Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Mary among the Buckeyes

posted by Scot McKnight

Heritage.jpgI had the rare opportunity to get to preach about the life of Mary, who is “one of us,” last weekend in Westerville OH, just outside Columbus, at Heritage Christian Church. It was Valentine’s Day, plenty of people were wearing red, but I wasn’t convinced it was as much that as it was Ohio State Buckeye red — and on a weekend when the Buckeyes thrashed the Illini in basketball. Anyway…

When I wrote The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus
, I was convinced that it was time for a “Protestant Mary” but what surprised me was how resistant many evangelicals are to anything about Mary. I say all the time: “After all, she was his mother” and “At least believe what the Bible says about Mary.” But, frankly, I’m shocked at times. I understand the issues Protestants have with Mary because of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, where the devotion to Mary can overreach what we see in the Bible, but there is an overreaction here at a symbolic level that deserves more consideration.
So many folks made the weekend special, including Andy and Breena Holt, Jim and Beth Zippay, Debbi Scott, and Richard Johnson. It was great to see some North Parkers, including Keith Palmer, Pam Laing and Britt Dahlstrom. Long ago in a different life I was a professor at TEDS, and one of my students was Matt Roberts and Matt and Sharon showed up with their two boys and it was special to see them. 


RelMissional.jpg

All this to say, I was asked to preach on the New Testament texts on Mary, I bundled them into a call to decision framework, and here’s the gist of what I said:
Title: One of Us
Her vision is our vision (Luke 1:46-55), her question is our question (2:41-52), her scandal is our scandal (John 2:1-11; Mark 3:21, 31-35; John 19:25-27), her people are our people (Acts 1:14; 2:42-47), but is her response our response (Luke 1:38)?


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Andy Holt

posted February 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm


We loved having you! It was a great message and Breena was especially moved to see Mary in new ways. Come back soon…and Go Bucks! ;)



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John M.

posted February 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm


Go Scot! I agree about Mary… in another life for me, when I was a pastor, I honored Mary one year on Mother’s day. Wish I would have had your book to reference!



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David

posted February 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm


You’ll never be able to persuade fellow Evangelical Christians to take Mary seriously if all you’re going to use to back up what you say is the Bible. If Mary is just one of us, and of about more or less the importance of an apostle Paul or Peter but with far less information to go on, then there’s absolutely no point in trying to make her more presentable, why bother? It would be like a fellow Christian, Catholic or otherwise, writing a book for Catholics called “The Real Michael: Why Catholics Can Embrace Michael the Archangel”, if the book isn’t going to tell me something doctrinally substantial that I really ought to already know about, then what do I care?



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Ted M. Gossard

posted February 17, 2010 at 7:02 pm


David, If I’m understanding your comment correctly, you really need to take up and read Scot’s book, “The Real Mary” (see on the side under “Featured Books”). I promise you that you’ll change your view.



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Mike M

posted February 17, 2010 at 8:36 pm


David: I agree with Ted. Read the book. It’s a good read and very biblically based. Like most Protestants, I am wary of “anything Mary” because of what the Catholics have made her into but that shouldn’t preclude us from getting a deeper understanding of her.
One of my favorite anecdotes about this is the time my son Benny, age 4 at the time, found a cartoon on the the Catholic station EWTN. After watching a few minutes, he turned to me and asked, “Dad, why is that boy praying to a statue of a lady?” That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves for 500 years!



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P

posted February 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm


For my information, what is it that Catholics have made of Mary.



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Mike M

posted February 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm


1. For starters, another intermediary between us and God;
2. An object of worship;
3. An absolver of our sins.
There are more but I’m tired explaining it. Listen to Relevant Radio, specifically Fr. Caropi, for more insights.



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Mike G

posted February 18, 2010 at 12:38 am


I have worked in a predominantly Roman Catholic (89%) country for the past seventeen years. Mary is the official queen of the country. Catholics will travel hundreds of miles to pray to a picture of her. In villages, they will decorate miles of road in anticipation of a copy of the above mentioned picture coming to their town. When asked why they pray to Mary most say “It’s easier asking your mother for something than your father”.
When I first came to Poland, I had the typical Protestant view “Idolatory”, but over the years I have come to see the following:
1. Most Roman Catholics don’t trust God or Christ. God is some one waiting to punish you, and Jesus is seen as a little defenseless baby. Remember back to Gidson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ”? Mary is the strongest character in the movie.
2. Not all Roman Catholics worship Christ. Some do, but others have a profound respect for her which is confused as worship.
3. The position of Mary has produced really what we could call a matriarchel society. The wife or mother controls the home. She can have a full time job, does all the cooking, gets involved in other organizations. Where the husband’s only responsibility is to have a full time job. Men don’t get involved in the church (Roman Catholic church), nor do they feel any need to train their children in spiritual matters. Mothers and grandmothers take on this responsibility.
4. After years of ecumenical work with Roman Catholics, I think Protestants will never truely understand a Roman Catholic’s devotion to her and Roman Catholics will never understand Protestant’s disdain and fear of doing so.
5. In my country at least where Protestants make up only .01% of the population there is a minority mindset. Namely, Roman Catholic society is against us. Thus Protestants protect themselves by creating anti-theolody. We celebrate the Lord’s supper only once a month because there is a fear that if we were to practice it every week that people would forget about the significance of the Lord’s table. Thus the fear of talking about Mary. Anti-theology isn’t Biblically based, but rather fear based.
We as Protestants need to overcome our fears and respect Mary worthy of the Biblical account.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 9:51 am


Mike M.: All three of your points are false claims about Catholic doctrine and devotion regarding Mary.
In general:
1. Scot’s book does, as all interpretations of Scripture rightly do, go beyond Scripture. He draws heavily on “what we know about the culture of 1st century Judaism” to reach conclusions about “the real Mary.” This is a legitimate method, but it should be acknowledged that it is being done.
What Scripture says about Mary is not as limited as some are claiming here. There’s more in the NT about Mary than about most of the apostles–at crucial points beyond the infancy narratives(launching of public ministry, crucifixion, she is present). Of the original circle, only Peter gets as much or more attention–but if degree of mention in the NT is going to be the criterion, then Protestants ought to rethink their antipathy toward a special role for Peter, ought they not?
Moreover, Lk 11:27-28 is, on one legitimate reading, an explicit authorization by Jesus of veneration of Mary by virtue of her being his mother and, at the same time, by virtue of her being an example of “hearing the word of God and keeping it,” which is a theme in the infancy narratives of the same book. Protestants and Catholics can argue about how to interpret these verses, but simply to say that Scripture does not authorize exceptional veneration of Mary as the Mother of God is to have already foreclosed the interpretive questions. And note that this (Catholic and Orthodox) reading of Lk 11 operates from the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture (reading ch. 11 in tandem with the Infancy Narratives and both in interaction with the polyvalent meanings of Logos) and is the ancient principle used by Catholics and Orthodox. Using “what we know about ancient Palestinian Judaism” is also a legitimate method but it is a relatively more modern and secular way of doing thing and reposes confidence in modern historical method (in part because those who developed it had a “low church” ecclesiology and, understandably did not trust the ancient “inside” ecclesial method of interpreting). Both methods are valuable, but one should make one’s choices in using them with full awareness of what one is doing, rather than falling into methods by the back door.
Both minimalists (and even total-anti’s) and maximalists on Marian veneration should recognize that interpretation of Scripture is involved, as it always is, rather than assume that “Scripture” patently comes down on one side or another or to assume that anyone avoids reading things into Scripture as one interprets Scripture.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 10:06 am


Mike G.
Your premise is a zero-sum: devotion to Mary takes away from devotion to Christ. What if it’s not a zero-sum? And how would one know if it’s really zero-sum or not? The crucial issue is Mary’s sinlessness. If indeed she never sinned, then there never would have been a moment when she was not wholly united with the Logos, her Son. If that’s true, then veneration of her cannot not be devotion to her Son. But if she did sin, you could pit her against him.
The sinlessness question is a matter of interpretation of Scripture–there’s no smoking gun either way. People may take strong positions for or against, but always by interpreting certain passages using other passages or using logic (all have sinned, all is meant absolutely, ergo, Mary sinned; all have sinned, all is not meant exceptionlessly because God is sovereign and can make exceptions, ergo Mary could be sinless as a grace-effected exception).
But simply to claim that most Catholics don’t trust God or Christ is overwrought. For someone from an evangelical-expressive framework, what counts as “trusting” Christ may lead one to diminish forms of trusting Christ that Orthodox or Catholic engage in. For instance, non-sacramental, non-liturgical Protestants understandably look at the Mass and (infant) Baptism and minimalize them. That’s fine when it’s done out of a clearsighted choice of doctrinal adhesion. But if you want to honestly and empathetically understand the “other,” then when you assess Orthodox or Catholics, you have to maximalize the liturgy and sacraments as means of trust, as heart-felt (but heart-feltness expressed very differently from evangelical Protestant ways of expressing heartfeltness) trust in Christ. The liturgy is absolutely chock-full of statements of trust in God and in Christ (as well as veneration of Mary, more so in weekly liturgy for Orthodox than for Catholics). For Catholics, this form of expression of trust in God is real, big, huge, powerful EVEN if they might not be able to articulate it. Evangelical Protestants cultivate, in place of the sacraments and liturgy, the ability to express in one’s own vocabulary, one’s heartfelt trust in Jesus. But if you want to understand the tradition different from your own, you need to have conditional empathy, try to get inside the other’s shoes. I’m not sure you’ve done that, based on what you wrote here.



