1. No Scriptural verse exists saying that the Theotokos sinned.
-It is a Protestant tradition generally of later vintage
-Imposes tradition over the Scriptures, usually due to extra-biblical anthropological assumptions imposed upon the Scriptures (i.e temptations are sins as opposed to Heb 4:15, that having the “flesh” of Rom 7 by default makes one guilty of sins)
-Orthodox define these assumptions only very generally as sins (i.e. infants are baptized for the “Remission of sins“, but we view this as “sinfulness”)
-In plain English, Protestants will argue things that are not sins (such as avoiding an evil thought) are literal sins–this is incorrect
-The Scriptural definition of sin: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) Also, “He who does righteousness is righteous” (1 John 3:7), but “all unrighteousness is sin.” (1 John 5:17)
-Sin is something literally done and committed. Contrarily, righteousness is something done and committed. Period.
-Orthodox believe the Theotokos had original sin, so this is why we confess only Christ alone is without sin, but it is incumbent upon the Protestant to prove she committed an act of sin in order to disprove her Sinlessness.
-Hello Bible, where do you say the Theotokos sinned? I thought Protestants were sola scriptural!
-Scripture only identifies her as a virgin, same with the earliest creeds–Protestants cannot assume anything contrary to this and pretend to abide to the regulative principle
-We cannot accuse individuals of things we do not know they did, this is sinful
2. Scriptures obliquely teach the Theotokos is sinless
The Theotokos is the Ark of the Covenant
This is relevant because the tabernacle was constructed by what was considered to be, according to McClintock and Strong’s encyclopedia, “imperishable wood.” It was likewise overlaid with gold, an “imperishable metal.” Now neither of these are strictly true, both can tarnish and deteriorate over time, but the overall point is clear.
1. The parallel between the Ark and Mary between 2 Sam 6:9 and Luke 1:43.
David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam 6:9)
“But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lordcome to me?” (Luke 1:43) [[Same Greek word for to/toward is used in lxx]]
The preceding parallel implies that there is a connection between the ark of the covenant and Mary. They are both footstools of God that He uses to enter the world.
2. The Tabernacle (Ex 40:29 LXX)/Mary (Luke 1:35) was “overshadowed” by God Himself.
And Moses was not able to enter into the tabernacle of testimony, because the cloud overshadowed (ἐπεσκίαζεν) it, and the tabernacle was filled with the glory of the Lord. (Ex 40:29 LXX/ Ex 40:35 MT)
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow (ἐπισκιάσει) you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
3. The striking of Uzza in 1 Chron 13:10 contrasted with the proper way the Ark was transported in Num 4:5.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. (1 Chron 13:10; cf 2 Sam 6:6-8)
When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. (Num 4:5)
The preceding is important (especially in light of Num 4:15) that the ark is not to be touched lest it be defiled. This is the whole reason it was transported covered with curtains. This is how undefiled the tabernacle, and thereby Mary, is. She cannot be a defiled sinner and God’s footstool.
And so, the Protestant is forced to argue that Mary became defiled after Christ was born, as if the coming of Christ leaves us worse off than our former state. Perish this horrible thought!
Ezek 44 speaks of the Theotokos’ perpetual virginity:
the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule [lit. “hall” or “porch”, “chamber” in LXX] of the gateway, and go out the same way.” (Ezek 44:2-3)
The prince enters and leaves from a gateway which has a gate that cannot be opened.
There are others, like Song 4:12, but the preceding is the clearest.
Such a doctrine implies Mary’s continued sinlessness. There is no Biblical indication she as an individual sinned.
3. Patristic sources teach that the Theotokos was sinless from a variety of angles
Explicit comments on sinlessness
Augustine in a passage about why the Pelagians are wrong about there being sinless individuals out there:We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord…Well, then, if, with this exception of the Virgin, we could only assemble together all the forementioned holy men and women, and ask them whether they lived without sin while they were in this life, what can we suppose would be their answer? (On Nature and Grace, par 42)
Ambrose:Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of [lit. “integra” meaning having integrity from] every stain of sin. Ambrose,Sermon 22:30, Commentary on Ps 118 [[PL 15, 1521, Ut incorrupta sit virgo, sed virgo per gratiam ab omni integra [lit. intact] labe peccati.]]
Six Books Apocryphon:
The narrative also implies her sinlessness. She is described “holy and elect of God from (the time) when she was in her mother’s womb.” (Wright 1865, 130) Additionally, when the Jewish authorities cautioned her not to pray at Christ’s tomb, admonishing her to “[r]emember the sins thou has committed before God,” (Wright 1865, 134-135) the narrative continues with saying “she did not agree” with this statement. It is left unsaid if it was the assertion that she sinned, that she leave Golgotha, or both that she objected to.
