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Encyclopedia > Virgin Birth

The Virgin Birth is a key doctrine of the Christian faith, and is also held by Muslims (Qur'an 3.47). The doctrine asserts that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother, the Virgin Mary, without the participation of a human father. Instead, the Incarnation (not the Immaculate Conception -- see below) took place when the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary. Doctrine, from Latin doctrina, (compare doctor), means a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. ... Christianity is the current Good Article Collaboration of the week! Please help to improve this article to the highest of standards. ... A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم, Turkish: Müslüman, Persian and Urdu: مسلمان, Bosnian: Musliman) is an adherent of Islam. ... The Qurān [1] (Arabic: , literally the recitation; also called The Noble Quran; also transliterated as Quran, Koran (the traditional term in English), and Al-Quran), is the central religious text of Islam. ... i hate god ... The term conception can refer to more than one meaning: Concept Fertilisation This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Female internal reproductive anatomy The uterus or womb is the major female reproductive organ of most mammals, including humans. ... Saint Mary and Saint Mary the Virgin both redirect here. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Mary, mother of Jesus as the Immaculate Conception. ... This article or section may be confusing or unclear for some readers, and should be edited to rectify this. ...

Another reason that Christians who accept the Virgin Birth consider it to be significant is that it shows Jesus' divine and human natures at once united, paving the way for all of humanity to be united with God. Eastern Orthodox tradition says that from the time Jesus was born, the flaming sword was removed from the Garden of Eden, making it possible for humanity to re-enter Paradise. Eastern Orthodoxy (also called Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy) is a Christian tradition which represents the majority of Eastern Christianity. ... Mithgol with his flaming sword A flaming sword is a sword glowing with flame, such as one employed by Star wars characters, or by Mithgol the Webmaster (see photo). ... The Fall of Man by Lucas Cranach, a 16th century German depiction of Eden The Garden of Eden (from Hebrew Gan Ēden, גַּן עֵדֶן) is described in the Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man - Adam - and woman - Eve - lived after they were created by God. ... Paradise, by Jan Bruegel The word paradise is derived from the Avestan word pairidaeza (a walled enclosure), which is a compound of pairi- (around), a cognate of the Greek peri-, and -diz (to create, make), a cognate of the English dough. ...

However, the possibility of a virgin birth is often questioned for the fact that, from a biological viewpoint, it is impossible for a human being to be born without a biological father "and" a mother.

Also, some Christians do not believe in the Virgin Birth. Research by many groups [citation needed], including Christian researchers, indicates that among both the clergy and the laity (in all branches of Christianity) beliefs in central tenets of the faith such as Virgin Birth or bodily Resurrection is highly variable.

Although they believe in the Virgin Birth, Muslims do not call Jesus "Son of God", rather "Servant of God". In the Qur'an, Jesus (Isa in Arabic) is consistently termed "Isa ibn Maryam" - a matronymic - because, in Muslim belief, he had no biological father. i hate god ... Main article: Jesus Islam holds Jesus (Arabic: ‎ `Īsā) to have been a messenger and a prophet of God and the Masih. ... Arabic can mean: From or related to Arabia From or related to the Arabs The Arabic language; see also Arabic grammar The Arabic alphabet, used for expressing the languages of Arabic, Persian, Malay ( Jawi), Kurdish, Panjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and Urdu, among others. ... A matronymic is a personal name based on the name of ones mother. ...


Philosophical controversy

In the wider sense, arguments for and against the Virgin Birth depend on fundamental philosophical assumptions: if one believes God does not exist, or if God exists but does not perform miracles, the Virgin Birth cannot have taken place in any traditionally accepted sense. While parthenogenesis, a type of virgin birth where a female gives birth without the intervention of the male material, is known in nature, the resulting offspring must be female since the mother has no Y chromosome to pass on. Also, the process has never been observed in mammals. The Virgin Birth not only violates a naturalist philosophy, but also science based upon methodological naturalism. This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... According to many religions, a miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning something wonderful, is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified. ... Kaguya is one success from 460 attempts at growing embryos. ... Metaphysical naturalism is any worldview in which nature is all there is and all things supernatural (which stipulatively includes as well as spirits and souls, non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) do not exist. ... Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that do not distinguish the supernatural (including strange entities like non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) from nature. ...

