Refutation of the RC dogma of Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Hank Hanegraaff’s argument was clearly defeated, IMO. James White makes great sense, about a bunch of non-family grown men (whether cousins or children from Joseph from a previous marriage in which Joseph’s first wife died) following Mary around all the time in the first century culture, etc. [ Addendum comment: It is true that in other cultures and ancient culture, extended families in a household could also include other relatives, but it still seems weird if all of the brothers and sisters of Jesus are either cousins, or children of Joseph by a previous marriage; and if so, that none of “brothers and sister” are also not children of Mary.]

One of his main points is the earliest literature that imply the PVM are 2nd century non-Canonical texts (Odes may be in 3rd Century) “Gnostic tinged” 3 texts that are apocryphal and non-canonical – 1. The Odes of Solomon, 2. The Ascension of Isaiah (also may be in early 3rd century), and 3. The Proto-Evangelium of James. (probably a second century work) The Odes of Solomon is particularly offensive in speaking about God the Father in that way! (breasts and milk, etc.) These are clearly Gnostic and Gnostic tinged sources. Baby Jesus “beams out” (Star Trek) of Mary without breaking her hymen. James White spent an entire DL program several years ago reading the Proto-Evangelium of James. The details are also in Dr. White’s book, “Mary: Another Redeemer?” (along with the other issues of Marian piety and practices, doctrines, and dogmas)

On April 26, Monday, I made this comment on Twitter:

The 2 other Greek words that the NT gospel writers could have used (in those passages about “brothers and sisters” of Jesus), if they were cousins, is clear in Colossians 4:10 ανεψιος (cousin) and συγγενις (relative, kinsfolk) (Luke 1:36)- so, the PVM is wrong and unBiblical.

Dr. White responded, which I agree with:

Yes, there were terms that could have been used to make such designations. To any honest reader, the later development came from monasticism and its unbiblical and unhealthy views of sex and gender, NOT from any serious biblical warrant.

What was behind the tendency of some early church fathers to over-emphasize Mary’s perpetual virginity? (particularly Jerome and Augustine)



Unbiblical and unhealthy views of sex and gender

I distinctly remember RC Dave Armstrong admitting to me that Jerome and Augustine and other early church fathers went over-board in their denigration of sexual relations, even within marriage. (Since DA deleted most of our combox “debating”, I cannot find that; but I remember that.)

I remember years ago listening to this debate of James White vs. Jerry Matatics. James White was clearly the winner in his argumentation.

I wrote this years ago over at Beggars All Reformation (run by James Swan, a great brother and careful researcher of details of Luther and the Reformation.) (edited a little for spelling and clarification.)

The New Testament writers would have used the words for “cousin” if they had meant “cousin” in passages about Jesus’ brothers and sisters

Persistent commentator Roman Catholic “Guy Fawkes” / Jim wrote:
“Brothers” does not have to mean uterine brother. 

Ken Temple:  (with addition comments)

Except when the context demands it.  


Also, Luke calls Elizabeth a relative or cousin of Mary – sungenis = συγγενις = kinswoman, relative

Luke 1:36

The Greek has words for cousin, kinsman/kinswoman and relative.

καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἐλισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνειληφυῖα υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ·

“And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month” Luke 1:36

sungenis / συγγενις means “kinswoman”, “relative” 

ανεψιος (Colossians 4:10 – “cousin”)

If the “brothers and sisters of Jesus” were cousins, the NT writers would have used those words.

But it would make no sense for Jesus to be making the spiritual application and saying, “My true cousins are those that do the will of God”
Matthew 12:46-50 and parallels in Luke 8:19-21 and Mark 6:3; see also, John 7:3-10; cf. Matthew 13:55-57

only uterine/blood brothers makes sense.

ανεψιος / anepsios 

John Mark is Barnabas’ cousin. Colossians 4:10
anepsios = cousin

καὶ Μᾶρκος ὁ ἀνεψιὸς Βαρναβᾶ 

Mark, the cousin of Barnabas

That is an even more specific word; so the NT writers would have used those words if the passages of “brothers and sisters” of Jesus meant “cousins”.  

Your (Guy Fawkes / Jim, a Roman Catholic) argument is refuted and defeated again.

Eric Svenden’s book and point about “heos hou” (But it is not a “stand alone” argument.)

See more here on the details of the “heos hou” argument by Eric Svendsen. (see Matthew 1:18 and 1:25 – “before they came together” and “Joseph kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus”) Please note: This argument (on the Greek phrase, “heos hou” alone per say in a word study or phrase study) is not all by itself the only reason as to the final determination of the issue, rather it is the weight of the cumulation of the issues and the context (Matthew 1:18 – “before they came together”; and see also a textual variant [addendum: the textual variant does not affect the meaning relevant here] in the context of marriage and sexual relations in 1 Corinthians 7:5 – “come together again” – (addendum: but the same idea in Matthew 1:18 is in a different Greek phrase. The point is that the context of sexual relations in marriage is the same context, no matter what exact Greek words are used) and all the other points from all the gospels about Jesus’ brothers *, especially John 7 (for even His brothers were not believing in Him) and also early church history and that some early church fathers did not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary (after Jesus was born). (most notably Tertullian)

*But it would make no sense for Jesus to be making the spiritual application and saying, “My true cousins are those that do the will of God”
Matthew 12:46-50 and parallels in Luke 8:19-21 and Mark 6:3; see also, John 7:3-10; cf. Matthew 13:55-57

An older Debate I had with RC blogger Dave Armstrong

Here is another article I wrote which was a debate I had with Dave Armstrong (Roman Catholic blogger) on this issue. I debated Dave Armstrong for years at his blog in the com-boxes but eventually, he banned me after he moved over to Patheos (a terrible over the top busy website that constantly has too much info and advertising coming at you that one cannot concentrate on just reading plain articles.


About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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4 Responses to Refutation of the RC dogma of Perpetual Virginity of Mary

  1. Młody i Reformowany says:

    I really recommend this source:

    Margaret A. Schatkin, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary and New Testament Criticism,w: De Maria NumquamSatis: The Significance of the Catholic Doctrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary for All People, red. Judith Marie Gentle, Robert L. Fastiggi, University Press of America, Lanham 2009, p. 37- 68.

    Schatkin thou she believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary, basically admits that, when it comes to the Greek grammar of Matthew 1:25, Helvidius was right. She argues, having no real evidence, that the original Greek of Matthew 1:25, which is now lost, was different.

    “The attempts of the church fathers to interpret this verse in any other way than that of Helvidius, reveal that syntactical analysis was not in the front of their minds. Their exegesis appears to be more apologetic defense of the ecclesiastical tradition regarding the perpetual virginity of Mary, than objective grammatical analysis. This is not surprising because the textus receptus of Matthew 1:25, when taken literally, clashed with early Christian sensibility about the virgin Mary. Such a discrepancy between Scripture and tradition is rare in early Christianity, as are the efforts of the church fathers to justify the textus receptus of Matthew 1:25a.” (Margaret A. Schatkin, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary and New Testament Criticism, p. 55).

    • Ken Temple says:

      Excellent addition to the issue. Thank you!

      Eric Svendsen also did a lot of work on the grammar of Matthew 1:25, heos hou, ‘εως ‘ου = “until”

      James White debated Robert Fastiggi years ago.

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