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Biography of Mary - the Mother of Jesus


Mary is an uncomfortable subject for Evangelicals, particularly for former Roman Catholics.

Her Significance

  • Mary is the mother of Jesus (Matt 1:18, John 2:1).

Relationship to the Women in the Genealogy

There are four women in the genealogy. They share common features with Mary and may have been included because of that similarity.

Mary's Magnificat

Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] his name. And his mercy [is] on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of [his] mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Mary and Miriam

Name is same (Mary/Miriam). Miriam's song - Exodus 15:21 compared to Mary's Magnificat.

Scandals about Mary

John 8:41 implies that there was a scandal about His parentage. Talmud portrays Mary as a loose woman.

Wife of Joseph

Matt 1:18 Mary was espoused to Joseph. Luke 1:27-56 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. ... 56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. New Testament Pictures of Mary Mat 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? Mark 15:40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; ... 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

Her Character Attributes

God-fearing Obedient Pushy

Church Titles

Blessed Virgin Ever-Virgin (to be covered elsewhere)

Blessed or Blessed?

Chosen for her intrinsic purity?

Is the Title "The Mother of God" Biblical?

Words of Elizabeth: Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Who is His Mother?

Mark 3:21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. ... :31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. Luke 8:19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

Other Marys

Mary Magdelene

  • Mary the sister of Lazarus
  • Mary the wife of Cleophas
  • Mary in the Gospels vs Joseph in the Gospels

Matt 1 Joseph is main actor 1:18 - Mary found pregnant by Joseph 1:19 - Joseph doesn't want to put her away 1:20-23 - Angel comes to Joseph in a dream to explain what's happening 1:24 - Joseph took Mary as his wife 1:25 - Joseph didn't know Mary until after Jesus was born 2:11 - EXCEPTION - Mary gets visit from wisemen 2:13 - Joseph has dream that he needs to flee to Egypt 2:14 - Joseph takes family and flees to Egypt 2:19 - Joseph has dream and learns that Herod is dead 2:21 - Joseph returns from Egypt 2:23 - Joseph took family to Egypt Luke 1 Mary is main actor 1:5-26 - Story of husband of Elizabeth who was Mary's cousin - Parents of John the Baptist 1:26-27 - Mary gets visit from Gabriel 1:28-33 - Mary gets proclamation of what's going to happen 1:34-38 - Mary gets question answered by angel Gabriel 1:39-40 - Mary travels to Elizabeth's house. 1:41-55 Mary's visit with Elizabeth, her cousin 1:56 - Mary stayed until before Elizabeth delivered John the Baptizer 1:57 - Mary's cousin delivers John the Baptizer 1:58 - Neighbors of Elizabeth rejoice with her. 1:59-80 - Father of John the Baptizer rejoices 2:1 - Census of Augustus 2:4-5 - Joseph takes Mary and Jesus from Nazareth to Bethlehem 2:6-7 - Mary delivers baby Jesus 2:8-16- Shepherds get birth announcement 2:17-18 - Sheperherds visit Mary, Joseph (note the order) and child 2:19 - Mary ponders it in her heart

Mary traveled with Jesus

John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. Mary was at the cross - role of the Apostle John John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Mary in the early church

Acts 1:14 - Is Mary the Mother of Jesus Rom 16:6 - probably not Mary the mother of Jesus


By far the best book is Raymond E. Brown's book, The Birth of the Messiah. This book is not a conservative treatment, but the scholarship is unmatched.

John P. Meier's A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus Volume 1 and Volume 2 is a close second.

N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God is another great book.