Quasi-Oz Poppycock: An Exchange on Mary, Another Redeemer?
between James R. White and William Possidento
James R. White's (JRW) quasi-Oz poppycock: an exchange regarding his Mary-Another Redeemer?
On 1 February 2000, JRW e-mailed me his rejoinder, his (electronic) digital signature included, to a version of my review of his Mary-Another Redeemer? (Bethany House Publishers, 1998, 158 p.). My original review, first posted at amazon.com around September 1999, equaled Amazon's 1,000-word upper limit for a customer comment. Please note that I never contacted Mr. White and did not intend to elicit a direct response from him. I suppose that someone sympathetic to his views forwarded him a copy of my review complete with my e-mail address. Mr. White referred four times in his rejoinder to the reviewer of his book rather than you, revealing his uncertainty that he was e-mailing the reviewer himself.
Mary-Another Redeemer? and my review of it were public, too. Still more, on his Alpha and Omega Ministries web site, he described my customer comment as an incredibly poor review, edited portions of which were amazingly published on p. 40 of the February 2000 issue of This Rock, a magazine which Catholic Answers publishes.
I do not, therefore, consider his rejoinder private correspondence. I hope that no one mistakes my review or counter-reply for ad hominem attack. My truck throughout is with Mr. White's misstatements and elisions. As much as I disagree with his errors and am disappointed by his omissions, I wish him well, though currently we would not agree upon what is well for him. Note that Mr. White did not include all of my review in his rejoinder and that I reproduced neither one brief question from my review which Mr. White did rejoin nor Mr. White's one-word reply to that question.
The Amazon.com Review on JRW's "straw-woman" argument
Subtle is the Lord. JRW's Mary-Another Redeemer? betrays an either-or mindset too clumsy to articulate not only the subtleties but even many broad features of the title "Co-Redeemer." Mr. White frames his complaints about various Catholic teachings, not just the doctrine of Co-Redemption, in an either-or box, forcing a dichotomy. For example, according to Mr. White, applying Co-Redeemer to the Virgin Mary equates Mary with Jesus or makes her an alternate to him. Mr. White faintly acknowledges that "Co-" in Co-Redeemer means with rather than equal or alternative. He dismisses this difference, however, asserting here or arguing there that Catholics fail to maintain distinctions such as this. He includes Another in the book's title precisely to indicate that, in assigning Co-Redeemer to Mary, the Catholic Church sets Mary as an equal or alternative to Jesus. What rot. Then Mr. White sets fire to the straw woman of his own making -- the false charges that he attributes to orthodox Catholic teaching or actual Catholic practice. Mr. White is a consuming fire. ["Have a little fire, Scarecrow?"]
JRW's rejoinder: My work clearly related the Catholic claim that the elevation of Mary inherent in RC theology does not make Mary the equal of Christ. It is "rot" to misrepresent my work in this way. Anyone reading the work with a modicum of unbiased reflection knows this to be true. Further, I did not title the book. I rarely do. Finally, the *conclusion* of the examination of the *official* and* dogmatic* sources cited (accurately) in the work is that the attempt to safeguard the uniqueness of Christ fails: to charge the work with misrepresentation on the basis that its conclusion does not agree with Rome is preposterous at best. My audiences have found the chart, found on page 141, to be quite compelling, and only the most dedicated follower of Rome can fail to see the force of the argument.
WP's counter-reply: I did not accuse Mr. White of writing that Catholicism professes that Mary is the equal of Christ; in places he showed or told that Catholicism denies such an equation. Nor did I make any charges, preposterous or otherwise, simply because any of his conclusions does not agree with Rome. Rather, (not to put too fine a point on it) I have charged him with poor reasoning and slipshod research, though he is also given to assertions cloaked scantily by emotional fig leaves. Despite the Catholic Church's claims to properly respect such differences, Mr. White repeatedly charged Catholicism with failing to protect many differences between the creature, the Virgin Mary, and her Creator, God.
I believe I showed that Mr. White misrepresented the Scriptural and Traditional support Catholicism cites as evidence for its teachings and that he quixotically attacked the misrepresentation of his own making. Such an assault against a falsely imputed view is a straw man argument. I think I limned how Mr. White bobbled fine distinctions and mauled broad features. His mishandling of both the subtle and the salient heaped more straw onto the fallacy. This, I believe, may be both a cause and an effect of his dichotomous mindset. Though he still has not disclosed the responsible party (Bethany House Publishers perhaps, with whom I understand he has a contract), I apologize to Mr. White for my presumption that he titled the book, and I am encouraged that he did not defend the book's title in his rebuttal. To describe the title, however, rot, though indelicate, remains apt. And not very helpfully, the book's rear cover has the words "The New 'Mary' Question" as its heading. Beneath that heading are the following words:
Strange words those. The belief in Mary's role as Co-Redeemer was recognized in the writings of St. Justin and St. Irenaeus in the second century, of Tertullian in the third, of St. Augustine and many others in the fourth and fifth. It had almost achieved the status of proverb, orthodox belief that it was, by the fourth century. The titles Coredemptrix or Coredemptress have been common since the fifteenth century and appear in some official Church documents under Pope St. Pius X, r. 1903-1914 (see Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 4th ed, 1974, p. 212).
Further, the role of all Christians as co-redeemers (with respect to the subjective redemption, but not the objective redemption) is explicit in the New Testament. I will elaborate on most of these points later. True, there is a newly frequent question -- whether the Catholic Church will define a new "Marian" dogma -- but the rear cover fails to communicate that what may become the new dogma is a very old doctrine. So old is the doctrine that the Virgin Mary had a significant role in the redemption that it may have been an apostolic teaching.
We shall see, I believe, how this doctrine is strongly implicit in the New Testament. Note also, among the words on the rear cover, the use of "elevating" the topic. I suspect that such usage is intended to echo the accusation that the Catholic Church is elevating the Virgin Mary to an undeserved status -- to the level of God -- rather than clarifying her role in the economy of salvation. One might invoke a different proverb, however, to admonish me: Don't judge a book by its cover (front or rear). The balance of my counter-reply, minding that proverb, will not address the rotten title on the book's front cover or the equivocal words on the rear cover, but just some of what Mr. White inserted between them plus his rejoinder to my review.
WP's amazon.com review: The book fails Biblically, Traditionally and logically: Mr. White writes (p. 75): "...Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix [is] completely absent from the Bible and from the early Church..." Oh? A splendid passage of St. Irenaeus proves otherwise: "Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith." (Against Heresies AD 180-199). Many other disproofs exist, including St. Paul's: "...we do share in God's work..." (1 Corinthians 3:9).
