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Explain the virgin birth to me - Page 2

post #21 of 93
It's a creed, like the Nicene Creed. It's in the back of the prayerbook/song book at my parents' United Methodist Church I'm pretty sure...Maybe I'll ask them tomorrow. Maybe not. Maybe someone knows it....?
post #22 of 93
Hmm, it's not in "Creeds of the Churches" which (if you'll forgive the bad joke) is the bible of Christian creeds. It's considered exhaustive.
post #23 of 93
The Essenes were a group of Jews disgusted with the Jewish Temple, which they saw as corrupt, kowtowing to the Roman/Hellenistic overlords. In approx 100 BCE they left Jerusalem in disgust and retreated to caves in Qumran near the Dead Sea. This is where the "Dead Sea Scrolls" were found in the 1940s and 50s. They are the oldest surviving Hebrew scriptures. They contain Hebrew canon as well as writings unique to the sect.

It has nothing to do with the creed crafted at the council of Nicaea in 325 CE by Constantine and anti-gnostic bishops. :

The Essenes had a "rule," of intent and conduct, as monastics usually do. John the Baptist was depicted in the Greek gospel narratives as a Jewish apocalyptic ascetic of this type.
post #24 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Penelope View Post
Hmm, it's not in "Creeds of the Churches" which (if you'll forgive the bad joke) is the bible of Christian creeds. It's considered exhaustive.
I used to spend a lot of time reading the back of their prayerbook / songbook. Hmm....I'll just ask them to look it up and see if it's in there. Perhaps I'm just confused. That's totally possible.
post #25 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMarmalade View Post
I've never heard the idea of Mary staying a virgin ... our Church has always taught that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

And heck, she gave birth vaginally - unless Jesus had a head the size of a tampon it's unlikely she was a virgin after gving birth. The Bible would have mentioned if she had a c-section
No, it wouldn't've.

There are many C'ian scriptures that didn't make the cut into the canon. The Protevangelium (aka Infancy Gospel) of James, dated to 140-170 CE, is one. It shows Mary giving birth and the rumors about the questionable morality of an unmarried Mary becoming pg.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/infancyjames.html

A friend of the midwife checks Mary's "body" to see if she is still a virgin after givng birth and gets a withered hand as a punishment for her doubt.

Chapter 19

(1) And I [Joseph] saw a woman coming down from the mountain and she said to me, "Man, where are you going?"

(2) And I said, "I am seeking a Hebrew midwife."

(3) Replying, she said to me, "Are you from Israel?"

(4) And I said to her, "Yes."

(5) Then, she said, "And who is giving birth in the cave?"

(6) And I said, "The one who has pledged to be married to me."

(7) And she said to me, "She is not your wife?"

(8) And I said to her, "She is Mary, the one who was raised in the temple. I won her by lot to be my wife. (9) She is not yet my wife, but has a fetus from the Holy Spirit."

(10) And the midwife said, "Really?"

(11) And Joseph said to her, "Come and see."

(12) So the midwife went with him. (13) And they stood near the cave and a dark cloud was hovering over the cave. (14) And the midwife said, "My soul glorifies this day, for today my eyes have seen a miracle: salvation has come to Israel."

(15) And immediately, the cloud withdrew from the cave and a great light appeared in the cave so that their eyes could not bear it. (16) And a little while later the same light withdrew until an infant appeared. And he came and took the breast of his mother, Mary.

(17) And the midwife cried out and said, "How great this day is for me, for I have seen this new miracle."

(18) And the midwife departed from the cave and met Salome and said to her, "Salome, Salome, I have to describe this new miracle for you. A virgin has given birth, although her body does not allow it."

(19) And Salome said, "As the Lord my God lives, unless I insert my finger and investigate her, I will not believe that a virgin has given birth."


Chapter 20

(1) And the midwife went in and said, "Mary, position yourself, for not a small test concerning you is about to take place."

(2) When Mary heard these things, she positioned herself. And Salome inserted her finger into her body. (3) And Salome cried out and said, "Woe for my lawlessness and the unbelief that made me test the living God. Look, my hand is falling away from me and being consumed in fire."

