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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

01 August 2005

Parents of the Virgin Mary

Q: Where in the Bible is mention made of Mary’s mother?

A: Church tradition has given us the name of Anne as the mother of Mary the mother of God. It was to this Saint Anne that Martin Luther allegedly prayed when caught in a violent thunderstorm and promised that if he were spared, he would become a monk.

By tradition Joachim is named as Mary’s father. We have no historical, Biblical evidence of any elements of the lives of Mary’s parents, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us only through legend and tradition.

The oldest story comes from a document called the Gospel of James, though in no way should this document be considered to be historical or the Word of God. The legend in this story says that after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim that they would have a child. Much as Hannah dedicated Samuel, Anne promised to dedicate this child to God.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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