Doctrine of preservation from sin until at least the incarnation:
Implicit in Protoevangelium of James: “[Anna to Mary:] ‘You shall not walk on this earth until I bring you into the temple of the Lord.’ And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her.” (par 6)
-she begins walking on the third step of the altar (par 7)
-par 6 at a great feast, Mary only drinks breast milk
“she received food from an angel” (par 8)
Hippolytus Fragment From the Commentary by the Holy Bishop and Martyr Hippolytus, on The Lord is My Shepherd:
And, moreover, the ark made of imperishable wood was the Saviour Himself. For by this was signified the imperishable and incorruptible tabernacle of (the Lord) Himself, which gendered no corruption of sin…[T]he Lord was without sin, made of imperishable wood, as regards His humanity; that is, of the virgin and the Holy Ghost inwardly, and outwardly of the word of God, like an ark overlaid with purest gold.
And so, being made of Mary makes Him made of imperishable, sinless flesh (i.e. wood). His divine nature, is typologically the layer of gold on the ark.
More general statements of sinlessness, which lack English translations:
“Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother.”
[Sources of authenticity I cannot verify that assert her sinlessness:
Origen (Hom. i in diversa–Rufinus?)
“This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one.”
Catholic Encyclopedia: Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings (“Hom. i in diversa”)
Gregory Thaumaturgus, Concerning the Mother of God, par 27
“For she alone was spotless in soul and body.”
Theodotus of Ancrya, Homily VI:11
“A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns.”]
Maintained her virginity in her childbirth (all 1st or 2nd century)
-Ascension of Isaiah 11:12-14 (“The story of the child was noised abroad in Bethlehm…Many said: ‘She has not born a child, nor has a midwife gone up (to her), nor have we heard the cries of (labour) pains.'”)
-ignatius (smyrnaeans chap 1) and irenaeus (ah book 3 chap 4 par 2) quoting a creed that says Christ was “born of a/the virgin”
-Hegesippus (n.d.) in a fragment wrote, “There still survived of the kindred of the Lord grandsons of Jude, who according to the flesh was called His brother.” The obvious implication is that Jude was not Jesus Christ’s actual brother, which is an oblique reference to the Theotokos’ perpetual virginity.
-Protoevangelicum of James, which teaches that the Theotokos maintained uncorrupted Virginity as verfied by a gynecological examination (Par 19-20)
-Ode of Solomon 19: “she labored, but not in pain.” Also calls her “THE virgin.”
Mary’s Perpetual Virginity
St Siricus’ condemnation of the Jovinianists in ambrose corpus calls these heretics, which impugned chastity and the doctrine of the Theotokos’ perpetual virginity, “the promoters of the new heresy and blasphemy” by “the unanimous sentence of us all, as well of the presbyters and deacons as of the other clergy.” In other words, this was a new idea that everyone who was a clergyman rejected.
[[6. Having held am assembly of my clergy…Therefore, following the Apostolic precept, we, seeing that they were preaching another Gospel than that which we received, have excommunicated them. Know therefore that it was the unanimous sentence of us all, as well of the presbyters and deacons as |282 of the other clergy, that Jovinian, Auxentius, Genialis, Germinator, Felix, Prontinus 9, Martianus, Januarius, and Ingeniosus, who were discovered to be the promoters of the new heresy and blasphemy, should be condemned by the Divine sentence and our judgment, and remain in perpetual exclusion from the Church.]]
Ambrose Letter 42 (the council of milan’s statement against the Jovinianists) concurred all clergy taught the perpetual virginity of Mary:
4. [F]rom their perverse ways they are induced to say ‘She was a virgin when she conceived, but not a virgin when she brought forth.’ Could she then conceive as a virgin, and yet not be able to bring forth as a virgin, when conception always precedes, and birth follows?
5. But if they will not believe the doctrines of the Clergy, let them believe the oracles of Christ, let them believe the admonitions of Angels who say, For with God nothing shall be impossible…For thus it is written, Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son; declaring not only that she should conceive as a virgin, but also that she bring forth as a virgin.
They then continue and give the exact same exegesis of Ezekiel I did:
6. But what is that gate of the sanctuary, that outward gate which looketh towards the East, which remains shut, and no man, it is said, shall enter in by it but the Lord, the God of Israel. Is not Mary this gate, by whom the Saviour entered into the world? This is the gate of righteousness, as He Himself said, Suffer us to fulfil all righteousness. Blessed Mary is the gate, whereof it is written that the Lord hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut after birth; for as a virgin she both conceived and brought forth.
