Talk:Virgin birth of Jesus/Archive 3

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moved from talk:Jesus Christ

The debate over whether or not Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus overlooks a fairly obvious point: As unsettling as it is the Jewish ear to think of a man being born of God, how much more unsettling is it to assert that the Messiah, the savior of the human race, the holy annointed one of God would be born of fornication?

That's what the assertion that the passage doesn't mean virgin is really saying, because the bible is *quite* clear that Mary was unmarried when she conceived. Suppose we decide to translate it as "maiden," to pick an English word that usually refers to a virgin, but could be taken merely to mean an unmarried woman. Given the religious values of the audience, wouldn't they suppose that it meant virgin? After all, let's not forget that Isaiah is describing here a sign from God of his miraculous intervention. What's so miraculous of a fornicating woman getting knocked up? How would that be taken as a sign from God?

Re this wording--

was [miraculously caused to conceive]? him through union with the god of Judaism

I have to say that it sets my teeth on edge. I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't care about this sort of thing, but it sounds somewhat like saying "God and Mary had sex." What Christian doctrine would require us to describe the Immaculate Conception as the "union" of God and Mary? I am very far from being a theologian, so I'm asking you, because you seem to insist on this. I trust you have a good reason for doing so.

The other problem I have is with the phrase "the god of Judaism." If the Immaculate Conception happened, then the God that made Mary pregnant with Jesus would best be described as the God (capitalized in proper English, whether you're a believer or not) of Christianity. Of course, the reason you describe the thing as "the god of Judaism" is in order to emphasize that Jesus' birth was supposed to be a fulfillment of Jewish prophesy--and that's all very well and good, that needs to be said.

I would simply change these things back, but I thought I would give you a chance to explain why I shouldn't. --LMS

Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary lived all her life without sin, beginning from her conception. It refers to Mary's conception, not Jesus's.

You're right to point out that there's been a lot of confusion on this point; anyway, I know that "immaculate conception" refers to Mary's purity (see ) but the implication is very often taken to be that Mary didn't have sex in order to become pregnant (sex would make her impure). --LMS

Okay this disagreement about the immaculate conception in the article reflects a very old split between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics do believe that the immaculate conception refers to Mary's sinlessness. Protestants believe that it refers to the miraculous way Christ was conceived.
Ok, here's a two minute theology lesson from the Protestant perspective(I'll let a Catholic explain their beliefs). In the beginning GOD created Adam and Eve who were creatures with free will and were sinless and were to be the progenitors of a race of sinless beings. But when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying the one and only rule GOD gave them(by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) the human race became flawed. All of Adam and Eve's children inherited their flawed sinful nature, a doctrine called original sin. The only way to redeem mankind was to offer a blood sacrifice but according to the Torah the sacrificial lamb needed to be "without spot or blemish", in other words perfect, lacking original sin. When GOD incarnated into the person of Jesus Christ he became that perfect sacrifice, a "new" sinless Adam who could become the 'father' of a new sinless humanity. The protestant idea of the Immaculate Conception is that Jesus was conceived without Original Sin. Protestants do not believe that Mary was sinless or that she remained a virgin forever as Catholics believe. The disagreement stems largely from the fact that the Catholic Bible contains several books that Protestants reject as apocryphal.
Larry: "Mary didn't have sex in order to become pregnant (sex would make her impure)"
Christians don't believe that sex inside of marriage is sinful. Mary needed to be a virgin so Christ's birth would be perceived as a miraculous sign that fufilled old prophecies and so there would be no doubt of his parentage. No human man could be his father because they would all pass on 'original sin'. The conception needed to take place without sex not so she[Mary] would be 'pure' but so that he[Jesus] would be(again admittedly from a Protestant perspective). Shalom

MemoryHole, if that's 'what Protestants believe', then they're misinformed. The theology of the Catholic Church from WELL before the Reformation had developed 2 separate events - the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception - but had not come to a definitive decision about the second. The Virgin Birth is the bit about no-sex-for-the-conception-of-Christ. Any Protestant who says otherwise isn't correct. It's a matter of terminology. Calvin, for one, understood the difference and was sure about the Virgin Birth and dismissive about the Immaculate Conception. The I.C. was a hot issue in theological debate from the 14th through the 19th century, when it was finally defined authoritatively. The Protestants missed out on the second doctrine because they left before it was defined. Some of them more or less believe it, but in an undogmatic way.
On protestantism and the perpetuation of Virginity -- The Virgin Birth is fiercely defended by all the Reformers against attacks. Calvin believed that she remained a Virgin, some did not (I'm basing that on memory, but he had a pretty high regard for the status of the Virginity of Mary). Luther I'm not so sure about. --MichaelTinkler

LOL, well I'm not about to step into the bear trap of whether or not Protestants are right when they use the term. I only assert that (at least some sects) do use the term that way. Its my understanding that the Immaculate Conception didn't become official Catholic dogma until 1854, after the Reformation. Perhaps the term existed in a more nebulous form when the split happened and the two meanings evolved seperately(?) A Google search for "Immaculate Conception of Mary"]] shows 1,980 hits, the "Immaculate Conception of Jesus" shows 224 hits, so while people seem to use the term more often when referring to Mary they certainly don't exclusively use it for her. Thomas Jefferson uses the term "Immaculate Conception of Jesus" in a letter dated 1819 so the usage of the term is at least that old.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

Hmmm. Thomas Jefferson. Not the best witness for any kind of orthodox protestantism. HE sure was a Humpty Dumpty of the spirit - cut up scripture to match his preconceptions of what it SHOULD have said.  :) --MichaelTinkler

I only mentioned him to prove that the term "Immaculate conception of Jesus" was in use hundreds of years ago. For the record he mentions it only in a footnote and he is in opposition to it.
Here's the letter:
While trolling around Google I found something interesting, Muslims believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary and Jesus.

There are several issues that are all getting mixed up together:

  1. The term "Immaculate Conception" is defined as the dogma that Mary never had original sin. The term has a definition. There is no scholarly disagreement about the definition of the term, though it is frequently misused. Saying that the frequent misuse is a scholarly or theological disagreement is foolish. Shakespeare is often misquoted as having written "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well". No matter how often this mistake is made it will never be a scholarly disagreement, it will always be wrong. For the definition of the term you may check any dictionary you like. I just checked 3 online, and they all agreed.
  2. There is a theological disagreement about if the well known definition is theologically sound. Catholics believe that Mary was without sin from her beginning, many Protestants do not. The fact that this disagreement exists, does not make it the definition of the word into a disagreement. I can agree that the correct quote is "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio" but still disagree on weather or not it as Shakespeare or Francis Bacon who wrote it. I can, of course, be wrong about the quote while arguing the valid controversy of identity of the author, but the two are still separate issues.
  3. Jesus Christ coming into being directly by the will of God and not by sexual intercourse is not usually a point of disagreement between Catholics and Protestants. Both agree that it is fact. This is called the "Virgin Birth" and not the "Immaculate Conception".
  4. The mother of Jesus, Mary, is never construed as having come into being without her parents having sexual intercourse by Catholics OR Protestants, and they could not possibly disagree on this since they hold the same opinion. As such, it isn't discussed, and doesn't have a term. However, if you try and make the term "Immaculate Conception" mean that, you would simply be wrong. Again, check a dictionary.
  5. there is a theological disagreement between Protestants and Catholics about weather, after the Virgin Birth, Mary then had sexual intercourse and children with her earthly husband Joseph. This disagreement is NOT one of definition either. The term for this is "perpetual virginity". Any disagreement on this topic cannot be one of definition.
    -Brian Fennell

Most Protestant denominations agree (while disagreeing with eachother on other issues) that the Roman Catholic Church has fallen into idolatry, breaking the first commandment, regarding Mary.

We're only supposed to worship and pray to God, not other saints (i.e. eachother), angels or Mary, who is just another saint, albeit blessed.

" - for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God - " Exodus 34:14 NAS version

In Revelation 19:10, John begins to worship an angel (introduced in Rev 18:1.) "Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." "

Jesus said, "...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "Pray, then in this way; 'Our Father who is in heaven... " Matthew 6:8-9

According to the Bible, the Inspired Word of God, there is no other intercessor/mediator other than Christ Jesus, between humans and God. Jesus is the only way by which we can be saved. This is found so often in the New Testament that God must be stressing importance through repetition. Mary is not the one.

Knights need armour to fight in this spiritual war. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTOUSNESS, and having SHOD YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints," Ephesians 6:10-18 (emphasis not mine, but biblical)

The hundreds of years of endless debate about Mary is a distraction. 10:52, 31 December 2005 (UTC) KWnC

Someone should also check up on the Jewish beliefs about the Messiah at that time. Isaiah does say that "a virgin shall conceive", but was that the primary sign they were looking for? Does "virgin" in the OT verse even definitely refer to the sexual sense and not just the "young woman" sense?

