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Author Topic: Did the Virgin Mary marry St. Joseph?  (Read 3492 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 14, 2011, 04:05:38 PM »

The reason I ask is that this is historically disputed on the grounds that it would not have been possible for a man and women of marriageable age who were not related to live together as betrothed for an extended period of time in a first century Jewish community. Also, the sources for this tradition may be apocryphal - not sure about this though.
Also on scriptural grounds -  

Matthew 1
Quote
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuelhe did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 04:07:51 PM »


The reason I ask is that this is historically disputed on the grounds that it would not have been possible for a man and women of marriageable age who were not related to live together as betrothed for an extended period of time in a first century Jewish community. Also, the sources for this tradition may be apocryphal - not sure about this though.
Also on scriptural grounds - 

Matthew 1
Quote
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuelhe did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.



Edit: forgot to add chapter
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2011, 04:11:00 PM »

The reason I ask is that this is historically disputed on the grounds that it would not have been possible for a man and women of marriageable age who were not related to live together as betrothed for an extended period of time in a first century Jewish community. Also, the sources for this tradition may be apocryphal - not sure about this though.

My understanding of the small t-tradition is two-fold. First, Joseph was an older man, a widower, and they were betrothed not with the intent of ever consummating the marriage, but for the protection of Mary. Second, I believe they were of the same tribe, thus they were related. My understanding of Jewish custom was in any a case where the only child of the couple was a daughter, she was to marry within the tribe--not bearing any children--thus keeping her inheritance within the extended tribal group.

I won't comment on the scripture as I can't to have the grounding in biblical scholarship necessary. That is just my understanding of the history and reasoning of the betrothal between St Joseph and the Theotokos.
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2011, 04:50:59 PM »

The Orthodox Church refers to St. Joseph as "the Betrothed."  (I too am not informed well enough to explain the scripture quoted.)  (I think Roman Catholicism considers St. Joseph as having been married to the Virgin Mother, and agree that she was "Ever Virgin.")
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 07:36:43 PM »

The story I've heard from Orthodox is that they just never got married. There is another possibility, though it's just speculation. There are stories of a number of saintly couples that got married but never consummated the marriage; that is, to the world they appeared to get married, but in reality they lived as brother and sister.
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 08:59:03 PM »

The story I've heard from Orthodox is that they just never got married. There is another possibility, though it's just speculation. There are stories of a number of saintly couples that got married but never consummated the marriage; that is, to the world they appeared to get married, but in reality they lived as brother and sister.

Then they weren't really married.
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 09:10:38 PM »

The story I've heard from Orthodox is that they just never got married. There is another possibility, though it's just speculation. There are stories of a number of saintly couples that got married but never consummated the marriage; that is, to the world they appeared to get married, but in reality they lived as brother and sister.

Then they weren't really married.

Sure they were.
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 09:12:25 PM »

The Orthodox Church refers to St. Joseph as "the Betrothed."  (I too am not informed well enough to explain the scripture quoted.)  (I think Roman Catholicism considers St. Joseph as having been married to the Virgin Mother, and agree that she was "Ever Virgin.")

Liturgically, the Mother of God is never referred to as a wife, only as a mother, and as Bride of God. St Joseph is never referred to liturgically as a husband, only as "the betrothed". The society in which they lived might have regarded them as married, but no consummation of the merriage ever took place.
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 10:42:22 PM »

I'm not arguing either way, but if they were not married, doesn't that erode the general Patristic consensus that "Mary the mother of James" (Mk 16:1, LK 24:1-12, Jn 20:1-10) was the Virgin Mary?

I couldn't find the reference I wanted to, but the OSB reads (at LK 24:10): Certain Fathers teach that "Mary the mother of James" was the wife of Alphaeus, and this James was one of the Twelve (6:15).  Most, however, hold that this is the Virgin Mary, being in fact the step-mother of a different James, 'the Lord's brother.'"

I understand the explanation of her being referred to as the mother of James, if she was actually the step-mother.  But, if she wasn't even the step-mother...

Edit: Fixed Grammar/Format 


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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 11:16:44 PM »

In those days betrothed people did almost everything together.  It was a very serious engagement.  Joseph wanted to break it off, "But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit[/b]." -- Matthew 1:20.
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 03:32:48 AM »


Liturgically, the Mother of God is never referred to as a wife, only as a mother, and as Bride of God. St Joseph is never referred to liturgically as a husband, only as "the betrothed". The society in which they lived might have regarded them as married, but no consummation of the merriage ever took place.