JRW's rejoinder: Of course this is another example of the most egregious eisegesis of patristic texts (common in Roman apologists). Even the promoters of the dogma do not attempt to make the direct connection of the passage of Irenaeus, so clearly is the idea of "co-redemptrix" absent from any semi-unbiased reading of the text. It is interesting to note that the reviewer somehow forgets to note my footnote on this very passage (footnote 3, pages 154-155).
WP's counter-reply: Brace yourselves. I will respond at considerable length to Mr. White's remarks. I will discuss his treatment of a passage from St. Irenaeus, then other passages of St. Irenaeus which Mr. White does not handle, then passages of other Fathers of the Church and, finally, writings of St. John and St. Paul in the New Testament. And thus we will go both before and after St. Irenaeus to demonstrate the orthodoxy of belief in Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix in the Bible and in the early Church.
In his rejoinder, please note that Mr. White did not retreat from his charge yet did not respond to my citation of St. Paul (1 Cor 3:9ff; cf. 2 Cor 5:18-6:2). I identified a New Testament verse from the Apostle to the Gentiles as a counter-example to Mr. White's assertion, and Mr. White did not reply to that point.
No Origin in History?
In his book, Mr. White might have better guided (misguided competes here with guided) his readers had his endnote 3 on pp. 154-155 been referenced to the passage on p. 75 (which I cited in my review) rather than only to another passage on p. 89. Mr. White wrote on pp. 75-76 (here, with more space, I give the full sentence which stretched from p. 75 to p. 76, instead of the portion I quoted in my review from p. 75 only) as follows:
That statement was unattended by any footnote or endnote (the book only has endnotes).
Before proceeding to discussion of St. Irenaeus's works, note that Mr. White wrote that "the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix....does not have its origin in history." Yet for anything to originate outside of history, it would necessarily have its beginnings outside of place or time. God may exist outside of his creation which includes both space and time. But if the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix did not originate in God, then how could it originate outside of history? That would be akin to division by zero -- a division by no place and no time. Either way, Mr. White's statement about the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix implies that God is the source of the idea. Otherwise it must have originated in history. An assertion that the idea originated both apart from God and outside of history makes no sense and discloses Mr. White's knack for creating false dichotomies.
It might be objected that Mr. White wrote nebulously and perhaps meant outside of recorded history, in which case he may have meant that the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix originated in place and time yet that this origin evaded chronicling. But if the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix originated, as Mr. White asserted, in this kind of piety or religious devotion that is focused upon Mary, cannot this kind of piety or devotion (or heresy that it is according to Mr. White) be traced to its source having a particular place and time? Ideas have histories. We can trace the Arian heresy (named after Arius of Alexandria) to early in the fourth century around Alexandria, Egypt, and the Albigensian heresy (the heretics were called Albigensians or Albigenses), though it may be a renewed expression of one or more earlier heresies, to its beginning in the twelfth century, perhaps in Albi, southern France. Thus an assertion that the idea originated historically but evaded chronicling is implausible.
Peculiarly, Mr. White eventually (p. 137) did report, the falsity of which I believe I will demonstrate, that
Did Mr. White believe that St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) and St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716) were not historical figures? (Note that Grignon and Grignion both seem to be common spellings based on a few glances into several books and that these same books show Louis-Marie hyphenated and not).
If my attention to this point does not yet appear to verge on quibbling, it should after the reader quaffs the numerous sober toasts in the Bible and in the early Church to the Virgin Mary. We will sail through the writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Justin (the) Martyr, Tertullian, St. Ephrem of Syria, St. Epiphanius of Salamis, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Jerome, St. Augustine of Hippo, Theodotus of Ancyra, St. Peter Chrysologus, Hesychius of Jerusalem, Antipater of Bostra, Basil of Seleucia, St. Chrysippus of Jerusalem, St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul to map the orthodoxy, the universality, of the belief in the Virgin Mary as Co-Redeemer and Mediatrix in the Bible and in the early Church.
Without exhausting available testimonies, their teachings will redundantly disprove Mr. White's sweeping assertion. Mr. White, in denying the existence of such belief, even waxing emphatic with the words
"completely absent," will be shown to have steered his pilgrim readers into a slough of despond.
In my review, to show the presence of belief in Mary as Co-Redemptrix or Mediatrix in the Bible and in the early Church, I limited myself to less than one verse from St. Paul (about whom more later) and a sliver from St. Irenaeus's most famous work to conform my review to Amazon's 1,000-word limit. Mr. White presented a larger and non-overlapping quotation of St. Irenaeus as an endnote on pp.154-155 as follows, in context, he assured us:
Mr. White stated in this note that a portion of this citation "is used over and over and over again to establish an idea that is simply not a part of the original thinking of Irenaeus." (p. 154). Mr. White simply asserted, that is, claimed, but provided no supporting reasons, that
So clearly is the idea of "co-redemptrix" absent from any semi-unbiased reading of the text, huh? Trotted out over and over and over again to establish an idea that is simply not a part of the original thinking of Irenaeus, huh? Horsefeathers.
First, about St. Irenaeus, whose name in Greek means man of peace (check the etymology of irenic in an English dictionary) and deserved his name according to Eusebius of Caesarea (The Ecclesiastical History 5, 24 [Harvard Univ Press, 1980], vol 1, p. 513). Irenaeus was born around 140 and became, in his youth, a pupil of St. Polycarp (c. 70-155), the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, who was a disciple of St John the Evangelist, and who later met martyrdom. A fragment of a letter of Irenaeus mentions how as a boy he heard Polycarp speak of his conversations with John and others who had seen the Lord (William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 1, p. 106). The Apostles appointed St. Polycarp to his see. Thus Irenaeus was a bishop taught by a bishop taught by one of the twelve original bishops. Irenaeus had friendships with other disciples of the Apostles (Johannes Quasten, Patrology, vol 1, p. 288). While this sterling pedigree does not prove orthodoxy, it joins St. Irenaeus to the Apostles as few others -- with an unalloyed weld of silver. He was the second bishop of Lyons for twenty or thirty years in Gaul (now Lyons, France). A group later to be martyred under Emperor Antoninus (161-180) commended him to Eleutherus (also spelled Eleutherius), the Bishop of Rome (Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History 5, 4, 2). St. Irenaeus himself died around 202. According to St. Gregory of Tours, Irenaeus met a martyr's death (Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, I, 27, in Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, p. 51). St. Gregory's sixth century report, however, was late and not fully credible. Eusebius, who had good knowledge of Irenaeus, mentioned no such end.
