Eusubius denies Mary as perpetual virgin?

So, during my search I have decided to read Eusebius’ ‘History of the Church’. In so doing I come upon this statement in the introduction to chapter 9, the beginning of book 2: " James, who was known to be the brother of the Lord because he was the son of Joseph " Citing Galatians 1:19.

It’s troubling to me to see that it seems ( according to Eusubius ) that the early church did not hold the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. ( and no it isnt possible that Joseph had a son before his marriage to Mary, as Eusubius goes into detail about how Joseph did not lay with Mary until after the birth of our Lord. ) This is not some nobody… it is the Bishop of Caesarea writing about the church around the year 300.

Is there any other early writting that contradict this ?


I know of nothing earlier that would contradict him.

Mary is also reputed to have traveled with the Apostle John to Ephesus, the home of the great temple to the Goddess Artemis (Diana); perhaps the greatest of the Earth Goddesses. Not relevant to your question, I just find it to be very interesting.

There are a great many things said Mary that I wish we had more source material to fill out. She lived a fascinating life whether you believe in her son’s divinity or not. Yes, I believe she literally existed.

I did find the Protoevangelium of James or ‘gospel of James’… which does promote the belief that mary was still a virgin after the birth of our Lord. And also gives account of James having children prior to knowing Mary.

Most believe it to be written about 145 AD

Saying that James was a son of Joseph is not the same as saying that James was a son of Mary. Some have held that Joseph was a widower who had children before his marriage to Mary.

John built the Virgin Mary a home there in Ephesus, which Franciscans guard and manage to this day. Many who have traveled there to see it have expressed a profound feeling of peace upon entering through the low door. It’s cruciform. Lovely pictures online.

Personally, as I obviously believe in her perpetual virginity, I always wonder why attempts to disprove this matters so much to people? Is it because they want to prove Catholicism wrong on some point, and Mary then becomes a target? If we Catholics believe it, then leave us to it.
Why wouldn’t Jesus be born of a pure person if we all believe He is God’s Son?
Why do people doubt the power of God in this?

Just thinking out loud, don’t want to start yet another Mary’s virginity thread.

First, I hope you don’t think I’m trying to disprove it… I want nothing more than to find the Faith varified in the early writings. I may have over reacted to this a bit.

But even if the virginity were in question, why would you label her un “pure” ? What is unpure about a woman who has had a child ?

Semantics. Pure as in “unstained” , another pious term for her.
Peace to you, friend.

In all of human history, Mary’s case is unique. Here is one scripture passage some use to refer to Mary’s perpetual virginity.

And the Lord said to me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it: because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, and it shall be shut Ezekiel 44:2.

We have a doctrine about Mary’s perpetual virginity. Saying she wasn’t or continuing to question what has already been established, we believe to be a form of heresy.

Some of us actually do reparations on the First Saturdays of the month to atone for those who have said falsehoods about Mary, particularly against her perpetual virginity. Well, we believe she was.

It is part of our faith, and to refuse to accept her perpetual virginity is to put oneself outside of the Church and to join another.

asked and answered.

First, I don’t see how you are viewing Eusebius as denying Mary’s virginity??:shrug:

But to answer your question, here are some quotes;


The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first fruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first fruit of virginity (Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).

Hilary of Poitiers

If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary’s sons and not those taken from Joseph’s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, “Woman, behold your son,” and to John, “Behold your mother” [John 19:26-27], as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).


Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that He took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary (Discourses against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).


We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . who for us men and for our salvation came down and took flesh, that is, was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit (The Man Well-Anchored 120 [A.D. 374]).


But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proven from the gospel—that he [Victorinus] spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship, not by nature. (Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 19 [A.D. 383]).

Didymus the Blind

It helps us to understand the terms “firstborn” and “only begotten” when the Evangelist tells that Mary remained a virgin “until she brought forth her firstborn son” [Matt. 1:25]; for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone else, nor did she ever become the mother of anyone else, but even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin" (The Trinity 3:4 [A.D. 386]).

Ambrose of Milan

Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of maternal virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son (Letters 63:111 [A.D. 388])

Pope Siricius I

You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the Flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord’s body, chat court of the eternal King (Letter to Bishop Anysius [A.D. 392]).


In being born of a virgin who chose to remain a virgin even before she knew who was to be born other, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave (Holy Virginity 4:4 [A.D. 401]).

Joseph didn’t lay with Mary at all.

See this reference:

Scroll down to biblical text criticism.

Thanks for the quotes… idk what I was thinking. I jumped the gun a bit. I have never heard before today the idea of Joseph having children from a previous marriage.

