Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

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The Knowledge of Our Lady

[Faith & Reason, XI, Nos. 1-2, pp. 51-76]

Did Our Lady know her Son was divine? Or did she even know He was Messiah? Or did she believe in Him at all? If she did know any of these things, when did she learn them?1

Most scholars today would say she did not know. They are practically driven to such views. For if she knew at least that He was Messiah, and learned it at the Annunciation: then would she not have told Him? And then He would have known. But, He did not know. Therefore she did not know. So it is the firm conviction that Jesus did not know who He was, and really, had a lot of ignorance, which forces scholars to conclude to ignorance in His Mother. A prominent example is Raymond E. Brown, who spends most of an entire book, Jesus God and Man, accumulating what he thinks are Scriptural evidences for ignorance in Jesus. For example, Brown suspects Jesus did not know too much about even the afterlife: "We cannot assume that Jesus shared our own sophistication on some of these questions. If Jesus speaks of heaven above the clouds ... how can we be sure that he knew that it was not above the clouds?"2 Again: "In ... demonology, the afterlife, and apocalyptic, Jesus seems to draw on the imperfect religious concepts of his time without indication of superior knowledge."3

Jesus even, according to Brown, had some superstitions: He thought demons inhabit desert places, while St. Paul thought they lived in the upper air (cf. Mt 12:43-45; Eph 2:2): "I see no way to get around the difficulty except by saying that Jesus and Paul were wrong on this point. They accepted the beliefs of their times about demons, but those beliefs were superstitious."4 His Mentality, says Brown, was that of "a Jew of the first third of the first century, who thinks in the images of his time, speaks in the idiom of his time."5

There is much more, but these illustrations will show us how the same Brown can assert: "All modern christology is based on the theory that the human knowledge of Jesus was limited ..."6 From the above citations, we can see that Brown does not just mean to say the created soul of Jesus could not hold infinite knowledge. He means much more. Hence Brown seems to think Jesus did not really envision a Church, probably thinking the end was imminent. So the statement that Jesus instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper "is true to the same real but nuanced extent as the statement that the historical Jesus instituted the Church.... Jesus formed the nucleus of what would develop ultimately into the Church ... (the priesthood) emerged somewhere in the course of the second century."7

Countless scholars, and nonscholars, hold very similar views today. Brown is typical. In fact, Hans Urs von Balthasar goes so far as to say of Jesus after His death: "In hell he encounters his own work of salvation, not in Easter triumph, but in the uttermost night of obedience.... he experiences the second chaos. While bereft of any spiritual light emanating from the Father, in sheer obedience, he must seek the Father where he cannot find him under any circumstances."8

To return to Brown: "There is a very serious problem in reconciling the virginal conception with the modern understanding of how Jesus functioned as a human being who was limited in the way he could express or formulate (italics original) his own identity.... However, if Joseph and Mary knew that their son had no human father ... if it had been revealed to them from the start that the child was to be the Messiah, and if they had not kept this secret from Jesus, how can he not (italics original) have affirmed that he was the Messiah or that he was the unique Son of God?"9

Clearly, the conviction of His ignorance is so entrenched that there is a problem even about the virginal conception.

So we see why she must be made to be ignorant. In fact, Brown asserts that Mark's Gospel presents her as not believing in Him: "the sequence (Mk 3:21 and 31-35) indicates that Mark judged (italics original) that Jesus' mother was among 'his own' and that she thought he was beside himself- scarcely a graceful picture of Mary.... One may conclude ... that Mark did not think Mary and the brothers were disciples of Jesus during his ministry "10 Brown admits that Luke paints her as "the first Christian".11 Brown, it seems, does not mind thinking one Gospel can contradict another. This is not strange when we recall he insists that, "Critical investigation points to religious limitations and even errors"12 in Scripture.13

In The Consciousness of Christ 14 I take up and answer every argument advanced by Brown and others worthy of note, from Scripture, the Fathers, Magisterium and speculation, to show ignorance-in Jesus. For our present purpose let it suffice to mention that the Church, ever since Popes Vigilius and Gregory the Great's has taught there is no ignorance in the human intellect of Jesus. For example, Pius XII, in Mystici Corporis, wrote: "The most loving knowledge of this kind, with which the divine Redeemer pursued us from the first moment of the Incarnation, surpasses the diligent grasp of any human mind; for by that blessed vision which He enjoyed when just received in the womb of the Mother of God, He has all the members of the Mystical Body continuously and perpetually present to Himself.... In the manger, on the Cross, in the eternal glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church before Him, and joined to Him far more clearly ... than a mother has a son on her lap, or than each one knows and loves himself."16

Theological reasoning shows the same thing: Any soul will have the beatific vision on two conditions: (1) its ability to know must be elevated by grace. Of course, Jesus had that. (2) the divinity needs to join itself directly to the created intellect, without even an image in between.17 But this not only happened to be true in Jesus: it was inevitable. For normally a complex made up of a human body and soul, with mind and will, automatically becomes a person. But not so in Him, for His entire humanity-not just His human mind-was taken over by the divine Logos, in such a way that there is only one Person there. His humanity lacks personhood, and even separate existence. So His whole humanity, including His human mind, was joined to the divinity more directly and closely than other souls are in the beatific vision, for ordinary souls remain distinct persons; His soul was united in one and the same Person. We might coin a word, and say His soul had a superbeatific vision.

Now that we have cleared away the obstacle of ignorance in Him, we are free to consider her human mind. First, we should notice the teaching of Pius IX: "He so wonderfully filled her, more than all angelic spirits and all the Saints, with an abundance of all heavenly gifts...that she, always free from every stain of sin, and completely beautiful and perfect, presented such a fulness of innocence and holiness that none greater under God can be thought of, and no one, except God, can comprehend it."18 Similarly, Paul VI said that the Father "adorned (her) with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else."19 With this fulness of grace and all divine gifts, she obviously should have understood the Scriptures far more than her contemporaries, so often called in Scripture a stiff-necked people.20

So we turn now to the Old Testament prophecies, the Scriptural sources of information she had. We will first see what the prophecies themselves mean, when examined critically, and then ask what means she had of seeing that they applied to her and her Son.

At the outset we must note that so many today devalue the Old Testament prophecies, and say they are too vague. For example, R. Brown says the prophets "were concerned with their own times and not with the distant future about which they could speak only in the vaguest way.... when New Testament authors see prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, they are going beyond the vision of the Old Testament authors."21 Brown adds in note 12 on the same page that the divine plan "could only be detected through hindsight. " That is after seeing its fulfillment in Jesus.

This is an astounding assertion, for any competent Scripture scholar must know about the Targums-we do not doubt Brown does too. The Targums are ancient Aramaic translations plus commentary. They enable us to see how the Old Testament prophecies were understood by the Jews themselves in ancient times. How old are they? There is much debate. Estimates range from a few centuries B.C. to a few centuries A.D. Rabbi Menahem Kasher, in his 25 volume work, Torah Shelemah (1974) holds that the Targums of Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan, and Neofiti are from the time of Ezra, that is, the fifth century B.C.

However, whatever we may think to be the date of the Targums, one thing is obvious: they reflect an ancient Jewish understanding of the prophecies, which is not based on "hindsight" for they rejected Christ and fulfillment in Him. Further, even if the present form of the Targums might belong to the A. D. centuries, yet the traditions embodied are clearly older.

