Mary in the Old Testament – One Example

Dec 13th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Many Christians are thinking about, talking about and writing about Mary this time of year. Spend some time in the blogosphere over the next couple of weeks and you are likely to see more ink spilled about Mary by Protestants and Catholics alike than you have seen all year. I am also reminded that the Christmas season is the one time of year where even Protestants have statues of Our Lady in their homes.

I received the following email from a friend who is Reformed Baptist but attends a PCA Church:

Nativity Scene

“I read this article today and I’m interested in your specific thoughts on the author’s arguments.”

The article is from John Piper. Here is a link.

John Piper, as you may know, is a fairly prominent Reformed Baptist pastor and author of over 30 books. He wrote the above article in an attempt to give Mary what he believes is her proper place in the Christian story.

Here was my response:

“Thanks for sharing this with me.

I am saddened that Mary is such a perceived ‘stumbling block’ to the unity of Christendom. Few doctrines are more misunderstood than the Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church (and Orthodox Churches). I am in a unique spot because I have been both a non-Catholic and a Catholic. Speaking from experience, I believe the root of the disagreement over Mary is not really the Marian devotion but the doctrine of the communion of the saints.

The Church’s teachings on Mary are Christocentric and they are born of the scriptures. It is true that there is not a whole lot written explicitly about Mary in the Bible but what is written about her is simply amazing.

Let me give you just one example, I’ll be brief.

Read 2nd Samuel Chapter 6 and then read Luke 1 about the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.

The 2nd Samuel story is a narrative about King David before the Ark of the Covenant. This narrative is about a journey the Ark took in the hills of Judah. Compare the narrative line by line with Luke 1 and the visitation of Mary narrative. Note all the similarities in the passages.

Both the Ark and Mary “arose and made a journey” (2nd Sam 6:2 and Luke 1:39) to the ‘hills” of Judah. Both the Ark and Mary were greeted with ‘shouts of joy.’ The word used for ‘shout’ in Luke 1 is ‘anafametzen‘ and is a very rare word which was only used in connection with Old Testament liturgical ceremonies that were centered around the Ark of the Covenant yet here we have Scripture using that word to describe Elizabeth before Mary.

What did David say before the Ark of the Covenant in vs 9? How does that statement compare to what Elizabeth says to Mary?

2nd Sam 6:9 – David before the Ark says, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?”
Luke 1:43 – Elizabeth says before Mary, “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my LORD should come to me?

Elizabeth greets Mary in exactly the same way that David greeted the Ark.

There is more. The entrance of the Ark and the entrance of Mary are seen as a blessing to the entire household, Obededom’s house was blessed by the Ark’s visit and Elizabeth’s household was blessed by Mary’s visit. Then, finally the Ark of the Covenant and Mary both remain in their respective houses for three months (2nd Sam 6:11-Luke 1:56) Bare in mind that Scripture tells us that both of these events happened in the same geographic area.

So, the Catholic Church, drawing from this Scriptural mystery, has always considered Mary the Ark of the New Covenant. The Ark of the Old Covenant contained the word of God (10 commandments), Aaron’s staff (the priesthood) and manna from heaven. Mary contained in her womb the word of God (logos John 1), the priesthood (Jesus, the high priest) and the eucharist (the everlasting manna from heaven John 6).

Let me apply what the Church knows about Mary as the Ark of the Covenant to the Church’s teaching on Mary. One Marian doctrine is that Mary was assumed into heaven after her death. Is that episode explicit in scripture? No, it isn’t. But, it is foreshadowed about the Ark of the Covenant. Psalm 132:8 says, “Arise oh Lord, and go to your resting place, you and the Ark of your might.” The place the Lord is arising is to what David calls “Zion” which as you know is heaven. Jesus dies and takes his Ark with him. Tradition holds that the Ark that Jesus brought to heaven is Mary. Also, read Rev 11 and 12. John sees the Ark in heaven in the context of a ‘woman’ clothed with the sun who is giving birth to a male son whom the dragon is wanting to devour.

We can go ‘one by one’ on doctrines of Mary but I’ll simply say that the Church’s teaching on Mary is Christ-centered and biblical. I am sorry that Piper’s tradition does not allow this understanding.

I can also say that Piper’s use of the New Testament in some places is misguided. He seems to argue that Jesus had brothers based on Acts 1:14. However, it is a fact that the word translated to ‘brother’ is also used for ‘close kinfolk/cousin’ in the Bible and that if you read the context of Acts 1:14 the ‘brothers’ in Jesus’ company number about 120! Surely, Piper does not think that Mary had 120 sons! Further, Piper wants to deflect attention from Mary by noting that Scripture often does not call her by name but only by “woman.” Piper misses the point. Mary being called ‘woman’ harkens back to Eve whom Adam called ‘woman” and this proclaims along with other biblical data that Mary is the new Eve as Christ is the new Adam.

In the paragraph beginning with, “Calling Jesus’ mother the mother of James and Joseph is striking…“, Piper suggests that Mary had brothers but he is mistaken as John 19:25 and Mark 15:47 prove that James and Joseph are Jesus’ cousins and not his brothers as the Mary described here in Matthew is Mary ‘the wife of Clopas’, the sister of the Virgin Mary.

