1413Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Semper Virgo
- Oct 7, 2009Thanks, Mike. This was exactly the reference I had recalled.-----R
On Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 4:04 PM, Mike Bennett <jhs1962@...> wrote:
> Here's what I find regarding Mt 1:25 in Luther's Works, pertinent to the
> Then he was asked whether Mary also had intercourse with Joseph after the
> birth of Christ, for Matthew says that he ‘knew her not until she had borne
> a son’ [Matt. 1:25]. He [Martin Luther] replied, “The church leaves this [to
> us] and has not decided. Nevertheless, what happened afterward shows quite
> strongly that Mary remained a virgin. For after she had perceived that she
> was the mother of the Son of God, she didn’t think she should become the
> mother of a human child and adhered to this vow.”
> Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J.
> J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:341).
> Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
> Now this refutes also the false interpretation which some have drawn from
> the words of Matthew, where he says, “Before they came together she was
> found to be with child.” They interpret this as though the evangelist meant
> to say, “Later she came together with Joseph like any other wife and lay
> with him, but before this occurred she was with child apart from Joseph,”
> etc. Again, when he says, “And Joseph knew her not until she brought forth
> her first-born son” [Matt. 1:25], they interpret it as though the evangelist
> meant to say that he knew her, but not before she had brought forth her
> first-born son. This was the view of Helvidius which was refuted by
> Such carnal interpretations miss the meaning and purpose of the evangelist.
> As we have said, the evangelist, like the prophet Isaiah, wishes to set
> before our eyes this mighty wonder, and point out what an unheard-of thing
> it is for a maiden to be with child before her husband brings her home and
> lies with her; and further, that he does not know her carnally until she
> first has a son, which she should have had after first having been known by
> him. Thus, the words of the evangelist do not refer to anything that
> occurred after the birth, but only to what took place before it. For the
> prophet and the evangelist, and St. Paul as well, do not treat of this
> virgin beyond the point where they have from her that fruit for whose sake
> she is a virgin and everything else. After the child is born they dismiss
> the mother and speak not about her, what became of her, but only about her
> offspring. Therefore, one cannot from these words [Matt. 1:18, 25] conclude
> Mary, after the birth of Christ, became a wife in the usual sense; it is
> therefore neither to be asserted nor believed. All the words are merely
> indicative of the marvelous fact that she was with child and gave birth
> before she had lain with a man.
> The form of expression used by Matthew is the common idiom, as if I were to
> say, “Pharaoh believed not Moses, until he was drowned in the Red Sea.” Here
> it does not follow that Pharaoh believed later, after he had drowned; on the
> contrary, it means that he never did believe. Similarly when Matthew [1:25]
> says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her
> son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it
> means that he never did know her. Again, the Red Sea overwhelmed Pharaoh
> before he got across. Here too it does not follow that Pharaoh got across
> later, after the Red Sea had overwhelmed him, but rather that he did not get
> across at all. In like manner, when Matthew [1:18] says, “She was found to
> be with child before they came together,” it does not follow that Mary
> subsequently lay with Joseph, but rather that she did not lie with him.
> Elsewhere in Scripture the same manner of speech is employed. Psalm 110[:1]
> reads, “God says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies
> your footstool.’ ” Here it does not follow that Christ does not continue to
> sit there after his enemies are placed beneath his feet. Again, in Genesis
> 28[:15], “I will not leave you until I have done all that of which I have
> spoken to you.” Here God did not leave him after the fulfilment had taken
> place. Again, in Isaiah 42[:4], “He shall not be sad, nor troublesome,
> till he has established justice in the earth.” There are many more similar
> expressions, so that this babble of Helvidius is without justification; in
> addition, he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture
> or the common idiom.
> This is enough for the present to have sufficiently proved that Mary was a
> pure maiden, and that Christ was a genuine Jew of Abraham’s seed. Although
> more Scripture passages might be cited, these are the clearest. Moreover,
> if anyone does not believe a clear saying of His Divine Majesty, it is
> reasonable to assume that he would not believe either any other more obscure
> passages. So certainly no one can doubt that it is possible for God to cause
> a maiden to be with child apart from a man, since he has also created all
> things from nothing. Therefore, the Jews have no ground for denying this,
> for they acknowledge God’s omnipotence, and they have here the clear
> testimony of the prophet Isaiah.
> Luther, M. (1999, c1962). Vol. 45: Luther's works, vol. 45 : The Christian
> in Society II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's
> Works (45:211-213). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
> Mike Bennett
> --- On Wed, 10/7/09, Rosemarie Lieffring <rose.lieffring@...<rose.lieffring%40gmail.com>>
> From: Rosemarie Lieffring <rose.lieffring@...<rose.lieffring%40gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Semper Virgo
> To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com<LutheransLookingEast%40yahoogroups.com>
> Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 12:13 PM
> You make an important point..."coming at the scriptures from a Sola
> Scriptura lens, you miss out on all of the other background information
> posts have provided"
> The problem is that Scripture absolutely cannot be removed from the context
> of the Church and still be fully understood properly. This discussion of
> Semper Virgo is proof positive of that. The Church teaches us how to
> understand the Scriptures.. .just as Christ did when He walked with the men
> on the road to Emmaus and opened up the Scriptures to them so that they
> would understand.
> The verse from Ezekiel 44:2 is one case in point.
> Another is the historic understanding of Matt. 1:25 which you reference
> here...Luther even comments about the incorrect interpretation of
> the heretic, Helvidius, who used the Scriptures in this way to deny the
> virginity of the Theotokos. (Unfortunately, I don't have that reference
> here with me right now.) So here we are 1700 hundred years later and the
> misinterpretations are being made anew. How absolutely frightening this is
> to me that beliefs of old heretics are resurrected by folks interpretting
> Scripture apart from the knowledge of the Church. What a dangerous thing
> Sola Scripture appears to be!
> Is Semper Virgo important? In addition to what has already been said by the
> others here I would emphasize that not seeing Semper Virgo in the
> is evidence that one doesn't have the proper interpretation of the
> Scriptures. Not a good place to be if one is Sola Scripture... ..R
> On Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 12:33 PM, oruaseht <oruaseht@yahoo. com> wrote:
> > Thank you for the replies, they are very fascinating. Coming at the
> > scriptures from the Sola Scriptura lens, you miss out on all of the other
> > background information your posts have provided.
> > The most often cited verse for Mary not being perpetually virgin is
> > 1:18 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his
> > Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was
> > to be with child from the Holy Spirit." "Came together" is typically
> > understood here as sexual union but the Greek doesn't necessarily
> > that was the case.
> > The other verse, MT 1:25 "but knew her not until she had given birth to a
> > son. And he called his name Jesus." is more problematic. It comes down to
> > how you understand the improper preposition translated here as "until."
> > It seems though that the understanding of Mary's perpetual virginity has
> > been an important tradition of the church ~ one that is no longer really
> > held by Lutherans.
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