That's OK then. I think the historical problem kicks in once you argue they never went through the full marriage ceremony, bar consummation, because I have heard that this would not have been acceptable in 1st century Jewish society, much less from people of high class.


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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 04:44:42 AM »

This will tell you what happen:
http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/apocrypha_nt/histjoe.htm

Sola Imagination versus historical documents ....
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 05:23:54 AM »

This will tell you what happen:
http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/apocrypha_nt/histjoe.htm

Sola Imagination versus historical documents ....

Apparently written in the 5th century.  Even if it is earliar, it contails post-nicene language concerning the trinity, so still very late. That doesn't mean its contents aren't true, but it can hardly be considered a reliable historical document of the life of St. Joseph, can it?
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 08:21:43 AM »

Many historical documents are rewritten in 5th 6th century since original papers/ papyrus/ whatever do not resists too much. So from history point of view I think is OK. Anyhow read point 26.
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 09:20:04 AM »

To understand the issue, it's necessary to have some knowledge of the Jewish marriage process. It occurs in two distinct stages.

  • Kiddushin (commonly translated as betrothal): This ritual sets aside the woman to be the wife of one man and no other. It is far more binding than a modern engagement, and when kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man. The relationship created can only be dissolved by death or divorce. The spouses do not live together at this time and the mutual obligations of marriage do not take effect until the second stage.
  • Nisuin:The husband brings the wife into his home and they begin living together, thus completing the marriage.

In the past, kiddushin and nisuin would occur separately, sometimes as much as a year apart, thus giving the husband time to prepare a home for his family. Modern Jews generally perform the two ceremonies together.

The Annunciation happened after the Panagia and St Joseph had performed the kiddushin, but not the nisuin.
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2011, 09:32:39 AM »

Quote
And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither are you going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Are you of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not your wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. 
Gospel of James, 19. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2011, 09:55:04 AM »

To understand the issue, it's necessary to have some knowledge of the Jewish marriage process. It occurs in two distinct stages.

  • Kiddushin (commonly translated as betrothal): This ritual sets aside the woman to be the wife of one man and no other. It is far more binding than a modern engagement, and when kiddushin is complete, the woman is legally the wife of the man. The relationship created can only be dissolved by death or divorce. The spouses do not live together at this time and the mutual obligations of marriage do not take effect until the second stage.
  • Nisuin:The husband brings the wife into his home and they begin living together, thus completing the marriage.

In the past, kiddushin and nisuin would occur separately, sometimes as much as a year apart, thus giving the husband time to prepare a home for his family. Modern Jews generally perform the two ceremonies together.

The Annunciation happened after the Panagia and St Joseph had performed the kiddushin, but not the nisuin.

Oh, I see. Since both parts of the marriage were eventually completed, St. Joseph was fully the husband of the Theotokos.

Quote
And I saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither are you going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said unto me: Are you of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me. And she said to me: Is she not your wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was reared in the temple of the Lord, and I obtained her by lot as my wife. And yet she is not my wife, but has conceived of the Holy Spirit. 
Gospel of James, 19. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm

Does "she is not my wife" mean that there was no consummation, since as seen above, they were both betrothed and begin living together.
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2011, 03:51:55 PM »

The Akathist of the Virgin Mary cites "Rejoice O Bride unwedded".

No she was not wedded but was betrothed. In Jewish Tradition a betrothed individual was a true husband or wife, if they consumated the betrothal thenthey were married but no wedding occurred.

This impacts current Orthodox wedding practices where one is betrothed and then wedded---in the US the two have been joined into one action done on the wedding day, however, I have seen Orthodox in the Old country who are betrothed weeks or months before the wedding and then have a full blown "Big fat Greek (Russian/ Bulgarian/Syrian etc) Wedding" after which the marriage is consummated.

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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2011, 04:39:48 PM »

No she was not wedded but was betrothed. In Jewish Tradition a betrothed individual was a true husband or wife, if they consumated the betrothal thenthey were married but no wedding occurred.

So they were married but not wedded?

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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2011, 05:26:24 PM »


Liturgically, the Mother of God is never referred to as a wife, only as a mother, and as Bride of God. St Joseph is never referred to liturgically as a husband, only as "the betrothed". The society in which they lived might have regarded them as married, but no consummation of the merriage ever took place.