The Jewish beliefs about the messiah at the time are well documented by historical scholars. Their views of the messiah have *nothing* to do with what Christians call the messiah. It may be the same word, but their meanins are totally divergent. The Israelites expected a descendent of King David to restore Israel. This person would be the messiah. There was nothing supernatural about him, he was not considered to be the son of God, part of the God Himself, or anything like that. RK
The interpretation given by Marcello Craveri in "The Life of Jesus" of this passage is that the prophet meant to say, roughly (i don't have the book with me) that a virgin will give conceive (a girl will get pregnant), give birth, and name the kid Immanuel, i.e., a happy name, for a happy time, when the kid will be eating butter and honey. Furthermore, before such a time as the kid gets old enough to tell good from bad, the two kings that are causing Ahaz trouble will go kaput. I think that RK is pretty much spot-on about the messiah - the Jews mean it as a sort of national liberator of the Jews (the way J. Edgar Hoover used the term "black messiah"), a sort of Spartacus, or Emiliano Zapata not as the savior of all humanity.Graft 16:19 Aug 8, 2002 (PDT)
This is not a simple open and shut case. The first Jews to become Christians believed that Jesus was the Christ, and that he fulfilled the Hebrew prophecies concerning the Messiah.
I have no doubt that a number of Jews during Jesus' lifetime believed that he was the messiah (in the strictly Jewish sense)-- although he may not have been an ideal or strong candidate for messiah, as he was more of a miracle-worker and healer than a warrior. The crisis that led to the emergence of Christianity came when he was crucified, which would not happen to a real messiah. But for whatever reasons (the disappearance of Jesus' body from his tomb; visions of Jesus after his death; maybe the very fact that he was a miracle worker and healer) his followers redefined what a messiah is, based on a belief in the resurrection and second coming. Now, at this point many of his followers may still be Jews, but it is not just a matter of whether they believe that Jesus was the messiah or not; it is a matter of Jews redefining what they mean by the very word, "messiah." With this redefinition, a literal virgin birth may have begun to make sense. Slrubenstein

I agree that accepting Jesus as Messiah did involve a change in how certain prophecies were understood. However, they continued to find support for their new understanding in the Psalms and prophets. Justin the Martyr saw two comings of the Messiah clearly predicted. Passages such as Psalm 21 (I may be off by a chapter either way) and Isaiah in the mid-50's point to a suffering messiah, others point to a conquering one. Justin also demonstrated why it was actually necessary for the messiah to be crucified. Christians still look forward to Christ's "second and glorious coming", but at the same time thank God for it as something that has already happened in the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom. But you're right when you say it's a matter of Jews redefining what they mean by "messiah". And from that perspective, I find myself more inclined to agree with RK's original statement at the top of this sub-thread. Wesley

Yes, you are quite right to point out that the redefinition of "messiah" was based not only on contemporary experiences or needs, but also on an alternative interpretation of older texts. I think it is important that the article make clear both that Christians redefined "messiah," but also that they legitimized this new definition based on an interpretation of traditional texts. Do you think the article does this adequately, or do you think more needs to be said? Slrubenstein
I don't think the article is inaccurate as it stands, but it may benefit from the addition of your statement. Feel free to add this if you like. Wesley
The Jews of that time period who did not become Christians, did not. The same debate has continued from then until now. For example, Tertullian and others quote Isaiah 7:14 to say that the Messiah being born of a virgin would be a sign to them, and observe that a girl getting pregnant would not be any kind of sign, since girls get pregnant all the time. An actual virgin getting pregnant would be a sign. (The Septuagint makes her virginity explicit.) Isaiah 8:4 reads, "For before the child shall know how to call his father or his mother, one shall take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria before the king of the Assyrians." [1]Tertullian interpreted this to mean that the child would take the power and spoils while still an infant, that this clearly did NOT point to a military victory, but it was fulfilled by Jesus when he received gold, incense and myrrh from the three kings of the East. So, the Christian position is and has been that Jesus was exactly the sort of Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets; and that were a number of Jews who did hold this belief from the beginning of Christianity. That Jews at the time believed this is also a matter of historical record. Wesley
The Christian attempt to find justification in the Tanakh of their belief in Jesus' divinity or his Messianic nature does not mean that the Jews perceived these prophecies as relating to the Messiah. In fact, the Virgin Birth is in direct contradiction to Jesus' claim to being the Messiah according to the Jewish reckoning, since according to the Jews, the Messiah would be descended from David. Since Joseph was not Jesus' father (except in a very weak sense), and Jews reckon family patrilineally, Jesus does NOT fulfill the Jewish view of what the Messiah should be. There may have been Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but they were a minority, and I think it's more than fair to say that the Christian view of Jesus' divinity does not conform to Jewish ideas about the Messiah. Graft 20:28 Aug 8, 2002 (PDT)

Second, My understanding is that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah is in fact translated both as virgin and "young woman" in various contexts. I can get references for this, though I don't think this is important, as it is commonly believed that the contemporary Jewish Messianic view of the messiah had more to do with Daniel than Isaiah. It's my understanding that the figure in Isaiah is associated with "servant of the Lord" terminology, which is not associated with messianic themes in any records before the time of Jesus.

To the best of my knowledge, this word is *never* translated as virgin by Jews or by serious Biblical scholars. It is only translated this way by people who want to prove that the Tanach was not a Jewish Bible, but was really a long list of prophecies "proving" that Jesus was the messiah. But these claims about the text in Isaiah didn't appear until _after_ Jesus died. RK

The Hebrew word in Isaiah is Almah, the greek word translating that in the Septuagint is parthenos. Later Jewish scholars have claimed Almah includes the meaning of young woman, but early jewish scholars (at the time) apparently thought they were synonymous. Probably a changing meaning based on changing society, with 'virgin' being a good translation of the word when originally written.

Not at all. Please provide sources for this claim.

The translation of the verse in Isaiah as "virgin" is no longer controversial. No professional academic Bible scholar translates it this way. The majority of Christian scholarship in the last century has agreed that it was a totally erroneous translation, and is unsupportable by the text. Many Churches have actaully revoked their claims on this issue! While many Evangelical Christians and all Jehuvah's Witnesses still claim that this word means "virgin", it is indisputable that they are wrong. Why? Because while belief in Jesus (or anyone else) is a religious issue, the mistranslation of a word with a known meaning is a scientific and historical issue; theology has no claim here. Today, the consensus of Christians, Jews and "others" is that this verse has nothing to do with a virgin. RK

Well, many Christians still believe it means "virgin", so in that sense at least it is controversial. It isn't a modern mistranslation either -- the Septugaint translates it as virgin (parthenos), as do the Gospels. And it is always possible that the Septugaint's use of parthenos may be based on a different Hebrew text from the MT. -- SJK
RK, are you referring to the Masoretic text? I'm certainly not a scholar of Hebrew or Greek, but I have done a small amount of background reading concerning the early Church's use of the Septuagint. The most obvious reason of course was that Greek was more widely understood than Hebrew at that time, even among many Jews. The less obvious reason is that in many places, prophecies concerning the coming Christ in the Septuagint are more obviously referring to Jesus Christ, than are the corresponding passages in the Hebrew Masoretic text. I think the most recent Masoretic text we still have only dates to about the ninth century A.D., although it has been at least partially corroborated by the Dead Sea Scrolls.
While most English language Bible translations to date have tended to rely on the Masoretic text, there is an effort now underway by an Eastern Orthodox seminary in the United States to produce an Old Testament translation based entirely on the Septuagint. Details can be found at --Wesley
the Septuagint text is certainly an issue above and beyond whatever the Hebrew says. One of the problems is the (typically Semitic) rather limited vocabulary of Hebrew as opposed to Greek, which has at least two words in play here - parthenos and kore. Kore means "young woman" in a general sense - unmarried, youngish, etc., with the implied virginity of that station, though not necessarily verified, since the term could also be applied to a newly-wed woman. Parthenos is considerably more specific. It means "virgin." Just think of Athena Parthenos and her temple the Parthenon. It is interesting that the word Kore could be personified and applied as a name to Persephone, daughter of Demeter. Why is this lexical distinction important? Because the Septuagint has 'parthenos'. Now unless the contemporary scholarship has successfully challenged the Septuagint manuscripts (and I haven't read that they have), this is a problem, not a settled issue. The Hebrew may say '(generic) young woman' (though, by the way, the idea that young women in ancient Hebrew society weren't assumed to be virgins unless proved otherwise before marriage is, to say the least, surprising), but the Greek doesn't. The Greek was produced by Jewish translators well before the life of Jesus. --MichaelTinkler

Yes, but is that the Greek version we have today. Impossible to know. There are various codex versions of the Septuagint, but all of them postdate Jesus, even the earliest by almost 70 years (and all these versions were found in monasteries, where they were identifiably copied, redacted, and edited). Nor should we ignore the Aramaic translations made at the time too (though these suffer from the same problems). Additionally, though the Dead Sea Scrolls are incomplete, one of the few Scrolls that is nearly complete is Isaiah, which has alma not betulah. One can also look at parallel (though not necessarily contemporary) verses that use both or similar phrases in the Hebrew (eg. Gen. 24:7, naarah betulah, i.e., a young girl, a version, translated in Aramaic as almata betulata), clearly distinguishing the two. Basically, the debate is theological. It is impossible to start quoting texts, because all of the texts we have are later. Danny

There is a Hebrew word that specifically means "virgin", betulah. -phma

Eastern Christians, who account for just about as many Christians as Western Christians, seem to depend on the "Translation of the Seventy" from which the "virgin" text comes. The earliest Roman Catholic translations (Jerome included) also rely on this translation. Whereas Luther and beyond tend to go back to the original Jewish. Seeing that both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches derive their translations and subsequent traditions from these texts it is perhaps worthwhile to look more deeply into into the greco-jewish translatiuon - on which the Christian religion was based--- most early Christians were Hellenized (Greek) Jews.