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  1. Sean,

    Good post. While I am a Reformed believer, I do think at least some of the Marian dogmas make a lot of sense, and I see little reason for the Reformed tradition to reject them as is commonly done. Calvin and Luther saw Mary in ways that would probably be condemned as “the road to Rome!” in many evangelical circles nowadays.

    I do have one question. You said–and I’ve heard this elsewhere–that Christ’s addresses to Mary as “Woman” proclaims that she is the New Eve. But our Lord referred to at least one other woman–the Samaritan woman at the well–as “Woman” in an address (John 4:21). Doesn’t this undermine the significance of the same address being applied to Mary?

    Pax Christi,

    Spencer

  2. Spencer.

    That is a good question. I need to think about that and get back to you. On the face of it I wouldn’t say that it undermines the significance of Mary being addressed as “woman.”

  3. Excellent Sean! As a former Protestant, rejection of everything Marian is a reflex. But to understand the truth of what the Blessed Virgin means to us as Catholic Christians – to understand her significance in salvation history, her essential role as the virgin daughter of Jewish birth who brings forth the Annoited One, Israel’s long awaited Messiah is beauty in the plan of God.

    The good news – the gospel is that the Jewish Messiah – their King born of a Jewish Virgin can be our King and our Savior as well. It is the tidings of great joy to all people….not just some.

    Peace of Christ to you on this Gaudete Sunday of Advent!
    Teri

  4. Hey Sean,

    I appreciate your emphasis on the Christ centeredness of Catholic Mariology. Mary was the biggest obstacle for me to embrace Catholicism (still not in…Easter at the latest). In debating Mary last year, my wife asked me if I want other people to see our own kids through through my eyes (or my wife’s eyes), I immediately said, “of course.” She said that seeing Christ through the eyes of Mary is much the same. This understanding has done wonders for me in understanding and meditating on the holiness of Christ. Thanks for the article!

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy Tate

  5. Hey Jeremy,

    I’ll be praying for you — keep talking to Jesus and he’ll lead you home! I know some other visitors to this site who will be joining the Church at Easter or sooner. Don’t delay!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  6. As a former Baptist I had series issues with Mary. While it has taken alot longer for soteriological and sacramental issues to be cleared up, I am amazed at how easily Mariology was.

    To say Mariology exists because of the Christocentrism of Catholicism would’ve been unintelligible to me then, but now I have no aversion to Our Lady, and it makes perfect sense. I once joked with someone that now even if I became an atheist, I’d still pray the Rosary.

    Ratizinger / Papa Benny has some great stuff on Mariology, and has a wonderful Scriptural and Patristic emphasis.

    De Maria Numquam Satis

  7. A comment on “the woman” in John’s Gospel.

    The title is used by Jesus 5 times (for 4 different women)

    Of his mother at Cana
    Of the woman at the well
    Of the woman caught in adultery
    Of his mother from the Cross
    Of Mary Magdalene in the garden on Easter

    In this whole picture one sees the redemption of “the woman” in Genesis. The story of “the woman” in John follows the same “timeline” as in Genesis

    Mary mirrors the sinless Eve at her creation — “the wedding feast” of Eden

    The woman at the well mirrors the temptation of Eve — Satan/the woman in dialogue of temptation; Jesus/the woman in dialogue of invitation

    The woman caught in adultery mirrors the punishment of Eve — God curses the woman; Jesus forgives the woman

    Jesus’ words from the cross mirrors the naming of Eve — Adam calls his wife Eve, “mother of all the living”; Jesus name Mary “mother” of his beloved disciple(s)

    Mary Magdalene mirrors the expulsion from Paradise — Eve cast out of the garden; Mary Mag returns to the garden

    To say that in John only Mary is an Eve figure or that John had the whole “New Eve” paradigm of the later patristic era in his Gospel would be incorrect. However — her sinlessness and her maternal role in the Church as based upon the clear meaning of the text of Scripture do become more evident within the whole context of John.

  8. Thanks Father P.

    A lot to contemplate. Of course Mary is introduced at the wedding feast no the 7th day of John’s narrative which mirrors creation as well.

    Thanks for dropping by Andrew C.

  9. Correct. Which John notes as “the third day”.

  10. Father P,

    Maybe you know this. I was told once about something significant to Jesus’ words to Mary at Cana, “My hour has not come yet.” I believe it echoed a scene later in the gospel right before Jesus was given up by Judas which says, “…when His hour had come.”

    I haven’t unpacked it yet but curious to your thoughts if any.

  11. I have always heard that that was a literary inclusion. In other words, brackets that began and ended sections of the Gospels. This case it would be the brackets to the “Book of Signs”

  12. Sean,

    I am afraid that I don’t agree with your use/interpretation of scripture here:

    1) Psalm 132 in context is about David and his desire to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Here in context, Zion is not heaven, it is Mount Zion, where Jerusalem is and where the Lord was assumed to dwell with his people (especially once the temple was built). Though I don’t think the Ark is sitting in a US govt vault per Indiana Jones, there’s no evidence that it was taken to heaven, any more than there is any evidence Mary was bodily assumed into heaven. No one knows what really happened to the ark.

