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Isaiah 7:14b - 700 B.C.
The Virgin Birth - Separating Myth from Fact!
The Arian Catholic Church does not accept biblical infallibility; there are over a thousand recognised errors in the New Testament (not accounting for translational errors) ranging from Luke’s Geographical mistakes to contradictions over the conception, birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The bible should be read with caution and interpreted with logic and reason. One must remember that it was written and re-written by people who were awe-struck, people who had relatively little understanding of the world around them and people who had an anti-semitic, anti-gnostic, trinitarian or other political agenda! While much of the original scriptures were the inspired word of God, the bible that we know today is a fifth, tenth or even fifteenth generation transcript and translation of these words; the original new testament manuscripts, bar a few fragments have long since been destroyed in favour of the redacted versions. Most of the New Testament has been subjected to numerous redactions, selectively assembled, and many of the books included have been amended in various ways (see “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart D. Ehrman (ISBN: 0-06-073817-0), and “The Unauthorised Version” by Robin Lane-Fox (ISBN: 0-141-02296-5)); in the fourth century following the council of Nicaea, at least 300 Gospels were tragically burned and it was made a penal offence to poses an unauthorised Gospel.
The origin of the Virgin Birth
The idea of a Virgin Birth of a deity is not unique to “(Roman) Christianity”, such as the story of the pagan Mithras, however the story we are familiar with had its origins, inadvertently, in the book of Isaiah namely...
7:14b, NKJV: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
7:14b, NRSV: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the young woman shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
The Arian Catholic Church accepts that the conception of Christ was indeed a miraculous event; however the facts concerning the Virgin Birth in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke have been presented to fit the prophecies. Paul of Tarsus confirmed the Hebrew version in Galatians 4:4 (see below...).
the prophecies of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah was written in Hebrew about 700 BC. The Hebrew word “almah” rendered “virgin” in the NKJV actually means “a young woman of marriageable age” (Genesis 24:43 & Isaiah 7:14) or “Maiden” (Proverbs 30:19 and Psalms 68:25); however the nearest English equivalent is “girl”. There is no ambiguity here as Isaiah had many words at his disposal to describe this type of woman. E.g. “betula” in Hebrew means literally a Virgin having had no relations with a man (Greek: parthenos); and “na’ara” literally means a “girl”; these words are quite specific and unmistakable. However in the second century BC as Greek was the most widely spoken language in the known world, more so than even Latin, the Septuagint was written to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek.
The Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “almah” is “neanis” and refers to a “young woman”. However the writers of the Septuagint instead translated this word into the Greek: “parthenos”, which means specifically “virgin” as if the Hebrew word “betula” had been used instead!
The story of the Virgin Birth is conspicuous by its absence from the earliest Gospel According to Mark, in fact it is only mentioned in two of the four Gospels: Matthew and Luke. The Gospel according to Luke concentrates the approach to the conception of Jesus from Mary’s perspective in Luke 1:26, while Matthew focuses on Joseph’s perspective in Matthew 1:18. The virgin birth has been doubted (or denied) by many scholars, who often regard the birth-narratives in Matthew and Luke not as historical record but as some form of imaginative literature, expressing the significance of Jesus’ birth in symbolic, poetic, mythical or midrashic terms. The absence of explicit reference to the virgin birth elsewhere in the New Testament, especially Mark and Paul, is held to confirm that it was not part of the earliest traditions about Jesus. Some people have tried to claim that in Mark 6:3 there is an indirect acknowledgement that Jesus was the Son of Mary more than he was the Son of Joseph, thus:
“Mark 6:3 ‘Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ So they were offended at Him.
4 But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.’”
That in Hebrew culture to describe someone as the son of his mother instead of his father without good cause is quite disparaging, however as you can see at the end of verse 3 and in the very next verse these people are offended at Jesus and are not affording him any respect, also here Jesus addresses himself as a prophet! In contrast Matthew 13:55 uses the words: “the carpenter’s son” and Luke 4:22: “Joseph’s son.”
Twisting the facts to fit the Prophecies
The writer of the Gospel according to Matthew clearly had a copy of the Book of Isaiah (from the Septuagint) in his other hand as he wrote; tying in the prophecies of Isaiah at the beginning and end of his Gospel; it appears that some twisting of the facts to fit the prophecies has occurred. He even quotes in Matthew 1:23 an excerpt from Isaiah 7:14, BUT in doing so he gives the game away, because he uses the erroneous 2nd century BC Greek translation of Isaiah and NOT the original Hebrew text.
