Friday, December 20, 2013

Attempts of Jews and Her­e­tics to Dis­ho­nor The Ever-Virginity of Mary by Fr. Serap­him Rose

The jewish slan­de­rers soon became con­vin­ced that it was almost impos­sible to dis­ho­nor the Mot­her of Jesus, and on the basis of the infor­ma­tion which they them­sel­ves pos­ses­sed it was much easier to prove Her pra­i­seworthy life. There­fore, they aban­do­ned this slan­der of theirs, which had alre­ady been taken up by the pagans (Ori­gen, Against Celsus, I),and strove to prove at least that Mary was not a vir­gin when She gave birth to Christ. They even said that the prop­he­cies con­cer­ning the birth-giving of the Mes­siah by a vir­gin had never exi­sted, and that there­fore it was enti­rely in vain that Chri­sti­ans thought to exalt Jesus by the fact that a prop­hecy was sup­po­sedly being ful­fil­led in Him.

Jewish trans­la­tors were found (Aquila, Sym­ma­chus, Theo­do­tion) who made new trans­la­tions of the Old Testa­ment into Greek and in these trans­la­ted the well-known prop­hecy of Isaiah (Is. 7:14) thus: Behold, a young woman will con­ceive.They asser­ted that the Hebrew word Aalma sig­ni­fied “young woman” and not “vir­gin,” as stood in the sacred trans­la­tion of the Seventy Trans­la­tors [Sep­tu­ag­int], where this pas­sage had been trans­la­ted “Behold, a vir­gin shall conceive.”

By this new trans­la­tion they wis­hed to prove that Chri­sti­ans, on the basis of an incor­rect trans­la­tion of the word Aalma, thought to ascribe to Mary somet­hing com­ple­tely impos­sible a birth-giving wit­hout a man, while in actu­a­lity the birth of Christ was not in the least dif­fe­rent from other human births.

Howe­ver, the evil inten­tion of the new trans­la­tors was clearly reve­a­led because by a com­pa­ri­son of various pas­sa­ges in the Bible it became clear that the word Aalma sig­ni­fied pre­ci­sely “vir­gin.” And indeed, not only the Jews, but even the pagans, on the basis of their own tra­di­tions and various prop­he­cies, expected the Rede­e­mer of the world to be born of a Vir­gin. The Gospels clearly sta­ted that the Lord Jesus had been born of a Virgin.
How shall this be, see­ing I know not a man? asked Mary, Who had given a vow of vir­gi­nity, of the Archan­gel Gabriel, who had infor­med Her of the birth of Christ.

And the Angel replied: The Holy Spi­rit shall come upon Thee, and the power of the Most High shall overs­ha­dow Thee; where­fore also that which is to be born shall be holy, and shall be cal­led the Son of God (Luke 1:34–35). Later the Angel appea­red also to righ­teous Joseph, who had wis­hed to put away Mary from his house, see­ing that She had con­cei­ved wit­hout ente­ring into conju­gal coha­bi­ta­tion with him. To Joseph the Archan­gel Gabriel said: Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is begot­ten in Her is of the Holy Spi­rit, and he remin­ded him of the prop­hecy of Isaiah that a vir­gin would con­ceive (Matt. 1: 18–2 5).The rod of Aaron that bud­ded, the rock torn away from the moun­tain wit­hout hands, seen by Nebu­chad­nezzar in a dream and inter­pre­ted by the Prop­het Daniel, the clo­sed gate seen by the Prop­het Ezekiel, and much else in the Old Testa­ment, pre­fi­gu­red the birth-giving of the Vir­gin. Just as Adam had been cre­a­ted by the Word of God from the unwor­ked and vir­gin earth, so also the Word of God cre­a­ted flesh for Him­self from a vir­gin womb when the Son of God became the new Adam so as to cor­rect the fall into sin of the first Adam (St. Ire­na­eus of Lyons, Book 111).