Also, any specific references or attributions about the virgin birth=out of wedlock birth claim? Who makes the claim? Any records of other people claiming virgin births in Palestine during that century or so? Wesley

Actually there were. Manicheism, which had a large following, particularly among Roman soldiers.

I was just wondering the latter myself. The text says:

It has been claimed that women around the time and place of Jesus's birth who became pregnant from someone other than the husband would frequently expain the pregnancy as being the result of a visit from God or from an angel.

This is just poor style. The claim is provokative; as such, simply to say "it has been claimed" gives the reader no clues about the provenance and therefore of the credibility of the claim. If "it has been claimed" by a dozen major theologians and historians, that's one thing. If it's been claimed by a random Wikipedian in a college essay, it's another. --Larry Sanger

I deleted the text referenced above, for the reasons given above. Wesley

Mainstream Christians believe Jesus was born after his virgin mother Mary (betrothed to Saint Joseph) was miraculously caused to conceive him by the Holy Spirit, and was thereby the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. According to a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (a book in the Christian Old Testament, or the Jewish Tanach) a young woman (often translated as 'virgin'; the correctness of that translation is controversial) would conceive a child called Immanuel (meaning "God with us"). The New Testament states that the Isaiah prophecy refers to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:22-23). Many Christians understand the Isaiah prophecy as referring to both the virgin Mary at the birth of Jesus, and also to a non-virgin young woman in the time of Isaiah. Others believe his "virgin birth" to have been only metaphorical in nature.

end moved from talk:Jesus Christ

"On the other hand, if pre-Mosaic paganism does not support Isaiah, but Isaiah does support Matthew and Mark, then the virgin birth remains a Hebrew concept that was first borrowed by contemporary paganism and later incorporated into Christianity. Non-Christians are careful to avoid arriving at or even mentioning this possibility."

Perhaps because the possibility is not worth mentioning? Virgin birth is a pagan concept found in many different myths and many different cultures and I know of no scholar, Christian or otherwise, who has ever argued that it was borrowed from Judaism, where it occurs (if it does occur) in a single verse late in the Old Testament. If you can produce a single scholar who argues that it was borrowed from Judaism, I'd be interested to see the citation. There are certainly numerous scholars, Christian and otherwise, who acknowledge that paganism was an extremely important influence on Judaism. E.g., see Ugaritic. And is the implication that non-Christians are dishonestly avoiding this possibility an example of the NPOV? Jacquerie27 07:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Justin Martyr argues extensively with numerous examples in The First Apology of Justin that similarities between Christianity and then-modern paganism were because of paganism's imitation of Hebrew prophecies, rather than the reverse.
I did not mean the Church Fathers when I said "scholars": I meant a modern citation and I'd still like to see one. I pointed out that Church Fathers argued that the Devil was blasphemously imitating Xtianity, and I don't think the Devil is usually evoked in modern scholarship to explain similarities between religions. You also miss the point of the Ugaritic texts, which predate the OT and which obviously influenced the OT. No scholar I know of explains the similarities of the Ugaritic texts to the OT by saying that Judaism influenced Canaanite paganism. If you can produce a (modern) scholar who does explain the similarities like that, please do so.
Have you actually read what Justin Martyr wrote?
Not in full, because I haven't had time.

His argument does not begin and end with blaming the Devil; he cites numerous examples of Greek paganism borrowing from Hebrew religion.

He "cites" or he "asserts"? What proof does he give, apart from "the Devil made them do it"?

He was a well educated Greek philosopher and scholar; I see no reason to ignore him solely on account of his antiquity. I haven't as of yet researched the Ugaritic texts in particular. Wesley

I'm not suggesting he be ignored at all, but I'm certainly suggesting he knew far less about ancient Middle Eastern culture, religion, and languages than modern scholars do.
On the contrary, because he was a contemporary,
Well, the Jews who rejected Christianity were contemporaries too, and, unlike the majority of the Church Fathers, actually knew Hebrew.
Actually, this isn't entirely true. Most Jews in Palestine knew Hebrew, but the Hellenized Jews in most other parts of the empire were not fluent in it, and were dependent on the Septuagint. So much so that at least two new translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek were made... I think around the second century or so. Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
he probably had greater access to more texts than today's scholars do.
Then so did the Jews of his time.
Certainly. I'd be very interested in what the Jews of his time might have said on the subject, if we have any of their writings. Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Granted, he probably knew less about Ugaritic,
Is that a joke? Ugaritic was unknown till the 20th century. Justin therefore knew 100% less than modern scholars.
but he certainly knew as much or more about Greek philosophy and other competing religions of that day. Consider that he was a member of that culture and spoke second century Greek fluently, while today's scholars are forced to guess what various idioms meant 2,000 years ago.
Yes. But Jews of Justin's time weren't.
The proofs he gives are numerous comparisons of specific Greek stories with specific Hebrew stories or prophecies. He also shows how Plato was influenced by Moses. Wesley 18:01 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Comparison is not proof and he asserts that Plato was influenced by Moses. Did Justin Martyr know Hebrew, btw? Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Perhaps this reflects my ignorance of historical criticism, but comparison appears to be precisely the method for demonstrating any borrowing between cultures and religions. The scholar looks for similarities, and then attempts to figure out whether any similarities are accidental or reflect actual borrowing, or are there for some other reason. This figuring out in many cases looks like guesswork using really big words to my untrained eye, but none of it is "proof" in the sense of a physics proof unless you find a verifiably original manuscript saying "the following story is an adaption of X". Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
I thought you were alluding to Justin specifically when you mentioned the Church Fathers. The implication that non-Christians are dishonestly avoiding the possibility is perhaps not NPOV, but in that regard I think it's far less problematic than trying to interpret and overestimate the weight of the other possibilities, or trying to delete any mention of the Septuagint
Parthenos in Isaiah was already mentioned above: if you'd looked at the article properly you'd have seen that. I cut your insertion because it was a non-sequitur and didn't say enough about parthenos, which does not always unambiguously mean "virgin" in the Septuagint.
Thank you for the explanation. :-) Wesley
when discussing the Isaiah passage and its usage in the New Testament, or anything else that might weaken the one-sided argument. Wesley 12:59 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
It's called "Arguments against the VB", but I still put Xtian arguments forward and give a link to a Xtian website arguing against any pagan borrowing at all anywhere in Xtianity. I'd also like to know: do you think pre-Mosaic paganism supports Isaiah? If you don't, how do you explain the "remarkable" similarity between Isaiah and that pre-Mosaic Ugaritic text? Jacquerie27 14:00 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
As I said earlier, I'll need to do some research regarding the Ugaritic text.
Did you know about the Ugaritic text before you read about it here?

I did not know about that specific Ugaritic text before I read about it here. I did know about the Ugaritic language. Wesley

(please continue signing your posts)
Okay, sorry about that.
In general, entitling a section "Arguments against X" does not grant a free license to ignore the NPOV principle. Wesley 14:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
I didn't ignore it: as I pointed out, I put Xtian arguments forward myself and added links to Xtian websites.

Which "modern scholar" has refuted Justin Martyr's assertion of the Devil's responsibility for pagan borrowings?

