Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Mary at 13

posted by xscot mcknight

Marko has posted on The Real Mary with a very clever twist. The standard theory, which I espouse, is that Mary immediately realized that being pregnant before consummation with Joseph was a No-No that could jeopardize her life, her son’s life, and Joseph’s honor. So, the standard view is that Mary’s faith was courageous. Marko has another idea:
Now don’t jump all over him; I do want to spend some time with Jeannie and Marko next November when SBL is in San Diego.
But here’s his theory: 13 year olds, because of their developmental stage, don’t process potential implications. Instead, she was innocent and didn’t ponder the implications. Instead, when God told her the news, being an innocent 13-year-old, she was excited and saw all the great things coming her way. What if what God needed was the enthusiasm of an innocent person rather than the deliberated decision of someone aware of what was going on?
I think his push-back is worth considering. Here’s what I wrote to him:
What if the Industrial Revolution has really changed maturation so that adolescence has been prolonged beyond anything in the ancient world?
What if living in the Galilee, in the first century, among the poor required assumption of responsiblities at a much younger age?
And what if such an early arrival for responsibility shifted brain development — or, more likely — what if brain development was much sooner because of the burden of growing up much sooner?
And what if first century folks didn’t even really know what adolescence was?



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Kate Johnson

posted December 22, 2006 at 4:16 am


…and what if it is a combination of the two views – she was excited that she would bore the Son of God because of her child-like faith, yet, being already old enough to be betrothed as was the custom, she possessed a much deeper understanding of her surroundings and societal standards than any sheltered adolescent might. Ask anyone who grew up having to quit school to go to work to support the family, or had their childhood cut short because of a parental death where they became the parent to younger siblings, and I would suggest they might say they have a very different, and “grown up” view of the harsh realities in which they find themselves. Adolescence is a relatively new concept, a luxury so to speak, for those more sheltered than others. Poverty and necessity many times dictate a more mature world view, and I would profer that Mary had such a view. Innocent, yes. Unaware, no.



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Ted Gossard

posted December 22, 2006 at 6:52 am


I think on just hitting on this now, that Kate, your thoughts on this resonate pretty well with me. I do admire and find youthful exuberance so helpful, and something that has passed me. Except that my theology being revolutionized has given me a sense, I think, at times of having a youthful zeal. ha ha.



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Matt

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:07 am


I certainly do think Marko is a sharp guy, but even in our age of prolonged adolescence and loose sexual morality, I can’t think of many 13 year olds who wouldn’t understand the full weight of a out-of-wedlock pregnancy.



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Allan R. Bevere

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:11 am


Scot:
Your suggestion has some scientific merit. I read a study several years ago, which concluded that in cultures where adult responsibilities are conferred upon children at an early age, they tend to reach puberty sooner, than in cultures where the expectations of “adulthood” are put off until later (such as in the U.S.) Could it also be, therefore, that brain development is also accelerated in such a setting?
Having said that, I do find the young, enthusiastic thesis to be attractive, and may perhaps add to the understanding of Mary’s response.



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marko

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:34 am


here’s a clarification i posted on my site after scot and several others had similar pushbacks, especially about whether or not a 13 year-old then was similar to now or not, and whether or not adolescence even existed (this said, i’ve VERY intrigued by allan r. bevere’s comment, as i’ve never seen anything of the sort — i would LOVE TO see that if you can source it for me!)…
the most common theme of ‘push back’ seems to be along the lines of (if i can summarize): “we can’t assume anything about the development of a 13 year-old 2000 years ago from looking at today’s young teens.” and “isn’t it possible that the culture then, which didn’t include adolescence, and which expected a maturity out of 13 year-olds that we don’t expect today, would have precipitated a young teen – mary – who would have been fully capable on mature cognitive thought, specifically in the area of quick implication consideration.”
there’s lots of truth, i think, in these statements. certainly, adolescence (as we know it) didn’t exist then. certainly, young teens had much more expected of them 2000 years ago. certainly, culture has a physiological impact (inlcuding brain development). certainly, we can’t know exactly what the capacity of a 13 year old was 2000 years ago.
and, really — please hear me on this — i’m just having fun entertaining what i think is a wonderful and unprovable notion that only makes me love God even more! i’m NOT passionately trying to make a claim or defend a position.
that said: what we DO know about the shift in adolescent development is that the onset of puberty has shifted down. nowhere, ever, have i seen a single developmental specialist suggest that 2000 years ago, 13 year-olds may have been MORE developmentally mature. (i’m sure the responsibilities and cultural expectations of their time brought with it a kind of maturity we don’t often see in kids these days, but i’m talking about brain development.) AND, in other cultures today that our more like that ancient culture, we still don’t find brain development that in any way surpasses our own young teens. in other words, there is just no scientific reason to think that young teens (i’m speaking in age only, since the concept of young teens, obviously, didn’t exist) had more advanced brain development at ANY point in history. kids 10 – 14 suck at abstract thinking and implication-consideration. they always have, and they likely always will.
mary may have completely understood, in an instant, exactly what she was getting into. but, if that is true, i am a bit forced to believe that that flash of understanding was ALSO part of a ‘gift’ from God in some way or another.



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George

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:54 am


If she did not understand what was happening then God did not have her full, free moral consent and God abused her. Mary’s free (which means knowing, deliberate) consent is a touchstone of the Christian faith.
Besides, on what basis is the assertion that she was 13 made to bear the weight of all these speculations? The willingness to read into the Scriptures so much, based solely on “typical customs of the time” and then to think this helps us get closer to the Real Mary than the theological doctrines (e.g., that she had to have consented freely and knowingly if God is not to be an abuser) is striking.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 22, 2006 at 10:18 am


George,
The following refers to a brief comment deleted earlier today:
I tried to write you an e-mail but it didn’t go through. We at this table have decided to chat about the standard — in all the books and sermons etc — observation that, since girls were given away at 13, Mary was 13 and what it meant to shoulder such a social condition. Those who think that is “utterly irrelevant” would not be at that table — that’s the point. No need to insult those who think it is worthy of conversation.



