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Friday, December 14, 2007



Oh, no, you didn't!
Christian Student Scientist said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha,

I feel strange correcting a nun on the most popular story in the Bible, but then again I'm not sure you are a nun. Anyways, Mary was engaged (betrothed) to Joseph, not married before receiving news of conception. However stronger engagement rules were those days, it was still not a marriage...

It gets worse:
I do wonder how you explain Mary's words "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"? To me that's pretty clear indication of where things are between Mary and Joseph.

Oh it is, is it? We're Catholics here. We don't go digging around in the Bible deciding what it means for ourselves.

Look, Mary was not an unwed mother. We're not having it, so you may as well throw in the towel.

In the first place, as many other readers have pointed out, marriage today and marriage back then are very different. The Mary family didn't rent out the Holiday Inn, pay the organist and spend a year's salary on a ring. They didn't even stand around and exchange "I Do's". The families got together and declared the couple a couple. Then there might be a party.

The party served two functions: to let everyone know the couple was married, since they didn't have the parish paper to announce things or cans tied to their cars or embossed cards, and to mingle the families, which was the main purpose of the marriage itself. Do you think they really cared all that much about who loved who? They didn't have time for that. They had to bake bread from scratch. They couldn't even go to the store for the ingredients. They had to make the ingredients from scratch. Love came later.

Here's what Matthew has to say: "[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
[19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily."


Notice: Joseph HER HUSBAND.

End of story. Matthew, the writer of the gospel said that, not me. Unless you'd like to argue with Matthew, I think that's a pretty clear indication of where things were between Mary and Joseph.

Here's how I explain the words of Mary to the Archangel Gabriel: that's not what she said. What she said was, "for I know not man." We've all had to suffer through the giggles of explaining to people what the Bible means by the word "know".

My question is, why would you want to make such a fuss to prove that Mary was an unwed mother? What's the deal there?

Go stand in the corner.

28 comments:

tonda said...

awhmmm... Student Scientist made Sister get out of her chair...

But I suppose I should go stand in the corner as well. Though I did not really get into the argument because I really don't like to argue such points. (mainly 'cause I know NOTHING!) I just always trusted God knew what he was doing.
I also don't like to put much emphasizes on bible wordings. Since there are so many different translations. I have in front of me, in fact 3 versions. Two give it in the way I mentioned in an earlier post, and one gives it as Sister mentioned.
I think that is the big problem of so many translations. So I just try to keep to what the Church teaches about a subject.
But I did agree with Student Scientist in what she said was the bible wording. Because as I said 2 of them do say it that way. I think maybe the publishers should go stand in the corner with us.

tonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jk said...

Translating is complicated. Some translations are more literal. Other use words that flow better in English. Some words have more than one meaning. A literal translaton of what the angel told Joseph is "do not be afraid to take/take along/receive/accept Mary as your wife/woman." This is ambiguous enough that it does not prove anything about whether or not they were married. Similarly, the word tranlated as "husband" in verse 19 could also be translated "man."

The more I learn about translating and interpretting Scripture, the more fitting I find the Catholic position of authority for interpretation resting with the Magisterium.

BTW, the comment from Christian Student Scientist which claimed that Jewish law did not allow divorce after consummation was incorrect.

denise said...

Now, I don't want to stir up a new holy war, but if Joseph and Mary were wed before Mary conceived Jesus, doesn't that make Him a child of adultery? :}

tonda said...

awhmmmm.... that sounds really really bad! You must not Fear God.
As dumb as I am I would not have even ventured there.
Because Mary had Jesus in a Virgin Birth. I just cringe at even thinking about what you said, so I am not even gonna try to give an opinion or rebuttal on that one.
I think you did want to start up another debate. I think your mind was tapped by a bit of evil in that thought.
Ewww, I feel I need a bath now, or at least some prayer time to get that evil thought out of my head.
Holy Cow!

Christian Student Scientist said...

Sister Mary, you are mean! Funny. But mean. Oh, but I had a good laugh, after crying in the corner for awhile. Can I come out now?

Those who left your comments - thank you. They were hilarious! Now, denise, trust me, you don't want to be UP there in sister Mary's post, all in bold and spanked. So stop talking and repeat after sister Mary!

Anyways, I don't know why I got bent out of shape about Mary and Joseph not being married (which they weren't :)~~ ). Apparently, I also like to have the last word which I typed up here before reading the comments to this post.

Christian Student Scientist said...

Oh, jk, you are quite right. The divorce was allowed. What I should have said that remarriage after consummation was not allowed as long as the previous spouse was still alive.

tonda said...

LOL!
Scientist student said...
"all in bold and spanked."
LOL! Theam nuns... they have a rep ya know for carrying a switch, and in nun academy they are taught how to use it! 'Switching 101' LOL!
Quickly zips up lip.

Lisa, sfo said...

Christian Student Scientist: I forgot to address your comment in Sister's earlier post wherein you said, "To me, the difference between betrothal and marriage is whether the couple is having sex or not."