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Mike G

posted February 18, 2010 at 12:59 pm


Phil Atley,
I made a mistake in point number 2, meaning to say that not all Roman Catholics worship Mary. For those who don’t, they are able to express their trust and faith in Christ while reverantly respecting her. I have many Catholic friends who do so.
I’m simply writting of my experience and the reality that exists in a country outside of the U.S. While some Roman Catholics trust in God and Christ, many do not, at least in the country in which I live. In my country to speak of one’s relationship with God or Christ is seen as a foreign idea. Most Roman Catholics here unfortuately do understand the love that God has for them.
I know of Roman Catholics who were pushed out of the church because they would not pray to Mary or through her.
Once again, I say these things not to point fingers or even to speak of all Roman Catholics around the world. I’m simply stating how things are where I live. At the same time, I have many Roman Catholic friends who have very deep relationships with Christ and with God.
You imply that I do not have emphathy for Roman Catholics and that is simply not the case. I have been involved in many ecumenical events and do not treat Roman Catholics as people who are non-believers.
I’m not trying to be judgemental, but am trying to state the reality in which I live. Sorry if I came off as judgemental.



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Your Name

posted February 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm


Phil – wrt Mary – “The sinlessness question is a matter of interpretation of Scripture–there’s no smoking gun either way.”
What of Romans 3:23?



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Rick in TX

posted February 18, 2010 at 4:20 pm


That was my question, my name disappeared when the passcode expired



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm


Phil, while the Jewish context is used some in my book, it is more of a tying together of the statements that are made than anything else. In other words, I connected the dots from Magnificat on.
Luke 11:27-28, if you read my book, was mostly ignored because I am not convinced it says anything directly about Mary.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm


Rick,
I explained what about Rom 3:23 in my comment, but I’ll recapitulate: You interpret the “all” as not admitting of exception; Catholics and Orthodox interpret it as admitting of exception, as a general descriptor rather than an absolute descriptor cum prescriptor. My larger point was that none of us draws conclusions on one side or another of these issues without making interpretive choices. For your Rom 3:23 your Catholic interlocutor will show you a Lk 1:28 and raise you a Gen 3:15. And you’ll come back and say, “but you can’t interprete Lk 1:28 as claiming Mary was sinless and she’s not the referent for Gen. 3:15.
My point egggggzagtly. You have your interpretations of these verses, others have other interpretations. This thread started with the claim that there is a “more Scriptural” approach to Mary and a “less Scriptural” approach. In the interest of civil conversation, if we could all just recognize that all sides are doing Scripture, equally doing Scripture, but they are doing Scripture differently and arriving at different Scriptural conclusions.
Professor McKnight: I understand that you don’t see that Lk 11:27-28 has anything directly to do with Mary. I say it does. Where does that leave us? I gave my reasons, which are based on interpreting Luke with Luke (I didn’t get into the philology of Jesus’ opening word in response to the woman in the crowd, but there are at least two ways, each perfectly justified, of reading that polyvalent word, so which direction one goes in part depends on what one does with the rest of the verse–the philology is ambivalent).
But you prove my point–in your reasoned theological judgment, Lk 11:28 has nothing directly to do with Mary. In the reasoned theological judgment of countless Christian interpreters over 2000 years of history, it does have something directly to do with Mary. Your interpretation is plausible and respectable. I just ask the same for mine. All I’ve asked is that all of us recognize that all of what we believe about Mary–maximal or minimal or in the middle–is based on interpretation and then to examine and reexamine our methods and assumptions about interpretation.
And to just let go of the “my view’s more scriptural than your view.” I think it would be liberating for all concerned.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm


Mike G. wrote: I’m simply writting of my experience and the reality that exists in a country outside of the U.S. While some Roman Catholics trust in God and Christ, many do not, at least in the country in which I live. In my country to speak of one’s relationship with God or Christ is seen as a foreign idea. Most Roman Catholics here unfortuately do [not??] understand the love that God has for them.
I recognize (and should have better acknowledged in my first response to you) that you believe you are being empathetic and kind to Catholics.
Can you step back enough to look at what you just wrote. First you say that many Catholics do not trust in God and Christ (while some do). But then, as you explain what you mean by this, you shift, without realizing it, I imagine, to a question not of whether one trusts but whether and how one speaks of one’s relationship with God or Christ.
That was one of my original points. Speaking easily and freely of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is a hallmark of Pietism and Evangelicalism and has historical roots. It is not at all unknown in the “big churches” (including mainline Protestants as well as the Amish and the Plain People sects– remember once commenting to a contemplative monk about the fact that people in my peasant/farm Protestant sectarian background did not readily or easily express their faith but focused instead on living a Christian life; I was floored by his response, arising out of his life of contemplative silence: maybe they don’t need to express it; just because they don’t express it doesn’t mean it’s not real).
You conclude from the inability to express a certain kind of pious, devout heart-relationship with Christ that mny Catholics don’t even understand God’s love for them. Respectfully, I’d ask you to think that through. I suggested in my original response that participating in the sacraments and liturgy, which are full of the Scriptural expressions of God’s love and sacrifice on the Cross for us, is a way in which people who by culture and upbringing are not easy in expressiveness do nonetheless affirm their beliefs.
How voluble and expressive are common folk around the world in expressing other things? I come from a long line of farmers and peasants. Believe me, they believe things strongly, to the death, but they would have a hard time expressing many of those things, the mysteries of love of the land, of their fatherland, of their children, yes, their love of God. Evangelicalis, by privileging the most expressive and voluble among them, have created a culture in which charming speakers and writers function as bishops and popes, as arbiters of the ebb and flow of religious and theological fashions. I’m not sure how healthy this is.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm


One additional point about the problematic raised by Mike G. in regard to cultural “big churches” and expressing a relationship with God or Christ:
It is very true that Catholicism and Orthodoxy, being “national churches” or “cultural churches” going back to the very first era of missionary conversion, have a lot of nominal hangers-on who are not very committed or devout. But is that because the theology and life of Catholic or Orthodox churches fails truly to know the love of God or trust in God and Christ? Is it possible that the problem is not intrinsic to Catholic doctrine but to the age-old phenomenon of having a devout center and a surrounding nominal efflorescence? If so, then the solution would be to revitalize the nominals rather than reject the center from which they have nominalized or drifted away?
I lived and worked in a European country where Evangelical missionaries worked in the penumbra of the state churches, plucking off the marginally committed, the non-devout and “winning them for Christ.” I began to doubt Evangelicalism in part because it troubled me that these missionaries (who were family acquaintances from my home church) never bothered to try to understand how the sacramental and liturgical life of the “big churches” functioned, how it was real and powerful for some and less so for others. They declared the big churches to have abandoned Christ and thus their mission of plucking away the nominal adherents to create new Bible Churches could be seen as saving souls from damnation.
The problem of the nominal members of a “big church” is a real one. But I could not understand why my missionary friends could not at least entertain the possibility that the solution might be to encourage the nominal and disaffected to open themselves up to the power of God manifested in the mysteries of the sacraments and liturgy, so that these disaffected ones’ hearts could glow with faith, even if they couldn’t articulate it in an Evangelical-conversion manner.
(The same problem vitiated old New England Puritanism, to cite one more example.”



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Professor McKnight,
I’m sure you don’t see it this way, but at least one reader of your book sees you doing a good bit of drawing on “what we know about Jewish life in the first century” as you interpret Mary of the Magnificat. Your reading of the Magnificat is one, legitimate, reading. A number of patristic and medieval readings of the Magnificat would draw less than you do on historical knowledge of the culture and more on intertextuality of the OT and NT. And, interestingly, Joseph Ratzinger shows how a modern exegete can prefer the intertextual to the contextual in his essays in the book _Mary at the Source_; I could cite other examples.
You do some of the intertextual interpretation, for sure. I’m not saying your combination of interpretative approaches is wrong. I’m just saying that it is an interpretation arising from choices of interpretive approaches, and that, when lined up with the thousands of interpretations of Mary of the Magnificat over the centuries, it reflects your training under James Dunn and contemporary biblical scholarship which, understandably, draws heavily on historical context. It’d be very surprising if it did not.
You make an interpretive move out of the box by declaring off limits a lot of doctrinal/ecclesial interpretation over the centuries. You see much of that as “extra-Scriptural” and of course, you may be right in that assessment. But those who made those interpretations believed utterly sincerely that they were being fully Scriptural, not extra-Scriptural, in their interpreting.
I’m just asking that everyone recognize how deep the presuppositions and out-of-the box assumptions are embedded in how we approach the interpretation of Scripture. I don’t expect us all to agree about Mary. I just think that being more aware of how we are all always already interpreting rather than some of us being “more Scriptural” than others would be honest and facilitate mutual understanding.



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Your Name

posted February 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm


Oh, what else have Catholics done to Mary? In Wisconsin, it’s very common to see bathtubs buried upright in lawns with statues of Mary in them. And yes, I’ve seen flowers placed in front of these Shrines of the Perpetual Porcelain.
One of my points being that yes, it may all be well and good that we have differences in interpretation of scripture and can justify our beliefs, but how does that play out in practice? Mike G lived in the trenches and so probably “walked in their shoes” more than most of us. And I have to work with people who have said to me “of course I don’t read the bible. I’m Catholic.”



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RJS

posted February 18, 2010 at 8:54 pm


Excellent sermon – available on the web site (here I listened to it on my drive last night and this morning. It has a slightly different emphasis than in other talks though.