[[Par 14 has the subscription of about 10 bishops.]]
Comments on Mary’s “Sin” At the Cross
The fathers have a consensus about Mary’s “sin”: the closest the Theotokos came to “sinning” was almost-doubting Christ at the cross due to her grief. Yet, this would not even be a committing of an act and so this would not meet the Scriptural bar for sin.
Origen:What ought we to think? That while the apostles were scandalized, the Mother of the Lord was immune to scandal? If she had not experienced scandal during the Lord’s Passion, Jesus did not die for her sins. But if “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and if all “are justified and saved by his grace” (Rom 3:23), then Mary, too, was scandalized in that moment. This is what Simeon is prophesying about: … Your soul will be pierced by the sword of unbelief and will be wounded by the sword point of doubt. (Homily on Luke 17, 6-7; PG 13, 1845; SC 87, 236-58)
Brian Reynolds: “His intent here is not to assail the holiness of the Virgin, but to ensure the princpal [sic] of Christ’s universal redemptionis upheld…even her momentary loss of faith, was not to denigrate her in any way, but rather to set her up as an exemplar of Christian perseverance in the face of adversity and temptation.” (Gateway to Heaven, Vol 1, 249)
Basil:About the words of Simeon to Mary, there is no obscurity or variety of interpretation…Simeon therefore prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the cross, and beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel about her soul a mighty tempest…Even you yourself, who hast been taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shall be reached by some doubt. This is the sword.
That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. He indicates that after the offense at the Cross of Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in Him. (Letter 260, Par 6, 9)
Ambrosiaster/Hilary of Poitiers:As for what Simeon adds: “And the sword will pierce your soul, so that the thoughts hidden in the depths of the hearts of many will be revealed,” (Luke 2: 35) indicates that Mary, in whose bosom the mystery of the incarnation has been wrought, and there has been some doubt at the death of Our Lord, but doubts that the resurrection’s brilliancy and the Savior’s power soon changed into a firm and unshakable faith. At the death of the Savior, all under an impression of dread, let doubt enter their souls. However, they did not persevere in doubt. (Questions and Answers on the Gospel of Luke, Question 73)
//only if time…
(Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, Book 12) For, doubtless, some such train of thought as this passed through her mind: ‘…He said, indeed, that He was the true Son of Almighty God, but it may be that He was deceived; He may have erred…The woman, as is likely, not exactly understanding the mystery, wandered astray into some such train of thought…And no marvel if a woman fell into such an error…By a sword, he [Symeon] meant the keen pang of suffering, which would divide the mind of the woman into strange thoughts, for temptations prove the hearts of those that are tempted.
(Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Homily on Psalm 118:20) Seeing we must render an account for every idle word do we desire the day of judgment in which that unwearied fire is to be passed through in which those grievous punishments are to be undergone for the expiating of a soul from sin, a sword shall pass through the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. If that Virgin who bore God is able [capaz illa Dei Virgo ventura est],to come into the severity of the judgment will any one dare desire to be judged by God?
4. Western anthropology is defective, which is why they do not understand Christology or Mariology
In summary, 1. the Protestants have no Scriptural proof that Mary sinned. 2. The Scriptures clearly teach she was sinless. 3. We have beginning in the first century Christian sources which teach doctrines auxiliary to her sinlessness and in the fourth century both Greek and Latin sources which explicitly assert her sinlessness–I count a total of 14 verifiable sources which by ancient history standards is a tidal wave. As I showed, the Theotokos’ grief at the cross was not sinful. 4 Confusion over the preceding matter is due to the West not understanding the anthropology to the 6th ecumenical council, as no one who understands this would confuse doubt as an actual committing of sin.
___(Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew, chap 2:) chap 2: “neither did He declare and pronounce judgment against them; but He yet left in it their own power to choose, speaking with the gentleness that becomes Him.”
(Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew, chap 1, 3:) (…”these are my mother and brothers”) For in fact that which she had to do, was of superfluous vanity; in that she wanted to show the people that she has power and authority over her Son…Whence it is clear, that nothing but vainglory led them to do this…For this cause He quite repels them, being minded to heal their infirmity…out of care for her, and for His brethren. I mean, because their regard for Him was as towards a mere man, and they were vainglorious, He casts out the disease, not insulting, but correcting them…with what purpose He reproved; that it was not with intent to drive them to perplexity, but to deliver them from the most tyrannical passion and to lead them on little by little to the right idea concerning Himself, and to convince her that He was not her Son only, but also her Lord…3. on this occasion too, He both healed the disease of vainglory, and rendered the due honor to His mother, even though her request was unseasonable.