Philip Hughes wrote that Irenaeus was no innovator but simply summarized the legacy of all those who had preceded him, setting forth the traditional belief and practice of the Church as he knew it
(Hughes, A History of the Church, vol 1, p. 89). Fr. Hughes continued that St. Irenaeus did not merely repeat the tradition, but repeated it to refute the special errors of the Gnostics who claimed to arrive at the fullness of Christianity via Knowledge (Hughes,
History, vol 1, pp. 90-91). According to Quasten (Patrology,
vol 1, p. 287), he was by far the most important of the theologians of the second century. Irenaeus's sense of tradition and his attention to biblical themes give him exceptional importance and explain the constant interest in his writings (Michael O'Carroll,
Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Now, back to Mr. White's summary dismissal on pp. 154-155. Yes, St. Irenaeus discussed marital relationships. But Mr. White asserted that the saint wrote "entirely" about marital relationships and nothing about Eve's role in the fall and Mary's role in the redemption? Well bust my buttons! Mr. White's assertion approaches the tactic of Oz's wizard: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" (I am also reminded how prominently in The Wizard of Oz a straw man figures). If Mr. White believed he could refute what he charges is another example of "the most egregious eisegesis of patristic texts" (common in "Roman" apologists), it surprises that he buries his assertion in the back of the book as a cryptic note poorly referenced to relevant passages.
An aside here which discussion of burial prompts: Calvinists desecrated Irenaeus's shrine at his crypt in Lyons in 1562 (David Hugh Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints [Oxford Univ Press, 1987, 2nd ed], p. 218), but Mr. White's interpretation of Irenaeus may be a greater desecration. Surprises, too, that he asserted refutation, instead of proposing reasons why the reader should believe this is "entirely" about marriage relationships rather than an illumination of the Eve-Mary parallel and antithesis regarding creation, unbelief, disobedience, the fall, incarnation, faith, obedience and redemption.
I find Mr. White unpersuasive because not parsimonious, and not parsimonious because of his quasi-Oz poppycock and because of other passages from St. Irenaeus in
Against Heresies and in Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. Mr. White deprived his readers of these.
Of the Virgin Mary's role as advocate of the virgin Eve according to St. Irenaeus, John Henry Cardinal Newman observed:
St. Irenaeus wrote of Mary in this way not only as above in Against Heresies but also, c. 190-200, in Proof of the Apostolic Preaching (interesting word Apostolic, especially from one so close to the Apostles):
Jaroslav Pelikan, (then) a Lutheran (I believe he converted to the Orthodox Church in 1999), after quoting a slightly longer version of the passage immediately above from Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 33, wrote:
Fr. O'Carroll (Theotokos, p. 187) noted debate over the significance of advocata: does it signify Mary's intercessory role for Eve or does it merely indicate that Mary is a counterpart of Eve? The original Greek versions of Against Heresies and Proof of the Apostolic Preaching have been lost. Against Heresies has been almost completely reconstructed in Greek from its numerous citations in St. Hippolytus, Eusebius and St. Epiphanius, from papyrus fragments and from books of selected passages generally organized by subject matter known as catenae (chains) (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 1, p. 84). Some readers may be familiar with St. Thomas Aquinas's Catena Aurea (Golden Chain), for example. The passages of Irenaeus in question, however, have not been reconstructed in Greek, so we do not know with certainty the Greek term rendered by the Latin advocata. A very literal (Jurgens, p. 84) Armenian version, however, of Proof of the Apostolic Preaching discovered in 1904 seems to indicate that the original Greek word was paracletos (Gambero, Mary and the Fathers, p. 56), reinforcing the supposition of both Protestants and Catholics that Newman noted in 1866.
Would not Mr. White conclude that if Co-Redeemer improperly blurs the distinction between the Virgin Mary and her Savior, then Co-Paraclete would improperly blur the distinction between the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit? Yet St. Irenaeus did not write of Mary as co-paraclete but even more stunningly as paraclete (as rendered in English) if indeed he wrote of her as paracletos (in Greek as rendered in the Roman alphabet), which seems very probable. Where is, and perhaps I mint a phrase here, at least with respect to capitalization, Mr. White's anti-Irenicon? That is, where is his polemic against St. Irenaeus?
More important, where is Mr. White's anti-irenicon against the very early Church that did not rebuke St. Irenaeus but instead received and even recommended him as orthodox? Recall that the works of St. Irenaeus were widely and frequently cited with approval in the works of St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, St. Epiphanius and others. Is a book forthcoming from Mr. White and Bethany House Publishers titled Mary-Another Paraclete? There should be no question that St. Irenaeus taught that the Virgin Mary participated in the redemption at least as much as the virgin Eve did in the fall. Yet Mr. White relegated this to the ordinary behind the "...entire[ly]...about marriage relationships" fig leaf. Mr. White, in his effort to disallow any attribution to the Virgin Mary, on whom the Holy Spirit descended and in whom the Lord was conceived with her consent, of a part in the redemption, is neither Irenic nor irenic but terribly ironic.
If Mr. White's presentation on St. Irenaeus were not misleading enough, in his rejoinder he even misrepresented the modern thinking of the promoters of the dogma about the solitary passage of St. Irenaeus that Mr. White cited in the book. In his rejoinder, Mr. White professed that "even the promoters of the dogma do not attempt to make the direct connection of the passage of Irenaeus, so clearly is the idea of 'co-redemptrix' absent from any semi-unbiased reading of the text." But Pope John Paul II, though he may be an inopportunist (that is, considered the time inappropriate for the definition of the dogma while believing it) is widely considered a strong promoter of the possible dogma. About the very passage of St. Irenaeus that Mr. White included in his endnote on pp. 154-155, Pope John Paul II said:
It would be difficult to imagine a more conspicuous disproof of Mr. White's statement on modern promoters of the dogma.
St. Justin (the) Martyr: "...by her has He been born...by whom God destroys the serpent..."
St. Irenaeus (c. 180) was not the earliest author to explicitly join a counterpart to St. Paul's Adam-Christ parallel and antithesis: St. Justin Martyr was earlier (c. 150) and may have been the first writer to explicate the Eve-Mary parallel and antithesis, though it is strongly implicit in the Bible. Commonly regarded as the first Christian philosopher, this Palestinian, born of Pagan parents between 100 and 110, converted to Christianity about 133, probably at Ephesus, later passing to Rome where he taught and met martyrdom. His Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, c. 155, preceded St. Irenaeus's Against Heresies (c. 180-199) and The Preaching of the Apostles (c. 190-200) by several decades.
