How and Why the Virgin Birth Story Was Created
The man known as Jesus of Nazareth should be glorified for what he was: one of the greatest servants of God; a master teacher; a spiritually anointed Mashiach/Christus/Messiah and son of man; a "sacrificial lamb" of God who willingly martyred himself to culminate his teachings around love, forgiveness, and pacifism; and even an Avatar for the passing age.
However, the story claiming that Jesus was born of a virgin is just that -- a story -- and it was told to elevate the status of Jesus and Christianity. That becomes clear when you know how and why the story developed, and learn that the story was not even established until sometime between 80 and 90 AD (CE), and all the texts that were produced prior to that --- eight of Paul's epistles, seven of which were produced in 50 CE, the book of James and the Synoptic Gospel of Mark, written in 70 CE --- made any mention of a virgin birth. (See The New Testament in Chronological Order, by Marcus Borg, a member of the prestigious Jesus Seminar.)
When you know what modern scholars and archaeologists now know, you will learn that Jesus was not as was portrayed in the official church canon (bible), or in the Nicene Creed, which is a church doctrine established by church patriarchs who wanted their religion to be the only one to be founded by "God Himself."
Even so, Jesus did realize his (and our) oneness with God. As a genuine Avatar he realized his oneness with the great "I am" of Judaism, which is why he said "Before Abraham was, I am." Thus he spoke as and for the Ancient One and the Holy One. The problem is that many of his followers did not understand exactly what he meant, and they did not understand when he told them that "the Spirit of truth is within you." They also paid no attention when Jesus said to his disciples: "You have neither heard the voice of God, nor seen the shape of God at any time." (John 5:37)
Knowing the facts is important in order to establish peace and harmony in the world, because the issues raised by the claims and doctrines summarized in the Nicene Creed are numerous, and it is one of the main factors causing conflict between people of different religions. For as we know, most of the "religious" conflict in the world is caused by zealous Jews, Christians and Muslims who regard their religion as superior, and the Christian theology of Apologetics is largely responsible for that.
In order to resolve the doctrinal conflicts between Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions, it is necessary to weed out or at least recognize the errors made by those who wrote the texts that are regarded as religious scriptures and were used to establish the doctrines, creeds and dogma of organized religions.
Of course, most religions developed myths about their founders to establish their divine status. But, since Christianity is the largest religion in the world, has the most influence and wields the most material power, this article addresses one of several Christian myths that became incorporated into church canon and doctrines.
That is because those who wrote it claimed that Jesus was born not as a result a normal conception of an egg fertilized by sperm, but as the result of a magical conception in the womb of a virgin by the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost as a “heavenly Father,” which led to the claim that Jesus was "the only begotten son of God," which then led to the idea that he was "God Incarnate."
However, that is not consistent with what is written in the Torah and Tanakh (Old Testament) despite the claim in Christian canonized Bible that it is. And there is ample proof even in that canon (Christian Bible) that it is a myth like many other myths about "virgin births" of previous individuals (like the Persian myth of Mithra’s virgin birth, and like the Buddhist myth of Gautama’s virgin birth).
In fact, as you will see, it is based on what was written in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which were not accurate in using the words “father” and “virgin.” The Hebrew Bible recognizes the Lord Our God is not a man, nor a son of man. It says we should not liken God to man, nor compare God to man. It distinguishes between God and the Ancient of Days, or the Ancient One — which is the Original Soul or Oversoul which is in heaven with God.
Jesus understood that, even though some of his followers did not. Jesus understood that he spoke as and for the Ancient One. He also understood that his words and teachings would become distorted and exaggerated, and he knew that some who would call themselves Christians would preach the commandments of men for doctrines. And he was right. Some who have claimed to be Christians were not, even in the first century CE. And even today there are hypocrites who claim to do "many wonderful works in the name of the Lord," even though they are wrong-doers "working iniquity," as Jesus foresaw and foretold.
The reason for that is the erroneous doctrines of men, which Jesus warned us about. Therefore, the erroneous doctrines and myths must be dispelled, and the record must be set straight, as Jesus said it would be.
Problematic Doctrine and Myth
The idea that the prophet Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin, that he was the "only begotten son of God," or even God "Himself" or "God Incarnate," and that the only way you can avoid being condemned to hell for eternity is to profess belief of that, is a big part of Christian tradition. The trouble is, it is part of the doctrines of men that the prophet Jesus warned us about, and it has been and still is problematic.
Granted, many good Christians have believed in it, and many good Christians still do. But it is a doctrine that can be, has been and still is used by those who have claimed to be Christians but are not. And in that sense, it is part of a man-made, patriarchal, theocratic, imperialistic doctrine of preeminence and superiority that has caused trouble since the first century and especially for the last 16 centuries. And that's because it is wrong.
