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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.




It is interesting that our first canonical Gospel (which is our first Gospel, whether canonical or noncanonical), Mark, does not have the story of the Virgin birth and in fact shows no clue that it is familiar with the stories of the Virgin birth.  On the contrary, there are passages in Mark that appear to work *against* the idea that Jesus’ mother knew anything about his having had an extraordinary birth.

There is a complicated little passage in Mark 3:20-21 about Jesus’ family coming to take him out of the public eye because they thought he was crazy.   It is a difficult passage to translate from the Greek, and a number of translations go out of their way to make it say something that it probably doesn’t say.   The context is that Jesus has been doing extraordinary miracles, attracting enormous crowds, and raising controversy among the Jewish leaders.   Jesus then chooses his disciples and they go with him into a house.  And then come our verses.

In the Greek the passage literally says that “those who were beside him came forth” in order to seize him, because they were saying, EXESTH.    The two problems are: who is this group that has come, and what does it meant that he EXESTH?   It is widely thought among translators and interpreters – and I think this has to be right – that “those who were beside him” means “his family.”   It cannot mean the disciples, because they are already with him in the house.  It must be people who were personally attached to Jesus (that’s what the phrase “were beside him” means).   And so that appears to leave his family members.   No one else is “on his side,” as it were.

Why then did his family members come?   Because they thought he was EXESTH.   Whatever the word means, it can’t be good.  The whole point of this section of Mark is that Jesus is finding opposition everywhere he turns, despite all the miracles he is doing.   The Pharisees are against him because they don’t think he has authority to do the things he does (2:24, 3:2).   They become so outraged at his activities that they team up with the Herodians to decide to kill him (3:6).  The scribes are against him because they think that he has blasphemed against God (2:6) and that he does his mighty works because he is possessed by the Devil, Beelzebub (3:22).   Even his family members – those who stand beside him – think that he EXESTH.

The word EXESTH literally means “to stand outside of oneself.”   It is a phrase comparable to the English phrase “to be out of your mind.”   In other words, it means “he has gone crazy.”

And so 3:21-22 can be translated “Now when his family heard these things they came out in order to seize him, for they were saying “He is out of his mind.”

Some translators don’t like that way of putting it, not because of any grammatical or lexical issues with the Greek, but simply because they can’t get their heads around Jesus’ family members thinking that he has gone crazy.   And so, to avoid the problem, they sometimes change the translation – not because of what the Greek says, but because of what they think it *ought* to say.  And so they translate it as saying that his family has come to take him out of the public eye because “people were saying that ‘He is beside himself.’” (Thus the RSV, for example.)

This is really taking liberties with the Greek.   In Greek, the subject of a sentence is often not expressed because it can be found in the form of the verb itself.  I will try to explain this simply.  In English, when we write or speak a sentence that requires a pronoun (“I” “you” He” “she” “they” “Those ones” “These ones”) we actually give the pronoun.   In Greek and other “inflected” languages, the pronouns are already built into the verb.   So the verb is spelled differently, with a different ending, whether you want the subject to be “I” “you” “she” “we” etc.   It was *possible* for Greek to use pronouns, of course, and it often does when it wants to place special emphasis on the subject.   But in normal speech it was not necessary.

Now the rule is that if a sentence containing a verb does not have an explicit pronoun, and the subject within the sentence itself is ambiguous, then the implied subject (found in the ending of the verb) is the immediately preceding noun or pronoun (or other substantive).    So that if you have a sentence that says “He jumped over the ditch,” you actually do not know who the “he” is unless you look in the preceding context and see, right before this sentence, something like, “James ran into the field.”  Then you know that the “He” that is jumping over the ditch is James.

Apologies for the grammar lesson here, but it matters.   In Mark 3:21, when it says “for they were saying” there is no noun or pronoun expressed to indicated who the “they” is.  And so, by the rules of grammar, it almost certainly refers to the closest antecedent, which in this case is “those who were on his side,” i.e., his family.  In other words, the ones who came to seize him were the ones saying that he is out of his mind.

