Our Blessed Mother & The Saints


Hes Hou and the Protestant Polemic - Footnotes


1. The list presented here is a small sample only: Genesis 8:7, 26:13, Deuteronomy 2:15, 34:6, 1 Chronicles 6:32, 2 Chronicles 21:15, 2 Chronicles 26:15, Psalm 57:1, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 123:2, 1 Maccabees 5:53, Matthew 28:20, Mark 13:19, John 5:17, Acts 1:22; 7:45, Romans 11:8, 1 Corinthians 1:8; 4:13; 2 Corinthians 3:15.

All of these references show that hes does not necessarily indicate a discontinuation of the action in the main clause.

2. Eric Svendsen, Director of New Testament Research Ministries, appears to be the first Protestant apologist to have made a doctrinal case based on this grammatical construction. He advances this argument in his book, Who is My Mother? - The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism - henceforth abbreviated as "WIMM".

3. Sophocles, p. 552

4. Stephanus, column 2643.

5. In light of the all of the lexical references which explicitly mention hes hou, it is rather extraordinary that Svendsen would then make the following erroneous remark during his debate with Gerry Matatics. At one point in his rebuttal to Matatics, Svendsen says: "One point he kept hammering home is that you won’t find any distinction in any lexicon between hes and hes hou. Well, that’s not surprising since lexicons do not handle grammatical constructions. They handle words. You’ll find hes. You’ll find hou. You won’t find hes hou." [57:55-58:12] It is truly puzzling how someone who has completed a doctoral dissertation on this subject, and who has studied this issue as intensely as Svendsen has, can turn around and make such an amateurish blunder.

6. Burton’s Syntax of the Moods and Tenses, p.128-129.

7. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 268

8. Robinson’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 337

9. Zorrell’s Lexicon Graecum, p. 548

10. Arndt and Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p.423

11. Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 751

12. Luow and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon, r. 67.119

13. Muraoka’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 101

14. Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon, p. 590

15. Zerwick and Grosvenor Grammatical Analysis, p. 2

16. Luow and Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon, r. 67.120

17. International Critical Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 219

18. Birth of the Messiah, p. 132

19. Mary in the New Testament, p. 86-87

20. A Marginal Jew, Vol. 1, p. 320-324

21. Gospel of Matthew, p. 36 note 25

22. The other contingency here is the use of hes an. This is a special case in Greek. When the clause introduced by hes depends on a verb of future time, and refers to a future contingency, it takes the subjunctive mood with the use of an, both in classical and New Testament Greek (Cf. Mt 5:18). Alternatively, when the clause introduced by hes depends on a verb of past time and refers to what was at the time of the principal verb conceived of as a future contingency, it takes the Subjunctive mood without an in the New Testament (e.g. Mt 18:30). Thus, the particle an, which really has no English equivalent, is merely a linguistic sign of the Greek Subjunctive mood, and thus has no effect on the meaning of hes, hes hou, or hes hotou. (Robert Sungenis, CAI)

23. Burton’s, p. 129

24. Blass, Debrunner, Funk, p.

25. In his debate with Matatics, Svendsen actually addressed the use of achri and achri hou. However, his conclusions were curiously the opposite of what the New Testament has yielded. Relying on another source, he states: "The phrase achri hou…has a different meaning than achri by itself. The addition of the particle hou changes that meaning in the same way that the addition of the particle hou changes the meaning of hes." [58:20-58:39]. Yet as the results in Appendix 1 demonstrate, this assertion is not at all valid. This appears to be (yet again) an almost inconceivable blunder on Svendsen's part.

26. WIMM, p.69

27. kai ouk eginwsken authn ewV ou (‘did not know her until/before’) is not present in manuscript k, Bobbiensis—the most important witness to the African Old Latin, 4/5th c. [4/5th c., KURT and BARBARA ALAND; c. 400 AD, BRUCE METZGER] (but copied from an exemplar of the period before Cyprian [c. 200/210-258 AD] and presenting a text whose Greek base is thought by some [e.g. E. A. LOWE, based on palaeographic evidence] to date to the second century) [k is the only witness that ends Mark’s gospel with only the shorter ending.]; nor is it present in the Old Syriac sys, Sinai-Syrer, 4/5th c. (Here also, there are indications of an older background, Tatian’s Diatessaron [gospel harmony, c. 170 AD], for example. METZGER places sys in the 4th c. and preserving a text from the end of the 2nd or beginning of the 3rd c.). Most text critics, however, do not believe this shorter reading to be the original.

ou [hou] is not present in the original hand of B (B*), Codex Vaticanus, 4th c.— though it does appear in the hand correction Bc. Vaticanus is by far the most important of the uncial manuscripts.

