Countering ‘the Assumption is just a Catholic Myth’ Claim

mary

Imagine a young Catholic teenager taking a religious history class in a non-Catholic Christian high school. At some point during class discussion the topic of Mary is brought up.  After some time, the teacher wants to move on so he ends the discussion saying, “The idea of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is just a Catholic myth.”

In prudence the student decides not to say anything. He does, however, want to address his concerns with the teacher’s comment at some point. What can he say? Why do we, as Catholics, believe in the Assumption of Mary? Is there evidence this is more than a pious ‘myth?’

This scenario was presented to me by the concerned parent of the teenager, and I was asked for advice as to what their son could say to this teacher.  The following is a fictional conversation between me and the non-Catholic teacher.  It is my hope this will be beneficial to the student and his parents, as well as to other readers who may encounter such a statement from Protestant acquaintances.

In this fictional conversation I’ve anticipated challenges to this Marian dogma based on various conversations with non-Catholics I have had in the past. Though space prevents me from covering all of the potential rebuttals, some of the more common challenges are countered.

Initiating the Dialogue

Me: Why do you claim that the Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of Mary is simply a myth?

Teacher: It is not in the Bible. If there is no biblical evidence that it is true, I have no reason to believe it.

Me: Well, do you agree that Paul of Tarsus was beheaded in Rome as a martyr for the Christian faith?

Teacher: Yes, of course.

Me: But Paul’s death is not in the Bible. So why is that, too, not just a myth or a legend? Why do you accept the historical tradition of Paul’s last moments on earth but reject the historical tradition regarding the Virgin Mary? How is this not simply picking and choosing which traditions you accept and reject?

Teacher: I am not picking and choosing. There is no evidence early Christians believed in the Assumption.

Invented Legend or Authentic Tradition?

Me: If I could show you the teaching of Mary’s Assumption was believed by early Christians in the early centuries of the Church, would you accept it as true?

Teacher: No. It is simply not biblical. Even if some Christians believed it, that does not make it true. At some point, this idea was invented because of the excessive Roman Catholic reverence for Mary.

Me: While I would agree that the Assumption of Mary is not explicitly revealed in Scripture, I do think it is implicitly taught. But just as we both accept Paul and Peter were martyred in Rome as factual, even though this is only known from extra-biblical sources, as Catholics we hold there are many other significant historical realities that occurred but are not found in the Bible.  The assumption of Mary is one example.

The belief in the Assumption, as well as many others, may not be known using the Bible alone but they are found in the longstanding traditions of Christianity. Certain truths were revealed by Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and have been faithfully handed down to us today through the Church.  Catholics hold these traditional teachings to be divinely revealed truths. And we are supported by Paul himself who exhorts Christians to stand firm and hold fast to the traditions taught both in writing and handed down orally by those in authority in the Church (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Teacher:  But this notion of Mary, a human being like us, going up into heaven is viewing her as if she is a god.

Ascension versus Assumption

Me: I think you may be confusing ascension into heaven with assumption. As Catholics, we hold that only Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, just as you do. When we use the term ascension, it is referring to one going up into heaven by His own power. Only Jesus who is God could do that. But Mary was a human being, just like us. We absolutely reject any notion that Mary was a god. However, we do hold that God took Mary into heaven body and soul at the end of her earthly life. This is what we mean by the term assumption. It was an event that occurred by God’s power. Mary’s role was passive.

And Mary’s assumption into heaven, though rare and incredibly miraculous, was not a unique event. Both Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven as Scripture tells us (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11). So if the assumption of Mary occurred as Catholics believe, there is a biblical precedent for God choosing to act in this way.

Is There Any Biblical Evidence?

Teacher:  But Scripture clearly tells us about Enoch and Elijah. Why does the Bible not tell us about Mary if this truly did happen?

Me: As Catholics, we hold that everything in the Bible is inspired by God without error, and everything written is what God wanted written – nothing more and nothing less. We also recognize the Assumption of Mary is not clearly stated in the Bible.  It is, however,  revealed through Sacred Tradition.