The seed­less birth of Christ can and could be denied only by those who deny the Gospel, whe­reas the Church of Christ from of old con­fes­ses Christ “incar­nate of the Holy Spi­rit and the Vir­gin Mary.” But the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin was a stum­bling stone for those who wis­hed to call them­sel­ves Chri­sti­ans but did not wish to hum­ble them­sel­ves in mind and be zea­lous for purity of life. The pure life of Mary was a repro­ach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. So as to show them­sel­ves Chri­sti­ans, they did not dare to deny that Christ was born of a Vir­gin, but they began to affirm that Mary remai­ned a vir­gin only until she brought forth her first-born son, Jesus (Matt. 1:25).

“After the birth of Jesus,” said the false tea­cher Hel­vi­dius in the 4th cen­tury, and likewise many others before and after him, “Mary ente­red into conju­gal life with Joseph and had from him chil­dren, who are cal­led in the Gospels the bro­t­hers and sisters of Christ.” But the word “until” does not sig­nify that Mary remai­ned a vir­gin only until a certain time. The word “until” and words similar to it often sig­nify eter­nity. In the Sacred Scrip­ture it is said of Christ: In His days shall shine forth righ­teo­us­ness and an abun­dance of peace, until the moon be taken away (Ps. 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no lon­ger be a moon at the end of the world, God’s righ­teo­us­ness shall no lon­ger be; pre­ci­sely then, rat­her, will it tri­umph. And what does it mean when it says: For He must reign, until He hath put all ene­mies under His feet? (I Cor. 15:25). Is the Lord then to reign only for the time until His ene­mies shall be under His feet?! And David, in the fourth Psalm of the Ascents says: As the eyes of the hand­maid look unto the bands of her mistress, so do our eyes look unto the Lord our God, until He take pity on us (Ps. 122:2). Thus, the Prop­het will have his eyes toward the Lord until he obtains mercy, but having obtai­ned it he will direct them to the earth? (Bles­sed Jerome, “On the Ever-Virginity of Bles­sed Mary.”) The Saviour in the Gospel says to the Apost­les (Matt. 28:20): Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Thus, after the end of the world the Lord will step away from His discip­les, and then, when they shall judge the twelve tri­bes of Israel upon twelve thro­nes, they will not have the pro­mi­sed com­mu­nion with the Lord? (Bles­sed Jerome, op. cit.)

It is likewise incor­rect to think that the bro­t­hers and sisters of Christ were the chil­dren of His Most Holy Mot­her. The names of “bro­t­her” and “sister” have seve­ral distinct mea­nings. Sig­ni­fying a certain kins­hip between people or their spi­ri­tual clo­se­ness, these words are used some­ti­mes in a bro­a­der, and some­ti­mes in a nar­rower sense. In any case, people are cal­led bro­t­hers or sisters if they have a com­mon fat­her and mot­her, or only a com­mon fat­her or mot­her; or even if they have dif­fe­rent fat­hers and mot­hers, if their parents later (having become widowed) have ente­red into mar­ri­age (step­bro­t­hers); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.

In the Gospel it can nowhere be seen that those who are cal­led there the bro­t­hers of Jesus were or were con­si­de­red the chil­dren of His Mot­her. On the con­trary, it was known that James and others were the sons of Joseph, the Betro­t­hed of Mary, who was a widower with chil­dren from his first wife. (St. Epip­ha­nius of Cyprus,Pana­rion, 78.) Likewise, the sister of His Mot­her, Mary the wife of Cle­o­pas, who stood with Her at the Cross of the Lord (John 19:25), also had chil­dren, who in view of such close kins­hip with full right could also be cal­led bro­t­hers of the Lord. That the so-called bro­t­hers and sisters of the Lord were not the chil­dren of His Mot­her is clearly evi­dent from the fact that the Lord entru­sted His Mot­her before His death to His belo­ved disciple John. Why should He do this if She had other chil­dren besi­des Him? They them­sel­ves would have taken care of Her. The sons of Joseph, the sup­po­sed fat­her of Jesus, did not con­si­der them­sel­ves obli­ged to take care of one they regar­ded as their step­mo­t­her, or at least did not have for Her such love as blood chil­dren have for parents, and such as the adop­ted John had for Her.

Thus, a care­ful study of Sacred Scrip­ture reve­als with com­plete cla­rity the insub­stan­ti­a­lity of the objections against the Ever-Virginity of Mary and puts to shame those who teach differently.

No comments: