Perpetual virginity of Mary
The perpetual virginity of Mary asserts Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to Jesus the Son of God made Man". According to the doctrine, Mary was ever-virgin (Greek: ἀειπάρθενος aeiparthenos) for the whole of her life, making Jesus her only biological son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous.
By the fourth century, the doctrine was widely supported by the Church Fathers, and by the seventh century it had been affirmed in a number of ecumenical councils. The doctrine is part of the teaching of Catholicism and Anglo-Catholics, as well as Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, as expressed in their liturgies, in which they repeatedly refer to Mary as "ever virgin". Assyrian Church of the East, which is derived from Church of the East, also accept the perpetual virginity of Mary by titling her the "Ever Virgin", after the "Second Heaven".
Some early Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther supported the doctrine, and founding figures of Anglicanism such as Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer "followed the tradition that they had inherited by accepting Mary as 'ever virgin'". Reformed teaching, however, largely abandoned it. The doctrine of perpetual virginity is currently maintained by many Anglican and Lutheran theologians. In addition, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, affirmed the perpetual virginity of Mary.
Doctrine and representations
The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which is believed de fide (i.e. held by Catholics as being an essential part of faith), states that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth for all her life. The threefold nature this doctrine (referring to before, during and after) thus subsumes the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.
The doctrine of perpetual virginity is also distinct from the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which relates to the conception of the Virgin Mary herself without any stain (macula in Latin) of original sin.
The Greek term Aeiparthenos (i.e. "Ever Virgin") is attested to by Epiphanius of Salamis from the early 4th century. It is widely used in the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodox liturgical prayers typically end with "Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary". The Catechism of the Catholic Church (item 499) also includes to the term Aeiparthenos and referring to the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium (item 57) states: "Christ's birth did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." The doctrine of perpetual virginity is also held by some Anglican and some Lutheran churches, but not all of those churches endorse the doctrine.
The virginity of Mary at the time of her conception of Jesus is a key topic in Marian art in the Catholic Church, usually represented as the annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel that she would virginally conceive a child to be born the Son of God. Frescos depicting this scene have appeared in Roman Catholic Marian churches for centuries. The oldest fresco of the annunciation is a 4th-century depiction in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.
Mary's virginity even after her conception of Jesus is regularly represented in the Christian art of both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox (as well as in early Western religious art) by including in Nativity scenes the figure of Salome, whom the Gospel of James presents as finding that Mary had preserved her virginity even in giving birth to her son. In many icons, Mary's perpetual virginity is signified by three stars that appear on her left, her right, and above her or on her head, which represent her virginity before, during and after giving birth.
Development of the doctrine
As of the second century, interest developed within the early Church regarding the conception of Jesus and the virginity of Mary. The majority of early Christian writers accepted the virginal conception of Jesus via reliance on the accounts in the gospels of Luke and Matthew, yet, the focus of these early discussions was of virginity before birth, not during or afterwards.
The interpretation of the Matthew 1:25 statement that Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" and of the various New Testament mentions of the brothers (and sisters) of Jesus is discussed below under the heading "Scripture". Some early writers, Tertullian, Helvidius and Eunomius of Cyzicus, interpreted Matthew's statement to mean that Joseph and Mary did have normal marital relations after Jesus' birth, and that James, Joses, Jude, and Simon were the biological sons of Mary and Joseph, a view held by Helvidius and Eunomius.
A second-century document that paid special attention to Mary’s virginity was originally known as the Nativity of Mary, but later became known as the Protoevangelium of James. The document tells of Mary’s virginity before giving birth, the miraculous way in which she gave birth, and her physical virginity even after giving birth. The work also claims that Jesus' "brothers" and "sisters" are Joseph’s children from a marriage previous to his union with Mary. However, this text does not explicitly assert Mary's perpetual virginity after the birth of Jesus.
The "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, and the "James, the Lord's brother", mentioned in Galatians 1:19, "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James", mentioned by Josephus were thus interpreted by some texts as not being children of Mary. The use of the word "brother" in Scripture is, in addition, not only used to refer to biological brothers but also to relatives (Genesis 14:14, 29:15), close friends (2 Samuel 1:26, 1 Kings 9:13) or even allies (Amos 1:9).
There was no full consensus on the doctrine of perpetual virginity within the early Church by the end of the second century, e.g. Tertullian (c.160 – c.225) did not teach the doctrine (although he taught virgin birth), but Irenaeus (c.130 – c.202) taught perpetual virginity, along with other Marian themes. However, wider support for the doctrine began to appear within the next century.
