John 19 and the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary


#1

John 19:26-27 reads:

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."

This is often given as evidence that Jesus did not have any siblings (or at least living ones) since, he did, he would have entrusted his mother to them rather than John. Is there any reference, Biblical or not, that explains the obligatory or at least customary thing that would be done in this sort of situation? I think that it is definitely a good piece of evidence but I would like to have something else to corroborate it with.


#2

The Fourth Commandment insists that children have an obligation to care for their parents -- it's part of the Church's heritage from Judaism. Not to take care of one's mother would be a moral outrage. If Jesus entrusted his Mother to St. John's care as he was about to expire, it would have to be because there were no other children. I doubt that even ardent Jesus-had-brothers advocates would insist that Mary & St. Joseph that none of the other children had survived.


#3

[quote="QNDNNDQDCE, post:1, topic:322259"]
John 19:26-27 reads:

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."

This is often given as evidence that Jesus did not have any siblings (or at least living ones) since, he did, he would have entrusted his mother to them rather than John. Is there any reference, Biblical or not, that explains the obligatory or at least customary thing that would be done in this sort of situation? I think that it is definitely a good piece of evidence but I would like to have something else to corroborate it with.

[/quote]

After the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary she will have a child, Mary with the awareness of being engaged to St Joseph asked the odd question “How can this be since I do not know man” Luke 1:34. This confirms Mary had made a vow of virginity even after she would marry St Joseph. Why would she go through all this trouble and then decide to have children after Jesus?


#4

Mary declared herself to be the the handmaid/bond slave of the Lord (Luke 1:38). How many masters may a slave serve? Jesus tells us the number is exactly one (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking without error, proclaims Mary to be the "mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:43). Thus, Mary is the handmaid/bond slave of her own Son. Later, returning from Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph searched for 12 year old Jesus amongst their "kinsfolk and acquaintances." (Luke 2:44). What is missing here" Those mythical "other children" of which there is exactly zero reference in the bible. At the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-2), Mary was invited, as was Jesus and the disciples. Who is missing here again? Those mythical siblings. As well, childless widows in that age were reduced to begging for subsistence - their lives becoming miserable. This was unacceptable for the mother that our Lord conceived of and created for Himself. So, on the model of Luke 7:11-15, Jesus provided a son for His mother - said son taking Mary into his home from that hour, even though John's mother was also there at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:56).


#5

A very good argument! Most of the Protestants I know take it for granted that Jesus had brothers, but this passage seems to contradict this strongly.


#6

This is not necessarily so, friend. She said “I do not know man” because she was still a virgin. Unless her words “do not” are a perfect present & future tense, as if she said “I do not know and will never know man”, we cannot assume things from this single prooftext.

All this about the vows of virginity, consecrated virgins, and Temple-residence of Mary come from an apocryphal book. Let’s never forget that.

  1. The main problem with this is Luke’s use of the word “adelphoi” ( Αδελφοι ). The saintly Doctor’s writing is in beautiful classical Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. In Greek, the word “adelphoi” referred to a person’s blood-brothers from the womb almost 100% of the time. Luke could’ve used the word for cousin, kinsman, or distant relative, but he did not.

  2. Maybe it doesn’t mention the siblings at Cana because it’s not that important to the narrative? Remember that John isn’t really concerned with exactly the same matters that the Synoptics are. He had no need to enter superfluous information to the holy theological gospel.

At any rate, the actions of the Lord upon the Cross can point one of two ways: 1. either it is as the original poster states, or 2. His blood-brothers refused to hear the Gospel and were not fit to carry His Christian mother’s burdens in old age - which John & the community of the Apostles were much better able to do, being part of the New Family He created upon that very Cross. :slight_smile:


#7

I take back my speculation above (that Mary might've had children other than our Lord):

Within Mark 6:3, the people of Nazareth hear Christ teach for the first time. They ask: "οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας...?" - Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary...?"