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Pat

posted February 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm


Hi Everyone!
Well, I have been a Catholic all my life, and to beat all, in the Bible Belt of USA. Talk about more bias? As one who entered the faith the moment I was born to momma, let me tell you the facts, and I think I had almost perfect attendance for nearly all my life! I can assure you: Not one sentence one time was ever uttered to me that was offensive or led me astray. In fact, I believe the Catholic Church offered the experience to keep me glued to it.
There was nothing kept us from the Mass and our worship services and activities in the church. It was absolutely first to go worship GOD, yes, that is what I said: God. How many of you were on your knees at 6:30 am before the bus cam praying for the day and everyone in it, like my mom had us do. How many of you put God first on all Holidays thanking Him for on Thanksgiving, Labor day, Memorial Day, all days. How many of you put out the nativity before anything else and told the story over and over to everyone who came. My momma did, because she was a devout catholic. How many of you actually fasted on Fridays and talked about what that was in prayer and understanding? Or took communion each Sunday and fasted before it? And was explained just how powerful that command from Christ is?
God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First and foremost. Mary was in our prayer life, but my understanding and teaching was that She was the Holy Mother of Christ, and that a Hail Mary to her was exactly what it was: Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Where is that worship? Mary is a Symbol of the entire life of Christ. Always with Him, always blessed for all generations, what Luke says. Also, Jesus is God the Son. John 1: The Word was God. Jesus was God on this earth as a human to walk among us to show us the perfect Way Truth and Life.
The Catholic church taught me to be respectful of all God and others, to serve and believe on the promises of Christ the King, and to serve absolutely anyone in need, even those who hate us. That is hard sometimes when well-meaning, righteous Christians want to absolutely take your salvation away from you only because you let it slip that you are Catholic.
We hear 4 scriptures each week in Mass, OT, NT, Psalm, and Epistle or other NT reading. We had class every Saturday taught by nuns and I fully recall the Bible stories of the History of Humankinds relationship with God. Name a story! I heard it. Our mom read the Scripture to us and asked us tough questions. As a young adult, I joined several Scripture study classes at my church. Also, my husband later became catholic and guess what? He did not just walk in one Sunday and say here I am, I am in. It took a year of learning and then entering in through the sacred sacraments; and it meant the world to him. By the way, he was raised Church of Christ, and after studying for a loooong time on the churches, he made the decision to join based on His knowledge, not mine.
I was baptized as a little child, but by the time I got to adult age, I knew one thing! I had been Baptized, was a child of God, and was expected to act like one according to my God and my Church, who did give us some accountability. You thought twice about doing wrong because of God?s unconditional love and Christ hanging on that Cross to save us from it all. But we are the Sunday people, the third day Resurrection people with belief in a new life.
As we grew in the sacraments, our faith grew and was passed down to our children, my 3 sons are strict believers. Also the Catholic church believes in human life at all levels, to depend on God in His will in absolutely every thought word and deed. What is holy is the sexual act (anti birth CONTROL, which means our belief is not to want to control human life, that is God?s business) sex is sacred and Holy, pro life, pro marriage, pro family, pro worship (instead of ball games, trips etc). However, the church teaches it, and of course so many of us fail it. Why because we are human, and we want it our way, no authority for us. Don?t we all sit on a fence, sometimes we take it sometimes we leave it?
Now, I know many Catholics do not choose to grow in that life and make it what it should be. Some never knew the Lord, but that is not Catholic, that is in every church and place. Please get it right; talk about people that you judge as non believers if you want, but do not bash a religion because of it. It is just plain wrong to do that, and you know it.
So, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, study the 2000 year old religion. I bet you can?t imagine what the world will look like in 2000 years, and you cannot imagine what it was like 2000 years ago. That is why you will never understand the Catholics. 2000 years of people, governments, economies, criminals, wonderful leaders, excellent God fearing members who love the Lord, but sometimes revere Him through Imagery and Pictures. Also, the different people over 2000 years have sometimes have tried to help the Christian understand and stay closer to God with things the human can do and understand. Can you see how some of the things in the church that look weird to the others in the world, are for a purpose to help those in days and times understand. Christ did that all the time! He did a human thing or an unusal practice to make the people know what He meant and see His Glory
So, dear reader, I cause no one hard feelings at all, but please, study, attend Mass, talk to the pastors, try to dig into the meaning of Catholic worship all the way back from Jewish days and see how you like it.
You know what? I have had people just love me so much, then one day, I mention I am Catholic, and they have before gotten plumb angry. Yes, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Redeemer! So thank you all for reading this and letting me say what I needed to say.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm


Phil, I think you are a bit uncharitable about the ‘my view is more scriptural than yours.” I don’t really think I believe that. What I would say is that my (Protestant) view is more restricted to Scripture than some, but my intent is to reclaim Mary for Protestants (who have ignored and rejected her), and I have two chps in the book about RC views of Mary and I think I’m even-handed about what RC believes.
My intent is to restore to Protestants what the Bible says about Mary, and Protestants aren’t going to accept the post Scriptural developments as a general rule. I’m not inveighing against RCs or EOs about what they are teaching; instead, I’m seeking to discuss what the Bible does say about Mary.
I fully accept your hermeneutic and understand why you believe what you do. Those two chps acknowledge such.
My reading of Magnificat acknowledges the intertextual (if you mean OT) and I believe it is crucial to understanding what Mary was saying.
I read your comments again and I can’t figure out where you’re getting the “more Scriptural.” Did I say that? so, let me reiterate: I’m seeking to sketch a view of Mary rooted in what the Gospel texts say, and that is Scriptural. You might prefer that I say other things, but what I’m doing is sketching the biblical material.



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 10:52 pm


Here’s what I had in mind, from your article above:
“I understand the issues Protestants have with Mary because of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, where the devotion to Mary can overreach what we see in the Bible, . . .”
This seems to say that Catholics and Orthodox go beyond the Bible, beyond Scripture. Now, perhaps you only meant “popular devotion,” not doctrinal devotion/veneration. But in your book, you do explain, do you not (I’m working from memory) that you will leave aside most of the later ecclesial and doctrinal Marian development because it goes beyond the world of the Scriptural Mary, which, unless I have misunderstood, is the “real” Mary of your title. That’s not a case of rejecting only supposed excesses of popular devotion but is a claim that official Catholic or Orthodox teaching exceeds what Scripture authorizes us.
Now, all I’m saying is that every word of every Marian dogma taught by Orthodox and Catholics is, in their view, totally Scriptural. None of their doctrines, in their view, “overreach” or go beyond Scripture.
What is at issue here is a fundamemtally different view of the total package of interpreting Scripture. You operate with one set of interpreting principles, they have a different set. Part of your set is the belief that some kinds of doctrinal development “go beyond Scripture” or “overreach Scripture.” For Orthodox and Catholics, the teaching office simply represents Christ-authorized ongoing interpretation of Scripture and cannot go beyond or overreach Scripture.
I’m not interested in who’s right on this issue right now. I would just ask that you recognize that your belief that Catholics and Orthodox “overreach Scripture” on Mary at certain points is itself an interpration of Scripture and is not self-evidently true. It’s obvious to you but not obvious to me, which is why you are puzzled that I say you believe your “real Mary” is more scriptural than our Catholic or Orthodox Mary. You don’t think you are claiming that, but that’s because to you it’s obvious that your way of dealing with Scripture is correct. I have no quarrel with your believing that it’s correct. I just ask that you recognize that it is “correct” to you because of exegetical, hermeneutical and ecclesial choices you’ve already made.
And the Lk 11:28 example makes this, to me, obvious. I gave a classic Catholic and Orthodox interpretation of the passage as Jesus authorizing veneration of his mother because she is His mother because veneration of her as His mother is in fact acknowledgement of his Messiahship and deity: the woman in the crowd did not call out, “Hey, Jeshua, you are the Word Incarnate, I adore you.” She called out, “Blessed is woman that bore and nursed you.” Why? Not because of who Mary was in herself but because of who Mary was Mother of. And, if one exegetes Jesus’ response as endorsing the woman in the crowd, with a double-meaning to Word/Logos, then he was endorsing veneration of his Mother because such veneration also, necessarily, recognizes who He is.
Your response is that you don’t see the verse as bearing directly on Mary. How can that verse not bear directly on Mary? The woman in the crowd explicitly honored her as His mother in order to honor Him.
Only if you interpret His response as a rebuke to the woman in the crowd could you say it doesn’t bear on Mary (but actually even then it would, though as a refutation of veneration of Mary). You are, of course, entitled to interpret His response as a rebuke.
But what intrigued me was that you simply responded that YOU don’t see it as bearing on Mary. The mainstream of the tradition has seen it as bearing on Mary and giving dominical authority to Marian veneration. I’m sure your response was short because you didn’t have time to go into detail, but it was an invocation of your own exegetical authority over against centuries of alternative interpretation. Should one, in a book on the Real Mary, one that wishes not to “overreach Scripture,” at least address Lk 11:28 as a major crux, if only to argue against the consensus interpretation of this passage? You made an interpretative choice not to deal with it, but doesn’t that mean that you have not yet dealt exhaustively with the Scriptural Mary materials? And doesn’t that mean that, far from “overreaching Scripture,” the Orthodox and Catholics, in employing this passage and others to develop their “high Mariology,” could be seen as being more Scripturally comprehensive and you more selective?



