I'm going to try and gather several of the comments together here, so that those who wish to continue discussing may do so.
Elena pasted from this article:
I said to Jennie:
The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.
Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as Aelia Capitolina in honor of Jupiter.
For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the "Tomb of Mary," close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the "Place of Dormition," the spot of Mary's "falling asleep," where she had died. The "Tomb of Mary" was where she was buried.
At this time, the "Memory of Mary" was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
For a time, the "Memory of Mary" was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the "Falling Asleep" ("Dormitio") of the Mother of God.
Well, I hope you don't celebrate Christmas, or worship on Sunday, or use grape juice instead of wine for the Lord's Supper. Because that all sounds good, but none of it is from Scripture.
I don't consider Christmas as a part of church doctrine. It's a tradition that some celebrate as part of church worship and some celebrate as just a family and cultural tradition. It's certainly not something that was commanded in scripture or done in the early church.
As to the other things, they are not major doctrines pertaining to salvation, but would be considered matters of freedom and conscience, as to what day to worship, and whether to use alcoholic wine for communion. There is not agreement on them, so we should do as conscience dictates. We don't believe traditions are bad, just that they must be in line with scripture.
The RC doctrines of Mary are not taught in scripture AND are in contradiction to it. They are myths with no historical support and, in protestant eyes, should not be believed and certainly should not be dogmas that everyone must believe. In the firm belief of many Christians, they take away from the supremacy of Christ and the gospel message, and point people to Mary instead.
I then wrote:
I get very frustrated that things non-Catholic Christians do which are traditions are always okay, even though they aren't Scriptural. Anything Catholics do which smack of tradition (such as pray the rosary) is met with the accusation that it isn't in the Bible, and therefore shouldn't be done.
How does the Assumption contradict Scripture, which is silent on what happened to Mary. Elijah and Enoch were assumed into heaven.
I would also disagree that there is no historical support. In my blog entry which I linked to earlier, you can see that the church which holds Mary's empty tomb is still around. Historical accounts always refer to an empty tomb.
It isn't as if there are accounts of the body being there, and then at a certain point they change to describing an empty tomb, as it would if the body were stolen.
I haven't heard of Mary's empty tomb. When does history speak of it? I've heard of many people going to the Holy Land to see Jesus' empty tomb, but not Mary's. I'll go back and look at your earlier blog entry.
The Bible records Jesus' resurrection and ascension, and earlier as you said it records Elijah and Enoch being taken up into heaven alive, so if Mary was assumed and it's so important to Christianity, why is it not recorded in scripture and testified to by early believers by many eyewitnesses as Jesus' death and resurrection and ascension were?
It looks like all the documents that refer to the assumption are from the 5th century or later. That's not the same as the eyewitness accounts of Christ and the historical accounts from the same period as Christ that speak of the events of the time. It still looks like the Mary stories came in later as myths.
Clare chimed in with:
It is a little bit intriguing to observe the lack of relics of Mary. No 'true bones' or anything.
The early church ( and this habit persists) tended to treat the mortal remains of saints with great care and reverence.
Daughter of Wisdom wrote this (in response to Clare):
I can shed a little light on why the body of Mary was not found.
The burial practices of 1st century Jews were markedly different from the modern burial practices of today, or of our culture. In first century Jewry, bodies were not embalmed or preserved. The body was anointed with special herbs such as myrrh or aloes to mask the stench as the body decomposed. Once the body had decomposed, the bones were taken and placed in a box called an ossuary, which contained all the bones of a particular family. These ossuaries were then stored in special burial caves where they could be retrieved at any time so that new bones from newly deceased family members could be added. For more information see Ossuary.
Another thing: The name Mary was very common back then. It would have been difficult to next to impossible for a devout Catholic who came along hundreds of years later (as there were no Roman Catholics in the first century) to to determine which bones belonged to Mary of Nazareth. The destruction of familial records by the then Roman empire, and the Jewish diaspora of 70 A.D would also make it virtually impossible for people to identify remains.
Conclusion: No body of Mary because the body had rotted away, and the documentation to identify the bones were destroyed.
Finally, Barbara wrote:
Much of what is known about Mary is found in the NT apocrypha. While some of these books were rejected from the official canon as heretical, others were rejected because their authorship was questioned, not their validity. Other things were passed down in oral tradition.---------------
The reason that many doctrines about Mary were officially declared was in response to those questioning Jesus' humanity. Jesus was fully human because his mother was fully human. Would you not agree that a central tenent is that Christ was both human and divine.
Now, let us try to get back to the original question. How does the doctrine of the Assumption contradict Scripture?
The only response I've heard is that it would have been an important enough event that it should have been in Scripture. That is not proof of contradiction, folks.
Can God assume bodies into Heaven? Yes, there is Biblical proof of this.
Is Mary's death recorded in Scripture? No, it is not.
Therefore, this doctrine does not explicitly contradict Scripture.
Going back to Jennie's other original assertion, that traditions practiced by non-Catholic Christians are not major doctrines, but matters of personal choice in minor matters, I would point out the the doctrine of the Trinity is a major cornerstone of Christianity which was not explicitly mentioned in Scripture. It was also not agreed upon by the early Christians for this reason. The early church was nearly torn apart by this controversy, but eventually Arianism was declared a heresy.
So yes, Jennie, it is possible for major doctrines to not be explicitly found in Scripture.
As to the history of Mary. At the crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus gave Mary into the care of the apostle John. It is widely believed that Mary went to live with John in the city of Ephesus. The place where the house stood is a place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims today. While the upper part of the house is newer, the foundations date back to the 1st century.
While Mary lived there, it is reasonable to assume that the disciples of Jesus came to visit her there. Luke does not name his "eyewitnesses" but from whom else would he have heard of the circumstances of the birth of Jesus? Was elderly Elizabeth still around to tell how John the Baptist leaped in her womb when Mary came to visit her?
St. John died and was buried in Ephesus, where a church was erected over his grave. The remains of it are still there. Similarly, the location of the tomb of Mary is still remembered with a church, which was built over the site of 1st century burial caves.
These people were very important to the early Christians. They began collecting "relics" from them. In Acts 19:11-12 it is recorded that people were healed of illness and possession by being touched by aprons or handkerchiefs which had touched Paul. That proved so successful, they kept track of Paul when he died.
The early Christians visited tombs of the martyrs and of significant Christians regularly. There exists ample historical evidence of this in the form of 1st century graffiti on the tombs. The Christians honored and remembered their dead. They made pilgrimage to their tombs. And when the persecution was over, churches were erected on these sites.
Consider the most significant example of this, the tomb of St. Peter in Rome. No, we can't prove that the DNA on the bones matches that of St. Peter. But it is becoming clear that with so many of these sites, they do date back to the earliest times. Christians honored and remembered their dead.