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    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #41

    Sep 30, 2022, 09:00 PM
    but mainstream protestant churches, definitely not.
    That's a safe statement. Not too sure how she could have given birth to other children, as she did, and still remained a virgin. Perhaps the basic error is in viewing sexual activity as something sinful or, at the least, a little too enjoyable to be engaged in by the truly Godly people. I've been in this for several decades, and I've never heard a protestant minister on any level suggest that Mary was perpetually a virgin.
    Athos's Avatar
    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #42

    Oct 1, 2022, 12:46 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by dwashbur View Post
    I think you mean baby Jesus.
    Thank you for the correction. Even I confuse myself sometimes.

    The notion of Mary being immaculate grew out of flawed logic.
    1. Jesus, it was reasoned, was sinless.
    2. So he couldn't have been born of a normal, sinful woman.
    3. So she must have been born sinless.
    As logic, there is no flaw. The first two premises being true, the conclusion logically follows. The issue, therefore, is not logic but the truth of the first two premises. No Christian denies the first, and the second holds up as explained below.

    But how? Wouldn't that require her mother to be immaculate, and her mother before her, ad infinitum?
    Not at all. The intervention of God, knowing Mary would be chosen, eliminated that requirement.

    The flawed logic comes in the second step, because there is no real reason why Jesus couldn't have been born from a perfectly normal woman.
    A woman impregnated by the Spirit is hardly normal. “Perfectly normal” requires a normal partner. That would result in Jesus being tainted with original sin, and it is already agreed that Jesus was sinless.

    The flaw in logic happened when someone slipped an emotion-based opinion in when nobody was looking.
    Are you saying here that the Gospels were changed or edited in places based on emotion? I think that's quite possible, even likely in several ways, but not necessarily here although possible.

    There is no good theological reason why he couldn't.(ed: that Jesus couldn't have been born from a perfectly normal woman)
    There is an excellent theological reason. Namely, that the Son of God would be born sinless.

    Further proof is evidenced by Pope Pius XII declaring in 1950, ex cathedra, that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul, without passing through purgatory. No one gets past purgatory with sin on their soul. Even a venial sin. Unless, of course, they've been granted a plenary indulgence.

    fm DW
    As I'm sure you know, not many active participants here follow papal decrees. The most fascinating thing about that one to me is how long it took someone to think it up.
    On the contrary, papal decrees are followed by the largest collection of Christian participants in the world – Roman Catholics. If by “here”, you mean this AMHD topic and its participants, that's not much of an argument, is it?

    Also interesting. It touches on the perpetual virginity of Mary. Marital relations are certainly not sinful within the marriage bond. By use of the term "yet", are you implying Mary did have relations with Joseph? If Mary, according to the Gospel, was a virgin before the birth of Jesus, it is equally possible she remained a virgin afterwards. I think that is the position of the mainstream Protestant churches, the Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox.

    fm DW
    I don't know about Eastern Orthodox, someone else please chime in on that one, but mainstream protestant churches, definitely not.
    Here's a list of those Protestants who believed in Mary's perpetual virginity. Martin Luther, Zwingli, John Calvin, John Wesley – all of whom have mainstream denominations today. Others include Gregory of Nyassa, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and the first Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican/Episcopalian).

    Perpetual virginity is another one based on a logical fallacy. The reasoning there was simply that the vagina that expelled the Son of God couldn't possibly be defiled by anything else, that would just be too icky to contemplate. (I paraphrase.) That's what that one boiled down to. The Catholic Church also teaches that she wasn't just a perpetual virgin, but a virgo intacta even after she gave birth. Pushing Jesus out didn't break her hymen, which leads me to believe we should be building space ships out of whatever it was made of. (Sorry, I can't help myself. If anyone is offended I sincerely apologize.)
    No offense taken.

    For this objection and all the preceding ones, I've left the major reasoning challenging your points to the end. Your arguments are all based on logic. If you want to rely on logic, then, to be consistent, you should apply logic wherever needed. E.g., in the many places from Genesis to Revelation where the Bible defies logic.

    Sorry this is so long, but I like to cover all bases, Religion being a favorite subject of mine, and especially when someone of your credentials is involved.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 39,025, Reputation: 5431
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    #43

    Oct 1, 2022, 01:50 PM
    Why couldn't God the all-powerful Father have had His Spirit impregnate an ordinary human virgin in order to produce a sinless Son? If she were sinful, that baby would have to be sinful too?