(5) And Salome dropped to her knees before the Lord, saying, "God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, (6) do not expose me to the children of Israel, but give me back to the poor. (7) For you know, Lord, that I have performed service and received my wage from you."

(8) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared, saying to her, "Salome, Salome, the Lord of all has heard your entreaty. (9) Stretch out your hand to the child and lift him up and he will be salvation and joy for you."

(10) And Salome went to the child and lifted him up, saying, "I worship him because he has been born a king to Israel." (11) And at once Salome was healed and left the cave justified.
post #26 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post

I looked it up, and I guess in 2 Samuel 6:23, it says "And Milchal, the daughter of Saul, had no child until [eos] her death." This certainly doesn't mean she went on to have children after her death.
Once again, AM, the Hebrew Scriptures, of which Samuel is one, were written in Hebrew, not in Greek, Latin or English.
post #27 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL View Post
Once again, AM, the Hebrew Scriptures, of which Samuel is one, were written in Hebrew, not in Greek, Latin or English.
Thank You.
post #28 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMarmalade View Post
And heck, she gave birth vaginally - unless Jesus had a head the size of a tampon it's unlikely she was a virgin after gving birth. The Bible would have mentioned if she had a c-section
It wouldn't have needed to; if Mary had had a c-section, she probably would have died then and there. Keep in mind that sterile conditions were totally unknown back in the day.
post #29 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
It wouldn't have needed to; if Mary had had a c-section, she probably would have died then and there. Keep in mind that sterile conditions were totally unknown back in the day.
No, God can make anything happen. Even 1st CE c-secs can be safe with God.

(Tangent: Why do you think we call them cesarean sections, BTW? Supposedly Julius Ceasar was born that way, around that time period.)

But that being said, Buddha's virgin mother did die 7 days after Buddha's birth from her side (he was also conceived by a divine vision), in 563 BCE. Her mission as an incubator of a god* being served, she was no longer necessary in the story.

*correction: Buddha was not a god, just a bringer of wisdom. But he did have the typical supernatural birth of a god.
post #30 of 93
There are also a fair number of Christians who believe that in some books, "virgin" is a reference to her unmarried (at the time) state, and in others it is a theologically meaningful but not necessarily factual story, borrowed/adapted from many a virgin/unlikely birth story that are so very common across cultures. (Actually, the fact that unusual birth/conception stories appear in so many theologies throughout the world should indicate that it's not necessarily a case of "borrowing" but of fulfulling some semi-universal theological/psychological/storytelling need.)

There are Christians who believe in the divinity of Christ without positing or accepting a miraculous origin of the physical man (or rather, that his earthly origin was no more miraculous than any other person's - conception and birth are pretty miraculous as-is).

The Catholics I've known have embraced the ever-virgin theology for the same reasons mentioned here - it is relevent and meaningful for their faith, even if historically doubtful. As they've said, there is truth and there is Truth, and sometimes the two don't bear much resemblance to each other. (This is just my recollection of how some liberal Catholics I've known have reconciled their church's beliefs with their own practical-minded guesses about historical reality, not a representation of my opinion or understanding about Church dogma)
post #31 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL View Post
Once again, AM, the Hebrew Scriptures, of which Samuel is one, were written in Hebrew, not in Greek, Latin or English.
Actually it's not "once again" to me since I've never made such a stupid mistake before, but you're right. That was dumb on my part, and one big reason why you shouldn't google instead of reaching for a book. The translation was from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT), but as a translation itself, it really doesn't have value in the conversation. Sorry.

I think the point still stands though (if you feel it's important, which frankly, I don't) that the word "until" doesn't imply that the action is going to happen later. In modern usage it often does, but in Biblical times it didn't necessarily mean that.

Some other NT examples:
Matt 11:23: "For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day."-- it doesn't mean the day after this day, Sodom would be destroyed.

1 Cor 15:25: "For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." It doesn't mean that Jesus will stop reigning after the enemies are under His feet.