[Note: In fuller context, it appears that the brothers were actually vainglorious and Mary could have fallen prey to it…perhaps Christ was trying to pre-empt Mary from willing wrongly from a natural impulse of a mother who could have excessively prided herself for having a child of “good report,” consistent with the annunciation and “the sword” where God intervened to prevent an unnatural passion from occurring. For example: Whence it is clear, that nothing but vainglory led them to do this; which John too declares, by saying,
Neither did His brethren believe in Him; John 7:5 and some sayings too of theirs he reports, full of great folly; telling us that they were for dragging Him to Jerusalem, for no other purpose, but that they themselves might reap glory from His miracles.
For if you do these things, it is said,
show Yourself to the world. For there is no man that does anything in secret, and seeks himself to be manifest; when also He Himself rebuked them, attributing it to their carnal minds…the unbecoming conduct of His brethren, and the boldness wherewith they had been bold and who was the person reproving it, no mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God; and with what purpose He reproved (Chap 1)]
[[[chap 2: neither did He declare and pronounce judgment against them; but He yet left in it their own power to choose, speaking with the gentleness that becomes Him.” so, mary did not explicitly sin, there was no judgement]]]
Ex 4:22 Israel is my firstborn son, law states people must still sacrifice for their firstborn son, even if he is an only child (pidyon haben, lit “opener of the womb”), see ex 13:12–luke 2:22-24 requires usage of term firstborn
Jovinian and Helvidius were the liberal heretics of their day. The former said that because st Paul said “says I not the Lord” that the apostle was essentially incorrect. The latter would accuse passages of scriptures that no one disputes today that were inconvenient to his arguments to be “forgeries.” Both were not bishops, both were former monks I believe. They didn’t speak for a historical belief system, they spoke for themselves.
Extracts from an article I read years ago. Unfortunately, I do not have the reference:
“Was Mary the only one who was “full of grace”? Or were Jesus (John 1:14) and Stephen (Acts 6:8) also full of grace?
It is true that both Jesus and Stephen are said to be “full of grace” in the English translations. However, the Greek phrase that is used for Jesus and Stephen is “pleres charitos”, whereas the Greek word used with reference to Mary is “kecharitomene”.
Being a simple adjective, “pleres charitos” has a different connotation than “kecharitomene” in that it suggests a completion of grace in the present moment. In the case of Stephen, God filled him with grace at the moment to prepare him for martyrdom. For Jesus, John is emphasizing that Jesus was full of grace at the moment of the Incarnation. He tells us that Jesus remains full of grace later in verse sixteen: “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.”
“Kecharitomene”, however, is a perfect passive participle (a verbal adjective). Like “pleres charitos”, it suggests that Mary is in a completed state of grace at the moment Gabriel approaches her. But unlike “pleres charitos”, it is a completed and ongoing state in the present that is the result of a past action.
….. Jesus was full of grace in a far superior way, due to the hypostatic union of his human and divine natures.
pleres charitos = full of favour
kecharitomene = (one) having been favoured
I don’t think it is a good translation practice to paraphrase words.
I don’t think it’s translation, rather exigesis.
It is a translation issue, no Catholic bible translation done from the original Greek has put “full of grace” as the text. Exegesis is interpreting the meaning of the text, you cannot do that if you eisegetically changing the text, before you interpret.
Interesting I looked at the vulgate, and you couldn’t distinguish the Greek between these verses:
gratia plena (Luke 1:28)
plenum gratiae (John 1:14)
plenus gratia (Acts 6:8)
Of course as you say the vulgate has got it. The Dhouay Rheims bible has “full of grace”.
I agree with you that all Catholic bibles should use this.
“it is incumbent upon the Protestant to prove she committed an act of sin in order to disprove her Sinlessness”
I don’t think so, the bible never says Enoch, Joseph, Daniel sinned but that doesn’t mean I should take the default position as being they did not sin.
It is similar to the perpetual virginity, there is no reason to assume it (since there is no precedent for it), so the burden of proof is on the person to produce positive evidence for it, instead of saying there is no negative evidence against it (or concede that no one can be Certain of this historical question and only hold it as a pious opinion rather than a doctrine/dogma)
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. (1 Chron 13:10; cf 2 Sam 6:6-8)
The preceding is important (especially in light of Num 4:15) that the ark is not to be touched lest it be defiled.