    From https://www.gotquestions.org/was-Mary-sinless.html --
    Rather than teach that Mary was sinless, the Bible gives evidence that she was a normal person with a normal person’s need of salvation. In Mary’s praise-filled, humble prayer in Luke 1, she says, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (verse 47). If she were sinless, she would not have needed a “Savior.” Mary receives a gentle rebuke from Jesus in John 2:4, which hardly seems fitting if she were sinless.
    Athos's Avatar
    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #44

    Oct 1, 2022, 03:34 PM
    Wondergirl -- Why couldn't God the all-powerful Father have had His Spirit impregnate an ordinary human virgin in order to produce a sinless Son?
    God could do anything. He could have had an angel impregnate a tree. But he didn't.

    If she were sinful, that baby would have to be sinful too?
    Mary was full of grace and without sin.

    From https://www.gotquestions.org/was-Mary-sinless.html --
    Rather than teach that Mary was sinless, the Bible gives evidence that she was a normal person with a normal person’s need of salvation. In Mary’s praise-filled, humble prayer in Luke 1, she says, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (verse 47). If she were sinless, she would not have needed a “Savior.” Mary receives a gentle rebuke from Jesus in John 2:4, which hardly seems fitting if she were sinless.
    Mary wasn't making a theological statement. She was simply expressing her joy using a title of God.
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #45

    Oct 1, 2022, 03:35 PM
    Good post, WG. It is also quite likely that when his family showed up to take him home in Mk. 3, it was because they considered him to be unstable. Not exactly a great vote of faith by his mom.
    dwashbur's Avatar
    dwashbur Posts: 1,421, Reputation: 175
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    #46

    Oct 2, 2022, 07:02 PM
    Mary was full of grace and without sin.
    Contrary to RC theology, the former does not imply the latter. Grace is unmerited favor. It's something given despite the recipient not deserving it. Being "full of grace" suggest just the opposite, she was a regular sinful human who was given grace despite her condition.

    Mary wasn't making a theological statement. She was simply expressing her joy using a title of God.
    That's a leap.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 39,025, Reputation: 5431
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    #47

    Oct 2, 2022, 07:25 PM
    I've been checking with Lutheran siblings and other relatives. Might contact a few of the Lutheran seminaries. Luther was an RC monk so heard the "sinless Mary" story, but none of us have ever been taught that she was sinless. My Lutheran pastor father (and his ministerial contemporaries) never taught or preached that. The Lutheran college that I attended many years ago didn't teach it either.
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #48

    Oct 2, 2022, 08:17 PM
    Mary was full of grace and without sin.
    I looked at several translations and found no place in the Bible where it says Mary was "full of grace" or "without sin". It does say Jesus was full of grace in John 1:14. Did I miss it somewhere?
    Athos's Avatar
    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #49

    Oct 2, 2022, 08:45 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by dwashbur View Post
    Contrary to RC theology, the former does not imply the latter. Grace is unmerited favor. It's something given despite the recipient not deserving it. Being "full of grace" suggest just the opposite, she was a regular sinful human who was given grace despite her condition.

    Unmerited favor
    and full of grace does not remotely suggest Mary was a sinful human. Whether it means or suggests Mary was without sin is debatable. Related issues, but not the same.

    That's a leap.
    (This referred to Mary using the title Savior of God.)

    Mary using the phrase "Savior of God" meaning that she was sinful because the expression implies she needed a savior is a bigger leap than the one you suggest I made re "full of grace" and "unmerited favor". You are being too literal at how language is used. That's a fault of the fundies, not you.

    For example, a Catholic priest is called "Father". When a priest is addressed thusly, it does not mean the person considers the priest his literal, actual father.

    Btw, it's ok to have different views about Mary. You are correct in saying/implying that RC theology favors Mary more than other Christian points of view. I assume the other points in my reply you did not address means you have no objection to those points?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wondergirl View Post
    I've been checking with Lutheran siblings and other relatives. Might contact a few of the Lutheran seminaries. Luther was an RC monk so heard the "sinless Mary" story, but none of us have ever been taught that she was sinless. My Lutheran pastor father (and his ministerial contemporaries) never taught or preached that. The Lutheran college that I attended many years ago didn't teach it either.
    The issue was not Mary's sinlessness among Lutherans. It was Mary's perpetual virginity which was held by Martin Luther.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 39,025, Reputation: 5431
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    #50

    Oct 2, 2022, 08:52 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Athos View Post
    The issue was not Mary's sinlessness among Lutherans. It was Mary's perpetual virginity which was held by Martin Luther.
    Lutherans believe she had children after Jesus. Although...some high-church Lutherans say they were cousins, not siblings.
    dwashbur's Avatar
    dwashbur Posts: 1,421, Reputation: 175
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    #51

    Oct 3, 2022, 12:02 AM
    That's a leap.
    (This referred to Mary using the title Savior of God.)