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andii

posted December 22, 2006 at 11:00 am


It doesn’t answer the question atissue directly but it is relevant. Research on decision making comparing teens and adults. Obviously it can’t tell us about middle easterners 2k years back, but if it’s developmental then the issue is probably about hormones and I’m with those noting earlier onset puberty seems to be linked to dietary considerations prevalent in the west.
http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-teens-do-stupid-things.html
The post is linking back to this post http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211124302.htm
It may indicate that a young Mary could have been processing the implications more fully than an older person would and that her processing might have made her more likely to consider the full range of factors than merely weighing up the gist … if I’ve got it right.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 11:32 am


Marko wrote:
“and, really — please hear me on this — i’m just having fun entertaining what i think is a wonderful and unprovable notion that only makes me love God even more! i’m NOT passionately trying to make a claim or defend a position.”
Marko, do you not realize that, as George seems to have understood, if Mary was so young that she did not fully know what was happening, she could not have given full, morally free consent? And if she did not do that, then God committed what we would have to label statutory rape, that is, using someone without her consent. We have statuatory rape laws on the assumption that children under a certain age are not yet capable of morally knowledgeable free decisions. (We all know that setting the age for this at 16 or whatever is arbitrary–no one claims it applies to everyone, everyone knows that many girls under 16 are capable of free knowing consent, but for purposes of legislation we set an arbitrary boundary. That is not my point. My point is that free moral consent is crucial–to impregnate a girl without her consent, and consent requires knowledge, is an injustice, a moral wrong.)
What you entertain as an exciting possibility–that Mary was preadolescently innocent–was abhorrent to the person whose posting was deleted. It was abhorrent to him because far from making God loveable, it makes Him a tyrant.
You at the end are willing to grant that maybe she did know what was happening but that that would then have been a special gift of God’s grace.
And all of this because, without any explicit biblical statement as to her age, you take the consensus of historians about the common age of marriage for Jewish women of the time and build on that.
The explicit text of the Bible has her giving free consent. Whatever age she was at matters less than that it was free consent, which means she was an adult morally and psychologically. Your thesis that she might have been innocent of the meaning of becoming pregnant is theologically impossible, regardless of any speculations about earlier achievement of moral adulthood (which I think probably was the case).
This thread is a good example of why theology is important, alongside historical-critical scholarship about how Jews lived at the time. If historical exegesis efforts to understand Mary are not also governed by fundamental theological principles they can end up in the imprudent claim that God impregnated a pre-adolescent who did not understand what was happening.
Entertaining such speculations is not without consequences. There is so little about Mary explicit in Scriptures. I find it very odd that those who reject much of the classic Orthodox and Catholic theological interpretation of who Mary was by virtue of being Mother of God so readily indulge in an attempt to apply a chain of hypotheticals from historical and psychological research (1. women married as young as thirteen then; 2. Mary simply was 13; 3. given she was 13, she may not have understood what was happpening; or 4. perhaps 13-year-olds did understand because adulthood came earlier)–all of this is extra-biblical speculation and theologically unsound extra-biblical speculation. Why not stick with theologically sound speculation: she had to have been old enough morally, whatever her chronological age, to give full, knowing consent if the God we love is not to be turned into a child-abuser.
And Scot, what I have written here is, every word of it, directly relevant to the issue raised by Marko’s theory. I hope it will be taken seriously rather than dismissed as Catholic special pleading.



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Keith Schooley

posted December 22, 2006 at 11:37 am


I’m guessing, like Kate and others, that there is some truth to both positions. I think what we term “adolescence” is part cultural and part biological, and I doubt whether the biology is affected that strongly by cultural circumstances.
Here’s how I imagine it playing out: Mary recognizes the normal implications of a too-early pregnancy; however, being both young and devout, she underestimates the skepticism of Joseph, her family, and those close to her in the community. Having been overwhelmed by the appearance of Gabriel, knowing herself to be innocent, she assumes that those near her will believe her, and it comes as a shock to her to find out that they don’t.



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 12:02 pm


I kind of like the idea that Mary didn’t understand the full impact of what was going to be happening because, even as adults, we are asked to trust the Lord without fulling understanding everything.
When the Lord calls someone to a career or a relationship does that person really know what they’re getting themselves into? I think most people who have been married longer than a year could say something like : The Lord has called me to this, but I had NO idea what all it entailed, even though I willingly and gladfully entered into it freely. You just cant know until you go through it sometimes. Why would Mary be any different?
Even if Mary wasn’t 13….say she was 17…brain development is better then, but it still isn’t finished (it continues into the 20’s). 17 year olds aren’t exactly known for their careful weighing of what a situation will entail either. Mary is unique because of her faith ability, not her reasoning ability.



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molly

posted December 22, 2006 at 12:32 pm


I think Mary had a pretty good clue, at least, that what she was saying yes to was a BIG no-no when it came to social customs, and that it might REALLY mess with her future plans (re. Joseph) and was prepared to accept that (as we have no record or hint of her begging to be understood or believed, but rather an acceptance of what was—her trip to Elizabeth carried not a trace of shame or sorrow, for example).
And as for God being mean for not treating the young with kid gloves, consider His words to the boy prophet Samuel. We always read the Bible story about how Samuel and Eli discovered it was God talking, but we never stop and think about what God actually SAID to the boy Samuel—said about Samuel’s earthly “father-figure,” no less!
I am going to trust that God knows what we can handle and when, and that age has less to do with that then we might think.
Great post, great thoughts, thanks!



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Dana Ames

posted December 22, 2006 at 12:38 pm


Of course it’s a whole swirl of things (Kate/Allan/Marko/others).
I don’t think Mary could have foreseen that her Son would end up being a “failed” messiah (in that he was executed). We don’t get to know the details of the future of our own lives let alone those of others. She was certainly astute, and if she could not have given her full consent God would not have asked. We each of us do what we can do where we are and with what we have.
Dennis, your knowledge is prodigious and beneficial, and your writing clear, and I think I agree with you here. Perhaps you don’t intend it, but you sound defensive, in this and other places. Imagining myself sitting having coffee with you, I see myself frustrated because of wanting to understand you and be friends with you, for you to understand me and the rest of us at the table, hoping you will stick around and help us, and afraid you will get up and stalk out the door. Maybe this is my issue alone, and perhaps I misread; if so, I apologize.
Dana



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Ellyn W.