Bad analogy unless you want to say Joseph never touched the outside of Mary.
“Implicit in Protoevangelium of James”
Really? NT apocrypha?
‘But Mary had forgotten the mysteries of which the archangel Gabriel had spoken, and gazed up into heaven, and said: Who am I, O Lord, that all the generations of the earth should bless me?’ v12
Do you also believe Mary forgot Luke 1:30-33?
“And Salome put in her finger, and cried out, and said: Woe is me for mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God; and, behold, my hand is dropping off as if burned with fire.” v20
Do you believe a finger entered the womb of Mary?
St. Basil the Great:
About the words of Simeon to Mary, there is no obscurity or variety of interpretation. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Lk. 2:34-35)
…By a sword is meant the word which tries and judges our thoughts, which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of our thoughts. Now every soul in the hour of the Passion was subjected, as it were, to a kind of searching. According to the word of the Lord it is said, “All you shall be offended because of me. Mat. 26:3 Simeon therefore prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the Cross, and beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel about her soul a mighty tempest. The Lord was bound to taste of death for every man— to become a propitiation for the world and to justify all men by His own blood. Even you yourself, who hast been taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shall be reached by some doubt. This is the sword. That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. He indicates that after the offense at the Cross of Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in Him. In the same way we saw Peter, after he had been offended, holding more firmly to his faith in Christ. What was human in him was proved unsound, that the power of the Lord might be shown. (Letter 260: 6, 9)
St. Cyril of Alexandria:
What, then, induced the blessed Evangelist to go so much into detail, as to make mention of the women as staying beside the Cross? His object was to teach us that, as was likely, the unexpected fate of our Lord was an offence unto His mother, and that His exceeding bitter death upon the Cross almost banished from her heart due reflection; and, besides the insults of the Jews, and the soldiers also, who probably stayed by the Cross and derided Him Who hung thereon, and who presumed, in His mother’s very sight, to divide His garments among themselves, had this effect. For, doubtless, some such train of thought as this passed through her mind: “I conceived Him That is mocked upon the Cross. He said, indeed, that He was the true Son of Almighty God, but it may be that He was deceived; He may have erred when He said: I am the Life. How did His crucifixion come to pass? and how was He entangled in the snares of His murderers? How was it that He did not prevail over the conspiracy of His persecutors against Him? And why does He not come down from the Cross, though He bade Lazarus return to life, and struck all Judaea with amazement by His miracles?” The woman, as is likely, not exactly understanding the mystery, wandered astray into some such train of thought; for we shall do well to remember, that the character of these events was such as to awe and subdue the most sober mind. And no marvel if a woman fell into such an error, when even Peter himself, the elect of the holy disciples, was once offended, when Christ in plain words instructed him that He would be betrayed unto the hands of sinners, and would undergo crucifixion and death, so that he impetuously exclaimed: “Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall never be unto Thee.” What wonder, then, if a woman’s frail mind was also plunged into thoughts which betrayed weakness? And when we thus speak, we are not shooting at a venture, as some may suppose, but are led to suspect this by what is written concerning the mother of our Lord. For we remember that the righteous Simeon, when he received the infant Lord into his arms, after having blessed Him, and said: “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, according to Thy Word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, he also said to the holy Virgin herself: Behold, this Child is set for the falling and rising up of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” By a sword he meant the keen pang of suffering, which would divide the mind of the woman into strange thoughts; for temptations prove the hearts of those who are tempted, and leave them bare of the thoughts that filled them.
…Besides, also, was not the Lord, I say, right to take thought for His mother, when she had fallen on a rock of offence, and when her mind was in a turmoil of perplexity? For, as He was truly God, and looked into the motions of the heart, and knew its secrets, how could He fail to know the thoughts about His crucifixion, which were then throwing her into sore distress? Knowing, then, what was passing in her heart, He commended her to the disciple, the best of guides, who was able to explain fully and adequately the profound mystery. For wise and learned in the things of God was he who received and took her away gladly, to fulfil all the Saviour’s Will concerning her. (Commentary on John, Bk. 12)
Doesn’t the Ark of the Covenant typology point to the Immaculate Conception as well? The ark was constructed from unblemished materials.
I’d wager no because despite the purity of the material even imperishable material is fallen. So we have a perfect person, Mary, made of imperfect parts so to say (fallen flesh).
I was mistaken in how I remembered the construction of the ark. There is no reference to unblemished materials, only “pure gold” and acacia wood.
