Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis engaged in a debate with Protestant theologian Eric Svendsen regarding the meaning of the greek "heos hou" (english: "until") in Matthew 1:25.
The reason for this debate is that Svendsen reads this verse as proof against the perpetual virginity of Mary. Unfortunately, the Catholic is clearly in over his head, as Dr. Svendsen wrote his PhD thesis exactly on the use of this greek term in the New Testament. The critical point that Sungenis and Svendsen both miss in this exchange is that it is really rather irrelevant precisely what the word "until" means in this context. As the commentators on the New American Bible point out, the evangelist is concerned to emphasize that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus. Matthew isn't concerned here with Mary's perpetual virginity. Which ever way one reads "heos hou," this particular scripture doesn't relate to the point of their debate.
Let's instead look at Luke 1:34. Here, the evangelist is concerned with Mary's virginity. Setting the stage, Luke tells us that Mary was already betrothed to Joseph. Then, the angel tells her that she will conceive a son. Now, any young woman who is engaged to be married and is then told that she will conceive a son is naturally going to assume that this will come about through normal relations with her husband after she is married. Instead, Mary says "how can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" What kind of question is that! A more familiar translation of this text is "I do not know man." Now, I'm no greek scholar -- I didn't even join a fraternity in college -- but I have noted that in every translation I have ever seen of this verse, the verb is in the present tense. I reasonably conclude that in the greek it is also in the present tense. Now, a present tense objection to a future prediction only makes sense if the present state is expected to be ongoing. In other words, Mary specifically says that it's not just that she is a virgin right at the point of the angel's visit, but that she expects to remain a virgin throughout her life, even after she is married.
Given Mary's word that that is her intent, and no record in the New Testament indicating anything else (Jesus's relatives, called "brothers" having been widely dealt with by Catholic scholars) we can reasonably conclude that she fulfilled her plans. Furthermore, the continuing tradition of the Church, especially strong in Ephesus, where Mary lived out the remainder of her days after the resurrection, that Mary remained a virgin, really lays the burden of extraordinary proof on anyone who would deny the teaching. A difficult parsing of an adverb in a passage having nothing to do with Mary's perpetual virginity is not going to provide extraordinary proof, and hou!
I hope this clears the air a little.