Thus this very early martyr compared and contrasted Eve and Mary. According to St. Justin's first sentence above, the redemption did not merely correct the fall but reversed, that is, recapitulated, it. I re-emphasize that St. Justin wrote the passage above c. 155.
Tertullian of Carthage: "...the fault that Eve introduced...Mary by believing erased..."
Tertullian was born in Carthage between 155-160 to a Roman family of pagan religion. After practicing law in Rome, he turned his talents in law, literature (both Greek and Latin) and philosophy to Christianity following his conversion around 193. St. Jerome described him as a priest though this is disputed. Tertullian was the first Christian author in Latin and the first writer to use Trinity and apply person to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Gambero, Mary and the Fathers, p. 61). He passed into Montanism, a rigorist and anti-clerical heresy, gradually around 206-213. He died after 220 and possibly as late as 250.
Some of Tertullian's judgements about the Virgin Mary -- he denied her perpetual virginity, for example -- seem to be an excessive reaction against the Gnostics who believed, as Tertullian told in The Flesh of Christ (between 208-212), that Jesus "was born through a virgin, not of her; that he dwelled in her womb, but was not of her womb..." (The Flesh of Christ 20, 1, PL 2:830-831 [Migne] in Gambero, p. 63). Eventually, Christian art would portray the pregnant Mary to counter this tendency (Pelikan, Mary, p. 48). (As an aside, of the four ancient writers [all in the third and fourth centuries] who thought that the 'brothers' [of the Lord] were Mary's sons, Tertullian eventually left the Church and the other three [Jovinian, Helvidius and Bonosus] were officially repudiated in their time (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 88). Still, Tertullian's numerous writings exerted a determining influence on the formulation and development of Christian doctrine in the West, especially trinitarian theology and Christology (Gambero, p. 60). The following passage is also from The Flesh of Christ, written between 208-212:
Strong word erased. Some translations have "blotted out" in its place, another forcible expression. Observe that Tertullian also identified the idea of recapitulation. Cardinal Newman, in the nineteenth century, remarked that St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and Tertullian remind the reader of St. Paul's antithetical sentences in tracing the analogy between Adam's work and our Lord's work (Newman, in Mary -- The Second Eve, p. 5). Not only do St. Justin, St. Irenaeus and Tertullian testify to the presence in the Church of the second and third centuries of belief of the Virgin Mary's active role in the redemption, but in representing many localities in Asia, Europe and Africa, they also indicate the universality of that belief. Further, St. Irenaeus was familiar with the faith as it was preached and lived in Ephesus, where St. John the Evangelist lived and was buried not long before; it was St. John to whom Jesus, from the cross, entrusted the care of the Virgin Mary (John 19:25-27). And both St. Justin and Tertullian lived long in Rome where both St. Peter and St. Paul evangelized and were martyred not long before.
St. Ephrem of Syria: Mary as Mediatrix and Dispensatrix
St. Ephrem (or Ephraem, c. 306-373), the lyre of the Holy Spirit, a monk and a deacon, wrote in Syrian of the Virgin Mary according to a prayer ascribed to him: "After the Mediator thou art the mediatrix of the whole world..." (Oratio IV ad Deiparam, 4th Lesson of the Office of the Feast, cited in Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 211). In another prayer attributed to him, we read of Mary as the dispensatrix of all goods (William G. Most, Mary in Our Life, p. 34). On the similarities and contrasts of Eve and Mary, he wrote: "Mary and Eve, two people without guilt, two simple people, were identical. Later, however, one became the cause of our death, the other the cause of our life." (Op Syr II, 327; Ott, p. 201). St. Gregory, bishop of Nyssa (330-395), wrote in praise of St. Ephrem (Farmer, Saints, p. 143). For his voluminous works, the Church in 1920 named St. Ephrem a Doctor of the Church (ibid).
St. Epiphanius of Salamis: Mary as Mother of the Living
St. Epiphanius (c. 315-403), a Palestinian born near Gaza who passed his youth in Egypt, was for many years a monk. Before his election in 367 as bishop of Constantia (now Salamis) on Cyprus, he founded a monastery near his birthplace over which he presided for some thirty years. His reputation for learning and sanctity induced the bishops of Cyprus to choose him, also in 367, as their metropolitan.
He is said to have possessed a gruff personality and Quasten described his writings as hasty, superficial, and disorderly compilations of the fruits of his extensive reading (Patrology, vol 3, p. 385). He was the first vehement iconoclast (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 2, p. 67). St. John Damascene, to the contrary, wrote that the alleged iconoclasm of St. Epiphanius was due to a fictitious and inauthentic work (St. John of Damascus, First Apology, 25 in St. John of Damascus, On the Divine Images [St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1994], p. 32). Perhaps because of his disagreeable personality, the also curmudgeonly, also polyglot, St. Jerome revered St. Epiphanius and called him a pentaglot for his knowledge of Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, Coptic and some Latin.
St. Epiphanius extended reflection on the Eve-Mary parallel and contrast when he applied to Mary the title Mother of the Living (Gen. 3:20) (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 134). According to St. Epiphanius in a work completed in 377 AD (Quasten, Patrology, vol 3, p. 388), "on appearances Eve is the mother of the living, but it is from Mary that life itself has been begotten for the world, that she should bring forth a living being, become his mother. Figuratively then...Mary has been called the Mother of the Living." (Panacea Against All Heresies, 78; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 135). Before continuing with St. Epiphanius, I introduce a very late-20th century (1999) comment on this point:
Now, back to St. Epiphanius who continued on the Eve-Mary parallel and antithesis:
Note, too, that in Panacea Against All Heresies (or the Panarion), St. Epiphanius, the hammer of heresies (Gambero, Mary and the Fathers, p.122), condemned heresies which might be thought to occupy opposite ends of the spectrum of Marian views. At one end were the Antidicomarianites whom St. Epiphanius presented as heretics that above all denied the perpetual virginity of Mary and held that after the birth of Jesus, she had normal marital relations with Joseph (ibid). At the other end were the Kollyridians (or Collyridians), a sect widespread in Arabia, Thrace and Scythia consisting largely of women who practiced exaggerated and aberrant forms of worship directed to the Virgin Mary (ibid). St. Epiphanius reported that this sect offered oblations consisting of kollyra or collyrida, a kind of bread, as if to a god, and then the bread would be consumed in the manner of a true sacramental communion (ibid; Laurentin, A Short Treatise, p. 59).