You are absolutely right. A type in the old testament is only a symbol of the perfection that comes in the new testament for its antitype. Just a glimpse of the real thing. Like the manna is a type of the Eucharist. It is neither the body of Christ nor is it a sacrament, but God prefigures the Eucharist through it, and the Eucharist is both a sacrament and the body of Christ.
Turns out I wasn’t mistaken. Acacia wood is translated by the LXX as “incorruptible wood.”
What would you say to someone who brings out the fact that Ephrem at least two times in his writings say that Mary doubted/didn’t believe in Christ for what she was reprimanded by Him?
See for example:
“She learned from him therefore that he was about to perform a sign there. When he reprimanded her because she was in doubt about him, ‘she said to the servants, Whatever my son tells you, do’ (John 2:5).” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron 5.2, in: “Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron”, ed. and trans. Carmel McCarthy, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 2, Oxford 1993, p. 95).
“‘She said to him, My son, there is no wine here. He said to her, What is that to me and to you, Woman?’ (John 2:3-4) What was wrong with what she said? She was in great doubt concerning his word, because there was no wine there.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron 5.4, in: “Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron”, ed. and trans. Carmel McCarthy, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 2, Oxford 1993, p. 96).
“Mary hastened to be a servant of his will therefore instead of the apostles, but since it was not her place either to give orders or to anticipate his word, he reproved her for having been hasty.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron 5.5, in: “Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron”, ed. and trans. Carmel McCarthy, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 2, Oxford 1993, p. 96).
“Alternatively, “You will remove the sword”, that is, a denial. For the Greek says clearly, “The inner thoughts of a great number will be revealed”, that is, the thoughts of those who had doubted. For he said, “You will remove the sword”. Indeed, you too will doubt, because she [Mary] thought that he was the gardener.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron 2.17, in: “Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron”, ed. and trans. Carmel McCarthy, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 2, Oxford 1993, p. 68).
In reference to that last citation, due to the fact, that the Tatian’s work didn’t specify which Mary went to the grave of Christ, Ephrem thought it was not Mary Magdalene but Mary, mother of Christ. See: Stephen J. Shoemaker, “Rethinking the ‘Gnostic Mary’: Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala in Early Christian Tradition”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 9(4) 2001, p. 562-563; Matthew R. Crawford, “The Fourfold Gospel in the Writings of Ephrem the Syrian”, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 18(1) 2015, p. 37-38; “Gateway to Heaven: Marian Doctrine and Devotion, Image and Typology in the Patristic and Medieval Periods”, red. Brian K. Reynolds, Brian Reynolds, New City Press, Hyde Park 2012 p. 250; Robert Murray, “Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition”, T&T Clark International, New York-London 2006, p. 329-330.
I would say that Ephrem was wrong.
Did you watch the debate? Your definition of sin is incorrect.
In the second century, Irenaeus of Lyons wrote:
Thus it is that the *ark pointed to a type of the body of Christ,* which is pure and undefiled. For as this ark was gilded with pure gold both within and without, so the body of Christ is pure and resplendent, being adorned within by the Word and without protected by the Spirit that, in both materials, the splendor of natures may be displayed. together. (Fragments 48)
Hippolytus, in the 3rd century, also saw Jesus instead of Mary in the ark. He mentions Mary when describing Jesus as the ark, so it cannot be argued that he was not thinking of Mary in this context:
At that time the Savior appeared and showed his own body to the world, born of the virgin, which was the “ark covered with pure gold”, with the word within and without the Holy Spirit. In this way the truth is demonstrated *and the “ark” was manifested* … the Savior appeared to the world, *bringing the imperishable ark – his own body.* (On Daniel 2:6)
Victorinus, also in the third century, sees the ark as representing the blessings Jesus brought to mankind. He tells us that the temple is Jesus, which means that the ark is inside Jesus. Orthodox Christians make the opposite argument, claiming that the ark, being Mary, carries Jesus:
“And he opened the temple of God which is in heaven.” The open temple is a manifestation of our Lord. For the temple of God is the Son, as He himself says: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And when the Jews said, “In forty-six years was this temple built.” The evangelist says, “He spoke of the temple of His body.” “And the *ark of the testament of the Lord was seen in his temple.” The preaching of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins, and all the gifts, everything that came with it, he says, appeared in it.* (Commentary on the Apocalypse of the blessed John 11:19)
Augustine, in the fifth century, also wrote:
“Arise, O Lord, take your resting place” (v. 8). He said to the sleeping Lord, “Arise”. We know that he slept and that he was resurrected (…) “You and the ark of your sanctification”: That is to say, the ark of your sanctification, which you sanctified, and can lift up also arise. He is our head, *his ark is His Church:* He raised up first, the Church will rise too. The body would not dare to promise its own resurrection unless the head were raised first. *The body of Christ,* which was born of Mary, has been understood by some to be the ark of sanctification, so that the words mean, Arise with thy body, that they that believe not may touch it. (Commentary on Psalm 132:8)
Notice how, in the same text where Mary is mentioned, Augustine relates the ark to the Church. He still cites that others relate the body of Christ to the Ark, but there is no relationship between the Ark and Mary.
