The perpetual virginity of Mary is the doctrine that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a virgin ante partum, in partu, et post partum—before, during and after the birth of Christ.It is one of the four Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, and is held also by the Eastern Orthodox Churches in Eastern Christianity and by some Lutherans and Anglicans in Western Christianity.
There is no biblical basis for the belief.Debates centre on the question of whether scripture does or does not indicate that Mary had other children, for the Pauline epistles, the four canonical gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles , all mention the brothers ( adelphoi ) of Jesus; the scriptural evidence is not absolutely conclusive.
The perpetual virginity of Mary is one of the four Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, meaning that it is held to be a truth divinely revealed, the denial of which is heresy.It declares her virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus, or in the definition formulated by Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council of 649:
The blessed ever-virginal and immaculate Mary conceived, without seed, by the Holy Spirit, and without loss of integrity brought him forth, and after his birth preserved her virginity inviolate.
Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches both recognise Mary as Aeiparthenos , meaning "ever-virgin".Thomas Aquinas says that reason could not prove this, but that it must be accepted because it was "fitting", for as Jesus was the only-begotten son of God, so he should also be the only-begotten son of Mary, as a second and purely human conception would disrespect the sacred state of her holy womb. The 2nd century Gospel of James affirms that Mary was always a virgin before, during and after childbirth, stating that Jesus' brothers (adelphos) are sons of Joseph from a previous marriage. It describes how the hand of the midwife who attempts to test the holy mother's integrity by inserting her finger into Mary's vagina burst into flames and withered.
Symbolically, the perpetual virginity of Mary signifies a new creation and a fresh start in salvation history.It has been stated and argued repeatedly, most recently by the Second Vatican Council:
This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception … then also at the birth of Our Lord, who did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it... ( Lumen Gentium , No.57)
The exact origin of the tradition of Mary's perpetual virginity is unknownHer virginity before Jesus' birth is attested in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke, but there is no biblical basis for her virginity during and after the birth. Mary's virginity, pre or post natal, seems to have attracted little theological attention prior to the end of the 2nd century, Ignatius of Antioch (c.35-108), for example, discussing it only to argue for the reality of Jesus's human birth against the docetic heretics who deny him any humanity.
The idea of Mary's perpetual virginity first appears in a late 2nd century text called the Gospel of James (or Protoevangelium of James),which is "the ultimate source of almost all later Marian doctrine." In this story Mary remains a life-long virgin, Joseph is an old man without physical desire, who marries her; the brothers of Jesus are explained as Joseph's sons by an earlier marriage. The birth takes place in a cave near Bethlehem, and the new-born Jesus simply appears from a cloud and a blinding light and takes his mother's breast; a midwife is present outside the cave, who believes, and her acquaintance Salome, who demands to touch the physical organs of the holy mother:
The midwife came out of the cave [in which the birth took place], and Salome met her. And she said to her: "Salome, Salome, I have I have a new sight to tell you; a virgin has brought forth, a thing which her nature does not allow." And Salome said: "As the Lord my God lives, unless I put (forward) my finger and test her condition, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth." And Salome went in and made her ready to test her condition. And she cried out saying: "I have tempted the living God..." (The Protoevangelium of Gospel of James, 19:3-20, quoted in Brown, 1978).
Salome's hand withers, but she prays to God for forgiveness and an angel appears and tells her to touch the Christ-child again, whereupon her hand is restored;the episode performs the same function as "doubting Thomas" in the Gospel of John.
James possibly derives from a sect called the Encratites,whose founder Tatian teaches that sex and marriage were symptoms of original sin; its context was the growth of asceticism with its emphasis on celibacy, the monks seeing all sexual activity as tainted by sin. It was widely distributed and seems to have formed the basis of the stories of Mary in the Quran.
