Life of Historical Mary

If we collect all available historical data, archeological evidence, oral tradition and other facts to make the case for historical Mary, the mother of Jesus do we tend to accept the Catholic theology or the evangelical protestian theology?


@Gokul_Suresh Great question :slight_smile: One key difference between the way Catholics and Protestants approach theology is the issue of authority. For Catholics, the tradition of the Catholic church is as a authoritative as Scripture. For Protestants, we believe in Sola Scriptura, or Scripture alone. This creates a fundamental difference in the way that we do theology.

A few points to keep in mind on the particular issue of Mary for me:

  1. None of the New Testament writers ever once include Mary in their prayers. If this something that was important, surely the apostle Paul would have done so, but we never see him pray to anyone but Jesus.
  2. We do not know of anyone praying to Mary until hundreds of years after Christ
  3. Jesus taught His disciples to pray directly to God—not to Moses or Elijah or any other saint. The example Jesus gave us was always to pray directly to the living God. In fact, in the 66 Books of the Bible, there is no prayer I am aware of offered by a follower of God to anyone other than God Himself, though on occasion some did ask a living righteous man to intercede for them.

Now, a Catholic would say that I’ve left out the tradition established by the church. But as a Protestant, that tradition does not hold authority; it is the Scriptures that hold the authority. That does not mean that I do not value Church history, but it does mean that when I am seeking to establish my core beliefs it is only Scripture that holds the final say. So you can see where there is a significant difference in how doctrine is established between Protestants and Catholics.

To be clear, I believe many Catholics are dear brothers and sisters in Christ. And I do not think they intend to diminish or distort the Gospel by praying to saints or venerating Mary. But I do believe that it is incorrect theology.

Articles on this Topic

You can imagine how amazed I was when I saw that the passage wasn’t about Mary, but about a woman named Judith in the Old Testament! And even Judith wasn’t being assumed into heaven due to her sinlessness, she was being congratulated for her assistance in winning a battle. Even as a teenager who didn’t know the Bible from a bar of soap, this seemed to be a very poor proof text to use, I thought.

The passage used for The Coronation story wasn’t much better, but at least it was from a non-disputed book from the New Testament. The verse was Revelation 12:1 which reads: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Well, that at least sounded like it could fit a picture of a coronation with the whole “crown of twelve stars”. But as I read the passage and the verses around it, I realised it was actually a prophetic vision and that the imagery being described wasn’t referring to a real woman like Mary, but, as the verse calls it, a “sign”. There was no crowning ceremony taking place, no bestowing of Queen-like authority over all creation.

Now, where do you think that idea come from? Well, it came from my Catholic upbringing, of course. The Catholic Church instilled in me such a respect for the Bible as God’s Word, that in the end, that conviction challenged me to read the Bible for myself and led me to the gospel of Jesus.

Third, ex-Catholic evangelicals enjoy the direct access they have to God through Christ, without the need of any other intermediary. Fourth, ex-Catholics have come to see that only proper object of our devotion is Jesus Christ, not Mary or the saints.

Underlying all of these differences between Catholics and evangelicals, Chris argues, is the issue of authority. Is Scripture our final authority or should we also put councils and encyclicals on equal footing with the Bible? With the possible exception of justification, there is no other issue that does more to separate Catholics and evangelicals more than this issue of authority.

While Christians admit Mary’s uniqueness, the Catholic church has, in its own words, “clarified her position and nature through Sacred Tradition.” Through the centuries, more and more doctrines concerning her have been revealed. For example:1

1. Mary is called the Mother of God. AD 431
2. Prayers offered to Mary AD 600
3. Immaculate Conception (that she was sinless) AD 1854
4. Assumption of Mary AD 1950
5. Mary Proclaimed Mother of the Church AD 1965

Mary is undoubtedly blessed among women (Luke 1:42). But, is it appropriate to attribute to her such titles as “Our Queen, Our Mother, Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope”? I cannot see how it is. Was she sinless? It would seem not since she said she needed a savior in Luke 1:47, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Did she remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus? Again, it seems not since Matt. 1:25 says that Joseph, “. . .kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” Does she mediate and intercede for sinners? Again, the scriptures seem to contradict this when it states that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). Is she exalted above all angels? There is no scripture stating so.

