Hamblin & Peterson: From Jewish peasant girl to 'Mother of God'

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Sept. 2, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    As a Catholic, worship of or prayer to the Virgin Mary was one of the aspects of my religion that I found most uncomfortable, unnecessary, and inappropriate. I never even learned the Hail Mary prayer, and while I sometimes felt like a bad Catholic for not doing so, at the same time I felt like a better Christian. There is no Biblical basis for prayer to or veneration of anyone other than Jesus Christ, who in turn directs all prayers and glory to the Father. "Mariolatry", as this article refers to it, is "interesting", sure. That doesn't make it any less pagan and blasphemous. I'm very grateful that now, as a Latter-Day Saint, prayer to anyone besides the Savior is no longer expected of me—and is, in fact, forbidden. This was one of the main aspects of the religion that helped me to know that it was true and that it was the path that God expected for me to follow.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 12, 2014 4:59 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    One thing that Mormons, Catholics, and Protestants have in common is that all three think they know what the original Christian Church in New Testament times was like. If they did, they would know that it was not even Christianity as we today understand that term to mean.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 12, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    @Craig Clark – “Joseph Smith called it an apostasy. Martin Luther called the Church of Rome a paganized corruption of the pure word.”

    And yet both Protestants and Mormons use the book (i.e. Bible) that was cobbled together (from hundreds of early Christian writings) at the Council of Nicea by the Catholic Church.

    Given both the diversity of early Christianity (which was wiped out by the Orthodox Church) and the antipathy towards the Church in the post-protestant era, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around this.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 11, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    Leonard Wood,

    "....It constitutes arguably the clearest evidence of the general apostasy from the teachings of the first century church that took place after the death of the apostles, yet until now LDS authors have said very little about it...."

    LDS writers can be more than a little restrained by the tenets of their faith from studying early Christianity as objectively as a secular scholar should. Any scholar coming from a religious background he still adheres to is stymied to a lesser or greater degree.

    Joseph Smith called it an apostasy. Martin Luther called the Church of Rome a paganized corruption of the pure word. They were both saying essentially the same thing. But I don’t think that terms like apostasy or paganism are helpful to understanding the very complex cultural assimilation that allowed the rising Gentile church to surpass and ultimately eclipse the initial Judean following of Jesus.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    "....Some modern historians claim that pagan beliefs and practices regarding mother goddesses in late antiquity were slowly transferred to Mary, making her, in a sense, a syncretized survival of ancient goddess worship...."

    Christianity wouldn’t have happened the way it did were it not for beliefs of the ancient world that took it in. Cultural assimilation transformed it from a radical localized Jewish messianic movement into a universal faith that spread across the Mediterranean world. It grew very rapidly and exists today due in no small measure to its adaptability.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    It seems ironic that Mormons speculate over this basic fundamental issue while they profess to have a prophet with direct contact and who talks with god so why not just ask for the reason and answer.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    RE: Cjb, Protoevangelium,the first messianic prophecy.

    Genesis 3:15,the "*Seed of the Woman” is a man, and yet in Romans 16:20 he is called the God of peace, which identifies him as the Lord Jesus Christ. The reference to the seed of the woman as Christ is to related to the Virgin birth of the Messiah, as well as the Hypostatic union of the Divine nature with the Human nature of Christ.

    “when the fullness of the time was come,God sent forth his Son, ’Made=(ginomai)of a Woman…”(Gal 4:4). A *Unique miracle

    Because He was the "*seed of the woman" Jesus was God Incarnate. He was the God-Man(Theantropic). He was human , but he was not fallen sinful. “.. great is the mystery of the incarnation.” I Tim 3:16.

    “Our Father which art in Heaven with, The supreme being transcends space and time. The first goes to pieces if you begin to apply the literal meaning to it. How can a sexual animal really be our father? How can it be in the sky? The second falls into no such traps. C.S. Lewis.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 12:31 a.m.

    Re sharrona

    Here the angel is telling Mary she shall give birth. And indeed she shall from that times perspective. Once the heavenly father comes and has sexual relations with Mary she will then become pregnant.

    I understand this is not the traditional view, but if we are to believe that we are children of God, it is reasonable to suppose that we reproduce in the same manner. Hey opinions about the Bible are diverse, but its not reasonable to suppose that tradition got everything right. Here is a reasonable perspective to consider given the text of the Bible.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Aug. 10, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    @Cjb,“Isaiah a virgin shall give birth.”

    Mt 1:23 quotes the Greek LXX Isaiah 7:14: “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”, which means “God with us”(Jesus).

    The Greek word for "virgin" in both the LXX and Mt is parthenos, which means a virgin female.
    The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is almah not virginity. But the spiritual and moral ethos in Hebrew culture assumed that young unmarried girls had no sexual experience. It was assumed that an almah was a virgin.

    Alma 7:10.who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the ‘Holy Ghost(*pneuma)’and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

    Luke 1:34 I know not a man? Did Mary lie? … “The ‘Holy *Spirit’ will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

    RE; “… in the(spiritual) image of God he created them; male and female he created them(Gen 1:27),
    E.g..,the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: Gens 3:22

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 10, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    In Isaiah where he prophesies that a virgin shall give birth, the word it comes from actually comes from a word meaning young woman, not someone who hasn't had sexual relations. In the New Testament, the word virgin comes from could mean either young woman or a woman who hasn't had sexual relations.

    Point is, it is impossible to show from the Bible that Mary didn't have sexual relations to have Jesus, this is tradition, not Biblical.

    On the contrary, the Bible quite likely implies that Mary was not a virgin when she had Jesus in the way we use the word. How can this be? We are the children of God, created in God's image. It is reasonable to assume then that the way we procreate would be the same way God would procreate, through sexual relations. If not they we are not children of God created in God's image, we would be something different.

  • Wilf 55 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Aug. 10, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    The authors gave us a nice overview of the past, but missed the modern meaning of Mary in feminist theology. For feminist mariologists, such as Leonardo Boff, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, or Rosemary Radford Ruether, Mary represents the female face of God and allows to represent God in female terms. Leonardo Boff even considers Mary as hypostatically united to the Third Person of the Trinity. The connection to the Mormon concept of Mother in Heaven, wife of God, is obvious ("our heavenly parents").

    That approach stands in contrast to (mainly male) theologians who reduce the Marial feminine to the function of "mediatrix", a subservient intercessor or advocate. They use that symbolism in favor of patriarchalization, where the male God represents power. But even in popular Marian devotion, Mary has often been more, a symbol of liberation and resistance to male dominion.

  • Cedarcreek320 Star Valley Ranch, WY
    Aug. 10, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Don't get excited folks. It's just a fairy tale.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    Aug. 9, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    Actually Mary WAS born untainted by original sin--everybody is

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Aug. 9, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    It demeans the title of Mother to attempt to confer to Mary a higher honor.

  • Leonard Wood Fairfax, VA
    Aug. 9, 2014 10:58 a.m.

    This is an important issue. It constitutes arguably the clearest evidence of the general apostasy from the teachings of the first century church that took place after the death of the apostles, yet until now LDS authors have said very little about it. The authors are to be commended for their thoughtful, well-researched treatment of the subject.