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Author Topic: Hyper-Marian doctrines  (Read 335 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 09, 2015, 10:58:24 AM »

My issues are the depiction of St. Joseph as a younger man who resembles Christ and how he leans his head towards the Virgin Mary.  Doesn't Tradition tell us that St. Joseph was already an older man who died during Christ's time on earth?

More precisely, it's the Protoevangelium of James which tells us that. Given the other problematic stuff in that text, I'm not willing to take it as anything resembling literal truth, but hey, I'm a D.P. anyway.

I don't know that one need conclude that the PoJ invented all it's claims just because it wasn't written by St. James (though I am one who's skeptical about the Theotokos literally living in the Holy of Holies).

The PoJ documents many traditions which have found their way into the hymnography and iconography of the Church. The feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple repeatedly and explicitly states that she entered the Holy of Holies and dwelt there. If God was able to become incarnate, to die and to rise again, why is the Virgin's dwelling in the Holy of Holies so difficult to accept?

The fact that it has no scriptural testimony is going to present major authority problems for this Protestant, for starters. But the bigger problem is the disruption of the economy of salvation that all these tales imply. All the transformation of Mary into Superpuritywoman diminishes the humanity of Jesus, because Mary is thus not a real woman. A child who lives in a windowless room with no provision for the normal things that female children do (and sorry I have to be crude about this, but the crudeness is much of the point) like going to the bathroom, against the explicit commandment of the torah, is not a real or for that matter even sinless child. Sure, since God is omnipotent one cannot say that any act of God is impossible, but when something smells of being a pious tale, one ought to be suspicious, particularly in light of the contradiction with to Torah. Also, it is particularly striking that this is all at variance with the picture that the gospels paint (albeit through omission). Matthew gives a reason why Joseph, or someone like him, must be Jesus' father; but no reason is given why Mary is blessed.
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2015, 11:31:54 AM »

My issues are the depiction of St. Joseph as a younger man who resembles Christ and how he leans his head towards the Virgin Mary.  Doesn't Tradition tell us that St. Joseph was already an older man who died during Christ's time on earth?

More precisely, it's the Protoevangelium of James which tells us that. Given the other problematic stuff in that text, I'm not willing to take it as anything resembling literal truth, but hey, I'm a D.P. anyway.

I don't know that one need conclude that the PoJ invented all it's claims just because it wasn't written by St. James (though I am one who's skeptical about the Theotokos literally living in the Holy of Holies).

The PoJ documents many traditions which have found their way into the hymnography and iconography of the Church. The feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple repeatedly and explicitly states that she entered the Holy of Holies and dwelt there. If God was able to become incarnate, to die and to rise again, why is the Virgin's dwelling in the Holy of Holies so difficult to accept?

The fact that it has no scriptural testimony is going to present major authority problems for this Protestant, for starters. But the bigger problem is the disruption of the economy of salvation that all these tales imply. All the transformation of Mary into Superpuritywoman diminishes the humanity of Jesus, because Mary is thus not a real woman. A child who lives in a windowless room with no provision for the normal things that female children do (and sorry I have to be crude about this, but the crudeness is much of the point) like going to the bathroom, against the explicit commandment of the torah, is not a real or for that matter even sinless child. Sure, since God is omnipotent one cannot say that any act of God is impossible, but when something smells of being a pious tale, one ought to be suspicious, particularly in light of the contradiction with to Torah. Also, it is particularly striking that this is all at variance with the picture that the gospels paint (albeit through omission). Matthew gives a reason why Joseph, or someone like him, must be Jesus' father; but no reason is given why Mary is blessed.

To be clear, what exactly are you objecting to? It seems like you start by criticizing a literal view of the Theotokos living in the Holy of Holies and then also go on to object to the Theotokos being sinless. They are related subjects sure, but they aren't the same doctrine.

And what do you mean, "why Mary is blessed?" Did you forget about the Annunciation and Magnificat?
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2015, 05:01:31 PM »

Concerning the Virgin Mary living in the Holy of Holies I believe there must be some truth in it.