So why did God not explicitly include this event in his written word? I do not know the answer to this. But not understanding does not shake my faith.  I strongly believe this teaching comes from a divine authority – Christ’s Church. And I also know that in this life, there will be many unanswered questions since God’s ways are not our ways.

But consider this. We know from the Bible that Mary was with Jesus in his last moments on the cross. Jesus entrusted her into the care of the Apostle John. We see Mary again at Pentecost. Then the Bible is silent about her. Where did she live? What did she do? She would have been an incredible witness to her Son’s divinity. But even though there seems to be Biblical silence about her life, this does not mean nothing significant occurred. Would you agree?

Teacher: I agree not every miracle in biblical times was recorded in the Bible, just as not every detail of the lives of well-known Christians like Mary were written down. But something as miraculous as Mary’s Assumption should have somehow found its way into the Bible if it is something we are to believe.

Me: Well, I do believe there is evidence in the Bible. It is just implicit.

The Biblical Evidence

First, when we consider Mary’s life after Pentecost, even though the bible is mute about her last days, we can infer the Apostle John was faithful to our Lord’s request and cared for Mary until the end of her earthly life. Knowing how much John loved our Lord, he would have loved Mary, Jesus’ mother, tremendously. So if anyone were to make any references to what happened to Mary, we should not be surprised if we found John doing this.

As Catholics we believe John gives us some clues about what happened to Mary in the last book he wrote.

Mary Queen of Heaven

In Revelation, John writes about a vision of heaven he experienced. If we read the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12, we find an important description of the first thing John sees as heaven opens. John tells us he sees the ark of God’s covenant (11:19). Since we might think he was referring to the golden box made by Moses, John describes the ark. And what he describes is not a thing but a woman.

John says the woman is radiant and the moon is at her feet. She is a queen with a crown. She then gives birth to a male child who, by the description, is clearly Jesus. Then in this context, we can ask ourselves about the identity of the woman. While there are aspects of her that could represent the Church or Israel, there are also strong reasons to hold this woman must be the mother of Jesus – the Virgin Mary (12:1-6). And how is it John sees Mary in heaven? John vividly describes her physical body in glory, and this is consistent with our Catholic belief of Mary’s assumption. God took Mary into heaven body and soul.

Teacher:  That just seems to be a stretch. I do not agree that the woman in Revelation is Mary. But even if I give you that, it does not make sense. Why God would assume Mary into heaven?  Enoch had faith and pleased God. Elijah was a great and holy prophet. Mary was a poor, simple girl, and while she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, it seems to me this idea of her assumption is just another way to keep her on a pedestal to justify the honor Catholics give her.

Why Not Mary?

Me: But Mary was faithful and obedient to God. She loved Jesus as we do but also in a uniquely profound way – with the love of a mother. And because she was such a great witness of faith, true charity and docility throughout her life, it is prophesied that all generations would always give her the greatest honor (Luke 1:38, 45, 48). Understanding these truths about Mary, it is not any more difficult for me to believe that Mary was taken into heaven just as God took Enoch.

While it is true not everyone with great faith has been assumed into heaven, it seems fitting that God would choose to assume Mary. Not only was she a model disciple but she was the mother of Jesus – the Incarnate God. God the Son would have loved and honored her in a special way. What a wonderful way for God to demonstrate his love by taking his mother Mary into heaven body and soul to prevent her from experiencing bodily corruption. And what son would not gladly desire this incredible gift for his own mother if it were possible?

But we should also remember that God has promised on the Last Day, all will experience a bodily resurrection. The bodies of all the righteous will be glorified. By giving Mary this gift in advance, God reminds us of the promise he makes to us and this gives us great hope.

Teacher: I am not really convinced as this all seems like weak evidence. And you have not said anything to make me believe this is not simply a myth invented by the popes. It seems if the early Christians knew about this, they would have believed it and there would be evidence for it.

