Make your own free website on


1 Nassif, Bradley, Class notes for "Eastern Orthodox Theology" course.. "The Word Became Flesh: Orthodox Christology, Schism, and the Role of Mary in the Orthodox Church", describes the subject of Mary as "Here we encounter the 'hard sayings' of Orthodoxy!"

2 The Roman Catholic Church also teaches the perpetual virginity of Mary.

3 A typical Protestant statement is "You ask yourself the question, "Why do they believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary? Why do they believe in ... It does not come out of Scripture," you say. Yes. But it comes out of their Secondary Tradition, which is the equivalent of Scripture in terms of its authority. It was decided by the Pope or the Church or the Council." Charismatic Chaos - Part 3 Copyright 1991 by John F. MacArthur, Jr. On the Internet at

4 Gillquest, Peter, "Becoming Orthodox", Gillquest is a convert to Orthodoxy from Evangelical Protestantism. In his chapter titled "Facing up to Mary", p 101-102, he wrote, "The highly charged emotional atmosphere which surrounds this subject serves to blunt our objectivity in facing up to Mary".

5 Conservative theologians in the Orthodox and Protestant Churches agree that Mary was a virgin at the time of conception of Jesus, i. e., that Mary did not conceive Jesus by an earthly/human father. This is a liberal v. conservative issue, not a Protestant v. Orthodox issue. This is based on passages like: Luke 1:34 -35 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

6 Perpetual Virginity (parallel to the sinlessness of Jesus). In accordance with the ascetic beliefs of some of the holy orders of the Roman church sexuality with judged to have been too impure for the Mother of God. She was therefore given eternal virginity. On the Internet at:

7 Tucker, Ruth, "Daughters of the Church", p. 170.

8 Ibid, p. 408.

9 Tertullian, "On The Flesh Of Christ", Chap, XVII , 8. "As Eve had believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel ", "Early Church Fathers", Volume 3.

10 A "bibliographical ghost" is an initially faulty attribution, which is picked up and carried by subsequent authors based on the authority of the original author. Often times, the original source ends up unattributed and the idea reaches the point of an "urban legend".

11 A second century document dated variously at 120 to 160 A. D. although some claimed actual apostolic authorship.

12 Scriptural proof texts used by both sides of the debate are considered on the web site of the author at This was originally part of the paper, but was removed for space considerations.

13 Meyendorff, John. "Byzantine Theology", p. 165.

14 Ware, Timothy, "The Orthodox Church", p. 257.

15 The Roman Catholic view is reportedly more severe. From: Bart Brewer - Former Discalced Carmelite Priest The Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Assumption of Mary, and so on, and so forth. These are mandatory teachings. These are said to be of divine law. The Catholic people may not reject those teachings. If they do, there's what they call an anathema. There's a curse for any Roman Catholic who would reject an official dogma regarding Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Catholic priests will be honest in telling us that indeed this teaching has no foundation in Scripture. On the Internet at:

16 Demetry, Constas H., "Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church", Article 3. On the Internet at: Some Orthodox have questioned the legitimacy of this document as there is no "official" Catechism in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Undated.

17 Calvin, John, "Commentary on Matthew". Calvin called those who interpret the gospel (Mt 1:25) to imply that Mary had other children as "pig-headed and stupid." Later, commenting on Mt 13:55, he wrote: "we have already said in another place that according to the custom of the Hebrews all relatives were called "brethren." On the Internet at:

18 Luther, Martin. February 2, 1546 wrote that Mary was "a virgin before the conception and birth, she remained a virgin also at the birth and after it." Mary is EVER-Virgin. Current Lutherans accept the Second Council of Constantinople (533AD) and Luther put it into the Book of Concord. On the Internet at:

19 Zwingli, Ulrich. Wrote in January of 1528: "I speak of this in the holy Church of Zurich and in all my writings: I recognize Mary as ever virgin and holy." On the Internet at

20 The most notable exception is the Anglican Church where the dogma is accepted.

21 A Protestant who accepts the teachings of Calvin or Luther, in toto, may accept the perpetual virginity of Mary.

22 A classic example is Luther's defense of his view of Free Will, which was criticized by Roman Catholic scholar Erasmus on the basis of a lack of Patristic support. This can be seen in Rupp, "Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation", p. 152. Luther wrote, "we stand by our negative and even under the judgment of the whole choir of saints which you invoke, or rather of the whole world, we dare to say, and we glory in saying, that it is our duty not to admit something which is nothing and the nature of which cannot with certainty be shown."