St. Ambrose of Milan: Mary alone brought salvation, conceived the redemption of all
St. Ambrose (c. 337-397), well known today for, among other things, whatever part he had in the conversion in 386 of St. Augustine of Hippo, was consecrated Bishop of Milan in 374, one week or so after his baptism. St. Ambrose viewed Mary's role in redemption in the context of the Incarnation: "She was alone when the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. She was alone and she wrought the salvation of the world and conceived the redemption of all." (Ep 49, 2; PL 16:1154 [Migne]; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 20).
St. Jerome: "...death by Eve, life by Mary..."
According to the Venerable Newman, by the time of St. Jerome (c. 331-420, though 347 is often given as the year of Jerome's birth), the contrast between Eve and Mary had almost passed into a proverb (Mary -- The Second Eve, p. 7). St. Jerome wrote in Rome in 384 AD: "Death by Eve, life by Mary" (Letter 22, 21, To Eustochium, ibid). Citing this passage from St. Jerome, Newman wrote "nor let it be supposed that he, any more than the preceding Fathers, considered the Blessed Virgin a mere physical instrument of giving birth to our Lord, who is the Life." (Mary -- The Second Eve, p. 7-8). Newman continued:
St. Augustine of Hippo: "...Life is born to us through a woman...she cooperated so that the faithful...might be born in the Church..."
The world-wide authority according to Newman, St. Augustine (354-430), wrote Christian Combat in 396 or 397 in simple language to explain the rule of faith and precepts for living to those incapable of grasping the same notions written in loftier theological language:
The Doctor of Grace thus also captured the concept of recapitulation. To teach esteem of virginity without slighting marriage (Quasten, Patrology, vol 4, p. 374), St. Augustine wrote Holy Virginity (in which he waxed especially eloquent in defending Mary's perpetual virginity, Jurgens, vol 3, p. 71) -- another aside here, in 401:
Telling word cooperated. St. Augustine composed, from 391 until his death in 430, perhaps thousands of sermons. This one also bore the idea of recapitulation:
Theodotus of Ancyra
Theodotus (died c. 445), Bishop of Ancyra (now Ankara, Turkey) in Asia Minor was one of the most prominent Fathers at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) where he vigorously opposed his heretical friend Nestorius. Theodotus called the Virgin Mary the dispensatrix of good things (William G. Most, Mary in Our Life, p. 34).
St. Peter Chrysologus
Archbishop of Ravenna and a Doctor of the Church, St. Peter Chrysologus (c. 400-450) -- the "Golden Preacher" -- was the name given to him in the ninth century, also commented on the Eve-Mary antithesis and the idea of recapitulation: "The angel deals with Mary about salvation, because with Eve an angel [fallen] had dealt about ruin." (Serm 142; PL 52:579; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 284).
Hesychius of Jerusalem
Hesychius (died after 451) was a monk and priest in Jerusalem, a revered teacher and exegete of Sacred Scripture, and a contemporary of the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) who outlived the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). His are the following words from a homily on Mary:
In another passage in the same homily, of Mary he told:
Telling word freed.
Antipater of Bostra
Antipater (died c. 458) was the Bishop of Bostra in Arabia sometime after the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). He was highly regarded by his civil and ecclesiastical contemporaries and his work was ordered as late as 540 to be read in the eastern churches to stop the spread of Origenistic heresies (Catholic Encyclopedia, under Antipater of Bostra). Antipater was cited as an approved author at the second Council of Nicaea in 787. In a homily in the context of the Annunciation he addressed the Virgin thus: "Hail you who acceptably intercedes as a Mediatress for mankind." (In S Joannem Bapt; PG 85:1772C; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 240).
Basil of Seleucia
Basil was Bishop of Seleucia in Isauria in Asia Minor near Antioch during the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) and until 458. He participated in the Latrocinium -- the den of thieves or Robber Synod -- of Ephesus in 449, for which he was regarded for a time as a supporter of Monophysite opinions (Catholic Encyclopedia, under Basil of Seleucia), but returned to orthodoxy at Chalcedon in 451. His Marian views, however, were not considered heretical. In a homily on the Annunciation, probably written in 449 at Constantinople, he described Mary thus: "Set as mediatress of God and men that the dividing element of hatred be taken away and heavenly and earthly [things] be made one..." (PG 85:5:444A; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 72).
St. Chrysippus of Jerusalem
St. Chrysippus (399-479), a Cappadocian by birth, was a monk in Jerusalem and late in life was ordained a priest about 455. In one homily, he presented the Eve-Mary parallel and antithesis and the recapitulation in a clever way, with these words from the devil:
Biblical Commentary: St. John
The Gospel and the apocalypse attributed to St. John always presented Mary in connection with the disciples (Laurentin, A Short Treatise, p. 37, footnote 21) and never describes her as "Mary" (Frederick Jelly, Madonna: Mary in the Catholic Tradition [Our Sunday Visitor, 1986], pp. 59-60). The Gospel treated the relationship of Mary with the Savior's Passion and framed Jesus's ministry with the scenes of Cana and Calvary. In both scenes the Gospel called the Virgin the mother of Jesus whereas Jesus addressed her as "Woman," a form of address that was neither unusual nor disrespectful and occurs in the New Testament apart from Cana and Calvary (see O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 96). Fr. Raymond Brown in his commentary states:
The Wedding at Cana
The Cana wedding episode has an extremely significant place. The Prologue (Jn 1:1-18) of John's Gospel precedes a seven-day structure (Jn 1:19-2:11):
The first thing... in Jn 1:41 probably means "the first thing the next morning" (Brown, Fitzmyer, Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol 2, p. 426). A footnote in The New Jerusalem Bible indicates a manuscript variation reading "Early in the morning..." rather than "the first thing..." -- this variation supports the "next morning" interpretation (The New Jerusalem Bible [Doubleday, 1985], pp. 1746-1747, footnote).
On the third day... in Jn 2:1 is widely understood to mean three days (that is, the day after the morrow) following the meeting on the fifth day with Philip and Nathanael (Brown, Fitzmyer, and Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol 2, p. 427; Jelly, Madonna, p. 59; O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 95). This harmonizes well with the thought that "woman" echoes in Gn 3:15 ("I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers...") and places Mary as the New Eve at the beginning of the new creation (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 96).