The Negative Evidence – Absence of Relics

Me: There is evidence the early Christians believed in the Assumption of Mary. One of the strongest proofs to me is the question of her relics.

First of all, it’s well-known the early Christians had great reverence for the relics of the faithful departed. There is abundant evidence that veneration of relics was an accepted and widespread practice by the middle of the second century.

A document called The Martyrdom of Polycarp, from around AD 155, gives us an account of a holy and pious bishop, held in high esteem by the Christians, who was killed for the faith. This document describes how immediately following his death, the Christians gathered his bodily relics. It also reveals this Christian practice was well-known even to the non-Christians.

In addition to guarding and honoring relics, the early Christians had great respect for the holy men and women who had died. They even marked their burial sites when possible. Once Christian persecutions ended in the fourth century, many churches were built over the tombs of these Saints to  house these relics. These churches and shrines became pilgrimage sites where people could honor their Christian heroes. This practice has continued since.

But knowing how widespread the veneration of relics has always been in the Church, it is significant that throughout the past 2,000 years, no Christian has ever claimed to have any bodily relics of the Virgin Mary.  Archaeologists have found tombs for Mary in Ephesus and Jerusalem, but no evidence that either tomb was ever used.  And neither city has ever claimed to have any bodily relics.

Mary – Conceived Without Sin

Despite a strong devotion to Mary among Christians in the early Church, it is shocking there is an absence of relics. If the Catholic belief of Mary’s Assumption is false and Mary’s body remained on earth decaying in a grave, you would expect to find at least someone claiming to have possession of her bodily remains. And this would have been potentially very lucrative as such relics would have drawn huge numbers of pilgrims to that city. But this is not the case. This claim has never been made.

For me this is incredibly powerful evidence in favor of Mary’s Assumption. There are no relics of her body because God took her into heaven body and soul. This truth was known even by the early Christians.

Documented Evidence From the Early Church

Earlier I mentioned I would show you some evidence that the belief in the Assumption of Mary was something believed by the early Christians. The absence of relics is strong testimony to me.  Allow me to show you some documents to corroborate this claim.

As early as the third and fourth centuries, we find various books very popular among the laity. Their authors are unknown and they were not held as inspired. But these are important because they tell us about various well-known pious traditions.

Some of these books give accounts of Mary’s life and death, including her Assumption into heaven. As examples, there was the Liber Requeie Mariae (The Book of Mary’s Repose), there were the Six Books Dormition Narratives, the De Obitu S. Dominae and the De Transitu Virginis. The Church was well aware of these books. Eventually she declared some of the contents of these books to be erroneous. However, there was never any condemnation made regarding the belief in Mary’s Assumption. And this claim is clearly made in the third and fourth centuries.

We also have early Church Fathers such as Gregory of Tours, John of Damascus and Modestus of Jerusalem writing about the truths of Mary’s Assumption beginning in the 500’s. We see widespread liturgical celebrations of Mary’s Assumption firmly established by the 600’s in the East and by the 800’s in the West. And while there were a handful of Christians who raised doubts about the Assumption in the 700’s-800’s, there is never any documented condemnation or outright rejection of the belief in the Assumption of Mary.  The first rejection of the Assumption  by a Christian doesn’t occur until the Reformation in the 1500’s. It was only then that this belief was outright denied.

Conclusion

So for me, there are many reasons to believe in the Assumption of Mary. Belief in the Assumption is not contrary to the Bible. We can find implicit evidence in John’s writings to support it. There is documented evidence those in the early centuries did believe in Mary’s Assumption. And no city or church has ever claimed to possess relics of Mary’s body despite the widespread practice of venerating relics among the earliest Christians. In this context, it seems to me the claim that the Assumption of Mary as ‘merely a Catholic myth’ is not only unfair, it is an unsubstantiated claim as well.

