Guide for Solving Biblical Questions about Mary Book summary

Listen to this article

Title: The Definitive Guide for Solving Biblical Questions about Mary: Mary Among the Evangelists
Author: Rev. Dr. Christiaan Kappes & William Albrecht

TLDR: This book uses a deep dive into Scripture, the Septuagint, and early Church Fathers to show that the Bible consistently portrays Mary as a perpetual virgin, the New Ark of the Covenant, and the first to hear and keep God’s Word.

Chapter 1: Mary in the Gospel of Matthew and Mark

This chapter tackles the persistent question surrounding the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, challenging the common interpretation that these are Mary’s biological children. Analyzing Mark 6:1-6, the authors delve into the layered narrative structure, vocabulary, and cultural context of the passage. They highlight Jesus’s own identification of his “brothers and sisters” as “kinsmen” (syngeneusin), a term used in the Bible to denote relatives from a different mother. This finding is corroborated by other Biblical examples, such as Abraham referring to his wife Sarah as his “sister” because they shared the same father.

Furthermore, the authors point to the unusual Jewish custom of identifying Jesus as “son of Mary” rather than “son of Joseph,” a practice typically employed when the woman is a widow. This suggests that Mary was a widow at the time of Jesus’s ministry, further supporting the notion that the other siblings mentioned are not her children. This interpretation aligns with the earliest Christian historian Hegessipus, who identified James, “Brother of the Lord,” as Jesus’s first cousin.

The authors meticulously trace the Biblical familial divisions used by Mark, Luke, and Matthew, demonstrating their common reliance on the Mosaic Law’s structure found in Numbers 1:2-3. They argue that the “brothers and sisters” are likely children of Joseph from a previous marriage, fitting into the category of “clansmen or cousins” (syngeneis), a broader term than the immediate “patrilineal household” (oikos). This reading also explains the absence of any reference to a living male “head” (kephalê) of the household in Mark 6, implying Joseph’s death prior to this event.

Further analysis of Mark 3:20-34 and 15:40-41 reveals a distinction between Jesus’s “stay-at-home” cousins who are skeptical of his ministry, and his mother and faithful relatives who actively follow and minister to him. The authors emphasize the positive portrayal of these faithful women, including Mary, who are aligned with doing God’s will and considered true “mothers” and “brothers” by Jesus.

Examining Matthew’s genealogy in chapter 1, the authors highlight the consistent pattern of listing all known children of each mother mentioned. This pattern is deliberately applied to Mary, with Jesus being the only child listed, reinforcing the virgin birth and her perpetual virginity. Matthew 1:24-25, often debated for its use of “until,” is meticulously analyzed alongside insights from St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome, concluding that the verse reaffirms Joseph’s perpetual continence after marrying Mary.

The analysis of Matthew 13:53-58 reveals a deliberate structuring by Matthew, setting up Jesus’s return to Nazareth against the backdrop of his divinely ordained mission. The authors demonstrate that the accusations against Jesus by his hometown critics are deliberately framed to highlight the honorable role of Joseph and Mary, who are omitted from Jesus’s own list of “dishonorable” family members. The passage is interpreted in light of the familial divisions from Numbers, further solidifying the argument that the “brothers and sisters” are relatives from a different mother.

Overall, Chapter 1 meticulously unpacks the intricate narratives of Mark and Matthew, demonstrating that a literal reading of the Gospels, informed by the Septuagint and early Church Fathers, strongly supports the perpetual virginity of Mary and identifies the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus as cousins, likely children of Joseph from a previous marriage. The chapter concludes by asserting the harmony between the Gospels, each highlighting Mary’s positive role in salvation history while navigating the political realities of the early Church.

Chapter 2: Mary in the Gospel of Luke

This chapter delves into the Marian emphasis of Luke’s Gospel, exploring key passages that illuminate Mary’s role as the first to hear and keep the Word of God, foreshadowed by Old Testament figures and culminating in her unique vocation as the Mother of God.

The chapter begins by analyzing Luke 11:27-28, where Jesus declares those who hear and keep God’s Word “blessed.” Rather than diminishing Mary’s role, the authors argue that this passage actually highlights her unique privilege as the first and exemplary follower of Jesus, contrasting her with other figures like Sarah and Zachariah who failed to fully embrace God’s Word.

The analysis extends to Luke 1:1-3, emphasizing Mary’s role as a primary eyewitness and “servant of the Word,” entrusted with details about the Annunciation and Jesus’s infancy. Luke’s meticulous structuring is highlighted, comparing Mary’s faithful response to the Annunciation with the imperfect faith of Sarah and Zachariah in their own annunciations.

The chapter meticulously traces the “annunciation-pattern” throughout the Old Testament, analyzing the annunciations of Abraham and Sarah, Samson’s mother, and Hannah, revealing their imperfect prefigurements of Mary’s unique experience. The authors delve into the prophetic significance of “overshadowing” and the “shade” associated with Yahweh’s presence, culminating in Mary’s overshadowing by the Holy Spirit.

