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Ficino • 2 weeks ago

OT: review of Feser's Aristotle's Revenge just out in Bryn Mawr Classical Review:


David Nickol • 4 weeks ago

Can the saints in heaven—disembodied souls—hear the thoughts of those of us living on Earth? Or can individual saints only hear the prayers addressed to them by name? Does Saint Anthony constantly hear, "Tony, Tony come around; something's lost and can't be found"? Or perhaps the saints are somehow informed by God of prayers to them worthy of being answered. If that is the case, do the saints decide which of those prayers they want God to answer and intercede on behalf of the person praying? And when a saint intercedes with God on behalf of a living person praying, does God automatically grant the saint what he or she intercedes for?

I don't know how "official" the sentiment is, but I have heard it said that praying to the Virgin Mary is potentially highly effective because she is God's mother, and because of the special mother-son relationship, she i more likely to receives what she requests of God. She has more "pull" in heaven.

Here is what Jimmy Akin says.

Mark • 3 weeks ago

Great questions but tough questions because our understanding of this topic is only revealed knowledge. Afterlife isn't rationally provable, but it can be rationally acceptable. Revelation is purposefully not detailed about the afterlife because, IMO, it is likely beyond our human intellect as Dr. B points out. Attempts to explain it become "straw". I've heard some apologists quote James, "...the prayers of the righteous man availeth much." as to why we should ask for intercession of saints. I don't think that is helpful to an agnostic, but more a Protestant evangelization. I think what might be more helpful is to look at the beatific vision philosophically prior to answering the questions you pose; (which is a "vision" that doesn't require a retina, optic nerves, or occipital lobe). Here is a good article I came across that points out in more detailed fashion the philosophical problems you see as well as a few others. It's lengthy, but Fr. Pope does a fair treatment of sense experience of the discarnate person.


I think on a more practical level, human-to-human relationships are something we can all intellectually grasp and handle. Jesus' own human nature gives us a path to divinity in our own lives. In other words, He teaches us what it is to be fully human without privations (how to be saints). The purpose of our prayers is not to change God's mind (God's providence is unchangable) but to make our carnate souls more fully human. I think that is an important thing to keep that in mind when pondering why God would open up discarnate persons in heaven to cooperate in our prayers.

Edit Done.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

Good comment on a difficult topic. But one point needs be clarified:

"Afterlife isn't rationally provable, ..." According to right reason and St. Thomas Aquinas, the spirituality and immortality of the human intellectual soul is, indeed, rationally provable. See Summa Theologiae, I, q. 75, a. 2, c and Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 2, a. 2, Vol. 1, ed. R. Spiazzi (Turin-Rome, 1964).

See also chapter six, "The Human Soul's Spiritual Character and Divine Origin," in my book, Origin of the Human Species -- third edition (Sapientia Press, 2014), 103-110.

Dennis Bonnette • 4 weeks ago

As usual, you have good information about the Church and a worthy question.

I am tempted to just give the smart remark: God runs the switchboard!

But, more seriously, we simply do not know what the saints in heaven know and how they know what happens in this world. We know that they can know whatever knowledge God infuses into their souls, since their ability to understand remains untouched by death. Could they have more direct means? If sensible suffering can exist in Purgatory, it appears that, at least by a miracle, God could provide even sense knowledge to the saints.

I understand that St. Thomas, near the end of his life, opined that what the next world is like is simply "other." We don't know. Hardly shocking. We have only five senses through which to know even this world -- giving us but a sliver of direct knowledge from which we figure out the rest through the gift of natural science. Small wonder our speculative reasoning reaches some truths about the next life, but "we see through a glass darkly."

Do some saints have more "pull" than others? I would guess so, given that some have more merit before God than others. Clearly, the Blessed Mother is top on the list, since what Son dares say "no" to his mother?

All kidding aside, we should not expect to know all the details of what heaven is like. Remember the old adage I think it was Augustine who said, when explaining why Scripture and the Church do not teach us the details of science -- something to the effect that revelation is given to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

BTS • 3 weeks ago
Do some saints have more "pull" than others? I would guess so, given that some have more merit before God than others. Clearly, the Blessed Mother is top on the list, since what Son dares say "no" to his mother?

Wait, if I understand Catholicism correctly, God is unchanging. God does not change his mind. He is perfect, correct? He does not ever "reconsider" anything. His initial decision is always and ever the correct and immutable decision.

In that case, I ask sincerely and without any hint of ill humor, what is the point of intercessory prayer?

I have heard many, many explanations of this and I don't buy any of them.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

It really isn't hard at all to understand if you grasp what it means for God to be the "eternal NOW." God stands totally outside of time. Time is a property of created matter. Matter is movable being. Time is the measure of motion with respect to before and after. So, God knows all events in time, regardless of their order or sequence.

This means that, "from all eternity," God knows every creature's actions, including whether he makes these prayers or those prayers or no prayers at all. Same with all our choices.

So, it is never a matter of God changing his mind about anything. His Providence orders all creation, taking into account every change we make within it, so that what sounds like God "changing his mind" about something is simply his eternally foreseen response to a contingently changing event within creation.

In other words, God already knows what we will choose and pray for, and, from all eternity, has "already" taken that into consideration in forming his eternal will.

You notice that we have problems even speaking about God's eternal NOW, since we are in time and all our language entails tensed verbs, which we then tend to ascribe to God, even though they do not properly apply to him as tensed.

BTS • 3 weeks ago

Your response is consistent with what I expected. That is not an un-compliment. That is how I would have explained it, albeit less eloquently, to others 20 years ago.

My major quibbles are:
1) The Old Testament god is not like what you describe at all. Is the OT god adopting a persona of irascibility for some divine purpose?

2) If this is true:

In other words, God already knows what we will choose and pray for, and, from all eternity, has "already" taken that into consideration in forming his eternal will.

...then god has created very much on purpose some (many?) creatures which he knows will eventually reject him, with many of these rejections based on incomplete knowledge of god.

As Sample1 would say, quoting Deutsch, all problems are a problem of lack of knowledge.

Wouldn't it be more merciful to just never create those creatures? Eternity is a very long time.

Edit: And, why would god, as David Nickol has noted, create souls and implant them in 60-80% of fertilized eggs that do not implant? It doesn't make sense to make a plan of creation and then send most of it quite literally down the toilet, while at the same time giving souls who will reject god an 80-year lifespan. Why do some get the challenge of living a life and others get a free pass and go straight to heaven with no life on earth at all?

I don't necessarily quibble with your definitions of time and matter, but I don't necessarily agree with them either. You're using philosophical definitions, not scientific ones. I don't have an interest in debating that part further, I just want the objection noted. We don't fully understand what time is.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

I just noticed your added edits to this comment to which I posted a reply earlier.

I have seen estimates of failure to implant running from as low as 30% to as high as 67%. Who really knows? Still, any number that high deserves comment.

First, it appears we are dealing here with genetic abnormalities: "Human embryos are genetically diverse, and some have mutations that impair normal development. In some cases, these impaired embryos will not implant in the uterus, but often, they implant only to undergo miscarriage later."

If you forgive the pun, it is important not to throw out the baby with the bath water! The fact that many embryos fail to implant does not imply that the human spiritual soul is not real. Or, that God does not exist. Sometimes, it seems that when people raise an objection, they overestimate its implications.

God still exists. God is still good. The human soul is still spiritual and immortal and has a destiny freely to be chosen for those who reach sufficient maturity.

That said, either the spiritual soul is present from conception or not. It is arguably present from conception for those that develop into evident human beings. But what of the others? If genetic abnormalities exist, is it possible that some embryos never had a spiritual soul? If so, there would be no problem with them "self-terminating," since we were never dealing with true human beings in the first place. (This does not excuse abortion, since we have no way of knowing which embryos are so affected -- and besides, if nature prevents birth, why abort?)