23 Ramm, Bernard. "Protestant Biblical Interpretation" p. 43. "Councils, commissions, and congregations do not have the virtue of infallibility, but their interpretations of Scripture enjoy a high authority." Ramm offers three specific principles (tests) to determine the authority of the witness of a particular father, including: "(iii). The Fathers must have a unanimous witness to the given interpretation." Ramm also noted that "This veneration of the Fathers resulted in much medieval exegesis being really studies in patristics and not exegesis in the proper sense". Of course, the authority of Ramm to make these standards itself could rightly be questioned.

24 Nassif, Bradley. Class notes for "Eastern Orthodox Theology" course. "General sources of Orthodox theology : Scripture, liturgy, councils, fathers, saints, canons, church art and architecture."

25 Gillquist, Peter. "Becoming Orthodox", p. 111. About those who deny perpetual virginity, writes, "Such a teaching is found nowhere in scripture and is contrary to the consistent voice of the entire church".

26 Ibid, p. 110. Gillquist writes, "From the very early years of the Church, Mary was called not only Virgin, but Ever Virgin". (Italics in original). However, the evidence just does not bear out Fr. Gillquest's claim. In fact, there appears to be a general progression from calling her just "Mary", to "Virgin Mary", to "Ever-Virgin Mary". As a note, in the Western Church the title "Blessed Virgin Mary" is widely used, but is not universally accepted by the East.

27 "Early" in this context is defined as the middle of the third century.

28 Meier, John P. "A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus". p. 318.

29 Meier, p. 360, footnote 39.

30 Tertullian, "On The Flesh Of Christ." 7, from the "Early Church Fathers", Volume 3. On the Internet at: "Explanation Of The Lord's Question About His Mother And His Brethren. Answer To The Cavils Of Apelles And Marcion, Who Support Their Denial Of Christ's Nativity By It. But whenever a dispute arises about the nativity, all who reject it as creating a presumption in favor of the reality of Christ's flesh, willfully deny that God Himself was born, on the ground that He asked, "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? " (10) Let, therefore, Apelles hear what was our answer to Marcion in that little work, in which we challenged his own (favorite) gospel to the proof, even that the material circumstances of that remark (of the Lord's) should be considered. (11) First of all, nobody would have told Him that His mother and brethren were standing outside, if he were not certain both that He had a mother and brethren, and that they were the very persons whom he was then announcing, -- who had either been known to him before, or were then and there discovered by him; although heretics (12) have removed this passage from the gospel, because those who were admiring His doctrine said that His supposed father, Joseph the carpenter, and His mother Mary, and His brethren, and His sisters, were very well known to them. But it was with the view of tempting Him, that they had mentioned to Him a mother and brethren which He did not possess. The Scripture says nothing of this, although it is not in other instances silent when anything was done against Him by way of temptation"

31 Tertullian, "On The Flesh Of Christ", 23, from the Early Church Fathers, Volume 3. "The virgin's womb, therefore, was especially (14) opened, because it was especially closed: Indeed (15) she ought rather to be called not a virgin than a virgin, becoming a mother at a leap, as it were, before she was a wife. And what must be said more on this point? Since it was in this sense that the apostle declared that the Son of God was born not of a virgin, but "of a woman," he in that statement recognized the condition of the "opened womb" which ensues in marriage."

32 Tertullian, "Adversus Marcionem" 4.19 "De Monogamia." 8.1-2, "De Virgintas Velandis" 6.6.

33 An argument against the man, not the idea. i.e., if Tertullian held heretical views on other subjects that does not make his views on Perpetual Virginity automatically heretical.

34 Jerome wrote "Of Tertullian I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church."

35 Jerome. "The Perpetual Virginity Of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius" On the Internet at: "Feeling himself to be a smatterer, he there produces Tertullian as a witness and quotes the words of Victorinus bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proved from the Gospel -- that he spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary, but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship not by nature."

