Virgin Birth…Constructed Stories

I will address the virgin birth one more time concering it’s use in the gospels of Matt and Luke. The point of that story was to show Jesus was not born of a ‘man’ – but Mary was impreganted by God alone. The lineage backs this up, the actual story about Jesus’ birth says this outright, and the passage they use from Isaiah also seems to point to this. In the writer’s mind there is no mistake about what is being said here concerning ‘virgin’. Some passages.

Matthew’s Version

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born...” (Matt 1:16a)

before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 1:18b)

BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON...” (Matt 1:23)

Matthews version seems pretty clear. Mary gets a mention in the genealogy because she bore Jesus, was impreganted by the Holy Spirit (not via Joseph), and fulfilled the passage in Isaiah 7:14.

1+1+1=3…no?

 Luke’s Version

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus” (Luke 1:31)

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”” (Luke 1:34)

The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35)

Now Luke does not do the whole ‘quoting’ scripture thing (by time of his composition it was obvious already – he needed defend nothing). However, he makes the exact same point about Mary: (a) Virgin to conceive son (b) impreganted by the Holy Spirit (or God) (c) he will be a literal version of the ‘son of God’.

Luke’s point is as obvious as Matthew’s for the use of the ‘virgin birth’ – not to ‘fulfill’ in as much as this is to determine what ‘son of God’ means.

And they basically provide me with more than an enough reason to not accept anything being said in those stories – since it is based on a literal interpretation of ‘alma’ from Isaiah 7:14 – which is in ‘error’. Luke also makes a leap after building on this ‘virgin’ idea about how it relates to ‘son of God’…casting more than enough doubt on the validity of that term.

It’s kind of like building an actual building on a flawed blueprint scheme that has an error in it’s construction plan (bad math or something in the measurements). Who builds their house on such things when they know the error will eventually flatten it?

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19 thoughts on “Virgin Birth…Constructed Stories

  1. True Don, Mark was numero uno according to most scholars – and he does not even as much as hint this was factual or possible.

  2. Mark nor Paul said anything. Luke presents a different geneology than Matt. Both took great pains to get the family to Bethlehem. One just happened there while another took a census there. If a census were to be taken, they would tax you not in your hometown but where you worked so they knew where to get the money from. Anything else would be a nightmare for governing. Yet what is the symbolic meaning of all of this?

  3. “Yet what is the symbolic meaning of all of this?” (Dread)

    I think there has to be a few things in the symbolism:

    (1) They are trying to match Jesus up with seemingly prophetic expectations about the messiah’s birth and lineage to give him ‘credibility’

    (2) The virgin birth gives Jesus some ‘umph’! Now not only is he ‘special’ in his birth, he is a gift from God, and an honest rival to Roman authority (ie: Caesar’s by this time were being considered ‘sons of God’). It puts Jesus on equal footing with the Emperor and a voice to be listened to (aside from that of Rome)…this is a Gentile version I would also suggest.

    However, the virgin birth is quite unneccesary for any of that…ir tries to lay the tracks early but it’s all in the gospels regardless.

    In a literal sense, it’s giving proof from ‘scripture’ (prophets) that Jesus is the ‘son of God’ (and not in some symbolic sense; literally). In a figurative or symbolic sense, it is pointing to the uniqueness of this individual – Jesus – the messiah candidate – an authority for a community – a true ruler they could live under instead of Rome (and it’s pagan system).

  4. “The virgin birth goes back to Genesis and the seed of woman” (Xander)

    Based on Genesis 3:15 I see. Actually, that interpretation has little merit to it – since it was a never held view in Judaism in that time or since. And never has there been the view the ‘messiah’ needed to be ‘born of a virgin’ (fact).

    Also the seed of a woman would obviously mean that of a man and woman together (sperm and egg) to bring about a child (which only the woman births)…this is the only way we know about for a woman to have children.