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:25 pm


I find it fascinating to think that a 13 year old female in Mary’s time and culture could proclaim the words of the Magnificat. It contains such joy and insight into the social and political implications of her giving birth to God’s son, the Messiah in the culture at large. Surely, she shows sufficient sophistication in that response alone to ensure us that she likely also understood what being pregnant without the consummation of her marriage to Joseph having taken place might mean for her personally.
But I also suspect that she had no clear idea exactly how it would all play out. In that regard I agree with responses #11 and #13. She had to discover how people would respond and how God would continue to provide for her and her son step by step.
Still, her joy at being the recipient of God’s gift (bearing the Messiah) is so evident that I suspect she was given great faith from God (along with the pregnancy) that God would care for her and the child throughout whatever was to come next.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:30 pm


Dana,
What constitutes defensiveness is necessarily subjective. Our culture (indeed, its many subcultures) have different sensitivities on this matter. I wrote straightforwardly. This blog has its sensitivities and culture and makes much of being civil in discourse. That is very good.
However, if I wished I could cite a number of regular contributors who sound quite defensive to me in their defense of egalitarianism, for instance. Now, I’m sure that they would deny that they are defensive. They, in their eyes, were simply presenting their views forthrightly.
Defensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. We all are a mixture of neuroses and beliefs and intellectual and spiritual convictions. I do not believe it helps particularly to explain me or anyone else as defensive and I did not explain Marko or anyone else that way. I raised real questions about theological and exegetical method.
You say you agree with me. Then simply drop that in order to focus on my psychological state.
What to Marko was exciting speculation (and I believe him when he says it was only that) is to those who cherish Mary as the first disciple who said yes freely as an adult woman is indeed like fingernails on the blackboard. I know he did not intend it this way. Once this is pointed out, why can responses not be directed to that and the attendant point about the relative role of theological reasoning and assumptions about 1st-century historical context? Why is your main response to me one of psycho-analysis? I did not psychoanalyze Marko. I assumed that he did not realize the implications of his speculations. I pointed them out. This is an important theological point.
Mr. Usar responded initially precisely out of that same theological framework and his comment was removed as irrelevant. If Emergers are, as they insist, sensitive folk attuned to the nuances of conversation, then why was Mr. Usar’s concern, expressed personally and emotionally, not received respectfully as shedding light on something neither Scot nor Marko, through no fault of their own, had thought of?
The emotional labeling on this blog does seem to be rather unevenly distributed, but that unevenness will be undoubtedly be perceived most readily by those who take up positions running counter to the general trends. Those who generally agree with the majority positions (hegemony, I think that’s called in postmodern gobbledygook) will be surprised that anything they might write would ever seem defensive or beyond the bounds of discourse.
So far no one has yet addressed substantively the content of my posting. That’s okay. I may be raising content that simply does not signify for most of those reading this thread.
But defensive I am not. Exercised about what I think is a misdirected pursuit of the Real Mary, yes. [Let me spell out what I mean by "misdirected": (1a) Scot's a priori rejection in his book of much of the conventional Marian veneration because it represents an obscuring of the real Mary by doctrinal controversy; (2a). an alternative approach based on the "historical context" that already in Scot's book involves a lot of "reading into Scripture" based on consensus historical knowledge of first-century practices. Now, on this thread, that alternative approach has (2b) become completely unmoored from any biblical textual anchor at all (the predicate here is the taken as given fact that Mary was 13) and leads to theological implications that are quite troubling, I would think, for Christians of all persuasions.]



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Rod

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:36 pm


I agree with Dana – I have been observing this blog for many months and while Dennis is no doubt well-read, intelligent and clearly passionate about his theological positions, I continually get this feeling that the rest of us are simpletons in the dark – that we just need to “get it” the way he gets it. Anyway, I say relax Dennis – I think everyone here loves God, wants to find out how to implicate that in their daily lives and isn’t trying to derail the Christian faith.
I will be the first to admit that I am an intellectual and theological midget, but I love reading about and discussing these topics. Two things jump out about Dennis’s comments:
It seems to me that, because there is so little written about Mary, that we really only can speculate about what was happening to her at the time of conception, or thereafter. I am not sure, however, about his reference to the term “theologically sound speculation.” That seems to me to be almost oximoronic – if it is theologically sound, is it still speculation?
Secondly, I don’t agree with the notion (or maybe I don’t completely understand exactly what Dennis is saying) that Mary had to completely understand what was happening to her, or otherwise God was committing statutory rape, or an abuse of his power. It seems to me God is doing (or allowing) things to “us” all the time without our consent or knowledge. I think about Job, or Paul on the road to Damascus – that was some pretty serious assault and battery.
To analyze God by using our human laws, or morals doesn’t, IMHO, work. If we do that, my little mind, and heart, wants to surrender my belief in God, because there is just too much that doesn’t add up about God when referencing those temporal standards. And, trying to understand God without referencing those standards does not, I believe, make God a child abuser.
Rod



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:43 pm


I must add one additional content point. Marko’s speculations, it seem to me, are misdirected simply on scriptural grounds. Mary replies to the angel, “How can this be, seeing that I know not a man.” This is not the response of a pre-adolescent girl who does not understand how babies are made. She knows full well that God is asking her consent to impregnate her. She says yes to that as an adult. Did she understand exactly all the consequences? Of course not. As others have pointed out rightly, none of us ever know exactly what will be the consequences of saying yes to God.
But that was not Marko’s original speculation. I am replying to that original speculation, which I believe is scripturally and theologically unsound, as well as to his further explanation that he thought it would actually accentuate the goodness of God if it were (though he insisted and I respect his insistence that he was merely speculating) true. To the contrary, I believe that, if his original speculation were true, it would made God immoral.
Larger issues are at stake here, which I outlined in my previous post–namely whether it is a good idea simply to set aside the centuries of theological interpretation of Mary in favor of a purely historical-textual approach. But Marko’s original speculation, it seems to me, fails already on textual grounds.