By the third century Hippolytus holds that Mary was "all-holy Mary, ever-virgin",in the early 4th century the spread of monasticism promoted celibacy as the ideal Christian state, and a moral hierarchy was established, with marriage occupying the third rank below life-long virginity and widowhood. Around 380 Helvidius objects to the devaluation of marriage inherent in this view and argued that the two states, of virginity and marriage, were equal; but his contemporary Jerome, realising that this would lead to the Mother of God occupying a place in heaven lower than virgins and widows, defends her perpetual virginity in his influential works The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary and Against Jovinianus issued c.383.
Helvidius soon fades from the scene, but in the early 380s the monk Jovinian writes that if Jesus did not undergo a normal human birth, then he himself is not human, which is the heresy known as Manichaeism.Jerome writes against Jovinian but fails to mention this aspect of his teaching, and most commentators believe that he does not find it offensive. The only important Christian intellectual to defend Mary's virginity in partu is Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, who was the chief target of the charge of Manicheism. For Ambrose, both the physical birth of Jesus by Mary and the baptismal birthing of Christians by the Christian Church has to be totally virginal, even in partu, in order to cancel the stain of original sin, of which the pains of labor are the physical sign. It is due to Ambrose that virginitas in partu came to be included consistently in the thinking of subsequent theologians.
Jovinian's view was rejected at a Synod of Milan held under Ambrose's presidency in 390, after which Mary's perpetual virginity was established as the only orthodox view.The Council of Ephesus in 431 establishes a full general consensus on the subject, in 553 the Second Council of Constantinople gives her the title Aeiparthenos , meaning Perpetual Virgin, and at the Lateran Council of 649 Pope Martin I emphasises its threefold character, before, during, and after the birth of Christ.
The Protestant Reformation rejects the sanctity of virginity, and as a result marriage and parenthood were extolled, Mary and Joseph are seen as a normal married couple, and sexual abstinence is no longer regarded as a virtue.It also brings the idea of the Bible as the fundamental source of authority regarding God's word (sola scriptura), and the reformers say that while holy scripture explicitly requires belief in the virgin birth, it only permits acceptance of perpetual virginity. The doctrine is supported by Martin Luther (who includes it in the Smalcald Articles, a Lutheran confession of faith written in 1537) as well as by Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and later John Wesley, the co-founder of Methodism. Diarmaid MacCulloch writes that this is because these moderate reformers were under pressure from others more radical than themselves who held Jesus to be no more than a prophet: Mary's perpetual virginity thus becomes a guarantee of the Incarnation, despite perceived shaky scriptural foundations. Notwithstanding this early acceptance by the reformers, modern Protestants, apart from some Lutherans and Anglo-Catholics, largely reject the perpetual virginity, and it rarely appears explicitly in confessions or doctrinal statements.
The problem facing theologians who want to maintain Mary's perpetual virginity is that the New Testament mentions the brothers ( adelphoi ) of Jesus, with Mark and Matthew recording their names and Mark adding unnamed sisters,and her virginity is explicitly affirmed only prior to the conception of Jesus. The Gospel of James and Epiphanius state the adelphoi are Joseph's children by an earlier marriage, which is still the view of the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches. Jerome believes that Joseph, like Mary, must be a life-long virgin, and that these adelphoi are children of Mary's sister, another Mary, whom he considers the wife of Clopas. A modern proposal is that the second Mary, mentioned in John 19:25 as the wife of Clopas, is not the sister of Mary and that Clopas is Joseph's brother. The word adelphos only very rarely carries any other meaning than a physical or spiritual sibling, though the Septuagint, the translation used by the New Testament authors , does use adelphoi to refer to non-fraternal relatives, notably in Genesis 14:14, where Lot is referred to as adelphos of Abraham, even though he is not a blood brother.
Further scriptural difficulties are added by Luke 2:6 , which calls Jesus the "first-born" son of Mary,and Matthew 1:25, which adds that Joseph did not "know" (consummated the marriage) his wife "until she had brought forth her firstborn son." Helvidius argues that first-born implies later births, and that the word "until" left open the way to sexual relations after the birth; Jerome, replying that even an only son will be a first-born, and that "until" did not have the meaning Helvidius construed for it, paints a word-portrait of Joseph having intercourse with a blood-stained and exhausted Mary immediately after she has given birth - the implication, in his view, of Helvidius's arguments. Opinions on the quality of Jerome's rebuttal range from the view that it is masterful and well-argued to thin, rhetorical and sometimes tasteless.