But if they all have souls from conception, does early death mean automatic heaven -- or failure to reach heaven? If the former, God's purpose may be to permit some to reach heaven without risking loss of heaven, but with the corresponding balancing factor that they can never become as saintly (higher in heaven) as those who live a long life.

On the other hand, if they do not reach heaven, then the possibility of a perpetual state of natural happiness remains.

All of this raises interesting speculative issues for those early miscarriages, but in no way affects the general plan of God for those who live fuller lives.

I do not claim to offer a perfect or complete analysis of this problem here, as is evident by my use of disjunctive reasoning. But what is important is to realize that, whatever the case may be, it does not disprove the rest of the philosophical conclusions drawn from philosophical psychology and ethics.

Mark • 3 weeks ago
That said, either the spiritual soul is present from conception or not

The RCC isn't specific when ensoulment occurs but pragmatically assumes it to be at or very near conception. Dr. B I'm curious how you resolve/reconcile monozygotic (and sesquizygotic) twinning which can occur up to 14 days after conception with the existence of a single soul from conception. Are the multiple souls in the single zygote in a hypostatic union of sorts? Does the moment of twinning cause a second ensoulment? If you prefer, since this is somewhat off topic, you can reply in disqus.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

Easy question to answer from a Thomistic perspective.

Since the soul is the substantial form of an organism, if you had two souls, you would have two organisms already. So, no, you cannot have two souls in a single zygote.

What must occur is that God directly creates a second human soul at the moment of twinning. Which twin gets the new soul? Ask God.

Mark • 3 weeks ago

In the case of sesquizotic twinning the zygote contains 3 sets of gametes at conception which contain both offspring's/organism's in a dualistic biological potency at zygote stage. It seems counterintuitive to suggest only one soul exists substantially as the other biologic potency would be a sort of parasitic potency. Maybe I'm missing the meaning of substantial existence.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

It is largely a biological question as to when distinct organisms are present. Either an organism is one substance or it is not. If it is one, then a single soul must be present. If it is more than one, then multiple souls must be present.

Since monozygotic twinning takes place sometime in the few days after conception, it must be that a single organism gives rise to two, thus requiring the addition of a second soul.

The one example I could find of a sesquizotic twin pregnancy showed a monochorionic diamniotic twin pregnancy with the absence of a chorion extending between the layers of the intertwin membrane unequivocally indicated a monozygotic twin pregnancy.

One might therefore argue that, since the initial conception took place in monozygotic fashion, a single organism was present, regardless of the internal complexity of its cells, and that therefore the subsequent twinning event still required the creation of a new and distinct substantial form or soul on the part of God.

Fortunately, we need not be certain as to exactly when the distinct spiritual souls are infused into matter, since it is clear from the production of single or multiple fetuses that there must be a single and distinct soul produced at some point for each of them.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

"...then god has created very much on purpose some (many?) creatures which he knows will eventually reject him, with many of these rejections based on incomplete knowledge of god."

I am sure you do not intend to do so, but you are presuming here that God is not all just and merciful.

If one's knowledge of God is not complete through no fault of one's own, God will not condemn him on that for which he is sincerely not responsible.

You are forgetting that in laying down all his laws and rules, God also is just and knows that some will not be able to follow for no fault of their own. Every person knows just how hard and sincerely he has tried to find the truth and follow it. The only "problem" with God is that he has perfect knowledge of us and thus we cannot deceive him.

Still, the reason we dare not condemn any other person is that we do not know what God knows, that is, we do not know the person perfectly including all degrees of responsibility or non-responsibility the person has for his actions.

Perhaps, you are being too harsh in judging what God is really up to in creating us? :)

BTS • 3 weeks ago

I'm the one who agrees with David Bentley Hart that all are saved. So I am not being harsh at all. It sounds to me like you are backtracking on your "Hell" article on strange notions. Your "take" here is much more merciful.

If one's knowledge of God is not complete through no fault of one's own, God will not condemn him on that for which he is sincerely not responsible.

