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What does the Bible really say about Mary, the Mother of the Messiah?

“Keep looking at the New Testament in isolation, and you’ll never understand who Mary really is,” says Dr. Brant Pitre, author of Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary. “Start looking at Mary through ancient Jewish eyes, and everything becomes clear.”

Dr. Brant Pitre is Distinguished Research Professor of Scripture at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. He earned his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, specializing in the study of the New Testament and ancient Judaism. The author of several acclaimed books for both popular and academic readers, his latest is Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah (Image Books, 2018). This book details the biblical foundations for devotion to Mary, beginning with Genesis and concluding with the Book of Revelation, showing how both the Old and New Testaments reveal Mary as the New Eve, the Mother the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and the new Ark of the Covenant.

Dr. Pitre recently spoke with Catholic World Report about his new book, and the importance of a deep understanding of Our Blessed Mother.

CWR: How did the book come about? Was there a specific event that sparked the idea of writing the book?

Brant Pitre: This book arose out of many years of encountering Christians (both Catholic and non-Catholic) who genuinely struggle with Catholic beliefs about Mary’s immaculate conception, sinlessness, bodily assumption into heaven, and perpetual virginity.

In particular, the book was sparked by a conversation with a dear Protestant friend of mine who had begun attending the Catholic Church but was sincerely perplexed by the Catholic practice of asking for Mary’s prayers. I’ll never forget what he said: “It just feels like idolatry to me… Could you recommend a book on Mary in Scripture that explains why Catholics believe what they do?” Of course, there are countless books on Mary. But most of them are written by Catholics for Catholics.

So I approached my publisher with the idea of a book on Mary for anyone—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, non-religious—who had ever wondered about what the Bible really teaches about her. That’s how Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary came to be.

CWR: The title obviously references your previous book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. How did that book influence this one?

Pitre: In Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, I tried to show how the key to unlocking the mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist can be found by looking at three ancient Jewish hopes for the future: the New Passover, the New Manna of the Messiah, and the mysterious Bread of the Presence.

In this book, I take a similar approach to looking at the New Testament in the light of the Old Testament and ancient Jewish tradition, but I apply it to Mary. As I try to show, the key to understanding Mary’s immaculate conception, bodily assumption, and veneration can be discovered by seeing her through first-century Jewish eyes as the New Eve, the New Ark of the Covenant, and the New Queen Mother of the Kingdom of God. In addition, the book explores the controversial doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity and the “brothers of Jesus” mentioned in the Gospels.

CWR: Why is it important to know about and understand the Jewish roots of Mary, and of the Eucharist, and of other aspects of our faith?

Pitre: Because all of the first Christians were Jews. Joseph was Jewish, Mary was Jewish, Jesus was Jewish. All Twelve apostles were Jewish. If you really want to understand Jesus and the New Testament, you’ve got to understand the historical context in which Christianity was born. And that context was first-century Judaism.

Judaism is especially important for understanding Mary. While I was doing research for this book, I kept noticing that that every book on Mary that rejected Catholic beliefs as unbiblical invariably ignored the Old Testament background of what the New Testament says about Mary. Gradually, it dawned on me that the reason so many people can’t see how biblical Catholic beliefs about Mary really are is because they are only looking at what the New Testament says about her, and ignoring the prefigurations of Mary in the Old Testament.

Keep looking at the New Testament in isolation, and you’ll never understand who Mary really is. Start looking at Mary through ancient Jewish eyes, and everything becomes clear.

CWR: In the course of writing the book, was there anything you learned or discovered that you hadn’t realized before? Especially anything that changed or developed your views on Mary or your relationship with her?

Pitre: I learned more writing this book than anything else I have ever written!

For one thing, until I started researching this book, I had no idea just how much evidence there was for the perpetual virginity of Mary. Many Christians just assume without question that Mary had other children. As I show in the book, however, the Gospels themselves tell you that James and Simon—the so-called “brothers” of Jesus—were the children of another woman named Mary and her husband Clopas, who was Jesus’ uncle (Mark 6:3-4; 15:37-41; John 19:25-27). Also, I discovered that two of Jesus’ “brothers”—James and Simon—went on to become the bishops of Jerusalem, and were widely known by ancient Christian historians to have been his “cousins” (Eusebius, Church History, 3.11.1-2; 4.22). Couple this with some often-overlooked evidence for vows of sexual abstinence being taken by ancient Jewish women—even within marriage (Numbers 30)—and you end up with a powerful explanation for why ancient Christians everywhere believed that Mary remained a virgin her whole life long.

Perhaps the newest discovery for me was the evidence for Mary’s identity as the New Rachel. In the Old Testament, Rachel was the wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. In Jewish tradition, Rachel was seen as the sorrowful mother of Israel, whose prayers of intercession were regarded as extremely powerful. To this day, you can visit Rachel’s tomb in the Holy Land, and there is a Jewish custom of asking Rachel for her intercession.