Two other 4th century Fathers, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine, advance a further argument by reading Luke 1:34 as a vow of perpetual virginity on Mary's part,although virginity was never an ideal in Israel and such a vow would have been "inconceivable" among Jews of the time. Nevertheless, this argument, and those advanced by Jerome and Ambrose, are put forward by John Paul II in his catechesis of August 28, 1996, as the four facts supporting the Catholic Church's ongoing faith in Mary's perpetual virginity:
...[T]here are no reasons for thinking that the will to remain a virgin, which Mary expressed at the moment of the Annunciation (cf. Luke 1:34) was then changed. Moreover, the immediate meaning of the words "Woman, behold your son!" "Behold your mother" (John 19:26), which Jesus addressed from the Cross to Mary and his favorite disciple, imply that Mary had no other children. ...[T]he word "firstborn" literally means "a child not preceded by another", and, in itself, makes no reference to the existence of other children. ...The phrase "brothers of Jesus" indicates "the children" of a Mary who was a disciple of Christ (cf. Matthew 27:56) and who is significantly described as "the other Mary" (Matthew 28:1). "They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression."
In Christianity, Christology, translated literally from Greek as "the study of Christ", is a branch of theology that concerns Jesus. Different denominations have different opinions on questions like whether Jesus was human, divine, or both, and as a messiah what his role would be in the freeing of the Jewish people from foreign rulers or in the prophesied Kingdom of God, and in the salvation from what would otherwise be the consequences of sin.
Gospel originally meant the Christian message, but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out; in this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth, culminating in his trial and death and concluding with various reports of his post-resurrection appearances.
The Gospel of James is a 2nd-century infancy gospel telling of the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary, her upbringing and marriage to Joseph, the journey of the holy couple to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and events immediately following. It is the earliest surviving assertion of the perpetual virginity of Mary, meaning her virginity not just prior to the birth of Jesus, but during and afterwards, and, despite being condemned by Pope Innocent I in 405 and rejected by the Gelasian Decree around 500, became a widely influential source for Mariology.
The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that Mary, mother of Jesus has been free of original sin from the moment of her conception. It proved controversial in the Middle Ages, but was revived in the 19th century and was adopted as Church dogma when Pope Pius IX promulgated Ineffabilis Deus in 1854. This followed Ubi primum, an 1849 encyclical wherein Pius had asked the bishops for their opinions on the matter, resulting in overwhelming support from the Church's hierarchy.
Mary was a 1st century Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Joseph and, according to the gospels, the virgin mother of Jesus.
The virgin birth of Jesus is the Christian doctrine that Jesus was conceived and born by his mother Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit and without sexual intercourse. It is mentioned only in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38, and the modern scholarly consensus is that the narrative rests on very slender historical foundations.
The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Christ or birth of Jesus is described in the biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.
James the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Lord, was a brother of Jesus, according to the New Testament. He was an early leader of the Jerusalem Church of the Apostolic Age. He died as a martyr in AD 62 or 69.
The New Testament describes James, Joseph (Joses), Judas (Jude), and Simon as brothers of Jesus. Also mentioned, but not named, are sisters of Jesus.
The Gospel of the Hebrews, or Gospel according to the Hebrews, was a Jewish–Christian gospel. The text of the gospel is lost with only fragments of it surviving as brief quotations by the early Church Fathers and in apocryphal writings. The fragments contain traditions of Jesus' pre-existence, incarnation, baptism, and probable temptation, along with some of his sayings. Distinctive features include a Christology characterized by the belief that the Holy Spirit is Jesus' Divine Mother and a first resurrection appearance to James, the brother of Jesus, showing a high regard for James as the leader of the Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem. It was probably composed in Greek in the first decades of the 2nd century, and is believed to have been used by Greek-speaking Jewish Christians in Egypt during that century.