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21 thoughts on “Countering ‘the Assumption is just a Catholic Myth’ Claim”

  1. To Gene:

    No, I’m not a Jehovah Witness. I already mentioned that I go to mass.
    I don’t accept any of your explanations, nor do you accept mine.

    1. Robert, I’m surprised to hear that you are Catholic. What I am offering are not my individual explanations but how the Catholic Church understands Scritpure. As a Catholic I accept the teaching authority of the Church.

  2. To Gene:
    Acts 2:29-39 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
    29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,

    ‘He was not abandoned to Hades,
    nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
    32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

    ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit at my right hand,
    35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
    36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

    Jesus the Way to the Father
    14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

    Ephesians 4:8 is an extract from Psalm 68. Where does it talk about Abraham’s bosom?

    Jude 1: 7 refers to the example made of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the adjoining towns through devastation by brimstone, the eternal fire.

    In Revelation 5, the vision that you mention says that the 24 elders were holding vessels, which were the prayers of God’s holy people. How does that support your contention?

    Daniel 12 doesn’t say that Daniel is in heaven, does it?

    1 Corinthians 3:15 is a discussion about the Day of the Lord, i.e. God’s wrath (Revelation 16). How is that a scriptural foundation for purgatory?

    I might say to you that I see scriptural reason to believe that when we die we wait in the grave until the Second Coming of Christ.

    To the best of my knowledge, Jesus doesn’t say anything about the righteous going to heaven, does He? He does talk about the kingdom of God, which will be on the earth after His return.

    1. Robert, are you a Jehovah Witness? Soul sleep is one of their doctrines. A few Protestant denominations hold to soul sleep but that has never been a main stream belief.
      You quoted from Acts, ” 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,”

      Kind David did not ascend to heaven like Jesus did. When Jesus ascended David and all the Old Testament saints were with him. Elijah, Enoch and Mary were assumed. Only God can ascend.
      Also Acts 2 is comparing Jesus to David. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ body is not decaying like David’s is. Jesus is the Messiah, David was not:

      Acts 2: 22-36….Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God …. with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death…..he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, …. For David did not ascend to heaven….Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

      David is part of the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 11 and 12. David is one of the “spirits” who have been made perfect.

      I’ve quoted ample Scriptures showing that there are souls in heaven and hell at this very moment and they are awaiting the resurrection of their bodies at the end of the world.

      You said, ” Ephesians 4:8 is an extract from Psalm 68. Where does it talk about Abraham’s bosom?”

      Why would it need to mention Abraham’s bosom? It says that when Christ ascended he took a host of captives……where were they? Why is he taking anyone if they are to remain in their grave?

      You said, ” Jude 1: 7 refers to the example made of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the adjoining towns through devastation by brimstone, the eternal fire.’

      Yes, and it says they are suffering eternal punishment….right now…..surely you aren’t saying the ‘cities’ are suffering eternal punishment. It is clearly referring to the people IN those cites who are being punished, right now, for giving, ” themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion”

      You said, ” In Revelation 5, the vision that you mention says that the 24 elders were holding vessels, which were the prayers of God’s holy people. How does that support your contention?”

      24 elders are people that John sees in heaven in the presence of Jesus showing that there are people in heaven and not in the grave as you believe.

      You said, ” Daniel 12 doesn’t say that Daniel is in heaven, does it?”

      Daniel 12 is about the resurrection of the body.

      You said, ” 1 Corinthians 3:15 is a discussion about the Day of the Lord, i.e. God’s wrath (Revelation 16). How is that a scriptural foundation for purgatory?”

      The day of the Lord is judgement day and we are judged at the moment of death as Hebrews 9:27 states. Nothing imperfect can enter heaven. We must be made perfect and that takes place in what Christians have always called purgatory. Even the Jews believed in a final place of purification for the saved. Paul was a Jew. The apostles were Jews. They all held to this belief as do Jews today.

      http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12446-purgatory

  3. To Gene,
    Thanks for your response.
    Your answer about the “opening of heaven” ignores what Peter said at Pentecost, which took place after Jesus ascended to heaven. No mention of anyone going up with Jesus in Acts 1.
    In addition, Daniel is told to “go take your rest, you shall rise for your reward at the end of days.” (Daniel 12:13)
    Again, Jesus said no one has gone to heaven and he told his followers that he would come back for them.