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Dave Wells

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:50 pm


Scot,
I read over Marko’s entire post and comments, as well as all of the comments here. I think you are absolutely right to point out the differences between a 21st century adolescent compared to a first century one. It seems that Marko’s initial thoughts were a result of reading into a first century environment what he knows about teens today.
We obviously cannot know how a “typical” 13 year old girl in Mary’s day would react to the message of an angel – we only know how she reacted. But Mary wasn’t a “typical” 13 year old girl even in her own day: she had been specially chosen by God before the foundation of the world. And she was uniquely called “full of grace” (or “endued with grace”, if you prefer).
It is only because of this grace from God that she was chosen; furthermore, it was only because of this grace that she was able to respond in the obedience of faith.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 1:55 pm


Rod, I did not say she had to completely understand everything. I stated that she had to have knowledge sufficient to give her consent. A pre-adolescent innocent of the meaning of pregnancy (the original speculation) cannot do that.
I’m sorry that my throwing cold water on the dominant trend of this thread is perceived as supercilious. It takes two to converse. Is it just possible that there might be hypersensitivity on the part of my interlocutors?
You know, I have been doing my own psychoanalysis of these threads at Jesus Creed too. If I wished, I could suggest that there’s a kind of Emerger social-psychology that values overvalues familial consensus and undervalues hard debate. I could (but of course I never would) even further speculate that masculine and feminine differences are involved here, though with many exceptions for individual men and women. I have even in print analyzed the difference between the degree of debate that is possible within an agreed-upon authority structure and that (much more limited) which is possible in the absence of such a structure (so-called consensus models) because in the latter case, serious debate leads to division whereas in the former case, serious debate need not lead to division.
Most contemporary American culture has adopted the consensus-model precisely because nearly all forms of agreed-upon authority to resolve disputes is gone. In such circumstances, one sees which direction the consensus is Emerging and self-censors because not to do so risks the familial cohesion of the group. Those who insist on being contrarian under such circumstances have to be labeled “defensive” and violators of the discourse rules because, in fact, they are.
But of course I would never resort to such social-psychological analysis.:)



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Christopher Francis

posted December 22, 2006 at 2:07 pm


I’m going to toss this “grenade” (so to speak!) and quietly leave the room :)
Many of you do not agree with many Catholic doctrines re: Mary, but i ask you to entertain a thought in light of this post:
Would Mary being preserved from original sin (i.e., the saving Grace of her Son applied forward to her)affect her ability to understand and accept the fullness of her Fiat?
Just a question!



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 2:19 pm


Rod, you say that God all the time does things without our consent and then cite Saul on the Damascus road. This misunderstands what I mean by free consent. God speaks to Saul. Saul remains free to accept or reject God’s offer. He accepted, freely, knowing.
Now, when I say that if God impregnated Mary without her consent it would be immoral of God, it assumed that there’s nothing wrong with speaking to someone, asking someone to marry him. But he must permit the person he is courting the freedom to reject his courtship or he commits a violation of her. He may not manipulate her or take advantage of her lack of knowledge. Her consent to being impregnated must be knowing and free or it is rape. Statutory rape simply applies the same principle to people under a certain age, on the presumption that even a vocal answer of yes by a girl who did not really understand what was being asked of her (permission to impregnate her) would not be the free consent of an adult and that below a certain age, we are incapable of giving assent of that sort.
I agree that adulthood came early in the first century and still came early in the early 20th century, that a girl of 13 in America in the 1950s would know what was being asked of her (statutory rape protections are deliberately set much higher, to be safe).
In passing, let me note that the early sexualization of girls since the sexual revolution, the separation of sex from procreation and the tendency to treat it as recreation may have produced the situation in which a girl of 13 or even of 22 certainly knows all about the birds and the bees and the mechanics of pregnancy but may not be giving real full consent to sexual intercourse because we have so far lost the ability to think clearly about what constitutes free moral actions in relation to instinctual urge-response behavior.
Now, with regard to Mary, on simple textual-historical grounds, is it reasonable to assume that Mary was betrothed to a man before she understood what marriage meant? Perhaps–in some cultures even today girls are betrothed at age 6 or whatever. But was that done in 1st-c. Judaism? Could a girl at whatever age be forced into marriage and pregnancy in Judaism? It may be true in some cultures that girls are betrothed as true children and that the consummation of the marriage is delayed until puberty and takes place without her true knowing consent–but we’d all agree that where that takes place its a form of rape and an injustice. Was anything like that done in first-century Judaism?)
And, even if it were possible in Jewish culture of the first century to betroth a girl so young that she did not understand what was involved and for her “husband” to impregnate her before she understood, do we really want to entertain the possiblity that God would do that to a girl? Would we not denounce such a culture as inhumane?
It thus seems to me, on both textual and historical grounds, that whether Mary was 13, 14, 16 or 18, the Scriptures clearly intend to show that she was approached by God respectfully and that she gave full, free, knowing consent to become the Mother of the Redeemer without knowing all of the implications of that. She did know that she was being asked to consent to becoming a mother. That, to me, is the clear implication of the text.
That what we know of Jewish practices of the time suggests she may have been as young as 13 is a fair enough additional speculation. But I draw the line there. To further speculate that being young like that she might have said yes without realizing that she was consenting to pregnancy and motherhood, in the manner of a child who plays house, plays at being a mother without knowing what that means–that, to me is a theologically and textually unsound speculation with profound implications for the morality of God’s actions.



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 2:31 pm


Christopher #20,
If Mary was preserved from original sin, that wouldnt necessarily mean she didnt have to go through *normal* stages of cognitive development. I think Marko’s point was that her cognitive development would be the same as other 13 year old’s development. At 13 her brain would have been less developed than at age 23 – and that is not sin, that’s normal. I believe even Jesus had to go through the normal developmental stages that we all do – I dont think he had abstract thinking abilities as a toddler, for example. There’s nothing sinful for a 13 year old to be at the normal developmental stage that you would expect from a 13 year old.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 22, 2006 at 2:46 pm


Well, Dennis, I laughed aloud when you a Catholic gave me (Protestant) a push-back for going at biblical study by extra biblical data. What an irony. 8)
Christopher,
I find your question interesting. Beside the fact that I don’t accept Mary’s sinlessness or immaculate conception, though I think neither is inherently dangerous, I would “guess” that a sinless person would have a more direct perception of God’s will — maybe not so much genius as unhampered by selfish desire and a mind curved in on itself so that she would be more immediately receptive to truth. Frankly, it would make sense nicely of Mary’s receptiveness.
At the historical level — whether sinless or not — our evidence is that the Magnificat reflects the vision and character of Mary (and I wish more would use it to comprehend Mary) and so I would say her immediate response could also be explained by her thrill to be the one through whom God’s Messiah and therefore messianic kingdom would come into existence.