    Mary using the phrase "Savior of God" meaning that she was sinful because the expression implies she needed a savior is a bigger leap than the one you suggest I made re "full of grace" and "unmerited favor". You are being too literal at how language is used. That's a fault of the fundies, not you.
    Uh uh. It's an understanding of the culture and language. "God my savior" means exactly what it means. If she had simply been expressing her joy with one of the many names of God in her scriptures, she would have been more likely to say Kyrios Eiden, "The Lord sees", in bad Hebrew it's Jehovah Jireh. She would not have used the term "savior" lightly. First century Judaism had several great names for God and she had them all at her disposal. The fact that she used the word "savior" is a lot more significant than you give it credit for.

    Unmerited favor and full of grace does not remotely suggest Mary was a sinful human.
    That's exactly what it means. It's why the favor wasn't merited.
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #52

    Oct 3, 2022, 03:21 AM
    Martin Luther's view of Mary.

    “Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. […] Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that ‘brothers’ really mean ‘cousins’ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.”
    So he seems to have considered the "brothers" of Jesus to have been merely cousins. Wesley and Calvin appear to have believed the same thing. Hmmm.

    5 Protestants Who Surprisingly Defended Mary’s Perpetual Virginity | (churchpop.com)

    Thankfully, it would not seem to be an essential doctrine in any regard.
    Athos's Avatar
    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #53

    Oct 3, 2022, 05:06 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by dwashbur View Post
    Uh uh. It's an understanding of the culture and language. "God my savior" means exactly what it means. If she had simply been expressing her joy with one of the many names of God in her scriptures, she would have been more likely to say Kyrios Eiden, "The Lord sees", in bad Hebrew it's Jehovah Jireh. She would not have used the term "savior" lightly. First century Judaism had several great names for God and she had them all at her disposal. The fact that she used the word "savior" is a lot more significant than you give it credit for.
    Thanks for adding the language info. I truly appreciate that.

    However, regardless of that, it is quite possible, even probable in my view, that Mary never said those words in the first place. As the Christ story evolved over the first few centuries, Mary's words were added to the story as the debate about the divinity of Jesus and his role was taking place.

    The anonymous author of Luke has Mary answering the angel including the Magnificat - passages so literary that it is difficult to believe Mary had the ability to compose such a response. The mere presence of an angel also indicates the Annunciation is a literary addition. Your take on the quality of the literary Greek in Luke's gospel would be welcomed.

    That's exactly what it means. It's why the favor wasn't merited.
    On this point, I believe you are flat out wrong. I wrote, "Unmerited favor and full of grace does not remotely suggest Mary was a sinful human." You denied that, implying Mary was sinful.

    A favor can be unmerited without the recipient being sinful. Parents do it for their children all the time.
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #54

    Oct 3, 2022, 01:35 PM
    Catholics seem to doubt the Bible while believing the Pope. Protestants' prefer to believe the Bible and doubt the Pope.
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    dwashbur Posts: 1,421, Reputation: 175
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    #55

    Oct 3, 2022, 07:24 PM
    However, regardless of that, it is quite possible, even probable in my view, that Mary never said those words in the first place. As the Christ story evolved over the first few centuries, Mary's words were added to the story as the debate about the divinity of Jesus and his role was taking place.
    Got a documentary source for that? The pre-Nicene papyri don't seem to show any such development.
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    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #56

    Oct 3, 2022, 08:14 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by dwashbur View Post
    Got a documentary source for that? The pre-Nicene papyri don't seem to show any such development.
    No.

    Documentary sources for analyzing ancient writings are never able to answer every question that rises. In the case of early Christianity, when the Church became the official religion, other viewpoints were either discarded intentionally as heresy or simply were not copied for future reading. An example is gnosticism, a wide-spread philosophy/religion that is primarily known today through the writings of its opponent Christianity.

    As you know, there are many tools to reconstruct or re-imagine the era of the first 3 or 4 centuries. Studying the culture, writings, language, and history of the era is essential. Conclusions are often drawn based on little more than common sense added to the basic tools mentioned. I believe that applies to my point about Mary not being a literary light.

    However, I don't want to stray too far from the present conversation about Mary's sinfulness or lack thereof.

