Question: Off topic? More

Charles David Isbell cisbell at
Sat Mar 16 13:58:57 EST 2002

Allow one Jew to weigh in on the favorite old saw of some Christians.  I
have absolutely no problem with the NT concept of the virgin birth.  I do
find it irritating when two things occur together, i.e., when first, the
Hebrew text of Isaiah is rendered to bring it into concord with Matthew, and
second, all sense of respect for the Hebrew text as it might have functioned
in 8th century Judah is withdrawn in favor of the "real" meaning supplied by
Matthew.  This is bass ackward in my judgment.
If Christianity wishes to present its hero as born of one human and one
divine parent without the sexual act, that is a choice in which I as a Jew
have no interest and need no vote.  It is the attempt to crowbar the meaning
of a first century Christian text into an 8th century Judahite work that I
think inappropriate.
May I also point out gently that we too have our miraculous births.  For me,
the idea of a 90 year old woman well past menopause and a 100 year old man
without viagra doing the nasty and producing a healthy son is a miracle that
matches well with a virginal conception in every way. In both cases, the
believing community seems intent on bearing witness to the intervention of
God in their history.  I view both descriptions of HOW this intervention
occurred to be beyond proof OR disproof.  What should be important is to
notice what changes in ethical lifestyle flow from those who accept either
story as true.  I do not mean to offend by this notation, merely to note
that all faiths should be aware of the theological context of the community
that shapes and then appropriates texts, denotes them as sacred, and
constructs its categories of faith around them.

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