How exactly would you refute it? How exactly would you refute the assertion that the Devil wasn't responsible? Most modern scholars do not use the Devil to explain religious similarities. I admit I have not read every word of The Oxford Companion to the Bible, but I presume you'll accept that no scholar there uses the Devil in that way. However, one scholar (Daniel N. Schowalter) there does say that "Those who doubt the historicity of the virgin birth argue that it was created by the early church as a way of honoring the coming of Jesus as the Son of God or of explaining the idea of God becoming flesh. Miraculous birth stories were common in the biblical tradition, going back to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 17.15-19, 18.9-15, 21.1-7), and numerous references to deities impregnating women are found within the Greco-Roman tradition. The mother of Hercules, for example, was said to have been impregnated by Zeus (Diodorus Siculus, 4.9,1-10)." (Entry for "Virgin birth") Diodorus Siculus wrote that before Christ was born.
Let me rephrase. Have any modern scholars stated that they don't accept Justin Martyr's assertions? On what do you base those claims?
The representative scholars in the Oxford Companion to the Bible. None of them use his argument. Justin Martyr is not such a major figure that every Biblical scholar has to explicitly refute every one of his claims.

Which "modern scholar" has refuted his theological claim that Jews are "children of Hell"? Citations?

Is that a serious question? Do you believe that the Jews are "children of Hell"? Here's a statement issued by Pope Paul VI in 1965 repudiating the charge that the Jewish race was collectively and eternally guilty of deicide: [2] (Search for "death of Christ"). I'll presume you'll accept that Paul VI "refuted" Justin's theological claim by saying this.

Did they base their work on actual textual criticism and archaeology, or on purely theological grounds, such as disbelief in the existence of a Devil, Heaven or Hell?

Can you tell me how you prove from textual criticism and archaeology that the Jews are or are not "children of Hell"? You've just said yourself that Justin's claim was theological: 'his theological claim that Jews are "children of Hell"'. 1000s of scholars who believe in hell, etc, would deny that the Jews are "children of Hell", and have done for centuries.
I am not claiming that anyone is a child of Hell. You inserted the quotation, and then you made an assertion concerning the stance taken by "modern scholars" with reference to it. I'm simply asking you to back up the assertion, or admit that you fabricated it.
I refer you to The Oxford Companion to the Bible. No scholar there argues, as Justin does, that the Devil is responsible for similarities between paganism and Judaism. As I've shown, scholars there do write about pagan influences on Judaism. One of them says this in the article on Ugaritic: "Indeed, the language and content of Psalm 29 are so reminiscent of Ugaritic that scholars are generally agreed that it was originally a Canaanite hymn to Baal adapted for Yahwistic worship". I keep producing modern quotes to back up my claims: you haven't produced any so far. Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Why say that "modern scholars" disagree, as opposed to "modern theologians" or "modern horseback riders"? I presumed scholars were brought up because there was some scholarship involved. Perhaps it would be better to say that "modern scholars are silent on this matter" if indeed they have said nothing at all. Wesley

Modern scholars are not silent on the question of Diabolical intervention to explain similarities between paganism and Judaism. They reject it: see the quotes above. Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
The above quotes are arguments from silence; they do explain the similarities without reference to diabolical intervention. But diabolical intervention isn't crucial to Justin's argument either. Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Also, why is the second quotation regarding the Jews' "parentage" even relevant to this article at all? Wesley 15:18 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

I suspected you wouldn't like it. It's relevant because it casts serious doubt on Justin's status as an objective scholar. Suppose a Jewish scholar from the same period referred to Christians as "children of Hell". Would you trust what he said about the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 7:14? And would you accept that his reference to Christians was relevant to what he said about Isaiah 7:14?
I don't like it in this article because it is irrelevant to the subject at hand. It's probably already discussed at Christian anti-semitism, and if it's not, you're welcome to move it there. In this article, I submit that that section is a simple ad hominem logical fallacy and should therefore be removed. Wesley
It's not a logical fallacy: it isn't put forward as proof that Justin is wrong, but as good evidence that he is not objective. Neither am I, but I don't think you or other Christians are "children of Hell" and don't assert that anywhere in what I say. I'd also be interested to have your answers to these questions: Suppose a Jewish scholar from the same period referred to Christians as "children of Hell". Would you trust what he said about the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 7:14? And would you accept that his reference to Christians was relevant to what he said about Isaiah 7:14?
As a matter of fact, many Jews from the same period called the Christians blasphemers, lawbreakers and so on. So no, I personally don't trust what they said about Isaiah 7:14, or for that matter any of the Masoretic manuscripts we have today, since from what I've been able to read so far, the Masoretic manuscript reform didn't start until after the rise of Christianity. It was also after the coming of Christianity that the Jews closed their canon in such a way as to exclude what has become known as the Deuterocanon. But, I also recognize that my personal feelings in this regard are because of my Christian bias, and don't of themselves deserve too much weight in wikipedia articles. Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Regarding the expanded notes on the use and meaning of parthenos in the Isaiah 7:14 passage: the article currently gives examples of other places parthenos is used in the Septuagint. It also says which Hebrew word was translated as parthenos in each case. This cannot be stated with any great certainty, because modern scholarship seems to think we don't have any copies of the Hebrew manuscripts from which the Septuagint was translated, but there is good reason to think it was a different textual tradition than what eventually became the basis of the Masoretic Text in the first or second century.

Is your argument that parthenos in the Septuagint translates only `almah in the other textual tradition? That seems very unlikely, because `almah (a rare word) would have to replace bethulah and na`rah many times in that other tradition. The Septuagint and the current text of the OT agree far more than they differ.
I'm not arguing at this point, just observing that we don't know what word(s) the Septuagint translates in the other tradition.
We have a very good idea, because, as I've pointed out, the other tradition cannot have differed much from the one we actually know. Here are a couple of passages from Genesis in English, based on the current Hebrew text, and in Greek, from the Septuagint:

Genesis 24:16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up. Genesis 24:16 h de paryenov hn kalh th oqei sfodra paryenov hn anhr ouk egnw authn katabasa de epi thn phghn eplhsen thn udrian kai anebh

Genesis 24:43 behold, I stand by the fountain of water; and let it come to pass, that the maiden that cometh forth to draw, to whom I shall say: Give me, I pray thee, a little water from thy pitcher to drink; Genesis 24:43 idou egw efesthka epi thv phghv tou udatov kai ai yugaterev twn anyrwpwn thv polewv exeleusontai udreusasyai udwr kai estai h paryenov h an egw eipw potison me mikron udwr ek thv udriav sou

My Greek isn't good, but they don't differ that much: the two traditions were substantially similar. Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Therefore, the article should either make this uncertainty clear, or remove the references to which Hebrew word is being translated in each instance. Wesley

I would suggest removing the Hebrew words from those citations for that reason. The proper way to study the meaning of parthenos would be to survey how the word was used in other Greek literature at roughly the same time period that the Septuagint translation was made. Wesley 15:31 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

The proper way is to do that too, but to give more weight to the Septuagint and the current text of the Hebrew OT: we're not talking about pagan use of parthenos but about Jewish use of parthenos. Jacquerie27 17:14 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
I agree that it would be appropriate to give more weight to the use of parthenos in the Septuagint, but I doubt very much that the word was used at all in the Hebrew manuscripts, so I'm not sure how that would be helpful. Wesley 18:38 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Obviously it wasn't used in Hebrew, because a) it's not a Hebrew word; and b) Hebrew had words of its own for the necessary concepts. Do you know Hebrew or Greek at all? I'm not saying mine are good, because they're not, but I can at least use Hebrew-English and Greek-English dictionaries. Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

BTW, sorry if it's starting to get confused up there. And this is starting to take up too much time... Jacquerie27 19:05 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Yes, I studied Greek for about a year in college. I also studied lots of German and a little Spanish in high school, more German in college, and a semester of French in college. So I'm not a language expert, don't even have a minor in any one of the languages, but I'm not entirely unfamiliar with translation issues either. And I do have an idea of how to do a word study. For what it's worth, my Greek professor always recommended the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon in large part because it was not based exclusively on how words were used in the Bible, but on how words were used in general. This also helps to understand how the original readers would have read and understood the text. Such lexicons are bound to be infused with the editor's bias in some direction or other.

As for modern scholars, perhaps I'll get around to looking someone up one of these days. I usually stick with the older authors though, since for the most part the same arguments have been rehashed for millenia now. Wesley 19:46 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Not to be a loser or anything, but the last I had heard (and it's been a while) the term "virgin" was considered a mis-translation and the correct term should have been "maiden," or "youth." Or have I missed that being dispelled?