In the first place, if God could magically conceive a fetus in the womb of a woman to make a “perfect human being,” all human beings would have been, and would now be, perfect.
In the second place, when it was written in the book of Isaiah that the son of man who fulfills prophecy would be “called from the womb to be God’s servant,” the prophet was not talking about a virgin birth, nor was he talking about Jesus of Nazareth. He was talking about the one who would be "like Jacob" (see Isaiah 49:1-7), who like the original Jacob struggles with God, whose life was foreseen by God even when he was formed in the womb.
The problem is misguided theology called "Christian Apologetics," for which the converted evangelist Paul was perhaps the most responsible, which during the passing age has been concerned with the defense of man-made "Christian" doctrine about the supposed magical birth, life, teachings and death of Jesus.
The theology of Christian Apologetics tries to defend and prove that doctrine because it has long been and still is refuted today by many Jewish Rabbinical scholars, and it is questioned and even refuted by many modern Christian scholars, like Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, Dominic Crossan and other members of the respected Jesus Seminar, as well as retired Rev. John Shelby Spong, William Sloan Coffin, Robert Boston, Robert Fuller, and Michael Barkun, among many others modern religious scholars and authors. And rightly so.
Many people throughout history have come to the same conclusion about such things, about what the birth, life, teachings and death of Jesus was really about. So in that respect, some of what is written here is really not new, especially about the myth of the virgin birth.
For example, even back in 1823 Thomas Jefferson (the author of the American Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. President) wrote: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
In more recent times, John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, NJ, wrote: "In time, the virgin birth account will join Adam and Eve and the story of the cosmic ascension as clearly recognized mythological elements in our faith tradition, whose purpose was not to describe a literal event but to capture the transcendent dimensions of God in the earthbound words and concepts of first-century human beings."
Many other eminent Christian scholars agree, because the "virgin" birth stories are found only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Earlier writers like Mark made no mention of it, probably because the stories did not yet exist at the time they wrote their gospels. And James, who knew Jesus best, didn't mention it either, knowing it wasn't true.
Later writers like John made no mention of it either, probably knowing it was just a myth. Furthermore, the writers of Christian gospels (such as the "Gnostic" gospels) not included in official, institutionalized Christian canon of the New Testament, scoffed at the idea of a virgin birth. They apparently knew about it, but they too dismissed it as a myth because it was very similar to the myth of the Persian Persian myth of Mithra’s virgin birth, and to the Buddhist myth of Gautama’s virgin birth.
For example, the mythical part of Buddhism, established hundreds of years before Jesus, includes a story about his birth being foretold by a spirit who then entered his mother's womb. When the Buddha was born, wise men predicted that he would become a great religious leader, and the story includes tales of how he healed the sick and walked on water.
So Why Was the Myth Created?
We can conclude that Paul, Matthew and those who claimed that the mother of Jesus was a virgin wanted to establish that story to enhance his stature as Divinity. But again, establishing religious stories that were myths but were to be regarded as fact had been done many times before, within Judaism and other religions.
Throughout the Old Testament we hear of the very unusual births of individuals like Ishmael, Isaac, Samson and Samuel, and usually, prior to their birth, an angel appeared, the message of an upcoming birth was given, and a sign was given. All these facts indicate that the story of Jesus followed a very traditional pattern to establish his credentials and divine status. And other religions had similar mythical traditions, which many "true believers" regarded as truth.
But the fact is that no human being has ever been born of a virgin, and no human being ever will be. The day will come when the fabricated myths in the Christian faith tradition will be recognized as such, and we will all honor Jesus for what he was ... not an idol for worship, not as "God Himself" or even as "the only begotten son of God," but as the great prophet, Christ-Avatar, Master Teacher, sacrificial lamb of God, and glorious martyr that he was. We will realize that our Lord God is the eternal Holy One, the Great Spirit, our spiritual Parent, and we are all children of God.
Biblical Proof That the "Virgin Birth" Story Is Myth
Fortunately, the real truth about the birth, life and death of Jesus lies in the Bible itself, in both the Jewish Old Testament and Christian New Testament. They actually show that the "virgin birth" story is merely a myth, and there is much evidence of that.
For example, to fulfill the prophecy and the expectation that the Mashiach/Messiah would literally be born "in the line of Abraham and David," Jesus would have had to be Joseph's son by natural birth.
In fact, if Joseph had not been the biological father of Jesus, Jesus could not have literally been born in the line of Abraham and David, because it was Joseph, not Mary, who was born of that line. After all, the genealogy of Jesus is clearly and precisely explained in the canonical Christian texts, counting all the generations from Abraham to David and through Joseph to establish his genealogical descent.