    I welcome your reply to the other questions raised in my post #53.
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    dwashbur Posts: 1,421, Reputation: 175
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    #57

    Oct 3, 2022, 11:10 PM
    Gnosticism is well documented and understood through the discovery of the Nag Hammadi documents in 1945. The Oxyrhynchus papyri have told us loads about the time and especially the language. The Amarna Letters give us information about ancient Egypt vis a vis their neighbors. The Lachish Letters give us a chilling view of what being under siege by the Babylonians was like. The list goes on and on.
    We can reconstruct these things quite nicely through textual criticism of the New Testament, too. It's estimated that the text we have reconstructed through centuries of analyzing close to 3000 complete manuscripts and 2000+ bits and pieces, represents the text in use around the second century or earlier. See Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament for the gory details.
    We have complete manuscripts dating from around CE 350, right about the time of Nicea and Constantine. They don't show any signs of interpolation in the Mary stories. Papyrus p4, which dates from somewhere around the second to third century, also doesn't show any signs of a different text. In fact, it's pretty homogenous with later Alexandrian manuscripts.
    All that gobbledygook was to say, when it comes to reconstructing the original text of the New Testament, we have plenty to go on. And none of it seems to support the hypothesis that the stories about Mary were redacted multiple times after Constantine.
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    Athos Posts: 1,089, Reputation: 55
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    #58

    Oct 4, 2022, 03:24 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by dwashbur View Post
    All that gobbledygook was to say, when it comes to reconstructing the original text of the New Testament, we have plenty to go on.
    Gobbledygook (your word) is a good description of the documentation information you provided. I hardly need say it is nowhere near the solution to what the original documents were as you seem to be claiming. You went far afield in your reply which did not cast light on the New Testament. Egypt and Babylon are not germane to the present discussion. I disagree that textual criticism can "quite nicely reconstruct these things". That is simply another tool that has value but not to be overstated. Thank you, however, for your correction on my Gnosticism comment.

    You say the complete manuscripts from the time of Constantine don't show any signs of interpolation in the Mary stories. How could they? We don't have the originals to compare them with! (But what about the literary language that emanated from Mary?)

    They were certainly the result of three centuries of the transmission of the Gospels that were copied and recopied for about two dozen generations. We know adjustments, changes, and additions/subtractions were made, and whatever else takes place when manuscripts are handed down over hundreds of years by dozens of copyists. We need look no further than the Gospels which were rejected to know for a certainty that decisions were made about which copies were to be selected for those final editions which have come down to us today. If memory serves, there were well over 50 Gospels of which only four made the cut.

    Papyrus p4, you wrote, "doesn't show any signs of a different text" re Mary. Of course, it doesn't! P4 has only the first 6 chapters of Luke. Luke has 24 chapters. The Mary story is not even covered in those first 6 chapters! If I'm not understanding this comment of yours, please let me know what I'm missing.

    And none of it seems to support the hypothesis that the stories about Mary were redacted multiple times after Constantine.
    First, I never said the Mary stories were redacted multiple times after Constantine. My opinion on Mary's Magnificat was PRIOR to Constantine.

    Second, my opinion was based on the literary language which I made very clear to you, and even requested your comment on the language, which you did not provide. I thought your scholarly study of Greek could shed some light on the issue. If you choose not to comment, that's ok.
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    dwashbur Posts: 1,421, Reputation: 175
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    #59

    Oct 4, 2022, 09:18 AM
    I disagree that textual criticism can "quite nicely reconstruct these things". That is simply another tool that has value but not to be overstated.
    It's no overstatement at all. Again, I refer you to Metzger's book. He presents the material in an understandable way.

    They were certainly the result of three centuries of the transmission of the Gospels that were copied and recopied for about two dozen generations. We know adjustments, changes, and additions/subtractions were made, and whatever else takes place when manuscripts are handed down over hundreds of years by dozens of copyists.
    And we have manuscripts that reflect pretty much all of them, so it's not hard to sift through and determine what's original and what isn't. Precisely my point. I've spent over 40 years in this, have published on the subject, and wrote a thesis in school about it. I did not go into this blind.

    I don't understand your comment about P4. The Mary stories are in the first 3 chapters of Luke, which are preserved in the papyrus.

    Also, as far as copying and transmission is concerned, P75 is at least two centuries older than the Constantine-era manuscripts, and it has virtually the same text as Vaticanus, one of the most important manuscripts we possess. Again, the mss themselves don't show any signs of redaction in any era.

    We can also look at stylistic and formal matters of writing, and it's clear that there are no interpolations in the early chapters of Luke. There are lots of ways to determine this that would be more technical gobbledygook so I won't go into it. but form criticism has also told us these narratives haven't been monkeyed with.

    I'm sorry, but there is just no evidence for this idea.

    First, I never said the Mary stories were redacted multiple times after Constantine. My opinion on Mary's Magnificat was PRIOR to Constantine.
    My error.
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    jlisenbe Posts: 4,621, Reputation: 156
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    #60

    Oct 4, 2022, 10:30 AM
    Unless I am mistaken, P4 contains only a handful of verses from chapters 1 and 2, so the Mary narrative is probably largely absent.

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