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sonja

posted December 22, 2006 at 2:54 pm


Hey, whoa, hold hard there. “Hegemony” is a nice old-fashioned word. There is nothing po-mo or gobbledy-gook about it. It’s been around for a long time.
I read Mark-O’s original post before Scot put it up here. My thoughts at the time were that it was a nice rabbit trail, but it wasn’t historically accurate. The whole notion of adolescence has only been around for about 100 years or less.
I guess I’m not threatened by the idea of fantasizing about a biblical person. It does not create any fear in me to think about Mary in terms of how she might have responded in today’s milieu. I am able to separate that from the truth of how she did respond in the Biblical account. Those facts remain unchanged by any flights of fancy I might take. Mary is or was who she was. Arguing over her simply demeans us, not her.
So, I enjoyed Mark-O’s little journey for what it was. I envisioned it in my mind’s eye. Then I went back and read another version of the Magnificat. But the choice of how to respond has always been up to me. And God will continue to be who He is throughout it all. He will manage to be stupendously grand and wonderful despite all the small and mean-spirited things people have said about Him for thousands of years.



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marko

posted December 22, 2006 at 4:01 pm


wow.
so, other than being told in a patronizing way that my little ‘what if?’ has deep theological consequences (thanks, dad), and over-and-over that adolescence didn’t exist 2000 years ago (of course), i’m surprised and intrigued by the quantity and length (and ferocity) of the conversation! personally, i’d like to say i’m really enjoying the discussion, but that will likely get me called a naive non-theologian by someone.



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Rod

posted December 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm


Not to split hairs with you, Dennis, but God striking Saul blind was not an “offer.” Saul had a choice, only after being struck down, as to what he did with God’s actions, but he was not open to accept or deny God’s miraculus intervention in his life on the road. Hopefully I am not offending your sensibilities, but I see a similar situation with Mary.
To be sure it is speculation on my part (and probably not theologically sound, at that), but I think that God could have intervened in Mary’s life without her consent. The long text you write regarding rape and consent and the ultimate “morality of God” if Mary didn’t understand is, in my humble opinion, not central to the question. God isn’t moral – by that I mean that I don’t think he necessarily conforms to our standrards of human morality. I believe he transcends our morality, therefore if he did impregnate Mary without her consent (as you put it) it does not make God a child abuser, or a God of questionable morals.
Now, like Marko, I am not convinced one way or the other on this issue. I don’t know if she gave her consent. But, this is not a battle that is central to my belief in who Jesus is. The reason I question it, Dennis, is because I am always amazed, and sometimes even a little annoyed, when some think they know these things with such certainty, and that me not agreeing with them is somehow heretical.
Certainty and foundational is not something I would ascribe to this topic – interesting to throw some ideas (new and old) around though.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 22, 2006 at 4:40 pm


Dennis,
Here’s what you said:
“Exercised about what I think is a misdirected pursuit of the Real Mary, yes. [Let me spell out what I mean by “misdirected”: (1a) Scot’s a priori rejection in his book of much of the conventional Marian veneration because it represents an obscuring of the real Mary by doctrinal controversy; (2a). an alternative approach based on the “historical context” that already in Scot’s book involves a lot of “reading into Scripture” based on consensus historical knowledge of first-century practices.”
Here’s what I say:
This proves I’m Protestant. That’s no surprise to anyone. And if reading Mary’s song in her historical context is misdirected, I want to be guilty three-fold. The major historical context, Dennis, is using the Magnificat as a protest against Herodian and Roman injustices. I don’t think that is one bit daring or even innovative. My reading is quite consonant in this regard with the work of Father Raymond Brown, though I think Mary said these words and he doesn’t.



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Sue

posted December 22, 2006 at 5:02 pm


I am confused about something.
Rape is about the abuse of sexual power. It is not about pregnancy and motherhood.
Mary consented to becoming a mother. She “got it” that any kind of intercourse was not involved. So how could any of this be called rape?



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 6:56 pm


Rod,
We are talking past each other. That God struck Saul blind certainly got his attention. But unless one does not believe that we have free will, a forceful intervention does not change or lessen the freedom of the response. Even under threat of death, I can refuse to say yes. That’s the issue here. Did God impregnate Mary without her consent? Is knowledge necessary to genuinely free consent.
That also addresses Sue’s concern. If the word rape is a stumbling block, drop it. Mary became pregnant. Would you not agree that no matter what mechanism might be used to render a woman pregnant, if it was done against her will, without her consent, it would be a violation of her and an injustice? Would you say that making a woman pregnant without her consent, if it could be done in some mysterious inner way without penetration would be any less unjust? I would call it rape but if you wish not to call it rape, fine. It still would be a violation of her, would it not?
That’s my point. If Mary did not freely consent, then God used her in something less than a just and human–to say nothing of divine–manner. I do not believe God does things like that, therefore I believe Mary had to have had opportunity to consent. Consent requires knowledge. Therefore Mary could not have been an unknowing pre-adolescent child when she became the Mother of God without God becoming unjust.
And the Scriptures portray her as a knowing consenting adult, whatever her chronological age. I hope this clarifies. I will post no more on this.