By the 4th century, the doctrine of perpetual virginity had been well attested. For example, references can be found in the 3rd century writings of Hippolytus of Rome, who called Mary "the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption,"  and the 4th century works of Athanasius, Epiphanius, Hilary, Didymus, Ambrose, Jerome, and Siricius continued the attestations to perpetual virginity – a trend that gathered pace in the next century.
Church Fathers and the Middle Ages
John Chrysostom (347–407) defended perpetual virginity on a number of grounds, one of which was Jesus' commands to his mother in Calvary: "Woman, behold your son!" and to his disciple "Behold, thy mother!" in John 19:26-27. Since the second century these two statements of Jesus from the cross had been the basis of reasonings that Mary had no other children and "from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home" because after the deaths of Joseph and Jesus there was no one else to look after Mary, and she had to be entrusted to the disciple.
By the time of Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine of Hippo, with the increased emphasis on Marian piety, a wider role for Mary began to appear in the context of the history of salvation. Augustine himself presented a number of arguments in favor of the doctrine of perpetual virginity. By the end of the 4th century, Luke 1:34 (How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?) had started to be read as a passage that indicated a "vow of perpetual virginity" on the part of Mary.
The concept of Mary's vow of virginity had already appeared in the Protoevangelium (4:1) which asserted that Mary's mother, Anne, gave Mary as a "virgin of the Lord" in service in the Temple, and that Joseph, a widower, was to serve as her guardian (legal protections for women depended on their having a male protector: father, brother, or, failing that, a husband). Early in the 7th century, in the Short Book on the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary Isidore of Seville connected the Mariological and Christological themes by linking the virginity of Mary to the divinity of Christ in a single line of argument. The Lateran Council of 649, attended by Maximus the Confessor, explicitly affirmed the teaching of Mary's virginity before, during and after birth. This was further affirmed at the sixth ecumenical council in 680.
Over the centuries the interpretation of Mary as an ever virgin bride of the Lord who had taken a vow of perpetual chastity spread and was in full vogue by the time of Rupert of Deutz in the 12th century. By the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas had fashioned long and detailed theological arguments in defense of the doctrine and stated that a denial of the perpetual virginity of Mary would be derogatory to the perfection of Christ, an insult to the Holy Spirit, and an affront to the dignity of the Mother of God.
Mary, the Second Eve
As of the fourth century, in discussing God's plan of salvation, a parallel theme began to appear in which Mary's obedience (be it unto me according to thy word in Luke 1:38) and the doctrine of perpetual virginity were counter-positioned against Adam and Eve, just as Jesus' obedience was counter positioned against that of Adam in Romans 5:12-21.
The concept of Mary as the Second Eve was first introduced by Justin Martyr around 155 AD. In this perspective, which was discussed in detail by Irenaeus, supported by Jerome, and then grew further, the vow of obedience and virginity of Mary positioned her as the "Second Eve" as part of the plan of salvation, just as Jesus was positioned as the Second Adam.
The theme developed by the Church Fathers ran parallel to the theme developed by Apostle Paul in Romans 5:18-21 when he compared Adam's sin with the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father, all the way to Calvary: "For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous." In the same manner, Mary's obedience to the statements of the angel, and her adherence to her vow of perpetual virginity was seen as a remedy for the damage caused by Eve.
The Second Eve teaching continued to grew among Catholics, and in discussing perpetual virginity, the 1566 Catechism of the Council of Trent explicitly taught that while Eve by believing the serpent brought malediction on the human race, Mary by believing the angel brought benediction to mankind.
The concept of the Second Eve has continued to remain part of Catholic teachings, e.g. Pope Pius XII referred to it in the encyclical Mystici corporis Christi and Pope John Paul II referred to it in a General Audience at the Vatican in 1980.
The start of the Protestant Reformation at the beginning of the 16th century did not immediately bring about a rejection of the doctrine of perpetual virginity and several leaders of the Reformation provided varying degrees of support for it, at times without directly endorsing it.
The early Protestant reformers felt that Scripture required the acceptance of the virgin birth of Jesus, but only permitted the acceptance of perpetual virginity. Over time, some Protestant churches stopped teaching the doctrine and other Protestant churches even denied it. However, many believers in other Protestant denominations, such as the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church, continue to uphold the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.