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Phil Atley

posted February 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm


In no. 22, Scot McKnight wrote:
“My intent is to restore to Protestants what the Bible says about Mary, and Protestants aren’t going to accept the post Scriptural developments as a general rule.”
An Orthodox or Catholic can just as honestly say, “My intent is to restore to Protestants what the Bible says about Mary.” “What the Bible says”–we both know that there is no such thing as simply, “what the Bible says.” Everyone is interpreting the Bible. Catholics and Orthodox acknowledge this and have a view of Church that makes this perfectly reasonable, indeed, utterly necessary. Why can’t you acknowledge that you offer Scot McKnight’s honest, best interpretation of what the Bible says about Mary, with a cut-off point that makes sense to you but not necessarily to other Christians? Who gets to define where the cut-off point is? Or even if such a cut-off point rightly exists?
“. . .and Protestants aren’t going to accept the post Scriptural developments as a general rule.”
You really don’t mean this, do you? Luther on the distinction between justification and sanctification, Calvin on presbyterial church structure, Wesley on perfection in holiness, these are not “post-Scriptural”?
Yes, I know that Luther and Calvin thought that these points and others were simply Scriptural, obviously Scriptural truth. But you surely understand that they were doing interpretation of Scripture as are Catholics and Orthodox and John MacArthur and even Scot McKnight??
See, I look at Calvin or Luther and see “post-scriptural” where they see nothing but Scriptural. But Luther looked at Zwingli and saw post-Scriptural where Zwingli saw only Scriptural. And I look at the Catholic magisterium, based on my conviction about the Church established by Christ and see nothing post-Scriptural but rather, an ongoing penetration into Scripturality. You look at the same thing and see post-Scriptural, at least on Mary (and a few other things, I’m sure).
Again, I’m less interested in who’s right on the Marian doctrines than in the fundamental principle that your blithe assumption that some Catholic doctrines on Mary are post-scriptural but your teaching on Mary is not post-scriptural but scriptural alone, when you make interpretive moves that are certainly post-Scriptural.
Here’s the crux. For you “post-Scriptural” is a problem. For Catholics, ongoing Christ-authorized interpretation of Scripture is the norm because long before any of the Scriptures were scripted, Jesus had authorized his 12 to interpret Him to the world.
I don’t expect you to embrace a Catholic or Orthodox ecclesiology and hermeneutic, but I’d like you to acknowledge that your ecclesiology and hermeneutic is itself a post-scriptural interpretation. We readily acknowledge that ours rests on ongoing interpretation after the scripting took place–we believe the Holy Spirit guarantees the accuracy of that ongoing teaching office so that “post-Scriptural” is always already also Scriptural. You make a different choice in that regard. I respect your choice but wish you could acknowledge its having been made.



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Joe

posted February 19, 2010 at 12:47 am


Great post, Pat. And I’m Protestant.



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Your Name

posted February 19, 2010 at 10:04 am


We are a huge body of believers, ages and ages old by now. As far as I can tell about Jesus, he often departed from the Scripture to make a point, to make something clear to those around Him, or to save someone. We are the new church springing forth from the Book of Acts, always unfinished until the Lord comes and claims all forever. The early church in Acts had to decide on events and actions that they believed would save. Just as sure as Peter and Paul thought they had something down pat, here an event would happen that caused them to have to look at it again, thus opening belief and Christ up to the believer at that time and place. Imagine Peter?s and the people?s surprise when the Holy Spirit in Acts 10 came upon the people, and they had not even been bapized with water. Do you think everything Peter and Paul had to make decisions of faith matters on was exactly spelled out in the scripture? Read it an see.
If people do something in worship and practice that is not what you intrepret 100 percent from the Scripture, and it is done with total heartfelt intent to worship or praise or thank God or lift someone up or save someone, do you really think that our Great and All Powerful God will negate that act or receive it. If you say no, not if it is not 100 percent scriptural in the Bible, then you narrow the mystery of God to your own perception. You keep Him in a box of your own presence, and if someone goes to Him in a new idea of worship, honoring Mary or Saints to get closer to Him, then you say it is just wrong. Can?t you believe and see that God is so much greater than that, and that whoever loves and believes in Him, their worship is acceptable? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?s power in the life of the church and those who honestly believe?
Jesus gave the Apostles authority saying, ?I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.? Matthew 16:19. The apostles were given great authority, and if that authority is not to be handed down to church leaders to continue, then it would have been a waste of time for Jesus to give that authority to begin with. The apostles were all dead within few years after Christ?s death. I believe the church on earth has authority to bind and loose things pertaining to God and His relationship with the people. Besides, if it is for God and Him alone, what diff does it make?
It is a little late for Protestants to begin to see the worth of Mary and begin reconstructing her. Mary, the Mother of God, the God who came and walked this earth to reveal Himself, has been part of God?s Holy family in the eyes of Catholics forever. Mary has always been honored, revered and respected by the Holy Scriptures and by God, and by Jesus Christ, who was brought into this world by her. And that is scriptural! Luke tells the story so beautifully! Catholics always saw this honorable woman, Christ? Mother!!!!, as exactly what God chose her to be. Do you think Jesus is going to reject someone who loves His mother and loves Him in His whole being through her and Him together? What power and authority does Jesus really have in your hearts to open your whole being to Him in ways beyond what you know?
In a world of pain and brokenness, I think it would serve us all well to get up from these computers, stop picking at each other’s beliefs, and go do the work of Christ in the community. Then, they will know we are Christians.



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Mike M

posted February 20, 2010 at 3:15 am


Such nice “we are all Christians” blah blahs may comfort some, but here is the official papal version of exclusion:
“On July 11, 2007, the Vatican restated its position that the Catholic Church is the only true church established by Jesus Christ. In a brief document titled “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church,” the Vatican’s doctrinal office repeated controversial claims made in a doctrinal paper published seven years ago, “Dominus Iesus.”
According to the Vatican, other Christian denominations may have certain elements of biblical truth, but they cannot claim apostolic succession?the ability to trace their bishops back to the apostle Peter. Rome therefore reasons that such denominations cannot properly be called churches.”
So go ahead and worship your Lady of the Perpetual Porcelain and hand us so much papal bull and sentimental slop about ?all of us being Christians”, but the real bottom line is that the pope does not consider Protestants as professing a saving faith. Or are you disagreeing with the pope?



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Phil Atley

posted February 20, 2010 at 11:13 am


Mike M.
You know not whereof you write. Dominus Iesus does not say that non-Catholics lack saving faith. The statement about “not being curches in the full sense” is premised on a definition of Church as deriving from Apostolic Succession. The issue is one of fullness of ecclesial reality, not of saving faith. Plenty of people formally within the ecclesial fullness of Catholicism may well end up in hell and plenty of people not in the fullness of ecclesial reality may well go to heaven. Non-Catholics miss out on fullness, not salvation.
Given your “Perpetual Porcelain” snark, might it be fair to think that you think Catholics lack ecclesial fullness? Fine. You are free to believe that. But it is wrong for you to assert that Dominus Jesus denies that saving faith exists outside formal adherence to the visible Catholic Church on earth. It says no such thing. That you do not know the difference only shows that you did not read it carefully, if you read it at all rather than picking up your denunciation of it from some other source.
Protestants believe Catholic ecclesiology of bishops in apostolic succession is wrong. Why are they then offended when Catholics point out that, by the Catholic (and Orthodox) understanding of what constitutes “Church” (being in communion with bishops in apostolic succession), Protestant denominations are not Churches in the apostolic succession sense?
Be big enough to accept the consequences of your ecclesiological beliefs: you don’t like Catholic teaching about the Church. Fine. You therefore are outside the meaning of Church as understood by Catholics and Orthodox. But Catholics do not deny the possibility of saving faith for you. Are you willing to grant that Catholics might have saving faith?



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Pat

posted February 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm


Mike M: Why are you so bitter and angry? The pope is talking about what he believes about his church. All my life I have heard the exact things from Protestants. I just can’t be saved because I am Catholic. It sure does hurt, doesn’t it MIke. The reason it hurts is because our salvation and our life hereafter is the most important thing, in fact it is the only thing important at all in this world. It hurts because we love the Lord so much and we are His children, and for someone to take that blessedness away from us hurts. To deny each other the brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ is just wrong for protestant and Catholics alike. Mike, I have had people look me in the eye, as I tell them I believe in Christ, and they will deny me that. Can you believe it? Mike, just believe in the Lord how He calls you, and we will believe what He calls us to. Worship Him how you can. Get closer to Him however you can. That’s is what I intend to do. I still say we are all better off getting out and doing His work instead of complaining about His children! P.S:We really don’t worship Mary, Really.