Alleged late appearance in the New Testament

There are explicit references to the virgin birth in only two places in the New Testament: the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which are believed by many scholars to be amongst the later written parts of the New Testament (see Markan priority). The apparently older Gospel of Mark, on which Matthew and Luke are believed to be partly based, does not mention the virgin birth, and some scholars also argue from grammar and style that the first two chapters of Luke, describing the virgin birth, were a later addition to the Gospel, which may originally have begun at 3:1: The Gospel of Matthew (literally, according to Matthew; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. ... The Gospel of Luke is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which tell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. ... John 21:1 Jesus Appears to His Disciples--Alessandro Mantovani: the Vatican, Rome. ... Markan priority is the hypothesis that the Gospel of Mark was the first written of the three Synoptic Gospels, and that the two other synoptic evangelists, Matthew and Luke, used Marks Gospel as one of their sources. ... The Gospel of Mark is traditionally the second New Testament Gospel, ascribed to Mark the Evangelist. ...

2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

At 3:1 there is an abrupt change of subject and the story begins again. Nevertheless, this is characteristic of many stories in the Gospels and the author of Luke may simply be beginning a new segment of his narrative. Arguments regarding the addition of material to a narrative (Redaction and Form criticism), especially when the material in question is present in the earliest manuscripts, have received significant criticism in the last 20 years and are now regarded as dubious by some textual critics.

Double attestation

The Virgin conception and birth is a tradition that fits within the criterion of multiple attestation, that is, the same event appears in two independent traditions (most scholars argue that the authors of Matthew and Luke worked independent of one another). For many historians, independent testimony is a significant evidence for the historical validity of a said event. Matthew and Luke are testifying to an event, the birth, about which there was a tradition, namely, that it resulted from a miraculous conception. That the conception itself was indeed miraculous appears to rest on a "single attestation", that of the Virgin Mary. The attestation of the angel to St Joseph on the miraculous nature of the conception would not be accepted by many scholars as historiographically valid. The criterion of multiple attestation or independent attestation is a tool used by some Biblical scholars to help determine whether certain actions or sayings by Jesus in the New Testament are from Jesus or from the Church that followed. ... The Annunciation - the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will bear Jesus (El Greco, 1575) An angel is a supernatural being found in many religions. ... Saint Joseph, also referred to as Joseph the Betrothed and as Joseph of Nazareth, was the foster-father of Jesus, according to the New Testament (Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23). ... Historiography is the study of the practice of history. ...

Critics of the "double attestation" argument cite many "inconsistencies" between the accounts of Matthew and Luke regarding Jesus' birth. According to Matthew, Joseph was forewarned of the virgin birth by an unnamed angel; in Luke it is Mary who is notified of this by the angel Gabriel. Matthew tells us that Joseph and Mary were residents of Bethlehem who moved to Nazareth after Jesus' birth in order to avoid living under Archelaus: according to the better-known story in Luke the couple lived in Nazareth and only traveled to Bethlehem in order to comply with a Roman census. Luke mentions that Mary was the sister of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, has the new-born Jesus visited by shepherds, and mentions several long hymns uttered by various characters, such as Mary's Magnificat. None of this is mentioned by Matthew, who instead tells us of the visit of the Magi, the massacre of the innocents by Herod, and the flight into Egypt. 12th-century icon of Archangel Gabriel from Novgorod In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (גַּבְרִיאֵל, Standard Hebrew Gavriʼel, Latin Gabrielus, Greek , Tiberian Hebrew Gaḇrîʼēl, Arabic جبريل Ǧabrīl Jibril, literally Master, of God, i. ... Herod Archelaus (23 BC–c. ... 1870 US Census for New York City A census is the process of obtaining information about every member of a population (not necessarily a human population). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... In a draw in a mountainous region, a shepherd guides a flock of about 20 sheep amidst scrub and olive trees. ... Sandro Boticelli. ... The Wise Men are given the names Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar in this Romanesque mosaic from the Basilica of St Apollinarius in Ravenna, Italy. ... The Holy Innocents by Giotto di Bondone. ... Herod was the name of several members of the Herodian dynasty of Roman Judea: Herod the Great (c. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ...