As I show in the book, the New Testament draws a number of striking parallels between Mary, Jesus, and John (the Beloved Disciple) and Rachel, Joseph, and Benjamin in the Old Testament. In fact, one explanation for why John refers to himself “the Beloved Disciple” is because in the Old Testament Benjamin was called “Beloved” (Deut 33:12). In other words, John is the “Beloved Disciple” because like Joseph and Benjamin, John and Jesus have the same mother. But I don’t want to give too much away—you’ll have to read the book!

CWR: Is it important to have a personal relationship with Our Blessed Mother?

Pitre: Jesus apparently thought so. While hanging on the cross, his last words to the Beloved Disciple were: “Behold your mother!” (John 19:27). On one level, Jesus was giving Mary to John to be his mother. But as I show in the book, in the Gospel of John, there is a deeper level of meaning to this action. If the Beloved Disciple represents every disciple, then Jesus is also giving Mary to all who believe in him—all his “beloved disciples.” That may explain why in the Apocalypse of John, the mother of the Messiah is depicted as the mother of all those who “bear witness to Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). If Revelation is right, then Mary is the mother of all Christians—not just Catholics.

CWR: How does understanding Mary bring us closer to Jesus?

Pitre: Because everything the Catholic Church believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Jesus.

Once you start to see Mary as the New Eve, it does not take anything away from Jesus; it helps you to understand that Jesus is the New Adam, who comes into the world not just to atone for sin, but to “make all things new” in a new creation.

Once you start to see Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant, you begin to see that Jesus isn’t just the Messiah, but the new Bread of Life, who has come down from heaven and was hidden inside the Ark of Mary’s body—the dwelling place of God on earth.

Once you begin to realize that Mary is the new Queen Mother, it doesn’t take a single shred of glory away from Jesus the King. Instead, the ancient Christian practices of honoring Mary with royal titles and asking for her intercession make perfect sense. For in the Old Testament, the queen wasn’t the king’s wife, but his mother.

CWR: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

Pitre: Based on my experience, there are lots of people out there who have thought about becoming Catholic but who have real difficulty with Catholic practices and beliefs about Mary.

At the very least, I hope that Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary will help readers understand why Catholics believe what we do about Mary. Even more, I hope that the book would help readers to hear Jesus words on the cross as addressed to them: “Behold, your mother!” (John 19:27).

CWR: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Pitre: I would just like to say that if readers out there know anyone—anyone at all—who has ever expressed doubt, concerns, questions, or objections to Catholic beliefs about Mary, to consider buying this book, reading it, and then sharing it with a friend of family member. There are lots of books about Mary out there written by Catholics for Catholics. This book is written for anyone who has ever wondered: What does the Bible really teach about Mary?

(Editor’s note: This interview was originally posted on the CWR site on March 2, 2019.)


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About Paul Senz 113 Articles
Paul Senz has an undergraduate degree from the University of Portland in music and theology and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the same university. He has contributed to Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, The Priest Magazine, National Catholic Register, Catholic Herald, and other outlets. Paul lives in Elk City, OK, with his wife and their four children.

60 Comments

  1. I once had the good fortune to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Providentially, at the time there was a display consisting of various artifacts from very early Christianity. There were ancient liturgical utensils, like chalices and censers, and works of art of various kinds.

    Two things struck me. One was that it was obvious that Christianity from its infancy and at its core, had a Eucharistic liturgy. I couldn’t help but wonder what effect this display had on Christians from denominations that don’t have a Eucharistic liturgy as the heart of their worship services, when it was made so obvious that Christianity began that way.

    The other striking thing was that references to Mary, through symbol and image, were all over these artifacts. It was obvious that Mary was revered, venerated and loved in the Early Church. I also wondered what effect that had on the Protestants who had seen the display.

    Dr. Pitre is right. Those who saw Mary “through first-century Jewish eyes” must have understood and eventually passed on to their gentile brethren what the Catechism now puts this way:

    967 By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “preeminent and … wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” (typus) of the Church.

  2. The phenomenon (an inadequate term) and the mystery of Mary shows us that the infinite God loves his creation boundlessly. He cannot-not fully enter His own creation. Above the world, and yet pervading the world. Finally, a freeing invitation and a simple “fiat”.

    Using our often-misleading spatial imaginations—Mary contains the universal Christ even as Christ contains the entire universe; He sustains His creation while Mary sustains Him. A marriage made in heaven, within the Holy Spirit and with Mary, the nuptial Christ and his eucharistic Church.

  3. I cannot understand why a scholar such as Paul can get his exegesis so wrong. He must have been looking at the Bible using denominational glasses.The danger in using denominational glasses is that you get scriptures out of context. You base scriptures on one verse rather than a whole passage or on perceived customs etc. This is so easy to do. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.Now it did not say all except Mary. She was blessed but not sinless.
    In Luke 8:19 ¶ Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.
    Luke 8:20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
    Luke 8:21 ¶ He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”It did not say your cousins are waiting to see you?
    Praying to Mary is Idolatory ! There is only one mediator between God and man.1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
    Paul would do well to read the homily by Archbishop Mueller on the need to maintain sound Biblical doctrine and the dangers of Relativism. Catholicism has made too much of Mary.. but on the other hand Protestantism has made too little of Mary possibly caused by excesses of the Church.