I think where we disagree on your statement above is that you think the person's actions in this life comprise the entirety of the decision. I think it makes more sense that in the afterlife there is a "revealing process" where all is made plain, a discussion with god, if you will. It is THEN, when all cards are on the table, that a person can accept or reject. This is all conjecture, of course, based on my interpretation of divine justice. All of it, I would argue, is conjecture.

Rob Abney • 2 weeks ago
I'm the one who agrees with David Bentley Hart that all are saved

Here’s a good refutation of Hart’s position.

BTS • 2 weeks ago

Hi Rob,
Thank you for the recommendation. I am very familiar with the Catholic Thing.
I have stopped reading that site. I did read it for a for a while (couple years). I get the newsletters emailed to me now but I rarely read them. I think that is a brand of ultra-conservative spiteful Catholicism that I cannot abide.

My take on the Catholic Thing is that they believe Christianity is basically following rules. Rules to those folks are way more important than love, charity, mercy, etc.

The core group of about 20 commenters, too, on the Catholic Thing FB page say some of the meanest, uncharitable, unchristian things I have ever heard. I would never, ever, want my religion to be associated with those types of comments.

Each day when a new OP is posted, the pitchforks come out and victim of the day (liberals, gays, whatever) gets torn to shreds. Independent thinking is not tolerated in any capacity.

I was banned (not kidding) for posting in a gentlemanly manner that the site appeared to be shilling for the Republican party and asking if dissenting views were allowed. Immediately banned. WTH? I think that's why they only have about 20 or so commenters on the FB page.

Commonweal, Crux, or America Magazine would be a more balanced opinion, I think.

I may take you up on your suggestion and read the article, but it won't be real soon. I'm really not in the mood for reading pieces about the afterlife right now, as we've had an awful family tragedy the past week and I'm quite down.

Rob Abney • 2 weeks ago

Sorry to hear that you’ve had a family tragedy.
I’ll be interested in your response if you decide to read it.

Mark • 2 weeks ago

My thoughts are with you and your family BTS.

Dennis Bonnette • 3 weeks ago

No, I am not backtracking on my "Hell and God's Goodness" article. That was a purely philosophical analysis of whether the doctrine of Hell passes rational muster. I argued that it does. That is not the same thing as insisting even that it exists, much less its number of inhabitants or lack thereof. As a philosopher, I take theological claims as stated and test their rational credibility.

What is not conjecture is the following: (1) God exists, (2) God gave man a free will with which to work out his immortal destiny, (3) if man can choose his last end freely, he can also reject it freely, and (4) natural law requires a different end for man depending on whether he freely chooses his last end or rejects it.

What we can prove through philosophical demonstration does not suffer the inherent contingency of lesser forms of knowledge. For example, for all its well accepted high degree of probability, natural science does not afford the absolute certainty found in some of the aformentioned philosophical truths.

Speaking of theological speculation (and here I do not speak as a philosopher), what you are suggesting is not that different than the private revelation of St. Faustina, who says that in his great mercy, the Lord approaches the soul at the moment of death, three times -- giving her the chance to choose eternal life.

Again, purely as my personal theological opinion, I am skeptical of DBH's universal salvation, since there is good evidence for the existence of fallen angels in multitude. It seems to me that if the superior created intelligences have a number of their own in Hell (meaning, having rejected God as their last end), then it would be unreasonable to expect that somehow not a single member of the lower human species would fail to attain his last end. But that is just my opinion.

I would hope that God's laying down the strict criteria for salvation he would leave plenty of room for mitigated punishment for the many less than absolutely stubborn souls that belong to our human race. After all, isn't that the reason Catholics believe in Purgatory, unlike our Protestant brethren whose theology demands an immediate binary solution?

Edit: As for the theological state of the question about all men possibly being saved, the following article may be illuminating regarding Catholic belief:

Phil Tanny • 1 month ago

The Apostle John said, "God is love".

Love is an act of surrender. Therefore, God is an act of surrender.