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Phil W

posted February 21, 2010 at 1:37 am


Phil Atley wrote, regarding Luke 11:27-28 (spread across several posts):
?Protestants and Catholics can argue about how to interpret these verses ? this (Catholic and Orthodox) reading of Lk 11 ? is the ancient principle used by Catholics and Orthodox. ? In the reasoned theological judgment of countless Christian interpreters over 2000 years of history, it does have something directly to do with Mary. ? I gave a classic Catholic and Orthodox interpretation of the passage ? at least address Lk 11:28 as a major crux, if only to argue against the consensus interpretation of this passage?
A couple of questions arise:
(1) Do Protestants and Catholics argue about how to interpret these verses? I went to Google Books and read several Catholic commentaries on Luke 11:27-28, and none of them offer what Phil Atley has repeatedly referred to as the Catholic interpretation. (See Jerome Kodell, ?Luke? in The Collegeville Bible Commentary; Michael F. Patella, The Gospel According to Luke (New Collegeville Bible Commentary); Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (Sacra Pagina); and the New American Bible footnotes for Luke 11:27-28 and 8:21 (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/index.shtml). I?m interested in what the New Jerome Biblical Commentary and Raymond E. Brown say about the passage, but I will have to wait until I go to the library (not available at Google Books). Also, the Catholic-Protestant collaboration Mary in the New Testament has a section on these verses, but they are not available for preview online. (If anyone has it handy, please post what it says.) In any case, it remains to be demonstrated that Catholic scholars accept Phil Atley?s interpretation.
(2) Which ?ancient? Christians taught Phil Atley?s interpretation? He claims that it goes back over the past ?2000 years of history? and that it is ?a classic Catholic and Orthodox interpretation of the passage.? He goes on to call it ?the consensus interpretation of this passage.? However, the only references to Luke 11:27-28 that I could find in the Ante-Nicene Fathers and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers were in the works of Tertullian, Augustine, and John Chrysostom. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture includes the quote from Augustine as well as one by Ephrem the Syrian. None of these Fathers offers anything resembling Phil Atley?s interpretation. So, again, it remains to be demonstrated that Phil Atley?s interpretation is ?ancient? or ?classic? or ?the consensus.?



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Phil W

posted February 21, 2010 at 1:41 am


Oops, my italics didn’t come out quite right. Here’s (1) again:
(1) Do Protestants and Catholics argue about how to interpret these verses? I went to Google Books and read several Catholic commentaries on Luke 11:27-28, and none of them offer what Phil Atley has repeatedly referred to as the Catholic interpretation. (See Jerome Kodell, ?Luke? in The Collegeville Bible Commentary; Michael F. Patella, The Gospel According to Luke (New Collegeville Bible Commentary); Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (Sacra Pagina); and the New American Bible footnotes for Luke 11:27-28 and 8:21 (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/index.shtml). I?m interested in what the New Jerome Biblical Commentary and Raymond E. Brown say about the passage, but I will have to wait until I go to the library (not available at Google Books). Also, the Catholic-Protestant collaboration Mary in the New Testament has a section on these verses, but they are not available for preview online. (If anyone has it handy, please post what it says.) In any case, it remains to be demonstrated that Catholic scholars accept Phil Atley?s interpretation.



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Phil Atley

posted February 21, 2010 at 10:19 am


Phil W.,
Your well-intended research suffers from the weakness of the Internet. All the “Catholic” commentaries you cite are recent and tend to reflect an embrace of modern historical-critical exegesis predominantly while slighting paristic-traditional exegesis. In other words, the commentaries you consulted are from the largely the same pool as Professor McKnight draws from.
You’ll find the classic exegesis in John Paul II’ encyclical, Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), par. 20 (the URL is probably too long but google for the two Latin words and you’ll come up immediately with the Vatican site; I’ll paste in the paragraph in a subsequent comment), you would find this classic exegesis. You will also an extended exposition of it in a certain Joseph Ratzinger’s preface to the Ignatius Press edition of that encyclical, _Mary: God’s Yes to Man_ (1988) as well as in a number of Ratzinger’s other essays on Mary.
Ratzinger is famous for reminding the Raymond Browns of the Catholic world that, while historical-critical and other contemporary methods of interpretation are all good and helpful, they do not by themselves simplly replace intertextual patristic “four-fold” interpretation.
Even if the interpretation of Lk 11:27-28 that I gave did not have a huge footprint in the tradition, could you not judge it solely on its own merits? Where is the exegetical flaw in what I offered? Given Luke’s portrayal of Mary in the Infancy narratives, “hearing the word and keeping it” would have to be an allusion to Mary as well as to everyone else who does the same. Reading it as an endorsement and not a rebuke is also philologically within the bounds of plausibility. What’s not to like about it?
I was shocked the first time I saw this interpretation. I had been a Catholic for a few years already. I was a bit miffed that it had been withheld from me as an option growing up Evangelical. But I didn’t therefore reject it. It made a lot of sense to me and it demonstrates that veneration of Mary was endorsed from the highest possible Authority.
Makes one want to step back and rethink a few things, doesn’t it?



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Phil Atley

posted February 21, 2010 at 10:23 am


Here’s the relevant passage from John Paul’s encyclical, Redemptoris Mater.
mankind. Thus through the mystery of the Son the mystery of the Mother is also made clear.
3. Behold your mother (ch. 3, par. 20)
20. The Gospel of Luke records the moment when “a woman in the crowd raised her voice” and said to Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” (Lk. 11:27) These words were an expression of praise of Mary as Jesus’ mother according to the flesh. Probably the Mother of Jesus was not personally known to this woman; in fact, when Jesus began his messianic activity Mary did not accompany him but continued to remain at Nazareth. One could say that the words of that unknown woman in a way brought Mary out of her hiddenness.
Through these words, there flashed out in the midst of the crowd, at least for an instant, the gospel of Jesus’ infancy. This is the gospel in which Mary is present as the mother who conceives Jesus in her womb, gives him birth and nurses him: the nursing mother referred to by the woman in the crowd. Thanks to this motherhood, Jesus, the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk. 1:32), is a true son of man. He is “flesh,” like every other man: he is “the Word (who) became flesh” (cf. Jn. 1:14). He is of the flesh and blood of Mary!43
But to the blessing uttered by that woman upon her who was his mother according to the flesh, Jesus replies in a significant way: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11:28). He wishes to divert attention from motherhood understood only as a fleshly bond, in order to direct it towards those mysterious bonds of the spirit which develop from hearing and keeping God’s word.
This same shift into the sphere of spiritual values is seen even more clearly in another response of Jesus reported by all the Synoptics. When Jesus is told that “his mother and brothers are standing outside and wish to see him,” he replies: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (cf. Lk. 8:20-21). This he said “looking around on those who sat about him,” as we read in Mark (3:34) or, according to Matthew (12:49), “stretching out his hand towards his disciples.”
These statements seem to fit in with the reply which the twelve- year-old Jesus gave to Mary and Joseph when he was found after three days in the Temple at Jerusalem.
Now, when Jesus left Nazareth and began his public life throughout Palestine, he was completely and exclusively “concerned with his Father’s business” (cf. Lk. 2:49). He announced the Kingdom: the “Kingdom of God” and “his Father’s business,” which add a new dimension and meaning to everything human, and therefore to every human bond, insofar as these things relate to the goals and tasks assigned to every human being. Within this new dimension, also a bond such as that of “brotherhood” means something different from “brotherhood according to the flesh” deriving from a common origin from the same set of parents. “Motherhood,” too, in the dimension of the Kingdom of God and in the radius of the fatherhood of God himself, takes on another meaning. In the words reported by Luke, Jesus teaches precisely this new meaning of motherhood.
Is Jesus thereby distancing himself from his mother according to the flesh? Does he perhaps wish to leave her in the hidden obscurity which she herself has chosen? If this seems to be the case from the tone of those words, one must nevertheless note that the new and different motherhood which Jesus speaks of to his disciples refers precisely to Mary in a very special way. Is not Mary the first of “those who hear the word of God and do it”? And therefore does not the blessing uttered by Jesus in response to the woman in the crowd refer primarily to her? Without any doubt, Mary is worthy of blessing by the very fact that she became the mother of Jesus according to the flesh (“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked”), but also and especially because already at the Annunciation she accepted the word of God, because she believed it, because she was obedient to God, and because she “kept” the word and “pondered it in her heart” (cf. Lk. 1:38, 45; 2:19, 51) and by means of her whole life accomplished it. Thus we can say that the blessing proclaimed by Jesus is not in opposition, despite appearances, to the blessing uttered by the unknown woman, but rather coincides with that blessing in the person of this Virgin Mother, who called herself only “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk. 1:38). If it is true that “all generations will call her blessed” (cf. Lk. 1:48), then it can be said that the unnamed woman was the first to confirm unwittingly that prophetic phrase of Mary’s Magnificat and to begin the Magnificat of the ages.
If through faith Mary became the bearer of the Son given to her by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, while preserving her virginity intact, in that same faith she discovered and accepted the other dimension of motherhood revealed by Jesus during his messianic mission. One can say that this dimension of motherhood belonged to Mary from the beginning, that is to say from the moment of the conception and birth of her Son. From that time she was “the one who believed.” But as the messianic mission of her Son grew clearer to her eyes and spirit, she herself as a mother became ever more open to that new dimension of motherhood which was to constitute her “part” beside her Son. Had she not said from the very beginning: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38)? Through faith Mary continued to hear and to ponder that word, in which there became ever clearer, in a way “which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19), the self-revelation of the living God. Thus in a sense Mary as Mother became the first “disciple” of her Son, the first to whom he seemed to say: “Follow me,” even before he addressed this call to the Apostles or to anyone else (cf. Jn. 1:43).
From there he moves on to the Wedding at Cana. The whole encyclical is utterly Scriptural, indeed, John Paul begins with Romans and Abraham’s faith, pointing out that Mary’s faith was greater than Abraham’s. I think he did this to try to reach out to Protestants who value those faith passages but who have never really thought much about how deep Mary’s faith was–she was indeed the first to believe in the Incarnation because she was the first to know about it but did not disbelieve when it was announced. For “salvation by grace through faith” people (which includes Catholics, except that we define faith the way James does and not the way Luther does), Mary ought to be the prime example.