    • “I cannot understand why a scholar such as Paul can get his exegesis so wrong. He must have been looking at the Bible using denominational glasses.”

      Unlike you, who are always unbiased and above the fray, and who are able to judge whether “Paul” (I assume you actually mean Brant Pitre, who is the subject of this article)gets his exigesis right or wrong — ummm, why, exactly? By what authority do you claim to be the one to decide?

      • When Eddy mentions “Paul,” he meant Saint Paul. He was referring to Romans 3:23. “All have sinned.” That’s a common objection Protestants have against the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Catholics have that statement in the Bible as well but understand that it does not contradict the dogma. Protestants just don’t understand the Bible, that’s all.

        • …”Protestants just don’t understand the Bible, that’s all.”

          Or, rather, they have no means for reconciling apparent contradictions; i.e. an underdeveloped capacity for Holy Mystery.

        • Perhaps you refer to these verses?

          Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

          Luke 1:47 And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

          1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

          Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

          Blessings

      • Dear Ramjet:

        My response to you, it somehow ended up in carl Olson’s mail box??? Let me try again.

        It is not how I define it, rather it is how God makes sense of the matter.

        To ascribe sin to Jesus is not the Christian way. Instead, He is the propitiation for our sin. Born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit, our faith in Him is the alleviation from our sin. How do you read the following verses?

        1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

        Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

        2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

        Isaiah 1:18 “ Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

        Colossians 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

        Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

        What part of Scripture says otherwise?

        God bless you,

        Brian

    • We pray not to Mary (or Saints) but through saints! The meaning on Immaculata of Mary check in a Th.Dictionary,for ex.K.Rahner or probably any new one. Theological statements have a meaning only if properly understood as in science when you use terms and symbols to express some truth not seen directly by senses(eyes).

      • Dear Krzyszof:

        The sense of spiritual discernment is vital. The natural senses that God gives us are also a great blessings.

        The question we need to ask ourselves is do we need to pray through the saints and Mary? As always, the words of Jesus clarify our position with Him and how He advises us to pray.

        Matthew 6:9-13 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

        Hebrews 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

        James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

        Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

        Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

        Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

        Matthew 6:7-8 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

        Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

        God has considerably more to say on the subject. When we are in Christ He calls us brother and tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace.

        God bless you,

        Brian

    • Paul is not enumerating mediators here. He’s not trying to tell us how many mediators there might be. He’s saying that Christians and non-Christians have one and the same mediator in Christ Jesus. Which is why it makes sense for Christians to pray for non-Christians. We should always pay attention to the context in which words are written or spoken. Context is everything in exegesis.

    • Pul, have you not noticed how many times St. Paul in writing his letters to the Christian communities of that time, begins with, “”brothers and sisters” we all know even to this day, that cultures who do that are not claiming these people as actual siblings. So many stumble on that. Bretheran has a much wider meaning. And how would a person be “full of grace” as the angel said, if she were still in original sin and graceless from sanctifying grace? She was free of sin and was destined for a special job. These things are simple and understandable in truth.

    • If willful ignorance – a hallmark of linguistic literalists – was a capital offense, you’d be sitting on death row, Eddy.

    • Eddy, The Catholic Church is not a denomination. The word denomination implies it “divided” from something original. That ORIGINAL is the Catholic Church which ALL “denominations” come from. You are not understanding the Church’s teaching of Mary and, for that matter, the saints, to which we also pray. This misunderstanding is common among Protestants, and especially those attempting to enter the Church. There are many books and articles on this subject.
      Concerning the interpretation of Bible verses, one must take the Bible in it’s ENTIRETY and not base an opinion on just a few verses. Don’t forget the Bible itself says we are to believe both the written word AND tradition. In this I speak of the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Recall that for 1,400 years there was ONLY the Catholic Church, until Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Thanks!

    • Maybe you ought to read the book…?
      Your comment also seems to have been written with “denominational glasses”, based on your own criteria; Mr Senz didn’t say anything contrary to what Church teaching has been since the early years. I’m not sure where the accusation of relativism comes from.
      Luke 8:19-21, besides being an example of there not being a word for “cousin” as we understand it in the language it was originally written in, is evidence of Mary being mother to all, otherwise they and we couldn’t claim to be brethren of Christ. If Mary hadn’t taken a vow of virginity to God, why would she have asked how she could conceive Christ?
      What is “full of grace”–or even “favored”–if not sinless? The Church does NOT teach that Mary was sinless by her own power, simply that she was. She was addressed as such by the angel BEFORE she agreed to be the mother of Christ. Being outside of and having control over time, could God have not given her the full benefit of the grace of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection before they happened in time?
      I think it was St Louis de Montfort or Archbishop Sheen who said that we can never love Mary as much as Jesus does. Personally, I wouldn’t want to tell Jesus to His Face that His Mother isn’t all that important. She purifies everything we say and do and gives it to Christ, nothing is kept for herself. What king would pay much attention to a peasant who dismissed his mother, over one who honored her? Protestantism making too little of Mary is due to the pride that formed it, not an overreaction to how Catholics treat her. Other than Christ, she is the ultimate example of humility, which of course prideful satan despises.
      But Mr Pitre would explain Church teaching regarding Mary FAR better than I would, so, again, maybe you should check this book out?