    I do find the parallels between OT and NT passages about the ark and Mary interesting. And I have no problem with her in some sense being the “Ark of the New Covenant”. But the problem with this type of analogy is that it is based on “pick and choose”. Was Mary ever captured by someone as the ark was by the Philistines? Who touched her and died as did Uzzah with the ark? Picking and choosing allows you to develop all sorts of possibilities. However, even if one considers Mary the “Ark of the New Covenant” there’s no evidence that the bodily assumption of Mary is prefigured in the OT – at least from this passage. Nor is there any historical or scriptural evidence that this occurred.

    2) While John does mention the ark in Rev 11, you’ve not shown that the ark there is the same the woman in Rev 12. You jump straight from the ark in Rev 11 to the woman in Rev 12 without any evidence offered that they are one and the same. Where’s the argument? I read those two passages and I certainly don’t think of the ark in 11 when I read of the woman in 12.

    3) In Acts 1, the first mention of brothers is after Mary. The natural reading IMO is that these are Jesus brothers. As for the fact that Peter uses the term “brothers” when he addresses the group, that’s a quote of Peter as he addresses the group, not how the author describes the group in third person. The writer when he refers to the group doesn’t use the term “brothers”, he uses the term “believers”:

    “In those days Peter stood up among the believers”

    Not brothers.

    Therefore it appears to me that you are mistaken here, and not Piper.

    4) As for the passages John 19 and Mark 15, while it is true that this Mary is the other of a James and Joses, it is not clear that these are the same James and Joses mentioned earlier in Mark 6 that Protestants believe are Jesus’ brothers. Given tendency of Jews to use a certain set of names over and over, it wouldn’t be surprising to find another Mary with sons named James/Joses. It is some evidence for your position but it’s not going to close the sale, certainly given the evidence on the other side.

  13. I’m so glad we have Fr. P to answer questions!
    Sean, I have also heard this as well, about “my hour has not yet come”, referring to “that hour”.
    “The Hour” is how John describes most of the significant events of Our Lord.

    I had to smile about the Rosary. If Protestants only understood that when you are seeing the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin, you are not only meditating on scripture, but you grow in deeper and deeper love for Our Lord.
    How could you not? A mother’s love is the deepest of any on earth.

    It’s scary that as a former Protestant the denial of anything special in the Blessed Virgin starts to borden on gnosticism. We thought of Jesus on a cross to save us from our sins. But we would never have to look at a cross with Him nailed to it. It was too bloody and it meant “He wasn’t in heaven at the right hand of the Father”.

    He became more of the gnostic….sort of etheral Jesus. It was almost blasphemy to think that Jesus would have had any type of bodily functions at all! How horrible.
    He just went up in the sky to heaven and if we believed that in faith we could go up there when we died…which sounded actually boring. Sitting on a cloud or singing and praising God? In the meantime, the Word was the Bible and as long as you read it and did what it said, you could go to heaven when you died.

    The tolerable idea was to see family members who died and Jesus thrown in.

    God could have had Jesus appear as a man one day by the sea of Galilee and never mention a virgin birth…just no one knew where he came from…a mystery from GOD.

    Just plain old Mary is the Virgin Daughter of Zion who gives birth to the New Covenant while being under the Old. Her heart is “pierced” not only from sorrow, but the divide between Daughter Zion’s children who will follow the Annoited One from God and those who will not and be cut off.

    Just as Our Lord had types in the Old Testament and The New, from Lamb of GOD, Redeemer, Savior, Annointed One, King, Son of man or a-dam, Son of God, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, The Lamb standing triumphantly even though His appearance is as one slain…..so too does the New Eve.

    Why would God give her His word that Her seed would be the one to crush the serpent’s head if He wasn’t interested in restoring all things and making all things new…even the sin of Eve?

    We don’t worship her. Everything about the Blessed Virgin points to and ties us to Our Lord, The Annointed One of Israel….because He didn’t come to abolish the Jewish Covenant law but to fulfill it…
    Our Blessed Mother is Jewish and as the Mother of The Church and the Mother of all those living..in Christ….she brings us all together in perfect Unity for Her Son who is Our Lord and head.

    Blessings and peace,
    Teri

  14. Steve,

    Thanks for your comments. I will preface my response that we are planning some more focused and detailed discussion on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the not-too-distant future. Some of your questions will be fleshed out at that time.

    All types have a breaking point. They are not exhaustive in their meaning and they don’t fully account for every detail. David is a ‘type’ of Christ. Does David being an adulterer while Jesus was not one invalidate the ‘type’? No, it doesn’t.

    Here in context, Zion is not heaven

    Zion itself is a ‘type’ of heaven. Revelation describes the ‘new Zion’ which is the heavenly resting place.

    While John does mention the ark in Rev 11, you’ve not shown that the ark there is the same the woman in Rev 12. You jump straight from the ark in Rev 11 to the woman in Rev 12 without any evidence offered that they are one and the same. Where’s the argument? I read those two passages and I certainly don’t think of the ark in 11 when I read of the woman in 12.

    You must remember that scripture was not written with the chapter breaks that are in our bibles today. Therefore, the end of Rev 11 and the beginning of Rev 12 are not different passages but the same passage.