The RSV translators were not happy with that view though, evidently because of its implications.  But its implications are the very point of the passage and of this post.   (As I’ll explain in just one second.)  Still, not liking what the verse actually said, the RSV translators interpreted it and re-translated it so the English says something different from the Greek.  Their English version adds the word “people” – not found in the Greek – to explain who, in the translators’ opinion, were saying that Jesus had gone crazy.   And now what the story means is that the family of Jesus wanted to take him from the public eye because there were people out there saying that he was nuts.   But that’s not what the Greek says.  The Greek says that the family came to seize him because they were saying that he was nuts.

And who would be included in his family?   It becomes pretty clear later in the chapter.  For once again his family members come, and we’re told that it is “his mother and his brothers” (3:31) – in another interesting passage where Jesus appears to reject them in favor of his followers (3:31-34).

What does all this have to do with the Virgin birth?   Mark does not narrate an account of Jesus’ birth.  Mark never says a word about Jesus’ mother being a virgin.  Mark does not presuppose that Jesus had an unusual birth of any kind.   And in Mark (you don’t find this story in Matthew and Luke!!), Jesus’ mother does not seem to know that he is a divinely born son of God.   On the contrary, she thinks he has gone out of his mind.   Mark not only lacks a virgin birth story; it seems to presuppose that they never could have been a virgin birth.  Or Mary would understand who Jesus is.   But she does not.

It’s no wonder that when Matthew and Luke took over so many of the stories of Mark, they decided, both of them, *not* to take over Mark 3:20-21.  They had completely different view of Jesus’ mother and his birth.

Was Jesus Born of a Virgin in the Gospel of John?
The Gospel of Luke without a Birth Story



  1. Avatar
    AstaKask  December 27, 2018

    Isn’t there a similar implication in Luke 2:49-50? Jesus’ parents don’t understand why he is in the temple and what he means by “…I had to be in my Father’s house.”

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Comparable. But there they are anxious and concerned parents, not family members who think he’s lost his mind!

  2. Avatar
    Robert  December 27, 2018

    This post reminds me of a television pastor who once said that biblical “scholars” (he did not name any) spend their whole lives trying to corrupt the “Word of God”. What do you think of people like that?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      I think people who are scared of dangerous knowledge are scary and dangerous!

      • Avatar
        Boltonian  December 31, 2018

        Apropos, there was an article in a national newspaper with a proper account of the birth, more or less along the lines that you would advocate, pointing out the contradictions between Matt. and Luke. It appeared as a link on Twitter and it took about seven milliseconds for a ‘Follower of Jesus,’ to jump in rubbishing the article. I replied asking what was wrong with it and listed several questions for him, none of which he could answer, of course. After sending a considerable amount of (unchristian) abuse my way he finally blocked me. I just kept repeating my questions but the one that really touched a nerve was when I asked if he perhaps had a vested interest in the virgin birth being true: the abuse went up several notches. I found it quite funny but he, evidently, did not. But what became quite clear was that I, merely an interested amateur, had far more knowledge than he did of the gospels (I take it he was a churchman of some kind). For example, he had taken it as read that Luke’s genealogy was of Mary, so I pointed out that it explicitly states that it is not. He had no idea about the Almah/Parthenos mistranslation, nor that one evangelist had the holy family coming from Bethlehem and the other from Nazareth. Etc etc.Not a surprise, I suppose, but interesting nonetheless.

        • Bart
          Bart  January 1, 2019

          Yes, I’m afraid these are not the sorts of things most simply Bible believers would know about!

  3. Avatar
    Xyloplax  December 27, 2018

    Thank your for this great writeup. I remember looking into the problem of what “οἱ παρ’ αὐτοῦ” meant and if a case could be made that it might be his disciples or the crowd around him and not his family (which I have seen apologetic folks try to claim) and what my own amateur investigation bore out was that ” οἱ παρ’ αὐτοῦ” was ONLY used in this verse in Mark (and apparently the whole NT), and when words were used for Jesus and a generic “those around him” (disciples or crowd), Mark uses either οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ (cf Mk 1:36, 2:25) or οἱ περὶ αὐτόν (cf Mk 4:10). I used the Blue Letter Bible search engine, so I am beholden to their accuracy, and they don’t seem to have the NA-28… Is this argument valid?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Interesting. I knew the phrase was only Marcan (and very strange) but hadn’t looked at the alternatives. Nice.

