Women and the Gender of God– The Dialogue Part Two

Women and the Gender of God– The Dialogue Part Two March 22, 2023

  1. My wife is a biologist and botanist, now retired, and enjoying gardening, but she reminds me that at least one of your arguments which has to do with Jesus being a unique male doesn’t really work considering the issue of chromosomes. The male sperm provides the necessary chromosome for a fetus to be a male, and this is not ever the contribution of the woman. What this means is that in the virginal conception while Mary certainly did her part, somehow miraculously and mysteriously, the Holy Spirit (without any sort of physical involvement) provided the necessary chromosome for Jesus to be a male with male parts (see the story about his circumcision). I think this is right. This doesn’t make the Spirit male or masculine, but it does mean that biologically at least Jesus is not unique and Mary is not the sole contributor to his gender make up.   How would you respond to this?


  1. Excellent points. I think this is a place I could be more precise with my language. Without a doubt it is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit that makes the cultivation of Mary’s body conceive the (male) body of Jesus. She cannot contribute the Y chromosome, so she is not the “sole contributor to his gender make up.” But she is the sole human contributor. Hence, I would want to hear more about what you mean in saying that “Jesus is not unique.” He has the DNA of a human like all other humans, but the way he came to possess that DNA is unique.



  1. I was so glad to see you take on Andrew Lincoln’s book about the virginal conception. He was one of my teachers at Gordon-Conwell in the late 70s and I was truly surprised he would write a book like this with this particular argument.  Considering what an honor and shame culture early Judaism was, and considering how the stories about the virginal conception would be read by the skeptical as a cover up for a scandal (as Celsus later said), and considering how previous interpreters of Isaiah 7.14 never though it referred to a miraculous virginal conception  I don’t think there is even a remote possibility that this story is not grounded in history.  No, it is the historical event that led to a re-reading of Isaiah 7.14 by followers of Christ. It would appear you agree from some of the points you make along the way. Right?


  1. His was a really helpful book for me in that he pushed me to wrestle with the Incarnation in ways that I had not before. I certainly agree with your assessment here. The birth stories cause more problems than they would solve if they were made up.


  1. If I am reading the mythological literature right, there really isn’t any precedent in that literature for a virginal conception story. I had this discussion once with Dom Crossan and he agreed that what we have is divine rape stories or divine deception stories (i.e. involving a swan), and the woman in question never really gets to have a say in what happens. It is compelled. Are there any of those mythological stories that you see as a real example of a virginal conception story?


  1. No, none of those for sure. The trope that seems more resonate is when a woman conceives by the breath or spirit of a god (Io and Zeus or some accounts of the conception of Plato), but even then I think the Christian story is distinguished from those since this is caused by the sole God of Israel.


Browse Our Archives

Close Ad