    1. Robert, what did Peter say at Pentecost that would lead you to believe that no one in in heaven or in hell? When Jesus ascended he took those waiting in Abraham’s bosom with Him to heaven as Ephesians 4:8 tells us.
      If everyone is in the grave why would Jesus tell the parable of the rich man and Abraham who are clearly not in the grave.
      Hebrews 12:23 says that in heaven there is God, Jesus, angels and the “spirits of just men made perfect”
      Jude 1: 7 tells us that right now there are some suffering a, ” punishment of eternal fire.”
      In Revelation 5 John sees twenty four presbyters prostrated before Jesus in heaven receiving the prayers of the saints.
      Daniel is referring to the resurrection of the dead which has not yet taken place. That is the resurrection of our bodies. The spirits of the dead have been judged and are already in hell or heaven or if not yet perfect, are in their final place of purification where Paul states they “will be saved as through fire” ( 1 Cor. 3:15).
      I see no scriptural or historical reason to believe that when we die we wait in the grave until the Second Coming of Christ.

  4. To Gene,
    Besides the two different references from Paul’s letters, there are a number of other scriptures that I could share. However, the most compelling for me is John 3, when Jesus says no one has gone to heaven; John 14 as Jesus tells his disciples that he goes to prepare a place for them and will come back for them; and in Acts 2 when Peter tells the Jews on Pentecost that King David is not in heaven.
    What are we to conclude?
    I have heard both Catholics and Protestants insist that the soul is immortal and there is an immediate judgement upon death with the appropriate destination for the person. Yet, the scriptures don’t seem to support that.
    I have often heard the parable of Lazarus, the poor man, cited. However, the passage says that Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham. Abraham is buried in Hebron, Israel in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
    At mass I often hear the Eucharistic prayer that mentions those who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection.
    Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of those who belong to Jesus takes place at the Lord’s coming.
    What shall I believe given what Jesus has said?

    1. Robert , when Jesus said no one has gone to heaven on John 3 He was correct, Heaven was not yet open. That is why he told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise and not in heaven. No one was in heaven until Christ ascended into heaven. That is the meaning of Ephesians 4:8 “when he ascended on high he took a host of captives.”
      All the Old Testament saints were in what was called Abraham’s bosom awaiting the Redeemer of the world and the opening of heaven.
      The phrase “fallen asleep” simply means that person has died. The Greek word for cemetery means “a sleeping place.” Our bodies lie in the grave waiting for the resurrection so that it can be joined with our soul for all of eternity. Upon death we are judged for heaven or hell and our soul moves on to its final destination. As God’s word says, ” the dust returns to the earth as it was and the spirit returns to the God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7.

  5. While this is a good article, I think the simplest response to any Protestant is this: You love to talk about Scripture, but where is the verse or verses that say that Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, etc., are the inspired books that make up the Bible?

    The bottom line is Protestants claim to believe that Scripture is their only authority, but in reality they don’t really believe it at all. The Bible nowhere lists what books actually make it up, and most Protestants cite a certain group of Jews who held that the Old Testament was strangely similar to what Protestants believe it to be, though, of course, nowhere does Scripture say this group of Jews had the authority to declare what the Old Testament was composed of.

    Rather coincidental, don’t you think?

    Protestantantism, by its very existence, is against the Bible, and anti-Christ.