These Targums22 will show us what even ordinary Jews could and did know about the coming Messiah. If even they could see this much: how much more would she see who "was filled with an abundance of all heavenly gifts" and was "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else."23

The prophecy of the dying Jacob in Egypt, in Genesis 49:10, is of special importance for our purpose, in spite of the fact that most modern versions differ widely in their rendering of it. For example, the New American Bible reads: "The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, while tribute is brought to him and he receives the people's homage. The Revised Standard version translates the first part similarly, but instead of speaking of tribute being brought, it adds: "Until he comes to whom it belongs." Not a few versions, including the New American Bible, think it necessary to emend the Hebrew text. The chief problem is in the words that seem to read: "Until Shiloh comes." Shiloh, they say, is grammatically feminine, while the comes is masculine. But: if Shiloh is the Messiah, the verb should be masculine.

Again the Targums come to our aid-strange the modern versions are so resistant. Four Targums-Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan, Neofiti, and the Fragmentary Targum, all render, substantially: "Until King Messiah comes."24 Interestingly, Onkelos omits "king", a possible sign it was written in Maccabean times, when the word king might be considered treason. Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, in their study, Targum Onkelos on Genesis 49 tells us: "TO's (Targum Onkelos') identification of 'Shiloh' with the Messiah would appear to have been universally accepted during the Talmudic Age." The authors go on to cite the evidence of Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, Dio Cassius and the major Midrashim. They also cite the Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b: "The Messiah: what is his name? At the School of R. Shila they say: His name is Shiloh, for as it is written, 'until Shiloh comes.'"25

The prophecy of Genesis 49:10 is really graphic. The Hebrew people did have their own rulers for many centuries, until the time of Christ, even though at times they were under the overlordship of Assyria, New Babylonia and Persia, and later, Rome. Yet they had some kind of a native ruler, from the tribe of Judah, until the fateful day in 41 B.C. when Herod was made Tetrarch of Judea. He was not at all Jewish, being the son of an Idemean father and an Arab mother. Then even ordinary Jews began to notice that the time of the Messiah must be near, for there was great messianic expectation by the time of the birth of Jesus.

Now if ordinary Jews could see this fact, how much more would she who was "full of grace" and "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else" know that the time was at hand. And when she would add this fact to other things, which we shall see, she really should have understood who her Son was.

This fascinating prediction seems to be echoed in the words of Balaam whom Balac, king of Moab, brought to curse the Israelites. He not only refused, but instead several times praised that people. In Numbers 24:17 Balaam said: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel."26 The Targums again without hesitation identify this star as King Messiah. Interestingly, in an utterance just before this, Balaam said (Numbers 24:8-9): "God brings him out of Egypt.... He couched, he lay down like a lion, and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? It seems to be an echo of the words of the dying Jacob in Egypt on Judah: "Judah is a lion's whelp.... He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?" (Gen 49:8-9. The text about Shiloh follows immediately).

The words of Balaam, unlike Genesis 49:10, do not indicate the time of the Messiah. Yet they help round out the picture, and she would surely have known and understood them.

Two prophecies of Isaiah are of key importance to our quest: 7:14 and 9:6. First we must notice that scholars today generally recognize27 that the child in the two prophecies is the same, for both texts belong to what is often called the Book of Emmanuel. Our second reason is this: the Targums clearly consider 9:6 as Messianic28, yet, oddly, did not see that since the child is the same, 7:14 is also Messianic. Further, we will see below (at notes 47 and 50) that even prominent Jewish scholars today admit that there was tampering with the Targums, especially that on Is. 53, by Jews to keep Christians from using them. So: when the Targums knew Is. 9:6 was Messianic, and since it is clear that the child is the same as in 7:14; was this a deliberate omission?

So, clearly if she could recognize 7:14 as fulfilled in herself, she would know that her Son was the Messiah.

The core of the interpretation of 7:14 is the Hebrew almah, where the Septuagint translated parthenos29, "virgin." Almah means a young woman presumably unmarried, though she might be so. So it does not directly say she was a virgin, but tends to imply that. St. Matthew (1:22-23) writing under inspiration, said: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us)'".

Was St. Matthew just loosely applying this text? Not likely, for Matthew does not work that way in his many Scriptural citations. Moreover, he often enough follows a multiple fulfillment pattern, e.g., in 2:15, when Jesus comes back from Egypt: "This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Out of Egypt have I called my son. "'Now we know, and Matthew knew at least as well, that the prophecy, Hosea 11:1, spoke originally of the people of Israel, whom God called His son, in delivering them from Egypt. This multiple fulfillment pattern shows elsewhere, e.g., it is generally recognized30 that "in the last days" in the opening of 2 Tim. 3 refers both to all the time from the Ascension to the parousia. And the Qumran sectaries often worked this way, e.g., in their peskier commentary on Habbakuk. Further, Matthew himself seems to have a long example of it in his chapter 24, where the disciples asked two questions: about the signs of His parousia, and the signs of the fall of Jerusalem.31 Again, the New American Bible, in a note on Daniel 12:7 says: "The author's perspective is the end of Antiochus and beyond, the final consummation of all things."

So it is most highly likely, to say the least, that Matthew did not mean his citation of Isaiah 7:14 as a mere accomodation, but as a real instance of multiple fulfillment.

The hardly conservative Jerome Biblical Commentary agrees: "The solemnity of the oracle and the name 'Emmanuel' lend credence to the opinion that Isaiah's perspective does not stop at the birth of Hezekiah; it moves ahead to that ideal king of David's line through whose coming God could finally be said to be definitively with his people."32 We would not have to suppose Isaiah himself saw the further meaning; but, being an instrument in the hand of the Holy Spirit, he could express what the Holy Spirit willed him to say.

On the other hand, the birth of Christ was so far in the future33 that it with difficulty would serve as a sign to Achaz. Hence also we gather that Isaiah 7:14 is a case of multiple fulfillment: it referred to both Hezekiah and to Jesus.

Also, the same child in Is. 9:6 is described in such glowing terms (even given the name "God the mighty", as we shall see below) that Hezekiah, though a good king, could hardly live up to such a description.

We notice too that Isaiah puts the article ha with almah, a strange thing to do if it meant just the wife of Achaz. And 7:14 says "she will call his name Immanuel."34 Now it was rare that the mother would give the child a name especially when the father was king.35 But it would be normal for Mary to give the name, being the sole parent, and instructed to do so at the Annunciation, as we shall see later.

Vatican II tells us that the Church "in the light of later and full revelation," sees that the early prophecies "gradually bring more clearly into the light the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise given to our first parents of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15). Similarly, this is the Virgin who would conceive and bear a son ... (cf. Is 7:14)"36 We notice the special precision of the Council: it uses cf. with both references, seeming not to want to say flatly that the human author saw all this, while yet asserting that the Church in the light of later revelation does see.37

To sum up, there are strong exegetical reasons for seeing Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy of the virgin birth. The Septuagint, without inspiration, saw it, St. Matthew; with inspiration, saw it, and the Church now sees it. Could not she who was full of grace, and "filled more than all angelic spirits and all the Saints with an abundance of all heavenly gifts"38 who was "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else"-could she not see even when she was physically fulfilling the prophecy by the virginal conception,39 which of course she most certainly did know, and had to know? If the prophecy had been obscure to those whom Scripture calls stiff-necked, it would not be obscure to her when she was fulfilling it.