28. See Appendix 2

29. WIMM, p.58. It is unclear how this statistic of 58 total occurrences of temporal usage in the LXX compares to the 64 instances of the same usage Svendsen reports on page 57.

30. WIMM, p.62 Svendsen lists two more possible occurrences on page 63.

31. "Before" - 6 occurrence (p.62), "Temporal" ("while" possible) - 2 (p.63), "Continues" - 4, "Unclear" - 7 (p.64-66), "Discontinues" - 33 (p.58) = 52 total occurrences, with 6 occurrences (p.62) denoting "while" = 58

32. WIMM, p.64 [Ps 71(72):7, Ps 93(94):14-15, Ps 111(112):8, Ps 141:8(142:7)]; 2 Chron 29:28.

33. WIMM, p.52

34. Svendsen lists a total of 17 occurrences in WIMM, p. 251. Two of these carry the meaning 'while', and therefore are excluded from this discussion.

35. For Svendsen’s discussion on the passages in question, see WIMM, p.52-53.

36. Exegetical Fallacies, p.141-142

37. WIMM, p. 52

38. Dennis Hukel, Critical Consultant/Translator, Lockman Foundation.

39. Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Peter [1:19], Trans. And Edited by Rev. John Owen, Thrusslington, Sept.. 29, 1855.

40. John Calvin, Sermon on Matthew 1:22-25, published 1562

41. Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Peter [1:19], Trans. And Edited by Rev. John Owen, Thrusslington, Sept. 29, 1855.

42. Rev. John Owen, Thrusslington, Sept. 29, 1855, Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Peter [1:19], Footnote #18

43. Metzger, B. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 3rd enlarged ed. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, p.129. Metzger worked on behalf of and in cooperation with the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Society. In fact that the UBS (United Bible Societies)'s 4th ed. Greek New Testament—whose Greek text forms the basis of most translations of the NT--had an ecumenical editorial board consisting of Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini (the Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Milan; Jesuit; Scripture scholar; former head of the Pontifical Biblical Institute), and Bruce M. Metzger. Former editions of the GNT were edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren. Since the Greek text of Nestle-Aland's 27th ed. is the sae as GNT 4th ed. (and Nestle-Aland 26, the same as GNT 3), the Alands and Metzger were also editors for those.

44. John Calvin, Commentary on Matthew

45. Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (1721), Commentary on Matt 18:34

46. John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Commentary on Matthew 18:34

47. The People’s New Testament, Commentary on Matthew 18:34

48. The Catholic Church’s teaching on purgatory is not dependent on this passage - even though, of course, a very strong defense could be made for it. St. Augustine and many other fathers used 1 Corinthians 3:12-17 to defend the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Other direct or supporting passages include: Ps 66:12, Ecc 12:14, Is 4:4, Mic 7:8-9, Mal 3:1-4, 2 Maccabees 12:39-45, Lk 12:58-59, Mt 12:32, Lk 16:19-31, 1 Pet 3:19-20, 2 Cor 5:10, 2 Cor 7:1, Phil 2:10-11, 1 Thess 3:13, 2 Tim 1:16-18, Heb 12:14, Hebrews 12:29, Rev 5:3,13, Rev. 21:27)

49. Svendsen finds himself in a theological conundrum: If he insists that no occurrences of hes hou in the New Testament can allow for a continuation of the action in the main clause, then he necessarily concedes that the punishment being spoken of is a temporal one. However, since classical Protestant theology (and Reformed Protestantism in particular) has no room for a spiritual temporal prison, Svendsen cannot concede this point. So effectively he must choose: either abandon this restriction of hes hou (thereby nullifying his thesis) and reject any possibility for purgatory or, instead, insist on his thesis of hes hou to protect his demotion of Mary but leave himself open to a spiritual, temporal prison.