  15. Sean

    Sure, the New Zion is heaven, but this passage is specifically about David taking the ark to Jerusalem, not God taking the ark to heaven. Your entire argument about the OT prefiguring Mary being assumed into heaven is based upon God taking the ark to heaven in the OT, and that’s not what the passage says. I’t’s talking about Zion as Jerusalem, not Zion as heaven.

    As for Rev 11/12, the chapter breaks don’t nullify what I said – the issue isn’t 11 vs. 12 but your asserted connection between the ark and the woman. Breaks or no breaks, you’ve given me no reason to believe that the ark mentioned in 11 is the same thing as the woman in 12. Chapter 11 mentions a lot of things other than the ark. Can I just pick one of them and say that thing is the woman? :)

  16. Steve,

    I don’t think Sean is claiming that the literal referent of “Zion” in Ps 132 is the heavenly Zion. The literal meaning “Zion” in Ps 132 is the earthly Zion and the literal meaning of “the Ark” in Ps 132 is the Ark of the Covenant. You say that Sean’s argument “is based upon God taking the ark to heaven in the OT.” That’s not true. His argument is based on the ascension of the Ark to the earthly Zion in Ps 132, and a deeper interpretation through the lens two typological connections: (1) earthly Zion – heavenly Zion; (2) Ark – Mary.

    So if you agree that there exists a typological relationship between Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem (which you do in #15), and that there is also one between the Ark and Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant (which you provisionally grant in #12), then I don’t understand your problem with Sean’s reading of Ps 132.

    in Christ,

    TC
    1 Cor 16:14

  17. Teri,

    First off, you said,

    “It’s scary that as a former Protestant the denial of anything special in the Blessed Virgin starts to borden on gnosticism.”

    Shouldn’t we try and keep away from language such as this?

    Or should I say as a current Protestant that the attribution of anything special to the Blessed Virgin starts to border on idolatry? :)

    I mean what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

    Seriously, I think we should try to keep the conversation above board, don’t you?

    Secondly, that’s not my experience. I’m certainly aware that Jesus lived, breathed and died on this planet we call earth. We certainly become quite aware of that at Christmas and Easter each year when we contrast his deity with the humility of human earthly existence. And every Sunday as we study the scripture we’re certainly aware of Jesus and his interactions with this sinful fallen world. He ate, he slept, he cried, he bled. That’s no gnostic god and I reject your assertion that Protestantism sees him in this light.

  18. Steve,

    You do realize that your particular application of the historical-critical method here undermines the validity of all New Testament messianiac readings of the Old Testament, and the entire patristic hermeneutical project, right? If you meant to do that, I apologize for wasting your time by pointing this out.

  19. Hi Steve,

    I appreciate your healthy skepticism. It’s true that it might be difficult to make the connection between Rev. 11:19

    “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple;”

    and Rev 12:1

    “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;”

    as the latter doesn’t seem to directly refer to the former. I guess one question one must ask is if indeed the “ark of his covenant was seen within his temple,” to which covenant would this refer? It can’t be the old covenant with the stone commandments, animal sacrifices, and the levitical preisthood, as that covenant was done away with upon the establishment of the New covenant in the upper room.

    It can only be the new covenant with the Word made flesh, the once for all time sacrifice on the Cross, and Christ as the new and eternal high priest. Since the New covenant refers to Jesus, what must this ark be? Or in light of Sean’s post, the question is rather *who* must this ark be? Jesus wasn’t carried in a box of acacia wood and gold, but carried in the womb of a virgin, who remained a virgin all her life. Interestingly, God foreshadowed Mary’s perpetual virginity in the death of Uzzah. As it was against God’s will for any man to touch the Ark of the old covenant, so too was it with the Mother of Christ.

  20. #17
    Steve,

    Please accept my sincere apology. I have a very long way to go before I learn how to share my faith when someone disagrees. That is not the way Our Lord treated anyone who came to Him, seeking to know more. As His Body on earth, we should strive to imitate Our Lord even if we fall short at times.

    You are right, what is good for the goose is good for the gander :-) I think I acted impulsively like a goose :)

    I truly apologize and pray that you find others here who are able to answer your questions without an attack that disrespects you which is wrong no matter what your motive may be.

    May the peace of Christ be with you and His blessings fill you with love and joy this season,
    Teri (The goose :)

  21. Philologus said:

    “You do realize that your particular application of the historical-critical method here undermines the validity of all New Testament messianiac readings of the Old Testament”

    No, not really. I accept the NT messianic readings of the OT because the NT is inspired in it’s use of the OT. I don’t think Sean is inspired – at least in the same sense :)

    “and the entire patristic hermeneutical project, right?”

    Sorry, I must confuse my ignorance at to what you mean by the ‘patristic hermeneutical project’. Can you explain?

  22. T Ciatoris said:

    “I don’t think Sean is claiming that the literal referent of “Zion” in Ps 132 is the heavenly Zion. The literal meaning “Zion” in Ps 132 is the earthly Zion and the literal meaning of “the Ark” in Ps 132 is the Ark of the Covenant. You say that Sean’s argument “is based upon God taking the ark to heaven in the OT.” That’s not true.”

