Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil

Question 124. Since it is referred to in the Bible that Jesus had brothers,
how can we call St. Mary a Virgin?

During the apostolic times itself, there were people who said that Jesus was the son of Joseph. In order to counter these people, the apostles themselves have said that Mary was a virgin. Later, Helvidius proposed this heresy in AD 380. His account was that since it is said the first born of Mary, it is possible that there might be sons after Jesus and that since it is written he did not know her till Christ's birth - it means that later after His birth Joseph knew her. He maintained that after the birth of our savior, Mary came together with Joseph and that the persons whom the Bible calls brothers of the Lord were the children of this union.

Ever since the beginning of the church, St. Mary was hailed the mother of God (more evidences later). Just by thinking logically, since she was chosen to bear God, is there a chance that she can bear anyone else's child? Not possible if one thinks logically says Protestant Bishop Bull.

Dummalow says that there are three opinions regarding the usage of "brothers"

1) One proposed by Helvidius

2) One by St. Jerome (AD 383)

3) St. Ephipanus (AD 315)

We have already discussed about Helvidius.

St. Jerom :- He said that brothers means sons of St. Mary's sister Mary, who was married to Cleoppa.

Epiphanius said - "The half brothers of Jesus Christ. They are sons of Joseph, from his first marriage."

The latter two says that St. Mary had no other children.

There are many evidences that show that St. Mary was a virgin. From the second century it is believed, and said, (and written) that she was a virgin. Had she been a mother of a large family, it would be almost impossible that she would been called a Virgin. Looking at Luke 1:26-38 one can infer that, Joseph agreed to her being a virgin. If Jesus had brothers of names James, Jacob, Simon, and Jude, it is very unlikely that Jesus will entrust the care of His mother to John.

We can see in Luke 2:48 that Joseph is referred to as Jesus' father. But in Luke 33, 41, 43, it refers to them as Father and mother. The public thought that Joseph was his father (Luke 3:23). Likewise the public called Joseph's sons from his first wife (or Mary's sister's sons) Jesus' brothers.

One of the arguments was that, since Jesus is referred to as the first born, there were other sons. This is incorrect. According to Jewish custom, one would call the first son as first-born whether or not that child had younger ones or not. Luke 2:22, Exodus 13:12, and Hebrew 1:6, all refers to first borns. In Hebrews 1:6, He brings the first born into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him'. So, did this mean (based on the argument above) more sons of God? Obviously not.

Mar Aprem's prayers:- 'He (Jesus) being the first born of God, by His love, became first born of Mary.'

Since it is written that She did not know men till His birth, some argue that Joseph would have known her after His birth. This is also a guess based on false understanding of the language. In Psalms 110:1 it is written, The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Does it mean that Jesus Christ will change (i.e. will not sit at the right hand) after His Second Coming? These kinds of usages can be seen in 1 Kings 15:35, Genesis 8:5. So it is obvious that by interpreting as above, one gives a negative meaning to the real purpose of these sentences.

Most of you would have heard of St. Athanasius. He was the one who fought against the Heresy of Arius who said that the Son and Father are not equal, in the synod of Nicea and had suffered for this cause. Arius, in his article written to the people, hails her as Ever-Virgin Mary (767a).

St. Ignatius (AD 110) calls Mary, Virgin Mary (42)

Didymus (313 AD 398) for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone, nor did she ever become the Mother of anyone else, but ever after childbirth she remained always and forever a spotless virgin (1073)

St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 334) A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man? It was fitting for God to be born thus.(1518)

St. Cyril of Alexandria (AD 423) He kept his mother a virgin even after child bearing (2133)

St. Peter of Chrysologus (AD 405) Where are they who think that the Virgin's conceiving and the Virgin's giving birth are just like those of other women? Theirs is of world and hers is of heaven. Hers is by divine power and theirs is by human weakness. A Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remains. (2177)

Note that in many languages including Syriac, there is no word to denote COUSIN. In the English language, children from the same father and mother are termed 'brothers' and others 'brethren.' Refer to Mat. 3:31 (Scholfields Bible), Mathew 12:46, Luk 8:19-20, Acts 1:14, where you would see the word being used is brethren. In Mark 6:3 the names of the brethren are given: James, Jose, Jude, and Simon. At the foot of the cross there were Mary Magdalene, and Mary of the mother of James and Jose (Mat. 27:56). The marginal note says that James and Jose were the sons of Alphacus. The 3rd person Jude, the author of the Epistles of Jude says that, he is the brother of James and Jose (1:1). Their mother Mary, had been a cousin of St. Mary.

All of the early church fathers who were persecuted and martyred and lived during the first and second century proclaims St. Mary as 'virgin mother of God', but people in the 20th century insults her and rejects her!

In order to prove that St. Mary is not a virgin, some quote Psalms 69:9. "I have become an outcast to my kin, a stranger to my mother's children. "

They argue that the whole of this Psalm is about Jesus suffering and so my mother referred to here is St. Mary! If you read on, you can understand that one is not willing to suffer is being subject to exhaustion and suffering, and the next few sentences are full of curses on people who cause all this. Do you or can anyone ever think that our Lord, who taught us to pray for our enemies will do all that cursing? Then who are these 'brothers'? (see Appendix A)

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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