The Protestant Claim Paraphrased:
In Matthew 1:25, the Greek heos hou for “until” proves that Mary lost her virginity sometime after she gave birth to Jesus.
Source: Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism, by Eric Svendson
All it takes is one example to refute this argument. Here are three:
- Psalm 72:7 from the Septuagint: “In his days shall righteousness spring up; and abundance of peace till [heos hou] the moon be removed.
ἀνατελεῗ ἐν ταῗς ἡμέραις αὐτοῦ δικαιοσύνη καὶ πλῆθος εἰρήνης ἕως οὗ ἀνταναιρεθῇ ἡ σελήνη
According to Svendsen’s logic, all this righteousness and peace will end when the moon goes Alderaan boom.
2. 4 Maccabees 7: 1, 3:
For like a most skillful pilot, the reason of our father Eleazar steered the ship of religion over the sea of the emotions, and though buffeted by the stormings of the tyrant and overwhelmed by the mighty waves of tortures, in no way did he turn the rudder of religion until [heos hou] he sailed into the haven of immortal victory.
The Greek Septuagint text:
ὥσπερ γὰρ ἄριστος κυβερνήτης ὁ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ελεαζαρου λογισμὸς πηδαλιουχῶν τὴν τῆς εὐσεβείας ναῦν ἐν τῷ τῶν παθῶν πελάγει καὶ καταικιζόμενος ταῖς τοῦ τυράννου ἀπειλαῖς καὶ καταντλούμενος ταῖς τῶν βασάνων τρικυμίαις κατ’ οὐδένα τρόπον ἔτρεψε τοὺς τῆς εὐσεβείας οἴακας ἕως οὗ ἔπλευσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τῆς ἀθανάτου νίκης λιμένα
And then after Eleazar sailed into immortal victory, he then turned the rudder of religion and apostatized . . . Well, at least according to Svendson.
3. Acts 25:21:
“And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him to be held until [heos hou] I could send him to Caesar. ”
The Greek New Testament text:
τοῦ δὲ Παύλου ἐπικαλεσαμένου τηρηθῆναι αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν τοῦ Σεβαστοῦ διάγνωσιν ἐκέλευσα τηρεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἕως οὗ ἀναπέμψω αὐτὸν πρὸς Καίσαρα
And then as soon as St. Paul was sent to Rome, he was released from custody!
4. Another relevant detail comes from St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on Matthew 1:25:
And when he had taken her, he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son. He has here used the word till, not that you should suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform you that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, has he used the word, ’till’? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, ‘The raven returned not till the earth was dried up.’ And yet it did not return even after that time. (Homily on Matthew 5:5)
There are a couple of notable observations from this:
- St. John Chrysostom is one of the Greek Fathers and doctors of the Church; as such, he would have known the language well. It’s highly telling that he didn’t see a connotation from heos hou which would have shown that the Mother of God had indeed lost her virginity.
- St. John equates “until” in Genesis 8:7, which in the Septuagint text simply has heos, not heos hou, with Matthew 1:25. If such a difference in connotation existed between the two terms, a Greek Church Father would have noticed.
Yes, it is true that heos hou at times appears when there is a change in condition. However, that it is also used in instances in which there is no such change refutes the claim that it demonstrates any such thing. As such, Matthew 1:25 cannot be taken as a refutation of the perpetual virginity of Mary.