    Actually it is, I’ll quote him directly here:

    “The place the Lord is arising is to what David calls “Zion” which as you know is heaven.”

    He says that the Lord (and the ark) in this passage are arising to heaven, not Jerusalem.

    “His argument is based on the ascension of the Ark to the earthly Zion in Ps 132, and a deeper interpretation through the lens two typological connections: (1) earthly Zion – heavenly Zion; (2) Ark – Mary.”

    That makes more sense. If he has said as David takes the Ark to Zion, so does Jesus take his ark to (new) Zion that would make more sense. I think his language needs a bit of tightening up.

    “So if you agree that there exists a typological relationship between Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem (which you do in #15), and that there is also one between the Ark and Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant (which you provisionally grant in #12), then I don’t understand your problem with Sean’s reading of Ps 132.”

    Your explanation is better than his. That said, I’m not convinced that an event happened by a typological argument. IMO typological arguments work better as adjuncts to primary arguments/evidence. I’m not convinced by this that Mary was bodily assumed into heaven.

  23. Steve.

    You are right. My language could have been tightened up a little. I really did just copy/paste the email that I had sent and did not do a re-write for the blog. Good point.

  24. Steve,

    By “patristic hermeneutical project” I mean that this is the way the Fathers read the Old Testament. They read it the way Paul read it when he said, “Now these things happened for us as types.” They read it in light of Jesus’ statement on the road to Emmaus that everything written in the Old Testament points to him. The Evangelist, however, doesn’t record for us just how Jesus showed those disciples that everything pointed to him. So if your rebuttal of a typological argument is that the original passages (types) don’t seem to match their anti-types in (historical-grammatical) context, then you are undermining Jesus’ statement, which, if taken seriously, should allow for these kinds of readings.

    As for Paul being inspired, the Catholic Church believes that the Marian dogmas were guided by the Holy Spirit according to Christ’s promise to send the latter for that purpose. If you disagree with the Church’s hermeneutical method, it’s your word against theirs as to how the Old Testament should be interpreted. Why should anyone accept your methodological critiques?

  25. Philologus said:

    “By “patristic hermeneutical project” I mean that this is the way the Fathers read the Old Testament. They read it the way Paul read it when he said, “Now these things happened for us as types.””

    Thanks for clarifying. But I’d like to make a point here. Paul and his use of typology was inspired. You would agree with me that the writings of the Fathers are not inspired, right? And therefore their typologies might vary in quality, correct? So just because a Father “found” a typology its value may vary. After, one can go to great lengths and strain the comparison at times, would you not agree?

    ” They read it in light of Jesus’ statement on the road to Emmaus that everything written in the Old Testament points to him. The Evangelist, however, doesn’t record for us just how Jesus showed those disciples that everything pointed to him.”

    Uh, I think you need to go back and reread that passage. I don’t think that Jesus said EVERYTHING in the OT points to him.

    “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (NIV)

    It doesn’t say that Jesus said everything in the OT points to him. At least that’s now how I understand the above. And that wouldn’t make sense anyway. Every single passage of scripture isn’t a Christological type. I mean, on the face of it, that seemsmore than a bit of an overstatement.

    “So if your rebuttal of a typological argument is that the original passages (types) don’t seem to match their anti-types in (historical-grammatical) context, then you are undermining Jesus’ statement, which, if taken seriously, should allow for these kinds of readings.”

    No, if you go back and look at my exchange, my complaint was that in context Sean was apparently saying the scripture was saying something that it wasn’t. I believe that was cleared up in the conversation above if you read closely.

    That said, as you admit, the Evangelist didn’t record how Jesus opened the scriptures to them about him. He may have done nothing more than point to the messianic prophesies and how he fulfilled them. You don’t know that he used typology at all. So I’m not undermining Jesus at all anyway.

    “As for Paul being inspired, the Catholic Church believes that the Marian dogmas were guided by the Holy Spirit according to Christ’s promise to send the latter for that purpose. If you disagree with the Church’s hermeneutical method, it’s your word against theirs as to how the Old Testament should be interpreted. Why should anyone accept your methodological critiques?”

    I’m not disagreeing with typology as a whole. However, I don’t think you can use it to prove anything about Mary. I could be mistaken but most uses of typology seem to used to say, “Look here is confirmation in the OT of what we have said and have evidence for”. It merely serves as confirming something already known. I mean Paul didn’t say, “Jesus is the messiah” and when asked how do you know that said,”Well, I don’t have any evidence, I didn’t talk to any apostles, he didn’t appear to me, but I did find a typology in the OT about it”.

    Let’s take Mary’s alleged assumption for example. There’s no evidence that this ever occurred. Not even in Catholic tradition early on. Even the current pope acknowledged this:

    “Before Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was defined, all theological faculties in the world were consulted for their opinion. Our teachers’ answer was emphatically negative… ‘Tradition’ was identified with what could be proved on the basis of texts. Altaner, the patrologist from Würzburg…had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the fifth century; this doctrine, therefore, he argued, could not belong to the ‘apostolic tradition.’ And this was his conclusion, which my teachers at Munich shared. This argument is compelling if you understand ‘tradition’ strictly as the handling down of fixed formulas and texts…But if you conceive of ‘tradition’ as a living process whereby the Holy Spirit introduces us to the fullness of truth and teaches us how to understand what previously we could still not grasp (cf. Jn 16:12-13), then subsequent ‘remembering’ (cf. Jn 16:4, for instance) can come to recognize what it had not caught sight of previously and yet was handed down in the original Word…”

    It did not belong to apostolic tradition. So the fact that one can find a typology for an event with no basis in history isn’t going to be very convincing. I mean when you get to that point, you can make up whatever you want.