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Phil W

posted February 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm


Phil Atley, you did away with my first point by claiming that the Catholics that I mentioned (Jerome Kodell, Michael F. Patella, Luke Timothy Johnson, Raymond E. Brown, and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine), are not real Catholics, but instead are ?Catholics? (with necessary quotation marks).
You completely ignored my second point, which was about the patristic understanding of the passage (yet you again claimed that ?paristic-traditional exegesis? supports your view).
The places where I found references to Luke 11:27-28 in the Church Fathers are as follows:
Tertullian, Against Marcion (ANF03) 3.11
Tertullian, Against Marcion (ANF03) 4.26
Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ (ANF03) 7
John Chrysostom, Homilies of the Gospel of John (NPNF1-14) 21.3
John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew (NPNF1-10) 44.2
Augustine, Holy Virginity (NPNF1-03; also in ACCS on Luke, 195) 3
Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Tatian?s Diatessaron (ACCS on Luke, 195) 11.10
None of these passages support your contention that your interpretation is ?ancient? or ?patristic.? Please provide references so that it can be verified (or disconfirmed) that your interpretation is found in the Church Fathers.
You wrote: ?Even if the interpretation of Lk 11:27-28 that I gave did not have a huge footprint in the tradition, could you not judge it solely on its own merits??
On its own merits, your interpretation must be judged implausible. That is why I am looking for some sort of support for it from either (1) modern Catholic scholars or (2) early Church Fathers.
When I refer to your interpretation, I mean specifically statements like the following: ?an explicit authorization by Jesus of veneration of Mary ? interpretation of the passage as Jesus authorizing veneration of his mother ? he was endorsing veneration of his Mother ? The mainstream of the tradition has seen it as bearing on Mary and giving dominical authority to Marian veneration. ? veneration of Mary was endorsed from the highest possible Authority.?
Note the following:
Jesus? response (“Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”) is neither an endorsement of nor condemnation of Mary. The woman in the crowd assumed that Mary would be blessed because of her biological relationship to Jesus, but Jesus? reply is that biological relationships count for nothing in the kingdom of God. This is Jesus? consistent message (see Mark 3:31-35: ?whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother?; cf. Matt 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21).
From elsewhere in Luke, we know that Mary is someone who hears the word of God and observes it. According to Jesus, on that basis she is ?blessed.? But this can only be considered an endorsement of veneration of Mary if it is also an endorsement of veneration of everyone who hears the word of God and observes it. (Either it is an endorsement of veneration of all Christians [?blessed are those who hear ??], or it is not an endorsement of veneration of anyone.) Only by twisting Scripture to mean exactly the opposite of what it says can one argue that Jesus was here endorsing veneration of his mother. (From the Scripture-means-whatever-we-say-it-means school of interpretation.) If you believe that any of Jesus? blood relatives receive special spiritual privileges just because they are his blood relatives, then you are arguing against Jesus? plain teachings in Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 11:27-28.



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Phil Atley

posted February 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm


Well, Phil W., you asked some specific questions so I’ll give some specific answers.
First of, the root source of this classic exegesis is the liturgy. Lk 11:27-28 is the default gospel reading in most of the Marian feasts. It was in the woodwork of the early Church; like her title Theotokos, it was present and affirmed in the liturgy long before it became subject of theological commentary. The Church holds up these two verses as the touchstone for veneration of Mary in the most basic Marian feast-day liturgies.
Second, Augustine, Sermon 25 (PL 46) has the exegesis I gave you and then goes on to connect Mary?s faith and biological motherhood to her motherhood of the Church. I have not had time to look up an English translation, but here?s the key passage from Migne?s Patrologia–he?s dealing with the ?your mother and brothers are outside? passages but he directly connects to it Lk 11:27-28:
?Ecce illud magis attendite, charissimi fratres mei, illud magis attendite, obsecro vos, quod ait Dominus Christus extendens manum super Discipulos suos: Haec est mater mea, et fratres mei. Et qui fecerit voluntatem Patris mei, qui me misit, ipse mihi et frater, et soror, et mater est. Numquid non fecit voluntatem Patris Virgo Maria, quae fide credidit, fide concepit, electa est, de qua nobis salus inter homines nasceretur, creata est a Christo, antequam in illa Christus crearetur? Fecit, fecit plane voluntatem Patris sancta Maria, et ideo plus est Mariae, discipulam fuisse Christi, quam matrem fuisse Christi. Plus est felicius discipulam fuisse Christi, quam matrem fuisse Christi. . . . Transeunte Domino cum turbis sequentibus, et [Col.0938] miracula faciente divina, ait quaedam mulier: Felix venter, qui te portavit [(a) 1Kb] . [H]Beatus venter, qui te portavit. Et Dominus, ut non felicitas in carne quaereretur, quid respondit? Imo beati, qui audiunt verbum Dei, et custodiunt (Luc. XI, 27, 28). Inde ergo et Maria beata, quia audivit verbum Dei, et custodivit. Plus mente custodivit veritatem, quam utero carnem. Veritas Christus, caro Christus. Veritas Christus in mente Mariae, caro Christus in ventre Mariae. Plus est, quod est in mente, quam quod portatur in ventre.
?Behold pay great attention to that, my dear brothers, attend greatly, I beg you, to that which the Lord Christ says, extending his hand over his disciples: ?This is my mother and my brothers. And who does the will of my Father, who sent me, he is brother and sister and mother to me. No one did the will of the Father if not the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith, by faith conceived, was chosen, and from whom salvation is born for us among men, who was created by Christ before in her Christ was to be created? Holy Mary did, she plainly did, the will of the Father, and thus it was for Mary to be more a disciple of Christ than to be mother of Christ, to be a more blessed disciple of Christ than to be mother of Christ. . . . As Jesus was passing with a great crowd following and doing divine miracles, a certain woman said, ?Happy is the womb which carried you. Blessed is the womb which carried you.? And the Lord, in order that happiness not be sought in the flesh, responded how? Yea, rather, they are blesse who hear the word of God and keep it. Hence therefore, Mary is blessed, because se heard the word of God and kept it. She kept the truth more in her mind than in her womb of flesh. The truth Christ, the flesh Christ. The truth Christ in Mary?s ind, the flesh Christ in Mary?s womb. That which is in mind is more than that which is carried in the womb.?
Notice, he says that faith, whether in Mary or in anyone else is greater than Mary?s physical motherhood but he points out that she became Christ?s mother physically because she first believed, which was my point as well.
There are some additional possible citations from Migne?s Patrologia Latina but I, having spent all afternoon on this, cannot copy and discuss all of them. I?ve not even begun with the Patrologia Graeca.
Bede makes this even more explicit in his commentary on Luke, bk. 4, ch. 11 (Corpus Christianorum 120:237; PL 92:480). John McHugh cites this in his _The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament_ p. 347. I?ll give his translation of Bede?s gloss: ?How beautifully our Saviour replies to his woman?s word of witness! He points out that she who had the merit of being the bodily mther of the Word of God is not the only one who is blessed. Rather, all who have striven to conceive the same word spiritually by faith, who have striven by good works to bring it to birth in their heart, or in the herat of their neighbours, and as it were to give it nourishment–all these too he proclaims lessed. For the motehr of God herself, though she is assuredly blessed because she was the minister of the Word?s Incarnation, is far more blessed because she never ceased to keep that Word, never ceased to love him.? McHugh says the final sentence (given above) has such beautiful wordplay that it needs to be read in the Latin: ?. . . eadem Dei genetrix et inde quidem beata quia verbi incarnandi ministra est facta temporalis sed inde multo beatior quia eiusdem semper amandi custos manebat aeterna.?
Third, you misinterpret the Patristic passages you found. The three Tertullian passages are in the context of Marcion and others? denial of Jesus? genuine enfleshment–Tertullian is simply making the point that Mary was a real, in-the-flesh mother–does not deny the reading of this passage that the Church has given it.
John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew (NPNF1-10) 44.2 (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/200144.htm) actually agrees with my exegesis. ?Therefore in another place also, when some woman had said, “Blessed is the womb that bare You, and the paps which You have sucked;” He said not, “The womb bare me not, neither did I suck the paps,” but this, “Yea rather, blessed are they that do the will of my Father.” _Do you see how on every occasion He denies not the affinity by nature, but adds that by virtue?_?
In other words, Chrysostom is reading ?menoun? as confirming and adding rather than denying and contradicting.
Augustine, Holy Virginity (NPNF1-03; also in ACCS on Luke, 195), section 3, says that Mary is honored precisely because of her faith, which adds to but does not contradict her motherhood. Again, the genre here is a treatise on the value of virginity; Mary?s faith (?virginity?) is higher than her motherhood but he does not deny that her motherhood is to be honored; he just says that without her faith her motherhood would have been ?of no profit.? [Without her faith, she would not have been His mother]. Here?s the key sentence: ?Thus also her nearness as a Mother would have been of no profit to Mary, had she not borne Christ in her heart after a more blessed manner than in her flesh.? (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1310.htm). This confirms the exegesis I gave rather than denying it.
I have not seen the Ephrem the Syrian passage, but you can?t trust the ACCS snippets–the ACCS snippet for Augustine, Of Virginity, that you cited, is misleading in its shortened form.
John Chrysostom, Homilies of the Gospel of John (NPNF1-14) 21.3 (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/240121.htm)
?Think of this then, and when you hear a certain woman saying, “Blessed is the womb that bare You, and the paps which You have sucked,” and Him answering, “rather blessed are they that do the will of my Father” Luke 11:27, suppose that those other words also were said with the same intention. For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been verygood and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtuous spirit.?
This again confirms my exegesis: Mary?s excellence of motherhood arises from her excellence of soul. In other words, here again, Chrysostom is reading ?menoun? as additive rather than adversative. But you read what he writes as adversative.