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 7:32 pm


Dennis,
I don’t think anyone is saying she didn’t consent. If she was 13, with a 13 year old’s level of cognitive development, then she consented the very best way a 13 year old could…I think Marko’s whole point was that she consented as a young adolescent, not an as adult. But she still consented.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 8:41 pm


Jennifer, I said I would not prolong this, but there is a fundamental misunderstanding here about consent.
Even in our laws today we recognize that a minor cannot give the same consent as an adult because of lack of sufficient knowledge. We have minimal ages for consent to marriage on the assumption that a 13 year-old cannot truly know what it is to make a lifelong promise. (Some states permit this consent at 14 but most people think that’s too young.) We are not thereby saying that a 12 year old cannot be mature and make an adult promise, but that since each person is different, to be safe and make sure that non-adults are not abused, we will not permit a binding promise of that sort to be made under a certain age. Neither can anyone under the age of 16 in most states engage in consensual sexual intercourse–not because people become magically mature the instant they turn 16 but because the age at which one has enough life experience to consent to sexual intercourse knowingly and freely does vary. Indeed, minors under 18 cannot legally enter into a wide range of business contracts–not because some 15-year-olds are not mature enough to contract but simply to make sure that everyone is aware of the difference between adult consent and non-adult consent. The latter is free and knowing and binding; the former is not. And if deception is employed with someone past the legal age for adult consent, it renders the consent invalid because it was not made with requisite knowledge and could not have been truly free consent.
We are saying, by these laws that there is a difference between a child’s consent, an adolescent’s consent, and an adult’s consent. And the fundamental difference is reasonable knowledge of the normal consequences, responsiblities, implications of the consent one is about to give. Knowing the normal responsibilities does not mean the same as knowing all contingencies. No one knows that, not the most mature adult, who consents to marriage or to friendship or to employment or whatever. But it is wrong to manipulate or otherwise deprive a potential employee, spouse, friend of the basic awareness of the consequences, implications, expectations, and responsiblities associated with the employment, marriage, or friendship she or he is about to give consent to.
To those who argued that Mary at age 13 (which itself is speculation, not fact) was as mature as an adult, I say, fine, no problem. And I believe as a historian that probably all 13-year-olds back then and even many 13-year-olds in more recent times until the sexual revolution clouded the whole matter, were effectively mature adults.
My problem is with the original speculation that, because she was (putatively) only 13, Mary did not give adult consent but an innocent child’s consent. That sort of consent is not and cannot be genuinely free and knowing consent. The original speculation suggested precisely that Mary did not fully understand what she was consenting to. By our laws, that would render her consent invalid and would make the person who contrived to gain her uninformed consent guilty of fraud. That’s what I insist we really do not want to attribute to God, do we?
So when you say, “no one is saying she did not consent,” I have to respond: the issue is the nature of the consent, not the fact of some sort of consent. And the original speculation precluded consent of an adult, knowing nature.
One could, of course, argue that adult consent, while required by our laws for marriage and consensual sexual intercourse was not needed to become the Mother of God. One or two posters have come fairly close to saying that. I would say that becoming the Mother of God requires at least the same level of consent–free, adult consent–as entering upon marriage, a binding legal contract, or consensual sexual intercourse under our laws.



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:mic

posted December 22, 2006 at 8:52 pm


This has already been said: anyone who could verbalize her situation with the Magnificat certainly had a solid grasp of what was happening (to the extent which humanity has a shot at it. . .)
Building upon this and Scot’s initial response: it seems that Marko has confused first-century Palestinean Jewish adolescence with twenty-first century American adolescence a bit too much. We must remember that Mary would have held a vastly different perspective if for no other reason than virginity was much more highly regarded than among our own!!!! I hope Marko can acknowledge this, or else he might just be off on the wrong foot. . .
(ps – overall I tend to like Marko, so. . .this is not an attack)



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:12 pm


Dennis,
I think what I hear you saying is that she was socially or culturally more mature than a 13 year old would be today. I think I can agree with that.
I am trying to say (and I think Marko is trying to say, he can correct me if I’m wrong)is that a 13 year old’s brain is still growing – and there are developmental consequences that go along with that. It’s not about what comes along with adolescence (a social construct) but what comes along with puberty (a physical event that also involves brain development) It is very hard to believe that she could be physically an adult in terms of brain development. If you want Mary to have completely mature brain function you either have to place her in her mid-20′s or supernaturally make her skip the normal stages of development that we all go through. Though I do agree that compared to today’s 13 year olds she was probably very mature socially.



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 9:22 pm


Mic,
I hear you, but I think you are confusing *social* maturation with *physical* maturation. A teen’s brain is still growing. This is especially true in the frontal cortex, where executive function happens. Until that part of the brain is fully myelinated, teens dont think the same way adults do – and that process isnt completed until the 20′s.
It’s not about adolescence (a social creation) but about how brains physically develop.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 22, 2006 at 10:49 pm


Jennifer, you apparently operate with a very different understanding of anthropology than I do. Adult free consent is more than mere brain development. The ability to know the difference between right and wrong, not a certain level of physical development, governs whether one is morally mature or not. This is a theological and philosophical (ethics) claim, not a physical psychiatric or neuroscientific claim. Granted, someone with abnormal or arrested physical brain development is probably not capable of moral decision making. I don’t doubt that the brain of an adolescent is more physically developed than that of a child and less than that of a 20-year-old. But philosophically I don’t even think there’s a way directly to correlate the theological-philosophical anthropology out of which I have written with the physical neuroscience out of which you are talking.
But I did presuppose that in thinking about Mary, the Bible, and theology, it would have to be theological categories of moral adulthood at issue. Neuroscience, if it can be reliably coordinated with moral development might be interesting but by itself necessarily is insufficient to address the moral categories that Scot’s entire Mary-of-the-Magnificat thesis and Marko’s pushback from it were both couched in.
All I’m saying is that Mary had to have been a moral adult to give free consent: she had to know the difference between right and wrong and the meaning of a spousal promise. That cannot be measured in terms of brain development. It is an act of the will based on knowledge of what is right. We learn to distinguish right from wrong from others (you call it social, I call it moral and believe that it ultimately comes from God who implanted conscience in his human creatures but also created us in such a way that we need formation by adults for our moral development).
Mary was, according to Scripture, capable of moral free consent or she would not have been betrothed to Joseph–unless Jews of the time permitted betrothal of those morally immature, which I doubt. For the Jews, certainly, the maturity needed to enter into betrothal and marriage was measured in moral terms, though certainly physical attainment of puberty (their way of outwardly measuring what you refer to in more sophisticated terms as adolescent and adult brain development) was a factor in assessing moral maturity.
Marko’s speculation stipulated that she was not capable of adult moral consent but was innocent of at least some of what she was promising. He did this because Scot had made full, adult knowledge of what she was accepting, agreeing to central to his entire thesis of social-justice Magnificat-Mary. That’s what Marko was offering an alternative to.
Modern physiologically based theories of brain development are not terribly helpful for the issue I raised unless they are somehow integrated with the philosophical/theological moral development categories. You explicitly restrict your comments on brain development to physical development. What you call “social development” is perhaps at least analogous to what I mean by moral development. But that’s what you exclude. We are talking on parallel planes that cannot intersect.
I and others on this thread have granted repeatedly that an adolescent may be capable of adult moral consent–in that case, her brain development may be inferior to that of a 20-year old. But that matters not for the issue at hand: is the person a knowing free adult agent capable of making a spousal promise, in this case, the promise to become the Mother of the Redeemer and therefore, the spouse of the Holy Spirit who was to cause her to become pregnant. I don’t doubt she could have done that with the brain development of an adolescent, though perhaps not with that of a prepubescent child. But that’s beside the point because I don’t think we have ways of directly coordinating physical brain development and moral maturity.
I really do not wish to prolong this but your last post finally made clear the degree to which you are operating with physiological criteria. Some others on this thread may have been doing the same but I rather doubt that most of them were.