  4. Avatar
    AlbertHodges  December 27, 2018

    This was a very enlightening explanation, Dr. Ehrman. It raises a question for me, however.

    If the author of Mark refers to the family of Jesus using Greek words for family, why would he elsewhere use a different word for the same group of people instead of the word he used elsewhere?

    Isnt this an example of a word that has an ambiguous translation (those that were beside him) being translated in a manner that fits the biases of the translator? I get why some would translate it in that way, but wouldn’t the more accurate translation simply to be “those that were beside him” rather than “family”?

    Obviously, those that have a problem with how this would paint “the family” in a negative way would take issue. But isn’t it just a true to say that those who WANT to disparage the more orthodox view of Jesus and his family would prefer to translate the word in a way that supports/is more supportive of their heterodox views?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      That’s how of all of us write / compose / express ourselves in print, by using synonyms / comparable words / parallel expressions to say the same / identical things in different / varying/ alternative contexts 🙂

  5. Avatar
    gbsinkers  December 27, 2018

    Absolutely loved the Greek grammar lesson! This is a passage that I always stumbled over when reading the NT because of exactly what you pointed out, that Mary didn’t seem know who Jesus was purported to be. I have a followup question though. When the church fathers were assembling the canon, it was in Greek, correct? So they would have surely seen the discrepancy here that we might miss in our modern translations. So, why would they have kept Mark (or Luke and Matthew) when something like this passage seems a clear contradiction to the others? How would/did they reconcile it?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      They dealt with such problems the way modern readers do: explaining them away by making interpretive moves that remove them. (Today, for example, interpreters will say that when “they” thought he was crazy, it doesn’t mean his family but people in general. Even though that’s not the sensible, logical way to read the sentence)

  6. Avatar
    Hormiga  December 27, 2018

    A question about ” they were saying”:

    In Russian, also a highly inflected language, there is another way to render the corresponding single-word expression, and that would be “people in general were saying” or even “it was being said.” Is that a possibility for the Koine?

    (Not sure it would make much difference, I hasten to add.)

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Yes, that can be done in Greek, but it wouldn’t be the natural way to say it in this context; without an expressed pronoun or noun (e.g., “teh people” or “the crowds” etc.) the subject of the verb is by rule the closest antecedent

      • Avatar
        Hormiga  December 28, 2018

        Ah, that makes a difference: Russian doesn’t have articles and so has to add explanatory material to convey what is meant is such cases.

  7. Avatar
    godspell  December 27, 2018

    Mark is telling a story, as you’ve explained, about how none of the people around Jesus, even his disciples, even his family members, truly understand who he is and what he means. (Which I think would be about right, and it’s still a problem today).

    I think Mark probably had heard the virgin birth story (since I don’t believe either Matthew or Luke were the first to tell it), and didn’t like it. It would be, to him, yet another misunderstanding of Jesus, but in any event, nobody was telling virgin birth stories about Jesus while he was alive, so there’s no reason to put it in there.

    That story about his family being at odds with him is highly credible, going by the doctrine of embarrassment, since who would make something like that up?

    However, it could be that Mark wanted to emphasize Jesus’ dissension with his family, since some of his relations subsequently become influential in Christianity, and Mark may be trying to say they shouldn’t have so much influence, since they hadn’t properly acknowledged him in life. They are only his blood kin, and Jesus had often devalued that kind of relationship. (And if his family were not in the main supportive of his ministry, that would track.)

    The gospels unquestionably give us real information about Jesus, but as you know, the problem is that each gospel author is giving us a specific interpretation of real events, mingled with things that didn’t happen. Separating what the author knows from what the author intends can be very hard, even if the author is still alive and able to answer questions. And that is not the case here.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Unless one sees it as part of Mark’s agenda of showing that no one understood Jesus until the crucifixion.

      • Avatar
        godspell  December 28, 2018

        It’s very hard to know anything. :\

      • Avatar
        John Murphy  December 29, 2018


        On a related topic… I’ve looked back through the archives, but I can’t find anything on Mark’s “Messianic secret”. It’s possible I simply missed it, but if you haven’t dealt with it before would you consider doing a post on the subject, please?! Particularly on why it’s no longer accepted by scholars.