Some facts we know:

1) Women could not go beyind the first yard of the Temple and only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies;
2) It's unlikely she would have made all the way into the Holy of Holies and that she would go unnoticed by all the High Priests;
3) She would have been killed if people found out she had dessacrated the Temple by doing so;
4) This story, on the other hand, seems to based on knowledge on how Roman/Greek temples worked, with dedicated virgins in some.

I make one assumption: there was an oral tradition going on that was vague and to which the author of the PE of James wanted to give details and used his knowledge of the ancient temples he knew about to create them.

And what kind of oral tradition could it be? In my opinion, probably

1) That she would go to the Temple as frequently as she could. She was a "church goer";
2) That being a pious and devoted young girl she took part in Temple-related activities as far as it was allowed for women. I don't remember the source now, but it seems there were *virgins* who were the only ones who could sew courtains, robes and basically create and work all Temple-related textiles. *If* she ever worked with this or with a similar job, it may be said that she lived for the temple 24/7. We have to remember that her cousin's husband was the High Priest in at least one year, and that St. John is the only one who is allowed into the judgements of Christ, so her family *was* close to the top hierarchy of the Temple. It would not be unsurprising that they would put their young daughters to do that kind of work.

So, if there was an oral tradition saying that the Virgin Mary lived for (or even "gaining her bread from") the Temple, that through her family she had (indirect, from hearsay) access to what happens even in the Holy of Holies this sort of story could turn into legend by adding the details we see in the PE of James.
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« Reply #3 on: Today at 12:16:47 AM »

Concerning the Virgin Mary living in the Holy of Holies I believe there must be some truth in it.

Some facts we know:

1) Women could not go beyind the first yard of the Temple and only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies;
2) It's unlikely she would have made all the way into the Holy of Holies and that she would go unnoticed by all the High Priests;
3) She would have been killed if people found out she had dessacrated the Temple by doing so;
4) This story, on the other hand, seems to based on knowledge on how Roman/Greek temples worked, with dedicated virgins in some.

I make one assumption: there was an oral tradition going on that was vague and to which the author of the PE of James wanted to give details and used his knowledge of the ancient temples he knew about to create them.

And what kind of oral tradition could it be? In my opinion, probably

1) That she would go to the Temple as frequently as she could. She was a "church goer";
2) That being a pious and devoted young girl she took part in Temple-related activities as far as it was allowed for women. I don't remember the source now, but it seems there were *virgins* who were the only ones who could sew courtains, robes and basically create and work all Temple-related textiles. *If* she ever worked with this or with a similar job, it may be said that she lived for the temple 24/7. We have to remember that her cousin's husband was the High Priest in at least one year, and that St. John is the only one who is allowed into the judgements of Christ, so her family *was* close to the top hierarchy of the Temple. It would not be unsurprising that they would put their young daughters to do that kind of work.

So, if there was an oral tradition saying that the Virgin Mary lived for (or even "gaining her bread from") the Temple, that through her family she had (indirect, from hearsay) access to what happens even in the Holy of Holies this sort of story could turn into legend by adding the details we see in the PE of James.
I can accept the idea that she had some strong connection to the Temple like that, but it won't wash with those who insist on taking the festal liturgy literally.
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« Reply #4 on: Today at 12:36:26 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?
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« Reply #5 on: Today at 12:41:17 AM »

I can accept the idea that she had some strong connection to the Temple like that, but it won't wash with those who insist on taking the festal liturgy literally.
The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.
I hereby nominate Volnutt for the rank of prophet.
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« Reply #6 on: Today at 12:42:44 AM »

Quote
I can accept the idea that she had some strong connection to the Temple like that, but it won't wash with those who insist on taking the festal liturgy literally.
The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.
I hereby nominate Volnutt for the rank of prophet.