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Jennifer

posted December 22, 2006 at 11:10 pm


Dennis,
I agree that we’re probably at the end here (and that’s okay, we can agree to disagree). The only thing I would like to respond to is where you said…
“This is a theological and philosophical (ethics) claim, not a physical psychiatric or neuroscientific claim.”
I agree with you that it is a theological and philosophical claim, but it is ALSO physical, psychological, biopsychological. I dont see how you can draw an easy line between those catagories since we are talking about humans, which by nature are concerned with all of those things at once. I read Marko as asking the question : How did her biopsychology influence her theology or spirituality?



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marko

posted December 22, 2006 at 11:45 pm


yes, jennifer. thank you.



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Jennifer

posted December 23, 2006 at 4:27 am


Scot and Kris,
After reading all of this, it makes me think you two could co-author some interesting posts about the intersection of psychology and theology. :-) We could have some fun discussion on that :-) :-)



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Kate Johnson

posted December 23, 2006 at 8:59 am


Luke 1:34-39
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, ” The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
So wasn’t Mary saying AMEN to what was going to happen? I didn’t hear God asking a question, more Gabriel was stating fact… all of which makes it more a miracle, she didn’t have to consent… which by and large is a good thing because we would rarely consent to God’s will for us if we had our druthers.
and this is a wonderful conversation for such a time as this… Merry Christmas



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Dennis Martin

posted December 23, 2006 at 10:27 am


Jennifer, in regard to # 36: I did not draw a line between theology/ethics and neuroscience. I did not suggest they are separate. All I said was that in the matter at hand, the question is an ethical/theological one. Because the latter is empirical and the former by definition includes a dimension that the latter does not, a nonempirical dimension, the interface between the two (which is real) is also impossible to pinpoint empirically.
If one has a living, breathing subject in front of him one could and ought to work on the interface. But with Mary one cannot do empirical brain development work because the data for her do not exist. We can do theological/ethical work because the data are there in Scripture. That’s what I was doing. I think that’s what Marko and most others were were doing. I critiqued the way he did it. You, if I am not mistaken, were the first to introduce a purely physiological approach, indeed, it took several postings before it became clear that you were speaking purey physiologically. Most of those reading your initial posts thought you were speaking in theological/moral terms. You then clarified that, no, you were speaking purely in physiological terms and in that post drew a clear line between the two. I never drew such a line but in response to your drawing that line simply said that in the case at hand, conclusions could not be drawn simply on speculation about physiological brain development but had to be based on moral/theological/philosophical principles and data.



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Dennis Martin

posted December 23, 2006 at 10:55 am


Kate,
“May it be done to me according to your word” is consent. It just is–grammatically and syntactically, that’s what it means. Amen is consent, endorsement, agreement.
Let’s try the falsifiability approach: In your reading of this, if Mary had said, “No, I do not want this to happen,” do I understand you to be saying that God would have said, “Listen up, girl, it will happen anyway whether you like it or not?” That’s the issue here.
We don’t know in actual fact how God would have responded because in fact Mary did consent (fact means “happened” and this did not happen). But we do know theologically. Had Mary said, “No, please find someone else” God would have not forced her against her will to become the Mother of God because God has revealed himself to be a God of love who made humans with free will in order that they might love him. If he forced them to do as he wished against their will he would not be that God.
Yes, he punishes those who obstinately refuse him, but punishment of immoral acts does not destroy free will any more than rewards for moral acts does. Indeed, it would be unjust if God punished someone who “rejected” him unfreely. The very meaning of “reject” requires that it be a freely chosen act, just as the very meaning of consent requires that it be freely chosen.
You are correct in noting that God does not grammatically ask a question. But stating that something will happen does not preclude a free response of acceptance or rejection. You can say to someone, “you will meet me tomorrow for lunch.” We normally ask rather than state this as what will happen but if one is in a position of supervision–say a senior level manager, one might actually say to an employee, “You should plan to meet me for lunch tomorrow.” He does not expect the employee to refuse but the employee certainly is free to do so. Yes, there might then be negative consequences for the employee but that doesn’t mean that the manager can simply by announcing what will happen determine absolutely that it will happen. The employee is free.
The confusion may arise from God’s omnipotence and providence. God is not merely a senior level manager, he is the almighty Pantokrator. Still, unless we believe that God treats his human creatures as unfree puppets, when God says, “this will happen” he cannot be saying “this will happen against your will.”
Notice that “will happen” in the future tense (which is used in Luke 1) is our language. For an eternal God nothing is in the future; all is in the present–so for God the statement, “you will conceive” is equally present with his knowledge that Mary will say yes. God through the angel tells Mary what will happen but he does so in her tensed language that envelopes both his offer and her response–together these bring about what happens (will happen). Mary’s response is in tensed grammar: let it happen as you say. In other words, she is saying, “I agree that it will happen because you want it and I want it.” “Let it happen” is a subjunctive and simply grammatically states the consent of the speaker.
All that I have written here of course does not apply if one does not believe we have free will. I will leave it to Calvinists to argue that we do not–the answers I hear from them seem to vary and some of them insist they do leave room for free will. If any Calvinist truly believes that Mary was not free to say no because God stated what would happen, then I would say that that Calvinist has departed from Christian teaching. But I do not assume that you believe God treats us as totally unfree puppets. If you do, then that’s where our reading of this passage diverges. But if you do not believe God treats us as puppets, then I would ask you to consider whether you couldn’t read the statement of the angel, “This will happen” as being fully compatible with Mary’s total freedom to say no to it and thus that the grammar of her response indicates totally free consent to what God said would happen.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 23, 2006 at 11:14 am


