A Complicated Pregnancy

Let me share my blurb endorsing Kyle Roberts’ new book:

In A Complicated Pregnancy, Kyle Roberts offers a dramatic, sincerely honest, and deeply personal exploration of the question of Jesus’ virginal conception. While many other books wrestle with this topic primarily from another angle (that of historical uncertainty and Gospel discrepancies, which Roberts does also cover), in Roberts’ book a profoundly theological approach dominates, as he surveys a wide array of famous and neglected early Christian authors. He also invites readers to take a long hard look at our aversion to blood and semen, to sex, spit, and excrement, and the way this has motivated us to disconnect Jesus from such mundane yet essential human elements – with troubling results for our view of Jesus’ own humanity, and thus also his connection to us. The book’s wrestling with history, science, and the various facts of life are offered not in order to tear down cherished beliefs with no good reason, but precisely in order to counter the devaluation of human existence in general, and of women, reproduction, and the humanity of Jesus in particular, so as to make the case that in Jesus, we encounter God precisely in a human being who was not immune or exempt from those characteristic experiences that make us human.

See more endorsements for the book on Kyle’s blog.

 

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  • John MacDonald

    I thought the virgin birth occurred because the gospel writers were sometimes mining the Septuagint for stories about Jesus (e.g., Hosea 11:1), and the Septuagint incorrectly translates “alma” (young woman) as “Parthenos” (virgin). It seems absurd that Mark or Paul would have failed to include the virgin birth if they had been familiar with it.

    I think Luke may have learned the virgin birth narrative from Matthew and adopted and edited it. Luke says he had gathered and investigated the writings about Jesus and his followers that were available at that time:

    “1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1)”

    In order to assert Q against Matthew as a source for Luke, you would have to explain why Matthew’s gospel wouldn’t have been available for Luke, since Matthew’s gospel is exactly the type of thing Luke was looking for to do his research?

    And the Wikipedia article on Q says:

    “How could a major and respected source, used in two canonical gospels, disappear? If Q did exist, it would have been highly treasured in the early Church. It remains a mystery how such an important document, which was the foundation for two canonical Gospels, could be lost. An even greater mystery is why the extensive Church catalogs compiled by Eusebius and Nicephorus would omit such an important work yet include such non-canonical accounts as the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas. The existence of a treasured sayings document in circulation going unmentioned by early Church Fathers remains one of the great conundrums of modern Biblical scholarship.”

    • roseline berry

      Many Jewish scholars have stated that the correct word for a virgin was “bethula”. Certainly not “alma”. In the history of that time, anybody who was anybody was referred to as a virgin birth. Alexander the Great was only one of many. Basically, it was a traditional “birth of a hero” story/myth that followers turned in to a religious dogma.

      • John MacDonald

        Sure, you take a famous man, and since you don’t know about his youth, you invent stuff, like how Matthew told the Jesus birth narrative by recapitulating Josephus’ retelling of the nativity of Moses.

        • roseline berry

          Wow. I didn’t know
          about the Josephus/nativity of Moses. Thanks for the info.

          • John MacDonald

            No problem! Another interesting thing is that the original disciples such as Cephas may have invented stuff about Jesus after he died too. One of the climax moments of Jesus’ life was the “Jesus vs the corrupt, Roman loving Temple Cult” story (Mark 11:15-19) . Maybe the disciples wanted to continue Jesus’ quest against the corrupt temple cult after he died, and so invented the idea that somehow Jesus’ death was such a unique and important blood magic sacrifice that it eliminated the need for the temple cult. Maybe all the disciples really wanted was a society of brotherly love and moral conduct. Maybe they believed that this “Noble Lie” about the elimination of need for the Temple Cult would ultimately fulfill God’s plan.

          • Pofarmer

            FWIW, the only way you get Cephus as an original disciple is to read the epistles back into the Gospels. Paul says that Cephas was an apostle, not a disciple, and they knew the difference.

          • John MacDonald

            You’re arguing for mythicism, I see.

            In fact, Cephas may have been in a class all his own. Paul writes: “and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve (1 Cor 15:5),” which suggests Cephas might not have even been one of the twelve, but was in fact some sort of “super-apostle” (although the traditional reading that Cephas was one of the twelve works here too).

          • Pofarmer

            I’m arguing, generally, for what I feel makes the most sense given the writings that we have and what we know about them and trying not to read one set into another while assuming the least things. I by no means consider myself a scholar.

            What it seems to me, and I believe that there is evidence of this, is that there was a very early Risen Savior cult in Jerusalem headed by Cephas and James. Paul came into rough union with their ideas but was preaching some things that differed from the cult in Jerusalem. At some point he went into Jerusalem to see if these things could be hammered out. He wound up going to teach to the Gentiles, where he again came into conflict with “the circumcision faction” aka Cephas and James, where he doesn’t bow to their authority but “rebukes” them.

            And, anywho. “The Twelve” in that passage is interesting because it is the only time in the letters of Paul where “The Twelve” are mentioned. I think it’s likely that it’s an interpolation. And that has been argued in the scholarly literature, and can be argued because we generally don’t have a good damned idea what the guy called Paul actually wrote nor how it was changed over time until it was cannonized. We know things were added and changed and smashed together. Not just exactly what. I find it interesting that in the same book as “The Twelve” people are arguing endlessley over “James the Lord’s brother” when there’s no way to know what the text actually originally said, and given that Paul gives no indication of deference, that it’s probably also a pretty realistic feeling that this is an interpolation, or at least a change of meaning from what it originally might have been. Folks are arguing over phantoms in text, essentially.

  • Jay Hoyt Rodgers

    Doesn’t matter. “Only Begotten Son of God, born of a virgin, raised on the third day . . . ” if any of these things are true — great. If NONE of them are true, it changes nothing for me. The Palestinian Jew Jesus of Nazareth is my messiah because he said so. It is his words, his moral teachings, that matter.