There are thus two rival explanations for the "double attestation" of Matthew and Luke regarding the virgin birth of Jesus:

  1. The virgin birth was a historical event, and the stories of Matthew and Luke are based on different aspects and witnesses' accounts of it.
  2. Matthew and Luke both wanted to make Jesus fit prophecies from Hebrew scripture. Both authors were aware of the prophecies concerning virgin birth and Bethlehem, and therefore these elements of their stories match. But each author wove these prophecies into the overall narrative in a different way. For example, both authors had to explain how Jesus was born in Bethlehem when he was known to be from Nazareth (as mentioned in Mark's gospel) -- and each came up with a totally different explanation.

Paul of Tarsus

Many of the letters of Paul are considered older than Matthew and Luke, and Paul does not take a clear opportunity to refer to Mary as a virgin when he describes the birth of Jesus: Paul of Tarsus (d. ...

Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law...

The phrase in Greek is γενομενον εκ γυναικος, genomenon ek gunaikos, "having-become of a-woman", not γενομενον εκ παρθενου, genomenon ek parthenou, "having-become of a-virgin". Christian apologists reply that Mary's virginity was not relevant to Paul's reasoning at this point, and point out that he uses a special verb to describe Jesus' birth, which he plainly regarded as a special event.[citation needed] However, Jesus' birth would have been special to Paul whether or not it had taken place by parthenogenesis, and if Paul had not known of the virgin birth, it could never have been relevant to any of his reasoning and so could never have appeared in his writing. This argumentum ex silentio, or "argument from silence", cannot be conclusive, but skeptics of the virignal conception argue that it does increase the probability Paul was unaware of the virgin birth. Kaguya is one success from 460 attempts at growing embryos. ... The argument from silence (also called argumentum a silentio in Latin) is that the silence of a speaker or writer about X proves or suggests that the speaker or writer is either ignorant of X or has a motive to remain silent about X. When used as a logical proof...

Skeptics argue that like the resurrection appearances, the virgin birth may be an example of the gradual supernaturalization of the Christian story. Some scholars have argued that early Christians did not claim that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. [citation needed] They point to the geneaologies in Matthew 1-2, and Luke 1-2, which use descent through Joseph to demonstrate that Jesus was the heir to King David. Moreover, the Ebionites (a group of Palestinian Judeo-Christians rejected by Gentile Christians as heretics) maintained that Jesus was naturally conceived. [citation needed] The Death of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus are two events in the New Testament in which Jesus is crucified on one day (the Day of Preparation, i. ... The supernatural refers to conscious magical, religious or unknown forces that cannot ordinarily be perceived except through their effects. ... The Gospel of Matthew (literally, according to Matthew; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. ... The Gospel of Luke is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which tell the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. ... This page is about the Biblical king David. ... The Ebionites (from Hebrew; Ebionim, the poor ones) were a sect of Judean followers of John the Baptizer and later Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic) which existed in Judea and Palestine during the early centuries of the Common Era. ... Judeo-Christian (or Judaeo-Christian) is a term used to describe the body of concepts and values which are thought to be held in common by Judaism and Christianity, and typically considered (along with classical Greco-Roman civilization) a fundamental basis for Western legal codes and moral values. ... Heresy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the Catholic or Orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. ...

It might be argued, given he asserts the divinity of Jesus Christ in his writings and refers to him as υιος Θεου, Huios Theou ("Son of God"), Paul's failure to reflect upon the nature of Jesus' birth could suggest that neither he nor his readers felt the need to confront the issue, possibly because they took the divinity of the Virgin Birth for granted (much as they might take the direction of sunset for granted in Ephesians 4:26, when Paul fails to specify that it occurs in the West). However, the precise direction of the sunset has no obvious theological relevance, while the Virgin Birth certainly does; and, given Paul writes expansively about the theological significance of Jesus' death and resurrection, one might ask why he neglects this aspect of Jesus' life. Examine, for example, Paul's words at the very beginning of Romans: The Epistle to Ephesians is one of the books of the Bible in the New Testament, written by Paul at Rome about the same time as that to the Colossians, which in many points it resembles. ...