    I think it’s plainly obvious the virgin birth story is pure mythology – an invention to make Jesus ‘greater’. All the biblical pieces point to this conclusion.

    (a) Virgin birth based in Isaiah 7:14 – is actually a misrepresentation of the word ‘alma’ – according to anyone that studies Hebrew. Beulah is the word for virgin. It was a translation error that was developed into an idea for the messiah to ‘fulfill’.

    (b) The 2 stories literally have God sharing His ‘semen’ with Mary to impregnate her (for the god-man). The fact this is how they rationalized for God to get to earth speaks volumnes on their thinking patterns.

    (c) Jews never believed in a virgin birth idea prior to the NT…Gentiles did though (through the exact same way as described in the impregnation of Mary). The idea God needed to be ‘human’ was as foreign idea to Jews as could possibly be. One has to admit, based on history, this could not have come from Jewish sources (even Paul never mentions it).

    It’s a later invention to try fulfill more prophecy and that’s about the gist of it. They are well constructed stories that, with or without them, the gospels are just as rich and meaningful (in fact Mark and John ignore this idea altogether; and Paul must of missed the meeting they discussed this).

    • ** It’s a later invention to try fulfill more prophecy and that’s about the gist of it. **

      How can it have been invented to fulfill more prophecy if it had never been an accepted idea of the Jews?

      I guess you can read seed of woman to mean the union of man and woman. I wonder why God didn’t just say that instead of specifically saying woman, since the woman does not have a seed. It talks about man spilling his seed, but no where else does it say the seed of a woman.

      Not sure what version you are reading that God shot sperm into Mary. I keep seeing it as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. That is like saying God shot sperm onto the ground and * poof * Adam was there.

      ** It was a translation error that was developed into an idea for the messiah to ‘fulfill’.**

      Kind of. When it was translated into the Greek for the Septuagint, it was translated as virgin by the Jewish scholars. This was prior to the birth of Jesus, so not sure why that slight misunderstanding would have happened.

      I am curious as to why you feel that Jesus is the messiah to the Gentiles only.

  5. Xander,
    You stated, “but no where else does it say the seed of a woman”. I beg to differ. In Genesis 16:10 the angel talking to Hagar uses the exact same Hebrew word ‘zaraych’ (seed) that God used earlier with Eve in Genesis 3:15. Hagar, too, is spoken of as having ‘seed’. The story of the angel and Hagar actually should sound very familiar to Christians, “Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son. You shall call him Ishmael.” Genesis 16:11

    As to your claim about Jewish scholars, by 2 CE the Septuagint was considered to be too filled with errors to have any credibility among Jews and its use was abandoned by us. What the Septuagint said prior to the birth of the person you mention we have no way of knowing.

    • The word is the same, but the context has changed. Your seed and seed of woman are not the same. Hagar was pregnant at the time and full fertilized. Isn’t someone born a Jew only if their mother was Jewish?

      The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the translation holds very close. I thought that Jewish people quit using it since Christians were using it.

      • You have changed your original claim which was “but no where else does it say the seed of a woman”. Eve is spoken of as having seed, so is Hagar. These are the only two instances in Torah where women are spoken of as having seed, (that I know of anyway) even though many women are spoken of as being pregnant. When such a thing happens in Torah we look for connections rather than just brush it all aside because it doesn’t fit our theology. And if context changing is the basis for ignoring connections am I correct to assume you’ll agree with me then that there is no connection between Tanakh and the NT?

        Yes, it is true that a person is Jewish if they are born to a Jewish mother but obviously this was not the rule at the time of the patriarchs or there would have been no Jews at all. Who was Tamar, the woman with whom Judah had Perez and Zerah? Torah doesn’t say her lineage, but obviously she did live in the land so I would guess Canaanite. By the time of Ezra the rule had changed, but when this happened I do not know. I do not know what any of this has to do with either Eve or Hagar, however.