Before turning to a detailed study of Is. 9:6, it will be helpful to recall Micah 5:1ss, which so clearly foretells that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The Targums clearly recognized this fact; so did the Jewish theologians whom Herod consulted (Mt 2:6).40 So Our Lady would have known from Gen. 49:10 that the time was at hand; she would have known the place, Bethlehem, was the place where her Son was born; and from Is. 7:14, as we have just seen and from its interpretation by her own physical experience, she must have known that her Son was the Messiah foretold in Is. 9:6, and virginally born of her, as in Is. 7:14.

Further, Samson Levey, in his study of the Targums, points out that the latter part of verse I of Micah 5 seems to favor the idea of a pre-existent Messiah.41 For the Hebrew says: "His origin is from of old, from ancient days." The Targum, as Levey tells us, also saw this, for it speaks explicitly of the Messiah, and says he is the one "whose name was spoken from of old, from the days of eternity." Now in the Hebrew way of speaking, to say one's name is spoken means he exists. So the Messiah would have a pre-existence.

Prof. Levey also tells us that the view that the Messiah would live forever was widespread among the Jews. So with the help of these things, Our Lady could gather that her Son, the Messiah, existed before His birth from her, end that He would live forever. We can easily see how this will fit with the words of Gabriel that (Lk 1:33) "he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."42

When we add an analysis of Is. 9:6 we see that she could have learned His divinity from it too.

First, the Hebrew text of 9:6 in most Christian translations, says the child will be called, among other titles, "Mighty God". The Hebrew is El gibbor. The New American Bible tries to soften it by rendering "God-hero". But this is contrary to normal rules of Scripture study, which tell us to consider how a word or phrase is used throughout all Scripture. El gibbor does occur elsewhere in the Old Testament,43 and, in context, it always means Mighty God. Some Jewish translations, understandably, try to get around this by leaving the titles untranslated, as if they formed a long proper name: "Pele-joez-el-gibbor-ab-ad-sar-shalom."44 The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text from the Jewish publication Society of America has the same, and adds in a note: "That is, Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace. " At least these Jewish versions do admit45 that El gibbor means Mighty God-if it could reasonably be translated otherwise, they would surely have done it. Nor do the Jewish translations try to dismiss the title as part of the titles of an Israelite King. The Septuagint gives a sort of backhanded testimony to the true sense of El gibbor by simply omitting it-totally incomprehensible to Jewish monotheism.

The Targum Jonathan on Is. 9:6 is open grammatically to two renderings. That by Stenning says: "and his name has been called from of old, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, Messiah, in whose days peace shall increase upon us."46 Levey has rearranged the language structure in a possible but less natural way, so as to make it read that his name was called (just) Messiah BY the Wonderful Counsellor, by the Mighty God ...47 As we said, the Targums clearly recognize that Is. 9:6 is Messianic.

The Targum quite clearly recognizes the person as the Messiah, yet turns him into an aggressive, proud, exalted personality. Where the Hebrew says He was despised and rejected, the Targum has: "Then the glory of all kingdoms will be despised and cease." Where the Hebrew says He was Wounded for our transgressions, the Targum says: "He will build the sanctuary, polluted because of our sins (and) handed over because of our iniquities." Where the Hebrew says he was like a lamb led to the slaughter, the Targum insists: "He will hand over the mighty ones of the peoples like a lamb to slaughter."48

As Levey points out, the Targumist may have had no notion of a suffering Messiah, though he did know the one foretold would be the Messiah. We cannot help thinking of the famous line in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "The lady cloth protest too much." When one goes too strongly to the other extreme, he gives himself away. Even a modern Jew, Levey, admits that the Targum at times distorted the sense of lines to exclude the Christian argument.49 Still another Jewish scholar, H.J. Schoeps, admits the same thing: "It was felt to be undesirable to lend support to the Christian interpretation. Again with the same motive and in order to eliminate the reference of Isaiah 53 to Christ, atoning power was imputed to the death of Moses."50

So the ancient Hebrews were too attached to the idea that the Messiah would live forever and would be a great conqueror, to face the obvious sense of Isaiah 53. So they distorted it, to prevent Christians from using it. Yet their very distortion, by protesting too much, has the opposite effect to what they intended. For we are easily able to see, with the Targums, that the Servant foretold was to be the Messiah, and we can equally see that Isaiah foretold His sufferings graphically.

Now if the ancient Jews could see it was the Messiah, surely she who was full of grace and adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else would see that the Servant was the Messiah, her Son, and she would understand His future sufferings.

So our survey of the Old Testament prophecies, which Our Lady surely knew, shows she would have known clearly that the time was at hand; she would know that the place of birth of her Son was that foretold by Micah. And then, since the Septuagint knew of the virginal birth, and St. Matthew knew it, and the Church, whose model she is as Vatican II says, sees it: how could she, who had "gifts of the Spirit never granted to anyone else" fail to see the truth even when it was being physically fulfilled in herself. Further, most likely she would know His divinity from Isaiah 9:6, "Mighty God", with perhaps a help from Micah's statement on His preexistence. And from Isaiah 53 she would at least in time, with the help of Simeon's prophecy, know much of His coming sufferings too much for her peace of soul.

Now it is time for us to see what the Gospels tell us about her knowledge. In the introduction to this paper, we noted briefly that R. Brown thinks St. Mark judged that she was so far from knowing, that she did not believe in Him at all. The most basic answer to drown is simply that St. Luke depicts her otherwise, and Vatican II insists: "Since Sacred Scripture is also to be read and interpreted by the same Spirit by which it was written, to rightly extract the sense of the sacred texts, we must look not less diligently at the content and unity of all Scripture, taking into account the living tradition of the whole Church and the analogy of faith."51 Brown and others say rightly that each Evangelist had his own scope and slant of presentation. But we must not carry that so far as to suppose one Gospel can contradict another, for, as Vatican II tells us, the principal author of all of Scripture is the Holy Spirit-and He does not contradict in one Gospel what He said in another.

But we should examine the question exegetically as well. There are three parts in the pericope to which Brown points: (1) In Mk. 3:21: "When hoi par' autou (to be explained below) heard it (that He was so busy teaching the crowds that He did not take time to eat) they went out to seize him, for they said, 'He is beside himself. "' (2) In 3:22-30, the Scribes charge that He casts out devils by the prince of devils. He replies that that is the sin against the Holy Spirit, which is never forgiven; (3) In Mk. 3:31-35: "His mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him." He replied: "Who are my mother and my brothers? ... Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Brown believes the hoi par' autou are the same group as those in Mk. 3:31. Really, he has no proof. Any competent Form critic52 would recognize that there are three pericopes here, and they need not be connected, for the Evangelists did not always follow chronological sequence. So we may have three separate, originally unrelated scenes.

However, in any event, we must comment on the hoi par' autou. The translations today give the phrase various renderings, since the Greek is quite ambiguous: it can be friends, relatives, household. So we are not at all sure that His Mother would be in the group. But, even if she was, she might well have gone along to try to restrain more distant relatives who did not believe in Him. This would be a quite normal thing for even a very ordinary Mother, for mothers are apt to stand up for a son even when everyone else thinks him wrong.

