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Mary’s Virginity in the Jewish Understanding

mary.mother.of.jesus.01Catholic churchmen continue to reflect on the mystery of Mary’s virginity although there is unanimity that she only gave birth to Jesus. The other children may have been cousins or children of Joseph from a previous bond; some Church fathers spoke about Joseph as an older man and widower. While there is biblical reference to Jesus’ Mother and his brothers and sisters, note the texts never indicate that Mary is the mother of these brethren.

Virginity was associated with holiness and purity going back to Old Testament days. While it was insisted that it should be brought to the marriage bed undefiled, the emphasis was fruitfulness and progeny. The promiscuous woman was damaged goods and unclean. The barren woman was cursed. We see this latter sentiment with Abraham and Sarah and in the New Testament with Zachariah and Elizabeth. Sacred tradition indicates a similar situation with St. Ann. These women rejoiced because God gave them a child and took away their shame.

“Sons are a birthright from Yahweh, children are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).

“Your wife will be a fruitful vine within your house: your children will be like olive shoots around your table…may you see your children’s children” (Psalm 128: 3,6).

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One Response

  1. It is not Catholic Church teaching that St Joseph was an older man with children of his own. This was a made up story by outsiders because they could not accept the virginity of St Joseph, nor of our Heavenly Mother. St Joseph was only about 10 years older that Our Lady; he was very devout and a virgin!!! Please do not spread Protestant lies under the guise of Catholic truth.

    God bless Joan

    FATHER JOE: The post merely relates about views in the early Church. Nothing definitive is known for sure about his age or previous marital status. All we do know is that he and Mary were betrothed (the first tier of Jewish marriage). Later he took her into his home (the second tier). The view of an older Joseph may be rooted in the apocrypha and the Eastern Church. It is not the view of outsiders or the typical Protestant view (which would violate teaching about Mary’s perpetual virginity). Joseph lived a celibate life with Mary and there are even popes who regarded Joseph as a virgin, too. But Catholic teaching is much more decisive about Mary than it is about Joseph. You mean well, but are wrong to accuse me of spreading “Protestant lies.”

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