Parallel Between the Visitation and the Ark's Journey to Jerusalem

For the first time God's presence has descended upon a person as the new Ark of the Covenant. The conclusions that these scholars draw, then, is that God's Spirit is visiting his people again in a brand new way. It's exciting. Rene Laurentin in his two-volume work, Structure and Theology of Luke 1 and 2, pages 79 through 81 develops an expensive series of parallels here, especially concerning the story of the Visitation, you know, with Elizabeth. He speaks of the subtle use of ark imagery. For instance he shows how in 2nd Samuel 6, there was a journey to the hill country of Judah that the Ark of the Covenant took. Likewise, the same phrase is used to describe Mary's journey to the hill country. In fact, the same phrase is used. Both David and Mary, "arose and made the journey." In 2nd Samuel, 6:2 and Luke 1:39.

Laurentin goes on to describe how when the Ark arrived and when Mary arrived, they were both greeted with "shouts of joy." And the word for shout or the word for Elizabeth's greeting, anafametzen, is very rare. It's used only in connection with those Old Testament liturgical ceremonies that were centered around the Ark. It literally means to "cry aloud, to proclaim or to intone."

Elizabeth greets Mary the same way the Ark of the Covenant was greeted. The entrance of the Ark and the entrance of Mary are seen then as blessing an entire household. Like Obededom's household was blessed, so Elizabeth sees her household as blessed. Laurentin goes on to talk about how David and both Elizabeth react with awe, "How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me?" David says in 2nd Samuel, 6:9. And likewise Elizabeth says, "Why should the Mother of the Lord come to me?" The Ark of the Covenant and the Mother of our Lord are in a sense two ways of looking at the same reality which is becoming clearer and more personal with our Lady. Then finally, the Ark of the Covenant and Mary both remain in the respective houses for three months, 2nd Samuel 6:11 and Luke 1:56.

Parallel Between Daniel 9 and Luke 1&2

He shows how the following correlates. In Luke 1 and 2 we have the annunciation by Gabriel to Zechariah and six months later the annunciation by Gabriel to Mary, then nine months later Jesus is born, and thirty days later he is presented in the temple. You add up 180 days in the six months, 270 days in the nine months and the 40 days in the presentation and it adds up to 490, which is a very rare number that is found in one of the most memorable prophecies of the Old Testament, Daniel 9. Stanley suggests that Luke is once again giving a surplus value, a surplus meaning to those who are really willing to dig deep into the text to see all of the inspired meanings behind what God has done to inaugurate the New Covenant salvation in Christ and in his Blessed Mother.

The Protoevangelium (Gen. 3:15)

To see that there is more involved than just the fact that Christ came out of Mary's womb, let us look at the very first prophecy about Christ in the Bible: Genesis 3:15. In that passage, God is cursing the serpent for having caused mankind to fall into sin, and he says,

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall strike at His heel."

Ever since the first century, Christians have recognized this as a prophecy of the coming of Christ, who would crush the dead of the devil, even as he himself was stricken by the devil on the cross. But there is more than just a prophecy of the coming of Christ in this passage and more than a prophecy of the cross and of Satan's defeat. There is also a prophecy of the Virgin Birth, as even Protestants recognize. The reason is that in this passage, Christ is described as the "Seed" of the woman. This is very unusual in Biblical language because normally it is only men whose offspring are described as their seed. In the ancient, biblical languages men have seed; women do not. The reason for this is that the ancients often held a particular view of human reproduction which made it more natural to talk about men having seed. In the question and answer period, we can discuss this view of reproduction if you want, for now simply note that it was very unusual in the biblical languages for a women to be described as having seed. Since it was very unusual to talk about women having seed in the Bible, this means that there is something very unusual about the birth of Christ -- the Seed of the woman. It means that he was born only of a woman, without the intervention of a man, whose Seed he would otherwise be. As a result, Christians have always regarded Genesis 3:15 as containing a prophecy of the Virgin Birth. And Protestants are included in that. They fully recognize that Genesis 3:15 prophesies not only the coming of Christ, but the way in which he could come: through the womb of a virgin. But this means that the woman described in Genesis 3:15 is more than just Eve. Eve was not a virgin. All of the children Eve had were fathered by her husband, Adam, according to the normal course of nature. As a result, the woman in Genesis 3:15 is more than just Eve because Eve did not have any virgin births. Therefore, we know that Mary, the only woman in history to have a virgin birth, is specially in view in the Genesis 3:15. So even though Eve is the principal woman under discussion in Genesis 3, when we come to the prophecy in verse 15 of that chapter, the woman is also seen to be Mary. Mary is therefore pictured as a "Second Eve," the successor to the woman of Genesis, who will be the fulfillment of the prophecy of the virgin birth. This idea of Mary as the Second Eve is something that the writers of the New Testament picked up on. There are traces of the idea in John's gospel and in the book of Revelation, and perhaps in St. Luke's gospel as well. But if the idea of Mary as the Second Eve was picked up on by the writers of the New Testament, it was proclaimed long and loud by the early Church fathers. Right from the second century onwards, we read regularly about Mary as the Second Eve, who fulfilled the Genesis 3:15 prophecy. The Fathers on Mary as Second Eve

Justin Martyr Around the A.D. 155, St. Justin Martyr wrote in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew that the Holy Scriptures teach us concerning Christ,

"'that He became Man by the Virgin so that the course which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent, might be also the very course by which it would be put down. For Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent, and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the powers of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her would be called the Son of God. And she replied: 'Be it done unto me according to thy word.'"