That's OK then. I think the historical problem kicks in once you argue they never went through the full marriage ceremony, bar consummation, because I have heard that this would not have been acceptable in 1st century Jewish society, much less from people of high class.



Father Thomas Hopko theorizes they may have been Essenes. We know the Essenes practiced celibacy, but I'm not sure whether they had a concept of sexless marriage.
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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2011, 07:07:11 PM »

Quote
Father Thomas Hopko theorizes they may have been Essenes. We know the Essenes practiced celibacy, but I'm not sure whether they had a concept of sexless marriage.

Fr Thomas Hopko also has some strange ideas about other teachings concerniong the Mother of God which are not supported by the liturgical and iconographic traditions of the Church. Best to regard his pronouncements on the Mother of God with caution, to say the least. The fact that the Virgin and Joseph never consummated their marriage does not require their membership of a sect which frowned upon sex in marriage, nor is it simply a consequence of Joseph being an eighty-year-old man when he was betrothed: there are far more profound theological reasons which explain why the marriage remained unconsummated.
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« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2011, 08:21:30 PM »

I know.
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« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2011, 10:21:40 PM »

Some food for thought:

As I mentioned before, the Virgin is never referred to liturgically as a wife, only as a mother, and the Mother of our God, no less, as the hymn It is truly meet, and any number of Orthodox theokia, say. Therefore, any approach by another man, including Joseph the Betrothed, would be seen as unseemly. This is not at all to denigrate or belittle Joseph, far from it.

Consider Joseph's situation: Joseph would have been familiar with what we call OT scripture. Exodus in particular is stuffed full of terms and imagery which we know are prefigurations of the Mother of God. Mary bears the Root of Jesse, the Bread of Heaven (John 6), the Word of God (John 1). The Ark contains the rod of Aaron, Manna and the Law. Mary is the human Ark of the New Covenant, a constant motif in both liturgical language, and in the iconography of all the feasts of the Virgin (the four-posted structure with a domed roof).

Now, Joseph was a good Jew, he would have been brought up with a strong sense of the sacred. He would have been raised knowing the stories in scripture of people touching the Ark of the Covenant and suffering instant death. He would have also known that only the high priest dared enter the Holy of Holies of the Temple to offer the yearly sacrifice to the presence of God who "dwelt there". Undoubtedly, at some stage, Joseph would have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to realise the true meaning behind these images and stories from scripture, as well as the temple rituals. Once the meaning of these became clear to him, how, then, could Joseph possibly consider marital relations with this woman, the living Tabernacle, the new Ark, the Holy of Holies, knowing that she has given birth to the Son of God? Not that sex is bad, evil or wrong between married couples, just as eating and cooking meat are not bad, evil, or wrong in themselves, but when put into service to God in the Temple, be it sacrificial animals, or the little daughter of Joachim and Anna dedicated to the Temple as a child, they became holy, and only the high priests could participate in the sacrifice. Christ Himself is the great and eternal High Priest, the "prince who eats bread before the Lord" (Ezekiel 44), a reading which is one of the standard OT readings at Vespers for feasts of the Mother of God.

Good man that he was, Joseph would most likely have regarded himself as utterly unworthy to be in the presence of such a treasure blessed by God, let alone consider sleeping with her. There is no need to invoke the Essenes, nor, as some have tried to say, a midrash or allegory, to explain the absence of consummation of the marriage of the Virgin and her betrothed. The truth is far richer and deeper than these pale imitations.
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« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2011, 10:58:15 PM »

But what I want to know is, if they never married, weren't they in fact living in sinful cohabitation?
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« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2011, 11:04:31 PM »

But what I want to know is, if they never married, weren't they in fact living in sinful cohabitation?

Sinful cohabitation? Never heard of it.

You mean fornication?
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« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2011, 11:06:26 PM »

Isn't it giving the appearance of evil for a man and woman not married to each other to live together?
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« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2011, 11:12:43 PM »

Isn't it giving the appearance of evil for a man and woman not married to each other to live together?

Maybe. Depends on the society and the circumstances.

