Mary, Protoevangelium of James, Jewish Marriage


One of the arguments that is put forth in favor of Mary’s perpetual virginity is that the Protoevangelium of James teaches that Mary was vowed to be a virgin as a temple servant and Joseph was her widowed guardian. It’s pretty clear that Mary was intending on remaining a virgin by her statement to Gabriel, “How can this be, as I know not man?”

Two points:

  1. I don’t doubt Mary’s perpetual virginity. I don’t need it defended with other arguments.
  2. I realize that this “temple virgin” argument need not be true. There are other perfectly acceptable defenses of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

I am hoping there are some here with sufficient knowledge of 1st century Jewish customs to be able to answer this question for me so that I may have a fuller sense of the issues and in particular of this argument. My questions are:

  1. If Mary was indeed a “temple girl”, what would have been the role of such a girl and why would Joseph have been taking her into his home? Would she not remain in the temple?

  2. If Mary was not some sort of temple girl, why might she have been marrying and yet intending on remaining a virgin?

Thanks for any help!


no one, eh?


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