St. Justin Martyr therefore parallels the Virgin Mary with the Virgin Eve. Just as the word of the serpent bore fruit through the Virgin Eve, so the word of God came into the world through the Virgin Mary. Eve believed the word of an evil angel and death was brought into the world, while Mary believed the word of a good angel and Life Himself was brought into the world.

Irenaeus Now let's look at another passage: around the A.D. 190, St. Ireneus, in his masterwork, Against Heresies, writes,

"Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying: "Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word." Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a virgin, she did not obey.... having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.... Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith."

So again we see the second century fathers contrasting Mary and Eve, saying that the evil done through Eve was undone through Mary.

Tertullian Now let us look at another text, this one from the beginning of the third century. Around the A.D. 210, the Catholic Tertullian wrote in his treatise, On The Flesh of Christ, that

" was while Eve was still a virgin that the word of the devil crept in to erect an edifice of death. Likewise, though a Virgin, the Word of God was introduced to set up a structure of life. Thus, what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex, was by the same sex re-established in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight."

As a result, we see three of the most important fathers of the second and third century bearing witness to the implication of the Genesis 3:15 prophecy, that after the woman of Genesis 3 there will come a second woman, a second Eve, who will give birth to Christ while still a virgin. Thus Mary helps rectify what Eve brought about. Eve brought sin and death into the world by her relationship with the first Adam, from whom we inherit Original Sin, while Mary brought helped bring holiness and life into the world by her relationship to the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice that in both cases it is the Adams who do the actual work. It was the first Adam who was responsible for us inheriting Original Sin. St. Paul indicates that it is our unity with the First Adam which produces sin and death in us, while it is our unity with the Second Adam that produces righteousness and life in us. The Adams are the key players, the ones who do all the work, but their work happens to be brought about through the agency of the two Eves, the first one who believed an evil angel and the second one who believed a good angel. This distinction is reflected in the saying of the Church fathers: "Death through Eve, life through Mary." Even though Eve and Mary were not the ultimate causes of death and life, it was through their actions that death and new life entered the world. Perpetual Virginity Mary's role as the second Eve also explains the doctrine of her perpetual virginity. The first Adam and the first Eve did not remain virgins but populated the earth, yet the second Adam and the second Eve remained virgins all their lives in order to consecrate themselves to serving God full-time. Thus Jesus never married or had children. He did this so he could consecrate himself to serving God full-time. In the same way, Mary was consecrated to the full-time service of God. The documents of the early Church, such as the Protoevangelium of James record that she was one of the women who, like the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-37), lived celibate lives in the Temple in Jerusalem, serving as full-time prayer warriors -- the Old Testament equivalent of contemplative nuns. This document was written no later than A.D. 120, less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary's earthly life and when memories of that life were still vivid in the minds of many. According to world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: "The principal aim of the whole writing is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ" (Patrology, 1:120-1). This document records that Mary's birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, like Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:36-37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary was not able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother, and so she was vowed to perpetual virginity. It records:

"And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by [St. Anne], saying, 'Anne! Anne! The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive and shall bring forth, and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.' And Anne said, 'As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall minister to him in the holy things all the days of its life.' . . . And [from the time she was three] Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there" (Protoevangelium of James 4, 7 [A.D. 120]).

But because of considerations of ceremonial cleanliness, it was eventually necessary for Mary, a consecrated 'virgin of the Lord' to have a guardian or protector who would respect her vow of virginity. Thus according to the document Joseph, an elderly widower who already had children, was chosen (this also explains why Joseph was apparently dead by the time of Jesus' adult ministry, since he does not appear during it in the gospels and since Mary is entrusted to John at the crucifixion rather than to her husband Joseph). The document records:

"And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of priests, saying, 'Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?' And they said to the high priest, 'You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in and pray concerning her, and whatever the Lord shall manifest to you, that also will we do.' . . . [A]nd he prayed concerning her, and behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him saying, 'Zechariah! Zechariah! Go out and assemble the widowers of the people and let them bring each his rod, and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. . . . And Joseph [was chosen] . . . And the priest said to Joseph, 'You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.' But Joseph refused, saying, 'I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl'" (ibid. 8-9).

Joseph was required to respect Mary's vow of virginity, and just how seriously he was required to respect it is indicated by the fact that when she was discovered to be with child, he got in trouble with the Temple authorities, who thought he had defiled a virgin of the Lord.

"And Annas the scribe came to him [Joseph] . . . and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest and said to him, 'Joseph, whom you did vouch for, has committed a grievous crime.' And the priest said, 'How so?' And he said, 'He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord and has married her by stealth'" (ibid. 15).