He said that about himself?  Huh
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« Reply #7 on: Today at 12:43:18 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.
Fabio isn't saying that it's an allegory. He's saying the tradition is an exaggeration of a possible historical core- namely that the Theotokos was often in the Temple praising God and was well-known to the priests (this would buttress with well the imagery of her weaving the Temple curtains).
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« Reply #8 on: Today at 12:45:45 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?
Then how to you propose it was done? Was she invisible? Did she just hide in the corner and blend in with the wall like a chamelon when the High Priest came in once a year? Did God strike everyone who saw her with amnesia or temporary blindness? God is a miracle worker, not a deceiver. You might as well say He created the universe last thursday and falsified all our memories with the contents of our stomachs.
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« Reply #9 on: Today at 12:46:05 AM »

Quote
I can accept the idea that she had some strong connection to the Temple like that, but it won't wash with those who insist on taking the festal liturgy literally.
The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.
I hereby nominate Volnutt for the rank of prophet.

He said that about himself?  Huh
You're going to look so silly once I edit that....

Seriously, thank's for calling it to my attention. I'll leave the above quote box alone for posterity.
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« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:48:45 AM »

Quote
I can accept the idea that she had some strong connection to the Temple like that, but it won't wash with those who insist on taking the festal liturgy literally.
The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.
I hereby nominate Volnutt for the rank of prophet.

He said that about himself?  Huh
You're going to look so silly once I edit that....

Seriously, thank's for calling it to my attention. I'll leave the above quote box alone for posterity.
Next week's winning lotto numbers are...
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« Reply #11 on: Today at 01:10:28 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?
Then how to you propose it was done? Was she invisible? Did she just hide in the corner and blend in with the wall like a chamelon when the High Priest came in once a year? Did God strike everyone who saw her with amnesia or temporary blindness? God is a miracle worker, not a deceiver. You might as well say He created the universe last thursday and falsified all our memories with the contents of our stomachs.

I am not God, so I cannot say how "it was done". He knows, I don't. It's a mystery, just as the raising of Lazarus, the healing of the blind and paralyzed, the Incarnation of God, the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, and the Resurrection of Christ are readily accepted as mysteries.

What I do know is that I trust the Church, through her saints and Fathers, through her hymns and icons, to be the bearer of true witness.
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« Reply #12 on: Today at 01:23:22 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?
Then how to you propose it was done? Was she invisible? Did she just hide in the corner and blend in with the wall like a chamelon when the High Priest came in once a year? Did God strike everyone who saw her with amnesia or temporary blindness? God is a miracle worker, not a deceiver. You might as well say He created the universe last thursday and falsified all our memories with the contents of our stomachs.

I am not God, so I cannot say how "it was done". He knows, I don't. It's a mystery, just as the raising of Lazarus, the healing of the blind and paralyzed, the Incarnation of God, the ever-virginity of the Mother of God, and the Resurrection of Christ are readily accepted as mysteries.
First of all, her ever-virginity is hardly a mystery. She just never had sex. Lot's of people accomplish that.

Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.

And no, St. Peter getting out of jail doesn't count. God made no attempt to hide that this had been done as you clam He did with the Theotokos. The soldiers found out the next day just like they did about the Empty Tomb.

What I do know is that I trust the Church, through her saints and Fathers, through her hymns and icons, to be the bearer of true witness.

The Bible contains numerous contradictions that can be explained as scribal errors (the age of King Jehoakim and the number of horses in Solomon's stables to mention two) and no Christian considers that to mean that the Bible isn't true. A historical core that has been overlaid by unhistorical pious exaggeration is still a true event.
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« Reply #13 on: Today at 01:26:29 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?

I've seen similar logic used by YEC-advocates, though.
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« Reply #14 on: Today at 01:31:05 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

Raising a man from the dead, buried and decomposing, a virgin conception and birth, God becoming incarnate - all are accepted as true and real with few murmurs. So why is the dwelling of a young girl in the Holy of Holies, chosen by God and dedicated to Him to fulfill a vow, somehow too preposterous to accept?

I've seen similar logic used by YEC-advocates, though.
My point exactly. Also used by radical KJV-Onlyists who think Moses spoke Elizabethan English.
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« Reply #15 on: Today at 01:37:58 AM »

Quote
First of all, her ever-virginity is hardly a mystery. She just never had sex. Lot's of people accomplish that.