The "o hios" in bold underline is the definite article: the Son of Mary. The only other times we see such a strong use of the definite article in Scriptures is when Christ is called things like:

"the Son of God", ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ
"the Light of the world", ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου
"the Son of Man" ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
etc. :)

To paraphrase the Psalms: "The Lord is His Name, and there is no other".


#8

[quote="Augustine3, post:3, topic:322259"]
After the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary she will have a child, Mary with the awareness of being engaged to St Joseph asked the odd question “How can this be since I do not know man” Luke 1:34. This confirms Mary had made a vow of virginity even after she would marry St Joseph. Why would she go through all this trouble and then decide to have children after Jesus?

[/quote]

This is a stretch to interpret these words as being a commitment to virginity after marriage... How are you getting that?


#9

[quote="godisgood77, post:8, topic:322259"]
This is a stretch to interpret these words as being a commitment to virginity after marriage... How are you getting that?

[/quote]

I assume it has to do with the grammar. The Virgin says:

"I know not man",

not,

"I have not known man".

The former implies that it's her perpetual state, from one time to another, not to know man, carnally. The latter only implies that she has not yet known man, carnally. I wonder what the Greek says. :)


#10

Mary,who from the moment of her "yes",became a cooperator in her Son's mission.He was the center of her life.Any other children would have detracted from her ability to focus solely on Christ.


#11

This is my tiny insight…
If Mary had a child with God, didn’t this make Him her spouse? Having relations with Joseph would then have been “adultery” and thus breaking a commandment.
Also, if she was holy enough to bear God’s son, why would she want to defile that?

Just some thoughts…


#12

[quote="dreamfleur, post:11, topic:322259"]
This is my tiny insight....
If Mary had a child with God, didn't this make Him her spouse? Having relations with Joseph would then have been "adultery" and thus breaking a commandment.

[/quote]

This is a really good point. The Holy Spirit indeed made her a spouse by His action in the incarnation. :)

Also, if she was holy enough to bear God's son, why would she want to defile that?

That's a denial of the purity & goodness of marital relations, though. We must flee from this gnostic urge that has infected our minds for so long. Holiness, in the time of Israel's favour, consisted of obeying the commandments - and the first commandment was to be fruitful and to multiply.


#13

Originally Posted by QNDNNDQDCE

John 19:26-27 reads:

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
This is often given as evidence that Jesus did not have any siblings (or at least living ones) since, he did, he would have entrusted his mother to them rather than John. Is there any reference, Biblical or not, that explains the obligatory or at least customary thing that would be done in this sort of situation? I think that it is definitely a good piece of evidence but I would like to have something else to corroborate it with.

.

[quote="Edmundus1581, post:5, topic:322259"]
A very good argument! Most of the Protestants I know take it for granted that Jesus had brothers, but this passage seems to contradict this strongly.

[/quote]

Na, the OP’s view is speculation, no proof, though it agrees with certain Catholic theology. There’s no doubt that Mary was a virgin at the time of the birth of Jesus into the world (the text supports and expresses that). But that’s not proof that she had no children after Jesus was born. Its only what is believed, or is desired to be believed. The text without other text is used only to express a view that isn’t proved, according to scripture. Your reasoning is not fact in the event you speak of. Jesus loved John (which John mentions many times) and therefore entrusted John to take care of her, since John was there and the others may not have been.


#14

[quote="Classicist, post:9, topic:322259"]
I assume it has to do with the grammar. The Virgin says:

"I know not man",

not,

"I have not known man".

The former implies that it's her perpetual state, from one time to another, not to know man, carnally. The latter only implies that she has not yet known man, carnally. I wonder what the Greek says. :)

[/quote]

It is also a strange comment from a married women. People assume that betrothal meant the same as is does today. It does not. It was the first part of marriage. Therefore Joseph was already her husband when Gabriel came. So her question is strange for two reasons.

1. Why would she state she knows not man instead of "great Joseph and I will have a child"?
2. Why would she not mention Joseph specifically rather the general "man"?


#15

[quote="D_Martin, post:13, topic:322259"]
.

