Yesterday, I noticed that Ken Temple posted a new thread at Beggars All with the title:
The heos hou / ἕως οὗ construction in the New Testament proves the RC Perpetual Virginity of Mary dogma wrong (LINK)
Ken's post relies heavily on Eric Svendsen's book, Who Is My Mother?, and he ends the thread with:
Svendsen also goes through all the LXX constructions; but this is enough to prove you wrong.
I own, and have read Mr. Svendsen's book. I remembered that the book contained a good deal of useful material, including a number of pages which the author intends to serve as proof that the New Testament cannot be used to support the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. However, I also remembered that the book actually ends up doing the exact opposite when one important piece of information is added.
Mr. Svendsen wrote:
As we have already noted in the previous chapter, an examination of the NT usage of the phrase, ἕως οὗ (ὅτου) has yielded little support for the understanding of this phrase in Matt. 1:25 as it relates to the perpetual virginity of Mary. This in itself does not thereby exclude the interpretation in question, for if evidence in support of this understanding can be found in the literature outside the NT, we may be able to preserve the meaning here as well. (Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother?, pp. 56.)
And a few pages later:
The purpose of this inquiry has been to see whether in fact there exists any clear example of either of these phrases that may be taken in such a way as to offer support for the meaning of ἕως οὗ in Matt. 1:25 as it pertains to the perpetual virginity of Mary. (Ibid., p. 77.)
Interestingly enough, Mr. Svendsen states that there are "seven such instances in the LXX" (p. 77), and then adds:
...if this usage for this phrase can also be found in the literature contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel (i.e., the first century AD), then there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option. (Ibid., p. 77.)
[In a footnote (#75, p. 291), Mr. Svendsen, "assumes the dating of Matthew after Mark's gospel (AD 50-65) and before the destruction of the temple.".]
Using a what he termed a, "searchable format (i.e., on an electronic database)", Mr. Svendsen came to the following conclusion:
While we do find support for this usage in the LXX, there are nevertheless no clear examples of this usage for at least a century and a half before Matthew wrote his Gospel; nor up to half a century afterwards. (Ibid., p. 77.)
But, such an example does in fact exist in a Greek text that a number of scholars believe to be, "contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel". Note the following:
And, when Joseph had left the house, Pentephres also and all his kindred departed to their inheritance, and Asenath was left alone with the seven virgins, listless and weeping till the sun set ; and she neither ate bread nor drank water, but while all slept she herself alone was awake and weeping and frequently beating her breast with her hand.
καἰ κλαίουσα, ἕως οὗ ἔδυ ὁ ἥλιος (Ľ Abbė P. Batiffol, Studia Patristica, 1889, p. 50)
So, if we take Mr. Svendsen at his word, one should then conclude that, "there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option."
I sincerely wonder if Ken will adjust his position...
Grace and peace,