Dying to be reborn. Dying=Surrender, Reborn=God.

The most reliable guide to what we believe is what do.

Here's how to convert this site in to a Catholic site.

Surrender the endless talking of the talk. Be reborn in to the walking of the walk.

So, as a specific example, all the time, energy and intelligence being wasted in the talking of the talk might be reinvested in to practical tactical conversations about such things as, say, raising money for Catholic Charities, or any other worthy project which seeks to serve others.

This site is not Catholicism. This post is not Catholicism. This site and post are talk about Catholicism, something else entirely. As example, talk about sex is not sex.

BTS • 3 weeks ago

I actually agree with you.
I'm here at this site because I am trying to figure out if I am a Catholic.

But, as I mentioned, in the broad view I agree with you. I'm thinking that action matters way more than right belief.

I have a hard time believing in a god who would send Phil to Hell for having, for example, the wrong view of the trinity but who spent the final third of his life trying to save humanity from destroying itself.

michael • 3 weeks ago

I'd have a hard time calling a creator who allowed anyone, period, to end up in Hell, including Hitler and Ted bunny, "good" and "praiseworthy".

Phil Tanny • 1 month ago

Sorry to be off topic, but there is no where else to put this. As you should know, the Pope recently gave a speech calling for action against nuclear weapons. You can find the full text and video here:


That site is my response to the Pope's request.

I need your help with the following. If you will, imagine that the Pope called upon a billion Catholics to donate $1 per year to fund a massive marketing campaign to further spread the Pope's teachings on this subject. If you have contacts within the Church who might be receptive to such an idea, please contact me via the site above.

I won't post further on this subject here, unless somebody should choose to publish an article on the subject.

Ellabulldog • 1 month ago

No such thing as miracles. What happens is that occasionally the Church needs to make someone a Saint for propaganda and marketing purposes. So they find a way to concoct a story.

Billions of Catholics. Lot's of praying. Occasionally some will correlate with something.

I have a Catholic friend. Died from cancer. Many were praying for him. Nicest guy in the world. Prayer does not work.

I know someone that lost their 3 year old to cancer.
They are Christian not Catholic. Mega Church style. Lot's of people praying. Prayers did not work.

Both families are raising money for cancer research.

Moral of the story.

Donating money to science to find cures is rational.

Praying is an emotional action.
If it makes you feel better have at it. It won't cure anything. Ever.

Remember Catholics run hospitals. The doctors there do not pray to fix bones, hearts or bullet wounds. They use modern medicine.

David Nickol • 1 month ago

Neither I nor anyone I know has won the Powerball grand prize. Buying Powerball tickets does not work.

I Came To Bring The Paine • 1 month ago

You're going to compare people getting healed by divine intervention with winning the Powerball - which is literally a numbers game?

Besides, unlike divine healing, we can prove people have and do win the Powerball - all the time.

Ellabulldog • 1 month ago

Someone down my street won 3 million. Not the Powerball but nothing to complain about.

Dennis Bonnette • 1 month ago

Out of thousands of reported miracles, not a single one is needed for the mind of man to know that God exists, since that truth can be known by the unaided light of natural reason.

And yet, out of thousands of reported miracles, it takes but a single genuine one to manifest the truth that God exists.

Jim the Scott • 1 month ago

One thing I note. The OP nowhere claims science can "prove miracles" so I don't understand the challenge here for Catholics to show that science can prove miracles? Science can falsify a hypothesis. So science showing a plausible natural explanation of a phenomenon undercuts it as a supernatural miracle. That doesn't disprove the existence of miracles but when the Vatican investigates a reported miracle that is part of the equation.

Here we just have the rigorous standards of the Vatican in excluding things reported as miracles. Also a challenge to the philosophical presupposition of some Atheists that miracles are anti-Science.