I am vary wary of this "appearance of evil" or "causing my brother to stumble" logic, even though it is undoubtedly scriptural and godly in certain wisely-discerned instances. If we apply such logic indiscriminately we are led to the conclusion that we should not even breathe, for breathing may cause offence to some weaker brother, somewhere.
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« Reply #27 on: August 15, 2011, 11:17:38 PM »

Isn't it giving the appearance of evil for a man and woman not married to each other to live together?

It was once a small-t tradition in some Orthodox cultures for the betrothal service and the marriage proper to occur some time apart. In between the two services, the betrothed couple would live together as brother and sister.
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« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2011, 01:02:01 AM »

Without getting into a Scripture v Tradition debate, I'm still having trouble understanding why the strict 'they never married' view doesn't contradict Matthew 1:24-25.
 
Are we to assume that much of the post-Gospel Church (including the Fathers), particularly in gentile areas, would've been familiar with the intricacies of Hebrew marriage?  I'm slightly confused by the Greek, but it refers to the Virgin Mary as Joseph's wife.  Repeating my question from above, is there some sort of distinction between being married and being wedded?

Yes, the Akathist to the Theotokos references the "bride unwedded," but it was written as a devotional in the mid 6th century.  While I'm familiar with the phrase "what is liturgical is theological" for the Church, It's simultaneously been explained that many devotionals, particularly prayers, akathists, etc. contain magnific language which may not be entirely theologically correct.   

Regarding It Is Truly Meet, it seems reasonable to omit any reference to being Joseph's wife, as this is not relevant to why we are calling her blessed.
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« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2011, 01:15:33 AM »

Remember, "nymphe" and "anymphevte" share the same root in Greek, unlike "bride" and "unwedded" in English.

I don't see the problem in saying that the Theotokos was married to the blessed St Joseph in one sense (ie, as far as the Jewish community was concerned), though very much not in another sense (ie, according to the union of the flesh). I don't think the liturgical language excludes my interpretation.
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« Reply #30 on: August 16, 2011, 01:23:17 AM »

Isn't it giving the appearance of evil for a man and woman not married to each other to live together?

Maybe. Depends on the society and the circumstances.

I am vary wary of this "appearance of evil" or "causing my brother to stumble" logic, even though it is undoubtedly scriptural and godly in certain wisely-discerned instances. If we apply such logic indiscriminately we are led to the conclusion that we should not even breathe, for breathing may cause offence to some weaker brother, somewhere.
Yeah, I suppose.

Good point.
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« Reply #31 on: August 16, 2011, 01:45:53 AM »

Remember, "nymphe" and "anymphevte" share the same root in Greek, unlike "bride" and "unwedded" in English.

I don't see the problem in saying that the Theotokos was married to the blessed St Joseph in one sense (ie, as far as the Jewish community was concerned), though very much not in another sense (ie, according to the union of the flesh). I don't think the liturgical language excludes my interpretation.

Very interesting.  Thanks for the point on the Greek roots. 
I'm inclined to share your view on the liturgical language not excluding that interpretation.  As well, it doesn't seem to contradict Scripture.
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« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2011, 04:21:42 AM »

Quote
Regarding It Is Truly Meet, it seems reasonable to omit any reference to being Joseph's wife, as this is not relevant to why we are calling her blessed.

Cognomen, the Mother of God is never referred to as Joseph's wife liturgically, other than in the single Gospel reading from Matthew you referred to. I can also provide hymnography from Vespers and Matins for the post-Nativity feast commemorating Prophet David, James the Brother of the Lord, and Joseph the Betrothed. Nowhere is Joseph referred to there as the Husband of the Virgin, only ever as the Betrothed.

There is nothing random or accidental in Orthodoxy.  Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2011, 04:51:56 AM »

I still don't get why they are referred to as "betrothed" and "unwedded" if both parts of the Jewish marriage ceremony were completed- Kiddushin and Nisuin? Is it only because their marriage was never consummated, yet they appeared married to all in their Jewish community?
If this were the case, then this is fully in line with both the Gospel of Matthew, the ever-virginity of the theotokos, the hymns, and 1st century Jewish practice.
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« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2011, 08:13:36 AM »

I still don't get why they are referred to as "betrothed" and "unwedded" if both parts of the Jewish marriage ceremony were completed- Kiddushin and Nisuin? Is it only because their marriage was never consummated, yet they appeared married to all in their Jewish community?
If this were the case, then this is fully in line with both the Gospel of Matthew, the ever-virginity of the theotokos, the hymns, and 1st century Jewish practice.