Further analysis highlights the prophetic connections between the “too wonderful” child hinted at in Genesis 18:14, the “Wonderful” Angel of the Lord in Judges 13, and Jesus, the “Wonderful” child born of a virgin in Isaiah 7:14. The chapter expertly weaves together the prophecies and typologies, revealing Mary as the ultimate fulfillment of the Protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15), where her offspring, the “seed of the woman,” conquers Satan and restores humanity’s relationship with God.

One of the most compelling arguments presented in this chapter centers around the theme of perpetual virginity. The authors analyze the parallel between Mary’s response to Gabriel in Luke 1:34 (“I do not know man”) and the vow of perpetual virginity taken by Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11:39. They meticulously compare the vocabulary and narrative structure of these passages, concluding that Luke intentionally portrays Mary as the New Daughter of Jephthah, her perpetual virginity now a source of blessing rather than a curse.

Continuing the typological analysis, the chapter investigates the relationship between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant. The authors point to numerous verbal and thematic parallels between Luke’s portrayal of Mary’s journey to Elizabeth and the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6. They demonstrate how Luke meticulously adapts phrases and concepts from the Old Testament, highlighting Mary as the New Ark, carrying the New Law (Jesus) within her womb.

The chapter concludes by reaffirming the interconnectedness of the various typologies, showcasing Mary as the fulfillment of multiple Old Testament figures and prophecies. She is the New Abraham and Sarah, the New Daughter of Jephthah, the New Hannah, and the New Ark of the Covenant, her life and vocation inextricably linked to the salvific mission of her son, Jesus Christ.

Chapter 3: Mary in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 1 (Continued)

This chapter builds on the previous chapter’s analysis of Luke’s portrayal of Mary, focusing specifically on the doctrine of grace, the Annunciation, and the implications of Mary being identified as the New Ark of the Covenant.

The chapter opens by revisiting the concept of Mary being “full of grace” (kecharitômenê) in Luke 1:28, a phrase lifted directly from Sirach 18:17, the only other instance of its use in the Bible. The authors delve into the theological significance of this unique phrase, comparing the King James Version’s translation (“highly favored”) with the Douai-Rheims version (“full of grace”). They meticulously examine early English dictionaries to ascertain the meaning of “grace” and “favor” in the 17th century, concluding that both translations accurately convey the concept of Mary possessing original justice and a disposition toward obedience to God’s Law, similar to Abraham’s righteousness by faith.

The authors trace the historical development of the term “full of grace,” showcasing how early Church Fathers like Origen of Alexandria understood it as signifying the presence of virtue and sanctifying grace in Mary prior to the Annunciation. They highlight how this understanding evolved into the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, where she is preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception.

Continuing the analysis of the Annunciation, the chapter examines the significance of “overshadowing” in Luke 1:35. The authors connect this concept to the overshadowing of the Ark of the Covenant by the cloud of glory in Exodus 40, referencing the work of Dr. Charles Gieschen, a leading scholar on angelomorphic Christology. They argue that Luke intentionally portrays Mary as the new dwelling place of God’s presence, her womb the new “Mercy Seat” where the Holy Spirit overshadows her and brings about the Incarnation.

The chapter expertly connects the concept of “overshadowing” with the “name” theology of the Old Testament, where God’s presence and power are associated with his name. The authors argue that the overshadowing of Mary by Gabriel, whose name means “power of God,” signifies the presence of the divine name and power in Jesus, who is conceived within her womb. They draw parallels between the overshadowing of the Ark by the Cherubim in Exodus 25:20-22 and the overshadowing of Mary by the Holy Spirit and the “Power of the Most High” (Jesus) in Luke 1:35, supported by Origen’s interpretation of these passages.

The chapter concludes by analyzing the Visitation narrative, where Mary journeys to Elizabeth. The authors demonstrate how Luke intentionally weaves together imagery from the Daughter of Jephthah’s journey to the mountains in Judges 11 and the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6. They highlight the verbal and thematic parallels, such as Mary’s three-month stay with Elizabeth mirroring the Ark’s three-month stay in Obededom’s house. This analysis further solidifies the identification of Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant, carrying the New Law (Jesus) within her.

Through meticulous examination of Luke’s vocabulary, narrative structure, and dependence on the Septuagint, Chapter 3 demonstrates the Evangelist’s intention to portray Mary as “full of grace,” the New Ark of the Covenant, and the worthy dwelling place of God’s presence in the Incarnation.

Chapter 4: The Magnificat, the Purification, and the Wedding of Cana

This chapter examines three significant events in Mary’s life as portrayed in Luke and John, analyzing the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Purification (Luke 2:22), and the Wedding at Cana (John 2:4-5), to unveil their theological significance and address common misunderstandings surrounding these passages.