1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

This seems to say that Jesus was human by the flesh and divine by the spirit: he was the "seed of David" by descent in the male line through Joseph. Furthermore, he was declared to be the Son of God by his virgin birth as well as by his resurrection from the dead, and later in Romans Paul says this:

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Why is a body begotten of a virgin by the Holy Spirit called a ομοιωματι σαρκος αμαρτιας, homoiomati sarkos hamartias, a "likeness of sinful flesh"? These and similar references may suggest that Paul does not mention the Virgin Birth because it had not yet been created as a way of honoring Jesus or overcoming the difficulties of reconciling human flesh and divine spirit, and although Paul refers to Jesus as "Son of God" after his death, Jesus repeatedly refers to himself in life as υιος του ανθρωπου, Huiou tou Anthropou, "Son of Man" (Matthew 8:20 etc; Mark 2:10 etc; Luke 5:24 etc; John 1:51 etc).

In light of this, most recent scholars of the infancy narratives have argued that the theological significance of Jesus' Birth did not become a Christian concern until later in the 1st century (See R.E. Brown, Birth of the Messiah - J.A. Fitzmyer Gospel of Luke). That is, the early Church seems to have "worked backwards" in its theology - focusing initially on the death and resurrection of Christ (see nearly all of Paul's letter), then becoming concerned with his life (Gospel of Mark), and later faced with addressing his birth (Matthew and Luke). Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the order of dating for these works is still in dispute, and arguments based on these datings unsure.

Dispute regarding Isaiah 7:14

In the past two millennia, there has been controversy among scholars about the translation and the meaning of a small section of Isaiah. For many scholars, the crux of the matter is the translation of the word : עלמה, `almah which has been translated as young woman and as virgin. Almah (עלמה) or plural: alamot (עלמות) is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable (i. ...

In the King James Version of the Bible, a traditional Protestant translation, the verses in question run like this: The King James Version of the Bible, or Authorised Version, was first published in 1611, has had a profound impact on English literature. ...

7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Some newer translations also use the word "virgin": The New King James, The English Standard Version, The Contemporary English Version, Young's Literal Translation, among others. Many modern translations concede that the word in the Hebrew does not mean "virgin", including The Revised Standard Version, The New Jerusalem Bible, The Revised English Bible, The Good News Bible, The New Revised Standard Version, among others. This demonstrates that some Christian scholars, both Protestant and Catholic, prefer the traditional translation of the Hebrew in the context of Isaiah 7:14, while others do not.

Skeptics argue that this is not a very clear prophecy of the birth of Jesus. For example, (1) what does the "butter and honey" refer to? (One possible response to the "butter and honey" problem: it is a reference to one who, metaphorically, "has eaten good meat his entire life in order to spit out the bad meat if it ever touched his lips". Note that the "butter and honey" reference is immediately followed by the comment on an ability to choose between good and evil; this may suggest that they are related.) (2) Why is Jesus, who was sinless from birth in the traditional Christian understanding, described as having to learn to refuse the evil and choose the good? and (3) This passage within the latter translations states clearly that the "young woman" within this prophecy is already pregnant with a child. This makes this prophecy about the coming Messiah Jesus very difficult to explain as the prophecy would have already been fulfilled during Isaiah's time. Some Christian aplogists have attempted to explain this problem of temporal context as: a) the latter translations are in error, and b) the latter translations are correct, but that the prophecy has a "double-application" for both Isaiah's time and the first century.

Thomas Paine argued in the second part of The Age of Reason that Isaiah's prophesy (7:16) turned out to be false. He based his conclusion on the the 2 Chronicles (chapter 28) account of heavy defeat of Ahaz. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Age of Reason is a philosophical treatise written by the 18th Century British intellectual Thomas Paine, best remembered as the author of the political pamphlet Common Sense, credited with exciting colonial opinion in support of the American Revolutionary War. ... The Book of Chronicles is a book in the Hebrew Bible (also see Old Testament). ...