The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited, also in John 2:1, suggests that Mary was assisting the host family; this would explain her knowledge of the embarrassing shortage of wine (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 95). Mary's report that 'They have no wine' (Jn 2:3) elicited the mysterious reply from Jesus: 'Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not come yet' (Jn 2:4, literal Greek Ti emoi kai soi, gynai 'what to me and to you'). Some of the Fathers saw the first part of the reply as a rebuke and puzzled over the meaning of hour. Yet the passage shows not a drop that Mary understood herself to have been rebuffed. Had she been reproached, she would not have immediately instructed the waiters to 'Do whatever he tells you' (Jn 2:5). Moreover, the working of the miracle, his first, would have been a very striking about-face by Jesus, especially so very, very soon -- but still, ahem, not immediately -- after the "rebuke." The Greek Fathers thought mostly of Jesus's hour as the beginning of miracles, but St. Augustine, followed by St. Thomas Aquinas, thought it referred to the hour of Christ's death and glorification (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 96).
The interpretation is still unsettled. Modern interpreters belong to either of these camps, with a third or fourth camp occupied by those who understand Jesus's reply as a question: Has not my hour come? or see hour as both the beginning of miracles and the moment of death (ibid). Fr. Raymond Brown explains in his commentary on John that the Semitic phrase (literally) "What to me and to you?" can be understood two ways: (a) "when one party is unjustly bothering another" which "implies hostility" (cf. the demons in Mark 1:24; 5:7); or (b) "when someone is asked to get involved in a matter which he feels is no business of his...." Brown sees John 2:4 under (b). Another interpretation is a variant of (b) which sees the phrase as "this is not our concern" (cf. 2 Sam 16:10) and "Jesus is telling Mary that it is neither his concern nor hers...." (Brown, page 99).
We learn of the amazing execution of the miracle and that this was the first of Jesus's signs: it was at Cana in Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, but they stayed there only a few days (Jn 2:11-12). Note that the Gospel does not indicate that Mary believed in Jesus as a consequence of this sign, clearly implying that she already did so (ibid).
Fr. Laurentin, while avoiding debated interpretations, identified five strong points:
Fr. O'Carroll also related these observations about Mary at Cana:
There are many other implications of the Cana marriage far beyond the scope of this counter-reply.
What did Mr. White say about the Cana nuptials in Mary-Another Redeemer? Mr. White wrote (p. 26): "Jesus rebukes her understandable impatience, reminding her that they are both bound by the Father's divine timetable, and they cannot alter what He has determined." An interpretation that Jesus rebuked his mother has some basis in a few of the Fathers. But this harsher interpretation seems much less probable with the working of the miracle, which Mr. White did not even mention on p. 26, where he first discussed Cana, than the idea that Mary in some way interceded and that Jesus performed the miracle, his first, at her behest on behalf of others. Mr. White let the best wine remain mere water to his readers, and perhaps dirtied the water with his assertion that Jesus rebuked his mother. Mr. White's omission of the miracle from p. 26 is again reminiscent of the order of the Wizard of Oz to "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
Mr. White also neglected to inform about the seven-day structure of the opening of St. John's Gospel or even the possibility, let alone the likelihood, that the Virgin Mary functioned at Cana as the New Eve. Later in his book, Mr. White (p. 103) commented briefly on the Catholic interpretation that Mary mediated or interceded at Cana. He mentioned not merely the absence of such an understanding in the Scriptures or the early Church but, again waxing emphatic, the vanity of even searching for such an understanding. I think I showed above how St. John's Gospel attests to the intercession of the mother of Jesus at Cana. Much later in this counter-reply, however, in a discussion of Christ as the unique mediator, we shall taste the fruit of a successful search among the Fathers, usually the best interpreters of the Scriptures, that the Virgin Mary not only desired the miracle but interceded.
Mary at Calvary
The Calvary episode resembles the Cana episode. As mentioned above, in both scenes the Gospel called the Virgin the "mother of Jesus" whereas Jesus addressed her as "Woman," perhaps emphasizing that the family of disciples, of which Mary was the pre-eminent disciple, takes priority over the biological family:
Many have seen in this passage merely the instructions of Jesus to St. John to care for the Virgin Mary. But the text (which is consistent with the belief that Mary had no other biological children) indicates much more than Jesus's concern for his mother's well being. 'Woman, this is your son' precedes 'this is your mother;' it is John who is first confided to Mary yet St. John's mother also seems to be present at the foot of the cross (Laurentin, A Short Treatise, p. 40). And this is your mother alone would have sufficed. It is also extremely unlikely that Christ should have waited until this, the most solemn occasion in history, to arrange for temporal concerns that could have been made before the Passion. Might Jesus, according to this Gospel, have implied the universal motherhood of Mary, she whom St. Epiphanius contrasted with Eve and called the Mother of the Living?
Regarding John 19:26-27, Mr. White, in endnote 4 on p. 155 about Mary as the "Mother of the Church," remarked that the passage "in its original context, does not begin to suggest such a far-reaching concept." He noted that Fr. O'Carroll (Theotokos, p. 253) reported that the Fathers of the Church and early Christian writers did not so interpret the words of the dying Christ (Mr. White gave the wrong title for Fr. O'Carroll's encyclopedia). I understand Fr. O'Carroll to have meant that there was no consensus on this point among the Fathers, but not that the belief was absent. Ignace de la Potterie, in an outstanding exegetical and theological work, made the same observation (Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant [Alba House, 1992], pp. 211-213). Fr. de la Potterie commented:
Both Origen (c. 185-254) and St. Ambrose (c. 337-397) did so interpret the words of the dying Christ. In a commentary on John's Gospel written starting in 226, Origen wrote:
Either Origen meant that probably only John could understand his own Gospel, a highly improbable and humorous suggestion, or he meant that Mary is the mother of Christians and therefore of the Church according to the words of the moribund Jesus (very shortly after in the same passage, by the way, Origen affirmed the belief that Mary had no biological child other than Jesus). St. Ambrose wrote:
According to St. Ambrose, Mary is the mother of all disciples and a symbol of the Church, a symbolism which recurs in Revelation 12. Thus, Origen in the third century and St. Ambrose in the fourth declared belief in what Mr. White (p. 155) disbelieved and described as "far-reaching" not suggested in its original context. Further, Nilus the Ascetic (died c. 430), the abbot or archimandrite of a monastery near Ancyra and a contemporary of St. Augustine, echoed Origen in calling Mary mother of those who live according to the Gospel (Nilus, Epistolae I, 266; PG 77:179d; Laurentin, A Short Treatise, p.73).