As to His words, "Who is my Mother?" We cannot do better than to quote Vatican II: "In the course of His preaching, she received the words in which her Son, extolling the kingdom above the reasons and bonds of flesh and blood, proclaimed blessed those who heard the word of God and kept it, as she was faithfully doing (cf. Mk 3:35 par.)."53 In other words, there are two categories: (1) that of dignity: in which she had the supreme dignity of Mother of God, which Pius XI called "second only to God. In fact, Aquinas writes, 'The Blessed Virgin, from the fact that she is the Mother of God, has a sort of infinite dignity from the infinite good that God is.'"54 (2) that of hearing and keeping the words of God, "as she was faithfully doing." She was the greatest mere human in both categories. Her Son was pointing out that the second was even greater than the first.

The episode of Cana55 seems to clearly tell us that His Mother knew He had miraculous power, in which she believed in spite of what seemed at first a refusal. This comes at the beginning of His public life, and so before the episode we have just discussed from Mark 3.

But trouble emerges. Barnabas Lindars56 has tried a form critical analysis on the episode. His conclusion is that basically it is just a "folk-legend" about changing water to wine. R. Brown basically agrees,57 and suggests the pre-Johannine story was of the same kind we find in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, where Jesus as a child worked many miracles. The conversation between Jesus and His Mother would be a later addition to the early story. That conversation, says Brown, seems "to defy logical interpretation," because He seems to refuse, yet she acts as if He had not refused. Then Jesus, without expressing change of mind, performs a miracle even though His "hour" had not yet come.

What evidence is there for these proposals? Nothing at all convincing. Brown notes three features: (1) The miracle is done in Galilee, but Jesus, according to Brown, did not perform miracles in His own country except heal a few sick persons (Mk 6:5). (2) It is a miracle done for "convenience" of others, which is not the usual thing for His miracles. And the quantity wine is so large, about 120 gallons. (3) The seeming refusal of His Mother mentioned above.

Brown shows a lack of perception. The episode of Mark 6:5 came much later. Jesus, displeased at the lack of faith of His own townsmen, does very few miracles there. Yet He did some. And that scene as we said is later, with a different situation from that of Cana.

Yes, it is true Jesus did not usually perform miracles for convenience. But this was not mere convenience, it was a real need of the host who had invited Him. And, more importantly, it was done to give us the first hint of the intercessory power of His Mother-no small point!58

What of the seeming refusal? It was only apparent, as the outcome showed. What was it then? There is a widely running divine pattern, in which God puts people into spots where they are asked to believe in spite of seeming impossibility.

Thus Abraham had to believe he would have a son Isaac, when his wife was 90, and had always been sterile. A few years later, Abraham was ordered to sacrifice the same Isaac, before the promise of a great posterity through him could begin. So he was asked to believe what seemed impossible. Again, according to the majority view,59 the Hebrews did not know of future retribution until the second century B.C. Yet, before that point, they had to hold to a belief that God rewarded justly, and still see with their own eyes that things often did not turn out for justice in this life. Also, in the promise of the Eucharist in John 6, Jesus let the crowds leave Him when He could have made a simple explanation to hold them. He even asked the Apostles if they were going to leave too. In all these instances, He was putting people into a plight in which they had to believe in the dark: so their faith, and their attachment to God's will, might develop greatly. To do that for His Mother was really a kindness to her. For John to record it is a lesson to all.

As to John's use of the title "woman": John may have changed the wording, to point out that she was the same as the mysterious "woman" of Gen. 3:15; and of Revelation 12. Again, at the Cross, John puts that same word "woman" on the lips of Jesus, instead of the obvious word "Mother" to balance His words to John, "Son behold your Mother."

In short, we see the evidence offered by Brown and others is far from conclusive. Today, some prominent form critics are finally waking up to the fact that they had been using poor evidence. They had bad judgment at first in thinking they have proved what was only conjectural; now that same bad judgment leads some to give up a method that is basically good and useful, if properly used. For example, Brown himself reports60 that Reginald Fuller, a major form critic, now considers the historical-critical method "bankrupt." The same Fuller in 1978 had chided Brown for excess reliance on that method: "It is ironic that just at the time when the limitations of the historical critical method are being discovered in Protestantism, Roman Catholic scholars should be bent on pursuing that method so relentlessly."61

Vatican II spoke differently than Brown. With no hesitation it said: "In the public life of Jesus, His Mother makes significant appearances; at the beginning indeed, when she, moved by mercy at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, obtained by her intercession the beginning of the signs of Jesus the Messiah."62

Really, she showed splendid faith, without any hesitation, in spite of a seeming refusal, and so she told the waiters to do whatever He would order them to do.

We come next to the Infancy Gospels, with their numerous incidents. The key question here is that of the genre of these accounts. Some have called it midrash. Scholars do not agree on a definition of midrash.63 It seems to be a rather loose genre, in which there is an investigation into hidden meanings, and attempts to apply them to new situations. Brown thinks the genre of these chapters has not been fully settled.64 He speaks of them as theological introductions, built on few facts: Luke would have built up scant bits by making the narrative parallel to several Old Testament incidents.

Brown thinks there is evidence of unhistorical character in a number of things:

1) Luke thinks the home of Mary and Joseph was Nazareth; but Matthew thinks they lived in Bethlehem, since Mt 2:1 I speaks of the Magi as coming into a house.65 What Brown does not notice is that even though Jesus was born in a stable, surely Joseph would not be content to remain there. It was a temporary expedient. As soon as possible he would find more normal lodging, and that is where the Magi found Jesus. Further, there would have been some time lapse between His birth and the coming of the Magi, for right after their visit came the flight into Egypt. In between came the circumcision on the eighth day, and the presentation on the 40th. Luke used a compendious presentation in not mentioning the trip to Egypt. Compendious treatment is not strange: it is widely thought that Luke telescoped two council meetings in Jerusalem.66 So Luke could also, even more easily, omit things here. We notice too that Herod was a monster, he must have felt a reason for a long span, indicating there was some time interval involved.

2) Brown also thinks the "census" mentioned in Luke is unhistorical.67 But, the word Luke uses, apographe, can mean any kind of enrollment, not just a census. A new study by E.L. Martin, The Birth of Christ Recalculated,68 presents impressive evidence to show it was a registration to profess allegiance to Augustus, who was soon to receive the great title Pater Patriae, in 2 B:C. A restudy of astronomical data shows this is quite possible. Josephus puts the death of Herod just after an eclipse of the moon.69 But there were several in the years we are dealing with. Also, an old inscription, the Lapis Tiburtinus, supports this deduction made by Martin. Further, if we accept Martin's redating, many events of secular history around that time, whose arrangement has been a puzzle, fall into place neatly. Martin's work has received good reviews.

3) Brown makes an almost inane objection when he notes that in Matthew the angel speaks to Joseph, but to Mary in Luke.70 Really, there is no reason why he could not speak to each at different times and in different ways.

On the contrary, there are weighty reasons for affirming the historical character of the Infancy Gospels.

First, Rene Laurentin in Les Evangiles de l'Enfance du Christ,71 a work crowned by the French Academy, and highly praised by Cardinal Ratzinger, has gathered quite a few pieces of evidence. To give just a few examples: Luke could have made Mary a descendant of a priestly tribe, by following a tradition of the Messiah coming from Aaron, but Luke instead is content with merely saying Mary was related to Elizabeth, who was of the priestly tribe. Nor does Matthew make Mary herself come from the line of David: it is only by adoption by Joseph that Jesus descends from David. A fictionalized account would hardly act in these way.