The chapter opens by revisiting the Magnificat, analyzing its intricate structure and vocabulary alongside its source text, Hannah’s hymn in 1 Samuel 2. The authors acknowledge scholarly disagreements regarding the hymn’s interpretation but argue that Luke deliberately reworks Hannah’s themes, replacing those associated with sterility and the plight of the oppressed with themes highlighting Mary’s humility as a virtue, her status as the daughter of David, and her unique role in fulfilling the covenant promises made to Abraham.

The authors meticulously compare Mary’s hymn with Hannah’s, demonstrating how Luke strategically replaces certain phrases and concepts to avoid any implication of Mary lamenting infertility. They argue that Mary’s reference to “humility” aligns with the more recent Biblical understanding of humility as a virtue opposed to pride, exemplified in passages from Proverbs and Sirach. This interpretation is further supported by the inclusion of a quote from David in 1 Samuel 26, highlighting Mary’s lineage and her role in dethroning the proud without violence.

The chapter addresses the seemingly puzzling past tense used by Mary in the Magnificat (“my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior”), where she recounts God’s actions in her life prior to the Annunciation. The authors argue that this is not a post-Resurrection projection, as some scholars suggest, but a deliberate stylistic choice echoing Elizabeth’s preceding discourse, which moves seamlessly between present, past, and future tenses. They propose that Mary is alluding to a specific graced event in her past, possibly her immaculate conception or another significant intervention by God during her time in the womb.

The chapter meticulously analyzes each line of the Magnificat, connecting it to its corresponding sources in the Septuagint, including Job 5:8-11, Psalm 135:4-5, and Sirach 50:22. This analysis reveals Luke’s intention to emphasize Mary’s unique privilege, her creation as a marvel of God, and her role as the recipient of God’s mercy from her earliest moments.

Moving to the Purification ritual described in Luke 2:22, the chapter addresses the puzzle surrounding the purification being attributed to both Jesus and Mary. The authors delve into the original Hebrew and Greek texts of Leviticus 12, demonstrating that the purification ritual traditionally applied only to the mother. However, they argue that Luke intentionally links this ritual to Exodus 13:2, where the firstborn son is dedicated to God. This connection, combined with Luke’s emphasis on Jesus being “born holy” in 1:35, suggests a typological reading where Jesus is presented as the perfect “holocaust” sacrifice, foreshadowing his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

The chapter investigates the significance of the two doves offered as a sacrifice, linking them to the imagery of Mary as the “dove” in Song of Songs 6:9 and highlighting the shared flesh of Jesus and Mary, both offered to God. The authors argue that Mary’s offering of her own flesh for the Incarnation, linked to her identification as the New Ark of the Covenant, signifies a propitiation for communal sin, echoing the role of the Ark in obtaining forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

The chapter concludes by analyzing John 2:4-5, the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus seemingly rebukes Mary by saying, “Woman, what is it between you and me?” The authors meticulously unpack the cultural context and Biblical usage of this phrase, demonstrating that it typically signifies a disagreement or conflict. However, they argue that John intentionally utilizes this phrase to establish a parallel between Mary and the widow in 1 Kings 17, who questions Elijah in a similar manner.

The authors expertly compare the narratives of Elijah and the widow with Jesus and Mary, revealing shared themes and vocabulary. They conclude that both women, though seemingly at odds with the holy man, ultimately play a crucial role in God’s plan by prompting the miracle that reveals his power and glory. They highlight the insights of St. Romanos the Hymnographer, who understood the passage as signifying the perfect alignment of Mary’s will with God’s, showcasing her unique privilege and intimacy with Jesus.

Overall, Chapter 4 reinforces the previous chapters’ findings, demonstrating Mary’s unique vocation and privileged status, her role in salvation history prefigured by Old Testament figures and prophecies. The chapter masterfully employs typology and a deep understanding of Biblical language to address challenging passages, revealing the harmony between the Gospels and reaffirming traditional Christian beliefs about Mary’s life and role in God’s plan.


This book provides a compelling and meticulously researched analysis of the Biblical portrayals of Mary. Through a rigorous approach that interprets Scripture through its own sources, the Septuagint, and the insights of early Church Fathers, the authors offer a fresh perspective on key passages, addressing common misunderstandings and reaffirming traditional Christian beliefs about Mary’s life and role in salvation history. Their meticulous analysis of the Evangelists’ narratives, vocabulary, and typological connections unveils a deeper understanding of Mary’s perpetual virginity, her identification as the New Ark of the Covenant, and her unique privilege as the first to hear and keep the Word of God. This book serves as a valuable resource for anyone seeking to delve into the rich tapestry of Biblical Mariology and discover the profound theological significance of Mary’s life and vocation.

🙏 Your PayPal Donation Appreciated

Select a Donation Option (USD)

Enter Donation Amount (USD)


As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you.

Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Scroll to Top