14:26 also says whoever does not “hate” his own father and mother and wife and children . . . etc. even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. It could be that Paul’s conversion caused him to put Jesus first, and his wife rejected him for that. By putting Jesus first, the wife complained, “you have left me” or “you are too busy with all this ministry”, and she left him, not being able to handle the situation. That is probably why Paul’s emphasis in I Corinthians 7 is mostly on an unbelieving wife who leaves because of the man’s love and devotion to Christ.

I probably overstated that, and would need to research the matter further. I have two books about the twelve disciples, and neither has "marriage" or "celibacy" or suchlike in their index, so it would be time-consuming to try to find something quickly.

In any event, they became celibate like Jesus insofar as the married ones among them (however many) left their wives and families in order to commit themselves to evangelization, etc. That point of mine will stand no matter how many of the disciples were married, because the analogy was to marital chastity (remember, this is about Mary's perpetual virginity). I countered the objection to that by pointing out how Jesus sanctioned marital separation (which went even beyond voluntary married chastity). Even if temporary, this also is an exception to your scenario from 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul talked about husbands and wives separating for a short time and then becoming sexually active again. Don't forget the context in which I made my original argument . . .

I don’t think Jesus is saying to irresponsibly “leave your wife” for good. You almost sounded like you were saying that, until I read it more closely and saw the words, “for a time” The disciples temporarily left their homes and jobs to follow Jesus, but they returned periodically to fish and visit their families and earn a living.

I don't rule it out. Again, I think it would be an interesting thing to study further, to find out exactly what the scholarly consensus on that is. But I reiterate that my analogy is not defeated because they were separating for significant times. This was a great sacrifice for the married among them (even arguably greater than for one who never married). All of these considerations make the marital chastity of Mary and Joseph quite "biblical" and not all that different from what we have here, explicitly stated. The details are less important than the fact that this is present at all. If the charge is that the Catholic Church is "anti-sex" because it is unthinkable that a married couple could abstain for very long periods, then the same charge must be made about Jesus Himself. And I am always proud to be on the same side of an issue as my Glorious Lord and Savior Jesus! But you seem to miss all this (the major point and force of my analogy), in your rush to dispute secondary particulars.

Jesus is saying He must come first and our devotion must be to Him first. He is not saying that Peter left his wife for good, nor any of the other disciples; that would contradict so much of the other Bible, for us to love our wives as Christ loved the Church ( Ephesians 5:25), and for a man aspiring to be an elder to be “above reproach” and be good managers of his family. ( I Timothy 3, Titus 1)

You act as if Jesus was urging them to sin! This would be a voluntary sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. It was extraordinary circumstances. No one is saying that it was or should be normative. Obviously not.

So there is no problem with this concept in evangelical circles. Ministers and missionaries sacrifice a lot for ministry. And some have to do some work on a short term basis. So you don't really have a good point here at all.

I certainly do, as reierated above, and you have not overcome it. You're the one claiming that marital chastity is both unbiblical and unthinkable. The larger milieu in which these charges are made is the ridiculous old saw about the Catholic Church somehow being opposed to sexuality and marriage. If we are (in the sense claimed), then so is Jesus, etc. These charges seem to me to be insufficiently acquainted with relevant biblical motifs (1 Corinthians 7, Matthew 19, this business of disciples leaving their wives for ministry's sake), upon which we have based our beliefs in this regard. So once again we show ourselves significantly more "biblical" or "Bible-honoring" than Protestants. This is the theme of my own ministry. :-)

Gravatar Since Scripture is truth, and Scripture says she had other children; that is why we honor her more, by believing the truth. She was not a perpetual virgin, as Matthew 1:18 and 25 clearly show.

No it doesn't! It can't be proven by adelphos alone. How many times must we say this? And other deductive arguments also suggest that there were no siblings. Nor do Matthew 1:18 and 25 show ("clearly" or otherwise) that Mary became sexually active after Jesus' birth, whether she had additional children or not (based not on dogma but on the linguistics involved, and cross-referencing). This is not merely "arbitrary Catholic opinion"; it was the orthodox position of almost all Protestants, too, until the 19th century, higher criticism and theological liberalism broke it down.

You made the comment somewhere that the Perpetual virginity doctrine protects the virgin Birth of Christ. How?

I gave my speculations in the first dialogue. Go read that. This is long enough.

The danger of this doctrine is not it by itself, but the implications that it gave toward marriage with its Gnostic leanings . . .

This is ridiculous and ludicrous. Just because someone (Gnostics or anyone else) takes an instance of consecrated virginity and turns it into some stupid, God-dishonoring, human-debasing, anti-procreation, anti-sexual extreme does not prove that the thing thereby distorted is itself "dangerous." You even admit this yourself in your first clause above. Yet you would have us believe that even though a thing is good "by itself", it ought to be condemned and denied at least in part because of how others distort, twist, and warp it for their own nefarious ends. If that were true, then we ought to throw out all of Christianity, since every part of it has been distorted by some weird cult that both you and I would equally condemn. What's true is true, and we don't decide truth by how some folks butcher and twist it.

. . . and then the taking off and running with this to produce all of the other emphasis on Mary that takes glory and honor away from Jesus Christ and the Triune God.