This is what the argument's about. But "youth" definitely isn't the right translation, unless there was a bigger miracle than even Christians suspected. Jacquerie27 21:17 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Quick reply (to Wesley) -- there are other things above I need to reply to as well, if I can. If you're looking at the Bible, you want to see first how words were used in the Bible, not in general. The Greek in the Septuagint is not standard Greek: it's full of Hebraisms. Jacquerie27
"Another problem is 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, as described in the second argument above."
I won't cut it, but I think it needs changing. It's another non-sequitur that just jumps out of nowhere: it's like a comment on a talk page, not in an article. If Isaiah borrowed the story from pagans, we might expect him to speak in the same way as the pagans, and that is what he does, according to the scholar I quote, who notes the "remarkable" similarity of the Ugaritic and the Hebrew. Religious language is generally conservative. If Isaiah received a new prophecy direct from God, OTOH, he didn't have a tradition to conform to and he could have expanded the meaning to make it completely unambiguous. He didn't, which is a difficulty for the Christian interpretation of the text. Jacquerie27
yes, it could probably be better integrated. Assuming that Isaiah's audience was familiar with the Ugaritic story, he may have just as well used the language from that story to communicate a revelation from God, which they might possibly have more easily understood. He didn't write for the benefit of twenty-first century scholars and theologians who today have trouble with the text. This argument that a similar story is in Ugaritic literature seems to cut either way depending on what you're predisposed to believe; it appears to stand up to either interpretation. Wesley 21:37 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
I don't understand how it cuts either way. If the Ugaritic text is older and pagan, v.b. is taken from paganism. How does that support the traditional interpretation, or Justin's? Jacquerie27
I've also found this reference to Justin in the OCB:
In the middle of the second century CE, the writings of Justin Martyr reveal the wide scope of possible types: Justin not only defended the traditional Christian use of Messianic passages such as Genesis 49.10-12 [etc] (Apology 32-38); he also found "types," for example, of the cross, in almost every wood mentioned in the Jewish scriptures (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 86). The Easter Homily by Melito of Sardis (late second century CE) demonstrates the same wealth of imagination when the author reads the Exodus traditions as types of Christ's death and resurrection. (Entry for "Interpretation, History of", Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993))
I think "wealth of imagination" is a polite way for a modern scholar to say that Justin and Melito saw what they wanted to see.
It's called allegorical interpretation, and is widely used by the church fathers...
Yes, it's literary and subjective, not scientific and objective (as far as possible). The same sort of reasoning was used to say that because a certain plant had kidney-shaped leaves, it was good for diseases of the kidney. Jacquerie27
I forget which, but either Antioch or Alexandria was particularly noted for it. I suppose the modern scholar would be happier if they were Fundamentalists who interpreted every word literally?? They didn't see what they wanted to see, they interpreted the Old Testament in light of the new revelation received in the Gospels and in the teaching and deeds of the apostles, and in many cases worked out the theological ramifcations of the Incarnation and what Jesus Christ did.
But that is what they wanted to see: the OT as preparation for Christ. Obviously, they claimed that they saw what God wanted them to see, but so did the Jews. In both cases, what God wanted happened to coincide with what suited the believer. Jacquerie27
You asked earlier whether Justin knew Hebrew. I highly doubt it. He was a Greek philosopher, both student and teacher, and didn't become a Christian until he was about 38 years old. I think he wrote in defense of the Septuagint, and therefore probably relied on it himself, as did most of the early Church. Wesley 21:37 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
BTW, what do you think of creating Virgin birth (arguments)? Jacquerie27 21:17 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
I think that's an excellent idea. :-) Wesley 21:37 May 6, 2003 (UTC)
Okay, I'll create it soon. Something on comparison and diabolic influence:
Comparison is the first step, it's not a proof in itself. Compare Mozart and Beethoven or German and English and you'll find strong similarities, but was it borrowing or common ancestry or coincidence or a mixture? Relative age etc has to be taken into a/c. Justin started from the a priori assumptions that Christianity was true and paganism false, and that time and space were unimportant. Therefore, any similarity had to be borrowing from true to false, and if distant pagan cultures had Christ figures before Christ, the Devil had been at work. The pagan Ugaritic text predates Jewish Isaiah. Naturalism says the past and present can't borrow from the future, only the present and future from the past, so any influence must be from the Ugaritic text to Isaiah; supernaturalism says the past and present can borrow from the future, so the Ugaritic text could be a diabolical copy of Isaiah. The Devil is vital to Justin's argument, because he answers every objection that a naturalist (in the philosophical sense) might raise. That's why modern Biblical scholarship, unlike the Church Fathers, doesn't argue from the supernatural. A supernatural argument can do anything you like, because it doesn't have to take account of the ordinary restrictions on time, space, and matter. Jacquerie27
Supernaturalism is rule-based, and does not mean that you can do anything that you like. Mkmcconn 15:55 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
I didn't mean literally anything: you can't use a supernatural argument to prove that circles are square. But the rules on supernaturalism are far less restrictive than the rules on naturalism, which is why believers even within single religions believe so many different and contradictory things (the pope is/is not infallible; evolution is/is not Satanic; the Jews are/are not deicides; women should/should not be priests; etc). Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Justin Martyr did not attempt to use the Devil to explain how the earlier Ugaritic religion borrowed from Isaiah. As we both agreed earlier, Justin was unaware of the Ugaritic text. In effect, you're making a pure straw man argument, though probably not intentionally.
I didn't say JM explained the Ugaritic text by the Devil, I said the Ugaritic text "could be" (see above) a diabolical copy, because the Devil is not bound by space or time. Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Rather, Justin Martyr compared the Hebrew religion and prophesies with the Greek myths with which he was familiar; based on the information he had (and I don't think you'll disagree here), the Greek myths came later. Therefore he concluded that the Greeks had borrowed from the Hebrews. He blames the Devil for "inspiring" the Greeks to do so, but his argument in no way relies on the Devil's existence.
You're interpreting his argument as an allegory: Devil's imitation = human beings borrowing. It isn't an allegory: he says the Devil imitated Judaism, not that pagans borrowed from Judaism. That way, he doesn't have to show that pagans knew the OT or knew anything at all about Judaism: the Devil did it all, by inspiring them supernaturally. Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
On the other hand, if you're telling me that modern Biblical scholars are essentially atheist in their methodology, we can hardly expect them to objectively approach theological texts, can we? Wesley 17:00 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
They're not "atheist", they just don't invoke the supernatural in their work. Einstein wasn't an atheist, but he didn't invoke the supernatural in his work. If theists are "objective" when they approach theological texts, why do Jews (theists) and Christians (theists) disagree completely over the interpretation of the Bible (a theological text)? Why do Christians (all theists) disagree among themselves so violently over the interpretation of the Bible (a theological text)? Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
I'm also puzzled by this what you say about above the Masoretic text etc. If you distrust the present Hebrew OT, why has God allowed the more trustworthy text to be lost? Do you think the Septuagint is more reliable? Then why did God go to the trouble of creating a text in trustworthy Hebrew before having it translated into Greek and then allowing the Hebrew to be lost? The history of Biblical mss looks very messy to me, as tho' chance and human fallibility have been at work, not divine will. Jacquerie27 08:30 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Yes, I personally think the Septuagint text that we have is more reliable than the Masoretic text that we have. For one thing, the oldest Septuagint manuscript is at least 500 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscript. I think it quite possible, though not a certainty and certainly not a point of dogma, that God had a hand in the translation of the Septuagint, as well as in the inspiration of the original manuscripts. This was widely believed among the Jews themselves until Christians began using it to demonstrate how Jesus did in fact fulfill Messianic prophecies. Yes, the history of Biblical mss is messy. But having the original texts themselves is not required. Orthodox Christianity has always placed greater weight on tradition, on apostolic succession, on the handing down of the faith itself from person to person and generation to generation.
Then why worry about the dubious current text of Isaiah 7:14 if tradition tells you the Christian interpretation is correct? Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Our faith is centered on God Himself, not on a collection of books about Him. The fact that I can read of the earliest liturgies and prayers in the early Church and find such close accord with the prayers we prayed together last Sunday is testimony to this.
So texts are testimony to God being more important than texts? Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
It's the protestants who depend on scripture and nothing else; the "messy manuscript" situation I think poses a rather greater problem for them. Wesley 17:00 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
True. Jacquerie27 17:50 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Jacquerie27: I think this discussion is becoming pointless. I answered your questions in order to be as forthcoming as possible about my own POV, so that you can help keep me honest in making sure that my edits remain NPOV. But this discussion page should be primarily about how we can improve the article. My opinions don't matter. Your opinions don't matter. This isn't about you persuading me or me persuading you of "the truth" about the Virgin Birth. We should be presenting what the term "Virgin Birth" refers to, what Christians and Muslims say about it, what skeptics say about it. Presenting facts about various texts and manuscripts is fine; where there is genuine factual uncertainty and scholars are making educated guesses, that is also appropriate to note. Major arguments and interpretations made by noted scholars and broad groups are also appropriate. Your on-the-spot arguments are not. Neither are mine, and I apologize for introducing a couple. Wesley 20:27 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Shouldn't we point out that this whole thing is impossible

Excuse me for stating the obvious, but shouldn't we point out that this whole thing is impossible? -- Tarquin 18:05 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