That seems to have been the case. They were, for all social purposes, married. But, also, everybody in that society knew that they had gotten married so Mary could be protected, not that they wanted a real marital relationship. According to tradition, Joseph was well into an elderly age and Mary had probably just ceased being a child to be a young maiden. Tradition also says that Joseph thought the idea as preposterous, since he had grandchildren who were older than she. But then he was explained that she was a very devout young girl, that she wanted to devote her life entirely to God. Marrying an elderly widower would give her the social protection she needed, and as he was certainly going to die rather soon, she could live the rest of her life as widow instead of the socially unacceptable state of a spinster. St. Joseph understood that it would be good for her, he was to protect her and even support her in her growth and accepted the arrangement.

Besides all the spiritual and religious reasons mentioned above in another post about Mary being the New Ark, all true, one very big reason is that St. Joseph was well over 60 and Mary was probably 13 or 14. Their marriage was to give her social protection in her intention of full dedication to God (there was not such a thing as a nun back then) and St. Joseph was not a pedophile. He wanted to protect the child, not abuse her.
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« Reply #35 on: August 16, 2011, 08:32:53 AM »

Fabio, take a look at post #22.  Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: August 16, 2011, 08:35:32 AM »

Fabio, take a look at post #22.  Smiley

That's the "another post" I was talking about. Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2011, 08:40:35 AM »

Thanks, both of you.  Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2011, 10:14:18 AM »

I still don't get why they are referred to as "betrothed" and "unwedded" if both parts of the Jewish marriage ceremony were completed- Kiddushin and Nisuin? Is it only because their marriage was never consummated, yet they appeared married to all in their Jewish community?
If this were the case, then this is fully in line with both the Gospel of Matthew, the ever-virginity of the theotokos, the hymns, and 1st century Jewish practice.

That seems to have been the case. They were, for all social purposes, married. But, also, everybody in that society knew that they had gotten married so Mary could be protected, not that they wanted a real marital relationship. According to tradition, Joseph was well into an elderly age and Mary had probably just ceased being a child to be a young maiden. Tradition also says that Joseph thought the idea as preposterous, since he had grandchildren who were older than she. But then he was explained that she was a very devout young girl, that she wanted to devote her life entirely to God. Marrying an elderly widower would give her the social protection she needed, and as he was certainly going to die rather soon, she could live the rest of her life as widow instead of the socially unacceptable state of a spinster. St. Joseph understood that it would be good for her, he was to protect her and even support her in her growth and accepted the arrangement.

Besides all the spiritual and religious reasons mentioned above in another post about Mary being the New Ark, all true, one very big reason is that St. Joseph was well over 60 and Mary was probably 13 or 14. Their marriage was to give her social protection in her intention of full dedication to God (there was not such a thing as a nun back then) and St. Joseph was not a pedophile. He wanted to protect the child, not abuse her.
btw, such arrangements, back in the days before social security and aid to dependent children, were common and attested elsewhere.  In reverse, another common device was childless couples adopting so they would be cared for and then the adoptee would inherit.  I recall various papers documenting these things in the Cairo Geniza in the Medieval Jewish community there.
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« Reply #39 on: August 16, 2011, 02:18:35 PM »

I'm sorry, I'm confused.

Do we think Mary and Joseph went through the betrothal but not the wedding? Or do we tend to think they went through both ceremonies and just lived as brother and sister? I understand the 'betrothal means you're married without the 'benefits' thing - my priest actually mentioned that to me when we were talking about the Orthodox engagement/wedding ceremony, so it would seem to me that maybe the first scenario is the most commonly held Orthodox one, but I'm just a little confused.
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« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2011, 10:45:16 PM »

Quote
Father Thomas Hopko theorizes they may have been Essenes. We know the Essenes practiced celibacy, but I'm not sure whether they had a concept of sexless marriage.

Fr Thomas Hopko also has some strange ideas about other teachings concerniong the Mother of God which are not supported by the liturgical and iconographic traditions of the Church. Best to regard his pronouncements on the Mother of God with caution, to say the least

He doesn't theorize. He wonders aloud and says as much. He says some theorize this and uses the Essenes tradition as musings on understanding other aspects of the Gospel: the calendar being used.

He doesn't teach it as dogma.

