Friday, November 8, 2002

Jeremy Lott has a piece on the ossuary and its implications (if authentic, that is) forCatholic and Orthodox beliefs about Mary's perpetual virginity

In fact, there are actually two orthodox views from antiquity: Jerome's view and the Epiphanian view. The first, held by St. Jerome, translator of the Latin Vulgate, is that listed above. It rests on the belief that, for some reason, every single New Testament writer who mentioned Jesus' "brothers" was unable to make the leap from Aramaic to proper koine ("common") Greek.

The second theory, advanced by Epiphanus of Salamis and believed by most of the Orthodox to this day, is that the "brothers" of Jesus are sons of Joseph by a previous marriage. Prof. McKellar adds that the Epiphanian view, which is found in two early apocryphal works--the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevangelium of James--finds some support today among non-Catholic (and non-Orthodox) scholars, and is well represented by the early Church fathers and in the Greek, Syrian and Coptic liturgies.

"Assuming for the sake of argument the accuracy of the find, this would only prove that Jerome was mistaken. Frankly, it wouldn't be the first time that Jerome got something wrong. The ossuary inscription still matches perfectly with the Epiphanian view that Joseph had children by a previous marriage before his marriage to the Virgin Mary. The 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus witnessed in the Gospels are, in this view, older stepbrothers and stepsisters," explains Prof. McKellar.

And then, referring back to the finders of the ossuary, he adds with a mischievous grin, "I want to know what they did with the bones."





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