The article Virgin birth (arguments) appears to give you a soap-box for doing exactly that. Have fun. Mkmcconn

I don't want a soapbox, I want an NPOV article. Splitting off an "argument" page is not a good idea. For that matter, it appears to be mostly textual analysis. This article needs to say that this is biologically impossible (or, since I am not a biologist, under what extreme circumstances & what freak conditions it could be possible) -- Tarquin 18:21 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Arguably, all miracles are "impossible" in natural terms. That is indeed the whole point. I think the article is NPOV in that it clearly locates all of this as a Christian (and to lesser degree Muslim) belief. The article very clearly explains under what extrme and freak conditions this could happen -- it would take divine intervention! Slrubenstein

This article is quite happy to say "Mary, however, unlike Christ, was conceived in the ordinary way" -- ie: Catholics are wrong. NPOV requires us to say: they're all wrong -- it's scientifically impossible. -- Tarquin 18:35 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

This is what the Catholics teach that Mary was conceived in an ordinary way.i.e. she had a human father as well as a human mother., but without the stain of original sin: as the article says. You have an amusing idea of NPOV. Mkmcconn
Tarquin, with all due respect, bow out of this one gracefully. Of course it is scientifically impossible, that's the point -- there are people who believe that "scientifically" impossible things are possible, but not "scientifically." Your point is an utter non-point. You -- and I, I hasten to add -- believe that if something is scientifically impossible it is simply impossible. But this is our point of view; it is not NPOV Slrubenstein
  • sigh* -- Tarquin 18:56 May 7, 2003 (UTC)
Yes, philosophical naturalism is a point of view. It occurs to me that it's impossible to scientifically prove that philosophical naturalism is correct without engaging in a circular argument. Kind of like trying to prove sola scriptura using only the Bible. ;-) Wesley 20:27 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

NPOV still requires us to state the opinion that virgin birth per se is not medically possible -- or if it is, how it is. Anything less is not NPOV -- Tarquin 18:09, 27 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Does the addition of this sentence satisfy your NPOV concerns? This is also understood to be a miracle, something not possible without divine intervention. Wesley 18:09, 30 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Yes, I think it does. Nice work! -- Tarquin 20:49, 30 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Earlier in the talk page there was a short discussion for the meaning of the greek word "parthenos". Being Greek myself, I have access to greek dictionaries. The following is translated from the "Papyrus dictionarie", one of the most detailed available in Greece. I am giving the uses of the worrd that are older than the middleages, there are more modern ones.


  • 1)(female) A woman whose virginal membrane is still intact, who hasn't yet been in sexual contact with a man.
  • 2)(female) An unwed woman, a girl, a maiden.
  • 3)(female) A young bride, fiancee.
  • 4)(male) A man who has not yet been in sexual contact with a woman.
  • 5)(Adjective) Pure, unspoiled.
  • 6)(Astronomical) The constellation of Virgo.
  • 7)(Sobriquet) Parthenos - Refeared originaly to female deities that maintained their virginity. More oftenly to Athena, Artemis, and Persephone. Also to Iphigenia, a mythological priestess who maintained her virginity. Later to Roman virginal deities. Still later, in Christianity, to Mary, the mother of God. User: Dimadick

Um, Matthew starts by saying that Jesus was a direct descendant of King David. But how can that be, if Joseph wasn't the father?

John Chrysostom discusses this at length in his Homilies on Matthew, especially in Homily II sections 7 and 8. See In brief, he shows that Joseph and Mary were in all probability *both* descendants of David, since it was the custom for Israelites to marry within their tribe and clan, and Matthew makes a point of saying that Joseph was a law-abiding, God-fearing man. Matthew also talks about God sending Gabriel to talk to Mary, and in that place calls her a descendant of David. Joseph's lineage is traced because it was the Jewish custom to trace lineage through the males. Wesley 16:50, 22 Sep 2003 (UTC)

some cleaning up

  1. add section headers to this talk page?
  2. the article, especially the "alleged late appearance" section, reads like a discussion. as if someone wrote a sentence, someone else rebutted it in the next sentence, and vice versa (and this is probably what actually happened). can it be broken into labeled sections that flow together better?
  3. "In past two millennia there has been considerable controversy among Christians and their opponents"
    and their opponents???
  4. "Judaism has only one deity, who is male"
    is that true? (some) christians are taught that "He" is actually sexless.
  5. The section about the devil predicting the future raises a good point about "apologetics" or "proving religious beliefs" (i don't know the right word) and should point to an article about it. in other words, if you start your philosophizing from the perspective that there is no god or supernatural and that the books of the bible are simply stories copied from other stories, the idea that a supernatural devil could predict the future (or borrow from a supernatural prophet) and incorporate it into a past manuscript for purposes of manipulating future doubters is absurd. if, however, you start from the perspective that there is a god and supernatural, and try to work your way backwards proving what you already believe from the manuscripts, then it becomes a perfectly sensible argument. sort of a tautological thing. - Omegatron 00:20, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)
Your last point is certainly a good one. I would point out though that the existence of a devil or supernatural is not entirely necessary to the argument being made. If we remove the supernatural elements, we're still left with the claim that some Greek, Egyptian and other stories were partially derived from earlier Hebrew stories or prophecies. Therefore, the argument goes, similarities between Christian and Greek/Egyptian/etc. stories are not because they derived from those stories, but because both are based on a common set of earlier Hebrew writings. Claiming that some of the copying was inspired by Satan just adds flair. :-) Wesley 03:31, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Denying the antecedent?

I have trouble understanding this quote:

Skeptics also argue that if other writers had mentioned the virgin birth in the New Testament, it would be certain that they believed in it. They did not mention it, therefore it cannot be certain that they believed in it. But this commits the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

The argument as phrased above most definitely does not strike me as a logical fallacy.

Basically, as presented above, the sceptics claim "mentioning the virgin birth means the author certainly believed in it, therefore not mentioning the virgin birth means we can't conclude with any certainty whether the author believed in it or not, based on this point alone", which is a valid logical conclusion.

Had they clamed "mentioning the virgin birth means the author certainly believed in it, therefore not mentioning the virgin birth means that the author certainly did not believe in it", now that would definitely be commiting the logical fallacy denying the antecedent.

So, either the sceptics have not commited a logical fallacy on this point, or they indeed have commited a fallacy but their argument is being misrepresented here. Please clarify this paragraph.

Most importantly, from an academic standpoint, a straightforward analysis of the Greek texts shows that parthenos did not necessarily mean virgin before the second century ce. An introductory discussion of the issues involved can be found here:

--Grnch 11:59, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Grnch is right - the sceptics' argument, as presented here, is no logical fallacy.

The ONLY way to consider this to be a LOGICAL fallacy, is to accept that "other writers believed in the dogma of Virgin birth" is a LOGICAL truth.


CASE A: It is not clear whether "other writers believed in the dogma of Virgin birth" is true or false.

NOTE: The "if" of the sentence should be read as "if and only if"!

PREMISE 1: "Other writers" didn'd mentione the dogma of Virgin birt.

PREMISE 2: If and ONLY IF other writers had mentioned the virgin birth in the New Testament, it would be CERTAIN that they believed in it.

CONCLUSION: It is NOT certain that they believed it.

CASE B. It is a logical truth that "other writers believed in the dogma of Virgin birth".

SUBCASE B.I. The "if" should be read as "if and only if".

LOGICAL TRUTH: (It is certain that) other writers BELIEVED in the dogma of Virgin birth.

PREMISE 1: Other writers DIDN'T MENTION the dogma of Virgin birt.

SUPPOSITION: If and ONLY IF other writers had mentioned the virgin birth in the New Testament, it would be CERTAIN that they believed in it.

CONCLUSION: Supposition is a locical absurd (since it equals a logical truth and a false premise).

SUBCASE B.II. The "if" is a regular "if".

LOGICAL TRUTH: (It is certain that) other writers BELIEVED in the dogma of Virgin birth.

PREMISE 1: Other writers DIDN'T MENTION the dogma of Virgin birt.

PREMISE 2: If other writers had mentioned the virgin birth in the New Testament, it would be CERTAIN that they believed in it.

SUPPOSITION: (Following from premises 2, 1) other writers did NOT BELIEVE in the dogma of Virgin birth.

CONCLUSION: Supposition is (apart from being obviously in contradiction with the assumed logical truth) a clear case of a fallacy of denying the antecedent.

So - to conclude and restate: the ONLY way to see in the presented argument of the sceptics a logical fallacy of denying the antecedent is to assume that "It is certain that other writers BELIEVED in the dogma of Virgin birth" is a logical truth AND read the "if" as a regular "if". Both of these premises are quite absurd.

I believe it is only rational to correct the text of the article, which I am about to do. - 15:13, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Human parthenogenesis?


