Scot McKnight on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed comments on the “perpetual virginity” of Mary. This topic would seem to be completely off base on my own blog (as it seems to be unrelated to James the Just). On the contrary, if James the Just was Jesus’ brother, then Mary’s virginity has a lot to do with the topic. McKnight notes the following Christian sources that support the perpetual virginity of Mary, and then comments:

2d Century text Protevangelium James
Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10:17
Athanasius, Virginity, can’t locate reference in my NPNF text.
Augustine, Nature and Grace, 36.42.
Martin Luther, Works, 22.23.
John Calvin, NT Commentary on Synoptics, at Matthew 12:46-50.
John Wesley, in A.C. Coulter, John Wesley, 495

In text-critical terms, belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is early, widespread, and found in every major tradition of the Church. One might say it was the universal faith of the Church, apart from rare exceptions, until the post-Reformation era.

My own two feet are squarely planted in the Protestant tradition of the non-perpetual virginity of Mary. It has been a view that I have never questioned, until I read Anne Rice’s work, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Rice develops the story of Mary’s perpetual virginity from Joseph’s standpoint rather than from some view that Mary was “holier than thou.” If I can recall correctly, Joseph asks in essence, “How can I ‘touch’ someone who has given birth to the Son of God?” From that standpoint, I guess perpetual virginity takes on a more “human” explanation. Given that Joseph could have very well fathered Jesus ‘brothers and sisters’ in a previous marriage, I don’t have too much of a problem with the idea. Either way, my faith does not stand or fall on the concept.

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