Again people Dembski is over there if you wish to take on the Intelligent Design crowd. Catholics are a different theistic species.

michael • 3 weeks ago

Didn't you cite Julis Sextus Africanus for you view on Jesus' geneology to me once? I recently found out he cited not the apostles for his view but said his source was "brothers of Jesus according to the flesh" https://ccel.org/ccel/schaf... something Catholicism says it's heretical to believe in, since they affirm the perpetual virginity of Mary. Any comments? Anybody?

Jim the Scott • 3 weeks ago

WhatdoesthishavetodowiththepriceofIronBruinEdenburgh? This thing out of left field has nothing to do with the OP.

(Apparently some people are triggered by tea and China. So don't bring up tea and China. Good Lad! I knew I could count on you, I replaced my quip with Iron Bru which is the soft drink of choice in Scotland. One day I hope to have some so I can be complete).

But I will answer you anyway. Don't make me regret it. The wife wants me to lower my blood pressure. If I die from a heart attack it is on you for cheesing me off. No pressure.

Here is a wiki on Julis Sextus African.


Yer link says "For the kinsmen of the Saviour after the flesh," so given the translation I don't see how it teaches or implies these kinsmen are children of the BVM. At best some eastern writers claimed Joseph had children with a woman whom he married before Mary and later became a widower. Even if it did say "Brothers" it could still mean cousins. Mary did have relatives and by definition they are Christ's brethren by the flesh.

michael • 2 weeks ago

Furthermore, citing relatives of Jesus doesn't make Julius' work Apostolic Tradition, nor is it Biblical teaching or from the Magisterium.

Jim the Scott • 2 weeks ago

You do realize Apostolic Tradition is oral teaching and that historical sources are where we find Tradition? Right?

>nor is it Biblical teaching

Whose interpretation of the Bible Mike? Catholics don't believe in Sola Scriptura & private interpretation? Why are you going off on this useless tangent?

>or from the Magisterium.

The Magisterium doesn't teach the perpetual Virginity of Mary? Since when? That is like saying with a straight face Sunni Islam doesn't teach the consumption of Alcohol is wrong.

Good day to you Mike.....I said Good day sir.

michael • 2 weeks ago

Citing Kinsmen isn't citing apostles. And I was referring to Julius' citation as not being form the Magisterium, not the perpetual virginity of Mary. And that would be dubious too since no Ex Cathedra Statement or binding Ecumenical Council post 1870 has ever declared it to be a dogma.

Jim the Scott • 2 weeks ago

>Citing Kinsmen isn't citing apostles. And I was referring to Julius' citation as not being form the Magisterium, not the perpetual virginity of Mary.

You lost me.

>And that would be dubious too since no Ex Cathedra Statement or binding Ecumenical Council post 1870 has ever declared it to be a dogma.

It doesn't need to be as it is taught by the unanimous consent of the Fathers.
Mike you can't just make up yer own rules for formulating Catholic doctrine. Also this is still off topic to this thread.

michael • 3 days ago

So Origen and Helviticus (I think that's the name) don't count as Fathers? Who said?

Jim the Scott • 3 days ago

No they don't. Origen believed in Universalism thus along with Tertullian is classified as at best a Christian writer. Both have been formally condemned by the Early Church. Notice neither one is a Saint.

Anyway it is the Unanimous Consent of the Fathers that Jesus was Mary's only offspring.

St Jerome took on both of them in his writings and blew them out of the water.

michael • 8 hours ago

Saints never started getting canonized until like, the 10th century, starting with St. Ulrich.

Jim the Scott • 3 hours ago

Yeh so?

michael • 2 weeks ago

Matthew 13:55 would have used anepsios instead of Adelphos if the author wanted to make it clear Jesus had no siblings.

Jim the Scott • 2 weeks ago

Says who? Are you making a "Sola Scriptura" argument? Where is that taught in the Bible and what business does an Atheist have making a Sola Scriptura argument?

So now you want to waste everybody's time recycling old Protestant Fundamentalist arguments against Jesus being Mary's only child?

Well I am feeling good. This might be diverting.