  26. Teri

    Thank you for your apology. I know you didn’t mean to offend – you seem like a very nice person here. you just got carried away:) As we basketball fans say, no harm, no foul.

    Steve

  27. Irene said:

    “I guess one question one must ask is if indeed the “ark of his covenant was seen within his temple,” to which covenant would this refer? It can’t be the old covenant with the stone commandments, animal sacrifices, and the levitical preisthood, as that covenant was done away with upon the establishment of the New covenant in the upper room. It can only be the new covenant with the Word made flesh, the once for all time sacrifice on the Cross, and Christ as the new and eternal high priest. Since the New covenant refers to Jesus, what must this ark be? Or in light of Sean’s post, the question is rather *who* must this ark be? Jesus wasn’t carried in a box of acacia wood and gold, but carried in the womb of a virgin, who remained a virgin all her life.”

    Actually it could be. The question is what image is the John trying to bring to mind here? He’s envisioning the heavenly temple. If he’s trying to further create the image of God’s throne in his temple, then it would the Mose’s ark, as that was seen by the Jews as God’s throne, a symbol of his presence among his people. Because God wouldn’t be sitting on Mary :)

    The other issue which you didn’t address is how the woman is linked to the ark. It is not at all clear (at least to this Protestant’s eyess that the woman is Mary). So beyond establishing that the ark as seen in 11 is Mary, you have to establish that the woman is also.

    “Interestingly, God foreshadowed Mary’s perpetual virginity in the death of Uzzah. As it was against God’s will for any man to touch the Ark of the old covenant, so too was it with the Mother of Christ.”

    Ok, I’m not trying to be sarcastic here but are you saying that on that long hard trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem that Joseph never helped his poor pregnant wife off the donkey or back on it. That he never took her hand/arm and assisted her? Seriously, of course you’re not. And this is a perfect example IMO of a flawed typology. Uzzah died when he touched the Ark because he shouldn’t have, but of course Joseph could touch Mary, he just couldn’t have sex with her. They’re not the same situation, and this appears to be reaching to me.

  28. Steve.

    The other issue which you didn’t address is how the woman is linked to the ark. It is not at all clear (at least to this Protestant’s eyess that the woman is Mary). So beyond establishing that the ark as seen in 11 is Mary, you have to establish that the woman is also.

    Like I said before, this is forthcoming. In the meantime here is a rather lengthy and robust article that hopes to establish this.

    Ok, I’m not trying to be sarcastic here but are you saying that on that long hard trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem that Joseph never helped his poor pregnant wife off the donkey or back on it. That he never took her hand/arm and assisted her? Seriously, of course you’re not.

    I’ve seen a similar objection recently. Taylor saw this objection on Canterbury Tales. Allow me to supply his response which I think is fitting.

    I discussed “type stretching” over at Biblical Horizons. Every type can be stretched till it becomes ridiculous. For examples, the manna is a type of the Eucahrist. I’ll do what you’re doing with Mary and do it with this Eucharistic type:

    “So you’re saying that the manna is a type of the Eucharist? Ha! Shall I go outside every Sunday and look for the Eucharist on the ground? Should I be worried that worms might consume the Eucharist? Are you saying that wine shouldn’t be part of the Eucharist since God didn’t rain wine?”

    Do you see how silly this is? All types are limited in scope. Types don’t give an exhaustive account of the reality. If they were exhaustive, then they wouldn’t be types.

  29. Steve,

    I will add to what Sean wrote following Taylor. Typology does not work that way. For example, Joseph is a type of Christ, but in saying that we do not mean that Jesus had a wife and became the prime minister of a nation. David is a type of Christ but we do not then conclude that everything David did, Jesus also did. Now in using types one can get involved in “type stretching” as Taylor alluded to, and that is why it is essential to have a Magisterium to help and guide us in our study and application of Sacred Scripture.

  30. Sean,

    good stuff: thank you very much for posting. De Lubac (History and Spirit) quotes from an 11th century prayer for the feast of Annunciation,

    “O God, who willed on this day to gather together your Word in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary…”

    Ark – Mary. Yes.

    And Steve, you said

    It doesn’t say that Jesus said everything in the OT points to him. At least that’s now how I understand the above. And that wouldn’t make sense anyway. Every single passage of scripture isn’t a Christological type. I mean, on the face of it, that seemsmore than a bit of an overstatement.

    I’d like to recommend to you that book I just mentioned, History and Spirit, by Henri de Lubac—chapter 8 and the conclusion are especially relevant and can be previewed pretty extensively via Google Books (is first book to come up if you search for “history and spirit”). I don’t offer it as some kind of ‘final’ answer or definitive explanation—it’s just a humble recommendation is all. De Lubac’s study is a pretty valuable resource for understanding where the Catholic is coming from on this subject. It’s worth every penny and then some.