Of course, some fundamentalist, literalist Christians admit there is a problem in establishing Jesus' descent due to the claim of a magical conception in the womb of a virgin, but they dismiss it by claiming that the "virgin" Mary was also descended from the line of David. However, at that time a woman's genealogy was not even considered. In the days of Joseph and Mary the male "seed" was the only factor considered in determining genealogy. They didn't count the woman's genealogy because her womb was considered only like the "soil in which the seed was planted." Just as barren soil could not produce crops, so "barren wombs" could not produce children. Moreover, the fact that a woman produces eggs that have to be fertilized was not even discovered until 1827. Therefore, claims regarding Mary's genealogy are not valid, and are merely irrelevant rationalizations to try to defend a myth and claim it is fact.
In spite of that, conservative fundamentalist Christians, believing that Christianity is threatened by this, or that it lessens the importance of Jesus, still insist that Mary was a virgin and that either her genealogy is somehow valid, or that because Joseph "adopted" Jesus he was legally assigned the lineage of Abraham and David. But the "adoption" theory is also erroneous, because while an adopted child can certainly carry on the family name and have material inheritance rights, an actual "blood line" or genealogy is passed on only by blood and genes.
Yet, Christians claim Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s, even though according to the text it too traces Joseph’s, but with different names than Matthew uses.
This confusion reveals part of the flaw in the logic of the early Christians who wrote the texts of the official church Bible. And that’s sad because the actual blood lines of the modern Messiah are irrelevant. What is relevant is that he is called and chosen by God and anointed in the Spirit of God, and serves in the name and spirit of David, Solomon, and Jesus of Nazareth (Mashiach ben Yosef), and therefore serves as “Mashiach ben David,” which means the “anointed son of David.”
See, neither Christians nor religious Jews understand that “root of Jesse” and the “branch of David,” which refer to the Mashiach/Messiah who brings peace to the world, necessarily refer to a man who is an actual genealogical descendent of King David and King Solomon. After all, the Messiah is not determined by bloodlines. The title is not inherited and the titles of worldly kings are, nor is he chosen by men. Only God calls and chooses the servant of God who become the Messiah who brings peace to the world by fulfilling the promise of the prophets of the world.
More About the “Virgin Birth”
There is much more evidence. For example, consider the writings of those who knew. As has been mentioned, James the brother of Jesus didn't say anything about a virgin birth, and later John didn’t even mention it. In fact, in John 1:45 he refers to Jesus specifically as "the son of Joseph."
In fact, John 1:45 refers to “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” as his disciple Philip called him according to that verse. And in John 6:42 a group of Jews asked: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”
Obviously, John and Philip had not heard of, or did not believe in, any story about a virgin birth, nor had the Jews who spoke up, who were surprised that Jesus had said “I came down from heaven.” They all knew that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus. They simply did not understand that Jesus was speaking as and for the Spirit of God, not as a mere mortal man (such as when he said “Before Abraham was, I am”).
The thing is, the Gospel of John was written in about 90 C.E. (A.D.), and it is interesting that John’s account is different in that respect than two of the Synoptic gospels written either a bit earlier or around the same time – Matthew and Luke. (The first gospel produced in 70 C.E., Mark, makes no mention of any virgin birth.)
The first claim that Jesus was born of a virgin birth was made between 80 C.E. and 90 C.E., in Matthew 1:23, which in telling the story of Jesus’ birth declares: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Matthew 1:18 even sets up that statement with this: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
Then in the late 80s or 90s Luke 3:23 states: “Jesus was about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph ...” And of course the implication there was that Jesus was not the son of Joseph (even though as the story of Jesus is centered on the idea that he was born in the line of David, as his father Joseph was, in order to fulfill prophecies of the Messiah being a “branch of David,” from “the root of Jesse,” and so on).
The Erroneous Matthew 1:18-23 Reference to Isaiah 7:14
Of course, the biggest reason that most Christians regard the virgin birth story as reality is because of what was written in the later book of Matthew - that it was to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy that "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son called Immanuel." There is even a corroborating phrase tacked on in the book of Matthew that says an angel had come to the "virgin" Mary and said she would miraculously bear the son of God, to be called Jesus.
However, the reference in the book of Matthew to Isaiah 7:14 about Immanuel is not accurate or appropriate, so the author or later revisionist of those words we now see in the book of Matthew was simply in error about that prophecy in Isaiah. The seventh chapter of Isaiah is actually about a dispute over land, leadership and domain, and it took place during the lifetime of those involved, and during the time Isaiah wrote about it.
Before the child Immanuel in the book of Isaiah was old enough to discern for himself what was good and what was not (Isaiah 7:16), the Assyrians would conquer the lands of Aram and Israel, which they did in 733-732 B.C., led by Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser II, only a year or two after the prophecy was given and 733 years before Jesus was even born. So, that would mean that the actual child named Immanuel lived and died hundreds of years before the time of Jesus.
Moreover, Isaiah 7:14, which the author or editors of the book of Matthew as we know it used to claim Jesus was born of a "virgin" to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy, does not even speak of a virgin.