Hippolytus says that the ark is made of Mary…
Revelation 11:19 reads: “19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.”
Immediately after John writes: 12:1-2, 5 “1 A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. …..5And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. ”
The connection between Mary, (who gives birth to the child “who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron”, a prophecy about Jesus in Psalm 2) and the ark of the covenant is clear, remembering that chapter numbers were only added in the 12th century.
Revelation 12:17 continues: “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.” This makes it clear that the woman is in fact Mary, and us her children Christ’s brothers and sisters.
There are many other pointers to Mary being the ark of the covenant:
3. Mary and the Ark of the Covenant are “overshadowed” by the Spirit of God.
Luke 1:35 “35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.”
When Luke says ‘the power of the most high will “overshadow” you’ he is using the same word used in the old testament for the glory of God “overshadowing” the tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was.
When Moses had finished making the Ark and the tabernacle, the glory cloud of the Lord (the Shekinah Glory) covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Ex 40:34-35 “34 The cloud then covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of Yahweh filled the Dwelling.
35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, since the cloud stayed over it and the glory of Yahweh filled the Dwelling.”
The verb “to cover” or “overshadow” and the “cloud” in the old testament represents the presence and glory of God. God’s presence “overshadowed” the Ark and the tabernacle.
The Greek word for “overshadow” (ἐπισκιάζω or episkiazein) in Exodus 40 is used of the presence of God overshadowing the Ark. The same Shekinah glory cloud also filled the Temple of Solomon (2 Chron 7:1-3).
The very same Greek word for “overshadow” is used by Gabriel when he tells
Mary that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her.
4. Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant – “Anaphoneo”.
Luke 1:41-42 “41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42* and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
exclaimed with a loud cry = “anaphoneo” “ἀναφωνέω ”
Elizabeth ‘cried out with a loud voice’. The Greek word used here is ‘Anaphoneo’. This is the only time this Greek word is used in the New Testament. This same Greek word appears five times in the Septuagint or LXX, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament where it describes Levitical priests praising God before the Ark of the Covenant.
1Chronicles 15:28 “And all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of a horn, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, playing loudly (anaphoneo) on lutes and harps.”
1Chronicles 16:4-5″And he appointed before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, Levites to minister and lift up the voice (anaphoneo), and to give thanks and praise the Lord God of Israel: (5) Asaph was the chief, and next to him Zacharias, Jeiel, Semiramoth, and Jeiel, Mattathias, Eliab, and Banaeas, and Abdedom: and Jeiel sounding (anaphoneo) with musical instruments, lutes and harps, and Asaph with cymbals: ”
1 Chronicles 16:37, 42 “37 There before the ark of the covenant of Yahweh David left Asaph and his kinsmen to maintain a permanent ministry before the ark as each day’s ritual required,
42 And with them there were trumpets and cymbals to sound aloud (anaphoneo), and musical instruments for the songs of God: and the sons of Idithun were at the gate.”
2 Chronicles 5:10, 13 “10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets which Moses had placed in it at Horeb, when Yahweh made a covenant with the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.
13 And there was one voice in the trumpeting and in the psalm-singing, and in the loud utterance (anaphoneo) with one voice to give thanks and praise the Lord; and when they raised their voice together with trumpets and cymbals, and instruments of music, and said, Give thanks to the Lord, for it is good, for his mercy endures for ever: then the house was filled with the cloud of the glory of the Lord.”
Praise is given to God in front of the old wooden Ark of the Covenant by the Levite priests in the old testament, and the same praise is given to Jesus (God) – the fruit of Mary’s womb – by Elizabeth, a Levite, before the New Ark of the Covenant, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who holds Jesus, God himself, in her womb.
5. Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant – 2 Samuel 6 and Luke 1 (Acknowledgements to Steve Ray.)