    Best,
    w

  31. Sean said:

    “Like I said before, this is forthcoming. In the meantime here is a rather lengthy and robust article that hopes to establish this.”

    I read through this and in the end, I have to say I felt exactly like the IMonk when he listened to Scott Hahn on Catholic Mariology (and IMonk even links to your link also). He listened to 5 hours of Scott Hahn on Catholic teachings/doctrine and overall was very impressed with the presentation saying of the first 4 hours:

    Many of Hahn’s Biblical insights in these presentations were brilliant. It is obvious that his Catholic setting as a scholar has placed him in a different position to approach the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, than many Protestants can appreciate. It is a richer, deeper sense of interpreting the Bible from within the church than many Protestants would attempt. Again, I would not join him in all of his conclusions, but his method was admirable, usually sound and often very suggestive of deep and helpful Biblical themes.

    But when it got to the one hour presentation on Mary, he had this to say, and I echo his thoughts:

    But in the one hour plus I listened to Hahn on this topic, I could feel the pain. And I didn’t bring any Tylenol either.

    I could feel the pain of the Marian dogmas that have been propagated and made mandatory most recently, and the lack of simple, obvious Biblical evidence for those dogmas.

    I could feel the stress of following a trail through scripture that was worthy of an Indiana Jones movie. And that is not an exaggeration. Hahn’s wild ride through the Old Testament to prove his points made the dispensationalist teaching of the rapture seem like John 3:16.

    Again and again, Hahn told of “little known” aspects of the Queen-Mother theme in ancient middle eastern monarchies. Again and again, he said that “deeper study” would reveal the role of the Queen Mother. Again and again, he attempted to prove that the ark of the covenant is a Biblical symbol for Mary. With full knowledge that NO Protestant scholars buy his equation of the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation 12 with Mary, he persisted in insisting that the ark in the temple at the end of Revelation 11 and the woman in Revelation 12 are the same person.

    These are fascinating views and have deep roots in Catholicism, but they aren’t laying there in the texts of scripture to be found and believed. They are a brew of centuries of Catholic scholarship finding what needs to be there.

    Taking every available shortcut, and totally avoiding Mark 3, Hahn gave the expected view that Mary was ever virgin and had no other children. He cited the Protestant reformers as allies in this view, which is hardly a useful tactic if you intend to say those same reformers were wrong about so much else. Again, plain statements of scripture? Not available apparently.

    He nobly attempted to explain why Joseph would have not had sexual relations with his wife despite the plain language of the Bible by saying Joseph would have considered marital sex and other children as an “unworthy use” of the virgin’s womb. One analogy compared Mary’s womb to fine China and marital sex to a picnic with plastic plates. This negative view of marital sex is something that simply can’t be brought into Christianity without deep negative consequences. Defending such an unnatural marriage with such analogies is insulting to those of us who are willing to listen and think through these difficult topics.

    After all this desperation, Hahn never attempted a justification of any kind of the assumption of Mary, only resorted to a logical explanation of the immaculate conception and took for granted that Marian appearances, titles and piety contained nothing of interest. As seems to be the case so often, when we’ve gotten this far into what the church teaches on scanty or no evidence, there’s little hesitancy to put the brakes on or answer the huge questions that emerge.

    As I said, a Protestant like myself feels that this sort of presentation is a painful exercise. Much of the “Biblical evidence” was of a kind that could never be brought into a neutral setting and presented seriously. It was as if the subtext was supposed to overtake the text: If you can believe all the rest, you can find a way to wrap your mind around this and make it work.

    I pretty much have to agree with this assessment based upon everything I have read, here and elsewhere. So unless you can bring something new to the table, I’m probably not going to be convinced.

  32. Steve,

    I appreciate your viewpoint and I am not going to berate you for not ‘getting it? Learning about the typology of Mary in the Old Testament was something that I had never considered while a Presbyterian and certainly I never heard it preached on. The first time I was shown these biblical mysteries I was very surprised and frankly felt kind of jilted for never having been shown it before by my church.

    I can also honestly say that I did not come to accept the Marian dogmas because I was convinced that they were explicit in scripture. That isn’t the point.

    Peace and do stick around for future discussion.

  33. As a Protestant who has been considering Catholicism for some time, I don’t think that iMonk’s or Steve’s opinions on Scott Hahn’s explication of Catholic teaching are of any consequence. Nobody really cares (or should care) what they find “convincing.” The fact is that some people find this kind of exegesis plausible and others don’t. The real question, then, is not what you find convincing Steve, but rather, when we disagree like we are doing right now, what recourse to a resolution do we have, if any? Are we locked in a never-ending debate, in hopes that one side will eventually come around?

  34. Eric (re #84 from “A Catholic Reflection on John Armstrong’s Your Church is Too Small”)

    You asked:

    How the two natures relate to one another is a place for much discussion. The ” hypostatic union” phrase was designed to affirm the unity of the natures and show indisolubility. I also need clarification on the Ark/H.Union relation ? Not really sure what your asking.

