[32] In my Catholic upbringing, the “Blessed Virgin Mary” was the most frequently heard phrase to designate the Jewish mother of Jesus. In the Christian Scriptures, however, only the canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin (Greek, parthénos) and, in the Greek language, parthénos refers to a maiden or a girl prior to her first marriage. Mark, John, and Paul do not appear to know of any exceptional circumstances surrounding the choice of Mary as the mother of Jesus. Once Mary begins to live with Joseph, she is no longer called parthénos. Luke’s Gospel appears to juxtapose two extraordinary conceptions—that of Elizabeth who is too old [beyond menopause] and that of Mary who is too young [unmarried and perhaps pre-menstrual as well]. For the traditional Catholic position, see Tim Staples, “The Case for Mary’s Perpetual Virginity” (http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/the-case-for-mary%E2%80%99s-perpetual-virginity). For the informed Catholic position wherein the perpetual virginity has to be reduced to a pious legend. See Raymond Brown, in his book Birth of the Messiah (NY: Doubleday, 1993) pp. 298-303 and Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine (1985) where he puts the virgin birth in the category of "doctrines for which there is slender basis in Scripture." For a creative examination of how “virginity” and “maternity” are simultaneous assertions of Matt 1, see Aaron Milavec, "Matthew's Integration of Sexual and Divine Begetting," Biblical Theological Bulletin 8 (1978) 108-116.