Further, in an article of mine in Journal for the Study of the New Testament,72 I presented statistical evidence to show Luke's meticulous care for accuracy. The study proved that in his use of Semitisms, Luke was not just imitating the Septuagint, but was rather translating, at certain points, Hebrew sources, with slavish care. The study focused on apodotic kai representing Hebrew apodotic wau. In it we find a word for and to introduce the main clause, e.g., in Lk. 5:1: "And it happened, when the crowd pressed on Him to hear the Word of God, and He stood by the lake." For the entire Gospel of Luke, I found he had used apodotic kai only 20-25% of the time he would have used it had he been imitating the Septuagint. (Compare a person who would use thee, thou, etc. to give a Biblical flavor, but would do it only 20-25% of the time). So, instead of imitating the Septuagint, Luke must have been, at the points indicated in my study, translating Hebrew documents slavishly. (Aramaic does not have apodotic wau). Further, my study found evidence of two different kinds of Hebrew used by Luke in this way: Luke also often uses kai egeneto (and it happened), which is also a Hebrew structure, but is not normal in Aramaic. However, in several places Luke uses kai egeneto (pointing to Hebrew), but omits apodotic kai in the same sentence, which at first sight would seem to point away from Hebrew. But the riddle is solved when we note that there were two kinds of Hebrew in use. then: in some outlying districts, conservatism kept the language in an older form; but the revival of Hebrew in Jerusalem was less conservative. Now conservatism would keep both wa yehi (Greek kai egeneto) and apodotic wau (Greek apodotic kai). But a more updated Hebrew would eschew the bizarre apodotic wau, while keeping the more readily understood wa yehi. Luke meticulously reproduced both types of Hebrew sources.

Now these features are found both in Chapters 1-2 and in the rest of the Gospel of Luke.

So, would Luke, after announcing his prologue that he would be careful and would use eyewitnesses and written sources, would he then resort once to so loose a genre as Brown proposes? No. Rather, when we see him translating so slavishly at many points, we cannot suppose he was just being loose.

John L. McKenzie, a friend of Brown's, who shares much of his trends in general, yet had a sharp comment against Brown's claims of such looseness in the Infancy Gospels, in his review of The Birth of the Messiah, "One wonders how a gentile convert (or a gentile proselyte) could have acquired so quickly the mastery of the Greek Old Testament shown in the use of the Old Testament in Luke's infancy narratives. If Luke the physician had been able to study medicine with such success, he would have discovered a cure for cancer.... Luke must have had a source for his Old Testament texts and allusions; and as it is hard to think of such a collection of texts without a narrative for them to illustrate, a pre-Lucan infancy narrative is suggested, I beg to submit."73

Pope Paul VI spoke strongly on the historicity of the Infancy Gospel He complained that some "try to diminish the historical value of the Gospel themselves, especially those that refer to the birth of Jesus and His infancy. We mention this devaluation briefly, so you may know how to defend with study and faith the consoling certainty that these pages are not inventions of people's fancy, but that they speak the truth. 'The Apostles'-writes one who understands these things, Cardinal Bea-'had a true historical interest. We do not mean a historical interest in the sense of Greek and Roman historiography, that is, of a logically and chronologically arranged account which is an end in itself, but of a concern with past events as such, and a intention to report and faithfully hand down things done and said in the past.'"74 A confirmation of this is the very conception of 'witness,' 'testimony,' 'testify' which, in varied forms appears more than 150 times in the New Testament. The authority of the Council has not pronounced differently on this: "The Sacred Authors wrote ... always in such a way that they always reported on Jesus with sincerity and truth." The Council statement made no exception for the Infancy Gospels.

The Constitution on the Church follows up on this statement: "This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation is evident from the time of the virginal conception of Christ even to His death I n the first place it is evident when Mary, arising in haste to visit Elizabeth, is greeted by her as blessed because of her faith ... (it is evident) at His birth, when the Mother of God joyfully showed her first born Son-who did not diminish, but consecrated her virginal integrity-to the shepherds and the Magi "75 We note how flatly, without qualification, Vatican II spoke even of the shepherds and the Magi.76

The Council went into special detail on the Annunciation: "The Father of mercies willed that the acceptance by the planned-for Mother should precede the Incarnation, so that thus, just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life.... Being adorned with the splendors of altogether singular holiness from the first instant of her conception, the Virgin of Nazareth, by command of God, is hailed by the angel of the Annunciation as 'full of grace' (cf. Lk 1:28), and she responds to the heavenly messenger: 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.' (Lk 1:38). And so consenting to the divine word, became the Mother of Jesus, and embracing the salvific will of God with full heart, held back by no sin, totally dedicated herself as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her son."77

As we shall see more fully later, she could not totally dedicate herself if she did not know what she was doing. So the Council agrees with Paul VI and considers she must have understood much already at that instant. We notice too the precision the Council employed: it used cf. with Luke 1:28, but not with Luke 1:38-though in both cases it used a direct quote.78 In the former, it quoted "full of grace" following the Vulgate. The cf. seems to mean the Council did not want to guarantee the translation, even though it made its own the thought that she was full of grace. In contrast, when she says her fiat in Luke 1:38, the Council uses no cf.-rather, it says in further comment, "with full heart, held back by no sin," she totally dedicated herself to both "the person and work of her Son." She was able to do this because of her special gifts of grace.

Paul VI, in Marialis cultus, gives further clarification, in a very remarkable statement on her awareness of her role at the Annunciation: "She, admitted to dialogue with God, in the strongly active awareness of her special role, very actively and freely consented, not to some ordinary thing, but on a matter of the ages."79 Earlier in the same document, Paul VI said that: "The Church herself...sees in the Virgin, Bringing her Son to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord ... a will to present, or, as they say, a will of offering, which goes beyond the usual meaning of the rite."80 In other words, she saw it as more than just fulfilling the Law. It really was the offertory of the great sacrifice. She saw this, as Paul VI also taught, since she was, "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else."81

We should notice too that these texts are part of a whole series statements by Paul VI, including especially the important one cited above from his address of Dec. 28, 1966.82

Now that we know we can use the text of her "dialogue with God" for further study, we can add further precisions.

When Gabriel said her child was to be Son of God, this would not necessarily give her clear information of His nature, for any devout Jew could be called son of God (cf. Hosea 11:1). But when the Archangel added "The Lord God will give Him the throne of his Father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever"-any ordinary Jew would recognize that the child would be the Messiah, for no one else would reign forever; it was widely believed by Jews of that time that the Messiah would have everlasting reign.83 So there is no doubt she learned at the Annunciation that He was the Messiah, and, as Vatican II said, "she totally dedicated herself the person and work of her Son," the Messiah.84

But we can go further. Gabriel explained how the conception would take place: "The Power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." Again, even ordinary Jews would pickup that word overshadow. It would recall the word used to describe the Divine Presence filling the Tabernacle in the desert (Ex 40:34 35, cf. also I Kgs 8:10). "Therefore" that is, for this reason (Greek dio), because He would be conceived by the Divine Presence filling her, He would be called Son of God. So He would be, and be called that not in the way in which an ordinary pious Jew could be so named. He would be Son because conceived by the Divine Presence filling her. This would mean at very least that He would be Son of God in a unique sense, never before heard-and really it should convey His divinity to one, "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else."

