The virgin birth of Jesus is the doctrine that Jesus was conceived and born by his mother Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit and without sexual intercourse with her husband Joseph.The Catholic church holds it authoritative for faith and Protestants regard it as an explanation of the mixture of the human and divine natures of Jesus, but the scholarly consensus is that its historical foundations are very flimsy.
The ancient world had no idea that male semen and female ovum were both needed to form a fetus; instead they thought that the male contribution in reproduction consisted of some sort of formative or generative principle, while Mary's bodily fluids would provide all the matter that was needed for Jesus' bodily form, including his male sex.This cultural milieu was conducive to miraculous birth stories - they were common in biblical tradition going back to Abraham and Sarah. - and the most likely cultural context for both Matthew and Luke is Jewish Christian or mixed Gentile/Jewish-Christian circles rooted in Jewish tradition.
Tales of virgin birth and the impregnation of mortal women by deities were well known in the 1st-century Greco-Roman world,and Second Temple Jewish works were also capable of producing accounts of the appearances of angels and miraculous births for ancient heroes such as Melchizedek, Noah, and Moses. Luke's virgin birth story is a standard plot from the Jewish scriptures, as for example in the annunciation scenes for Isaac and for Samson, in which an angel appears and causes apprehension, the angel gives reassurance and announces the coming birth, the mother raises an objection, and the angel gives a sign. Nevertheless, "plausible sources that tell of virgin birth in areas convincingly close to the gospels' own probable origins have proven extremely hard to demonstrate". Similarly, while it is widely accepted that there is a connection with Zoroastrian (Persian) sources underlying Matthew's story of the Magi (the wise men from the East) and the Star of Bethlehem, a wider claim that Zoroastrianism formed the background to the infancy narratives has not achieved acceptance.
The Gospel of Luke says Mary is a virgin betrothed to Joseph,while the Gospel of Matthew says Jesus' virginal conception happens before Mary lives with Joseph in his house, because, in a Jewish wedding, by being betrothed to a man, the woman is already his wife, yet she does not start living in his house until the wedding is over. Mary's response to Gabriel - "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" (meaning, no sexual relations) - is an affirmation of Mary the wife of Joseph's virginity and obedience to the Torah that forbids adultery.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph intends to divorce Mary on suspicion of adulterybecause he is a righteous man, i.e., he is obedient to the Torah that mandates divorcing one's unfaithful wife. Because he is obedient, Joseph relents of his intention when, in a dream, he is informed by an angel of the virginal conception of Jesus.
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according to the canonical gospels
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke agree that Mary's husband was named Joseph, that he was of the Davidic line, and that he played no role in Jesus's divine conception, but beyond this they are very different.Matthew underlines the virginity of Mary by references to the Book of Isaiah (using the Greek translation in the Septuagint, rather than the mostly Hebrew Masoretic Text) and by his narrative statement that Joseph had no sexual relations with her until after the birth (a choice of words which leaves open the possibility that they did have relations after that).
18: Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19: Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
20: But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21: She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
22: All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
24: When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,
25: but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Luke introduces Mary as a virgin, describes her puzzlement at being told she will bear a child despite her lack of sexual experience, and informs the reader that this pregnancy is to be effected through God's Holy Spirit.
26: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
27: to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28: And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
29: But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
30: The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31: And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
32: He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
33: He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34: Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
35: The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
36: And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.
37: For nothing will be impossible with God."
38: Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
The modern scholarly consensus is that the virgin birth rests on very slender historical foundations.The Pauline epistles do not contain any mention of it and assume Jesus's full humanity, Mark, the earliest gospel, has no birth story and states that Jesus's mother had no belief in her son as if she had forgotten the angel's visit, and John's Jesus has both father and mother and virginal conception is not mentioned.
In the entire Christian corpus the virgin birth is found only in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke:both are probably from the period AD 80-100, both are anonymous (the attributions to Matthew and Luke were added in the 2nd century), and it is almost certain that neither was the work of an eyewitness. Matthew and Luke did not find it in Mark, nor did one of them derive it from the other, nor did they find it in a common source. Raymond E. Brown suggested in 1973 that Joseph was the source of Matthew's account and Mary of Luke's, but modern scholars consider this "highly unlikely", given that the story emerged so late. It follows that the two narratives were created by the two writers, drawing on ideas in circulation in some Christian circles perhaps by around 65 AD.
Matthew uses Isaiah 7:14 to support his narrative, but scholars agree that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah, "almah", signifies a girl of childbearing age without reference to virginity, and was aimed at Isaiah's own immediate circumstances.
Matthew and Luke use the virgin birth (or more accurately the divine conception that precedes it) to mark the moment when Jesus becomes the Son of God, a notable development over Mark, for whom the Sonship dates from Jesus's baptism, and the earlier Christianity of Paul and the pre-Pauline Christians for whom Jesus becomes the Son only at the resurrection or even the Second Coming.The virgin birth was subsequently accepted by Christians as the proof of the divinity of Jesus, but its rebuttal during and after the 18th century European Enlightenment led some to redefine it as mythical, while others reaffirmed it in dogmatic terms. This division remains in place, although some national synods of the Catholic church have replaced a biological understanding with the idea of "theological truth", and some evangelical theologians hold it to be marginal rather than indispensable to the Christian faith.
Throughout Christian history a small number of groups have denied the virgin birth, particularly in the Near East.The Ebionites considered Jesus the Messiah, but rejected his divine nature and regarded him as fully human. The Nestorian Church and Assyrian Church of the East supported a physically human nature of Jesus. Others, like Marcion, held that Christ's divinity meant that his human life, death and resurrection were only an appearance. By about 180 AD Jews were telling how Jesus had been illegitimately conceived by a Roman soldier named Pantera or Pandera, whose name is likely a pun on parthenos, virgin. The story was still current in the Middle Ages in satirical parody of the Christian gospels called the Toledot Yeshu. The Toledot Yeshu contains no historical facts, and was probably created as a tool for warding off conversions to Christianity. In America, the Strangite Mormon church denies the virgin birth of Christ, saying that his full humanity was indispensable if his sacrifice for sin was to be real.