36 "A Second Epistle Of Ignatius To St. John His Friend". This is one of the spurious epistles. "And in like manner [I desire to see] the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be very like Christ Jesus in appearance, (4) in life, and in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb. They say that, if I see him, I see also Jesus Himself, as to all the features and aspect of His body."

37 Some have attempted to explain this by position a very close relationsip between Mary and Joseph, typically that Joseph was actually Mary's uncle.

38 On the Internet at: "These queries came from all quarters of the Church. Siricius wrote to Himerius of Tarragona, who had referred several disciplinary matters to Damasus. (Epist. 1. a. 385) To the bishops of Africa he wrote of the decisions of a council that had met in Rome "above the relics of St. Peter." (Epist. 5. a. 386) To Anysius of Thessalonica he wrote about episcopal ordination in Illyricum. (Epis. 4. a. 386) Epistola 7 (a. 390) condemned Jovinian and the others who denied the perpetual virginity of Mary."

39 Augustine, "Heresies" 56, AD 428 ""Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband."

40 Josephus, "Antiquities of the Jews", Book 20, Chapter 9, section 1. Josephus wrote "(200) so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judge, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. As recorded in Winston, William, "The Works of Josephus."

41 Meier, p. 359. Footnote 31. See also footnote 32. p. 359, where Meier writes "When Josephus calls James "the brother of Jesus", there is no reason to think he meant other than "brothers."

42 Schmemann, p. 157. Origen is noted as the source of a number of heresies, some of while took well over a hundred years to root out of the Church.

43 This in and of itself is not enough to demonstrate that Mary did not have marital relations with Joseph, just that she did not have any other children.

44 Origen, "Commentary on John", I:6 A. D. 232, in Ante Nicene Fathers, X:300. "For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, Woman, behold thy son,' and not Behold you have this son also,' then He virtually said to her, Lo, this is Jesus, whom thou didst bear.' Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him; and if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary, Behold thy son Christ."

45 Origen, "Commentary on Matthew". 2:17, AD 248. On the Internet at:, ""The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity, which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity."

46 Ibid. "And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of priests, saying, 'Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?' And they said to the high priest, 'You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in and pray concerning her, and whatever the Lord shall manifest to you, that also will we do.' . . . And he prayed concerning her, and behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him saying, 'Zechariah! Zechariah! Go out and assemble the widowers of the people and let them bring each his rod, and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. . . . And Joseph [was chosen] . . . And the priest said to Joseph, 'You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.' But Joseph refused, saying, 'I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl."

47 Ibid. And Annas the scribe came to him [Joseph] . . . and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him, 'Joseph, whom you did vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.' And the priest said, 'How so?' And he said, 'He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord and has married her by stealth.' And the priest said, 'Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low and forgotten the Lord your God?' . . . And she wept bitterly saying, 'As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and know not man.'

48 Hilary of Poitiers, "Commentary on Matthew" 1:4, AD 354. On the Internet at: "If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary's sons and not those taken from Joseph's former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the Passion [Crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, 'Woman, behold your son,' and to John, 'Behold your mother' [John 19:26-27], as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate."

49 "Orations against the Arians", II:70. A.D. 362, in NPNF2, IV:386-387. "Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed"

50 "Gospel of Matthew",V:5. A.D. 370, in NPNF1, X:33. "And when he had taken her, he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son.' He hath here used the word till,' not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, hath he used the word, till'? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, The raven returned not till the earth was dried up.' And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture saith, From age until age Thou art,' not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away,' it doth not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise, it uses the word "till," to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves thee to make the inference. Thus, what it was necessary for thee to learn of Him, this He Himself hath said; that the Virgin was untouched by man until the birth; but that which both was seen to be a consequence of the former statement, and was acknowledged, this in its turn he leaves for thee to perceive; namely, that not even after this, she having so become a mother, and having been counted worthy of a new sort of travail, and a child-bearing so strange, could that righteous man ever have endured to know her. For if he had known her, and had kept her in the place of a wife, how is it that our Lord commits her, as unprotected, and having no one, to His disciple, and commands him to take her to his own home? How then, one may say, are James and the others called His brethren? In the same kind of way as Joseph himself was supposed to be husband of Mary. For many were the veils provided, that the birth, being such as it was, might be for a time screened. Wherefore even John so called them, saying, For neither did His brethren believe in Him.'