50. WIMM, p. 68-78

51. WIMM, p. 77

52. See WIMM, "Acknowledgements" Page and p. 68

The TLG Website states the following about the database:

53. A well published Greek scholar who concurred with our opinion, but unfortunately refused to be mentioned because of the "apologetic" nature of the piece.

54. Rev. Patrick J. Madden, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. (1995; Assoc., 1992), Director, Greco Institute

55. WIMM, p. 64

56. "Hes hou does not necessarily indicate a reversal. One thing I would like to mention is your citing of Ecclesiastes 2:3. The Septuagint of this book is translated in a very unusual manner which is characteristic of Aquila (early 2nd century AD) and many scholars indicate that he was the translator; however I think it may have been by his teacher Aqiba from the late 1st century AD. Either way, this translation is contemporaneous with the Greek New Testament and is not likely to be any earlier because of its unusual style. No other translation of Ecclesiastes has been found to be any earlier, which makes it uniquely late compared to the rest of the canonical books. The OT canon was decided on about 100-110 AD, so I doubt if Ecclesiastes had not been translated yet." (Dennis Hukel, Critical Consultant/Translator, Lockman Foundation).

57. WIMM, p. 68

58. Burchard, C. "Joseph and Aseneth." In The Old Testament Pseuepigrapha. Vol. 2, Expansions of the "Old Testament" and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works, ed. James H.Charlesworth, pp. 215. New York: Doubleday, 1985.

59. Louw & Nida, 59.21, 67.119, 67.139, 68.35, 78.51, 84.19

60. WIMM, p. 290-291 (footnote 74)

61. The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia notes the following:

"We may grant that the Pentateuch (and perhaps part of Joshua) was translated in the 3rd century B.C. The other books followed, generally speaking, in the order in which they occur in the Hebrew Canon. Isaiah perhaps dates from C. 180, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve Prophets, as also I Kings (= I Samuel), c. 15o~ Most of the "Writings," together with Judges and 2-4 Kings, were probably translated in the 1st century B.C., while Ecclesiastes and Daniel (the latter incorporated from Theodotion) date only from the 2nd century of the Christian era...

The vocabulary and accidence of the Greek of the Septuagint are substantially those of the soivii &&XeCTOS or Hellenistic Greek spoken throughout the empire of Alexander. The language of the Pentateuch attains the higher level shown by the papyri of the early Ptolemaic age, that of the prophets reflects the less’ literary style of the papyri of C. 130-100 B.C...."

62. WIMM, p. 68

63. WIMM, p. 77

64. Envoy Magazine, May/June, 1997, p.54

65. Svendsen lists 17 occurrences in his book (see. p.251). He omits the textual variants found in Matthew 18:30 and Luke 12:50.

66. WIMM, p. 68

67. It is quite amusing to read Svendsen's appeal to the Septuagint's "semantic obsolence". No source considers the Septuagint semantically obsolete with respect to the New Testament. In fact, D.A. Carson, "whose excellence in scholarship and style of writing continue to inspire" (WIMM, Acknowledgements page) him, readily admits that the Septuagint had a "profound influence" (Exegetical Fallacies, p. 63) on the writing of the New Testament. Moreover, in a section dealing with Semitic background of the Greek New Testament, Carson writes: "...one must ask the prior question about the degree to which the Septuagint (let alone the New Testament) invested Greek words with Hebrew meanings." (p.63) Here, Carson implicitly recognizes the influence of the Septuagint on the New Testament.

In point of fact, Svendsen borrowed the phrase "semantic obsolence" from Carson's book, a book which, in the relevant sections, does nothing but assume the close connection between the Septagint with New Testament literature! In the section entitled "Semantic Obsolence", Carson makes these observations:

"So also in the biblical languages: Homeric words no longer found in the Septuagint or the New Testament are of relatively little interest to the biblical specialist..." (p.34)

"It follows, then, that we should be a trifle suspicious when any piece of exegesis tries to establish the meaning of a word by appealing first of all to its usage in classical Greek rather than its usage in Hellentistic Greek." (p.36)

One can easily see how the Septuagint and New Testament are all but treated as one corpus against "Homeric" and Classical Greek. There is no significant distinction between the Septuagint and New Testament Greek by Carson. The only thing which Svendsen borrowed from Carson was the phrase "semantic obsolence" without, of course, the actual examples of true semantic obsolence!