Yet Mary the wife of Clopas is called the "Sister" of Mary the Mother of Jesus?
(John 19:25)

John uses the ordinary Greek word for sister and not the word for "cousin" like he did with Elizabeth. Are we to believe St Ann and St Jochakim had two daughters with the same name? Is this the BOB NEWHART SHOW of ancient Israel? "Hi my name is Larry & this is my Sister Mary and this is my other sister Mary".


Sometimes the writers of the Bible use the term Brother and Sister for cousin. Especially if the cousin is close like sibling. I call my older First Cousin the Son of my Mother's older Brother "Brother Joe".

David Nickol • 2 weeks ago
Are you making a "Sola Scriptura" argument?

Not every reference to the Bible constitutes a "sola scriptura" argument or is inspired by Protestant thought. For those who are not "mythicists," Jesus is a historical figure, and the question of whether or not he had brothers and sisters is a matter of history. What the Gospels say may or may not be helpful in answering the question.

Also, Matthew Levering has an interesting article in First Things in which he says the following:

Ben Witherington III is a leading contemporary representative of the Helvidian perspective, which is now the standard scholarly view. In a brief excursus in his recent commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Witherington presents the historical origin and content of each of the three views. Historically speaking, he links the affirmation of Mary’s perpetual virginity too strongly with the Church in the Latin West and with what he calls “the increasing asceticism of the early medieval church.” But his basic point is that “the burden of proof” rests upon those who wish to argue against the Helvidian view. If Mary did not have other children of her own, then why are there numerous mentions of Jesus’ “brothers” and “sisters” in the New Testament? Why not suppose that these brothers and sisters are really brothers and sisters, especially because they keep appearing along with Mary?

Witherington is an Evangelical Protestant but certainly not a fundamentalist.

Of course the question is settled for Catholics, since Mary's perpetual virginity is dogma. However, it is settled by the authority of the Church, not by irrefutable historical arguments, and not everyone believes in the authority of the Church.

John P. Meier says the following in the first volume of A Marginal Jew:

Needless to say, all of these arguments, even when taken together, cannot produce absolute certitude in a matter for which there is so little evidence. Nevertheless—if prescinding from faith and later church teaching—the historian or exegete is asked to render a judgment on the NT and patristic texts we have examined, viewed simply as historical sources, the most probable opinion is that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were true siblings.

It is probably foolish to argue about Catholic dogma on a Catholic site, since believing Catholics are not permitted to doubt it. But there are reasonable arguments to be made if one is not bound by the Catholic Church to reject them.

I should add that (for me anyway) it goes without saying that a God who could create the universe could certainly cause a human being to be conceived "virginally."

Jim the Scott • 2 weeks ago

It pretty much is an appeal to Sola Scriptura when you imply a doctrine is in doubt because it is not in Holy Writ. I will always roll my eyes at such an argument. Especially coming from an Atheist who has no business confessing Protestant doctrines when he denied the God of the Protestants. It's just weird.

>What the Gospels say may or may not be helpful in answering the question.

Well the Gospels never mention Mary having other children and they never show anyone else as her child other than Jesus. So Sola Scriptura can be used against the heresy of Helvidius. Also in the whole of the NT only Jesus is ever referred as Son of Mary and or Son of Joseph. The sole exception is the Beloved Disciple who takes her into his home. Which is irregular if Jesus has blood brothers. Also is "brothers" rebuke him in public which is not proper for younger siblings.

>Witherington is an Evangelical Protestant but certainly not a fundamentalist.

I've debated Evangelicals and Fundies on this issue for decades and they have yet to come up with any convincing positive evidence Mary had any children other than Jesus. There are many good scholars among the heretics & liberals but so what? They have no good arguments.

>” But his basic point is that “the burden of proof” rests upon those who wish to argue against the Helvidian view.