    Simply put:

    1. Is Jesus God?
    2. Does God keep his promises?

    Most Protestants would say yes to both questions, but do they really believe it?
    No, they don’t. Matthew 16:18 is clear, Jesus said He would build “My Church” , NOT My Churches, or My warring competing bodies of man made “churches” that fight over what people should believe in…
    He made it clear that “My Church” would not be prevailed against by the gates of hell (or jaws of death, or whatever you want to call it).
    Either Jesus is God, Who meant what He said, and Who keeps His promises; or He was a liar.
    Either the Catholic Church was the one and only Church founded by Christ to help man attain heaven, or all of mankind, from 33 A.D. till 1517 went to hell for lack of means to know the truth.

  6. Robert –
    In regards to the quote you provided from the early Church, as I mention In the article, there are at times people who doubt or call into question this belief of the Assumption but there was no outright rejection/condemnation by Christians of this belief until the protestant reformation. You will find some quotations of people doubting this belief just like the one you posted. However, there are just as many, if not more, of the Church Fathers who profess a clear belief in this doctrine.

    Here are two articles that list several Church Father quotations regarding the Assumption.

    This is primarily just quotations from the early Church on the Assumption:

    https://crossed-the-tiber.blogspot.com/2008/11/church-fathers-and-assumption-of-mary.html?m=1

    This is a brief discussion on the topic plus quotations and then there is even a link to a talk a professor gave that you might enjoy:

    https://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/08/solemnity-of-the-assumption-of-the-virgin-mary-into-heaven/

    Hope this is helpful.
    Allison

  7. An excerpt from one of the articles about Mary’s death.

    1st–5th century
    The first four Christian centuries are silent regarding the end of the Virgin Mary’s life, though it is asserted, without surviving documentation, that the feast of the Dormition was being observed in Jerusalem shortly after the Council of Ephesus.
    Up until the 5th century Church Fathers do not mention the death of the Virgin, and before the 4th-5th century Dormition was not celebrated among the Christians as a holy day.
    For example, Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 310/20–403), a Jew by birth, born in Phoenicia, converted to Christianity in adulthood and lived as a monk for over 20 years in Palestine from 335–340 to 362, writes in “Panarion” in “Contra antidicomarianitas” about the death of the Virgin Mary the following:
    If any think [I] am mistaken, moreover, let them search through the scriptures any neither find Mary’s death, nor whether or not she died, nor whether or not she was buried—even though John surely travelled throughout Asia. And yet, nowhere does he say that he took the holy Virgin with him. Scripture simply kept silence because of the overwhelming wonder, not to throw men’s minds into consternation. For I dare not say—though I have my suspicions, I keep silent. Perhaps, just as her death is not to be found, so I may have found some traces of the holy and blessed Virgin. …The holy virgin may have died and been buried—her falling asleep was with honour, her death in purity, her crown in virginity. Or she may have been put to death—as the scripture says, ‘And a sword shall pierce through her soul’—her fame is among the martyrs and her holy body, by which light rose on the world, [rests] amid blessings. Or she may have remained alive, for God is not incapable of doing whatever he wills. No one knows her end. But we must not honour the saints to excess; we must honour their Master. It is time for the error of those who have gone astray to cease.
    Christians in the late 4th century had different opinions regarding Mary’s death; some believed that she was martyred. For this reason, Ambrose, for example, wrote:
    Neither the letter of Scripture nor Tradition does not teach us that Mary had left this life as a consequence of suffering from bodily ulcers.

    If Mary died in 41 AD, her passing predated the entire New Testament. Yet, we can all agree that there are no scriptures mentioning her death, let alone her assumption.

    1. Robert, the article by Allison Low addresses your objections: It states:

      “As early as the third and fourth centuries, we find various books very popular among the laity. Their authors are unknown and they were not held as inspired. But these are important because they tell us about various well-known pious traditions.

      Some of these books give accounts of Mary’s life and death, including her Assumption into heaven. As examples, there was the Liber Requeie Mariae (The Book of Mary’s Repose), there were the Six Books Dormition Narratives, the De Obitu S. Dominae and the De Transitu Virginis. The Church was well aware of these books. Eventually she declared some of the contents of these books to be erroneous. However, there was never any condemnation made regarding the belief in Mary’s Assumption. And this claim is clearly made in the third and fourth centuries.