        I know you have a bunch of subjects to deal with, but you might put it on the pile. 😉

  8. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  December 27, 2018

    Hello doctor Bart

    the virgin birth of Jesus is also mentioned in koran. Could we assume that the people from whom Mark got the stories about jesus were not aware of the virgin birth


    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      That’s certainly one of the strong options.

    • Avatar
      godspell  December 28, 2018

      Muhammad had read the New Testament many times, it was an enormous influence on him. Therefore, we can assume that whatever he writes about Jesus is his interpretation of what others had already written. I’m not aware of him claiming to have received special revelations regarding Jesus, though one could infer that from him claiming Jesus wasn’t really crucified. However, that may also have been based on something he read. As Bart has made clear, there were many diverse notions about both Jesus’ birth and death that never made it into the New Testament canon.

      Let’s imagine for a moment that the idea of the Virgin Birth was well known to all the gospel authors, and perhaps even Paul. We can be absolutely sure all the New Testament writers had heard many stories about Jesus that they don’t include in their works. In some cases, this may be because they see no reason to mention these stories. In others, it may be for a different reason–they dislike the stories in question, see them as pagan nonsense, and don’t want to further propagate them.

      This is a logical thing to do, as we know from the present day–if you publicly respond to a false story in the media, you are in fact spreading it. If you don’t respond, it may die from lack of interest. Also, taking a stand on something your fellow believers are still arguing about is a risky step. You may lose readers on either side of the question, but if you just avoid talking about it, you can get readers in both camps. All writers want to be read as widely as possible. That is a universal constant. (It was true of Muhammad as well).

      Matthew seems to have very strongly believed that Jesus had to be born of a virgin because he’d misread a passage in the Old Testament. Luke’s original gospel may not have mentioned the Virgin Birth–but then, seeing that it was becoming more and more popular among pagan converts, he included it. Because again–writers need readers.

  9. Avatar
    jhague  December 27, 2018

    Do you believe this event of Jesus mother and brothers thinking that Jesus has gone crazy to be historical?
    Also, what do you make of there be no mention of Jesus’ father?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      I think what is historical is that his family did not think he was uniquely special before God during his earthly life.

  10. epicurus
    epicurus  December 27, 2018

    Kind of funny that back in my evangelical days I would have thought the RSV too liberal of a version, but here it’s doing the same kind of protecting Jesus image as the more evangelical based NIV.

  11. Avatar
    fishician  December 27, 2018

    Mark also says John the Baptist was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” and then Jesus comes along and is baptized, like the others who were being baptized and confessing their sins. Do you think this implies that Jesus was a regular joe, sin and all, until his baptism, according to Mark? Or is this reading too much into the passage?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Yes, I think it might suggest this. But it’s probably because Jesus, historically, really was baptized by John for the remission of sins.

      • Avatar
        godspell  January 1, 2019

        And this would imply Jesus was, for a time, John’s disciple, and there are significant indications in the synoptic gospels that Jesus continued to hold John in very high regard after he struck out on his own. A problem for early Christians.

        Mark deals with it by suggesting that John was there to prepare the way for Jesus (John probably did say there would be someone greater coming after him). The pupil can, after all, exceed the master. It’s less of a problem for him, because he’s an adoptionist, and Jesus was born in the normal way before he became God’s son. John cleansing him of his sins allows God to enter into him, and he has a personal revelation, meant only for him.

        For Matthew, the baptism more of a problem, since Matthew has a higher Christology. God didn’t randomly choose a good man to be his vessel, this was the prophesied Messiah, of the House of David, born in Bethlehem. His Jesus has no sins to be forgiven. His John says it would be better for Jesus to baptize him (something I can’t imagine the real John ever saying). But Jesus says do it anyway, because it is proper–the baptism is a mere formality. And God acknowledges it by speaking to the entire crowd–not a personal revelation as in Mark. Thus creating a new problem–if John thought Jesus was his superior, and presumably most of his other disciples heard God saying this, why did there continue to be a cult led by John, which seems to have survived a long time after his death?