The doctrine of ever-virginity is not simply a teaching that she "never had sex". The doctrine also covers the fact that she conceived without "knowing a man", and that she remained a virgin after giving birth. This basic, fundamental teaching is repeatedly expressed in countless hymns and prayers, and in every single Orthodox service, not just the Divine Liturgy. And, yes, the Church calls it a mystery.

Quote
Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.

“I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."

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« Reply #16 on: Today at 01:42:13 AM »

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First of all, her ever-virginity is hardly a mystery. She just never had sex. Lot's of people accomplish that.

The doctrine of ever-virginity is not simply a teaching that she "never had sex". The doctrine also covers the fact that she conceived without "knowing a man", and that she remained a virgin after giving birth. This basic, fundamental teaching is repeatedly expressed in countless hymns and prayers, and in every single Orthodox service, not just the Divine Liturgy. And, yes, the Church calls it a mystery.
Fair enough.

Quote
Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.

“I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."


Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity. By the way, God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, become an atheist, etc.
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« Reply #17 on: Today at 01:56:32 AM »

Quote
Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity.
Volnutt, meet LBK, proof that age grants not only wisdom, but also occasional stalwart blindness (both physical and metaphorical).
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« Reply #18 on: Today at 01:57:18 AM »

Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.
I would point out, that while God is not a liar, He often seems to help out liars often enough. Just delving into Protestant/Evangelical hagiography, I seem to recall many times He has hidden Bibles from the prying eyes of Communist checkpoint attendants. How much more so would He be willing to hide the very vessel which would contain the very Word?
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« Reply #19 on: Today at 02:26:08 AM »

Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity. By the way, God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, become an atheist, etc.

I quoted that passage to show that God is not beholden to human wisdom or actions in carrying out His will. May I also suggest you take the time to read and reflect on the hymns and teachings of the feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God. If you would like the service text, I'd be happy to email it to you.
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« Reply #20 on: Today at 02:37:58 AM »

Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.
I would point out, that while God is not a liar, He often seems to help out liars often enough. Just delving into Protestant/Evangelical hagiography, I seem to recall many times He has hidden Bibles from the prying eyes of Communist checkpoint attendants. How much more so would He be willing to hide the very vessel which would contain the very Word?
I have no idea if any of those stories are true or not.
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« Reply #21 on: Today at 04:16:38 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

"synaxis of X or Y" are pretty allegorical.
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« Reply #22 on: Today at 04:18:35 AM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

"synaxis of X or Y" are pretty allegorical.

No, they are not. They are feasts of saints, real people who have found favor with God.
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« Reply #23 on: Today at 04:38:37 AM »

Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity. By the way, God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, become an atheist, etc.

I quoted that passage to show that God is not beholden to human wisdom or actions in carrying out His will. May I also suggest you take the time to read and reflect on the hymns and teachings of the feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God. If you would like the service text, I'd be happy to email it to you.
And my point is that if you begin with something far fetched that you want to accept, you can justify it with all sorts of "turtles all the way down" miracle appeals. There's a difference between mystery and rampant absurdities and God's omnipotence doesn't give one the license to invoke all manner of the later.
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« Reply #24 on: Today at 04:45:59 AM »

Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity. By the way, God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, become an atheist, etc.

I quoted that passage to show that God is not beholden to human wisdom or actions in carrying out His will. May I also suggest you take the time to read and reflect on the hymns and teachings of the feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God. If you would like the service text, I'd be happy to email it to you.
And my point is that if you begin with something far fetched that you want to accept, you can justify it with all sorts of "turtles all the way down" miracle appeals. There's a difference between mystery and rampant absurdities and God's omnipotence doesn't give one the license to invoke all manner of the later.