      We also have early Church Fathers such as Gregory of Tours, John of Damascus and Modestus of Jerusalem writing about the truths of Mary’s Assumption beginning in the 500’s. We see widespread liturgical celebrations of Mary’s Assumption firmly established by the 600’s in the East and by the 800’s in the West. And while there were a handful of Christians who raised doubts about the Assumption in the 700’s-800’s, there is never any documented condemnation or outright rejection of the belief in the Assumption of Mary. The first rejection of the Assumption by a Christian doesn’t occur until the Reformation in the 1500’s. It was only then that this belief was outright denied.

      Conclusion
      So for me, there are many reasons to believe in the Assumption of Mary. Belief in the Assumption is not contrary to the Bible. We can find implicit evidence in John’s writings to support it. There is documented evidence those in the early centuries did believe in Mary’s Assumption. And no city or church has ever claimed to possess relics of Mary’s body despite the widespread practice of venerating relics among the earliest Christians. In this context, it seems to me the claim that the Assumption of Mary as ‘merely a Catholic myth’ is not only unfair, it is an unsubstantiated claim as well.”

  8. Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2 about the coming of our Lord and our gathering to Him. It takes place after two events – the great apostasy and the revealing of the antichrist.
    He further discusses it in 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26 and 50-58. At the last trumpet, which is the 7th Trumpet from the Book of Revelation.

    1. Robert, you said: “Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2 about the coming of our Lord and our gathering to Him. It takes place after two events – the great apostasy and the revealing of the antichrist.”

      Some Protestants believe that no one is in heaven at this moment. Everyone is waiting in their graves for the second coming of Christ. Do you believe that?
      Is that why your referenced 2 Thessalonians 2 and our “gathering to Him?”

  9. Allison,
    Thank you for taking time to answer my questions.
    Referring again to the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Jesus tells his closest followers that he goes to prepare a place for them, and will return for them. If they are already in heaven as you probably believe, why does Jesus tell them that he will come back for them?
    With respect to the Book of Revelation, the first sentence tells us that it is about future events. Chapter 12 is not describing Mary, but the nation of Israel. If you believe it is Mary in heaven, why would she need to flee into the desert where she is taken care of for 1,260 days? Later in the chapter, it is again told that she is protected for three and a half years by the wings of a gigantic eagle. Same event? Also the same chapter describes the woman being pursued by the dragon, or Satan, after he is thrown down from heaven.
    And she is not the ark of the covenant in Chapter 11. There is nothing to tie the events of Chapter 11 to Chapter 12. Chapter 12 describes the 7th Trumpet, or the last trumpet, when the ark is revealed. The visions given to John are not necessarily in sequential order.

  10. This article suggests that Mary died 11 years after Jesus left us. They put her death occurring in 41 AD.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dormition_of_the_Mother_of_God
    If you examine these alleged facts, something doesn’t add up.
    Jesus had to be born before Herod’s death in 4BC. And consider that Herod had all males 2 years old and under in Bethlehem and its environs massacred (Matthew 2:16-18) after he learned about being deceived by the Magi. So, we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, or died, nor do we know much about Mary’s death.
    Do you want to rely on “tradition” as a pillar of your faith?

  11. https://www.seetheholyland.net/tomb-of-mary/

    Article suggests that Mary died at the age of 50. Since Jesus was born before Herod’s death in 4 BC, she very likely died not long after Jesus ascended to heaven. So her death probably occurred before any of the Gospels were written. Yet none of them mentioned such an alleged extraordinary event that would have occurred in Jerusalem.