        Luke puts in a huge backstory. Jesus and John are cousins. John always deferred to Jesus, even in utero. His birth was also miraculous, but less so. He’s related to Jesus through Mary, so not of the House of David as Jesus is through his adoption by Joseph, not born in Bethlehem. Luke is an adoptionist too, but adapts the Virgin Birth into his story, because he wants to synthesize as many different ideas as possible into his narrative.

        He hedges a little about whether everybody present the baptism was aware of God’s acknowledgement, since he’s aware that it sounds a bit funny to say this when people know there’s still a Cult of John around.

        • Avatar
          godspell  January 1, 2019

          And then there’s John’s gospel.

          Both Matthew and Luke add a lot to Mark’s account, while still sticking to the main narrative, which was presumably well known to many if not all early Christians.

          John rewrites it from scratch. Maybe he never read Mark’s gospel, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility he decided to ignore it, being offended by Mark’s low Christology.

          His Christology is the highest, and The Pre-existent Word of God could not possibly have needed to be baptized by a mere man, so it didn’t happen, period (ignore all the people who say it did).

          The Baptist sees Jesus (who is clearly not his relation) and says this is the Lord, this is who I’ve been waiting for all my life, go and follow him, my task is done. His disciples become Jesus’ disciples.

          In his mind, John has solved the problem, the same way Alexander solved the problem of the Gordian Knot. If the baptism happened, that would mean Jesus was a mortal man with sins to forgive, and that he accepted John as his superior for at least a time; therefore the baptism didn’t happen. Cut it out. I don’t agree the baptism is ‘implied’ in John–except in the sense that John is reacting to the stories he’s clearly heard about the baptism, and saying “No, that never happened.”

          John the Baptist was a good man and all, but the moment he saw Jesus, he basically resigned his commission. After all, if he was only there to prepare the way for Jesus, what’s he still doing there after Jesus has come? Off with him! John doesn’t tell any further stories about the other John, because he doesn’t matter anymore. But his Jesus does speak respectfully of him later, mainly as a way of calling out the Jewish leaders for their lack of true piety.

          In a way, John’s influence is strongest on the John gospel, because John is determined to exorcise The Baptist. As he has The Baptist say, for Jesus to become greater, John must be diminished. And that has been the trend through all four gospels. And yet, John the Baptist is remembered by history because of the gospels and his ideas continue to influence humanity because of his pupil Jesus. Ironic doesn’t half say it.

  12. Avatar
    caesar  December 27, 2018

    Both Matthew and Luke have Jesus being a descendant of David. There is a strange passage in Matthew 22:45. Jesus says ‘If David calls him (the Messiah) Lord, how can he be his son?’ Does this mean: Jesus is admitting here that he is NOT a descendant of David, like everyone expected the Messiah to be…yet Jesus is still claiming to be the Messiah, even without the pedigree.

    If so, that would certainly contradict Matthew’s genealogy.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      YEs, Matthew is picking that up from Mark, and the passage often is read this way as a denial of his direct connection with David.

  13. Avatar
    caesar  December 27, 2018

    A completely unrelated passage (but it concern the ‘antecedent’ issue you mentioned) so if you don’t know offhand, not a biggie. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Daniel 9…there is the ‘prince who is to come,’ whom I imagine is Antiochus Epiphanes. In verse 27, there is someone referred to as ‘he’…and the debate is, is ‘he’ referring to the ‘anointed’ (probably Onias III) or the ‘prince who is to come.’ (Antiochus)? If it’s the nearest antecedent, it would be the prince, Antiochus. It’s actually somewhat important, for reasons I won’t go into. Any ideas?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Not off the top of my head (I’m out of the country and have no books near me). Best place to turn is the commentary on Daniel by John Collins. It will probably tell you even more than you want to know!