Further, Mr. White failed to relate in his endnote (and I believe anywhere else except obliquely in endnote 3 on pp. 154-155 in the quotation from Irenaeus, although I may have missed such reference) that the Fathers emphasized the view of Mary as the New Eve and, as the discussion of St. Epiphanius above indicated, the Mother of the Living. It is but a tiny step from Mother of the Living to Mother of the Church (those "alive in Christ"), a tiny step which has many converging lines of biblical evidence as its motivation, as Fr. O'Carroll showed (cf. O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 253). Still further, St. Augustine for one saw Mary as the model of the Church and, as noted above in the section on St. Augustine, the mother of the members of Christ: "but plainly she is [in spirit] Mother of us who are His members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that Head, might be born in the Church." I am not here making the case that Nilus the Ascetic or St. Augustine saw Mary as the Mother of the Church specifically in connection with John 19:26-27, but there is no doubt that Origen and St. Ambrose did.
The Calvary episode according to St. John, the beloved disciple, was not the only occasion when Jesus seems to have emphasized that the family of disciples, of which Mary was the pre-eminent disciple, takes priority over the biological family. Here I digress from the Gospel attributed to St. John to a comment of the Venerable John Henry Newman on the Gospel attributed to St. Luke (11: 27-28):
Two other clues in chapter 19 of St. John's Gospel remarkably suggest that Jesus had more in mind than his mother's well being when, dying on the cross, he addressed both the "Woman," recalling the woman of Genesis, and the Disciple: "at the place where he had been crucified there was a garden..." (Jn 19:41) is the first clue. This is reminiscent of the garden of the fall (Gen 3) where stood Adam, Eve and the tree with forbidden fruit. The New Adam, the New Eve and the new tree -- the cross -- were on Calvary. The second clue is the "replacement" of the murdered child on Calvary (Jn 19:26-27). This has its antecedent in Eve's words (Gn 4:25): "because God has granted me other offspring...in place of Abel, since Cain killed him." Mary received a new son on Calvary in place of her Son, being murdered, just as Eve, newly expelled from the garden, received Seth in place of her murdered son Abel.
Catholics, Orthodox and perhaps some others are well aware that the Virgin Mary and other saints draw our attention to Jesus. It should be noted that nearly the last thing Jesus did on his cross was to draw our attention to St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary. These observations vividly reveal Mary as the spiritual mother of Christians, as the New Eve with a role in the new creation, and a co-mediatrix subordinate to Jesus according to the Gospel ascribed to St. John.
Biblical Commentary: St. Paul
Here I list only a few gleaming samples among many from the Apostle to the Gentiles to indicate that we all have a role in redemption:
Note in particular 1 Corinthians 9:22, the second passage listed above. It is orthodox to speak of St. Paul's "saving influences." Mr. White, despite this, complained (pp. 105-106) that Pope John Paul II "speaks of the 'saving influences' of Mary while he likewise attempts to safeguard the unique position of Christ...." If St. Paul is a fellow worker with God and a dispenser of his grace, and if we, too, are God's fellow workers, then why not the Virgin Mary? Yet Mary cooperated with her Savior more than anyone and uniquely in her role as his mother and on Calvary during his redemptive sacrifice whereas St. Paul worked and we work after that event. Thus she is the pre-eminent fellow-worker.
William G. Most's clarification of the distinction between the objective redemption and the subjective redemption may help us to understand St. Paul's statements. Jesus's sacrificial death on the cross was sufficient for the redemption of all (the objective redemption) but through prayer and sacrifice we may apply the fruits of that redemption (the subjective redemption), as Pope John Paul's words express.
I repeat Mr. White's charge (pp. 75-76): "In fact, not only is the idea of Mary as Coredemptrix or Mediatrix completely absent from the Bible and from the early Church, it does not have its origin in history but in this kind of piety or religious devotion that is focused upon Mary." I do not believe that Mr. White defined the time span of the early Church. I have taken the early Church to begin in the apostolic era and extend through the patristic era. The patristic era -- the age of the Fathers -- ended in the West in the seventh century with the death of St. Isidore of Seville in 636 and in the East in the eighth century with the death of St. John Damascene in 749 (Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, vol 1, p. x). Yet even without presenting all the biblical evidence or continuing to the end of the patristic era, each century of the first five testifies against Mr. White's expansive claim and powerfully in favor of the Blessed Virgin Mary's role as Co-Redeemer or Mediatrix.
My study hardly exhausts available testimonies. I could have furnished more biblical examples and continued later into the patristic era through the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, etc. Yet that was not Mr. White's only assertion on Mary as Co-Redeemer. Mr. White also wrote (p. 142): "And any Mary who is said to be Coredemptrix on any level speaks with a voice that the sheep of Christ simply will not hear" ("on any level" is italicized in original). It is Mr. White who wrote it. Sheep following Mr. White in this belief will be fleeced if not lamb chopped.
As seen earlier -- and although Mr. White reported the idea "completely absent" -- St. Ephrem of Syria in the fourth century and Antipater of Bostra in the fifth, for two examples of early Churchmen noted for their orthodoxy, used Mediatress. So, too, did Basil of Seleucia in the fifth century who, although briefly regarded as unorthodox for his Monophysite opinions, was not deemed unorthodox for his views of Mary. Basil of Seleucia ended his sermon on the Annunciation with this prayer:
And let us not forget St. Irenaeus's description in the second century of Mary as Eve's advocate, a word with which he may have meant not only that Mary was Eve's counterpart, but also that Mary interceded for Eve. Recall, too, that St. Irenaeus used this word in different works.
Again, as noted earlier, St. Ephrem, in the fourth century, is also believed to have called Mary the dispensatrix of all goods; Theodotus of Ancyra in the first half of the fifth century called the Virgin Mary the dispensatrix of good things. Consider, further, the Sub Tuum, which for long was considered a medieval prayer invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, but is now believed to have been prayed in the fourth or even the third century (c. 250 AD) following the discovery of a papyrus fragment from an early Greek version (O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 257). The accepted Latin version is commonly translated:
The early Church was condemning all manner of heresy. As noted in the discussion of St. Epiphanius, the orthodox assailed heresies regarding the Virgin Mary such as those of the Antidicomarianites and the Kollyridians. But prayers imploring the Virgin Mary and other saints were not condemned because they were acceptable. According to Mitchell Pacwa, the faithful during the persecutions of the early centuries also asked imminent martyrs being marched off to their deaths to pray upon reaching heaven (or purgatory before reaching heaven?) for the faithful. I apologize that I lack a formal reference for this point, but I do recall having heard Fr. Pacwa, S.J., make this statement.
WP's amazon.com review: Those complaints fail to recognize that angels are described as mediators (Job 33:23). They fail to recognize that angels guard us (Psalm 91:11-13), are constantly before the Lord (Matthew 18:10), and offer the prayers of all the saints (Revelation 8:3-5). They fail to disprove that when we pray for each other (as exhorted in 1 Timothy 2:1-4), we are mediators for one another in Jesus, not instead of Jesus. They fail to recognize the role of the Woman (John 2:4), Mary, the New Eve, at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), as a mediator subordinate to Jesus, the New Adam, the blessed fruit of her womb, as Jesus gives the first of his signs. They fail to recognize that St. John presents Mary always in connection with the disciples. This either-or treatment slithers under these truths without sensing their weight.