68. Acknowledging his difficulties with his thesis, Svendsen attempts, in a subsequent article on his website, to divert the attention away from his conundrum. He does this by calling attention to a completely irrelevant point in the discussion of his thesis: the alleged contradiction in belief between Chrysostom's commentary on Matthew 12:46-50 and the traditional Catholic view. Here is Chrysostom's commentary on the passage:

And therefore He answered thus in this place, and again elsewhere, “Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?” (Matt. xii. 48), because they did not yet think rightly of Him; and [Mary], because she had borne Him, claimed, according to the custom of other mothers, to direct Him in all things, when she ought to have reverenced and worshiped Him. This then was the reason why He answered as He did on that occasion. For consider what a thing it was, that when all the people high and low were standing round Him, when the multitude was intent on hearing Him, and His doctrine had begun to be set forth, she should come into the midst and take Him away from the work of exhortation, and converse with Him apart, and not even endure to come within, but draw Him outside merely to herself. This is why He said, “Who is My mother and My brethren?” (Homily on John 21, 2). . . . But today we learn in addition another thing, that even to have borne Christ in the womb, and to have brought forth that marvelous birth, has no profit, if there be not virtue. . . . But He said, ‘who is my mother, and who are my brethren?’ And this He said, not as being ashamed of His mother, nor denying her that bare Him, . . . but as declaring that she has no advantage from this, unless she do all that is required to be done. For in fact that which she had attempted to do was of superfluous vanity; in that she wanted to show the people that she has power and authority over her Son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him; whence also her unseasonable approach (Homily on Matthew, 44).

This is what Svendsen writes:

No Roman Catholic apologist today (Tacelli included) would dare make such statements about the mother of Jesus—yet, this is the exegesis of “the greatest master of the Greek language in all Christendom”! Can we now expect Tacelli to subordinate his views to “One of the greatest early Church Fathers [who] surely knew the Greek language immensely well ([since] he wrote and spoke it fluently), and [who] was sensitive to its every nuance”? Not likely. That, in itself, should be sufficient evidence for anyone wholly to reject Tacelli’s emotional appeal to Chrysostom.

However, as Catholic Apologist, Mark Bonocore, explains, Svendsen's complaint is rather baseless. Bonocore writes:

Chrysotom's comments, though seemingly anti-Marian / anti-Catholic, by implying that Mary committed venial sins (i.e., "vanity" and a "lack of virture"), must be understood in the context of Chrysostom's time and theological enviornment.

First of all, Chrysostom was a Greek father, and the Greek fathers (esp. the post-Nicene ones) were nortorious for despising all things Jewish, including Jewish figures of speech. Thus, it's not surprising that Jesus' crafty, rabbinical language would be lost on him, though not on Tertullian and other Latin fathers (i.e., "Who is my mother" being a rabbinical reference to the true Israel, not to Mary herself ...something that Tertullian, Ambrose, and other non-Greeks have no problem discerning).

Secondly, not only was Chrysostom a Greek father (and thus bound by Greek theology when it came to Original Sin), but he also wrote before St. Augustine formulated our present theology on Original Sin - something that came about via Augustine's conflict with the Pelagian heretics, which took place just at the end of Chrysostom's life. So, needless to say, we cannot apply Augustinian theology (in which venial sin is recognized as the result of concupiscence stemming from Original Sin) to Chrysostom. Rather, in Chrysostom's native Greek theology (and in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic theology to this day), there was no sense of an inherent "knowledge of sin" (per Augustine's view of Original Sin), but, for the Greeks, venial sins like vanity were chalked up to the limitations of human nature itself (as God created it), and not necessarily to fallen human nature. This is because the Greek theology of Original Sin is based upon the principal of "deification" (becoming like God) as opposed to the Latin (and Syrian) basis of "sanctification" (being made holy). So, for Chrysostom, and all the Greeks, to be without what we would call venial sin (e.g. personal faults and shortcomings) would imply a perfection of deification, and a sense of divinity itself! So, when Chrysostom states that Mary was "vain" or that she "lacked virtue," he is not saying that she lacks holiness or that she is a sinner. Rather, all he's saying (from his Greek, theological point of view) is that she's human. And, while this is difficult for Romans like ourselves to appreciate, one really has to keep in mind that, not only was Chrysostom a Greek, but he also simply did not have the benefit of our present, Augustinian theology on Original Sin, which dotted all the "i's" and crossed all the "t's" in regard to how Original Sin and venial sin, are manifested in a person. In other words, Chrysostom is writing before the Pelagian controversy, and so we cannot apply a post-Pelagian, Catholic / Augustinian understanding to him ...and in the same sense that we cannot apply the specific Trinitarian formula adopted at Nicaea to any ante-Nicene fathers.