If the dwelling of the Mother of God in the Holy of Holies is too preposterous to believe, why believe that she conceived God? Why believe that her virginity remained inviolate after she gave birth? All of these could be called "rampant absurdities".
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« Reply #25 on: Today at 10:29:05 AM »

Second of all, God is not a liar. If they found her, they would have killed her. It would have been an even bigger crime than anything Jesus ever committed in their eyes. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception, unlike other Biblical miracles.
On the contrary, it would be exactly like when Jesus preached at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30). When he told them that he was the Messiah, and talked about how both Elijah and Elisha had been sent not to help Israelites, but to help Gentiles:
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And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way. (Luke 4:28-30)
If they found Him, they would have killed Him. There would have been no logical way to accomplish this without a deception.
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podkarpatska
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« Reply #26 on: Today at 01:08:18 PM »

The Church's feasts are in honor of persons and realities, not allegories.

"synaxis of X or Y" are pretty allegorical.

No, they are not. They are feasts of saints, real people who have found favor with God.

Exactly.

A 'synaxis' is by itself little more that what Orthodoxwiki says it is:  "  The term synaxis (Greek: σύναξις - "gathering together"; Slavonic: sobor) may refer to any of the following: In general, any gathering of the faithful or clergy of the Orthodox Church for liturgical or administrative purposes, e.g., a synod or one of the divine services.More specifically, a gathering to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the day following a major feast in honor of the saints involved in the primary celebration (e.g., on December 26, the day following the Nativity of Christ is the Synaxis of the Theotokos)." A listing of all such 'synaxis' feasts is contained further down the page there. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Synaxis_%28disambiguation%29
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« Reply #27 on: Today at 01:11:04 PM »

Your passive aggression oozes with sanctity. By the way, God can make a rock so big He can't lift it, become an atheist, etc.

I quoted that passage to show that God is not beholden to human wisdom or actions in carrying out His will. May I also suggest you take the time to read and reflect on the hymns and teachings of the feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God. If you would like the service text, I'd be happy to email it to you.
And my point is that if you begin with something far fetched that you want to accept, you can justify it with all sorts of "turtles all the way down" miracle appeals. There's a difference between mystery and rampant absurdities and God's omnipotence doesn't give one the license to invoke all manner of the later.

If the dwelling of the Mother of God in the Holy of Holies is too preposterous to believe, why believe that she conceived God? Why believe that her virginity remained inviolate after she gave birth? All of these could be called "rampant absurdities".

St. Paul spoke to this idea of 'rampant absurdities'  at 1 Corinthians 1:23.

Nothing new here, time to move on.
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« Reply #28 on: Today at 02:01:20 PM »

If the dwelling of the Mother of God in the Holy of Holies is too preposterous to believe, why believe that she conceived God? Why believe that her virginity remained inviolate after she gave birth? All of these could be called "rampant absurdities".

I'm not going anywhere near "virginity remained inviolate" if you intend that in some sort of miraculous sense. There's nothing about the word "virginity" that makes talking about "remained virgin during" a coherent statement. If you want to say she never ever knew Joseph or anyone else, well, OK, there's nothing miraculous about that, but I reserve judgement.

Living in the Holy of Holies, though: you think someone would have noticed long before the traditions we have were written. It's a gross violation of Mosaic law; there would have been objections.
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« Reply #29 on: Today at 02:31:20 PM »

I'm not going anywhere near "virginity remained inviolate" if you intend that in some sort of miraculous sense. There's nothing about the word "virginity" that makes talking about "remained virgin during" a coherent statement. If you want to say she never ever knew Joseph or anyone else, well, OK, there's nothing miraculous about that, but I reserve judgement.

"Remained virgin during" may not be coherent to us because we have largely moved away from a model of "virginity" that emphasises the physical "seal", but that is what is being spoken about in the patristic teachings, hymned in the parallels between the virginal womb and the empty tomb from which Christ emerged without breaking the seals, etc.  Such teachings are at least as much the common heritage of Anglicanism as the Chrysostom Liturgy.   
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"...you could not bear, Master, in the compassion of your mercy to watch the human race being tyrannised by the devil, but you came and saved us. We acknowledge your grace, we proclaim your mercy, we do not conceal your benevolence..."
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