51 Gregory of Nyssa. "On Virginity", 13, A.D.371, in NPNF2, V:359-360. "But those who by virginity have desisted from this process have drawn within themselves the boundary line of death, and by their own deed have checked his advance; they have made themselves, in fact, a frontier between life and death, and a barrier too, which thwarts him. If, then, death cannot pass beyond virginity, but finds his power checked and shattered there, it is demonstrated that virginity is a stronger thing than death; and that body is rightly named undying which does not lend its service to a dying world, nor brook to become the instrument of a succession of dying creatures. In such a body the long unbroken career of decay and death, which has intervened between the first man and the lives of virginity which have been led, is interrupted. It could not be indeed that death should cease working as long as the human race by marriage was working too; he walked the path of life with all preceding generations; he started with every new-born child and accompanied it to the end: but he found in virginity a barrier, to pass which was an impossible feat. Just as, in the age of Mary the mother of God, he who had reigned from Adam to her time found, when he came to her and dashed his forces against the fruit of her virginity as against a rock, that he was shattered to pieces upon her, so in every soul which passes through this life in the flesh under the protection of virginity, the strength of death is in a manner broken and annulled, for he does not find the places upon which he may fix his sting."

52 Epiphanius of Salamis, "Well Anchored Man", 120, A. D. 374, in JUR, II:70. "[T]he Son of God...was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit..." And, "Medicine Chest Against All Heresies" 78:6, AD 375, from, "And to holy Mary, [the title] 'Virgin' is invariably added, for that holy woman remains undefiled."

53 Jerome. "The Perpetual Virginity of Mary Against Helvedius". 21 A.D. 383, in NPNF2, VI:344. On the Internet at: "But as we do not deny what is written, so we do reject what is not written. We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage; but because when we are dealing with saints we must not judge rashly. If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord's brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety. You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born. For if as a holy man he does not come under the imputation of fornication, and it is nowhere written that he had another wife, but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin."

54 As far as the surviving record indicates, that is.

55 From, "Prior to the time of Jerome, the standard theory was that they were Jesus' "brothers" who were sons of Joseph though not of Mary."

56 "Hom. In Sanctum Christi generationem", 5, ante A. D. 379, in OTT, 207. "The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin"

57 Essey, p. 12. Essey, notes that "St. Basil the Great (+379) cautiously accepts it while also realizing that it was not generally acknowledged even in Orthodox circles. He says that the acceptance of aeiparthenia is not absolutely necessary, though 'devout Christians' should confess it. All Basil insists upon is the acceptance of the virgin-birth." William Essey is now Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Archdiocese

58 Didymus the Blind, "The Trinity" 3:4, AD 386. On the Internet at: "It helps us to understand the terms `first-born' and `only-begotten' when the Evangelist tells that Mary remained a virgin `until she brought forth her first-born son' [Matt. 1:25]; for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone else, nor did she ever become the Mother of anyone else, but even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin."

59 Pope Siricius I, "Letter to Bishop Anysius", AD 392. On the Internet at: "You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen t be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord's body, that court of the eternal king."

60 "To the Christian at Vercellae". Letter 63:111, A. D. 396, in NPNF2, X:473

61 "Of Holy Virginity", 4, A. D. 401, in NPNF1, III:418. "Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spake in answer to the Angel announcing to her her conception; How,' saith she, shall this be, seeing I know not a man?' Which assuredly she would not say, unless she had before vowed herself unto God as a virgin. But, because the habits of the Israelites as yet refused this, she was espoused to a just man, who would not take from her by violence, but rather guard against violent persons, what she had already vowed. Although, even if she had said this only, How shall this take place?' and had not added, seeing I know not a man,' certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse. She might have been bidden also to continue a virgin, that in her by fitting miracle the Son of God should receive the form of a servant, but, being to be a pattern to holy virgins, lest it should be thought that she alone needed to be a virgin, who had obtained to conceive a child even without sexual intercourse, she dedicated her virginity to God, when as yet she knew not what she should conceive, in order that the imitation of a heavenly life in an earthly and mortal body should take place of vow, not of command; through love of choosing, not through necessity of doing service. Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free."

