How Important Is Mary's Virginity?

The Annunciation by Pietro Cavallini (c. 1291)

As part of my work for SparkHouse, I’m writing short theological backgrounds for a product that we are developing.  One of them centers around the importance of the virginity of Mary to Christian belief.

The virgin conception of Jesus has been questioned since the beginning of the church.  As early as AD 177, the anti-Christian philosopher Celsus claimed that Jesus himself made up the story of the virgin conception to cover up his own illegitimacy.  Others, including more liberal biblical scholars associated with the Jesus Seminar, have noted that virgin conceptions are common in the birth narratives of pharaohs, emperors, and kings, which indeed they are.

So, here’s what I’ve written,

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