Mary was also accused of having forsaken the Lord by breaking her vow:

"And the priest said, 'Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low and forgotten the Lord your God?' . . . And she wept bitterly saying, 'As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before him, and know not man'" (ibid.)

The understanding of this document that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus' step-brothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome, who popularized the idea that they might have been cousins instead, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as "brethren." Most Protestants are unaware of all this, but the Protestant Reformers themselves -- Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli -- honored the perpetual virginity of Mary and recognized it as the teaching of the Bible, as have more modern Protestants, such as the biblical and patristics scholar J. B. Lightfoot. And so again we see the doctrine of Mary's role as the second Eve explaining her perpetual virginity. Just as the first Adam and Eve devoted themselves to procreation for the multiplication of mankind, the second Adam and Eve devoted themselves to virginity for the sake of ministry, so that God's spiritual blessings might be brought to mankind. The first thing to note, when trying to understand such verses, is that the term "brother" has a wide meaning in the Bible. It is not restricted to brothers german or half-brothers. (The same goes for "sister," of course, and the plural "brethren.") Lot is described as Abraham's "brother" (Gen. 14:14), but Lot was the son of Aran, Abraham's deceased brother (Gen. 11:26-28), which means Lot was really Abraham's nephew. Jacob is called the "brother" of his uncle Laban ((Gen. 29:15). Cis and Eleazar were the sons of Moholi. Cis had sons of his own, but Eleazar had no sons, only daughters, who married their "brethren," the sons of Cis. These "brethren" were really their cousins (1 Chron. 23:21-22).

The problem for them is that they are trying to use the modern meaning of "till" (or "until") instead of the meaning it had when the Bible was written. In the Bible, it means only that some action did not happen up to a certain point; it does not imply that the action did happen later, which is the modern sense of the term. In fact, if the modern sense is forced on the Bible, some ridiculous meanings result.

Consider this line: "Michol the daughter of Saul had no children until the day of her death" (2 Kgs. 7:23). Are we then to assume she had children after her death? Or how about the raven that Noah released from the ark? The bird "went forth and did not return till the waters were dried up upon the earth" (Gen. 8:7). In fact, we know the raven never returned at all.

And then there was the burial of Moses. About the location of his grave it was said that no man knows "until this present day" (Deut. 34:6)--but we know that no one has known since that day either. Or how about this: "And they went up to mount Sion with joy and gladness, and offered holocausts, because not one of them was slain till they had returned in peace" (1 Macc. 5:54). Does this mean the soldiers were slain after they returned from battle?

The other argument used by fundamentalists concerns the term "first-born." They say Jesus could not be called Mary's "first-born" unless there were other children that followed him. But this is a misunderstanding of the way the ancient Jews used the term. For them it meant the child that opened the womb (Ex 13:2, Num 3:12). Under the Mosaic Law, it was the "first-born" son that was to be sanctified (Ex. 34:20). Did this mean the parents had to wait until a second son was born before they could call their first the "first-born"? Hardly. The first male child of a marriage was termed the "first-born" even if he turned out to be the only child of the marriage. This usage is illustrated by a funerary inscription discovered in Egypt. The inscription refers to a woman who died during the birth of her "first-born."

So, if it is established that the "brethren of the Lord" were not Jesus' brothers german or half-brothers, who were they? That they were Jesus' cousins has been the accepted view at least from the time of Jerome until recent centuries. (Before Jerome the consensus was that they definitely weren't Mary's sons, but not necessarily that they were her nephews.)

Of the four "brethren" who are named in the Gospels, consider, for the sake of argument, only James. Similar reasoning can be used for the other three. We know that James' mother was named Mary. Look at the descriptions of the women standing beneath the Cross: "Among them were Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee" (Matt. 27:56): "Among them were Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph, and Salome" (Matt. 15:40).

Then look at what John says: "And meanwhile his [Jesus'] mother, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen had taken their stand beside the cross of Jesus" (John 19:25). If we compare these parallel accounts of the scene of the Crucifixion, we see that the mother of James and Joseph must be the wife of Cleophas. So far so good.

An argument against this, though, is that James is elsewhere (Matt. 10:3) described as the son of Alphaeus, which would mean this Mary, whoever she was, was the wife of both Cleophas and Alphaeus. One solution is that she was widowed once, then remarried. More probably, though, Alphaeus and Cleophas (Clopas in Greek) are the same person, since the Aramaic name for Alphaeus could be rendered in Greek in different ways, either as Alphaeus or Clopas. Another possibility is that Alphaeus took a Greek name similar to his Jewish name, the way that Saul took the name Paul.

So it is probable, anyway, that James is the son of Mary and Cleophas. If the testimony of Hegesippus, a second-century historian, is believed. Cleophas was the brother of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. James would thus be Joseph's nephew and a cousin of Jesus, who was Joseph's putative son. This identification of the "brethren of the Lord" as Jesus' cousins is open to legitimate question--they might even be relatives more distantly removed--and our inability to know certainly their status says nothing about the main point, which is that the Bible demonstrates that they were not, anyway, the Virgin Mary's children.

(gathered from various sources... my apologies to the authors)