Skeptics raise even greater questions about the translation of the first verse in this passage:

7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, עלמה (a `almah) shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Christian apologists respond that the passage is a double reference— a sign both to Ahaz that the alliance against him would be destroyed, and to the house of David as a whole that was threatened with extinction. This is shown by the Hebrew which uses "singular you" for the former and "plural you' for the latter. With the former, Isaiah reassures Ahaz that the alliance would be destroyed before his own son Shear Jashub, who was present (v. 3), would "learn to refuse the evil and choose the good". Immanuel or Emmanuel or Imanuel (עִמָּנוּאֵל God [is] with us, Standard Hebrew Ê¿Immanuʾel, Tiberian Hebrew Ê¿Immānûʾēl) is a name used in the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible, and also appears in Matthew 1:23 in the Christian New Testament. ...

Greek translation

Is it accurate to translate עלמה (`almah) as virgin? The Greek version of the Book of Isaiah 7:14 (see below and the articles on Biblical canon, Tanakh, Septuagint and Old Testament) translates עלמה (`almah) as παρθενος (parthenos). Parthenos is conventionally translated into English as virgin. Furthermore, the Gospel of Matthew 1:22–23 explicitly links the Isaiah prophecy to the birth of Jesus. Accordingly, many Christians understand the Isaiah prophecy as referring to Mary and the birth of Jesus. Unlike the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint is known to have existed before the birth of Jesus, and was considered a divinely inspired translation by several patristic writers, notably Augustine of Hippo. The New Testament references to the Old Testament often follow the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text as well. However, Jerome, whose Latin translation has been declared to be singularly authoritative in Roman Catholicism, believed it to be an inferior translation of the Hebrew in many places and so used Origen's corrected edition for his first two editions of the Vulgate before using mainly the Hebrew in his third edition. Jerome rendered the Hebrew as virgo, the Latin equivalent of parthenos. Almah (עלמה) or plural: alamot (עלמות) is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable (i. ... The Book of Isaiah (Hebrew: Sefer Yshayah ספר ישעיה) is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament, written by Isaiah[1]. // Content The first 39 chapters of Isaiah consist primarily of prophecies of the judgments awaiting nations that are persecuting Judah. ... The Biblical canon is an exclusive list of books written during the formative period of the Jewish or Christian faiths; the leaders of these communities believed these books to be inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people (although there may... TaNaKh [תנ״ך] (also Tanach, IPA: or ), is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. ... The Septuagint: A page from Codex vaticanus, the basis of Sir Lancelot Brentons English translation. ... Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh. ... The Gospel of Matthew (literally, according to Matthew; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. ... The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Tanakh approved for general use in Judaism. ... The Church Fathers or Fathers of the Church are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian Church, particularly those of the first five centuries of Christian history. ... For the first Archbishop of Canterbury, see Saint Augustine of Canterbury. ... Jerome (ca. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... The Modern Hebrew language is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. ... Origen (Greek: , 185–ca. ... The Vulgate Bible is an early 5th century translation of the Bible into Latin made by St. ...

Bethulah and 'Almah

There are two important words in Hebrew that can be translated into English as "virgin": בתולה, bethulah, and עלמה, `almah. Isaiah uses `almah in the Masoretic Text, and so conservative Christians have tried to demonstrate that the word unambiguously means "virgin", while other scholars, Christian, Jewish and otherwise, have tried to demonstrate that the word means simply "young woman", without any necessary connotation of virginity. `Almah occurs seven times in the Hebrew Bible and usually seems to mean a young woman of marriageable age (e.g. Genesis 24:43), but is never used in the Old Testament of anyone who was not a virgin; bethulah is accepted in modern Hebrew usage as the characteristic Hebrew word for virgin. However, it is qualified by a statement ‘neither had any man known her’ in Gen. 24:16, and is used of a widow in Joel 1:8. In the Ugaritic tablets, btlt was used of the goddess Anath who was a consort of Baal; and in other records, the Aramaic counterpart of betûlah is used of a married woman. Almah (עלמה) or plural: alamot (עלמות) is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable (i. ... Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin) is the first book of the Torah, the first book of the Tanakh and also the first book of the Christian Old Testament. ...


