Two Pillars of Orthodoxy Regarding Panagia’s Ever-Virginity

Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus in the 4th century in a list of heresies includes the Antidicomarianites, literally, “the opponents of Mary,” whom he calls heretical because they were insisting that the Panagia had sexual relations with Joseph after the birth of Christ.

Also, in the Ancoratus of Saint Epiphanius, he mentions in his Creed “holy Mary” as “ever-virgin.” In his work the Panarion, he also relates that Saint Iakovos was the child of Saint Joseph and again that Christ was born of “Mary the ever-virgin.”  Saint John of Damascus too in his On Heresies lists the Antidicomarianites as a heretical group for saying that the “blessed Mary, the ever-virgin, had marital relations with Joseph.”  They are listed as heresy number 78 in a list of 103 heresies.  Saint John of Damascus is using Saint Epiphanius’ words here from the Panarion. Saint John also, in a homily on the Birth of the Theotokos refers to her as the “gate of God, remaining a virgin forever” and “”being ever-virgin in mind, and in soul, and in body.”

Furthermore, Saint John, in his Exposition on the Orthodox Faith, summarizes the essential points of the Christian faith.  Here we find Saint John writing, “‘And the Word became flesh’ without being changed, of the Holy Spirit, and Mary the holy ever-virgin, the Mother of God.”  He also tells us that the Panagia turned her mind away from every “secular and carnal desire, and thus keeping her soul as well as her body virginal, as was meet for her who was to receive God into her bosom.”  The Theotokos became “a holy and wonderful temple fit for the most high God.”

 

Saint John continues,

“But just as He who was conceived kept her who conceived still virgin, in like manner also He who was born preserved her virginity intact, only passing through her and keeping her closed.  For it was not impossible (My note: I use italics here for emphasis) for Him to have come by this gate, without injuring her seal in anyway.  The ever-virgin One thus remains even after the birth still virgin, having never at any time up till death consorted with a man…For could it be possible that she, who had borne God and from experience of the subsequent events had come to know the miracle, should receive the embrace of a man.  God forbid!  It is not the part of a chaste mind to think such thoughts, far less to commit such acts.”

 

Sources

1. Epiphanius Scr. Eccl., Ancoratus (2021:001), ch. 13, section 8.  The Greek reads: “και οι την αγίαν Μαρίαν την αειπάρθενον λέγοντες μετα το τον σωτηρα γεγεννηκέναι τω Ιωσηφ συνηφθαι, ούστινας εκαλέσαμεν Αντιδικομαριαμίτας». 

 

2. Epiphanius Scr. Eccl., Ancoratus, Chapter 119, section 5. 

 

3. Epiphanius Scr. Eccl., Panarion (=Adversus haereses), vol. 3, p. 44.

 

4. Saint John of Damascus, “On Heresies,” in Saint John of Damascus: Writings, trans. by Frederic H. Chase, Jr., vol. 37 of The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1958), 131.

 

5. Saint John of Damascus,  S. Joannes Damascenus, Joannes CP, Joannes Nicaenus, Joannes Euboeensis, J.P. Migne, Patrologia, St. John of Damascus, vol. 96 (Paris: 1891), Homily on the Birth of the Theotokos, ch. 5 & ch. 9.

 

6. Andrew Louth, “St. John of Damascus (ca. 675-ca.750)” in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, John Anthony McGuckin, ed., vol. 2 N-Z, (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 535.

 

7. Saint John of Damascus, John Anthony McGuckin, ed., The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, vol. 2 N-Z, (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Book 3, ch.1, 750.

 

8. Saint John Damascene, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, ch. 14, https://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactiv.html#BOOK_IV_CHAPTER_XIV.