Strong support for the Virgin Mary as the Ark of the
New Covenant is evident by comparing 2 Samuel 6 with St. Luke 1:
“In St. Luke’s account of the Visitation (Lk. 1:39-56), it is clear that
Mary is the new ark of the covenant. Mary, like David, heads to the
hill country of Judah. As Mary, bearing Christ in her womb,
approaches the home of Elizabeth, St. John ‘leaps’ in Elizabeth’s
womb as she exclaims with a ‘loud cry,’ reminding us of David’s
leaping before the ark of the covenant and the shouts of the people of
Israel. Elizabeth greets Mary with words similar to those of David,
‘[W]hy is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord [who is the
new ark of the covenant] should come to me? (v. 43).”
The following is an outline of 2 Samuel 6 and Luke 1, matching the
2 Samuel 6 Luke 1
“David rose and returned to “Mary rose and journeyed
Judah” (v. 2). to the hill country of Judah”
How can the ark of the Lord “And why is this granted me,
come to me?” (v. 9). that the Mother of my Lord
should come to me?” (v.43).
The house of Obededom the
House of Zechariah (v. 40).
Gittite (v. 10).
“The ark of the Lord remained
“And Mary remained with
in the house of Obededom the
her about three months”
Gittite three months” (v. 12).
“David went and brought up
“Mary said, ‘My soul
the ark of God from the house magnifies the Lord, and
of Obededom to the City of David my spirit rejoices in God
with rejoicing” (v. 12). my Savior’” (vv. 46-47).
“So David and all the house of
“Elizabeth was filled with
Israel brought up the ark of the the Holy Spirit and she
Lord with shouting, and with exclaimed with a loud
the sound of the horn” (v. 15). ‘Blessed are you among
women, and Blessed is the
fruit of your womb!’”
King David leaping and dancing
“And when Elizabeth heard
before the Lord (v. 16). the greeting of Mary, the
child leapt in her womb;
and Elizabeth was filled
with the Holy Spirit”
The original Ark of the Covenant was covered completely in gold and
contained within itself a pot of manna, the priestly rod of Aaron, and the
tables of the Ten Commandments (Heb. 9:4). It was overshadowed by a
propitiatory––or mercy seat––upon which God Himself dwelt (the
Shekinah Kabod) between two statues of Cherubim (Exod. 25).
So the Ark in the old testament contained three symbols of Jesus: Manna, the bread from heaven, the priestly rod of Aaron, prefiguring Jesus our high priest, and the ten commandments, the words of God.
Mary, in her womb, holds Jesus, the fulfilment of those three symbols: Jesus, the Bread of Life, Jesus, the High Priest in the line of Melchizedek, and Jesus, the Word of God himself.
That is why we refer to Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.
The “propitiatory––or mercy seat” may be considered to be a type of Jesus, as well as the manna, the priestly rod of Aaron and the the ten commandments, the words of God. But the ark itself is a type of Mary.
You said that “Hippolytus says that the ark is made of Mary…”.
I’m sorry but you’re wrong.
Apologists typically base their opinion on the old translation present on New Advent where we read:
“At that time, then, the Saviour appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the ark overlaid with pure gold, with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated, and the ark made manifest.” (“Commentary on Daniel” 2.6, Migne PG 10: 648).
This translation is ambiguous and implies that Mary is the ark. There are two problems:
(a) Hippolytus says “the ark made of imperishable wood was the Saviour Himself” (Και κιβωτός δὲ ἐκ ξύλων ασήπτων αὐτός ήν ο Σωτήρ, Migne, PG 10: 609).
(b) The original greek of the Commentary on Daniel 2.6 is a clear way says that it’s not the Virgin, but the body of the Savior:
“Εν χρόνω παρών ο Σωτήρ εκ της Παρθένου της Κιβωτού, το ίδιον σώμα τω κοσμώ προσήνεγκεν, χρυσίω καθαρώ κεχρυσωμένης ένδοθεν μεν τω Λόγω, έξωθεν δε τω Πνεύματι τω αγίω. […] καί ήμίσει καιρώ παρήν ό Σωτήρ έν τω κόσμω, φέρων την άσηπτον κιβωτον, το ίδιον σώμα.” (“Commentary on Daniel” 2.6, Migne PG 10: 648).
That’s why modern English translations say:
“…the Savior comes from the Virgin, and then he offered the Ark, his own body, into the world, gilded in pure gold, inside with the Word, outside with the Holy Spirit, so that the truth may be shown and the Ark may be manifested” (T.C. Schmidt, Hippolytus of Rome: Commentary on Daniel, (Schmidt 2010), p. 141).
I really, really, really do recommend checking your sources with Greek and Latin 😉
The debate quoted a fragment not the commentary on Daniel.