    • Eddy,

      God has given us fine minds and he asks us to use them to His glory. Your query is something that all men should examine. We are promised that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

      What God says to us is important and it can be a mystery in of itself.

      Blessings,

      Brian

  4. I haven’t read the book, but I am much impressed.I wondered if the author pursued the angle that when Jesus refers to his mother in the Gospel of John, he calls her “woman” — she is thus the New Eve, but Eve before the sin (which is why Adam was inspired to change his wife’s title). Jesus thus recognized his mother as sinless, virgin,and destined to avoid that death which is caused by sin. The fact that it is the sound of “her greeting” that causes John to leap for joy in the Holy Spirit also needs to be studied. Elizabeth’s description here is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Then there is the fact that in the epistle of Jude, he feels he needs no introduction other than being the brother of the famous James who must be the bishop of Jerusalem and also “brother of the Lord” like Jude himself. Some of the books the Protestants dropped from the OT also have Marian applications as well.

    • yes, Jacob. And the Jews in public were very formal regarding their mother. It was a title of reverence to refer to one’s mother as “Woman” in public address. As in English we might say “Lady”, or even “Sir” for a man who is our father. As you say Mary is “the Woman” of Genesis and Apocalypse.

    • “Some of the books the Protestants dropped from the OT also have Marian applications as well.”

      Exactly.

      If a Catholic truly wants to know what God thinks of His masterpiece, he/she merely has to look at what the Bible, through accommodation via its official interpreter, the Catholic Church, states about Her.

      The Bible refers to a true Queen of Heaven (not just the reference to the moon that Protestants refer to). And the wisdom literature contains the Immaculate Conception and other attributes of the Blessed Virgin. The older form of the Roman Mass uses the wisdom literature in its Masses for the BVM.

      Reference Wisdom, chapters 7 and 8, and accommodate the BVM to the text referring to wisdom. Also see Ecclesiasticus 24.

      In those readings, you will find some of the most sublime hidden references to the BVM imaginable.

      By accommodation, here is what the Bible says about the Holy Theotokos:

      [21] And all such things as are hid and not foreseen, I have learned: for wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me. [22] For in her is the spirit of understanding: holy, one, manifold, subtile, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, [23] Gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile. [24] For wisdom is more active than all active things: and reacheth everywhere by reason of her purity. [25]

      For she is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her.
      [26] For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.

      [27] And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets. [28] For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom. [29]

      For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it.

      • Dear DJR:

        “Some of the books the Protestants dropped from the OT ” were in fact never accepted into the canon of Scripture by the Jewish scholars and sages. Through prayerful meditation and discussion, they did not have the assurance that they were divinely inspired. These were “extra biblical” books. A good number Catholics will not give reference to them.

        The ” Gospel of Thomas’ is quite shocking and needs an evaluation in light of Holy Scripture. When I read it it grieved me that the writer could be so off hand!

        Blessings of peace,

        Brian

  5. I have seen many of Dr. Brant Pitre’s video presentations, which are available for sale. They have all been excellent. He has free videos posted on YouTube as well.

  6. There is another angle that requires further study. Gal 1:19 describes James “the brother of the Lord” as also being an apostle. From the context, it is clear that Paul means one of the Twelve. Mark 15:40 describes the son of the aunt of Jesus as being “the younger James.” This raises the question of which other James is he being compared to? There were two men named James listed among the Apostles. One is clearly the son of Alphaeus. The problem is then if Mary of Clopas is his mother, she is apparently not the wife of Alphaeus. However, among the Apostles themselves we see that they could be identified by more than one name: e.g. Bartholomew and Nathaniel, Jude and Thaddeus. It could be that Clopas was also called Alphaeus. One might add that Jude did remark in his letter that he was the brother of James, and in the list of the twelve, under the name of Thaddeus, he is listed right next to James. In many “translations” Jude is called “son” of James, but the text simply says “of” James without being specific. A final idea: what if “Mary of Clopas” is the village name of her childhood and she is actually the daughter of Clopas in the same way that some interpret “son” of James? Then she could clearly have been the mother of James of Alphaeus and his brother Jude (Thaddeus). Both would be cousins of Jesus in our way of speaking.

    • Gal 1:19 has “brother of Jesus”- adelphos (Gr.) and not “brother” or “cousin”(anepsios in Gr.).James is the biological brother of Jesus (also in J.Flavius writings).