According to the Gospel of John, Mary of Clopas was one of the women present at the crucifixion of Jesus and bringing supplies for his funeral. The expression Mary of Clopas in the Greek text is ambiguous as to whether Mary was the daughter or wife of Clopas, but exegesis has commonly favoured the reading "wife of Clopas". Hegesippus identified Clopas as a brother of Saint Joseph. In the Roman Martyrology she is remembered with Saint Salome on April 24.
Catholic Mariology refers to Mariology – the systematic study of the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, and of her place in the Economy of Salvation – within Catholic theology. Mary is seen as having a singular dignity above the saints. The Catholic Church teaches that she was conceived without original sin, therefore receiving a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art, music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
Matthew 1:25 is the twenty-fifth and last verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Joseph has awakened from a dream in which an angel gave him instructions about the birth of Jesus. He has taken Mary into his home, completing their marriage, and this verse explains what occurs once the couple is united.
Antidicomarianites was a term applied to Christians who believed that the brothers and sisters of Jesus referred to in the New Testament were the younger children of Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus. It was a pejorative term used from the 3rd to 5th centuries by those who believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary and that the siblings of Jesus were children of Joseph from an earlier marriage, a belief that originated with the 2nd century apocryphal Gospel of James, which by the 3rd century gained some adherence; however Pope Innocent I condemned it in AD 405. There is no evidence that these Christians considered themselves to be "against Mary" in any sense, except of her being the "Queen of Heaven", a title the Catholics and Orthodox Christians gave her in reflection of the scriptural image in Revelation, Chapter 12.
Jude is one of the brothers of Jesus (Greek: ἀδελφοί, romanized: adelphoi, lit. 'brethren') according to the New Testament. He is traditionally identified as the author of the Epistle of Jude, a short epistle which is reckoned among the seven general epistles of the New Testament—placed after Paul's epistles and before the Book of Revelation—and considered canonical by Christians. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians believe this Jude is the same person as Jude the Apostle and that Jude was perhaps a cousin, but not literally a brother of Jesus, or perhaps St. Joseph’s son from a previous marriage.
James, son of Alphaeus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, appearing under this name in all three of the Synoptic Gospels' lists of the apostles. He is often identified with James the Less and commonly known by that name in church tradition. He is also labelled "the minor", "the little", "the lesser", or "the younger", according to translation. He is distinct from James, son of Zebedee and in some interpretations also from James, brother of Jesus. He appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.
Helvidius was the author of a work written prior to 383 against the belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Helvidius maintained that the biblical mention of "sisters" and "brothers" of the Lord constitutes solid evidence that Mary had normal marital relations with Joseph and additional children after the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. He supported his opinion by the writings of Tertullian and Victorinus.
The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary is an apologetic work of Saint Jerome. It is an answer to Helvidius.
The Latter Day Saint movement teaches that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Latter Day Saints affirm the virgin birth of Jesus but reject the Roman Catholic traditions of the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and her assumption. They also believe that the brothers of Jesus were her and Joseph's biological children. Mary is not seen as an intercessor between humankind and Jesus, and Latter Day Saints do not pray to Mary. The Book of Mormon, part of the Latter Day Saint canon of scripture, refers to Mary by name in prophecies of her mission, and describes her as "most beautiful and fair above all other virgins" and as a "precious and chosen vessel."
Infancy gospels are a genre of religious texts that arose in the 2nd century. They are part of New Testament apocrypha, and provide accounts of the birth and early life of Jesus. The texts are of various and uncertain origin, and are generally non-canonical in major modern branches of Christianity. They include the Gospel of James, which introduces the concept of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, both of which cover many miraculous incidents from the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus that are not included in the canonical gospels. Although the Life of John the Baptist focuses on John the Baptist rather than Jesus or his immediate family, it is also included in the genre as its events would be contemporary with Jesus's early life.