The Virgin Mary
and the Trinity
The concept of the virgin birth is a misinterpretation of the prophecy of Isaiah who really only described a young woman, but then later the myth had to be kept alive to protect the trinitarian myth. The Virgin Mary’s journey into western mythology was gradual, she is never mentioned in all the writings of the Apostle Paul, the earliest creator of material that came to be included in the New Testament. Paul, who wrote between 49-64 A.D., had no interest in Jesus’ origins. His only references to Jesus’ family came when he said that Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). He asserted that “according to the flesh,” Jesus was descended from the House of David (Romans 1:3). Paul also made reference to Jesus’ brother, a man named James. No divine origin here, no miraculous birth, no virgin mother.
The pattern was continued in Mark, said to be the earliest Gospel, Mark as we know it today being written between 70-75 A.D. (or 40-50 A.D. according to the Qumran fragment of (“The Gospel”) Mark 6:52-53). Once more there is no story here of a miraculous birth. There are, however, two references to Jesus’ mother, but neither is flattering. She appears in this first Gospel to be embarrassed by Jesus, to think him “beside himself” and Mark says that she went with Jesus’ four brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon, and his two sisters to “take Jesus away” (Mark 3 and 6). That is hardly the behaviour one would expect from a woman who had been visited by an angel and who had been told that she was to be the Virgin Mother of the Son of God.
The Virgin story entered the Christian tradition in the Gospel According to Matthew, traditionally believed to have been written in the early 9th decade, some 45 years after the death of Jesus. It was repeated in the late 9th or early 10th decade gospel of Luke, and then it disappeared in favour of the concept of Jesus’ divine pre-existence in the 10th decade Gospel of John. The mythology of Mary, however, was destined to expand in the development of Christian history.
By the early years of the 2nd century the idea of the Virgin as the ideal woman began to grow. First, it was said of her that she was a virgin mother. Next, she became a permanent virgin, making it necessary to transform the biblically mentioned brothers and sisters of Jesus into half-siblings or cousins. Next the church fathers claimed for her the status of being a postpartum virgin which caused the hierarchy of the church to go through intellectual gymnastics to prove that the hymen of the Virgin Mary had not been ruptured even during Jesus’ birth. Then someone found a text in Ezekiel (Chapter 44:1) which suggested that when “the gates of the city were closed only the Lord could go in and out.” Without either shame or apology that verse, written about 800 years before the birth of Jesus, was said to demonstrate that Jesus could be born without disturbing the gates of his mother’s womb.
Next in the 19th century the Virgin was declared to be immaculately conceived. Even her own birth was now said to have been miraculous. The stain of human sin found in the myth of the fall of humanity (in the Garden of Eden) was not allowed to touch her. Finally in the 20th century, literally at the dawn of the space age, Mary was proclaimed to have bodily ascended into heaven. This new doctrine was based on the fact that no one knew her place of burial. The reason, the Roman Catholic church’s leadership suggested, was that she had never died.
However there is a strong consensus of belief within the Church asserting that the Apostles Creed is also a valid Creed as it is biblically based (though not explicitly written) and is none trinitarian, although it highlights some of the principle Supernatural beliefs of Christianity but contains an inaccuracy based on a misinterpretation in the Greek Septuagint resulting in a reference to the Virgin Mary, which was taken from a misunderstanding of the prophecies of Isaiah in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. The Creed was written by the Romans about half a century after the New Testament had been completed (circa late 2nd century).
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
The Arian Catholic Creed...
BELIEVE IN ONE GOD,
Creator of Heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible.
And in his Spiritual Son, Jesus Christ,
Whom was born of Mary and Joseph,
Was not consubstantial nor co-eternal with God the Father almighty,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried.
On the third day His Spirit was resurrected.
He ascended into Heaven,
And sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty.
Whence he shall come again to judge the living and the dead,
Of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the Spirit,
And life everlasting.
The idea of a Virgin Birth of a deity is not unique to (Roman) Christianity, such as the story of the pagan god Mithras, however the Arian Catholic Church accepts that the conception of Christ was indeed a miraculous event, but the facts concerning the virgin birth in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke have been presented to fit the prophecies.
Miracles do occur but our Father whom created the heavens and the earth does not need to break his own laws, He speaks to people subconsciously, through visions and events that are entirely scientifically feasible but often statistically remote.
In honour of St. Mary, the mother of Jesus the Messiah
Arian Catholic Christians have a differing view of St Mary to the so-called mainstream Christian view. Arian Catholics believe that the Virgin Birth, in the literal sense, is a myth. St. Mary was pure in Soul, the mother of Jesus the Messiah is still honoured by the Arian Catholic Church as a Saint whose intercession is called upon through God.
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© 2005-7 Rev. Dr. B.B.M.J. Mackenzie-Hanson, B.A. (Hons), D.D., M.I.O.P., a.c.O.S.B.