      • “In the Septuagint the Hebrew word that includes both brothers and cousins was translated as adelphos, which in Greek usually has the narrow meaning that the English “brother” has. Unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek has a separate word for cousin, anepsios, but the translators of the Septuagint used adelphos, even for true cousins.” https://www.catholic.com/tract/brethren-of-the-lord

  7. Sorry,the brothers(anepsios-Gr) in Bible are not “brothers”(or cousins/adelphos(Gr).J.P.Meier or Raymond E.Brown,both top Catholic biblical scholars write on it. Anyone can check in Greek itinerary NT. Do not ridicule ..theology! I see the call of JPII in Fides et Ratio,1998 is in vain! JPII was an actor and ethicist but he understood the need for the perfect philosophy in the service of Gospel and that has been completely ignored by the …Church!Yes, and the Church(es) pray for…unity (J17) when they do not understand properly Bible or do not know at all the newest logic achievements of mathematical logic that resolve all past controversies and paradoxes in science and theology; only in A.D.1933 the world learned about …semantics from A.Tarski (Warsaw-Lvov School of Logic). Apply the strict logic: rules, laws, names: individual, general, and relational, and especially “descriptions”(definition by B.Russell,1910) to…Christological controversies and they ..evaporate; already St. Athanasius used just the classical material implication in the dispute with Arius but how many …in Akademia knows it? Rememeber that Jerusalem Temple was not eternal and the (now) Church is also the same if it does not serve the (absolute)truth but only an infancy Tradition

  8. Sorry,the brothers(adelfos-1Cor9:5,Gr) in Bible are not “brothers”(or cousins/anepsios(Col4:10,Gr).J.P.Meier or Raymond E.Brown,both top Catholic biblical scholars write on it. Anyone can check in Greek itinerary NT. Do not ridicule ..theology! I see the call of JPII in Fides et Ratio,1998 is in vain! JPII was an actor and ethicist but he understood the need for the perfect philosophy in the service of Gospel and that has been completely ignored by the …Church!Yes, and the Church(es) pray for…unity (J17) when they do not understand properly Bible or do not know at all the newest logic achievements of mathematical logic that resolve all past controversies and paradoxes in science and theology; only in A.D.1933 the world learned about …semantics from A.Tarski (Warsaw-Lvov School of Logic). Apply the strict logic: rules, laws, names: individual, general, and relational, and especially “descriptions”(definition by B.Russell,1910) to…Christological controversies and they ..evaporate; already St. Athanasius used just the classical material implication in the dispute with Arius but how many …in Akademia knows it? Rememeber that Jerusalem Temple was not eternal and the (now) Church is also the same if it does not serve the (absolute)truth but only an infancy Tradition.ps.there was a mistake in the previous post on the meaning of “brother” and “cousin” in Greek.Now it is OK

    • The problem with your theory is that it was already proposed in the fourth century by a man named Helvidius. Up until that time, no one had any problem with the fact that these “brothers and sisters” were not children of Mary. In fact, St. Jerome rejected the theory of Helvidius as a “new idea” which was mistaken. Of course, Jerome and his contemporaries were much more familiar with the usages of their times than scholars for whom these languages are not known the same way as someone who uses them everyday. Even Luther and Calvin rejected the idea that these “brothers are sisters” were children of Mary. Neither of these men were afraid to oppose what had been believed by previous generations. Calvin in fact was quite rude in his description of those who proposed the theory you are now advocating.

      • you can check by yourself in the Bible on internet or take the itinerary on with Greek version. There is a dictionary at the end@uses of terms in Bible. Educate yourself (1P3:15)!

        • And you can check the Septuagint, and discover that the seventy chose to use “adelphos” when clearly they did not mean brothers but other relatives.

  9. Actually my reply is contained in the posting you are replying to, especially in this line: “Of course, Jerome and his contemporaries were much more familiar with the usages of their times than scholars for whom these languages are not known the same way as someone who uses them everyday.” That is really what you have to refute if you want to be convincing in your reply.

    • The epistles are not the only books of the Bible. The Blessed Virgin is mentioned in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

  10. “So I approached my publisher with the idea of a book on Mary for anyone—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, non-religious—who had ever wondered about what the Bible really teaches about her. That’s how Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary came to be.”

    The right objective. Here are the details of Mary’s life shared in Islam.

    Mary, the Mother of Jesus:

    The Virgin Mary. Mary, the Pure. Mariam, upon whom be peace. This blessed woman’s
    life is evident through many stories and teachings. She has a prominent,
    significant, and revered role in the Quran and Islam.

    The story of the Blessed Mary is a truly beautiful one. She descended from the
    family of Amram, the father of Moses. Her parents were Anne and Joachim
    (Imran in Arabic). They were both very pious, religious people. Anne was also
    immensely caring and motherly. She loved children, and both Anne and Imran yearned
    for a child. They were both very old, but by the grace of God, Anne conceived. They
    were both utterly overjoyed. Anne dedicated her unborn child to be a muharrar – a
    person freed from all worldly affairs and specially committed to the service of God.