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Martin Luther believed that Mary did not have other children and did not have any marital relations with Joseph. The Latin text of the 1537 Smalcald Articles, written by Martin Luther, used the term "Ever Virgin" to refer to Mary. The perpetual virginity of Mary was Luther's lifelong belief, even after he rejected other Marian doctrines.
Huldrych Zwingli directly supported perpetual virginity and wrote: "I firmly believe that [Mary], ... forever remained a pure, intact Virgin." Like Zwingli, the English reformers also supported the concept of perpetual virginity, but often varied on their reasons for the support. Luther and Zwingli's support of perpetual virginity was endorsed by Heinrich Bullinger and was included in the 1566 Second Helvetic Confession.
John Calvin "was less clear-cut than Luther on Mary's perpetual virginity but undoubtedly favored it". He cautioned against "impious speculation" on the topic. In his commentary of Luke 1:34, he rejected as "unfounded and altogether absurd" the idea that Mary had made a vow of perpetual virginity, saying that "She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God" and adding that there is no evidence of the existence of such vows at the time. He rejected the argument based on the mention in Scripture of brothers of Jesus that Mary had other children.
The Anglican reformers of the 16th and 17th century supported perpetual virginity "on the basis of ancient Christian authority". In the 18th century, John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, also supported the doctrine and wrote that: "... born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."
Later Protestant teachings
Diarmaid MacCulloch, a historian of the Reformation, wrote that the reason why the early reformers upheld Mary’s perpetual virginity was that she was "the guarantee of the Incarnation of Christ", a teaching that was being denied by the same radicals that were denying Mary’s perpetual virginity. However, the absence of conclusive Biblical statements expressing the doctrine, in combination with the principle of sola scriptura, kept references to the doctrine out of the Reformation creeds and, together with the tendency to associate veneration of Mary with idolatry and the rejection of clerical celibacy, led to the eventual denial of this doctrine among Protestants, who took the "brothers" (ἀδελφοί) οf Jesus mentioned in the New Testament to be most naturally (but not certainly) children of Mary and thus Jesus' half brothers or left the question open.
However, some conservative Lutheran scholars such as Franz Pieper (1852–1931) refused to follow the tendency among Nonconformist Protestants to insist that Mary and Joseph had marital relations and children after the birth of Jesus. It is implicit in his Christian Dogmatics that belief in Mary's perpetual virginity is the older and traditional view among Lutherans. He stated, that "we should simply hold that (Mary) remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity". He taught that "Christ, our Saviour, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that"; and that " Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers". Against this view Vincent Taylor points out that if they were actually cousins the word 'adelphoi' (brothers), was unnecessary linguistically, because the word 'anepsios' (cousin, as in e.g. Col 4:10) lay "lay ready to hand", and inappropriate metaphorically, because they were opposed to Jesus' ministry. However, as cited by Eusebius in Historia Ecclesiastica (3, 39, 14), Jesus and Matthew's native language was not Greek but Aramaic (Matthew 27:46, Mark 5:41, 15:34) which does not possess any words meaning "cousin", further complicating translation.
The New Testament refers to Jesus' brothers and sisters; they are mentioned in such verses as Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55, John 7:3, Acts 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 9:5 and include James, Joses (the form in Mark 6:3, but "Joseph" in Matthew 13:55), Simon, and Jude. Prima facie these verses argue against Mary's perpetual virginity, but there are possible explanations which lead to the conclusion that "it cannot be said that the NT identifies [Jesus' brothers and sisters] without doubt as blood brothers and sisters and hence as children of Mary"
In relation to Mark 6:3 Jerome, "apparently voicing the general opinion of the Church" about the perpetual virginity of Mary in opposition to the view put forward in about 382 by Helvidius that they were children of Joseph and Mary, proposed that they were cousins of Jesus, the sons of Mary the wife of Clopas and sister of the Virgin. This new view, "strongly coloured by [Jerome's] belief in the perpetual virginity, [is] almost universally rejected except by Roman Catholic scholars". The view with most support in the Fathers, and with some support in modern writers such as Lightfoot, is that of Epiphanius: they were children of Joseph by an earlier marriage, the view generally accepted among Eastern Christians. A more recent hypothesis is that they were children of Cleopas, a brother of Joseph according to Hegesippus, and of "Mary, the mother of James and Joses" seen as sister-in-law, not blood sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Helvidius' view, that they were the children of Joseph and Mary, is supported, according to Taylor, by at least some of the Fathers, albeit to a lesser degree than that of Epiphanius, and by "many moderns scholars": this view is also "the simplest and most natural" one according to Taylor.