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Phil Atley

posted February 21, 2010 at 9:17 pm


Now, as to the merits of the exegesis I offered.
You wrote: “According to Jesus, on that basis she is ?blessed.? But this can only be considered an endorsement of veneration of Mary if it is also an endorsement of veneration of everyone who hears the word of God and observes it.”
True, so far.
Then you add: ?Jesus? reply is that biological relationships count for nothing in the kingdom of God. This is Jesus? consistent message (see Mark 3:31-35: ?whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother?; cf. Matt 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21?
Here?s the crux. Jesus does not say that biological relations _count for nothing._ That?s what you?ve read into what he says. Augustine, Bede, Chrysostom say that biological relationships are lesser than faith-relationship (hearing, believing, doing God?s word). One is greater than the other but that doesn?t mean the lesser is nothing.
You see the ?biological? and the spiritual/faith relationships as exclusive. My whole argument is that they need not be.
And, specifically and uniquely in Mary?s case, for her, faith, believing the Word of God coincides with her biological conception of the Word. That?s Augustine?s point. Mary?s biological motherhood is the express result of her having heard the Word of God and kept it. Jesus knows that (he?s God, after all.) The woman in the crowd probably didn?t know that. But the Fathers of the Church did know that. They made the connection. I should not have used the word ?explicit.? But the connection is very clear even if not made explicit by Jesus.
Mary is the first to believe and keep the Word of God. She is the first believer. Jesus is endorsing veneration of His mother because she is his mother because she became his mother because she heard the Word and kept it. Kept it in a double sense: believed it and carried It under her heart, in her womb. Accepting the one (he says those who hear and keep his word are blessed) need not exclude the other.
That’s why his opening ?menoun,? which can be read as a direct refutation, can also be and is used in Scripture not as a zero-sum contradiction but a “yes but more than that.” Yes, venerate my mother simply because she is my mother but more than that venerate her as my mother because of how she came to be my mother. Chrysostom gets it–the two ?blesseds? (the woman?s ?biological? one and Jesus? ?spiritual? one need not be pitted against each other.
Mary could have disbelieved. She didn’t. God the Word became incarnate because of her Yes. That’s a fact. In that sense, she plays an indispensable role in redemption and she said yes freely, not by coercion from God. In that way she is not like any of the rest of us and cannot be. Yet that is perfectly compatible with her being like anyone else who believes and keeps the Word of God, like any other believing Christian.
I am fortunate enough to own a copy of _A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture_, ed. Bernard Orchard, OSB (Nelson, 1953). This one-volume commentary was produced after Divino afflante Spiritu and thus employs historical critical methods without abandoning classic Catholic exegesis. It?s my default source for getting a sense of classic Catholic exegesis before professional biblical studies became bifurcated from technical exegesis among professional Catholic exegetes (but not among popes like JPII and Benedict XVI–who tangled with Brown over precisely this issue while still a cardinal, in his famous Erasmus Lecture of 1988.)
Orchard points out that Lk 11:27-28 represents Luke’s variant on “Jesus’ brothers and mother came to him” pericopes found in the other Synoptics and is thus tied to Lk 8:21 where Luke gives that story. By concluding the “Jesus’ brothers and mother” story this way, Lk can be read as quietly, subtly glossing the question of Mary’s faith in such a way as to undermine those Church Fathers who viewed Mary as lacking faith.
As far as your obiter dictum that I evaded your proffered Catholic commentators by declaring them non-Catholic is concerned, well, they themselves methodologically separate their Catholic dogmatic affirmations from their professional Scripture work. (Luke Johnson has come back part way toward integrating the two, but Brown was famous for this bifurcation). As professional Scripture scholars, they deliberately bracketed out dogma, e.g., the perpetual virginity or the Infancy Narratives. Brown insisted that, qua Catholic, he accepted them where they were dogmatically taught, but qua professional biblical scholar, he left them aside.
But in case you need more evidence, Fitzmyer in his Anchor Bible Luke commentary links this ?Blessed? passage to Lk 1:42-45 and writes ?Elizabeth made it clear that Mary was ?blessed? or an object of praise, not just because she was to be Jesus? mother, but because she had believed what had been told to her was tobe fulfilled by the Lord. Similarly, here [Lk 11:27-28], the second beatitude is phrased generically, praising ?those who hear and observe,? and states a reason for their happiness. The second does not negate the first, but formulates rather what Jesus considers to be of pime importance and merely corrects the inadequacy of the first.? (I took this from the quotation of Fitzmyer in Bertrand Buby, _Mary of Galilee_ ,vol. 1: _Mary in the NT_, p. 99)



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Phil Atley

posted February 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm


Comment 35 was a followup. In a preceding comment I responded to Phil W’s specific exegetical/patristic questions. It may have been too long, in any case I received a notice that it was being held for moderation. But I did reply and offer very specific texts from Augustine and Bede that offer the exegesis I have proposed and that John Paul offered.



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Phil W

posted February 22, 2010 at 10:58 pm


I doubt that I will have time to respond before the weekend. But I will respond then, if I still care.



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Phil W

posted February 27, 2010 at 12:17 am


Augustine, Sermon 25 (PL 46) ? yes, I see it in column 938. Again, I don?t see anything in this passage from Augustine that indicates that veneration of Mary follows from Luke 11:27-28. ?Yea, rather, they are blessed who hear the word of God and keep it. Hence therefore, Mary is blessed, because she heard the word of God and kept it.? I said as much myself. I don?t know of any Christian who would say that Mary was not blessed. But you claimed (at least five times) that Luke 11:27-28 is an explicit authorization by Jesus of veneration of Mary.
Again, in Holy Virginity 3, Augustine offers no support for your insistence that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary. I agree that ?Thus also her nearness as a Mother would have been of no profit to Mary, had she not borne Christ in her heart after a more blessed manner than in her flesh.? is a key sentence, and that Augustine was right about this, but it does not support your contention.
As for Bede, I completely agree with his interpretation. It appears that you have again read into the text what you want to be there ? but it isn?t. He says nothing about Jesus authorizing the veneration of Mary.
You claimed that ?Tertullian is simply making the point that Mary was a real, in-the-flesh mother.? This is certainly the case with Against Marcion 3.11. However, it is certainly not the case with Against Marcion 4.26, where his comment on Luke 11:27-28 is: ?Now He had in precisely similar terms rejected His mother or His brethren, whilst preferring those who heard and obeyed God.? That sounds a little harsh, even from a Protestant perspective. It certainly doesn?t sound much like your interpretation. In On the Flesh of Christ 7, Tertullian writes:
He denied His parents, then, in the sense in which He has taught us to deny ours?for God?s work. But there is also another view of the case: in the abjured mother there is a figure of the synagogue, as well as of the Jews in the unbelieving brethren. In their person Israel remained outside, whilst the new disciples who kept close to Christ within, hearing and believing, represented the Church, which He called mother in a preferable sense and a worthier brotherhood, with the repudiation of the carnal relationship. It was in just the same sense, indeed, that He also replied to that exclamation (of a certain woman), not denying His mother?s ?womb and paps,? but designating those as more ?blessed who hear the word of God.?
That, again, doesn?t lead us to believe that Tertullian agreed with your interpretation. There?s nothing there about Jesus authorizing the veneration of Mary.
As for John Chrysostom, in Homilies on the Gospel of John 21.3, he writes: ?For the answer was not that of one rejecting his mother, but of One who would show that her having borne Him would have nothing availed her, had she not been very good and faithful. Now if, setting aside the excellence of her soul, it profited Mary nothing that the Christ was born of her, much less will it be able to avail us to have a father or a brother, or a child of virtuous and noble disposition, if we ourselves be far removed from his virtue.?
Again, he doesn?t say anything about Jesus authorizing the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28, which is your interpretation of the passage.
Again, in Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew 44.2, Chrysostom writes: ?For He said not at all, ?She is not my mother, nor are those my brethren, because they do not my will;? 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. ? And when the woman again cried out, saying, ?Blessed is the womb that bare Thee,? He said not, ?She is not my mother,? but, ?If she wishes to be blessed, let her do the will of my Father. For such a one is both brother, and sister, and mother.? ? For behold, He hath marked out a spacious road for us; and it is granted not to women only, but to men also, to be of this rank, or rather of one yet far higher. For this makes one His mother much more, than those pangs did. So that if that were a subject for blessing, much more this, inasmuch as it is also more real. Do not therefore merely desire, but also in the way that leads thee to thy desire walk thou with much diligence.?
Again, he doesn?t say anything about Jesus authorizing the veneration of Mary. Instead, he says that we can all become brothers and sisters and mothers of Jesus.
Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Tatian?s Diatessaron 11.10, writes: ?He took blessedness from the one who bore him and gave it to those who were worshiping him. It was with Mary for a certain time, but it would be with those who worshiped him for eternity.? Yet again, this passage provides no evidence in favor of your interpretation.
In summary, we have no evidence that Tertullian, Augustine, Chrysostom, Ephrem, Bede, or any other Church Father believed that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28. In fact, the only points of contact between your interpretation and the interpretations of the Church Fathers are the words ?Jesus? and ?Mary.? Your eisegesis of the Church Fathers is almost as deplorable as your eisegesis of Scripture.
So, you had claimed that your interpretation was ?ancient? and ?the consensus.? We have yet to find a Church Father who agreed with your interpretation, so we have no reason to believe that it is ?ancient.? Furthermore, it appears likely that the majority of biblical scholars, whether Catholic or Protestant, do not accept your interpretation. So, it cannot be considered ?the consensus.?