        The Dead Sea Scrolls show that the Greek word was originally virgin? I’m missing something here. I thought the Dead Sea Scrolls were in Hebrew and Aramaic. Personally, I give little validity to the claim that any Greek translations of the Prophets came from Jewish scholars since Talmud states that these 70 scholars only translated the first 5 books into Greek. However, since I wasn’t there to verify for myself, I will not argue the point but merely bring it up as another point of view.

      • They are similar but not the same. With Hagar, you have a seed that is directly tied to her. In Gen 3:15, you have the seed of woman. Woman is plural here and not specific to Eve.

        I was meaning to say that the Dead Sea Scrolls show how similar the source documents for the Septuagint were to the scrolls. If there was a translation error, it was accepted by Rabbis for many centuries.

  6. Funny thing about Matthew’s genealogy is that he specifically traces Jesus’s heritage to King David but through whom? Yes, it was through his real father: Joseph.

    Mary is not mentioned at all in that particular genealogy of Matthew because Mary is inconsequential in the lineage, she has no history worth mentioning (probably totally unknown). We know that male lineage was important in that time period and Mary’s heritage is given no concern.

    But if Joseph is not the REAL father of Jesus then why at all mention Joseph’s connection to David and then directly link that connection to Jesus? It makes no sense at all. It actually shows the reader that Jesus would have zero connection to David in any real way if Joseph were not the REAL father of Jesus.

    Matthew openly contradicts his own version of virgin birth by mentioning Joseph’s genealogy as the real heritage of Jesus. Virgin birth is a fictional story that even Matthew’s gospel does not really support but rather it contradicts it’s own message with the mentioning of Joseph’s genealogy as the basis of Jesus’ lineage.

    I personally would not trace my actual heritage back through the ages to my step-father, would you?

    • I wonder why Matthew did not trace back Jehovah’s genealogy while he was at it and link Jesus directly to him? Because that particular genealogy would have answered a lot of questions. But maybe that is asking too much but I guess the virgin birth really sums it all up nicely and neatly. Funny how that always happens.

  7. “How can it have been invented to fulfill more prophecy if it had never been an accepted idea of the Jews?” (Xander)

    Good question, but why would someone well versed in biblical Hebrew and biblical tradition make such an easy mistake? It makes me think this was most definitely not from any rabbinical perspective – and I’d be right…there is nothing on this exact topic (including Gen 3:15) about ‘virgin birth’ as part of prophecy.

    So it only leaves one group to make this mistake – Gentiles that recorded the stuff and had it written down. Maybe they invented the virgin birth to attract more followers?

    Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

    I would like to ask where this is in biblical passages in the NT why you think this fulfills the ‘virgin birth’. Is it in the actual virgin birth stories as proof (gospels)? I checked and I am not sure that scripture is ever used as justification for the virgin birth – in the gospels or in the letters. So where does this idea resonate from?

    I have to tell you, I read that Genesis scripture and I don’t automatically think ‘ah hah! Virgin Birth!’. In fact, what I see in that passage is a tug of war that is about to happen is some anger (enmity) between the children of the serpent (darkness) and the children of women (light). I don’t think of it as some prophecy of the messiah and I don’t see virgin birth…in fact I think if it were there the Mishnah would have used it (or some rabbinic work).

    “Not sure what version you are reading that God shot sperm into Mary. I keep seeing it as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit” (Xander)

    Now this is very interesting…follow me on this one. Either it is God’s impregnation of Mary or God ‘created’ a sperm inside of Mary that fertilized the egg. If it the first, we might have the possibility of a ‘god-man’. If it is the latter we have Jesus as a ‘created being’.

    You also have to view this from the eyes of that era – the scriptures don’t lie on this one.

    “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)

    Mary is a virgin. The Holy Spirit will ‘come upon you’ ‘ overshadow you’…what does that language mean? The ‘holy’ child will be called the ‘son of God’. It’s an impreganation – that much we know. But how does God impregnate someone? Thats the trickier question.