Chrysostom's true position - that is, his presentation of Mary, not as a sinner, but as a mere human being - is hammered home all the more when we realize that, when he accuses her of a "lack of virtue," the Greek word used here is "arete" - meaning, not moral virture, but excellence. In other words, Chrysostom is not accusing her of lacking moral virtue at all, but merely of operating at a human level, as any mother would toward her son, rather than (supposedly) being concerned with the Gospel. This mentality is also at play via his use of the word "vanity" - emptiness. ...Meaning that Mary was (supposedly)concerned with unimportant things (as was Lazarus' sister Martha in Luke 10:40-42 ...but no one would suggest that Martha was "sinning"). Now, more difficult to explain away is Chrysostom's comment: "...she wanted to show the people that she has power and authority over her Son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him; whence also her unseasonable approach." Now, read on its own, this statement appears to imply that Mary did not realize that her Son was the Messiah, etc. Yet, if that's really how we should read it, then Chrysostom is guilty of contradicting himself in the very same Homily address. For, he also writes:

... "For wondrous indeed was that Virgin, and Luke points out her excellency, saying, that when she heard the salutation, she did not straightway pour herself out, neither did she accept the saying, but "was troubled," seeking "what manner of salutation this might be." Now she who was of such perfect delicacy would even have been distracted with dismay at the thought of her shame, not expecting, by whatever she might say, to convince any one who should hear of it, but that what had happened was adultery. Therefore to prevent these things, the angel came before the conception. Besides that, it was meet that womb should be free from trouble which the Maker of all things entered; and the soul rid of all perturbation, which was thought worthy to become the minister of such mysteries. For these reasons He speaks to the Virgin before the conception, but to Joseph at the time of travail." (Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew IV).

So, from the quote above, it is very clear that, no only did Chrysostom acknowledge and believe that Mary knew and understood that she was giving birth to the Messiah even prior to His conception, but Chrysostom also speak of her "excellency" (using that same Greek word for "excellence" or "virtue" --"arete"), and he also makes mention of her "perfect (note the word perfect) delicacy" --here, applied to a complete and total resistance to committing any sin whatsoever (e.g. 'she wanted to make sure that the conception would not amount to adultery').

Yet, as for what Chrysostom says about Mary "imagining not as yet anything great concerning Him," .... If we take Chrysostom in overall context (granting that he's not contradicting himself), we can only assume that it refers to expecting something great from Jesus on that particular event. ...Not that she lacked knowledge as to who He was, etc.

Hence, not only is Svendsen unsuccessful in addressing the issue at hand - Chrysostom's universally acknowledged exepertise in Greek - his desperate attempt at striking out on a completely off-base comparison falls flat as well.

69. WIMM, p.55; "...my thesis is that in the New Testament heos hou, when it means "until" (it sometimes means "while") always implies a cessation (not a reversal) of the action of the main clause once the "until" has been reached." (http://www.ntrmin.org/where_have_all_the_critics_gone.htm)

70. WIMM, p.286-287

71. “Is CAI Qualified to Address Issues of the Greek Text? A Surrejoinder to Robert Sungenis’ ‘Heos Who?’”; http://www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_2.htm.

72. Foreword to L. Goeppelt, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New. trans. D. H. Madvig. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), xvii; emphasis mine.

73. “He’s an Only Child: A bogus Greek argument against Mary’s perpetual virginity is making the rounds,” Envoy Magazine, May/June 1997.

74. “Is CAI Qualified to Address Issues of the Greek Text? A Surrejoinder to Robert Sungenis’ ‘Heos Who?’”; http://www.ntrmin.org/sungenis_and_heos_hou_2.htm.

75.“Where Have All the Critics Gone? Reflections on the Roman Catholic Response to the Phrase Heos Hou in Matthew 1:25”; http://www.ntrmin.org/where_have_all_the_critics_gone.htm.

76. See "Statistical Analysis" Section earlier in the paper.



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