Please understand that CARM is not attacking Mary or her wonderful position in history. Rather, it seeks to examine her position according to biblical revelation and answer the questions just posed. Hopefully, faithfully, and according to God’s word, we can look at Scripture to find the answers.


I realise the issue of authority and therefore the variations of doctrines and belief, still I have a question do we have any reliable historical document about the final days of Mary, dating to the time of Mary?

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@Gokul_Suresh Why do you ask? Are you curious if we have evidence that Mary existed outside of the Bible?

I am not aware of any extra-Biblical evidence for Mary herself, which is not surprising since she lived in a small town in a subjugated nation. But the Gospels and historical evidence for Jesus’ life would indirectly be evidence of Mary.

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I thought if such a reliable source exist, which talks about the truth of Mary’s final hours in the earth, it will solve major issues concerning about marian doctrines between churches, because everything concerning about marian dogmas hinges on her final hour in the earthly world

If she died a normal death, then she is a sinner in the eye of Adam, she need a Savior for ressurection, therefore the women described in the book of revelation must be something else in the eyes of Catholicism also the typologies used by Rome to define the marian dogma must be considered as a heresy
Then the marian dogmas developed by Rome will not stand for sure.

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@Gokul_Suresh Personally, I do not think evidence that Mary died would significantly alter Catholic practices, though it may alter their official doctrinal position. I think they would reinterpret their understanding of Marian devotion in light of the new evidence, but I doubt that they would come to agree with the Protestant view that we ought only to go to Jesus with any form of veneration.

Religious institutions are like cultures—their roots run very deep. And if you have ever lived in another culture long enough to realize how deep your own cultural roots are, you realize that our culture actually bends reality to fit within that cultural view of the world. I’m sure you’ve heard of the glasses analogy—our worldview is like a pair of glasses we wear that impacts how we perceive what we see.

So I do not think such evidence would greatly alter the Catholic outlook.

Do you agree/disagree?

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I agree, only he could solve the problem and wipe all the tears from their eyes as it is written in the book of revelation.

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I appreciate the excellent answers that @SeanO has given you @Gokul_Suresh.

If you are wondering about a Biblical explanation for the woman in Revelation 12 who is clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars about her head, the best explanation I can offer you is found in Genesis 37:9-11. It is the nation of Israel (the 11 stars in Joseph’s dream will become 12 tribes by the end of Genesis).

Revelation 12 is describing the nation of Israel being persecuted by the devil in the days leading up to Armageddon - just as Jesus described in Matthew 24:15-22. In fact, you could summarize the entire Revelation drama as the great war between the Lion of Judah and the Great Red Dragon over the Woman, the nation of Israel. It is the description of how all Israel becomes saved - Romans 11:25-26.


This is a late entry and will not answer the question with certainty but in looking through my library I found this, it is from an issue of Christian History you can read the entire article here.

A number of venerable beliefs about Mary originate in a little-known book.
Even those who know little about the veneration of Mary in church history have probably encountered a number of beliefs about her that can’t be found in the gospel accounts: the names of her parents, for example, or her supposed “immaculate conception” (birth without sin). Many of these come from a single source: the “Protevangelium” or “Gospel of James,”
Although rejected as uncanonical in the 6th century, this book provided the material for many of the most important medieval legends, artistic representations, and ultimately theological beliefs about Mary. A Jewish-Christian work of the 2nd century, it is an infancy narrative with extensive elaborations attesting to the sanctity and special powers of Mary.

Jeffrey, D. L., & Webber, R. (2004). “Hail Mary.” Christian History Magazine-Issue 83: Mary in the Imagination of the Church.

If nothing else it will fill-in some of the blanks.

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