JRW's rejoinder: Which ignores the refutation of this eisegesis provided in the text of the book.
WP's counter-reply: Mr. White's presentation does not reconcile the observations above to itself. If the angels and the Virgin Mary do not mediate for us, and if we do not mediate for each other, then of what do the verses cited above treat? I believe that Mr. White answered (p. 140) only the part about mediating for each other, but he described this as interceding, without defining any distinction between mediation and intercession:
Mr. White should observe that Mary was in a unique position when Christ, the source of our graces, assumed with her consent his flesh in her, she a human person with a human nature, the virgin mother of our King, Jesus, the divine person with both human and divine natures. The New Testament, though mostly in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk), reported often of the kingdom of God; it also told of the victors' crowns offered as rewards for perseverence in the faith (1 Cor 9:25; 2 Tim 4:8; Jam 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:10; 3:11) and the woman robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev 12:1). Even if Mr. White rejects the slightest Marian interpretation of Revelation 12:1, it would still seem begrudging of him not only to deny the Virgin Mary her victor's crown but also her Queenship of heaven. For blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled (Lk 1:45). Further, Luke's Gospel contrasts Mary's belief in the angel's words with the disbelief of the otherwise upright Zechariah.
Finally, it is fitting to regard the Virgin Mary as Queen of the kingdom of heaven also because she is the believing mother of the King. Mr. White's failure to admit Mary's unique position is not entirely unexpected given that nearly one hundred pages before (p. 47) he wrote that "Mother of God" is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ (p. 46) and that "the term was meant to say something about Jesus, not Mary" (italics in original). While Theotokos, that is, Mother of God, has been a massive touchstone of Christological orthodoxy, as even Mr. White acknowledged, Jesus was not a mother. Oy vey. Mr. White needs chicken soup for his soul and his mind.
And replying to Catholic commentators that the Virgin Mary uniquely mediated between Jesus and mankind at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), Mr. White objected (p. 103) that: "Certainly one searches in vain in the Scriptures or the early church for such an understanding of the text." Oh? Observe that Mr. White not only denied such belief in the Scriptures or the early Church but again waxed emphatic with "certainly." I discussed the Scriptural basis for belief in Mary's mediation drawn from the Cana episode in the section on belief in Mary as Co-Redeemer and Mediatrix under the heading Biblical Commentary: St. John (above).
As for such an understanding elsewhere in the early Church, Fr. O'Carroll commented that, according to Fr. Feuillet, St. John Chrysostom (c. 344-407) and St. Augustine (c. 354-430), the one from the Greek east, the other from the Latin west, believed that the Virgin Mary sought and was granted a messianic miracle (A. Feuillet, L'Heure de Jesus et le signe de Cana, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses [Louvain, Belgium, 36 (1960), 5-22], O'Carroll, Theotokos, p. 96). Mr. White went far beyond saying that some in the early Church testified against belief in Mary's mediation at the wedding at Cana. Mr. White, instead, insisted upon the vanity of searching for belief in the Fathers that Mary mediated at the wedding. Yet according to Fr. O'Carroll, Fr. Feuillet identified that both St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine held that Mary mediated at the feast.
St. John Chrysostom, writing in c. 391, rebuts Mr. White's vain statement:
Perhaps Mr. White can find some strange comfort in St. Chrysostom's opinion that Jesus denied the Virgin Mary? Mr. White, according to p. 41 of Mary-Another Redeemer?, already knew that St. Chrysostom attributed some faults to Mary. Despite St. Chrysostom's relatively harsh opinion of the Mother of the Lord, Chrysostom wrote not only that Mary had desired the miracle from her Son, but also that she brought the servants to Him. Thus the golden mouthed saint indicated his belief that Mary not only prompted the miracle of her Son, but also mediated between the servants and her Son at the wedding. "Certainly one searches in vain in the Scriptures or the early church for such an understanding of the text," huh? Mr. White may have searched in vain, but he need not have.
WP's amazon.com review: Mary-Another Redeemer? was published too late to make the Index of Prohibited Books. To compensate, Mr. White and Bethany House Publishers declined to provide an index, hoping to appear in Books of Prohibited Indexes. Seriously, Mary-Another Redeemer? is a pathetic survey, with gross errors in research and logic, of "Marian" teachings. I urge reading, with a Bible handy, any of the three works recommended above as a ripost to Mr. White's straw. Mr. White should stick his pitchfork in another haystack.
JRW's rejoinder: As we have seen, the reviewer has nothing of substance to say whatsoever; instead, more examples of eisegetical nonsense are provided. It is no wonder the book has received no substantive review: the truth stands on its own merit. James
WP's counter-reply: Rather, there have been many substantial and well documented things said not only in the short review of, but in this much longer counter-reply to, Mary-Another Redeemer? and Mr. White's rejoinder.
Mr. White, further, is an anti-transubstantiationist who would not always recognize the presence of a substance even if he were to eat it or drink it. Of the many disputes I have with Mary-Another Redeemer? I have discussed only a few. I did not address, for just one example, Mr. White's chart on p. 141 mentioned in the very first paragraph of his rejoinder. That chart was not something I treated in my 1,000-word review, though I have found the chart obscuring rather than clarifying, a trait which may have legitimate application occasionally (consider chiaroscuro), but not in Mary-Another Redeemer?
I am hopeful that Mr. White will recognize and publicly acknowledge his many errors and very significant omissions, perhaps during his many presentations against Catholicism or his many debates against Catholic apologists, though some may find such hope ludicrous. Many non-Christians could summon themselves to express regret for their errors and omissions; perhaps Mr. White could find such redeeming qualities in himself. As for myself, I am but a layman. I believe and hope that I have represented the truth accurately and without harmful omissions in responding to Mr. White, a professional clergyman.
The three works I recommended in my review (in a portion which Mr. White did not include with his rejoinder) were
Fr. Laurentin's A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary
Fr. Gambero's Mary and the Fathers of the Church
Fr. Jurgens's three-volume set The Faith of the Early Fathers
Fr. Jurgens includes an extremely helpful doctrinal index keyed to his three volumes. The complete citations for these works can be located within this counter-reply. But I would also recommend most of the other works I favorably cited here.
by William Possidento
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