An objection can be raised from the last scene in the Infancy Gospels, in which Jesus at age 12 is found in the Temple. He tells His parents that He had to be about His Father's business. Luke 2:50 comments: "And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them." Does this have to mean His Mother did not know He was divine or even that He was Messiah? Not at all. What she did not understand was the sudden break from His normal, previous considerate and compliant behavior: this changed the familiar pattern sharply, and she and Joseph would wonder why.

Mystical theology at this point can offer us not a conclusive proof, but a consideration of no little weight. Mystical theologians discuss the remarkable fact that in infused contemplation, a soul seems to make contact with God, to have almost felt His presence.85 It is discussed: Is this in the strict sense an experimental contact with God? Or is it a quasi-experimental contact? But no matter what theory we adopt, it is agreed by all that the soul does perceive the presence of God. What then should we say of her, who had graces never given to another, far beyond all angels and Saints? Would she not have perceived the divine presence with her, at least at times, in the nine month? It is hard to believe otherwise.

Finally, we must face an objection which seems to be really at the core of reasons claiming ignorance in her. It goes this way: It is really more noble, a greater thing, to just believe or accept without having any clear knowledge to just trust God. So, if Vatican II says that she "totally dedicated the person and work of her Son"-could not "total dedication" be understood as a blind acceptance?

The key to the reply lies in two things: (1) the meaning of total dedication; and (2) the extraordinary character of her graces, for she was "full of grace" and was "adorned with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else" and God "filled her, more than all angelic spirits and all the Saints, with an abundance of all heavenly gifts" and her holiness was so great even at her conception that, "None greater under God can be thought of, and no one, except God, can comprehend it."86

So we ask first: Can total dedication be had in ignorance? Should we even say with Rahner: "There is certainly a nescience which renders the finite person's exercise of freedom possible.... This nescience is ... more perfect for the exercise of freedom than knowledge, which would suspend this exercise."87 In the same vein: Should we say that to be willing to give God just anything, without knowing what that might be, is better than acting in knowledge?

To solve the question we must distinguish two kinds of cases: (1) The case in which one is asked to believe when it seems impossible to believe- as in the case of Abraham when he was ordered to sacrifice Isaac, and at the same time to believe he would be the father of a great nation through him; or (2) the type of case in which one goes ahead not knowing precisely what God may ask him/her to do.

The first type of case, in which one is asked to believe what seems impossible, does call for maximum faith within its own category. Mary was called on to do precisely that in that she had to believe, as we have seen, on the basis of Gabriel's message along with Is. 9:6, that her Son was God while she had also to hold there is only one God.

But the second case is of a different nature. In it a soul is asked, not to believe what seems impossible to believe, but to be willing to accept whatever lies ahead. In this second type of case, ignorance does not make for greater holiness or merit. The reason is this: Total dedication must be maximum adherence of the human will to the will of God. The more strongly and extensively it adheres, the greater the perfection. But, if one works in ignorance, the will does not have to adhere or to exert itself to the maximum. The reason is this: Precisely because of the ignorance, there is a hope that dreadful thing may not come at all, or that it may not be the maximum. But when the soul knows, with merciless clarity, that it will come, and will be the maximum, and then must still accept-then there can be no greater strength of will adhering to God in spite of such horror.

The pain of a Mother having to accept the death of a Son is proportioned to two things: (1) the intensity of her love; (2) the suffering she knows in Him. As to the first: even at the start, her love was so great that, according to Pius IX, "None greater under God can be thought of, and only God can comprehend it"88 (Pius IX spoke of her holiness; but holiness and love of God are in practice interchangeable terms). As to the second: the sufferings she foresaw in Him were most horrible. She would know them basically from Isaiah 53, as we saw. The full horror would dawn more and more on her as time went on, as she saw the steely hatred of His enemies, saw rejection by those for whom He would die. For the pain of rejection, being spiritual, is more intense than mere physical pain.

A modern Christologist, G. O'Collins, said of the knowledge of Jesus: "One might assert that (if) Calvary and its effects were totally foreseen by Jesus-right from babyhood-his life became cruelly incredible. It was spent under a conscious countdown to death by torture killing."89 So too she would know enough from Isaiah 53 to make her suffering really incredible too. Ignorance would have been a merciful boon to her.

To sum up: She would surely see from the prophecy of Jacob in Genesis 49:10 that the time for the Messiah was at hand-people in general knew that, there was much expectation. She would know that the place for the birth of the Messiah, foretold by Micah, was the same as the place where her Son had been born. As to Isaiah 7:14, the Septuagint understood it definitely of a virgin birth of a child whom the connection with 9:6 showed would be the Messiah; for the Targums on 9:6 did know that child was the Messiah; St. Matthew also knew, under inspiration; and Vatican II tells us that the Church, whose model she is, sees that fact too under fuller light. So how could she who was given graces never granted to another fail to see the meaning of Isaiah even when it was being physically fulfilled in her?

As to His divinity: we saw reasons which, while not absolutely conclusive. were yet very powerful to show she would have understood His divinity from Isaiah 9:6 (aided perhaps by the hint of His preexistence in Micah).

All this is reinforced by that data from the New Testament. We not only answered objections from Mark 3, 21 and 31 and from Luke 2:50, but we saw that Vatican II takes even the incidents of the shepherds and the Magi as factual' and speaks of her total dedication to the person and work of her Son on the day of the Annunciation, a dedication that would not be really total if made in ignorance. Paul VI even spoke of her "strongly active awareness of her special role." Hence we can and should say that from Gabriel's word that He would reign forever, she would know He was Messiah; and from the Archangel's assertion that her Son would be called Son of God precisely because the divine presence, the Shekinah would fill her-she could hardly fail to see from this, joined to Isaiah 9:6, that He was the Son of God in the strict sense. Even souls with lesser lights should have seen.

Further reinforcement, even though the argument is not conclusive, would come from mystical theology, which points out that in infused contemplation, a soul has at least a quasi-experimental contact with God. When He, God's Son was physically part of her for nine months-how could she not perceive that as the divine presence. Lesser souls have often recognized the presence of God; her graces were much higher, were such as were never granted to another. Therefore, she should have seen His divinity by this means also.

As for His sufferings: very early, probably even at the Annunciation, she would have seen at least the basic facts from Isaiah 53. Simeon's prophecy would make that perception cruelly clearer.