Well, Dennis, you’ve managed to turn the post into a bit of a debate about the free moral consent of Mary. Let’s back up a second here:
I argued in a traditional manner that Mary realized the significance of the angel’s words and the social-type implications of her consent (I agree on consent). Marko wondered if a 13-year old (assumption) would not have been so innocent that she may not have weighed the consequences as we are suggesting. She consented to not all she realized. But, she consented — and God knew her innocence and led her onwards.
I don’t agree with Marko on this, but there is a singular issue here that I’m not sure you are weighing. It is this:
Whatever Mary consented to — and I think it was both the significance and the social implications, she did not fully know all she was getting into. When she thought of Messiah, it was not likely that she realized at that time that her Messiah-son would be a crucified Messiah. And even if one wants to frame this a little differently in some other dimension Mary did not realize … it comes down to this. Mary’s consent was not the result of exhaustive knowledge of its implications. Which means there was non-knowledge (call it ignorance) of what she was consenting to.
I think Marko’s point is that one. A bit like freeing Israel from Egypt though Israel had no idea what would happen over the next forty years, or Abraham going to the Land of Promise not knowing what he was getting into… multiply examples.
Dennis, the question that comes to mind when you speak of free moral consent is this: How much knowledge on Mary’s part is needed for her to have such? What is required on her part for her to have had free moral consent?



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Kate Johnson

posted December 23, 2006 at 12:48 pm


Dennis, you wrote “You are correct in noting that God does not grammatically ask a question. But stating that something will happen does not preclude a free response of acceptance or rejection….when God says, “this will happen” he cannot be saying “this will happen against your will.”
My point was that this statement of God’s will, stating what was going to happen, WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. Of course God knew full well Mary’s response. Her consent (and yes I know that Amen means “so be it”…i.e. a form of acknowledgment and agreement) while for earthly purposes seems relevant, is not relevant for God becaue He knows all things and choose Mary for such a purpose because He knew her heart for Him. The question of being against her will is a mute point in light of His foreknowledge (and yes, I beleive in free will, the dichotomy of which I do not beleive will be fully understood this side of Heaven). So, in ending, yes Mary consented. God did not have to consieder forcing her (which He would not) because He already knew her choice. And as I said in the very beginning, she was not unaware of the path, but I agree with Scot she was also not fully informed of ALL its implications.



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Kate Johnson

posted December 23, 2006 at 12:50 pm


sorry for the spelling errors above… yikes!



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Dennis Martin

posted December 23, 2006 at 1:24 pm


Scot, I said a number of times that when one consents to marriage one does not know all contingencies but one is consenting to a lifelong promise. I never said Mary had knowledge of and consented to the crucifixion of her Son. She was consenting to a blank check on the contingencies of what would happen to her Son, as all women (and their spouses) are supposed to do with regard to their future children when the consent to marriage freely with adult knowledge. (Lacking such knowledge invalidates marriage.)
Mary was freely and knowingly consenting to become the mother of the Redeemer of Israel in a spousal, marriage relationship to God. She was consenting in advance to whatever contingencies came with that. But at a minimum she had to know in an adult manner what motherhood and espousal entailed. And one of the things that motherhood and espousal entails is that one makes an unbreakable promise to accept whatever contingencies, by definition unknowable in advance, will happen.
A prepubescent girl cannot know what it means to make such lifelong promise/consent, cannot understand sufficiently the contingencies that come with it, cannot understand the intimacies entailed by marriage and motherhood. An adolescent girl can.
If that’s what Marko says she knew she was doing then he and I and you agree. It did not seem to me that that’s what he sais she knew she was doing–and for a very simple reason. It is clear from your book that you believe Mary knew what she was assenting to–to become the mother of the Redeemer. She did not know what exactly would happen but she was knowingly consenting to whatever would happen to her as Mother of the Redeemer. You seem to be clear about that. If Mark’s “clever twist” was different from yours, then it seemed to me the difference had to lie in some diminished knowledge, some greater lack of awareness, not about the contingencies throughout the life of her Son but about the nature of the espousal/motherhood commitment itself. That’s what I object to because that would mean God espoused and impregnated Mary without full adult consent to motherhood and espousal. And that is an immoral act that even we prohibit by law.
If Marko was not really saying something that different from what you say in your book, fine. We are all on the same page. But may I perhaps be forgiven for thinking that what he was saying was significantly different from what you are saying and that the difference lies in Mary’s innocent, pre-adult level of consent? I will be glad to learn that I was wrong and that Marko believes Mary had a fully adult level of consent.
What I protested against was the claim that Mary’s consent was something less than that. If Marko



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Patrick

posted December 24, 2006 at 3:30 pm


Mary understood that she was giving her life to God. She, like all of us at whatever age, did not understand the full extent of what her life was to be. She could not have known that God the Father was asking her to stand at the foot of the cross and watch her Son die. Remember that before He was our God, He was her son.



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Anonymous

posted December 26, 2006 at 1:40 pm


ysmarko

[...] UPDATE: scot mcknight linked to this post over on jesus creed, and the discussion there is fiesty and strong and interesting and passionate. really worth reading! 18 Comments so far Leave a comment [...]



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Anonymous

posted December 26, 2006 at 1:48 pm


Dr. Platypus » Blog Archive » Tuesdays with Mary: Mary’s Cognitive Development

[...] Like Scot McKnight, I remain somewhat skeptical. I’m not convinced cognitive development has remained constant over the past 2,000 years. A poor girl in first-century Galilee may well have had to “grow up” faster than a twenty-first-century middle-class church youth group member. I’m quite sure that my parents, and even moreso my inlaws, grew up faster than I had to due to increased family responsibilities and a much earlier age. So what does it really mean to affirm that Mary was a “normal” teenager? As a former professor of mine once quipped, people in biblical times didn’t have “teenagers” because they couldn’t afford them! [...]



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