    Tragically, Imran died during Anne’s pregnancy. Anne realized her baby would need
    a father to raise her child. She was expecting a boy, who she believed would grow
    into a prophet. However, God sent her a girl. She was pleased with this, despite
    the fact that she’d been expecting a boy, and was very grateful. She prayed to God
    for refuge for her child. Lots were drawn to decide who would care for the child
    between several men. Anne’s sister’s husband, Zachariah, was a prophet. Zachariah
    had no children of his own. Many men tried to cheat and draw the lots in their
    direction, as they wanted to raise Mary, but the wind repeatedly drew it towards
    Zachariah.

    Zachariah was very good to Mary, who grew into an extremely righteous, gentle woman.
    She was so pious that she was given her own special section of the temple in which
    she was brought up to worship God and study her religion. She dedicated her days to
    God.

    God would provide Mary with food. When Zachariah would come to feed her, he would
    find that she already had provisions. At first he assumed that someone else in the
    temple had given it to her, but soon after he realized that the food was unseasonable.
    He asked Mary where it had come from. She replied that it was from God.

    Whilst Mary was in her temple, the Angel Gabriel came to her. He informed her that
    she would be giving birth to Jesus. Mary was a pious woman, and she was entirely
    chaste, so naturally she asked how this would happen. The Angel told her that God
    needs only to say, ‘Be,’ and it will be done.

    Mary went to a remote place, usually described as an island, as the time of labor
    drew closer. She was alone – Joseph was not with her, as he is in other tellings of
    the story. According to the Quran, Mary is completely alone. This gives her more of
    an honor. She was not only alone while giving birth, she also later endured the
    stigma of being a single mother. In that place and in that time, this was an
    extremely difficult thing. She had no one except God, and according to the Quran,
    she put her full and complete trust in Him, despite the enormity of the task.

    Mary, despite being Blessed, was as human as any of us, and she suffered the pangs of
    labor. She was comforted with food and water. She only had to shake the tree she lay
    under, and food would be provided to her. She eventually gave birth to Jesus, and
    returned to her home.

    Homecoming was not easy for Mary. Her people immediately accused her of being unchaste.
    They said that she was born of good people who she had shamed. Mary did not reply to
    them, but instead she pointed to the baby Jesus. The people mocked her, asking her
    how she could expect an infant to reply.

    Jesus, though he was only a baby, spoke to them. He began, “Surely I am a servant of G
    od; He has given me the Book (Gospel) and made me a prophet” (Quran, 19:30).
    Immediately this shows that Jesus was a human as well, just as his mother was. Mary
    then brought up her son for the duration of her life.

    Mary was a great woman, not only for her story but for who she was. She was chosen
    by God to give birth to one of the most important figures in mankind. She was always
    kind, gentle, sweet, and pious. In Islam, she is very highly regarded. She has a
    chapter in the Quran entirely dedicated to her, and is seen as one of the most
    important women. Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him,
    said that the best women of humankind are four: Mary, the mother of Jesus, Asiya,
    the wife of the Pharoah, Khadija, the wife of Prophet Muhammad, and Fatima, his own
    daughter.

    In summary, Mary is one of the most revered women in history and in Islam. She was
    one of the greatest people in the history of humankind.

    The angels said to Mary: “Mary, God has chosen you and made you pure: He has truly
    chosen you above all women.” (Quran, 3:42)

    • But, nevertheless, within Islam, Mary is not Theotokos; she’s a Nestorian Mary.

      In addition, the Islamic understanding of the Triune One is as a triad (a still-pagan imprint), consisting of Allah, Christ (reduced to a Prophet within Islam), and Mary (not a/the Holy Spirit). So, yes, Muslim esteem for Mary, but within the tent of Islam as a natural religion.

  11. I bought the book, several months ago and as pointed out in the discussion there is a lot of useful information on Mary and for me a number of items that I was not aware of. I would add that the book employs a very effective way of summarizing key information in table form to help the reader understand the key points.
    One of the great gifts of being a Catholic, and in my case a cradle Catholic, is that we can have a natural affection for Mary and understand that we can readily ask for her intercession.
    Would also like to point out that Mary’s birthday is celebrated by the Catholic Church on September 8, which of course aligns with the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on Dec 8.
    Another very nice book regarding Mary, not sure if it is still available, is Titled Mary and the Fathers of the Church by Ignatius Press, 1999. This book walks through the Early Fathers of the Church and their sermons, homilies and teachings on Mary. Very informative, and in reading it you cannot help but understand the awe and reverence that many of the Fathers of the Church held for Mary.
    As I mentioned before in other comments, but would like to state again is that starting on September 8, the Catholic Radio Network Relevant Radio is starting a 54 day Rosary Novena. Information is on their website. In these trouble times, we need especially to go to Mary and ask her intercession. The Rosary is way she asked us to pray.