  12. I think that we can all agree that John, the Apostle, was charged by Jesus to care for Mary. Yet, John does not mention the Assumption in any of his writings. Doesn’t that seem odd, especially for an extraordinary event?
    With respect to Enoch and Elijah, the Bible does not say that they suffered death. Doesn’t the RCC agree that Mary physically died?
    John quoted Jesus in his Gospel that no one has gone to heaven, except the Son (John 3:13). Other passages in John’s Gospel tell us that no one has seen God, except the Son (John 1:18 and 6:46). This Gospel was shared by John in the last years of his life in Ephesus. Probably around 90AD. Mary surely passed away before John, yet, he makes no mention of her assumption into heaven. Nor makes any exception to the cited scriptural passages.

    1. Robert,
      The last book of the bible to be written was Revelation and in that book John says he saw the “ark of his covenant” and then a woman appeared. John is clearly connecting this ark with the woman. If you can prove that the wooden ark made by Moses is the ark John saw then please do. A better explanation is that the ark is Mary. Unlike the wooden ark that carried symbols of Jesus, Mary carried the reality of those symbols in her womb for nine months. She is the ark of his covenant.

      Regarding your scriptures, no one has seen God because God is pure spirit. If John absolutely meant that no one has seen God, then he must not have known that Jesus is God. His words mean that no one has seen God because God is a pure spirit.
      If John meant that no one has gone to heaven except Jesus then he is contradicting scripture which tells us that Enoch and Elijah went to heaven. It’s clear then that John can only that means no one has gone to heaven by their own power. Scripture clearly teaches that a person can be assumed by God into heaven.

      The fact that we know where the bodies of Peter, James, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Paul, Elizabeth etc are buried but no one has ever claimed to know where the body of Mary is buried and the fact that we have relics of thousands of saints but no relics of Mary supports the Tradition of the assumption.

    2. Robert,

      Thank you for your comments.

      In regards to the age of Mary, we do not know with any certainty how old Mary was at the end of her earthly life. You reference some resources that give us some speculations as to her age but the Church has never affirmed these speculations or spoken out definitively as to the year of her Assumption. Sacred Tradition holds the Assumption of Mary occurred but doesn’t specify the year. But not knowing the date of this event does not cause me to have doubts. There are debates about the year of Jesus’ crucifixion but I still know it happened. There are debates about the year when Paul wrote his letters but I still believe he wrote them and that these writings we have of his are authentic. Being uncertain about dating does not negatively affect by beliefs in these realities.

      Why is Mary’s Assumption not explicitly mentioned? As I mention in my article above, there are reasons for God not inspiring the New Testament authors to clearly reference this event – with the exception of John who I DO believe refers to this (see below). On this side of the veil of death we may never know why God had the biblical authors – other than John – remain mute on this.

      Having said that, you ask about John the Apostle and I specifically mention John in this article. As I discuss in the article, I do believe that John tells us about Mary’s Assumption in the book of Revelation. Please refer back to this section of my article.

      As to Enoch, Elijah and Mary – the Church has not dogmatically stated that Mary actually died. The long standing tradition within Christianity both in the East and West is Mary WAS assumed into heaven. There is no disagreement here among the ancient Christians. However, there are discussions on both sides as to whether or not Mary died then was assumed OR if she fell asleep and then was assumed. This is still presently debated. But not having a definitive answer on this aspect of Mary’s life doesn’t impact the belief in her having been assumed.

      But being assumed into heaven body and soul while still living and breathing versus being assumed into heaven body and soul immediately after physical death: does that make any difference in accepting the reality of the Assumption? I do not see how it would challenge the belief at all. And with Enoch and Elijah, the precedent set by them – and what is key – is that they were taken by God into the next life body and soul. Just like Mary was.

      As to the last comment you make, in the Gospels, the authors are directly quoting Jesus. When Jesus was walking the shores of Galilee, Mary has not been assumed into heaven. So I do not see how Jesus’ words about only he having seen the Father challenge the belief in Mary’s Assumption. When John, Matthew and the others wrote – they were quoting words said by Jesus. They were not trying to reinterpret his words in light of new events or distort them. They were trying to faithfully hand down the things Jesus actually said and did.

      God bless.
      Allison

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