  14. Avatar
    caesar  December 27, 2018

    I have always thought of the RSV as being rather liberal, compared to say the NASB NIV or KJV. For example, the RSV doesn’t seem to dress up certain Old Testament passages to make them look like predictions about Jesus, the way some other translations do. Is the RSV biased in some other cases in favor of Jesus?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Yes, these translators were human too! (And virtually all of them were committed Christians)

  15. Avatar
    James Chalmers  December 27, 2018

    Going back to your Christmas Reflections: “The idea that God had to subject his son to humiliation and pain by having him tortured to death for the sake of others – what kind of barbarian idea is that?” What would anyone today think if I told you that in order for me to forgive you for something you had…” & etc.
    Is there a book or article that particularly well further articulates the moral ugliness of the atonement?
    Or, quite another notion: has anyone developed the idea that even if Jesus was raised and hung around for forty days, in a way “so what?” might be the appropriate response?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      1. I’m sure there’s a ton of writing on this, but since I’m not well read in contemporary theology, I don’t know what to suggest; 2. If it was a NDE then it would be “so what”? If he ascended to heaven then, it would be different!

  16. Robert
    Robert  December 27, 2018

    Given the negative way in which Jesus’ family, his hometown, and especially his original disciples are portrayed in Mark’s gospel, do you think there was any kind of polemic against Jewish Christianity going on in Mark’s community?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Yes, as you know, since especially Weeden there have been scholars who have argued that the disciples are a foil in the Gospel of Mark. I mnyself think that both the family and disciple issues relate not to Jewish Christianity but to the Markan ignorance motif, that no one, in his life, understood who he was, since he was not the messiah anyone expected.

      Not sure if when you make comments (you or anyone) you are shown how many you have made so far. I notice you have made 666. I’m just sayin’….

      • Robert
        Robert  December 28, 2018

        Ha! Once fundamentalist, always a fundamentalist …

      • Avatar
        dankoh  December 29, 2018

        FYI, on the standard comment form there is no information other than on the current comment, and on the number of comments we’re allowed to enter today.

  17. Avatar
    dizzy2114  December 27, 2018

    Interesting. I’ve looked pass this verse a many of days never thinking twice.

  18. Avatar
    jeffmd90  December 27, 2018

    That is why I find Mark so interesting. Jesus comes out of the wilderness as this mysterious, charismatic figure. The main theme of the Gospel is rejection and misunderstanding. The teachers of the law reject him, his family reject him, his own community reject him. His teachings go over the heads of his disciples and in the end, in his time of great need they desert him. Christians may like to think Jesus Christ was some kind of celebrity in his day. But the fact is most people ignored him. To be a Christian is to face rejection and hostility. It seems the only people who understand who Jesus really is are the writer, and the reader, for he tells us. The writer gives us the basic outline of his ministry and deeds. The question for the reader at the end of the story is, “who is this Jesus”? Who do we say what he is?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      I agree!

      • Avatar
        jeffmd90  December 28, 2018

        Have you looked at the “Cultural Background Study Bible” by Zondervan, published in 2017? It is a fascinating resource. It is supposed to show the religious, political and cultural environment in which the Bible was shaped. In the Introduction to Mark it mentions the Gospel is half the size of Matthew and Luke, suggesting standardised scroll lengths. Considering the price of ancient scrolls, Mark would have been the most affordable Gospel and been distributed widely. Perhaps then, it could be thought of as an abridged version of Jesus’ story.

        • Bart
          Bart  December 30, 2018

          I haven’t looked at it. But the problem is that the early Gospel manuscripts were not sold for money but distributed among Christian churches, and they probably were written as codexes, rather than scrolls.

  19. Avatar
    mkahn1977  December 27, 2018

    It’s amazing that these verses weren’t redacted or edited out early on

  20. Avatar
    ask21771  December 27, 2018

    How did Jews at the time of Jesus view the book of genesis, did they view it as literal?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 28, 2018

      Yes indeed!

      • Avatar
        ask21771  December 28, 2018

        How do you know that

        • Bart
          Bart  December 30, 2018

          Sorry, I”ve lost the thread. I’m not sure what you’re asking.

      • Avatar
        dankoh  December 29, 2018

        Is that (that Jews in this period took Genesis literally) an assumption based on general attitudes or is there some information pointing to that? I ask because, while I don’t have references at hand, the rabbis in the Talmud do struggle with some passages in Tanakh that contradict each other (in their parlance, appear to) and they try to resolve these through interpretation, suggesting that they, perhaps subconsciously, knew they could not be read literally.

        And yes, that’s a lot of “perhaps” and “maybe”.

        • Bart
          Bart  December 30, 2018

          Yes, that became a big issue for later rabbis, centuries after the NT period.

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