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Phil Atley

posted February 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Phil W.,
If you cannot see in the texts from Bede and Augustine that Jesus is there understood to be saying, Yes, but rather, then I cannot help you. You are determined to impose your meaning on the text.
Bede and Augustine both say that Jesus means:
yes, by all means venerate my mother because she is my biological mother but more than that, venerate my mother because she is the first of all believers and the mother of the church of believers in me.
Here’s the most succinct statement, from Bede:
“For the mother of God herself, _though she is assuredly blessed because she was the minister of the Word?s Incarnation_, is far more blessed because she never ceased to keep that Word, never ceased to love him.”
Chrysostom also explicitly says, Jesus does not deny that she is to be blessed because she is his mother but that she is more blessed because she had faith. Implicitly that simply doubles back–because she had faith she became his biological mother. Augustine knows that, Bede knows that, Chrysostom knows that. You refuse to know it.
I cannot do any more that this. The answer is as plain as the nose on my face but you refuse to see it. You may not like the conclusion that Bede and Augustine and Chrysostom draw from the “menoun,” you may insist that menoun is adversative, but that is simply not how these fathers interpreted it.
I have given you proof but you deny it. I guess that’s where we leave it.



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Phil Atley

posted February 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm


To avoid misunderstanding, “proof” in my last comment referred not to proof that the interpretation of Lk 11:27-28 that I give is the Only Truth but proof in answer to Phil W.’s skepticism about whether any of the Church Fathers held the interpretation I (and John Paul and Ratzinger) gave. I understand that Phil W. will not agree to accept this interpretation of Lk 11:27-28. But he took issue with my claim that it was taught by the Fathers. I believe it should be clear from the Bede and Augustine quotes that they did. Phil W. does not see it that way, which is, I guess, the end of the line.



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Phil W

posted March 3, 2010 at 11:13 pm


Phil Atley,
Maybe you haven?t noticed the thrust of my posts (did I not emphasize it enough?), but I am not arguing against ?Yes, but rather ?? We agree that both Scripture and the Church Fathers call Mary ?blessed.?
You keep insisting that the Church Fathers agreed with you that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28. You even put those words into the mouths of Bede and Augustine (?by all means venerate my mother ? venerate my mother ??), yet none of the Church Fathers that we examined said any such thing. You want to believe that they did, but the evidence says that they did not.
You wrote: ?You may not like the conclusion that Bede and Augustine and Chrysostom draw from the “menoun,” you may insist that menoun is adversative, but that is simply not how these fathers interpreted it.?
Did you actually read my posts? I did not discuss what ?menoun? means. I did not ?insist that menoun is adversative.? The only thing that I?ve been insisting is that you need to provide some evidence that the Church Fathers believed that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28. You have failed to do so.
Going back to my first post (#30, February 21, 2010 1:37 AM), I have mostly been looking for some evidence for your claims regarding your interpretation that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28. Specifically, you argued that (1) the Church Fathers agreed with you and (2) it is the consensus view.
Regarding (2), you seem to have admitted that most ?Catholic? scholars (but not real Catholics, without quotation marks) do not endorse your interpretation. Certainly, your interpretation is rejected by many, if not most, biblical scholars. Therefore, it cannot be considered the ?consensus? view.
Regarding (1), you sincerely believe that the Church Fathers endorsed your interpretation. However, the Fathers themselves reveal otherwise. Stuffing words in their mouths is insufficient.
Again, your interpretation was put forward many times: ?an explicit authorization by Jesus of veneration of Mary ? interpretation of the passage as Jesus authorizing veneration of his mother ? he was endorsing veneration of his Mother ? The mainstream of the tradition has seen it as bearing on Mary and giving dominical authority to Marian veneration. ? veneration of Mary was endorsed from the highest possible Authority ? Jesus is endorsing veneration of His mother ??
Clearly you believe that, in Luke 11:27-28, Jesus authorized (or endorsed) the veneration of Mary.
As I said before, the only points of contact between your interpretation and the interpretations of the Church Fathers are the words ?Jesus? and ?Mary.? The points of contention are the terms ?authorized? (or ?endorsed?) and ?veneration.?
Authorize: Did the Church Fathers teach that Jesus (or Luke) authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28? If the Fathers did not teach that Jesus authorized anything in Luke 11:27-28, then it is not possible that they taught that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28.
None of the Church Fathers that we examined (Tertullian, Chrysostom, Augustine, Ephrem, Bede) claimed that Jesus authorized or endorsed anything in Luke 11:27-28. If you believe that they meant to say that, then you are interpreting their interpretations; the Fathers? interpretations themselves do not claim that Jesus authorized or endorsed anything in Luke 11:27-28.
The Church Fathers did not interpret Luke 11:27-28 as authorization or permission to do or say anything with respect to Mary. They agreed that she was blessed, but they did not go beyond that to speak of veneration. You stand alone in speaking of an ?authorization by Jesus of veneration of Mary.?
Did these Church Fathers believe that Mary was blessed? Certainly. Every Christian believes that. As I wrote in a previous post: From elsewhere in Luke, we know that Mary is someone who hears the word of God and observes it. According to Jesus, on that basis she is ?blessed.?
Did these Church Fathers believe that, in Luke 11:27-28, Jesus was excluding Mary from those who are ?blessed?? Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.26 and On the Flesh of Christ 7 seems to have thought so, whereas the other Fathers did not. I do not believe that Jesus was excluding Mary from (or contrasting Mary against) those who are blessed. I have never argued otherwise.
Veneration: This is the more important term (to me). When I hear a Catholic claiming that ?veneration of Mary was endorsed from the highest possible Authority,? I think that he is probably trying to justify particular beliefs and customs of the Roman Catholic Church.
I think that this discussion would have benefited greatly from your definition (or a rephrasing, instead of just repeating) of ?veneration.?
Perhaps you mean as little as, ?Jesus indicated that his mother should be admired and respected.? Is that all that you mean? If yes, then I wouldn?t have bothered arguing with you, since we both agree that Mary should be admired and respected.
But you insisted that the Church Fathers taught that Jesus authorized the veneration of Mary in Luke 11:27-28.
None of the Church Fathers that we examined (Tertullian, Chrysostom, Augustine, Ephrem, Bede) used the term ?veneration? (neither did they use the terms admiration, respect, honor, reverence, adoration, or devotion). If you believe that they meant to say that, then you are interpreting their interpretations; the Fathers? interpretations themselves do not claim that Jesus authorized or endorsed the veneration of Mary.
The word found in Luke 11:27-28, which is also the word employed consistently by the Church Fathers, is not ?veneration,? but ?blessed.? The Greek word makarios means ?blessed, happy, fortunate.? ?Blessed? does not mean ?veneration.?
You wrote: ?Bede and Augustine both say that Jesus means: yes, by all means venerate my mother because she is my biological mother but more than that, venerate my mother because she is the first of all believers and the mother of the church of believers in me.?
Neither Bede nor Augustine wrote that. That is just your interpretation being stuffed into their mouths. Neither of them interpreted Luke 11:27-28 as ?by all means venerate my mother,? in those or any other words.
It appears that you are using Luke 11:27-28 as warrant (or excuse) for certain practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church:
?Professor McKnight: I understand that you don’t see that Lk 11:27-28 has anything directly to do with Mary. I say it does.?
?This seems to say that Catholics and Orthodox go beyond the Bible, beyond Scripture. Now, perhaps you only meant “popular devotion,” not doctrinal devotion/veneration. But in your book, you do explain, do you not (I’m working from memory) that you will leave aside most of the later ecclesial and doctrinal Marian development because it goes beyond the world of the Scriptural Mary, which, unless I have misunderstood, is the “real” Mary of your title. That’s not a case of rejecting only supposed excesses of popular devotion but is a claim that official Catholic or Orthodox teaching exceeds what Scripture authorizes us.?
?For Orthodox and Catholics, the teaching office simply represents Christ-authorized ongoing interpretation of Scripture and cannot go beyond or overreach Scripture.?
?And doesn’t that mean that, far from “overreaching Scripture,” the Orthodox and Catholics, in employing this passage and others to develop their “high Mariology,” could be seen as being more Scripturally comprehensive and you more selective??
?Who gets to define where the cut-off point is? Or even if such a cut-off point rightly exists??
?your blithe assumption that some Catholic doctrines on Mary are post-scriptural?
?we believe the Holy Spirit guarantees the accuracy of that ongoing teaching office so that “post-Scriptural” is always already also Scriptural?

Again, whereas you have interpreted Luke 11:27-28 as license (authorization, warrant) for all Roman Catholic doctrines on Mary ? i.e., your assumption that none of your doctrines go ?beyond Scripture;? official Catholic teaching does not exceed ?what Scripture authorizes us;? no Catholic ?doctrines on Mary are post-scriptural? ? none of the Church Fathers that we have examined viewed this passage that way. None of them argued that Luke 11:27-28 is license for any kind of Marian doctrine or Marian devotion. None of them argued from Luke 11:27-28 that Jesus authorized them to venerate Mary.



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