    “When it was translated into the Greek for the Septuagint, it was translated as virgin by the Jewish scholars” (Xander)

    I think that is questionable…was it Jewish people that translated the Septuagint? And if so, was there a proper word for ‘alma’ in the Greek? It was a translation error – since we do have the original Hebrew now (thanks Dead Sea Scrolls) and we can easily see this use of that word as ‘virgin’ was sadly mistaken or used too loosely.

    • Paul is the one that compares Adam and Jesus to each other. Adam, who was created by God, had no natural father. Likewise of Jesus. Paul refers to Jesus as the second Adam. Matthew traces the lineage back to David but also points out that Joseph could have divorced her because she was already with child. He couldn’t stone her because the Jews had lost that right. Another prophecy about the Messiah, Gen 49:10.

      I am saying Genesis 3:15 gives the reason for virgin birth. God left Adam out of the war for what reason? God is announcing to the serpent, Satan, that there would be hostility between the seed of the serpent and the seed of woman. Adam was standing there the entire time, but we was not included in this great battle. If it was between the seed of Adam and the seed of the serpent, it would have been a battle fought by man that man could have won. Man overcome sin and redeem himself, that can never happen as sin can not make itself holy.

      Adam was formed how? God breathed into the man’s body and life was given. The Holy Spirit is the holy breath. God can not create life a third time without using physical reproduction as His means? He creates man from dirt and breathes into him and then takes a rob from the man and makes woman. He really needs to create a sperm to get someone pregnant?

      The Septuagint was used by the Jews for centuries before they stopped using it because the Christians also claimed it. I guess the Jewish scholars who translated it must have gotten the translation wrong. After all of the time that the Jews were using it, how did they realize that the translation was not correct and revert back only after the claim of the virgin birth was made? Seems a rather convenient time to realize the “mistake”.

  8. “Paul is the one that compares Adam and Jesus to each other. Adam, who was created by God, had no natural father. Likewise of Jesus. Paul refers to Jesus as the second Adam” (Xander)

    I read those passages – I see nowhere where Paul actually quotes that Genesis 3:15 passage or makes the point ‘Jesus had no natural father’. None of that is actually said anywhere – except by you.

    This seems to be Paul’s point with these Adam and Jesus comparisons “So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (I Cor 15:45). All of this in reference to ‘resurrection’ and a Jesus already ‘ascended’.

    “Another prophecy about the Messiah, Gen 49:10.” (Xander)

    Maybe, I would debate the validity of that claim but it has nothing to do with virgin birth anyways.

    “I am saying Genesis 3:15 gives the reason for virgin birth. God left Adam out of the war for what reason? God is announcing to the serpent, Satan, that there would be hostility between the seed of the serpent and the seed of woman…Man overcome sin and redeem himself, that can never happen as sin can not make itself holy.” (Xander)

    Theologically this has some serious problems.

    (a) Woman is the one that ate the apple and disobeyed – how is her loins and dna more perfect than a mans? Arer women ‘sinless’ too? In fact Jesus would still be 1/2 human – and it from the portion that was most to blame in that story (based on I Tim 2).

    (b) How is man left out exactly? He gets punished in the garden alongside Eve for starters. Secondly, they say ‘seed’ – which I interpret as ‘children’. Men and women make children – unless there is another way this is done none of us know of?

    It’s seems very weak to argue that passage of scripture is supporting virgin birth as a prophecy…there is not hint of such a thing. And even if one wants to find a hint in that passage – the bigger problem is still women fell also (alongside Adam – just as sinful).

    “God can not create life a third time without using physical reproduction as His means? He creates man from dirt and breathes into him and then takes a rib from the man and makes woman. He really needs to create a sperm to get someone pregnant?” (Xander)

    So you suppose no ‘sperm’ was created and there was some new way that God introduced to engineer the birth of a baby (without using an egg)? How did it grow in the womb exactly? God actually went against His own creation (reproductive systems of humanity), which he called good, to develop a way for virgin birth? I believe nothing is impossible with God, but it is getting more impossible He did it that way.