  12. As a former Protestant (Evangelical), now Catholic, one of the greatest hurdles I faced was the doctrine of Mary, or rather what I perceived was the doctrine of Mary. But during RCIA, I would take all the questions and hurdles I had to God in prayer, asking for His guidance, and I made a point to understand the teachings about Mary in the Catholic Church by reading. And the one book I read that absolutely altered forever my view of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Brant Pitre’s book. Not only did God use that book, and Scripture, to help me understand the teachings about Mary, I also, as a result of God’s move on my heart, became completely devoted to the Mother of our Lord, who always directs us to her Son and intercedes with Him on our behalf when we come to her and say: “I have need of _____,” as happened at the wedding of Cana. But we must also be prepared to listen for her instruction: “Whatever He says, do it.” And then we must listen to Christ’s commands: “Go do this, or do that,” even when it seems impossible, as was the water turning into wine.

  13. “the New Eve, the New Ark of the Covenant, and the New Queen Mother of the Kingdom of God. In addition, the book explores the controversial doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity and the “brothers of Jesus” mentioned in the Gospels.”

    Sorry. This is not in the Bible. You may have 100 other sources, but the Bible simply doesn’t come close to supporting these ideas. That is enough for me.

  14. The Bible presents the Virgin Mary in the light that she should be acclaimed. To honour Jesus, we should not go beyond what Holy Scripture says. Extra-biblical references are not inspired, nor should we argue a point from silence!

    Brothers and sisters are one matter, cousins are another. There is little reference to cousins in the Bible and when we deal with important matters of guidance and understanding, we need to be steered by scripture.

    There was a more recent article (in fact it may have been the same) though I can’t find it on the “sitemap”.
    If perchance, the person that had replied to my comment reads this, it would be a pleasure to reengage on the topic.

    Blessings of peace and insight to all who love the Lord.

    • “Extra-biblical references are not inspired, nor should we argue a point from silence!…”

      Setting aside strict technicalities (“inspired” vs. “authoritative”), there is a glaring problem: you have to accept extra-biblical authority in order to accept the NT canon.

      As I’ve asked JWs, Mormons, and a few Fundamentalists over the years, “Why do you keep using a Catholic book to attack Catholic beliefs?” (And, no, it’s not flippant.)

      • Dear Carl:

        Opportunities to celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ are joyful ones. There may be a difference of opinion, however in a court of law, a capable judge separates the wheat from the chaff. God has given man impressive minds and when we are in Christ, a quest to know His will and how we might best abide in Him!

        Music, history, philosophy and art are interests of mine. We need to go outside of scripture to learn of these matters. It makes sense to purse excellence where it is propounded.

        Holy Scripture is God breathed and sustains our soul. Yes, commentaries and books are helpful in understanding God’s precepts, yet it is God’s word that is preeminent. All the same, there are accounts from some people that speak of marvels that are outside scripture. If it celebrates God and is concordance with His ordinances, it is worth considering , in my opinion.

        Belief is a gift of God. If one has an idea that perpetuates the holiness and unchanging nature of God, it is of importance and should be discussed.

        If you would like to examine various points, it would be well received. You and I are trying to honour God and I respect your efforts to enlighten and glorify Him.

        Do know that I am a proponent of the Catholic faith. While not in concurrence with some aspects; brothers in Christ ought-to have a dialogue that honours our Lord and saviour.

        In the name of Jesus, may you be blessed.

        Brian

      • Dear Carl:

        As a footnote to my reply to your quote, “there is a glaring problem: you have to accept extra-biblical authority in order to accept the NT canon.”

        Old Testament prophecy points to Jesus. In fact all of the Old Testament is to the credit to Jesus.

        How you arrived at that supposition, should make for an engrossing dialogue! 🙂

        When brothers in Christ strive together, we bow the knee to Jesus. There are no winners or losers, just a better understanding of how much God loves us.

        2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

        John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—

        2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

        Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

        John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

        Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

        As always, you are appreciated and a blessing to all that read CWR!

        Fond regards,

        Brian

  15. I am the Lord, that is my name; and My glory I will not give to another, or My praise to carved images…Isaiah 42:8

    It’s ironic that Satan uses the 1st Eve to disobey God and question His commands and now is using the 2nd Eve to accomplish the same task.

    Exalting a creature over the Creator only leads to worshipping the creature. Look up The Seven Holy Founders Catholic church in Affton Missouri and see what they have inscribed on the side of their building, and you’ll see what I mean.

    • To my namesake, blessings.

      2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

      John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

      John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

      John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

      You abide in His word!

      Brian

    • Following your wise counsel, in Afton Missouri (at the Seven Holy Founders Catholic Church) we find the Servite Order and their devotion to Mary as the Mother of God.

