Regarding Reza Aslan’s Oct. 6/7 article, “Separating Jesus from the legends“: Aslan’s accusations of irrationality notwithstanding, there is plenty of scriptural evidence to support the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity.
The Gospels refer to four “brothers” of Jesus — James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. Matthew 27:56, however, says James and Joseph are sons of a woman named Mary, who scripture identifies as a different Mary from Jesus’ mother. Thus neither James nor Joseph were literally Jesus’ brothers. If “brother” doesn’t literally apply to them, it likely doesn’t apply to the other two “brothers” either.
Aslan, countering the Catholic teaching that “brother” has a wide biblical meaning beyond “male sibling,” claims that “nowhere in the New Testament is “adelphos” used to mean anything other than ‘brother.'” However, the ancient Jews did not speak Greek from which “adelphos” comes. They spoke Aramaic, in which the word “aha” described not only male siblings but other close relatives. When scripture was put into Greek, the Aramaic “aha” was translated literally into “adelphos,” as this was the best that could be done given the former word’s broad meaning.
In Luke 1:34, Mary asks how this is possible, when told she’ll bear a son soon after marriage to Joseph. Why would an engaged woman ask “how” if she were planning to have children the “regular way?” Only a woman who’d taken a lifetime virginity vow would ask such a question. It’s irrational to think otherwise.
Finally, in John 19:26-27, the dying Jesus entrusts care of His mother Mary to the disciple John — not to any of His four “brothers,” all of whom were still alive. It’s irrational to think that in ancient Jewish society, a dying man would entrust care of his widowed mother to a nonsibling — unless he were an only child.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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