    I was responding to your contention that Jesus, not Mary, is the Ark. I asked how Jesus can be a physically separate container for Himself, the Word (and while we’re at it, the other contents of the Ark: the symbols of priesthood and the manna)? To describe Jesus as the Ark is to separate the physical body of Jesus from the Word, the Priesthood and the Bread since the Ark is a separate physical container for those things in the OT. And if you separate Jesus’ body from who He is, you are compromising the union of Jesus’ two natures in the one Person of the Word.

    Why? Because his human body (“the container”) is an attribute of his human nature, and “the Word” is a term for his Divine Person. To call Jesus the Ark you must maintain that his body is separate from his Divine Person (Word). If you do, you are then inadvertently asserting an heretical view of the separation of his human nature and divine Personhood, as though his body is not his Person; and that denies the incarnation of the Word.

    You win and I concede point #1 of 3. Looking forward to 2 and 3 !

    I do not want to insert myself into the discussion between you and Joshua, so I’ll only comment on what is in this post of yours.

    You wrote (quoting me)

    You wrote: does that mean it was never really the Ark of the Covenant?

    Your answer was:

    Yes with qualifications.

    I do not understand this answer. You appear to be agreeing (“with qualifications”) with the proposition that the Ark of the Convenant “was never really the Ark of the Covenant.” This skirts very close to the law of non-contradiction.

    Blessings,
    Frank

  35. Re Marian reflection from the items above.

    When I was an evangelical, one of the bible teachers I had was doing a study on the wedding feast at Cana. After Mary identified the problem to her Son, the teacher saw Jesus’ response (“woman”) as a rebuke. I think not. I believe that the Author of the commandment telling us to “honor” our father and mother, was not rebuking His mother, rather He expressed the consideration that it was not yet His time, to her.

    However, being God, He responded to His mother’s request and subsequent act of faith by honoring / glorifying her by acceding to her request. His first public miracle was worked in honor of His mother, and the newly married couple were the recipients.

    If He loves His mother that greatly, what kind of impression should I have in regard to her?

    Cordially,

    dt

  36. Re #35,

    “Woman” is Mary’s prophetic name from Ge 3:15, and as such, is used as an honorific when Jesus addresses her this way.

    FL

  37. Frank (#36):
    I am told – with what historical evidence I do not know – that (in Greek? In Aramaic?), ‘Woman’ was a respectful term of address (unlike our modern use of first names) – rather like saying “Ma’am” – or even “My Lady.”

    jj

  38. jj -

    Interesting historical perspective. I still incline to the prophetic name explanation (not that it’s and either/or).

    It is quite possible that dt’s teacher was hearing that word with 20th century ears and did not consider other explanations because he had a predisposition to hear it as a rebuke.

    I also remember a sermon in a PCA where I was told that Mary was there because she was most likely catering the wedding and that’s why the wine mattered to her. Mary the equity feminist, no doubt.

    Frank

  39. Frank (#38):

    Interesting historical perspective. I still incline to the prophetic name explanation (not that it’s and either/or).

    Oh, absolutely! The usage, again, on the Cross points to that strongly. But prophecy is often – perhaps almost always – a matter of later connexions. Isaiah 7′s “young woman” becomes the Septuagint’s (and then the New Testament’s) “virgin.”

    I only meant that in the immediate context, the usage – if the story is true, about the usage of ‘woman’ as a form of address – is a normal respectful term of address by a son to a mother – but with the Holy Spirit giving it to us so we can connect it.

    We do, in the 20th and 21st Centuries, assume a great deal of informality that is, in fact, very much a matter of our own times and usages. I think that no decent 19th Century son would have addressed his father by ‘dad’ or something. Reading novels from the time, it is ‘Sir.’ And wives are represented as addressing their husbands as “Mr Jones” or whatever.

    I have no personal information about usage in 1st Century Palestine – but that Our Lord would have used a title equivalent to “Madame” to His Mother does not at all strike me as forced.

    jj

  40. I have no personal information about usage in 1st Century Palestine – but that Our Lord would have used a title equivalent to “Madame” to His Mother does not at all strike me as forced.

    JJ, that sounds reasonable to me. But I would like to suggest something else. Considering that John begins his Gospel with an allusion to Genesis “In the beginning…”, and that John continually makes allusions to Genesis throughout his Gospel, I think that when Jesus calls Mary “woman” at Cana, that is also an allusion by John to Genesis.

    Here is how I see it. In Genesis, Eve has a problem, and she upsets the ordained order by going off on her own by acting first before listening to Adam for what he thinks they should do:

    So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
    Genesis 3:6

    God is not pleased that Adam listened to Eve, because Adam was the spiritual head of the family, and Eve was way out of line by acting first:

    And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you …
    Gen 3: 17

    At the wedding feast at Cana, John presents Jesus as the New Adam, and Mary as the New Eve. Again there is a problem, but this time the New Eve takes the problem to the New Adam. After the problem is given to the New Adam, the new Eve does not give advice to the New Adam, nag him for a solution, or make suggestions about what should be done. She simply leaves the problem with the New Adam, and tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Then she goes back to the wedding. I think that this shows several things about the New Eve. One, she intercedes here by bringing the problem to the New Adam, but she ultimately leaves the solution up to him. Jesus performs a miracle in solving the problem, and that shows that Mary is a mediatrix of grace.

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