      Devotion, as in love or loyalty–not as any deification as you gratuitously misunderstand. The seven founders of the Servite Order, in 1233, are Saints Bonfilius, Alexis Falconieri, John Bonagiunta, Benedict dell’Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Gerard Sostegni, and Ricoverus Uguccione. The precise date of founding, in 1233 was August 15, now the Feast of the Assumption. Noting well that the conferred “assumption” of the whole Mary (Theotokos) into heaven is categorically different from and infinitely less than the “resurrection” of Christ as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

      No idolatry here. No “exalting a creature over the Creator.” Only the totally transparent humility of Mary (“Fiat”) which totally conformed to the gifted and even alarming event of the Incarnation–the Second Person of the Triune Oneness entering into the physicality of the created universe. A Marian humility we all seek to begin to emulate in our own lives, so that we, too, in both body and soul, might be drawn into the Beatific Vision, at the final judgment.

      To liken Mary to a Satanic rerun (as you do) is not so much facile drivel as it is anti-historical and insulting to Christ’s chosen mother from among the Chosen People.

      • Dear Peter:

        To esteem Mary and remember that all generations will call her blessed is appropriate. Fitting tributes that exalt her in scripture are most acceptable.

        For us to forget that Mary had her short comings as we find in Holy Scripture, is a reminder to all that to venerate her beyond the bounds of what the Lord has said, serves no one well.

        Two instances come to mind.

        Luke 19-21 Then his mother and his brothers[b] came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

        It has been suggested that they thought Jesus had lost His mind and they came to rescue Him. Jesus never forgot His earthly purpose and He delivered a mild rebuke and continued to show the kingdom of God had arrived!

        The second example also comes from Luke. Did Joseph and Mary pray and ask the Lord if jesus was safe and with the returning party? Did Joseph go to the men in the caravan to inquire of the whereabouts of Jesus? Did Mary go to the women of the caravan to enquire of her son as they were about to set out? They assumed something else, there was no due diligence. Forgetfulness is not a blessing. What parent today would set out before assuring themselves their child was safe?

        Luke 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[a] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

        52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[c] and in favour with God and man.

        I am not trying to run Mary down. She forgot who her holy son was.

        While we may have opposing views on the matter, please know that as I have come to read your posts, you have blessed me.

        Your brother in Christ,

        Brian Y

        • Luke 19-21 Then his mother and his brothers[b] came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

          A poor reading of Luke 8, Brian, but typical of Fundamentalists/Evangelicals (as I once was) who desire to put Mary “in her place”. (As a Fundamentalist relative once assured me: “Mary was just a biological vessel!”) What they refuse to see is that Jesus is affirming her place both here, in Luke 8, and in Luke 11. Mary’s greatness is found in her faith in God, her acceptance of his mysterious plan for her, and her continued faith. This is why her cousin exclaims: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Lk 1:45).

          Mary believed and she always believed. (There is no evidence at all to the contrary in Scripture, as you must know.) It’s not a coincidence that Jesus later states, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign…” (11:28), which is in direct contrast to Mary, who faithfully and humbly accepts the word—The Word!!—of God, without ever demanding a sign or any sort of assurance.

          Thus, Luke 8:19-21 is a reiteration of what we read in Luke 1: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” Mary’s motherhood is not just a biological fact, or even a thrilling miracle–it is rooted in her complete faith and her participation in the divine mission of the Triune God: she obeys the word of the Father, she is impregnated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and she gives birth to the Incarnate Word and is his faithful and perfect disciple.

          As for Jesus being lost as a young boy, I suggest you read some decent commentaries that explain how such a thing could happen.

          • It is not how I define it, rather it is how God makes sense of the matter.

            To ascribe sin to Jesus is not the Christian way. Instead, He is the propitiation for our sin. Born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit, our faith in Him is the alleviation from our sin. How do you read the following verses?

            1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

            2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

            Isaiah 1:18 “ Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

            Colossians 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

            Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            What part of Scripture says otherwise?

            God bless you.

          • Dear Carl:

            My most recent post to you was intended for “Ramjet”. How it ended up here is a mystery! It must be my mistake.

            I look forward to responding to your points after I have reread the Epistle of Romans, Paul’s magnum opus.

            God bless you,,

            Brian

          • Dear Carl:

            Thank you for your response! It is always good to have your perspective, even when we differ!

            To restate, I have admiration for the Catholic Church. At her best, we find noteworthy deeds that honour the Lord. All who look to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ will find find concordance.

            Scripture interprets scripture. God’s word is living and active, we find contextual intent, but often broader meaning therein. If Luke 8:19-21,does not speak clearly enough to you, we might consider the following:

            Matthew 12:46-50 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

            Mark 3:21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

            In my response to Peter Beaulieu, I can not find the words “As for Jesus being lost as a young boy” which you attribute to me. Rather, I would not say that Jesus was lost at any time for He is the light of the world.

            God bless you,

            Brian

    • Dear Patty:

      Perhaps this is not in Scripture, though I stand to be corrected.

      The crushing of the serpents head is perhaps a metaphor, symbolizing the total defeat of the evil one, representing Christ’s triumph over Satan. A few verses for us to consider:

      Revelation 12:17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

      Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

      Revelation 20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

      Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

      1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

      Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

      Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

      Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

      Here it says, “he shall bruise your head,” so it will be the Lord who delivers the final punishment.

      Hopefully this is of help.

      God bless you,

      Brian

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