62 Augustine, "Holy Virginity" 4:4, AD 401 On the Internet at: "In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave."

63 Augustine, "Sermons" 186:1, AD 411 On the Internet at: ""It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?"

64 Leporius, "Document of Amendment" 3, AD 426. On the Internet at: "We confess, therefore, that our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before the ages, and in times most recent, made man of the Holy Spirit and the ever-virgin Mary."

65 Cyril of Alexandria, "Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God " 4, AD 430. In the Internet at: "The Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her child-bearing."

66 Sermon 117, A.D. 432, in FC, XVII, 200. "Where are they who think that the Virgin's conception and giving birth to her child are to be likened to those of other woman? For, this latter case is one of the earth, and the Virgin's is one from heaven. The one case is a case of divine power; the other of human weakness. The one case occurs in a body subject to passion; the other in the tranquility of the divine Spirit and peace of the human body. The blood was still, and the flesh astonished; her members were put at rest, and her entire womb was quiescent during the visit of the Holy One, until the Author of flesh could take on His garment of flesh, and until He, who was not merely to restore the earth to man but also to give him heaven, could become a heavenly Man. The virgin conceives, the Virgin brings forth her child, and she remains a virgin."

67 Pope Leo I, "Sermons" 22:2, AD 450. On the Internet at:: "His [Jesus's] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained." And, Pope Leo the Great, regn. A. D. 440-461, "On the Feast of the Nativity", Sermon 22:2 (ante A. D. 461), in NPNF2, XII:130. "And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother's chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Saviour of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.' The origin is different but the nature like: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she remained."

68 "Orthodox Faith", 4:14, A. D. 743, in NPNF2, IX:86. "The ever-virgin One thus remains even after the birth still virgin, having never at any time up till death consorted with a man. For although it is written, And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son, yet note that he who is first-begotten is first-born even if he is only-begotten. For the word first-born' means that he was born first but does not at all suggest the birth of others. And the word till' signifies the limit of the appointed time but does not exclude the time thereafter. For the Lord says, And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, not meaning thereby that He will be separated from us after the completion of the age. The divine apostle, indeed, says, And so shall we ever be with the Lord, meaning after the general resurrection."

69 ANF Volume 6. For, without any doubt, it would be proved on the same principles that He had brethren also by her. Now tell me whether these brethren were begotten by Joseph or by the same Holy Spirit. For if you say that they were begotten by the same Holy Spirit, it will follow that we have had many Christs. And if you say that these were not begotten by the same Holy Spirit, and yet aver that He had brethren, then without doubt we shall be under the necessity of understanding that, in succession to the Spirit and after Gabriel, the most pure and spotless virgin(7) formed an actual marriage connection with Joseph. But if this is also a thing altogether absurd--I mean the supposition that she had any manner of intercourse with Joseph--tell me whether then He had brethren. Are you thus to fix the crime of adultery also on her, most sagacious Marcellus? (8) But if none of these suppositions suits the position of the Virgin undefiled, how will you make it out that He had brothers? And if you are unable to prove clearly to us that He had brethren, will it be any the easier for you to prove Mary to be His mother, in accordance with the saying of him who ventured to write,(9) "Behold, Thy mother and Thy brethren stand without?" Yet, although that man was bold enough to address Him thus, no one can be mightier or greater than this same person Himself who shows us His mother or His brethren. Nay, He does not deign even to hear it said that He is David's son. (10) The Apostle Peter, however, the most eminent of all the disciples, was able to acknowledge Him on that occasion, when all were putting forth the several opinions which they entertained respecting Him: for he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;"(11) and immediately He names him blessed, addressing him thus: "For my heavenly Father hath revealed it unto thee." Observe what a difference there is between these two words which were spoken by Jesus. For to him who had said, "Behold, Thy mother stands without," He replied, "Who is my mother, or who are my brethren?" But to him who said, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living, God," He makes the return of a beatitude and benediction. Consequently, if you will have it that He was born of Mary, then it follows that no less than Peter, He is Himself thus proved to have spoken falsely. But if, on the other hand, Peter states what is true, then without doubt that former person was in error. And if the former was in error, the matter is to be referred back to the writer.(1) We know, therefore, that there is one Christ, according to the Apostle Paul, whose words, as in consonance at least(2) with His advent, we believe

70 Geisler and MacKenzie, p. 300

71 On the Internet at:

72 On the Internet at:

73 Meier, p. 115 describes the Protoevangelium of James as "fantasy", and an "hilarious mishmash of the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke." Also see p. 324, "this solution probably traces its roots to the presentation of Joseph in the Protoevangelium of Jacobi, a wildly imaginative folk narrative that is outrageously inaccurate about things Jewish."