It doesn't matter one whit what we may think. What matters is the historical reality of Jewish marriage customs at the time. Did you read the sources I cited in my blog post that specifically addressed this point? I'll copy and share two of those points here:

"Thus the betrothal of Joseph and Mary refers to an actual marriage. Yet there was a period of possibly [up to] one year following the betrothal in which the couple did not live together. ... The Jews did not consider it unlawful or even necessarily unusual for a woman to conceive a child during the one-year period. This explains why no one thought it was unusual or at least unlawful for Mary to be with child during this time. Otherwise, it would have been a great scandal in the little town of Nazareth, and it could have made her subject to the law and its punishment." (De Domenico)

and

"Actually, the betrothed could have marital relations and if the bride conceived a child by her groom, no fault would be found." (Gasnier)

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

My question is, why would you want to make such a fuss to prove that Mary was an unwed mother? What's the deal there?

Ah, but CSS, you didn't answer this question from Sister, which is the one I'm most interested in!

Why is it that so many people, mostly (but not all) Protestants, seem to want to tear down Mary?

People who don't believe in original sin or the need for Baptism for cleansing the stain of original sin still deny the Immaculate Conception.

People who insist on the importance of a "personal relationship with Christ" deny that Mary, who was personally visited by an archangel, had an understand of Jesus or his teachings.

People who don't hesitate to ask their friends, and even strangers to pray for them, refuse to ask Mary to pray for them, even though Jesus told us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and presumably Mary are still alive, because He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

So yeah, what's up with tearing down my Blessed Mother?

jk said...

To CSS,
Even your reworded comment on Jewish divorce customs is incorrect. According to the Mishnah (Yeb. 4:10,) the Jewish custom was that a woman could not remarry until three months after divorce, lest there be any confusion over the identity of the father in the case of pregnancy. This clearly implies that remarriage could take place after divorce of a consummated marriage.
Also Deuteronomy 24:1-4 shows that people could remarry after divorce and does not mention any requirements about no consummation.

1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

At the time of Jesus, there was a debate within Judaism (between the followers of Hillel and of Shammai)about just what was meant by "finding something indecent about her". This was the context for the questions brought to Jesus about divorce.

tonda said...

Lisa, sfo said...
It doesn't matter one whit what we may think. What matters is the historical reality of Jewish marriage customs at the time.

Actually that does not matter either. The only thing that does matter is like jk said briefly in an earlier post. The more I learn about translating and interpreting Scripture, the more fitting I find the Catholic position of authority for interpretation resting with the Magisterium.

The bible somewhere I know mentions we are not to interpret for ourselves.
The leaders in the church debate and pray and decide interpretation. That is the way the original Apostles did it, as shown in scripture, and the way the Catholic church continues to do it.

katy said...

Obviously Christian Student Scientist did not go to Catholic school. Thought you were going to win an argument with a nun????? Hahahaahahahaha!!

Oyama Naku said...

Sister Mary Martha, I just love your blog. YOU CAN AND ARE NEVER WRONG!I'm just awestruck at your expansive knowledge of the Catholic doctrine. I just hope you are not the POPE in disguise. Now comes the part that I'd like to suggest. Please, please, as much as I love the photos you include, some of them are way TOO LARGE that there's not enough space to write even a word or two on the column next to the photos. The graphic design rule (I'm making this up) is to give it an inch or two of text beside a photo. IT DRIVES ME NUTS THAT I CANNOT READ WORDS THAT ARE LESS THAN WORDS! ARRRGGHHHH! By the way, I cannot read English quickly enough is my reason. Have A Wonderful Christmas and Keep Going With Your Blog Way Past the New Year!

bearing said...

Obviously Christian Student Scientist did not go to Catholic school.

I only wish it were that obvious.

In the U. S., to say "You have a murky understanding of Catholicism so you must not have gone to Catholic school" is like saying "You have a murky understanding of algebra so you must not have gone to high school."

RadioPie said...

Ha ha!
Sister Mary Martha pwn3s n00bs!

Martha said...

|-|@ |-|@ $1$73R p\/\//|/$ /|/00|3

Okay, my son wrote that last part. He said "radiopie" would understand it.

I have a question. Where I go to Mass, there is a Catholic school, with a new statue in front. I think it is Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (I hope I've spelled that right). It's made of black metal. She looks like a lovely young American Indian woman. Now for my question. At the base of the statue, there are turtles. Lots of turtles, about 20. They are all facing Kateri. What is the association between her and turtles?

Kristin said...

Martha -
I love Blessed Kateri!!
The turtle thing is probably because she was part of the Turtle clan of the Mohawk nation.
Also, she's the patroness of ecologists, so there's that spin on it too. :)

Blessed Kateri, ora pro nobis!!

tonda said...

bearing said...
katy said... Obviously Christian Student Scientist did not go to Catholic school.

I only wish it were that obvious.