    “The Septuagint was used by the Jews for centuries before they stopped using it because the Christians also claimed it. I guess the Jewish scholars who translated it must have gotten the translation wrong” (Xander)

    (a) They are not clear on who translated this document – it is believed to be translated by Jewish people in Hellenistic territory (or by Alexandria for addition to the Greek culture). Both make some sense if you ask me.

    (b) However, in comparison with the Masoretic text (used by Jews and in Hebrew) the Septuagint fell out of favor due to the many errors being discovered (they think in 200 AD period). So whoever translated it was nor scribal (Jewish) in nature and did a type of a ‘rush job’.

    (c) It is clear this is the text the early Christians had access to…since they copy errors from it. They also were cut off from the original Hebrew version after being booted out from that Judaic tradition.

    “It is not known what principles were used to determine the contents of the Septuagint beyond the “Law and the Prophets”, a phrase used several times in the New Testament.” (Wikipedia – Septuagint)

    “According to one assessment “the Pentateuch is reasonably well translated, but the rest of the books, especially the poetical books, are often very poorly done and even contain sheer absurdities” (Wikipedia – Septuagint)

    Well there ya got it, errors and absurdities according to one Greek expert that translated the Septuagint for the New English Bible (Sir Godfrey Driver). This also seems to be the same copy used by ‘Gentiles’ (see quote below).

    “Early Christians—who were largely unfamiliar with Hebrew texts, and were thus only made aware of the differences through the newer Greek versions—tended to dismiss the differences as a product of uninspired translation of the Hebrew in these new versions” (Wikipedia – Septuagint)

    It’s no remarkable thing to me that this is exactly the case with the NT and it’s use of Tanakh writings (which are weird in translation a lot of times). In fact, Hebrews even contains an outright error as compared to a Psalm.

  9. Responding to Xander’s comment:

    They are similar but not the same. With Hagar, you have a seed that is directly tied to her. In Gen 3:15, you have the seed of woman. Woman is plural here and not specific to Eve.

    I was meaning to say that the Dead Sea Scrolls show how similar the source documents for the Septuagint were to the scrolls. If there was a translation error, it was accepted by Rabbis for many centuries.

    I stated my opinion about Septuagint and you have stated yours. That works for me. People can read and decide for themselves if there is any merit to either opinion.

    Now, about your claim from Genesis 3:15, I am including the Hebrew here so that anyone who reads Hebrew can see for themselves the points I am making.

    וְאֵיבָה אָשִׁית בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב

    Woman here is NOT plural. הָאִשָּׁה HaIsha means ‘the woman’ and the form of seed (or offspring) זַרְעָהּ used here is ‘her’, not ‘their’. A singular noun ending in -ah means her; a singular noun ending in -an means their (feminine). In this verse both the noun and the person possessing that noun are singular.

    In Genesis 3:15 God is speaking to the serpent when God speaks about ‘the woman’. In the next verse (3:16) God addresses Eve directly as ‘the woman’ הָאִשָּׁה In the verse that follows (3:17) God addresses Adam as either ‘man’ or ‘the man’, the Hebrew allows for either וּלְאָדָם but with ‘the woman’ in the previous two verses the Hebrew specifically says ‘the’.

  10. Upon checking 3:17 more closely I wish to correct my previous statement that allows for ‘the man’ as a possible translation; the vowel used with the lamed is a sheva and not qamets as would be used for ‘the’. My translation would be either ‘man’ or ‘Adam’. Genesis 3:20 is where ‘the man’ shows up with הָאָדָם HaAdam (since it would be strange to say ‘the Adam’).

    This is likely an extraneous point so I almost let it slide, but to do so would bother me. I’m very much a stickler for accuracy in translation and would hate to have what I see as a sloppy translation on my part left in public view without correction. I have Chumashim that use ‘the man’ in their English translation 3:17, but I disagree with them on this.

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