I heard I don't know where a theory that the story of the Virgin Birth could be linked to utmost-exceptional (and, needless to say, accidental) case of parthenogenesis in human being.

Did someone heard about human parthenogenesis? I would not have even considered so before I stumbled upon human hermaphrodism

Reply to David Latapie 21:11, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

  • that's because you're not very bright, yes, absolutly, human parthenogenesis, there's already an article for stupid people who have an affinity for missusing science words, try Intelligent Design for reference-- 02:16, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Borrowing from Paganism

From [3]:

  • The Egyptian God Horus was born of the virgin Isis; as an infant, he was visited by three kings.
  • In Phrygia, Attis was born of the virgin Nama.
  • A Roman savior Quirrnus was born of a virgin.
  • In Tibet, Indra was born of a virgin. He ascended into heaven after death.
  • The Greek deity Adonis was born of the virgin Myrrha, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. He was born "at Bethlehem, in the same sacred cave that Christians later claimed as the birthplace of Jesus."
  • In Persia, the god Mithra was born of a virgin on DEC-25. An alternate myth is that he emerged from a rock.
  • Also in Persia, Zoroaster was also born of a virgin.
  • In India, there are two main stories of the birth of Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu, and the second person within the Hindu Trinity. In one story, Krishna was said to have been born to his mother Devaki while she was still a virgin. In the other, he had a normal conception and birth.
  • Virgin births were claimed for many Egyptian pharaohs, Greek emperors and for Alexander the Great of Greece.
  • Many mythological figures: Hercules, Osiris, Bacchus, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus and Horus who share a number of factors. All were believed to have:
    • been male.
    • lived in pre-Christian times.
    • had a god for a father.
    • human virgin for a mother.
    • had their birth announced by a heavenly display.
    • had their birth announced by celestial music.
    • been born about DEC-25.
    • had an attempt on their life by a tyrant while they were still an infant
    • met with a violent death.
    • rose again from the dead.

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 WAS 4.250 16:21, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Wouldn't this best be moved to Miraculous Conception?

I think such a move would help to clarify the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the conception of Jesus in the Christian faith. Rather than having Miraculous Conception redirect here, Virgin Birth could redirect to Miraculous Conception. Granted, I am not a Catholic, and prehaps it would be best for a group of Catholics to explain which term is best used. Citizen Premier 02:32, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I disagree. The 'Miraculous Conception' is a comparatively obscure title for the event; but the Virgin Birth of Jesus is very well-known. Therefore, Miraculous Conception should rightfully re-direct to Virgin Birth; unless you believe Miraculous Conception should have its own separate article. 18:33, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

What Would Have Happened Had The Virgin Birth Not Been True?

  • If the Virgin Birth were not a valid theological fact, the implications would probably be vast and horrendous. First of all, the narration by Luke of the Birth of Jesus would be in doubt; including the many details of His Birth, many of which were not recounted in other versions. Secondarily, Jesus the Messiah would have been born under Original Sin; impugning the nature of God and his 'sinless, spotless, un-blemished' Messiah. Also, the teachings of Jesus would be 'hypocritical'; because, He would have been guilty of doing the things that He told others not to do. Also, God's judgement would not have been in favor of a 'sinful' Messiah; but according to Luke (I believe it was), God said He was 'well-pleased' with His Messiah, Jesus, whom He sent His Holy Spirit to rest upon, 'like a dove', at the baptism of Jesus by John 'the Baptist'. Additionally, if the Virgin Birth were not true, it would open up an entire host of other problems: how then was Jesus born? If by a 'normal' conception, then Jesus would have been 'just a man'. How then would He have been the Messiah? How then would He have been able to deliver mankind from our sins? How then would Jesus have been an 'acceptable' sacrifice in God's sight, the 'propitiation' for all of our sins'? According to early Jewish tradition and the Scriptures, the Jewish Messiah, the Son of David, would be God Incarnate. Please think carefully before you doubt this fundamental doctrine of Christianity. (Dec.)


The title seems to be incorrect, since also Muslims (and Bahais and others?) belive in his virgin birth. Lets rename it to on of this:

  1. Virgin birth of Jesus
  2. Reported virgin birth of Jesus
  3. Virgin Birth of Jesus (Christian doctrine, Muslim and Bahai Belief)

I vote for #1 or #2--Striver 19:24, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I vote for #1. Speaking of votes, why wasn't there at least some discussion or warning to sound out for consensus, before making all these "Sub articles"? ፈቃደ 20:01, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I vote for #1 (but with a capital B). AnnH (talk) 20:09, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I second Ann in support fo #1. Str1977 23:37, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Virgin Birth and Muslims

I've lived in Mulsim countries for many years (Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco), and I'm pretty sure that Muslims do not believe in the Virgin Birth. I had a discussion with a Muslim scholar in Bangladesh, during which he expressed contempt and disgust at the idea. Admittedly we were trying to discuss Bangladeshi politics at the time (he was also a political leader), but he could barely stay courteous on this topic. I had close friends in Morfocco and Iraq, who also thought the idea of a Virgin Birth was strange, although they weren't scholars. So far as I know, Muslims believe Jesus was a man - the prophets are all humahn, and God cannot have a son, and there's no reason for a virgin birth. I'd be happy to have this reverted if I'm wrong, but I'd need to see a quotation from the Koran or the hadiths to accept it. PiCo 06:23, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

[3.47] She said: My Lord! when shall there be a son (born) to I me, and man has not touched me? He said: Even so, Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.
God does not have a son, God forbid. "when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is". If Jesus is the Son of God, then Adam is so in a greated degree. --Striver 13:55, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I think it was the idea of God having a son that upset my man in Bangladesh. PiCo 21:47, 9 December 2005 (UTC)


"Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary lived all her life without sin, beginning from her conception. It refers to Mary's conception, not Jesus's" - now that ive figured out the "differences" does it mean that protestants believe that mary was sinful?

Let me, if I may, give you some perspective from someone who is not a Catholic nor a Protestant, but a Baptist. You are correct on your understanding of the term Immaculate Conception being a reference to Mary, and not the Jesus Christ. This is a Catholic teaching that cannot be supported by scripture. The New Testament does say this "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." [Luke 1:46] This statement to me answers the question you asked: was Mary sinful, or in her words, was she a sinner? If she was not a sinner, she would have no need of a Saviour. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]

The Virgin Birth is also the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The word in Hebrew literally means veiled virgin or veiled lass. In that time, the custom was to have a woman who was engaged wear a veil until she was married [in our culture today the man gives and engagement ring].

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together [were intimate sexually], she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away [which under the law meant stoning] privily."

Lastly, to what I believe was your first point, there was no sexual intimacy or act required for God to cause Mary to conceive, all He had to do was speak the word, and it was done. What God asked on Mary's part was that she believe.

The Virgin Birth was and is necessary for the true Christian faith. Without this, God would have to perform yet another miracle to become flesh. This was the means my which He would become flesh and fulfill the law of the Kinsman Redeemer and the prophecy of Leviticus 17:11 and many others. Con10ding4tfaith 03:04, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

From what I understand, Protestants do believe that Mary was sinful. I don't have any links to articles right now by Protestants that state that, but doing a quick Google search reveals many articles that would indicate that. Joshuagross 18:57, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps "For all have sinned and fallen short" would include Mary in protestant theology. Edison 06:31, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

The Immaculate Conception means simply that Mary was born without original sin from sinful parents. It does not refer to a sinless life (that is covered by the belief in her assumption; I don't think that belief in the Assumption_of_Mary is required in Catholicism, but it is certainly encouraged. Note that Adam and Eve were also sinless (although they were not born), but became sinners.

Belief in in the Immaculate Conception was required rather late, because it was becoming evident that the lack of this belief was leading people astray from who the Church proclaims Jesus Christ really is - The Son of God. It was not a new belief, just a new defined belief. All Catholic beliefs about Mary speak not of Mary, but of Jesus. --Phil 16:46, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Logical fallacy removed

Skeptics also argue that if other writers had mentioned the virgin birth in the New Testament, it would be certain that they believed in it. They did not mention it, therefore it cannot be certain that they believed in it.

