Does Mark’s Gospel Actually *Deny* the Virgin Birth?

We are moving beyond the Christmas season, but I did think it would be worthwhile responding to a couple of queries I’ve received about the stories of Jesus’ virgin birth — found only in Matthew and Luke.  What did Mark think about it?  Here, in a post from years ago, I delve into the matter, suggesting some conclusions that are, admittedly, a bit unexpected by most readers of the Bible.

 

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It is interesting that our first canonical Gospel (which ...

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The Gospel of Luke without a Birth Story

In my previous post, ostensibly on the genealogy of Luke, I pointed out that there are good reasons for thinking that the Gospel originally was published – in a kind of “first edition” – without what are now the first two chapters, so that the very beginning was what is now 3:1 (this is many centuries, of course, before anyone started using chapters and verses.) If that’s the case, Luke was originally a Gospel like Mark’s that did not have ...

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Did Luke Originally Tell the Birth Story?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked by readers if I think the birth stories of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 were original to those Gospels (they are the only two sets of stories of Jesus’ birth we have; all subsequent retellings — even in modern times — go back to one or both of them).   My view is that there is little reason to doubt that Matthew began originally as it does now, with the ...

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The Virgin Birth in Matthew and Luke

Christmas is virtually upon us.  I’ve decided to return to a few posts I’ve given in years past, lost in the archives here or there, of particular relevance to the season.  This one continues a bit on the theme of the relation of our (only!) two birth narratives in the New Testament, reflecting on the significance of Jesus being born precisely to a *virgin* in Matthew and Luke.  As it turns out, they see the significance differently.

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Occasionaly I ...

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Jesus’ Birth in Matthew and Luke: A Study in Contrasts

In two previous posts I’ve detailed what happens in Luke’s version of Jesus’ birth and then in Matthew’s.  I will assume those two previous posts in the comments that I want to make in this one.  The problem people have with reading these two accounts, usually, is the problem they have reading the Gospels (and the Bible as a whole) generally.  Or at least this has been my experience.  It’s the problem of assuming that one account is basically saying ...

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Jesus’ Birth as “The Fulfillment of the Prophecies”

Here I continue my reflections on the birth narratives in the New Testament, with a post on an important aspect of Matthew’s account, central to its claims.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Matthew’s infancy narrative is his insistence that everything that happened was a “fulfillment” of Scripture.

  • Why was Jesus’ mother a virgin? To fulfill what the prophet said (he quotes Isaiah 7:14: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son”)
  • Why was he born in Bethlehem? To fulfill what the ...
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The Birth of Jesus in Matthew

Here I continue my seasonal reflections about the Christmas accounts in the New Testament.

Yesterday’s blog was about the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke; today I talk about Matthew. Even a casual reading shows that these are two very different accounts. Matthew has nothing about the birth of John the Baptist, the Annunciation, the census, the trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the presentation in the Temple. Matthew’s version, as a result, is much shorter. Most of his stories are found ...

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The Birth of Jesus in Luke

As I indicated yesterday, I’m doing a series of posts leading up to Christmas, dealing with the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament.   Here’s a discussion of the one most familiar to people, found in the Gospel of Luke.

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As I’ve indicated, it is only Matthew and Luke that tell the tales of the infancy narrative, and the annual “Christmas Pageant” that so many of us grew up seeing is in fact a conflation of the two ...

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What Can We Know about Jesus’ Birth?

Browsing through holiday-season blogs from previous eras, I came across my first small thread on Christmas from exactly six years ago.  I had forgotten about this.  Some of the material has shown up occasionally in the intervening years, but maybe it’s a good time to repost a bit of it.  Here is the first: an account of what we can, and cannot, know about Jesus’ birth.  Bethlehem?  Virgin?  Date?   Or even… year?

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I have decided to ...

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The De-apocalypticized Jesus of the Gospel of John

 

An important request I received recently!

 

QUESTION

At some point, I would like to hear more about the Gospel of John not having an apocalyptic view of Jesus.

 

RESPONSE

This question relates closely to the work I’ve been doing on the views of the afterlife in the early Christian tradition.   As I’ve pointed out on the blog many times before, John was the last canonical Gospel written, probably 60-65 years after Jesus’ death.  One of the most striking things about John’s account of Jesus ...

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