Theology for the Masses

November 16, 2006

Reasons for the Virgin Birth

Filed under: Apologetics,Existence of God,trinity — Henry Imler @ 12:03 am

When I look at the begining of the gospels and read about the conception of Jesus from a standpoint of faith and belief, I accept it and cherish it. However, when I approach the passages with a skeptical, un-biased mindset, I re-read Isaiah 7:14 and thinking that that probably did not apply to Jesus and other points of contention sneak into my mind. With that said, I really liked what N.T. Wright had to say on the subject.

N.T. Wright gives three interesting lines of argument for thinking that perhaps, just perhaps we have cause to think that Jesus was indeed conceived while Mary was still a virgin. Wright does note that from a strictly historical standpoint, the issue cannot be resolved either way. However, there are some reasons to thing that it was possible. The following is a synopsis of what Wright espouses along these lines in chapter 11 of Two Visions of Jesus.

  1. God is not wholly outside our universe, acting only on occasion to intervene in history. Instead, the Jewish God is very close and involved with our lives. Given this, it would be quite allowable for God to act in this way to usher in the climax of history, taking up His title of creator to bring “a new creation from the womb of the old“.
  2. Isaiah 7:14 was never used in any Jewish tradition to support the idea of the messiah having a virgin birth. Matthew was the first. It would not make sense to incorporate a pagan idea (hero having a virgin birth, e.i. Alexander and Augustus) into a very Jewish story, unless it happened. Once it had occurred, then were the stories of Isaiah 7:14 looked at again with a new perspective.
  3. If the early Christian community thought this happened, why did two very different stories take shape? If it were really a metaphor for something about Jesus, then it should have had a unified beginning, not the two separate cores that we see in Matthew and Luke. Once again, the stories of Matthew and Luke are very Jewish, and the virgin birth does not even matter that much to the story of Jesus. God could have easily used the child of Joseph and Mary as the messiah. In the stories of Matthew and Luke we have following progression of themes: “Jewish -> Pagan -> Jewish” the rest of the way. It does not make sense for the climax of the Jewish story to have a pagan introduction, unless it happened.

1 Comment »

  1. very interesting. i’m adding in RSS Reader

    Comment by Melina — December 20, 2007 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

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