In Defense of Mary

Head_of_Mary_Jose_de_Ribera_1637
The Head of Mary by Jose de Ribera 1637 http://www.bible-people.info/Mary.htm

Matthew was the first gospel to add a birth story, probably to answer questions about Mary that persisted in ca 100 A.D. Scholars say that Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels, so his birth story is told from Joseph’s perspective. And yet, Matthew subtly makes Mary more important than Joseph, to the point of saying that he is not Jesus’ father.

And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Messiah. Matthew 1:16

That is exactly the birth story Matthew fleshed out.

Now the birth of Jesus…was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child… Matthew 1: 18-19

If Joseph had a Davidic bloodline and had contracted an alliance with a young virgin princess who could bear a contender for the throne…this was a blow…even with her prophecy (See post on The Abuse of the Virgins) that she would be the one to bear such a son…even and especially if the real father was Herodian. Understanding that both Matthew and Luke’s birth stories are quite different, the emphasis in both was put on Mary’s virginity. First, Matthew calls up an old prophecy for a way in the past king that Isaiah tries to cheer up with a prophecy that this particular new young virgin wife (alma) would give bear him a blessed son in the normal fashion:

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.” (Matthew 1:23)…changed to “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS…” (Matthew 1:21)…

Continue reading “In Defense of Mary”

Herodias sister of Mariamne III

Herodias_by_Paul_Delaroche
Herodias, look her up on Google images…this is the first image that comes up. It is almost impossible to find a decent representation of her without the head of John the Baptist. Yet, Josephus gives us a different side to her beside the evil she and her daughter have come to represent for over 2000 years.

Herodias of the New Testament was Mariamne III’s sister, also a granddaughter of Mariamne I and Herod the King and was kin to all the other Mariamnes in Josephus. Her father had been executed by her grandfather. Her other grandmother was Salome sister of Herod. She was a veteran of the harem wars and the “abuse of the virgins” trial along with her sister. If she hadn’t been cleared of the charge of un-virginity, she could never have been betrothed to Herod son of Mariamne II, daughter of Simon the High Priest.

But then, suddenly, Herodias, perhaps even still below the age of puberty” was on the outside looking in. Her mother-in-law was divorced by Herod for plotting against him and was thrown out of court and Herodias and her young husband with her. Her husband’s prophecy made in the Temple by Simon the High Priest and his alliance/betrothal to a granddaughter of Mariamne the Hasmonean queen was not fulfilled. See Post on Out of Egypt. They stayed married when her husband was deposed as an heir to the kingdom. When next heard from in Josephus Herodias has a grown daughter—unfortunately not a son—and was living in a palace in Caesarea and was still the wife of the same by-passed Herod. Continue reading “Herodias sister of Mariamne III”