So you take a flat-out fallacy that even you only half-believe, and "run with" that to enter into the usual garden-variety contra-Catholic polemics about Mariolatry and all the other tripe (which is itself based on ignorance of what we teach about Mary, and practice). Not impressive. All this suggests to me is that your own overwhelming bias against the Mariology of the Catholic Church is profoundly coloring what you write and argue, when critiquing our beliefs in that regard.

So it seems that you can't accept the perpetual virginity of Mary, not only because of your opinion that it lacks sufficient biblical support or even indication but first and foremost because, well, it is, after all, "Gnostic" and leads to gross idolatry and the denigration of Jesus Christ! Obviously, then, no self-respecting Christian can accept such a hideous doctrine if it inevitably ends up in all that mess! And so anything I argue from Bible, linguistics, and reason alike is utterly futile. Thanks for at least being quite open and transparent about it.

Roman Catholic statuary, bowing, kissing, honoring, and praying to a statue and emphasis on Mary and praising her is an affront to God.

I see. Are you sure?

Mary is most always pictured as bigger and more central.

Is that so? I must have missed it in my fifteen years as a Catholic.

The church in the late 300s and onwards sowed those seeds that produced the other doctrines and dogmas that eclipse the unseen, Triune God.

How sad, huh? It would have been easy enough to include Mary in the Godhead, since the Church was working through theology proper and Christology in those same years. Somehow it didn't happen. I wonder why that is?

I have no problem with a manger scene at Christmas time, . . .

You should, because if (as you claim) a statue is an idol, so is this. What does size have to do with it? An idol is an idol, even if someone looks at it in a microscope. An idol can also be a non-physical thing.

. . . but the ongoing all the time emphasis on Mary in the RCC contexts honestly does seem to take away from Christ.

Now you thankfully qualify a bit. Above you were quite sure that it did this; no question about it. Which is your actual opinion?

Dave, you write that all I do is to make bald assertions; but that is all you seem to have done also.

How so?

Here Luther indicts himself, for it is just wrong to claim that “Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.” John Mark is a Jew (Colossians 4:10), Barnabas is a Jew (Acts 4:36), yet Colossians 4:10 clearly calls John Mark, “Barnabas’ cousin” (anepsios). Elizabeth and Mary are Jews and Elizabeth is called “relative” (suggenes or sun-genes).

That's right, but it doesn't rule out using "brother" also for the same people, so this proves nothing for your case, as has been shown at much greater length already.

“John 7:3-5 is simply another instance of the same thing. It is no proof. As for the cross-reference to Psalm 69:8, you yourself provide the disproof of your own alleged "disproof", so as to save me the trouble:”

Since John is the one who is quoting and alluding to Psalm 69 so much: ( John 2:17, John 15:25, John 19:28-29), and the context of John 7:3-5 is about his brothers not believing in Him, and then in verses 6-8, it becomes even more clear that John is saying that Psalm 69:8 is about Mary’s others sons. John 7:6, “Jesus therefore said to them, “My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune.” John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but it hates me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” Because verse 3 in the same context says, “His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing.” – here is a clear distinction between Jesus’ brothers and Jesus’ disciples. He contrasts between the faith and love of the disciples and the hatred and unbelief of the world. He does the same thing in John 15:25, another quote from Psalm 69. “They hated Me without a cause”. Now the context of the cross and the giving of Mary to John to care of her becomes even more important and more clear that Mary had other children. And then in John 19:27-28, where Jesus says, “Behold, your mother!”, Jesus is clearly connected her with Psalm 69, because his real brothers have disowned Him and been estranged from Him and rejected Him, and hated Him, so therefore, He commits His mother to John. In verse 28 of John 19, the Scripture says, “. . . in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty”. Psalm 69:21 – with Matthew 27:34, 48, Mark 15:23, 36, and Luke 23:36.

Ah, now here is a decent exegetical counter-argument; something with substance and meat, that I can sink my teeth into. Thank you. One thing occurs to me, however. Now you are making an argument from inference and deduction: an indirect and implicit proof rather than a direct one - the very thing that you chide us for doing. Why is that okay for you but not for us? John doesn't cite entire Psalms, but rather, portions of them. So he cites bits and pieces of Psalm 69 here and there, as it was rather well-known, I think, as a messianic prophecy. As you note, at least three times he cites this Psalm as related to events which are the fulfillment of something written there, by King David. So we know that John does this. It is indisputable.

Why, then, doesn't he go ahead and cite Ps 69:8 right in the immediate context of John 7:5, where he mentions Jesus' brothers, and be done with it? If he had done that, and had made this disbelief by Jesus' relatives a fulfillment of the "mother's sons" of the Psalm, then we wouldn't be having this argument at all. That would be clear-cut, undeniable, unarguable, and compelling. But he doesn't do that; there is no such "slam-dunk" passage in the NT, and you are forced to argue from speculation, just as I am doing. Yet when you do it, you see this as "clear" proof. When I do it, I am being your usual "unbiblical" Catholic who supposedly can't give biblical proofs for distinctive doctrines. Very interesting. On the same basis upon which you reject my indirect proofs, I can reject yours and regard them as every bit as non-proof, non-compelling as you regard my deductive exegetical arguments.