74 On the Internet at:, "This document was written no later than A. D. 120, less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary's earthly life and when memories of that life were still vivid in the minds of many. "

75 Brown, Raymond E. "The Birth of the Messiah", purports a 150 AD date. The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Internet at:, lists a date of "the end of the second century".

76 Except in the possibility that such a vow could later be rescinded. There is little historical foundation for such a practice among young Jewish females of the first century.

77 On the Internet at: "The following links contain very early writings, called "Apocryphal" or "Hidden," that deal with birth and youth of Jesus. These writings were never accepted as authoritative by the Christian Community. The Protoevangelium of James Date: ~140 C.E.:

78 The "Liturgy of St. James" contains portions of the Protoevangelium of James.

79 Without a specific correlation to the text of the Protoevangelium of James in the actual source materials themselves, there's no way to definitively relate the source.

80 From, "One work, known as the Protoevangelium of James (A.D. 125) records that Joseph was selected from a group of widowers to serve as the husband/protector of Mary, who was a virgin consecrated to God. When he was chosen, Joseph objected: "I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl" (4: 8-9)."

81 Essey, p. 10, "Although not playing so great a role in the Mariology of the first three centuries, the Proto-evangelium of James was known by some Fathers and planted the seeds which would bear fruit in a few generations." And "The first Church Father who seems to have been familiar with the Proto-evangelium is St. Clement of Alexandria (+215)."

82 This shows a rough east/west division that exists to some degree to this day, From, "This position was dominant in the eastern Churches; while the position of Jerome was accepted by the Western Church."

83 From "In the same way, Mary was consecrated to the full-time service of God. The documents of the early Church, such as the Protoevangelium of James record that she was one of the women who, like the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-37), lived celibate lives in the Temple in Jerusalem, serving as full-time prayer warriors -- the Old Testament equivalent of contemplative nuns. According to world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: "The principal aim of the whole writing is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ" (Patrology, 1:120-1)".

84 Other books of the same era and genre include the "Ascension of Isaiah" (Graef, 34) and the "Odes of Soloman".

85 More than that, the Prologue from Ochris talks about how St. Jude called himself "The Brother of James" while St. James called himself "The Brother of the Lord." Why? Because when it was time to divide St. Joseph's estate, the other children (grown) did not want to give Christ a portion, so St. James shared his inheritance with Christ and the Theotokos. Later St. Jude came to believe (and I think died a martyr), but he was so ashamed of the way that he had treated his kinsman Christ that while St. James had the distinction of being "brother of the Lord" not because of fleshly relation but because he BEHAVED as a brother, St. Jude called himself only "the brother of James." Ann Lardas (, posted in alt.religion.christian.east-orthodox, 1998/07/26

86 "The rule of prayer is the rule of belief and action."

87 The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom can be found on the Internet at:

88 "The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God", p 37.

89 Bulgakov, Sergius. "The Virgin and the Saints in Orthodoxy". As quoted in "Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader", ed. Daniel Clendenin, p. 66.///

90 On the Internet at: The Old Testament in the New Testament Church Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky

91 Article in the "Catholic Encyclopedia", on the Internet at:, titled "Origen and Origenism", describes Origen's wide ranging influence in the section "Posthumous Influence Of Origen."

92 Armstrong, Dave. "Dialogue on Private Judgment, Authority, and Epistemology", On the Internet at:, 1997 is a dialog between Roman Catholics and Baptists on the issues of the Protestant/Catholic divide.

93 But since the Tradition itself is the subject of the question this is circular.

94 Schmemann, Alexander. "The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy", pp. 84-85.

Copyright (c) 1998 - Douglas Gilliland - All Rights Reserved

Footnote conversion by footer98

dggshome.gif (1381 bytes)logo_edit1.gif (13835 bytes)rsaclabel.gif (1167 bytes)