In these days we will mark the day traditionally associated with the birth of Jesus Christ.
The question of whether or not Jesus’ mother Mary was actually a virgin, or if it even matters if she was, is causing tremendous controversy in many parts of what calls itself “The Christian World” today.
Aaron in Jerusalem
Such controversies only serve to prove a point I’ve made many times, that despite labels like “Catholic” and “Lutheran” and “Orthodox” there are really only two kinds of Christians in the world, those who take the Bible seriously and those who don’t.
The story of Mary being visited by an Angel in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke makes it absolutely clear that Mary was in fact a virgin and that she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. If you take the Bible seriously, you will accept this. If you don’t you won’t, and many who otherwise call themselves “Christians” don’t.
The disbelief in the Virgin Birth is not a fringe phenomenon either. If you believe polls, less than half of the students in seminaries training to be pastors believe in it, and I recently overheard a highly renowned Biblical scholar here in Jerusalem telling his students that “one of the theories we have is that Mary was raped and then suppressed the memory.”
Part of the doubt cast on the Virgin Birth has been quite deliberate. Some of this comes from atheists who hold the entire Bible in contempt and do all they can to discredit it.
But much of the doubt cast on the Virgin Birth goes back to ancient times and was done by Jewish religious authorities, who pointed to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14;
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
The New Testament says that Mary’s giving birth to Jesus while still a virgin was a fulfillment of that prophecy, but if you ask almost any Jewish Rabbi about it they will give you the stock answer, that in the original Hebrew Isaiah uses the word “almah” which can mean either “virgin” or “young (unmarried) maiden”
While being literally true, this stock answer, which has been picked up by others, is also a deliberate deception, and most of the people who give it know that it is.
It commits the classic error of taking a Bible passage out of context. When one commits this error on purpose, the motive for doing so should always be scrutinized.
In the context of the passage, Isaiah is telling King Ahaz about a miraculous sign from God. As I said before, there would be absolutely nothing special, much less miraculous, about a “young maiden” having a baby. In fact, if she wasn’t married, it would not only be not miraculous it would be shameful, and God would not be in it.
Additionally, the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures made by a team of 70 Jewish scholars in Alexandria Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, uses the word “virgin” in that passage (the Greek noun being more precise in its meaning than the Hebrew “almah”) and it was not until around the time of the Bar Kokbah Revolt in 135 AD, when the Rabbis were worried about Jews converting to what was then a new religion called “Christianity” that this stock answer about the word “almah” in Isaiah 7:14 started to be circulated.
The 70 Jewish scholars who translated the Septuagint had no reason to deliberately use the Greek term for “virgin” except that they all agreed that in the context of the passage, that was the correct noun to use.
The Jewish religious authorities who attempted to cast doubt on this use of the noun in 135 AD, and their antecedents, “christian,” jewish and atheist, who continue to do so to this day, have a very obvious reason to do so, and its not a benevolent one.
They are deliberately and unapologetically seeking to discredit the New Testament, using a rhetorical device they know to be deceitful.
The best defense against this kind of deceitful thinking is a thorough and constant study of the Word of God. Since Christmas is coming up and it’s a time of giving gifts, I suggest for all of you to give yourselves and your loved ones a One Year Bible, which is the best method I’ve ever found for daily Bible Study. You can find out all about the One Year Bible at this link, and if you’re old fashioned like me, you can buy yourself a paper version and have it delivered (probably) in time for Christmas.
God bless you all!