That is an admission on his part the Gospels don't definitively teach the Helvidian view. Sola Scriptura rejects doctrines not explicitly taught in the Bible. For example the Assumption or Sinlessness of Mary. Well if the Bible clearly taught Mary had other children then this would be elementary. But if it is not explicitly in there then he has no business affirming that doctrine while denying other implicit doctrines like the assumption or sinlessness of Mary. But Protestantism is an incoherent religion I would never confess. I would be an Atheist first.
Also I find it hard to believe cousins who are the children of Joseph's siblings wouldn't hang around the widow of their uncle.

>However, it is settled by the authority of the Church, not by irrefutable historical arguments, and not everyone believes in the authority of the Church.

According to St Hegesippus, a second century Jewish Christian, who is quoted in Eusebius, & St Papas James and his brother Jude(two of the "brothers" named in the Gospel) where Old Testament Priests. Well that is a bit of a problem. Priests come from the Tribe of Levi and Joseph and Mary came from Judah. Now you might claim they are children of Mary who remarried a Cohen after Joseph's death but the OT law say a Priest may only marry a Virgin or the widow of another Priest. So to get to Helvidius' error you have to confess Mary was a virgin when she became a widow & married an old testament priest who believed her story and wasn't excommunicated. Why not just save a step and admit she never had sex. Ever.....
A Virgin birth I can believe in but I can't believe the miracle of a woman of the Tribe of Judah giving birth to two Levi Children by her Judian husband.
That is impossible.

>But there are reasonable arguments to be made if one is not bound by the Catholic Church to reject them.

They are all crap. I know I studied them for decades also you are in error here. The Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox and the Church of the East all with one voice affirm the perpetual virginity of Mary. You don't have to be Catholic to believe it. You just have to belong to a Church with a historic pedigree not some johnny come lately religion founded in Europe by a bunch of Germans 1500 years after the fact.

Mark • 2 weeks ago

We have written proof the tradition of Mary's perpetual virginity goes back to at least 150AD with the Protoevangelium of James.


I realize it is an apocryphal writing, however, it's seen as an elaboration of what was commonly accepted among the second century Church Tradition. Really the only ECF's that may have wavered on the PV was Tertullian (and the Arian leaders Helvidius and Eunomius cite Tertullian.) But when you actually read the Tertullian text, it isn't really a denial of Mary's PV; at best it is at best a single ECF pseudodenial of Mary's ante partum virginity with a rhetorical question. If Tertullian held such a contrary belief to what the ECFs all held IMO, he would have explicitly said as much. He was not one to mince words (i.e. infant baptism) and as a heretic had nothing to lose. St. Jerome said it best, “[Helvidius] produces Tertullian as a witness [to his view] and quotes Victorinus, bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian, I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church."

michael • 2 weeks ago

The names Anne and Joakim are from a book declared to be aprocryhal and which has many contradictions agains the New Testament.

Jim the Scott • 2 weeks ago

So what? Also the Talmud calls Mary "the daughter of Eli" which could be short for Eliakim or Joiakim.

Here is the problem. Are you claiming the apocryphal originated the tradition or could it be the tradition already existed and the book took it put it in context.

Mark • 2 weeks ago

Catholics are not claiming all the relatives referenced were first cousins only, which seems to be your implication here. Furthermore it is consistent with how adelphos is used in the Septuagint and the NT writers typically quote and wrote in the pattern of the Septuagint. Adelphos means "from the same womb" but thats not how the Biblical authors used the word. This is a good example of a etymological fallacy.

michael • 2 weeks ago

Why not use Anepsos in Matthew 13:55? It'd clear up a lot of confusion.

Mark • 2 weeks ago

I think you fail to realize the amount of times you use words in a day that have a different etymological meaning than the contemporary meaning you attribute. Doctor, manure, awful, nice; they don't mean etymologically what you mean contemporaneously. The proof for how the word is used is throughout the Bible starting with Abraham and Lot. The best contemporary English translation I've seen is kin or kinfolk. Catholics are not confused, it's just revisionist theologians that make all sorts of claims as to what the inerrant Bible does or doesn't say. All appeals to scripture are appeals to an interpretation of scripture. It's a non-starter for Catholics for this reason.