1 Tim 6:14: "I charge you to keep the commandments unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."-- doesn't mean Timothy can stop keeping the commandments after Jesus shows up


But really, I guess I don't see it as important, at least in my theology. And I totally get that people want to see Mary and Joseph as a happy loving married couple with lots of babies and a happy family. It's not part of my belief system, but I can understand the appeal.
post #32 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Actually it's not "once again" to me since I've never made such a stupid mistake before, but you're right. That was dumb on my part, and one big reason why you shouldn't google instead of reaching for a book. The translation was from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT), but as a translation itself, it really doesn't have value in the conversation. Sorry.
It's OK, AM. : I said "again" because earlier in the thread, you attempted to use the Catholic Encyclopedia as a reference for the proper English translation of the Greek word for "sibling." When I clicked on your link, I found a discussion of the archaic English word "brethren" compared to the Latin, but no Greek.

Maybe it's just pregnancy brain. :
post #33 of 93
Probably. It's messing with my sense of humor as well.
post #34 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Actually it's not "once again" to me since I've never made such a stupid mistake before, but you're right. That was dumb on my part, and one big reason why you shouldn't google instead of reaching for a book.
Sort of an aside....I see that DaryLLL has responded to explain this, but just thought I'd go ahead and mention that when I first saw DaryLLL's "once again, AM" comment, I assumed it was referencing mamaverdi's earlier response (in post #17) to you, in which she'd already pointed out that the Greek word couldn't have appeared in the book of 2 Samuel.

I really appreciate Arwyn's comments about various Christian beliefs about Mary's virginity and Jesus's divinity. The comments about those perspectives expand on the premise (of what Christians believe) quite a bit, in ways I don't think people always take into account when making assumptions about belief, or necessary beliefs.
post #35 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
Doesn't that depend on how you define virginity LM?
Oh definitely ... but I only meant for the c-section thing to be a joke.

Seriously though, Mary and Joseph were Jewish - and sex is an important part of Jewish marriages (well, from what I've read). It would be breaking Jewish law to expect a married couple never to consummate their marriage.
post #36 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyMarmalade View Post
Oh definitely ... but I only meant for the c-section thing to be a joke.

Seriously though, Mary and Joseph were Jewish - and sex is an important part of Jewish marriages (well, from what I've read). It would be breaking Jewish law to expect a married couple never to consummate their marriage.
It would be grounds for divorce if not an annulment.
post #37 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaryLLL View Post
(Tangent: Why do you think we call them cesarean sections, BTW? Supposedly Julius Ceasar was born that way, around that time period.)
Not quite; that's a myth. It actually comes from the Latin word for cut. Historians will tell you that Julius Ceasar was born vaginally, as evidenced by his mother's long life after the fact.
post #38 of 93
i think the question about 'truth' vs 'Truth' is the question of whether "truth" exists that is not "factual."

it may not be 'factual' that Mary, or Siddhartha's mother for example, were "virgins" (meaning that they'd never had sex, they were unmarried, or that this was their first born--'born of a virgin' refering to first-born children), but it may be 'true' that they were 'virgins' as in 'pure vessels through which God incarnates' (in the hindu tradition, Gautama Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu) and they maintained their special status in life and in death.
post #39 of 93
Thread Starter 
Wow, I start some good threads

So, basically, in the Catholic religion, the reason Mary remains a virgin after the birth of Jesus is because she's a holy vessel and remains pure? Well, if that's the case, what's the big deal about waiting until after marriage to have sex, because even if you're married it will make you impure? : I might regret asking that one!
post #40 of 93
sex isn't impure nor does it make you impure when one is married. before marriage, one is 'impure' because one is acting outside of the 'order' of things (appropriate order, natural order, social order, etc). this is a sort of social law but also a spiritual law because there isn't a disconnect between body-social-spirit in the catholic construct.

right action is to procreate when one is capable of caring for children. a secure family is appropriate. traditionally, that means a family that has a husband-wife team to support the family life. sex is a procreative act (also recreative in marriage--building cohesiveness, closeness, and unity), and therefore should be maintained in marriage because of this aspect.

impure refers to sin, sin refers to inappropriate or wrong or morally wrong actions (levels of 'wrongness' associated with different perspectives of looking at the 'issue.' stealing a horse would make one 'impure'--so impurity isn't necessarily related to sex.

and again, it doesn't matter if it's factual. At a certain level, it's a mythical or metaphorical aspect to *denote* the righteousness of the individual woman and thus her ability to carry the incarnate form of God.
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