1Studies on these questions have not been numerous in the past 30-40 years. The chief are these: Francis J. Connell, "Our Lady's Knowledge" in Mariology, II, 313-24 (Bruce, Milwaukee, 1957, ed. Juniper B. Carol); G.M. Roschini, "Scienza di Maria" in Dizionario di Mariologia (Studium, Roma, 1961); idem, Maria Santissima nella storia della salvezza, III, 279-84 (Pisani, 1969); Al Martinelli, De primo istanti conceptionis B.V. Mariae, Disquisitio de usu rationis (Rome, Academia Mariana, 1950); Ant. Brambila, Considerationes teologicae sobre la ciencia de la Santisima Virgen Maria (Ed. Jus, Mexico, 1964); M.J. Nicolas, Il est ne de la Vierge Marie, pp. 49-61 (Beauchesne, Paris, 1909); Michael, Theotokos (Glazier, Wilmington, 1982) s.v. "Faith, Our Lady's"; "Knowledge, Our Lady's".
2Raymond E. Brown, Jesus, God and Man (Macmillan, N.Y., 1967), p. 56.
3Ibid. p. 59.
4In: St. Anthony's Messenger, May, 1971, pp. 47-48.
5Brown, Critical Meaning of the Bible, (Paulist, N.Y., 1981), p. 12.
6Brown, Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church (Paulist, N. Y., 1975) p. 35, n. 27.
7Brown, Priest and Bishop (Paulist, N.Y., 1970), pp. 19-20.
8Hans Urs von Balthasar, First Glance at Adrienne Von Speyr (Ignatius, San Francisco, 1981) p. 66.
9Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (Paulist N.Y., 1973) pp. 45-46.
10Critical Meaning of Bible, p. 80.
11Ibid. p. 42.
12Ibid. pp. 15-19.
13Cf. also Thomas A. Hoffman, "Inspiration, Normativeness, Canonicity and the Unique Sacred Character of the Bible" in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44 (1982), pp. 447-69.
14W.G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ (Christendom College Press, Front Royal, Va., 1980).
15DS 419; DS 475.
16DS 3812: "Eiusmodi vero amantissima cognitio qua divinus Redemptor a primo Incarnationis suae momento nos prosecutus est, studiosam quamlibet humanae mentis vim exsuperat; quandoquidem per beatam illam visionem, qua vixdum in Deiparae sinu exceptus, fruebatur, omnia mystici Corporis membra continenter perpetuoque sibi praesentia habet, suoque complectitur salutifero amore." Cf. also DS 3905, 3924 and AAS 58 (1966) pp. 659-60.
17Defined by Benedict XII: DS 1000.
18DS 2800: "Quapropter illam longe ante vanes Angelicos Spiritus cunctosque Sanctos caelestium omnium charismatum copia de thesauro divinatis deprompta ita mimirifice cumulavit, ut ipsa ab omni prorsus peccati labe semper libera ac tote pulcra et perfecta earn innocentiae et sanctitatis plenitudimem prae se ferret, qua maior sub Deo nullatenus intelligitur, et quam praeter Deum nemo assequi cogitando potest."
19Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974. AAS 66, p. 135: "Spiritus exornavit donis nemini alii tributis."
20Cf. e.g.; (said by Moses) Ex. 34:9; Dt. 9:6; 31:27 and (said by God) Ex. 32:9 33:3 and 5, Dt. 9:13.
21Virginal Conception, p. 15.
22Samson H. Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1974).
23Cf. note I 9 above
24Levey. pp. 7-11; Alejandro Diez Macho, Neophyti, Targum Palestinense, (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid, 1968) I p. 331.
25Moses Aberbach and Bernard Grossfeld, Targum Onquelos on Genesis 49 (Scholars Press, Missoula, 1976), pp. 14-15
26Levey, pp. 21-25.
27E.g. Otto Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12, A Commentary (2nd ed. Westminster, Phila, 83, tr. John Bowden) p. 116; New American Bible (introduction to Isaiah).
28Levey, pp. 45-46.
29H.G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (9th ed. rev. by H.S. Jones and R. McKenzie, Oxford, 1925-40) cites a few places in pagan poets where parthenos is used of nonvirgins. But all examples are by poets, who are more free, and in each case, the girl could be popularly considered a virgin. Further, the usage of a few places in pagan poets is not normative for Scriptural usage. R. Laurentin, Les Evangiles de l'Enfance du Christ (Desclee et Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1982) argues; pp. 485-86, that parthenos could be loose in the Septuagint also. He cites only Gen. 34:4, but oddly he did not go beyond the French translation, vierge. Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek Septuagint uses a word for virgin at that point. Hebrew has yaldah (young woman) and the LXX has paidiske (also: young woman). The LXX is more precise than the Hebrew, for it, making a determination by the context, uses parthenos twice in verse 3, where Dinah is still a virgin, while the Hebrew has naara, which is less clear: ordinarily virgin, but can mean even a prostitute (Amos 2:7). A study of all instances of parthenos in the LXX, made with the help of Hatch-Redpath, Concordance to the Septuagint, shows the LXX is always precise in its use of parthenos. (It uses parthenos only twice for almah, in Is. 7:14 and Gen. 24:43-in latter, context shows the girl is a virgin; it uses parthenos 44 times for betulah; and 3 times for naara, a word vague in itself, but shown in these contexts to be a virgin-again the LXX is more careful than the Hebrew).
30Cf. e.g., Jerome Biblical Commentary on 2 Tim. 3:1.
31For details on fulfillments before 70 A.D., cf. W. Most, Free From All Error (Prow Press, Libertyville, II., 1985) chapter 5.
32I. p. 271. Cf. also the commentary by F. Moriarity in La Sagrada Escritura (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid, 1970) p. 260.
33There is a serious problem about the 65 years of Is. 7:9 until Ephraim would be crushed. Some emend the text to read "6 or 5 years more" as Kissane suggests (The Book of Isaiah, 2nd ed. Dublin, 1962) pp. 78-79: "Yet six, nay five more years." This emendation would be nearer to an Ugaritic pattern in which the next higher number is considered synonymous: cf. M.D. Coogan, Stories from ancient Canaan (Westminster, Phila., 1978) p. 16.
34Laurentin, op. cit. p. 485 raises another objection to the virginal conception interpretation of Is. 7:14, saying that the LXX does not keep the 3rd singular feminine, "she will call" and that thus it drops "la donnee le plus significative" of the Hebrew. The objection does not hold: (1) The point in question is not the most significant, for it is only implicit, it merely could imply a virginal conception. It would not have to-and it is not nearly so significative as the explicit use of a precise word, parthenos (for answer to Laurentin's objections on that word, cf. note 29 above). Actually, there are Scriptural cases in which the mother, not a virgin, gives the name, though it is not the usual thing: Gen. 4:1 and 2; 19:27ff; I Sm. 9:19-22 (2) the real reason for the variation by the LXX is more likely that the LXX often follows a different text from our MT. Cf. on this R.W. Klein, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament (Fortress, Phila., 1972). Actually, the Isaiah scroll of Qumran has egra "one will call", the Targum Jonathan has "she will call". St. Matthew 1:23 has "they will call" M. Zerwick, Graecitas Biblica (Romae, E Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1960, ed. 4) 6 suggests the reason in the case of Mt. 1:23 is to associate Joseph, for Matthew three times (cf. v. 21 and 25) insists on the legal paternity of Joseph toward Jesus, as a means of making Jesus a Son of David, for as Laurentin also notices (cf. p. 420) Mary does not seem to come from the line of David herself. Zerwick also cites for this (477) Leon Dufour, "L'annonce a Joseph" in Melanges ... A. Robert (Paris, 1957).
35Cf. the list of texts above in note 34.
36On the Church 55. Cf. also Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, nos. 3 and 15.
