A question about Mary
I happened to flip through Lesley Hazleton's book Mary the other day (not my normal reading material, long story there) and came across the following passage that tries to make the linguistic case that concept of the virgin conception was a simple case of mistranslation and misunderstanding, and that the Holy Mother was possibly a rape victim. I've heard this argument before but don't know what the Church's response is. Something tells me it's not, "Dude, we totally missed that! Thank you, feminist author, for pointing out what some of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization have missed for 2,000 years."
Can anyone give me a summary of the counter-argument to this theory, or to a book that would address it?
Here's a passage from Hazleton's book:
The original Hebrew uses the word alma, which referred to any unmarried woman...Matthew uses the Greek word parthenos, which generally meant physical virginity. The difference in meaning was not exactly Matthew's fault. The Hebrew bible had been translated into Greek three hundred years earlier. That edition, known as the Septuagint...was the one the Matthew author would have used.
It may be convenient to argue that parthenos meant a physical virgin, but that was not always the case. The word was also used for a girl who had been raped or was an unmarried mother. Faced with an evident pregnancy and no known father, the language allowed for there having been no father at all, despite the physical evidence. In short, prthenos was an ancient euphemism.
She goes on to say that referring to unwed mothers as "virgins" was common practice back in the day.
This classic tome also includes a graphic description of what it was probably like when Mary was raped, and a mention that Mary was probably skilled in the ways of abortion and considered that as an option. (With this sort of content I'm shocked it didn't get a Pulitzer.)