In the U. S., to say "You have a murky understanding of Catholicism so you must not have gone to Catholic school" is like saying "You have a murky understanding of algebra so you must not have gone to high school."
********
Good point, but she was referring to the fact that CSScientist really thought she could say what she did and not get a swat with the switch. All Catholics know the Sisters take "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" SERIOUSLY! lol!
I think a lot of us are murky in the Catholic teachings anyway. At least those my age. The younger people I notice are much more prepared and educated. I know when I was growing up and I asked my parents a question, their answer was always one of Faith... "Because they (the church)say so." How much greater are they then us. We knit pic and have to put logic to everything now days.
I attended Catholic school for a few years and Sunday school up through high school. But I am as dumb as they come.
I think a lot of us were not prepared to give answer to Christians of other faiths. I left the Catholic church some 15 years ago and attended another church for the last 8 of those years. I found in the end that they do not have the fullness of the Catholic Church. So I have returned and become a very aggressive student of The Church. Hoping to learn more so I can defend the Faith much better.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alexa said...

I personally feel that you are a real sister, Sister. Not that it matters. I don't know why people question it though. Who cares?
You are spot on about things and funny, which I think is 90% of the appeal of your blog. Even when it seems "mean" - the way you answer someone's question. You warn them in your blog description anyhow.
As far as the Virgin Mary is concerned...
I too, wish I knew why people want to "diss" the Blessed Mother. I can't figure that out.
AND, I too, just accept what the Church teaches insofar as the Virgin Birth of Christ. It makes sense to me -
Logic tells me that God would never place Himself in an impure vessel.
Period.
It wouldn't work.
Keep up the good work Sister.
By the way, although I didn't take a key to our new car, we only took up two parking spaces that one time - the first week we had it.
And it's got dings now.
And that's okay.
:-)

Happy Advent

Dylan said...

The Matthew quote is solid . . . for those of a good will. Of course, the full weight of orthodox Christianity - both east and west - on this subject is on the fact that she was considered be married to Joseph at the Annunciation.

Its always unwise - and, dare I say it? a lack of humility on our part - to think that we are better interpreters of Scriptures than the Saints, especially the early ones who were so close to the events recorded.

Anonymous said...

Sister I have a couple questions, hope you can answer someday - it has nothing to do with the current topic, but I thought of it while reading your previous posts on purgatory.

Does the Church have a teaching regarding whether Protestants go to purgatory? Does a martyred Protestant go straight to heaven? What ARE the rules about Protestants and salvation, anyway?? I mean, practically every faithful Protestant these days (not all of them, I realize) believes in and practices artificial birth control - a mortal sin. So do they all go to hell because of it?

Any light you can shed would be appreciated!

denise said...

Protestants diss Mary because they think Catholics worship her. They are trying to keep her as human as possible (which of course, she is). The veneration of Mary can look like worship. And, there are some crackpot Catholics out there who say Mary is "Co-Redemptrix" with Jesus. "Mary brought Jesus into the world. You can't get to Jesus except through Mary." and other damning ideas.

Although I believe that that Mary was immaculately conceived in order to be the best vessel to bear the Saviour, I don't think God particularly needed her to be so. The fact that she was, though, makes the divine paternity of Christ obvious.

Tonda,
Adultery is exactly what Joseph thought of Mary's pregnancy. Since he didn't want to see her stoned, he decided to "divorce her quietly." So, Joseph believed they were married.

I'd always thought illegitimate meant born (not conceived) out of wedlock.

tonda said...

May have been what Joseph thought at first. But we know better than that. Because we are told as Joseph was, that Mary did not commit adultery.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Mary IS co-redemptrix. But that doesn't imply she has an equal part in our salvation, any more than a co-pilot has authority equal to a pilot's. But, because she prays for every soul that's saved, she plays a part in their salvation.

To put it in perspective, if you've helped another to gain salvation, you are also a co-redeemer for that person.

Anonymous said...

The co-pilot argument is actually one that undermines the cause for those who would like to see Mary officially titled with Co-Redemptrix...a co-pilot is charged with taking over the plane should the pilot become unable to fly. A co-pilot's "credentials," if you will, have to be equal to the pilot's in order for them to BE a co-pilot. Aviation experts are welcome to refute this, if I am incorrect.

I think, like all else we claim about Mary, that we ALL share in the work of redemption by our cooperation with the Holy Spirit, but that Mary cooperated perfectly, and so we single her out with a special title. So maybe co- like co-worker is a better analogy?

jane said...

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Why is it that so many people, mostly (but not all) Protestants, seem to want to tear down Mary? .....

So yeah, what's up with tearing down my Blessed Mother?

------------------------

That seems like a bizarre thing to say. I don't see a misunderstanding of the Jewish betrothal process as a "tearing down" of Mary – just an interpretation / translation / semantics issue.

It clearly wasn't meant to disrespect or undermine Mary. No need to get so riled up over it, or to blame Protestants for it.

Seriously.