Na, the OP’s view is speculation, no proof, though it agrees with certain Catholic theology. There’s no doubt that Mary was a virgin at the time of the birth of Jesus into the world (the text supports and expresses that). But that’s not proof that she had no children after Jesus was born. Its only what is believed, or is desired to be believed. The text without other text is used only to express a view that isn’t proved, according to scripture. Your reasoning is not fact in the event you speak of. Jesus loved John (which John mentions many times) and therefore entrusted John to take care of her, since John was there and the others may not have been.

[/quote]

Why would the others, I assume you mean relatives of Jesus, have to be there? Jesus would not have had to tell them to do their duty if they existed. Only if there were no one would Jeus need to provide for His mother.

There is other evidence as well. The way that Jesus is spoken to by His family shows He is younger.


#16

Another thought....
If Mary was indeed "without sin" as is stated in the IC then wouldn't her other children with Joseph been half sinless?


#17

[quote="adrift, post:15, topic:322259"]
Why would the others, I assume you mean relatives of Jesus, have to be there? Jesus would not have had to tell them to do their duty if they existed. Only if there were no one would Jeus need to provide for His mother.

There is other evidence as well. The way that Jesus is spoken to by His family shows He is younger.

[/quote]

You’re right, you do assume. She did have a husband that the Catholic Church declares to be a Saint in accordance to its own standards. Where was the Saintly Joseph at, his wife was in obvious distress, correct? According to the assumptions here Joseph, or who ever he chose to see to her well being, would have had to of been there.

(Mt:13:54-58) shows that there is siblings in the flesh, like any other person born into the world. Note that the declaration of Jesus’ family including bothers and sisters in the flesh are quotes of the people who lived in the town He lived in at the time, and you didn’t live there at the time and didn’t witness whether Jesus had siblings in the flesh or not. I do believe it is acceptable amongst all Christians to trust the scriptures first in such matters, correct? No great authoritive interpretation or metaphorical insight necessary here.

Then there is (Mt:12:46-50) where again it is mention about His mother and brethren, and what is astonishing when this one is referred to the “mother” referred to in the text is His Mother by flesh but the “brethren” mentioned in the same sentence is not. Even though it is obvious that the Lord was using the fact that mother and brother by flesh isn’t his mother and brother, it is those who do the Father’s will. And again this is a quote of people that wouldn’t see it any other way but that it was His mother by flesh and His siblings by flesh.


#18

Again,I don’t believe Mary had any other biological childrenJesus Christ was and still is her main focus.Mary is all about leading us to her son.We are all brothersand sisters in Christ through baptism. It makes no sense whatsoever that Mary would have other children.


#19

It is believed that at the time Mary conceived Jesus she was approximately 14-16 years old. Some accounts say that Joseph was probably close to 90 years old. Joseph was a widow and had children from a previous marriage. These would have been the brothers of Jesus.


#20

Thanks for all the responses. My main interest right now is John 19 and what would be the customary course of action for what to do with a widow. The Fourth Commandment is a good starting point, but I hope there is something more specific.

One passage that comes to my mind is 1 Timothy where St. Paul speaks of the treatment of widows. It could be said that Jesus entrusting Mary to John would not have happened if Jesus had any siblings sill alive.

"But if any widow have children or [descendants], let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God." (1 Tim 5:4)

One point of disputation could be that the KJV renders the word ἔκγονα, which I replaced with "descendants," as "nephews," so therefore, if John implies that Jesus had no surviving siblings, he had no surviving cousins as well. However, Strong's indicates that cousins is an inaccurate translation of ἔκγονος.

It could be said against this that John also wrote:

"For neither did his brethren believe in him" (John 7:5).

Thus, since his siblings showed no piety toward him, why should they be expected to show any piety toward his mother? However, this is not convincing to me since if he had siblings, they should have had plenty of evidence that they ought to believe in him.

So I wonder if there might be any similar passages from the Old Testament or maybe rabbinical literature that deal with this specific sort of situation.


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