The Hebrew word "almah" in Isaiah 7:14 actually means “young woman,” but it was erroneously translated as "virgin" in the Greek (Septuagint) translation of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, which is why Christians writers, translators and later editors focused on that. And, while some Christians rationalize that the word almah could also mean virgin, they ignore the fact that there is a Hebrew word that actually does mean "virgin." It is "bethulah," and it is used in Isaiah 23:12, 37:22, 47:1, and 62:5. Therefore, the author of the book of Isaiah was well aware of the word for virgin and yet purposely did not use it in Isaiah 7:14.
Even so, because the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament), does use a word meaning virgin, Paul, Matthew and the others used it in their search for "evidence" that Jesus fulfilled the Hebrew prophecies. In fact, the Greek translation has always been the preferred text in the theology of Christian Apologetics that attempts to prove Jesus was born by magical conception and is therefore "God Himself," or "God Incarnate."
However, with modern scholarship and understanding, we can acknowledge that the idea of virgin births are the stuff of myths, such as the virgin birth myths about Mithra, Gautama the Buddha, Hercules, Osiris, Bacchus, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus and Horus.
Then again, the myth of the virgin birth of Jesus does have some symbolic legitimacy in that he was a son of God and a son of "Nun," like Joshua. For Nun was also the spiritual "minister" to Moses. In Hebrew, Nun is the 13th letter of the alphabet, symbolized by the fish. It also means fish in Aramaic, Phoenician and Arabic. And, in mythology, Nun is the ethereal waters or ocean from which all life has come. It is symbolized by the fish as the primordial original life from the cosmic sea).
But, even if all that were not the case, there is other evidence. For example, the notion that Jesus' family believed he was immaculately conceived in the womb of a virgin contradicts other gospel passages.
For instance, John 7:5 states: "... even his brothers did not believe in him." And Mark 3:21 states that: "Upon hearing of it, his family went out to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is beside himself.'" But, Christian tradition denies that Jesus' family thought that he was "beside himself" or delusional because of some of the things he said. In fact, certain modern Christian Bible editions replace the word "they" in Mark 3:21 with the word "people" or "friends," even though the word "they" meaning his family was in the original text.
Another piece of evidence is the simple fact that Jesus clearly said God is "Our Father," making it clear that we are all children of God. And he himself never claimed that he was "the only begotten son of God," nor did he say he was God "Himself." In fact, even though he realized he was one with God, as we all can, he said God "is greater than I." He said "only God is good and worthy of worship," and that he was not. And he even told his disciples: "You have not heard Gods voice or seen God's shape at any time."
Even so, it's easy to see why the myths about Jesus were created. After all, even if they were in the original gospels, they were written some 40 to 60 years after the death of Jesus, and it was during a time of great change and uncertainty. The Roman Army had demolished Jerusalem and the Jewish temples and scattered many of the Jews and Christians throughout the Roman Empire.
Moreover, during all those years and decades the stories about Jesus were told by word of mouth only, before the original Christian gospels were written. And during that time the stories were no doubt enhanced, and the Christian writers had pored through the Septuagint to try to find evidence that his birth, life and death were prophesied.
But, whether the virgin birth story was really written by the original author of the books of Paul, Matthew and Luke, or added later by revisionists, it should be said again that it was most likely inserted into the story because it greatly enhanced and elevated the status of the Christ Jesus and Christianity as an organized religion. In fact, it was used to help establish and enhance the doctrine of preeminence and superiority, and it is very apparent that it was used to justify "Christian" leaders who had worldly, imperial ambitions and designs.
Therefore, it is not just common sense that tells us that Jesus was not born of a "virgin." The biblical facts and evidence confirm it.
That is why it is important that Christians now understand why Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), because as Jesus said, we all can realize we are one with God. They should also understand why it is written that "the Word was made flesh" in the Christ Jesus (John 1:1-14), because the primordial "Word," which was in the beginning, which was with God and is God, is made flesh in all of us.
We can realize that, which is why Jesus said when the Spirit of truth comes to you, you shall know that the Christ is in you, you are in Christ, and the Christ and you are in God. For we are One in the omnipresent Spirit of God.
Remember, the Ancient One is the Spirit of truth, who was before Abraham and Moses and is the Alpha and the Omega, who was, is, and shall always be. And it is within you, waiting for you to realize it.
The mission of the modern son of man, and this coalition, is to glorify Jesus for what he was, a christed, spiritually anointed son of man, the Sacrificial Lamb of God, and the Avatar for the passing age, not an idol exalted by and for idol worshipers. After all, Jesus said he must "go away and be seen no more," and he said "the Spirit of truth shall come to issue judgment, guide you unto all truth, show you things to come, and glorify me."
The modern Messiah and son of Man serves the Spirit of truth. May God bless all who can recognize the truth when they see it.