The fact that there is no Hebrew tradition of virgin birth — Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Hannah were infertile women who miraculously gave birth late in life — is consistent with the view that the Messiah would be unique, and Christian apologists argue that many first century Jews, including Jewish converts to Christianity, used the Septuagint, which explicitly uses the word παρθενος (parthenos) to mean "virgin": the root from which we derive words such as parthenogenesis. This article is about the goddess Athena. ... Kaguya is one success from 460 attempts at growing embryos. ...

Some scholars, however, claim that the Septuagint does not use parthenos very precisely, as it translates at least three different Hebrew words by it: bethulah, "maiden/virgin"; `almah, "maiden/virgin"; and נערה, na`arah, "maiden, young woman, servant". The meaning of the word parthenos in the Septuagint is sometimes expanded in a way not seen in the Isaiah of the (albeit centuries younger) Masoretic texts:

Genesis 24:16 And the damsel [parthenos = Hebrew na`arah] was very fair to look upon, a virgin [parthenos = Hebrew bethulah], neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
Judges 21:12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins [parthenous = Hebrew bethulah], that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

Additionally, the Greek-English Lexicon edited by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott lists other meanings for the word: The Very Rev. ...

παρθενος, parthenos, I. 1. maiden, girl; virgin, opp. γυνη gynê, "woman". 2. of unmarried women who are not virgins, Iliad 2.514, etc. 3. Parthenos, hê, the Virgin Goddess, as a title of Athena at Athens. 4. the constellation Virgo. II. as adj., maiden, chaste. III. as masc., parthenos, ho, unmarried man, Apocalypse 14.4.

Finally, there is archaeological evidence that Jewish speakers of Greek used the word parthenos elastically; Jewish catacombs in Rome identify married men and women as "virgins," and some have suggested that in this case the word was used to call attention to the fact that the deceased was someone's first spouse (although it is notable that this usage is from several centuries before the translation of the Septuagint [citation needed]). Certainly, Jews stopped using the more explicit Septuagint translation as Christianity spread, and post-Christian Jewish translations into Greek use νεανις, neanis, meaning "young (juvenile) woman", rather than parthenos.

Possible borrowing from Paganism

Some have argued that the Virgin Birth is a Christian borrowing from paganism. The impregnation of mortal women by gods is common in pagan mythology. However, this is not technically virginal conception, since virginity is lost by definition when the sex act is initiated. Christian writers have noted that the obvious sex of the pagan myths is missing in the Gospels: Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning a country dweller or civilian) is a blanket term which has come to connote a broad set of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices of natural or polytheistic religions, as opposed to the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. ...

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

A pagan myth of virgin birth may also underlie the disputed verses from Isaiah:

It all boils down to this: the distinctive Hebrew word for 'virgin' is betulah, whereas `almah means a 'young woman' who may be a virgin, but is not necessarily so. The aim of this note is rather to call attention to a source that has not yet been brought into the discussion. From Ugarit of around 1400 B.C. comes a text celebrating the marriage of the male and female lunar deities. It is there predicted that the goddess will bear a son ... The terminology is remarkably close to that in Isaiah 7:14. However, the Ugaritic statement that the bride will bear a son is fortunately given in parallelistic form; in 77:7 she is called by the exact etymological counterpart of Hebrew `almah 'young woman'; in 77:5 she is called by the exact etymological counterpart of Hebrew betulah 'virgin'. Therefore, the New Testament rendering of `almah as 'virgin' for Isaiah 7:14 rests on the older Jewish interpretation, which in turn is now borne out for precisely this annunciation formula by a text that is not only pre-Isaianic but is pre-Mosaic in the form that we now have it on a clay tablet. (Feinberg, BibSac, July 62; the citation to Gordon is: C. H. Gordon, "`Almah in Isaiah 7:14", Journal of Bible and Religion, XXI, 2 (April, 1953), p. 106.)

