⚠️ Broussard’s self-serving and arbitrary eisegesis in this installment is particularly galling.
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard begins his short chapter in which he defends the perpetual virginity of Mary using Luke 1:34 and John 19:26-27 as his proof-texts:
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’” – Luke 1:34
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” – John 19:26-27
In this section, Broussard focuses on Luke 1:34.
The notion of Mary’s perpetual virginity is an extremely important element of Roman Catholic Mariology. In the RC religious culture where (especially for women) virginal “purity” was a mark of higher spirituality, it was unimaginable, despite Biblical evidence to the contrary, that the exalted, semi-divine Mary was anything other than “pure,” “chaste,” and “unsoiled” by sexual relations with her earthly husband.
Protestant response #48: “Mary’s response refers to her being a virgin at the time of Gabriel’s announcement, not to some vow of lifelong virginity.”
Broussard writes, “(Evangelical apologist) James White argues that (in Luke 1:34) the angel was ‘speaking about an immediate conception,’ and therefore Mary’s response has to do with her being a virgin at the time Gabriel announces to her that she is to bear the Messiah. To quote (evangelical apologist) Ron Rhodes, her response basically amounts to, ‘I am a virgin and my upcoming marriage will not take place for close to a year. So how will this pregnancy you speak of come to fruition?'”
Continues Broussard, “White gives two reasons for his claim. First, he says Mary was ‘only engaged to Joseph, but not married.’ From this he infers that ‘at that time [Mary] could not possibly conceive in a natural manner, since she did not know a man.’ He thinks that’s what prompts Mary’s question.”
Writes Broussard, “White’s second reason is ‘the present tense, ‘I do not know a man‘ (NKJV). For White, if Mary had a vow of perpetual virginity, she would have said, ‘I have pledged never to know a man,’ or ‘I will never know a man.’ Since Mary doesn’t say such things, White again concludes she must be thinking of not conceiving a child at that time.”
⚠️ Broussard’s and Catholicism’s interpretation of Luke 1:34 is that Mary is a betrothed virgin who has taken a vow of perpetual virginity and is therefore shocked when angel Gabriel announces she will become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah. Ancient Jewish marriage consisted of two parts: the betrothal [erusin]; and later, the wedding [nissuin]. “At the betrothal the woman was legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.”* Broussard criticizes White for stating Mary was only “engaged” and not married. Broussard’s argument is that Mary was in the betrothal/erusin portion of the marriage and that Mary’s statement, “I am a virgin,” was intended to mean she would remain a virgin throughout the wedding/nissuin portion and afterwards. Broussard counters White’s appeal to the present tense of “I am a virgin” and the view that Mary understood Gabriel was indicating an immediate conception during the betrothal/erusin period. Broussard argues the present tense suggests Mary expected to remain a virgin on an ongoing basis. Broussard then claims Mary’s startled reaction makes sense only if she understood Gabriel’s announcement to mean she would conceive after the wedding/nissuin portion because of her alleged vow of perpetual virginity.
I’m almost speechless. The sheer eisegetical sophistry of Broussard’s arguments in an attempt to defend the RCC’s doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is jaw-droppingly deceitful. The clear understanding of Gabriel’s visitation recorded in Luke 1:26-38 is that Mary was a virgin betrothed (erusin portion of the marriage) to Joseph and that Mary understood from Gabriel’s announcement that the conception would be immediate.
To construe from Luke 1:34, “I am a virgin,” that Mary had previously made a vow of perpetual virginity and that her incredulousness can be attributed to her misunderstanding of Gabriel’s announcement that conception would take place after the wedding (nissuin portion) is like pounding the proverbial square peg through a round hole. I would confidently hazard that James R. White is probably thrice the Bible scholar that Broussard is and doesn’t need to be schooled regarding the erusin and nissuin portions of ancient Jewish marriage. White and Rhodes are absolutely right in stating that Mary’s question was prompted by her correct understanding that she could not possibly conceive in a natural manner at that time of the betrothal/erusin period because she did not yet “know a man.”
*Ancient Jewish Marriage by Hayyim Schauss
Next week, Protestant response #49: “There are other explanations for why Jesus entrusts Mary into John’s care without having to say that Mary didn’t have other biological children.”