Mary, The Virgin

Mary, The Virgin

The wife of Joseph, known as “the Virgin” because of her virginal conception of Jesus. Paul refers to her obliquely in describing Jesus as “born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal 4:4). Otherwise, she is portrayed somewhat negatively in Mark, less so in Matthew, and positively in Luke. (Matt 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-38) give differing birth stories, but both include the virginal conception, announced to Joseph in a dream in (Matt 1:18, Matt 1:25) and to Mary by the angel Gabriel in (Luke 1:26-38). Mary, as God’s servant, accepts the angel’s announcement (Luke 1:38) and travels from Nazareth to Judea, to her pregnant kinswoman Elizabeth, who hails her as “blessed among women” and “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:39-45). Mary responds with a hymn of praise (Luke 1:46-55; the Magnificat). Later, the aged Simeon and Anna acknowledge the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2:25-38), and Simeon tells Mary, “a sword will pierce through your soul also” (Luke 2:35). In stories dealing with the adult Jesus, Mary is portrayed somewhat negatively in an account in which she and Jesus’s brothers attempt to seize Jesus (Mark 3:21-30), leading him to describe his disciples as his true family (Mark 3:33-35). But Luke includes Mary among the women disciples praying in the upper room with the Twelve (Acts 1:14) and also as one who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Jesus’s mother is unnamed in John’s Gospel, but her belief in Jesus’s power is demonstrated at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11), though he initially resists her appeal (John 2:4). Later, she appears at the cross with the Beloved Disciple, whom Jesus commends to his mother as her son, and this “son” to her as “mother.” She is then taken into his home (John 19:25-27).