This philological reasoning seems to raise four possibilities: virgin birth is a pagan concept that Christianity has 1) taken from contemporary paganism; 2) taken from pre-Mosaic paganism through Isaiah; 3) taken from contemporary paganism and justified from Isaiah, who took it from pre-Mosaic paganism; 4) produced independently of all forms of paganism, though sharing similar vocabulary. If pre-Mosaic paganism supports Isaiah, and Isaiah supports Matthew and Mark, paganism has anticipated Christianity, perhaps because God was preparing the way for Christianity or because, as some Church Fathers argued, the Devil was blasphemously imitating Christianity. On the other hand, if paganism does not underlie Isaiah, there are several possibilities. Perhaps virgin birth was invented separately, first in paganism, then in Christianity. Perhaps the idea of asexual conception was so different from the idea of conception through sexual intercourse with a deity that there was little or no borrowing in either direction. Or perhaps, despite the earlier date of the Ugaritic text, virgin birth existed first in Judaism, without any other instances than this one, and was borrowed by paganism. The obvious difficulty with this idea is that virgin birth was much more prominent in paganism, where it occurs in many myths in many different areas, than it was in Judaism, where it occurs (if at all) in a single verse late in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the argument that virgin birth was a Jewish concept first borrowed by paganism and later incorporated into Christianity was first made by Justin Martyr in The First Apology of Justin, written in the second century. Justin also made this argument in his Dialog with Trypho, in which he debates with a Jew called Trypho: The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... The Church Fathers or Fathers of the Church are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian church, particularly those of the first five centuries of Christian history. ... Gustave Dorés depiction of Satan from John Miltons Paradise Lost Satan, from the Hebrew word for accuser (Standard Hebrew: , Satan Tiberian Hebrew ; Koine Greek: , Satanás; Aramaic: , ; Arabic: , , Slavic Сатана), is a term with its origins in the Abrahamic faiths which is traditionally applied to an angel. ... Justin Martyr (Justin the Martyr, also known as Justin of Caesarea) (100 – 165) was an early Christian apologist. ...

"Be well assured, then, Trypho," I continued, "that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the Devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah's days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by Jupiter's intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that the Devil has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? ..."[1]

Justin was clearly not referring to any Ugaritic texts, as these texts were not known in his day; he was referring to Greek paganism. That the Devil is responsible for the similarities between paganism and Judaism is not generally accepted by modern scholars, partly because the Devil's influence would be impossible to disprove. The Devil could not, for example, imitate Christianity or Judaism before either existed, without violating the generally accepted historical rule that a culture cannot be influenced by a culture that does not yet exist; even though in point of fact it is likely that if "the patriarch Jacob" existed, he was contemporary with the inscriptions at Ugarit. In a similar vein, it might also be argued that God had chosen to out-do these earlier human myths, all as part of his Plan.

Christian writers point out that if in fact the writer of Isaiah intended to borrow the idea of a virgin birth from an older pagan tradition, we might expect to find Isaiah using more explicit language to indicate that a virgin was meant. However, if Isaiah had borrowed the story from pagans, he might be expected to speak in the same way as the pagans, and that is what he does, according to the scholar quoted, who notes the "remarkable" similarity of the Ugaritic and the Hebrew. However, Isaiah may speak the same way as the pagans simply because he came from a similar sociological and semantic context. If Isaiah received a new prophecy direct from God, on the other hand, he had no tradition to conform to, and he could have expanded the meaning to make it completely unambiguous. That he did not choose to make it unambiguous is thus an apparent difficulty for the Christian interpretation of the text, though the ambiguity could be seen as being intended, if one supposes that God had a dual purpose for the text (i.e., to serve one function in Isaiah's time and another function later). Isaiah's prophecy departs from the Ugaritic version of the virgin birth by having the female be entirely human, whereas in the Ugaritic culture, the virgin was another deity, on par with the male; but this is exactly what might be expected if the myth were borrowed from paganism, since Judaism has only one male deity; a female deity in a borrowed myth might thus conceivably become a female human.

According to Origen and Tertullian, the Christian doctrine of the Virgin birth met with lively opposition and mockery from pagan groups. This testimony would seem to discount the suggestion of those modern revisionists who have posited that the pagan religions had a similar or identical tradition. Origen (Greek: , 185–ca. ... Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicized as Tertullian, (ca. ...