Karl Keating argues against this; in his book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" he notes that not only was Helvidius the first man in over 380 years to claim outright that Mary had children, he was unable to find an answer to the defence made by Jerome. Also, the two Fathers whom Helvidius quoted in support of his claim were Tertullian, a heretic, and Victorinus, whose writings turned out to have been misquoted (p. 286-287). Elsewhere Keating defends Jerome's hypothesis and deduces from the various Scripture passages referring to the women at the foot of the Cross, along with the testimony of Hegesippus, that James the Less and Joseph, at least, must be the sons of Clopas, as the Mary referred to in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 must be Mary the wife of Clopas. He counters the argument that James is elsewhere called the son of Alphaeus (Mt. 10:3) by explaining that Clopas and Alphaeus are simply different renderings of the same name, like Saul and Paul (p.287-288).
In relation to 1 Cor 9:5, the "most natural interpretation is that [the un-named "brothers of the Lord"] were the children of Joseph and Mary" says Leon Morris. C K Barrett agrees, arguing that this passage is "most naturally taken to refer to sons of Mary and Joseph", however he allows that they are "conceivably ... sons of Joseph by a former wife".
Matthew 1:25 states that Joseph had no marital relations with Mary "until" (ἕως οὗ ) she had borne Jesus. Writers such as R.V. Tasker and D. Hill argue that this implies that Mary and Joseph had customary marital relations after the birth of Jesus. Others, such as K. Beyer, point out that Greek ἕως οὗ after a negative "often has no implication at all about what happened after the limit of the 'until' was reached", and Raymond E. Brown observes that "the immediate context favors a lack of future implication here, for Matthew is concerned only with stressing Mary's virginity before the child's birth". Other passages such as 2 Samuel 6: 23, Genesis 8: 7, and Deuteronomy 34: 6 show a similar use of the word "till" or "until". Keating points out that if the modern usage of the word "until" is forced on passages such as these, "some ridiculous meanings result" (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p.285); also, in the scene where Jesus is lost in the Temple (Lk. 2: 41-51), the presence of other children in the family is not even hinted at; instead, Mary and Joseph rushed without hesitation straight back to Jerusalem, which they would surely have thought twice about doing if there were other children to look after. He notes that Jesus's "brothers" are never referred to as Mary's sons even when Jesus is referred to as such, and also argues that in Jewish culture younger brothers never rebuked, or even advised, their elders, for it was considered great disrespect to do so (p.284), yet Jesus's brethren are shown doing just that on several occasions (Jn 7:3-4, Mk 3:21).
Gregory of Nyssa interpreted Mary's response to the angel, when told that she will conceive ("How will this be, since I am a virgin?) as indicating that Mary had taken a lifelong vow of virginity, even in marriage: "For if Joseph had taken her to be his wife, for the purpose of having children, why would she have wondered at the announcement of maternity, since she herself would have accepted becoming a mother according to the law of nature?", however writers such as Howard Marshall reject it outright: "It is impossible to see how the text can yield this meaning", and is considered implausible by Raymond E. Brown. Taylor shares Howard Marshall's view and points to Lightfoot's acknowledgement that the expressions used here and in Luke 2:7 "would have been avoided by writers who believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary". Keating defends Gregory of Nyssa and says, "There is no reason to assume Mary was wholly ignorant of the rudiments of biology. She presumably knew the normal way in which children are conceived. If she anticipated having children and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask "how" she was to have a child, since having a child the normal way would be expected by a newlywed" (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p283).
A passage used to support the doctrine of perpetual virginity is of the sayings of Jesus on the cross, i.e. the pair of commands first to his mother "Woman, behold your son!" and then to his disciple "Behold, thy mother!" in John 19:26-27. The Gospel of John then states that "from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home". Since the time of the Church Fathers this statement has been used to reason that after the death of Jesus there was no one else in the immediate family to look after Mary, and she had to be entrusted to the disciple given that she had no other children. This passage was one of the arguments Pope John Paul II presented in support of perpetual virginity. John Paul II also reasoned that the command "Behold your son!" was not simply the entrustment of Mary to the disciple, but also the entrustment of the disciple to Mary in order to fill the maternal gap left by the death of her only son on the cross. Taylor points out difficulties in this interpretation of the text: it ignores both the fact that Jesus 'brothers' opposed his claims, and the position of honour of John, the 'beloved disciple'. However, it seems strange and remarkably out of character, says Keating, that Jesus would have gone out of his way to disregard family ties and commit a grave dishonor to his brothers by entrusting their mother to another man. "It is hard to imagine why Jesus would have disregarded family ties and made this provision for his Mother if these four [James, Joseph, Simon and Jude] were also her sons" (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p284).
In Sura 19, the Qur'an declares that Jesus was the result of a virgin conception (verses 20-22). There is no clear doctrinal belief one way or another, but some extend this to mean the perpetual virginity of Mary.
- What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 168 
- Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 56-64
- Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 page 273
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- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1995 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 271
- Mary in the New Testament edited by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 pages 278-281
- Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions by Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1999 ISBN 0-87779-044-2 page 1134
- Catechism of the Catholic Church §499
- Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Coptic Liturgy of St Basil, Liturgy of St Cyril, Liturgy of St James, Understanding the Orthodox Liturgy etc.
- W.A. Wigram, M.A., D.D., An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church (PDF), Assyrian International News Agency (retrieved from www.peshitta.org), p. 88
- William McLoughlin, Jill Pinnock (2002), Mary for Earth and Heaven, Gracewing Publishing, p. 326, ISBN 9780852445563
- Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, "Mary in the Catholic-Assyrian Dialogue: An Assyrian Perspective", Centro Pro Unione N.54 - Fall 1998 (PDF), p. 8, ISSN 1122-0384
- Timothy Bradshaw, "Commentary and Study Guide on the Seattle Statement Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission").
- What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 170
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- Longenecker, Dwight; Gustafson, David (2003). Mary: A Catholic Evangelical Debate. Gracewing Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 9780852445822. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
The perpetual virginity of Mary is a beautiful and fitting belief upheld by the Eastern Orthodox as well as many Anglicans and Lutherans. Furthermore, it was defended not only by the ancient church fathers, but by Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and the classic Anglican theologians. John Wesley also believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, writing, "I believe he [Jesus Christ] was born of the blessed Virgin, who, as well after she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."
- Richard R. Lorsch, All the People in the Bible (Eerdmans 2008 ISBN 978-0-80282454-7), p. 283
- Jackson, Gregory Lee, Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant: a doctrinal comparison. 1993 ISBN 978-0-615-16635-3 page 254
- Holden, Harrington William (1872). John Wesley in Company with High Churchmen. London: J. Hodges. p. 119.
TIn his profession of faith Wesley includes the Perpetual Virginity of " the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted Virgin." xix 6. (1749.)
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- Vatican website: Catechism item 499
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- M. DelCogliano Tradition and Polemic in Basil of Caesarea's Homily on the Theophany - Vigiliae Christianae, 2012, p. 41: "Another objection to Mary's perpetual virginity, for which, however, there is scant evidence before the middle of the fourth century (to be discussed in more detail below), was based on an interpretation of Matthew 1:25, according to which Joseph refrained from marital relations with Mary until the birth of Jesus, but initiated them after he was born."
- L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 35.
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- L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church trans. T. Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), p. 40.
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- "Sermon on the Presentation of Christ in the Temple", Luthers Werke 52:688- 99,quoted in Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary through the Ages, 158, and Martin Luther's Theology of Mary
- Zwingli, Ulrich; Egli, Emil; Finsler, Georg; Zwingli-Verein, Georg; Zürich (1905). "Eini Predigt von der ewig reinen Magd Maria.". Huldreich Zwinglis sämtliche Werke (in German) 1. C. A. Schwetschke und Sohn. p. 385. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
- Blessed one: Protestant perspectives on Mary by Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Cynthia L. Rigby 2002 ISBN 0-664-22438-5 page 119
- Calvin. "Commentary on Luke 1:34". Harmony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke vol. 1. Full statement: "The conjecture which some have drawn from these words ['How shall this be, since I know not a man?'], that she had formed a vow of perpetual virginity, is unfounded and altogether absurd. She would, in that case, have committed treachery by allowing herself to be united to a husband, and would have poured contempt on the holy covenant of marriage; which could not have been done without mockery of God. Although the Papists have exercised barbarous tyranny on this subject, yet they have never proceeded so far as to allow the wife to form a vow of continence at her own pleasure. Besides, it is an idle and unfounded supposition that a monastic life existed among the Jews."
- Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949: “Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned” (vol. 2, p. 215); “[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation.“ (vol. I, p. 107)
- The works of the Rev. John Wesley, Volume 15 by John Wesley, Joseph Benson, Published by Thomas Cordeux, London, 1812, "A Letter to a Roman Catholic" page 110 
- Letter to a Roman Catholic, July 18, 1749
- D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 613-614; cf. Robert Schihl, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary for an extended list and quotations.
- D. MacCulloch, The Reformation: a History (Penguin Books, 2003) pp. 558-63
- see John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion IV,12,27-28
- See, e.g., David Brown. "Commentary on Matthew 13:56". Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Whole Bible. Retrieved 2009-01-07.
An exceedingly difficult question here arises—What were these 'brethren' and 'sisters' to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or, Thirdly, Were they cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed. For the second opinion there is no ground but a vague tradition, arising probably from the wish for some such explanation. The first opinion undoubtedly suits the text best in all the places where the parties are certainly referred to (Mt 12:46; and its parallels, Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; our present passage, and its parallels, Mr 6:3; Joh 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Ac 1:14). But, in addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, thinking it in the last degree improbable that our Lord, when hanging on the cross, would have committed His mother to John if He had had full brothers of His own then alive, prefer the third opinion; although, on the other hand, it is not to be doubted that our Lord might have good reasons for entrusting the guardianship of His doubly widowed mother to the beloved disciple in preference even to full brothers of His own. Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties.
- Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 4 vols., (St. Louis: CPH, 1950-53), 2:308-09.
- "Scripture does not quibble or speak about the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ, a matter about which the hypocrites are greatly concerned, as if it were something of the utmost importance on which our whole salvation depended. Actually, we should be satisfied simply to hold that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ because Scripture does not state or indicate that she later lost her virginity... But the Scripture stops with this, that she was a virgin before and at the birth of Christ; for up to this point God had need of her virginity in order to give us the promised blessed seed without sin" (That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew (1523), in Luther’s Works, American Edition, Walther I. Brandt, ed., Philadelphia, Augsburg Fortress; St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1962, ISBN 0-8006-0345-1 pp. 205-206; cf. James Swam (Martin Luther's Theology of Mary).
- Luther's Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan (vols. 1-30) & Helmut T. Lehmann (vols. 31-55), St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House (vols. 1-30); Philadelphia: Fortress Press (vols. 31-55), 1955, v.22:23 / Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4 (1539), quoted in Martin Luther on Mary's Perpetual Virginity
- Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark, 1952, MacMillan, London. p248
- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "Brethren of the Lord"
- Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph Fitzmyer and John Reumann ed., Mary in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978 ISBN 978-0-80912168-7), p. 72
- François Rossier: The "Brothers and Sisters" of Jesus: Anything New?
- Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark, 1952, MacMillan, London. p248
- Leon Morris, 1 Corinthinas, an Introduction and Commentary, 1958, IVP, Leicester, p 133.
- C K Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 2nd Edition (1971), A&C Black, London, p 203.
- Tasker, R.V., The Gospel according to Saint Matthew (InterVarsity Press 1961), p. 36
- Hill D., The Gospel of Matthew, p80 (1972) Marshall, Morgan and Scott:London
- Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Doubleday 1999 ISBN 978-0-385-49447-2), p. 132
- Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Generation of Christ, 5.
- (Howard Marshall, I., The Gospel of Luke (Paternoster Press 1978), p. 68);
- Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, p. 304
- Taylor, The Gospel According to St Mark, 1952, MacMillan, London, p249
- Fundamentals of Catholicism by Kenneth Baker 1983 ISBN 0-89870-019-1 pages 334-335
- Pope John Paul II's General Audience of 28 August 1996, printed in L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 4 September 1996 The article at EWTN
- Vatican website: Pope John Paul II's General Audience of 28 August 1996 (in Italian)
- L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 30 April 1997, page 11 Article at EWTN
- Vatican website: Pope John Paul II's General Audience of 28 April 1997 reprinted in L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 30 April 1997, page 11
- The Holy Qur'an: Maryam (Mary), Sura 19 (Translation by A. Yusuf Ali)
- The Truth about Islam & Jesus by John Ankerberg, Emir Caner 2009 ISBN 0-7369-2502-3 page 65 
- What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary by Terrence J. McNally 2009 ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 161 
- Women in the Qur'ān, traditions, and interpretation by Barbara Freyer Stowasser. Oxford University Press: 1994, pp. 78-70, 163.
- "The Virgin Mary in Islamic tradition and commentary" by J. I. Smith et al., published in the Muslim World (Hartford, Conn.) v. 79 (July/October 1989) p. 161-87
- Sarker, Abraham.Understand My Muslim People. 2004 ISBN 1-59498-002-0 page 260