Tho…isn’t James supposed to be younger than Jesus?

I’m always surprised when someone asks a question like this on the forum. I thought Catholics are taught about the history of the religion and its people and the evolution of the doctrines as they are growing up?

From the history books I’ve read on this topic, the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity was not agreed upon by all the “early church fathers” and did not become majorly supported until the 4th Century.

There were others, like Eusubius, who did not believe or agree that Mary was a perpetual virgin…including Tertullian (an early Christian author and apologist who was dubbed “father of Latin Christianity” and famous for being the oldest extant Latin writer to use the term Trinity) and also, Eunomius of Cyzicus, a bishop in the 4th Century…to name a few.

From what I’ve read…the books written by those who did not support it were banned and burned.


CreekCrawler. I looked for your citation of Eusebius but couldn’t find it. Could you please link to it?

(apparently I misunderstand what you are citing in Eusebius)

Directly from the translation of Eusebius (here) . . .

Eusebius Church History Book Two, Chapter 9 . . . .

Chapter 9. The Martyrdom of James the Apostle.

  1. Acts 12:1-2 Now about that time (it is clear that he means the time of Claudius) Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
  2. And concerning this James, Clement, in the seventh book of his Hypotyposes, relates a story which is worthy of mention; telling it as he received it from those who had lived before him. He says that the one who led James to the judgment-seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian.
  3. They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, Peace be with you, and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time.
  4. And then, as the divine Scripture says, Acts 12:3sqq Herod, upon the death of James, seeing that the deed pleased the Jews, attacked Peter also and committed him to prison, and would have slain him if he had not, by the divine appearance of an angel who came to him by night, been wonderfully released from his bonds, and thus liberated for the service of the Gospel. Such was the providence of God in respect to Peter.

I also did a Google word search for your phrase and it was only found here on your post.

For the record, I didn’t grow up Catholic… I converted 1 year ago from many years of protestantism… still plenty to learn.

Things are arranged differently on… but here it is : Book 2 ( Verse 2 ? )
" Then James, whom the ancients surnamed the Just on account of the excellence of his virtue, is recorded to have been the first to be made bishop of the church of Jerusalem. This James was called the brother of the Lord because he was known as a son of Joseph, and Joseph was supposed to be the father of Christ, because the Virgin, being betrothed to him, “was found with child by the Holy Ghost before they came together,” Matthew 1:18 as the account of the holy Gospels shows."

Again, now that I look at this I see I over reacted. I guess I have just always heard that when the scriptures talk about the brother (s) of Jesus, it is talking of cousins etc. I don’t even think the Catholic answers ‘answer’ to this topic mentions the possibility of Joseph having a previous marriage. ( the tract I mean )

Regarding James:

You might find this article to of help:

I always thought James was John’s biological brother

Edit: Nevermind we are talking about a different James, my bad

This shouldn’t be so surprising. That the early church had questions about Mary’s Perpetual Virginity is really no mystery at all. For one thing, there were divisions about Christ Himself! Heresies were a plenty. For instance, Docetism acknowledged the divinity of Christ, but rejected the reality of his human nature. Arianism accepted Jesus’ humanity but denied that he was the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. At the First Council of Nicaea, both of these heresies were condemned, and the reality of Jesus as true God and true man was infallibly defined. After Nicaea a third Christological heresy began. Nestorianism, which proposed two persons in Christ, rather than two natures in one person. So the fact that there were so many questions about Mary is hardly surprising. A very good book that deals with this subject is; Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Fr. Luigi S. M. Gambero, and his follow up book; Mary in the Middle Ages: The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin Theologians. Both of these are available from Amazon and are excellent reads that will give you great insight into the minds of those in the early Church.

Father Luigi Gambero, internationally-known expert on early Christianity, presents a comprehensive survey of the development of Marian doctrine and devotion during the first eight centuries. Focusing on the lives and works of over thirty of the most famous Church Fathers and early Christian writers, Fr. Gambero has produced a clear and readable summary of the richness of the patristic age’s theological and devotional approach to the Mother of God.
The book contains numerous citations from the works of those men who developed the defining Christological and Mariological positions that have constituted the foundational doctrinal teaching of the Church. Each chapter concludes with an extended reading from the works of the patristic authors. A number of these texts have never before been published in English.

The thought of the Fathers and early Christian writers continues to fascinate readers today. Their theological acuity and spiritual depth led them faithfully into the mysteries of Sacred Scripture. Their vast experience made them reliable and trustworthy witnesses to the faith of the people of God.

Peace, Mark

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit