Epist << What gives? No wonder nobody can take Catholics serious anymore with men like this representing Catholic “scholarship”! >>
I have seen before that Fr. Raymond Brown makes a distinction on what he accepts on faith, and what he can deduce from scholarship. I have his massive Introduction to the New Testament (Doubleday, 1997) and will be going through that shortly. It’s a bit over my head but I’ll give it a shot.
Fitzmyer might be suggesting one cannot demonstrate Mary’s perpetual virginity as a matter of historical “scholarship” (his understanding of the Greek for “brother” or the earliest Christian writings, etc), but he might otherwise hold to it as a matter of faith. What he says is:
“Such church teaching was formulated by early Christians in the post-Apostolic era, making use of an interpretation of some passages in the New Testament that passed over others that were problematic, such as Jn. 1:45; 6:42; Lk. 4:22…The result was that that teaching was not universally accepted at first.”
He then says that the teaching of the eastern Church is that “James was regarded as the son of Joseph, who as a widower married Mary…” while the western Latin Church “insisted on a broader sense of adelphos as ‘kinsman or relative’…” and that this interpretation of adelphos is found in the Catholic Church and the original Protestant Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and later Wesley).
Only at the “so-called Enlightenment” did “Protestant tradition interpret adelphos to mean blood-brother or sibling, so that James came to be understood as Jesus’ natural brother.”
I think that’s an accurate assessment. You don’t find the perpetual virginity of Mary explicitly in St. Ignatius of Antioch or St. Irenaeus for example (correct me if I’m wrong). The first explicit mention is from Origen (c. 220 AD) forward. Some also argue it from the New Testament and the Protoevangelium of James (2nd century).
Carol’s multi-volume Mariology will also confirm Fitzmyer. The first person to give a detailed defense of the “adelphos” can mean “cousin” argument is St. Jerome (4th century). Before St. Jerome most thought the “brothers” were from a previous marriage by Joseph (again, correct me if I’m wrong). So all Fitzmyer is saying is he doesn’t think you can defend the perpetual virginity of Mary or the “brothers” = “cousins” argument from the New Testament itself, that it was a later “post-apostolic development.” However, we say the same thing about the explicit doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Don’t forget I defend both the perpetual virginity and the Trinity all over my apologetics site. But let’s be fair.