37Cf. Charles M. Miller, "As it Is Written". The Use of Old Testament References in the Documents of Vatican Council II (Marianist Center, St. Louis, 1973) pp. 49-60.
38DS 2800, cited in note 18 above.
39It is now known medically that a virginal conception would necessarily result in a female, from lack of the chromosomes for a male. Hence another miracle in the case of Jesus.
40Levey, p. 93.
42Levey pp. 108, 114.
43In Is. 10 21; Dt. 10:17; Jer. 32:17; Neh. 9:32.
44The Soncino Books of the Bible, ed. A. Cohen (Soncino Press, Ondon, 1957).
45The Jewish versions do not attempt to dodge by translating "God-hero" as the New American Bible does. Nor do they try to say it is just a list of titles used in the coronation of a Jewish king (cf. F.L. Moriarity in La Sagrada Escritura, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid, 1970) V, p. 265.
46J.F. Stenning, The Targum of Isaiah (Clarendon, Oxford, 1949) p. 32.
47Levey, p. 45.
48Translated by the author from the Aramaic text in: Brian Walton, Biblia Sacra Polyglotta III, Akademische Druck, Graz, Austria, 1964.
49Levey, p. 152, n. 10, citing J. Bowker, The Targums and Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge U. Press, 1969, p. xi).
50H.J. Schoeps, Paul. The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History (Westminster, Phila., 1961 tr. H. Knight), p. 129.
51On Divine Revelation, No. 12.
52In Critical Meaning of the Bible, pp. 79-80, Brown does admit this possibility.
53On the Church No. 58.
54Pius XI, Lux veritatis, Dee. 25, 1931. AAS 23.513 (citing St. Thomas, Summa 4): Beata Virgo ex hoc quod est Mater Dei, habet quandam dignitatem infinitam ex bono infinito quod est deus.
55Cf. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, Nos. 18, 28, 33.
56Barnabas Lindars, The Gospel of John (In New Century Bible, Oliphants, London, 1972), pp. 123-28.
57Crises Facing the Church, pp. 97-99.
58Cf. Vatican II, On the Church No. 58: "In vita publica Iesu, Mater Eius signanter apparet, in initio quidem, cum ad nuptias in Cana Galilaeae, misericordia permota, initium signorum Iesu Messiae intercessione sue induxit (cf. Io. 2: 1-11)." Cf. also Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, No. 18.
59For a strong presentation of the minority view, cf. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms III (Anchor Bible, Doubleday, N.Y., 1970), pp. xli-lii.
60Critical Meaning of the Bible, p. 25. Cf. also Paul J. Achtemeier and Gene M. Tucker, "Biblical Studies: The State of the Discipline" in Council on the Study of Religion Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 3, p. 73; and C.F. Evans, in Cambridge History of the Bible (Cambridge U., 1960-63) I pp. 270-71.
61Reginald Fuller, review of Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 40 (1978) 120.
62Cf. Vatican II, cited above in note 58.
63Cf. A. Wright, The Literary Genre Midrash (Alba House, Staten lsland, 1967).
64Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Doubleday, N.Y., 1977), pp. 37-38, 557-62.
65Ibid., p. 125.
66In Acts 15. Cf. Jerome Biblical Commentary n, p. 220.
67Birth of the Messiah, pp. 547-55.
68E.L. Martin, The Birth of Christ Recalculated (2nd ed. FBR Publications, Pasadena, 1980).
69Josephus, Antiquities, 17.167.
70Birth of the Messiah, p. 35.
71Les Evangiles de l'Enfance du Christ (Desclee et Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1982).
72W. Most, "Did St. Luke Imitate the Septuagint?" in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 15 (July, 1982) pp. 30-41.
73In National Catholic Reporter, Dec. 22, 1977 p. 10.
74Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, (Tipografia Poligiotta Vaticana 1966) IV, pp. 678-79: "E qui, subito, grandi discussioni, grandi difficolta, grandi incantesimi di studi e di interpretazioni, che tentano diminuire il valve storico dei Vangeli stessi, specialmente quelli che si riferiscono alla nascita di Gesu e alla sue infanzia. Accenniamo appena questa svalutazione del contenuto storico delle mirabili pagine evangeliche, affinche sappiate difendere, con lo studio et con la fede, la consolante sicurezza che queue pagine non sono invenzione della fantasia popolare, ma dicono la verita. Gli apostoli-scrive chi se ne intende, il Card. Bea-hanno un autentico -interesse storico. Non si tratta evidentemente di un interesse storico nel senso della storiografia greco-latina, cioe della storia ragionata e cronologicamente ordinate, che sia fine a se stessa, bensi di un interesse agli avvenimenti passati come tall e dell' intenzione di riferire e tramandare fedelmente fatti e detti passati." (General Audience of Dec. 28, 1966).
75On the Church, No. 57: "Haec autem Matris cum Filio in opere salutari coniuncti a tempore virginalis conceptionis Christi ad Eius usque mortem manifestatur in primis quidem cum Mariac exsurgens cum festinatione ad visitandam Elizabeth, ab ea ob fidem suam in salutem promissam beata salutatur et praecursor in sinu matris exsultavit (cf. Lc. I :41-45); in nativitate vero, cum Deipara Filium suum primogenitum, qui virginalem eius integritatem non minuit sed sacravit, pastoribus et Magis laetabunda ostendit."
76Cf. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, No. 5.
77On the Church, No. 56: "Voluit autem misericordiarum Pater, ut acceptatio praedestinatae matris incarnationem praecederet, ut sic, quemadmodum femina contulit ad mortem, ita etiam femina conferret ad vitam ... Singularis prorsus sanctitatis splendoribus a primo instante suae conceptionis ditata Nazarethana Virgo ab Angelo nuntiante, Dei mandato, ut gratia plena salutatur (cf. Lc. I :28), et caelesti nuntio ipsa respondet: Ecce Ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum (Lc. 1:38). Ita Maria filia Adam, verbo diving consentiens, facta est Mater lesu, ac salvificam voluntatem Dei, pleno corde et nullo retardate peccato complectens, semetipsam ut Domini ancillam personae et operi Filii sui totaliter divovit, sub Ipso et cum Ipso, omnipotentis Dei gratia, mysterio redemptionis inserviens.
78Cf. Miller, cited in note 37 above.
79The English version is quite defective here. We have made our own translation, noting especially the words to which we have added italics. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, No.37: "Haec enim, quasi ad colloquirum cum Deo admissa, pro actuosa peculiaris officii sui conscientia, non de re quadam adventitia, sed de saeculorum negotio, ut praeclare est Verbi incarnatio definita, actuose ac libere consentit. The word actuosus is much stronger than activus.
80Marialis Cultus No. 20: "Ceterum, Ecclesia ipsa, maxime a medii aevi saeculis, in Virgine, filium Ierusalem afferente, ut sisteret Domino (cf. Lc 2:28) voluntatem offerendi seu ut aiunt oblativam intuita est quae suetum ritus intellectum excederet.
81Cf. note 19 above.
82Cf. also Paul VI, in Osservatore Romano, English Edition, Dec. 19, 1974, p. l (General Audience of Dec. 11), and May 7, 1970 (Homily at Shrine of Bonaria on April 24, 1970) p. 3.
83Levey, pp. 108, 114.
84Cf. note 77 above.
85Cf. P. Teofilo de La Virgen del Carmen, "Experiencia de Dios y Vida Mistica. El Pensamiento de S. Juan de La Cruz" in De contemplatione in Schola Teresiana (Ephemerides Carmeliticae, Romae, Teresianum, XIII, 1962) pp. 136-223, esp. pp. 205-220.
86Cf. notes 19, 18 above.
87Karl Rahner, "Dogmatic Reflections on the Self-consciousness of Christ" in Theological Investigations, tr. K.H. Kruger (Helicon, Baltimore, 1966) V, p. 202.
88Cf. note 18 above.
89Gerald O'Collins, What are they saying about Jesus? (2nd ed. Paulist, 1980), p. 28.


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