And please explain what "strange ideas" he has. You are criticizing a Professor Emeritus of Dogmatics who is careful to separate his "musings" and "speculations" from dogma. *Sensing the Theotokos and the Temple going to be mentioned.*

And liturgy and iconography do not dogma make. They serve to inform dogma, teach it, but do not define it, or are not necessarily presenting dogma at all but traditions at times.

Please list the accusations as they are serious and I know Fr. Thom likes to be told when he is wrong in his presentation of dogma. It might be hard to get a word in edgewise to do so, but he welcomes correction.

Since I am basically taught in the wake of his teaching, among the teaching of others who were his contemporaries and teachers, if I have been taught something incorrect, I would like to know.

So that I can pass it on to both my Priest and Fr. Thom.

Thanks.
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« Reply #41 on: August 16, 2011, 11:02:27 PM »

Remember, "nymphe" and "anymphevte" share the same root in Greek, unlike "bride" and "unwedded" in English.

I don't see the problem in saying that the Theotokos was married to the blessed St Joseph in one sense (ie, as far as the Jewish community was concerned), though very much not in another sense (ie, according to the union of the flesh). I don't think the liturgical language excludes my interpretation.

Neither do I.

But you don't need the liturgy to come to the same conclusion.

She remained a virgin and was married. NBD.

And some of the liturgical language is poetical excess to say the least, especially that Akathist. My Priest loves it and thinks it has wonderful insights and is beautifully constructed, but is careful to point out, there is a poetics to it that goes beyond the dogmatic and into excess, but piously so.

Again, better know your genres, history, commentaries, and order of authority.

Since most of don't, we have folks who study this things their entire lives and are charged to teach us under severe condemnation to themselves if they become lax or frivolous.
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« Reply #42 on: August 16, 2011, 11:50:59 PM »

I'm sorry, I'm confused.

Do we think Mary and Joseph went through the betrothal but not the wedding? Or do we tend to think they went through both ceremonies and just lived as brother and sister? I understand the 'betrothal means you're married without the 'benefits' thing - my priest actually mentioned that to me when we were talking about the Orthodox engagement/wedding ceremony, so it would seem to me that maybe the first scenario is the most commonly held Orthodox one, but I'm just a little confused.

They went through both cerimonies. But St. Joseph was over 60 and Mary around 13 or 14. They never had sex. The idea was to give Mary social protection before the law and prejudices of the day, not to have any real marital relationship. He was an elderly pious man helping a young girl who wanted to not mary and devote her life to God to achieve her dream without being the victim of a society that could not bear a non-married woman.

They were married before the law, but never consumated the marriage, thus she is poetically called a "bride unwedded". They wouldn't have sex for two reasons: first, Joseph was a pious man, and married the child to protect her, not to abuse her. He was not a pedophile. Second, the visitation of the Archangel Gabriel led him to understand the true nature of what was happening. Even if they were about the same age, Mary is the New Ark of the New Convenant, something you can't touch.
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« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2011, 12:19:07 AM »

I don't think marrying a 13 year-old was pedophilia back then if she was already menstruating.

I agree with the rest of your explanation, though.
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« Reply #44 on: August 17, 2011, 01:16:49 AM »

I don't think they could have been married. I ran a few circles in hyper-Jewish Protestantism long ago, and by all accounts sexual relations were part of the Jewish marriage process.

As it was described to me by various individuals: the couple was not married until it was consummated, which apparently occurred after the formal liturgy portion. The consummation occurred in the presence of a witness, who then went out and announced the fact to the wedding guests, who then celebrated and carried on. (A bit awkward by our standards, I would say, but when in Israel...)

And really, we see this across many traditional cultures that do not wrap marriage into contract law. Sex is what makes people married. So if the Theotokos was ever-virgin, she could not possibly be considered married, because she would have had to lose her virginity by definition.

I think it's more reasonable to say she was ever-betrothed, than to say she and St Joseph somehow scammed everybody, because by their cultural definition that would not be a marriage. It would be like us today getting a marriage license, but never affixing our signatures. Well, as far as the law is concerned, that's not a marriage is it?

(Plus, also hearkening back to my semi-Jewish days, there is an interesting theory among some Protestants that Jesus was stigmatized all his life by the Jews as a bastard child, or mamzer. If St Joseph and the Theotokos had never married, that would actually play into that theory. I have never encountered this view in the Fathers, however, but I think it's plausible.)
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