Mary's Virginity and Historical Novums
Eric Svendsen at New Testament Research Ministries has recently concluded another series of posts about Mary's perpetual virginity. The link in the title of this post is to part IV of this series, from which the other parts are accessible. In part II of this series, Svendsen has a section in which he calls the idea that Mary might have agreed to marry while remaining a perpetual virgin an "historical novum." Here is the full quote:
Keating (by positing a married virgin) has, moreover, introduced a
historical novum; namely, that there was such a thing as a married virgin. Yet,
such a notion cannot be supported either biblically or historically: “Such an
interpretation of 1:34 reads into the text later concerns; and the idea that a
Galilean village girl, who had already entered into marriage, did so intending
to remain a virgin and childless is out of harmony with the Jewish mentality of
Jesus’ time” (Brown et al, 1978:114-115).
Svendsen has done a great deal of reading about the perpetual virginity of Mary, and throws a great deal of information at the reader. I would that I had the time and the academic resources to study each of his arguments. I just wanted to point out that arguing that Mary's vow of virginity is an "historical novum," or that it is "out of harmony with the Jewish mentality of Jesus's time" is really not an effective refutation. Certainly, the incarnation of the living God in the person of Jesus Christ is also an historical novum, yet this does not argue against its truth. Neither does the fact that the zealots, herodians, sadducees, and pharisees of Jesus's time saw his teaching as "out of harmony with the Jewish mentality of [the] time" provide an effective argument that Jesus's teaching (especially in, for example, John 6) are incorrect. Finally, an angel appearing to Mary and calling her "full of grace," and telling her she will conceive by the Holy Spirit is certainly a biblical and historical "novum," but it is also shockingly true.
I hope this one point is now somewhat clearer.