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THE PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – Part 7

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Origen of Alexandria (d. 253)In his Homilies on Luke (#7) Origen calls `heretics’ those who say that Jesus rejected His mother because she had intercourse with Joseph after His birth. He addresses the matter of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in his Homily on Matthew (#1, 5) saying they were the children of Joseph by a previous marriage.

Origen, however, does not use the term `aeiparthenos’ (Gr., ever-virgin) in any of his writings [Graef, 1963:45], but, as can be seen from the above, he most definitely held to the view regardless of his terminology.

ArchelausAround the year 277 a dispute arose between Archelaus, the bishop of Mesopotamia, and Manes. The issue of who were the brothers of Jesus was discussed.

Athanasius (c. 296-373)In his defense of orthodoxy against Arianism (Oratio II, 70) this defender of orthodox Christianity against the Arian heretics refers to Mary as “ever-virgin”. He also emphasizes the doctrine in his Letter to the Virgins. In this letter he uses Mary as a model for those who vowed to live a life of celibacy.

Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315-367)Hilary referred to those who reject the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary as “irreligious and very far removed from spiritual teaching”.

Basil the Great (of Caesarea) (c. 329-379)Basil taught that “The friends of Christ refuse to admit that the Mother of God [Gr., theotokos] ever ceased to be a virgin”.

Zeno, Bishop of Verona (363-372)“She [Mary] was virgin after marriage, virgin after conception, virgin after her Son. Finally, if anything had been better than virginity, the Son of God would rather have given that to His mother, whereas he gave her to rejoice in the honor of divine virginity.” [Tractatus, 1,5,3]

“Mary conceived as an incorrupt virgin, after conception she brought forth as a virgin, after giving birth she remained a virgin….” [Tractatus, 2,8,2]

“Mary brings forth not in sorrow, but in joy: the Son is born without a father … who owes to himself that he is conceived, but gives to the Mother that he is born. She marvels that such a Son should have come forth from her, who could not be believed to have been born from her, had she not been an undefiled virgin after her conception and remained such after the birth.” [Tractatus, 2,9,1]

Creed of Epiphanius (c. 374)The Creed refers to Mary as “the ever-virgin Mary.”

Gregory of Nazianzus (d.c. 390)Gregory taught the perpetual virginity of Mary in his work, Contra Apolinarem, 6.

Didymus (d.c. 398)Refers to Mary as Theotokos [On the Trinity, 1,31] and ever-virgin [1,27].”For the most glorius Mary, more honorable than any other, was never married to anyone, nor ever became the mother of another; but she remained after her childbirth for ever an undefiled virgin.” [On the Trinity, 3,4]

Epiphanius, Bishop of Salmis (d. 403)In a work entitled “Refutation of all Heresies” he attacks the Antidicomarianites (Opponents of Mary – Heresy #78) who “dared to say that Holy Mary had intercourse with a man, that is to say Joseph, after the birth of Christ” [78,1].

In his work, Panarion, he referred to the idea that Mary did not remain a virgin as “unheard-of insanity and preposterous novelty”. He was also responsible for the introduction of the phrase “ever virgin” into the Nicene Creed.

John Chrysostom (c. 347-407)Rejects the idea that the text “before they came together” in Matthew’s gospel requires that they do so later [Homily, 5,3].

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (339-397)Defended the perpetual virginity of Mary against Jovinian and Bonosus, bishop of Sardica.So a virgin could conceive, but a virgin could not give birth, though the conception always precedes and the birth follows? But if they will not believe the teaching of the priests, they should believe the sayings of Christ, they should believe the admonitions of the angels who say: `No word shall be impossible with God.’ (Luke 1:37) They should believe the Apostles’ Creed, which the Roman Church always guards and preserves … This is the Virgin, who has brought forth her Son. For thus it is written:`Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son’; for he says not only that a virgin shall conceive, but also that a virgin shall bring forth. For which is the gate of the sanctuary, that outer gate looking towards the east, which remains shut? (Ezek 44:1f) … Is not this gate Mary, through whom the Savior entered this world … who conceived and brought forth as a virgin?” [Epistle 42, 4-6]

© 2017 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.

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Written by Gary J Sibio

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