By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
People interpret the Bible by taking sentences from here and there and come up with their own conclusions. If one reads the gospels by Matthew and John alone, he would say that Jesus Christ has not ascended to Heaven because this is not mentioned in these books. This fact is written in Mark 16:19, and in Luke 24:50, 51. The point I want to make here is that, one has to learn the Bible well to understand it properly. This is beyond the capability of ordinary human beings. The church can do it because the apostles interpreted it for the church (The Apostolic traditions).
In answering the above question, we have to look at:
1) Is Virgin Mary blessed?
2) Did she remain a virgin?
3) Because she gave birth to the Son of God, is she the mother of God?
4) What does the Bible say and what did the early Christians believe regarding this?
The group who argues that St. Mary is not blessed quotes:
a) Luke 11:27-28 or a twisted version of it. The woman from the crowd raised her voice, Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts, which nursed you." But he said, 'No, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.' If Christ said the word 'No' it means that St. Mary is not blessed. But the question is did He say 'No'? The fact is that the word 'No' was added later. It is not found in KJV, or in Scofield, or in Peshitta Syriac, or in most of the translations. Isn't it a grave sin that someone dared to add a word to our Lord's words to insult one of the most blessed persons?
[While he was saying these things, a woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice and said to him, Blessed is the womb which bore thee and paps which you have sucked. But He said, yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. (From KJV)]
Since a Protestant group proposes this argument let us look at what some of the prominent Protestant leaders say about this. Christ doesn't deny that his mother is blessed (Dummalo, 753). Jesus' response indicates that in the struggle against evil the important thing is not to give lip service to himself and his mother, but to hear the word of God and keep it. (Interpretors-1, Vol. Com 690)
b) Having said this, let us look into some verses from the gospels about St. Mary, to see if she is blessed or not
For behold all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48)
Elizabeth was filled with Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed is she who believed for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord (Luke 41-45).
.. the angel said to her, Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.
(Looking at all these sentences, isn't it an unforgivable sin to insult St. Mary after using NO or an YES thereby twisting words used in the Bible. Even Elizabeth who was filled with the Holy Spirit called her blessed. Should we neglect her?)
But the Protestant interpreters will do much more. Here is a verse from the Bible to show how people can make things up or self interpret.
This is from Luke 10:42. Jesus visited Martha and Mary. Jesus told Martha 'only one thing is needed', The Interpreters Vol 1 Commentary says (P.689), "it is not clear whether the one which is needed refers simply to the number of dishes or has some spiritual significance." Why is the author not clear? It is because no one is there to enlighten him? Here we can see the importance of apostolic tradition.
c) Another verse twisted and is often used in the Authorized Version is John 2:4, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
The argument about the above sentence is:
1) Jesus called Mary, "woman" which represents a lack of respect and
2) He asked what relation between us?
Before we come to a conclusion, let us look into a few more editions of the Bible and see if the author had altered anything?
KJV - What have I to do with thee?
Scofield Bible - What have I to do with thee?
Good News Bible - You must not tell me what to do (i.e. I know what to do!)
Good News for Modern Man - You must not tell me what to do
The Open Bible - What does your concern to do with me?
Latin Vulgate - Woman, what to me and to you
Syrian Bible - Mo Lee Ulehk ( Mo=what, Lee=home, ulekh=and to thee)
What is it to me and to you, woman (Lamsa's Peshitta Translation)
From the above, it is obvious that these Bibles do not support the view that Christ said, 'what is the relation between us?'
I don't think even the worst criminal would say to his mother we have no relation between us. How can Jesus Christ who lived as a model for us, say that? Since we all are to take Him as the model, should we disrespect our mothers too? Not a chance.
Any way, since the Protestants brought these kinds of interpretations, let us see what other Protestant scholars are saying about this, in their commentaries:
Burkit -What is that to me and to the thee. - ie. never mind - Don't be worried,
Souter -What is a little thing like that to you and me.
George Philip, author of (a Syrian grammar ) - Mo lee Ulek means What to me and thee
Rev. William Barkclay - (who was a lecturer in the University of Glasgow in New Testament literature) - The Authorized Version translation of Jesus, reply makes it sound very discourteous. It makes Him say woman, what have I to do with thee. That is indeed a true translation of words, but doesn't in any way give the tone. It means - Don't worry, you don't understand what is going on. Leave things to me and I will settle them in my own way. The word woman is also misleading. It sounds to us very rough and abrupt. But it is the same word Jesus used when on the cross. He addressed Mary as he left her to the care of John. So far from rough and discourteous way of address, it was a title of respect. We have no way of speaking in English, which exactly renders it, but it is better to translate it as 'Lady' "
Dummalow - Woman or rather lady is in Greek, a title of respect, used even in addressing queens.
Dr. West cot - the word in Greek used is Gunai. The Protestant scholars Liddcl and Scott in their Greek encyclopedia say this word is equivalent to Lady, and that this word is used with lots of respect, courtesy and love.
Richard, the Protestant Bishop of Dwablin, (Sermons on various subjects) says - The word Gunai (=woman) as it is translated into English is not so hard and severe. In Greek literature, this word is used to denote queens.
In the first century AD, St. Ignatius had recorded that Virgin Mary is blessed. Even the people who raised this argument agree to this (Mariolatory, Page 7). The first church established by the apostles (Mark's house) was in Mary's name. The Church Fathers of the 1st century have recorded that St. John had written a book and had kept it in Ephesus, and in that book it said that, St. Mary's death was in Greek year 374 or AD 63, and her memory should be celebrated three times a year.
TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Sec 2 (Q 27-56) | Sec 3 (Q 57-81) | Sec 4 (Q 82-115) | Sec 5 (Q 116-135) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
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