I waited as long as I could. I had an unreasonable hope that Verbum would release an edition of Brant Pitre’s new book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary, quick, fast, and in a hurry. But they hand-tag their books and that takes time, and I don’t even know if they have any plans to do this one, so I’ll just have to get a Verbum edition later if one becomes available. Because I gave in and bought the ebook. (Downloadable books, ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found thee! Well, not at last because I found thee years ago, and now I have that Etta James song stuck in my head.) ;)
Back to the book. Looking at the table of contents, we’ve got:
- New Eve,
- Queen Mother,
- Perpetual Virgin,
- Birth of the Messiah (and I don’t mean that Fr. Raymond Brown* book),
- the New Rachel, and
- At the Foot of the Cross.
Dr. Pitre says that in his book we’ll be learning to see Mary “through ancient Jewish eyes” and that means seeing Jesus that way, too. Because what we believe about Mary is intimately bound up with what we believe about her Son, Jesus. And the writings of the New Testament are intimately bound up with the writings of the Old, in the sense of pre-figurement or typology, in echoes and parallels. The Jewish New Testament writers knew they were echoing the Old Testament and they expected their fellow Jewish readers to know it, too. Non-Jewish readers needed a little help to see and hear and we today are in much the same situation: we need someone to show us how to see and hear what the New Testament reveals about the Old, and what the Old reveals about the New.
Dr. Pitre gives an example of this typological reading early on when he looks at the New Testament depiction of Mary as Queen of Heaven. I’ve heard oodles of Protestants claim that the Catholic Church worships the pagan queen of heaven mentioned in the Old Testament. But that’s the wrong queen. The early Jewish Christians saw an Old Testament queen as a type of the Blessed Virgin Mary, yes, but not the pagan queen of heaven, but Solomon’s mother. Solomon the king and his mother, the queen mother.
In ancient Israel, it was not the king’s wife who was queen but his mother. The queen mother (Hebrew gebirah) was second only to the king himself. She was honored with a royal throne and functioned as the supreme royal intercessor with the king (2 Kings 1–2; Psalm 45).—Pitre, Brant James. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary (p. 10). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
To see the source of Catholic teachings and beliefs in the Bible we have to look at the whole Bible, not just part of it. The Church gave us a Bible that includes both the Old and the New Testaments for a reason. Anyone who ignores that is going to misunderstand what Mary is about, what Christianity is about, what Christ Himself is about. And anyone who thinks he doesn’t need to learn to read the Bible is going to miss an awful lot and misread many important things, too.
This has been a post in the Something About Mary Every Day In May series. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll join me again. Enjoy your visit! God bless you, and may His peace be always with you.
*Fr. Raymond Brown Oh, don’t get me started. I wrote about him in a brief post in 2014 and there’s a video from Dr. William Marshner on that post, too. Good stuff. Marshner’s, not Brown’s.
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