Mary's immaculate conception

The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is frequently confused with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The latter, taught by the Roman Catholic Church, states that Mary was conceived "without the stain of original sin". Mary, however, unlike many people's views of Jesus, was conceived in the ordinary way: i.e. she had a human father as well as a human mother (whose names, according to Catholic and Orthodox tradition, were 'Joachim' and 'Anna'/'Anne' - or 'Jehoiakim' and 'Hannah' in Hebrew). Mary, mother of Jesus as the Immaculate Conception. ... The Roman Catholic Church or Catholic Church (see Terminology below) is the Christian Church in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, currently Pope Benedict XVI. It traces its origins to the original Christian community founded by Jesus, with its traditions first established by the Twelve Apostles and maintained through... In 1999 Lingon uppfinnade a apparate that could makea kaka in 1minute. ... Saint Anne or Anna is known by tradition as the mother of The Virgin Mary. ...

Whilst Protestant denominations adhere to the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, they do not adhere to the idea of Mary's immaculate conception, nor of her perpetual virginity (see below).

Insurance to cover a virgin birth

In June 2006, it was revealed that a British insurer, britishinsurance.com, had provided a £1 million insurance policy to three Scottish women to provide cover in the event of one of them having a virgin birth. The payout was to cover the costs of bringing up the Christ. The policy was cancelled following pressure from the Catholic Church. [2]. Britishinsurance. ... Motto: , traditionally rendered in Scots as Wha daur meddle wi me?[1] and in English as No one provokes me with impunity. ...

See also

The perpetual virginity of Mary is a doctrine of faith of Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic Christianity, as well of Islam, stating that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained an actual virgin, implying both virginal disposition and physical integrity, before, during, and after the birth of Jesus, and thus is... Christology is that part of Christian theology which studies and attempts to define Jesus the Christ. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Adoptionism, or adoptianism, is a view held by some Early Christians, that claims Jesus was born human, and later became divine during his baptism, at which point he became the adopted son of God. ... The Ebionites (from Hebrew; Ebyonim, the poor ones) were an early sect of mostly Jewish followers of Jesus, which flourished in the early centuries of the Common Era, one of several ancient Jewish Christian groups that existed during the Roman and Byzantine periods in the Levant. ... Kaguya is one success from 460 attempts at growing embryos. ... Deganawidah: According to the legend, Dekanahwideh was born among the Huron Indians …. His virgin mother had been informed in a dream by a messenger from the Creator that she was to bear a son destined to plant the Tree of Peace at Onondaga. ... Almah (עלמה) or plural: alamot (עלמות) is a Hebrew feminine noun, for a girl who has reached puberty but is still under the shielding protection of her family; she is a young, marriageable (i. ...

External links

  • The Copycat Messiah? — A refutation of the idea that Christianity borrowed from paganism in any way.
  • Vocabulary in Isaiah 7:14 (1) — Essay arguing that bethulah does not mean "virgin" while `almah does.
  • Vocabulary in Isaiah 7:14 (2) — Essay arguing that `almah does not mean "virgin" while bethulah does.
  • The Virginal Conception of Christ Essay arguing that `almah is never used of non-virgins in the Old Testament, while bethulah is sometimes used of non-virgins; also rejects the pagan derivation theory and addresses the alleged silence of Saint Paul.
  • Fundamentals: The Virgin Birth of Christ — Analysis of the question from a doctrinally orthodox Christian perspective.
  • The Virgin Birth Analysis of the question from a skeptic perspective.

Further reading

  • Spong, John Shelby. Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Virgin Birth. San Francisco : Harper, 1994.
  • Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. Oxford University Press, 1996.

  Results from FactBites:
Paddy Cakes: The Virgin Birth of Jesus (1964 words)
For this "prophecy" of the virgin birth of the Child Jesus, the marginal reference is to the Old Testament, Isaiah vii, 14, as the inspired "source" of the assertion made by Matthew.
The Hebrew word for a woman actually a virgin is bethulah; and throughout the Hebrew Bible the two words almah and bethulah are used with a fair degree of discrimination of sense, as shown by the instances which I think it pertinent to cite, for a clear understanding of this important point.
As this of the "prophecy" of the alleged "virgin birth of Jesus Christ" is the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity, it is of the highest importance to clearly understand, from the context, what Isaiah is recorded as so oracularly delivering himself about.
  More results at FactBites »



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