Compare: If I live in San Francisco, I live in California. I do not live in San Francisco, therefore I don't live in California. Grover cleveland 17:50, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree... I vote to keep it out. Joshuagross 22:11, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
The comparison by GC is not apt. An apt comparison would be something like: "If I live in San Fraancisco, I live in California. I do not live in San Francisco, therefore it cannot be certain I live in California." Which is not a logical fallacy at all. –RHolton– 18:56, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Discrepancies in Matthew/Luke (Double attestation critique)

I've made this section much clearer. I think that's response was based on a misunderstanding of the point of the paragraph about the discrepancies in Matthew and Luke (totally my fault as the original was not clear at all). I've put his/her material here:

Few of these so-called discrepancies are even apparently contradictory, but have been interpreted by Biblical scholars as examples of complementarity. It is not unheard of for two authors on similar subjects to have different emphases for their works. The fact of the virgin birth and the location of Bethlehem can be explained by the fact that both Matthew and Luke aimed to show that Jesus fulfilled the same prophecies from scripture. Its duplication in these two works shows that, unlike some of the other details, the Virgin Birth was felt to be important doctrinally to both authors. Nevertheless, according to some scholars, the "double attestation" of Matthew and Luke is of dubious value in corroborating the virgin birth.

You make a good point, that the "Synoptic" Gospels were not so synoptic (i.e. they agreed on the same things) in their written material of Jesus's followers and his mission.--Peter bergquist 02:13, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Mis-comprehensions? (it's a joke)

There is a lot of speculation on the "virgin" birth of Jesus. I think it is important that one should define virgin (i.e. define it in the terms of the time period) The term "virgin" in todays terms is used to describe someone who hasn't had sexual intercourse. However it is very possible it could mean that her (Mary's) marriage with Joseph was not complete or finished in its tradition of a period of time that had to pass for the marriage to be completed (according the Jewish wedding ceremonies of the time). This of course meant that Jesus was a bastard son, even if God was his father (Christian belief), he had no lawful father at his birth. He was born before Joseph and Mary were officially married. This is of course is highly debated, however the Biblical Sea Scrolls have given new light on the history of Jesus and his teachings. It is hard to follow the "Synoptic" Gospels, when they actually disagreed on issues. Scholars had to look elsewhere for evidence, the Sea Scrolls were the tool. I hope this view will inspire you to look up more about Jesus's history. If you want to know where I got most of my information i suggest reading The Bloodlines of Christ by Laurance Gardner. It is an excellent book and a great read for historians, theologists, and those of us who dig to the bottom of things. Life is too precious to waste your time thinking other's thoughts, think for yourself. Above all, resist the stream of normality and common belief. --An Existential Thinker 02:16, 24 March 2006 (UTC)--Peter bergquist 02:08, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

His political agenda?<Wrong section, where shouold I move it?>

Was Jesus more of a poitical leader or a religious one? That is my question. Certainly, his actions deemed him a heretic by the Roman empire. However, were his ambtions political or religious? He was persecuted and ultimately crucified by the Roman government. It is very possible his defience of Roman occupancy in Israel (and in Jerusalem) and his misson to restore a rightful ruler (as through the bloodlines of David) to his people was a direct threat to the Occupancy. Was It? I would like to know what others have to say about this and what information they could give me, since I am in need of it. Your contribtuions would be helpful. Thanks.--Existential Thinker 19:30, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. It wasn't a political goal though, he was following what God the Father told him through the Bible. Joshuagross 13:16, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Wow! It might be enlightening to know that the Bible was written about 4 centuries later then the death of Jesus. I thought you might like to know that.--Existential Thinker 19:17, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Whether or not Jesus had a political agenda seems irrelevant to this article. It might be more appropriate for Jesus, Messiah, or any of several related articles that actually discuss his ambitions. This article doesn't discuss that though, one way or the other. Wesley 15:53, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
You're right I meant to post it somewhere else, ill move it.--Existential Thinker 19:17, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Removed a questionable paragraph

I've removed the following paragraph from the article:

The significance of the Virgin Birth is that the sin nature is passed on by the man, not the woman (1 Corinthians 15:21,22 and Romans 5:18,19); since a human man was never involved (God the Father is the father of Jesus), Jesus was born without a sin nature and was thus perfect, paving the way for him to pay for all sins on the cross. According to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, Mary was also born "without stain of original sin".

I don't think the aricle should attempt to say what the "significance" if the Virgin Birth is; that's drawing conclusions. Perhaps it could say, "according to so and so, the significance of the Virgin Birth is...", but until such a source is provided, it should be removed. It also seems to me to be poor reasoning, especially if one takes into account the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, in which case any original sin passed on via the woman would not be passed on by Mary. However, I think a whole lot of protestant theologians hold to the Virgin Birth but reject the Immaculate Conception...and would also reject the idea that original sin is only passed on by the male parent. To me, the line of reasoning implied in the discussion of which sex passes on Original Sin represents a sort of pseudo-naturalistic understanding sin which does not mesh well with any theology that accepts the Virgin Birth.–RHolton– 11:53, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

At first I was opposed to your edit, but then after reading your explanation, I tend to agree with it. (Up to the point where you discuss the quality of the argument -- regardless of the quality of the argument, the doctrinal significance would exist or not exist. The protestants might not believe in immaculate conceptions -- or some might -- but they tend to believe that the scriptures MUST be believed as written per sola scriptura). I do not think that deletion was the answer, but rather a judicious edit. -- 12:19, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Rholton is right about not editorializing about the Virgin Birth's significance unless we attribute it somewhere. The Orthodox Christians also reject the Immaculate Conception, and would view the significance differently, for example. Wesley 06:02, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


In the past two millennia, there has been considerable controversy among Christians and their opponents about the plain translation and the precise 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.

Is opponents a NPOV word? While some of the people interested may be opposed to Christianity, there are surely many scholars and others interested in this who are not Christians or opponents of Christianity...? `Nil Einne 23:11, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Not all young women are virgins. Edison 06:28, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Although today lots of young women are not virgins don't forget that this was written in Old Testament times in an old testament culture which taught that sex outside of marriage was a sin.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 09:18, 9 January 2007.

Being young doesn't imply being unmarried - there's still room for distict words to describe young women and virgins. PiCo

Changed remark about 'Christians and their opponents" in Isaiah discussion

I am changing this passage:

In the past two millennia, there has been considerable controversy among Christians and their opponents about the plain translation and the precise 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.

to remove the remark about "Christians and their opponents." Some persons who disagree with the traditional version of this verse are Christians, and one can disbelieve in the Virgin Birth without being an opponent of Christianity.

Fabulous Creature 20:37, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

Clean up

This article is argumentative, doesn't cite sources, has poor formatting, has too many blockquotes, and a dozen of other issues. Tagged clean up. --Andrew c 21:31, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Astronomical Facts Ignored

Why do the editors remove scientifc facts regarding astronomical reasons ? see - myths & science apparently whatever the pro-christian editors want to be heard shall ONLY be heard. so much for open-source & freedom of wikipoedia information...dan —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 00:22, 19 November 2006.

subtle dishonesty or confusion?

From the article:

"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."

This really doesn't make sense, as "paganism" is a generic term that in this case can be applied to, basically, any religion not sharing the tenets of either Judaism or Christianity, so it is obvious we are not talking about the same thing. Roman and Greek "paganism" clealy did not see pure parthenogenesis (intercourse with Gods aside) as a possibility, whereas some semitic religions did. 23:08, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Komodo dragon

[4] "Virgin birth expected for Komodo dragon in UK zoo " per Patricia Reaney, Reuters. Dec 20, 2006. She (the Komodo dragon) has never been with a male, but somehow her eggs are expected to hatch out little Komodo dragons around Christmas. All the hatchlings are expected to be male. Edison 06:27, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

In a Komodo dragon all the births were male because the males are the viable mirths that have agreeing genes (I belive WW is the standard notation). In a human being, the opposite is true (XX would be female). There is absolutely no biological way that a human female could give birth to a male without at leasr Y chromosome imbedded sperm. GolumTR

Incarnation vs. Virgin Birth: ambiguous sentence on the role of the Holy Spirit

This is a Warning of impending removal/modification of sentence on Holy Spirit in Incarnation/Virgin Birth.

The last sentence of the first paragraph of the general section of the main article says:

Instead, the Incarnation (not the Immaculate Conception -- see below) took place when the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary.

I believe it is highly misleading and even obfuscating, because, by its initial “instead”, it conveys the impression that Holy Spirit was not part of the Virgin Birth itself, but only of the “Incarnation”, which is therefore made to appear as something separate and different. This is contrary to the proper Christian understanding, as spelt by the Apostles’ Creed, which says:

“He [Jesus] was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”

Therefore, unless someone argues convincingly against the above, I am going to remove it (or modify it drastically). Miguel de Servet 16:12, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Are you separating the Birth from the Conception? Perhaps instead of "Instead" you could say "Christians believe". Anyway, Mary's part in the Conception was to say "yes", but that's all (the Holy Spirit did the rest). She was, however, very involved with the Birth, as she had to carry and Birth the Baby as any normal woman would have (Note that Catholic beliefs in Mary's perpetual virginity and sinlessness require perhaps a miraculous birth - some believe that the hymen must have remained intact - and a painless birth; I wanted to note that here without opening a discussion on it, as that discussion belongs in a different place).