On the Virgin Conception

On the Virgin Conception December 13, 2013

This time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus, a birth which, according to the biblical witness, is based on a virgin conception.

Over at Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight posts on Why a virgin birth? and gives a summary of my chapter on the topic in Evangelical Theology. An interesting thread of comments follows thereafter.

For an approach to the virgin conception that is pretty much at odds with what I argue for, read Doug Wilson’s How Important is the Virgin Birth? For instance, I think a basic knowledge of genetics rules out this comment:

While we shouldn’t start speculating about the half-life of original sin, one acceptable answer from all of this is that sin is reckoned or imputed through the male line. This is the position I hold and I believe it’s fitting because Adam was the one who introduced sin into the world in the first place (Rom. 5:12).

A book I desperately want to read on the subject is of course Andrew Lincoln’s Born of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in Bible, Tradition, and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013). Why I didn’t get this at SBL I don’t remember! Sounds like it could be a challenging read!!

When it comes to Christmas, I can’t help but remember the words of Martin Luther: “No other God have I but Thee, born in a manager, died on a tree!”

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  • Ian Paul

    Yes, don’t know why you did not get it at SBL. I did. But Doug Wilson’s logic is really poor on lots of levels. It reads ‘Adam’ as male man, not as archetypal human. That would mean, on Paul’s logic, both that it was men that sinned and it is men that are redeemed. And of course that contradicts ultra-conservative readings of 1 Tim 2.

    • pduggie

      ISTM Wilson would sound better asking “Why isn’t Jesus born with original sin, if all humans are.” Then, noting that he was born of a virgin might make him exceptional, we could ask what about being Virgin born makes for the exception.

      I’m not sure how ‘basic genetics” rules out Wilson’s view though. Sin and guilt is legally imputed in standard model reformed original sin think, not in the genes. Mary is not “one flesh” with a sinful man, and her conception is therefore not by oridinary generation.

      At least Wilson’s view is better than “All sex involves sin, so sex-free conception is purer”

    • Really trying hard to resist the snarky response right now, especially upon learning that Jesus was “born in a manager”!!

  • Have you read Barth’s section in the CD on the “Miracle of Christmas”? Some fun stuff there.