Archive for the ‘Joseph Fitzmyer’ Category

Jesuit Historian Fitzmyer on the Perpetual Virginity

October 26, 2011

… one’s understanding of the doctrine of the continuous or perpetual virginity of Mary. Such church teaching was formulated by early Christians in the post-Apostolic era, making use of an interpretation of some passages in the New Testament that passed over others that were problematic, such as Jn. 1:45; 6:42; Lk. 4:22 (quoted above). The result was that that teaching was not universally accepted at first. Even though that teaching is thought sometimes to be implied in the second-century writing, Protevangelium Jacobi, it eventually became crystallized in the longstanding belief about Mary as aeiparthenos or semper virgo, “ever virgin,” in creeds from the fourth century on.

– Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J., America Magazine, “Whose Name is This?” (November 18, 2002)

What is particularly interesting about the above is how candid Fitzmyer is that this doctrine is post-Apostolic.  Many apologists of Rome’s communion like to try to claim that Rome’s doctrines are apostolic in origin and part of an unwritten tradition.  Fitzmyer’s acknowledgment is the result, one supposes, of his view that there is no need for the doctrine to be Apostolic.  Thus, the quotation highlights a tension that exists between Rome’s historians and her apologists.


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