Christians celebrate the conception of Jesus on 25 March and his birth on 25 December. (These dates are for the Western tradition, no one knows for certain when Jesus was born.) The Magnificat, based on Luke 1:46-55 is one of four well known Gospel canticles: the Benedictus and the Magnificat in the first chapter, and the Gloria in Excelsis and the Nunc dimittis in the second chapter of Luke, which are now an integral part of the Christian liturgical tradition.The Annunciation became an element of Marian devotions in Medieval times, and by the 13th century direct references to it were widespread in French lyrics. The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the title "Ever Virgin Mary" as a key element of its Marian veneration, and as part of the Akathists (hymns) to Mary which are an integral part of its liturgy.
This doctrine of the Virgin Birth is often represented in Christian art in terms of the annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God, and in Nativity scenes that include the figure of Salome. The Annunciation is one of the most frequently depicted scenes in Western art.Annunciation scenes also amount to the most frequent appearances of Gabriel in medieval art. The depiction of Joseph turning away in some Nativity scenes is a discreet reference to the fatherhood of the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of Virgin Birth.
Muslims accept the virgin birth, affirming that Jesus was "incarnate of the Holy Ghost by the Virgin Mary," as the Nicene Creed formulates, but not that he was "Very God of Very God, begotten, not made."Mohammad appears to have gained his knowledge of the story through the late 2nd century Gospel of James rather than through the canonical gospels.
The Gospel According to Mark is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret, concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.
The Gospel According to Matthew is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells how Israel's Messiah, rejected and executed in Israel, pronounces judgement on Israel and its leaders and becomes the salvation of the gentiles. The gospel reflects the struggles and conflicts between the evangelist's community and the other Jews, particularly with its sharp criticism of the scribes and Pharisees: prior to the Crucifixion they are referred to as Israelites, the honorific title of God's chosen people; after it, they are called simply "Ioudaioi", a sign that through their rejection of the Christ the "Kingdom of Heaven" has been taken away from them and given instead to the church.
The Gospel of James, also known as the Protoevangelium of James, and the Infancy Gospel of James, is an apocryphal gospel probably written around the year AD 145, which expands backward in time the infancy stories contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and presents a narrative concerning the birth and upbringing of Mary herself. It is the oldest source to assert the virginity of Mary not only prior to, but during the birth of Jesus. The ancient manuscripts that preserve the book have different titles, including "The Birth of Mary", "The Story of the Birth of Saint Mary, Mother of God," and "The Birth of Mary; The Revelation of James." It is also referred to as "Genesis of Mary".
Mary was a first-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.
Immanuel is a Hebrew name which appears in the Book of Isaiah (7:14) as a sign that God will protect the House of David.
The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Christ or birth of Jesus is described in the Biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.
The perpetual virginity of Mary is a Christian doctrine which teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a virgin ante partum, in partu, et post partum - before, during and after the birth of Christ. It is one of the four Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, meaning that it is held to be a truth divinely revealed, the denial of which is heresy.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, called Pascha (Easter), is the greatest of all holy days and as such it is called the "feast of feasts". Immediately below it in importance, there is a group of Twelve Great Feasts. Together with Pascha, these are the most significant dates on the Orthodox liturgical calendar. Eight of the great feasts are in honor of Jesus Christ, while the other four are dedicated to the Virgin Mary — the Theotokos.
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Matthew 1 is the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. It contains two distinct sections. The first lists the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to his legal father Joseph, his mother's husband. The second part, beginning at verse 18, provides an account of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament provides two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus, one in the Gospel of Matthew and another in the Gospel of Luke. Matthew starts with Abraham, while Luke begins with Adam. The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point. Matthew has twenty-seven generations from David to Joseph, whereas Luke has forty-two, with almost no overlap between the names on the two lists. Notably, the two accounts also disagree on who Joseph's father was: Matthew says he was Jacob, while Luke says he was Heli.
Matthew 1:20 is the twentieth verse of the first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Previously Joseph had found Mary to be pregnant and had considered leaving her. In this verse an angel comes to him in a dream and reassures him.
Matthew 1:23 is the 23rd verse of the first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Joseph has just been informed of the nature of Jesus by an angel and in this verse the author of Matthew relates this to a quote from the Old Testament.
The flight into Egypt is a story recounted in the Gospel of Matthew and in New Testament apocrypha. Soon after the visit by the Magi, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus since King Herod would seek the child to kill him. The episode is frequently shown in art, as the final episode of the Nativity of Jesus in art, and was a common component in cycles of the Life of the Virgin as well as the Life of Christ. Within the narrative tradition, iconic representation of the "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" developed after the 14th century.
Luke 1 is the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. With 80 verses, it is one of the longest chapters in the New Testament. This chapter describes the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The unnamed author of Luke names its recipient, Theophilus, who is most likely a real person or could simply mean a fellow believer, since theophilus is Greek for God lover. Acts of the Apostles, the companion volume of Luke, is addressed to Theophilus in the same way. The title "The Gospel of Luke", found in many Bibles and some manuscripts, was added later with no indication that it was originally part of the text. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirm that Luke composed this Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles.
Luke 2 is the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament. It contains an account of Jesus's birth and an incident from his childhood. Verses 1–19 except 2 are commonly read at Nativity plays as part of celebrating Christmas.
Isaiah 7:14 is a verse in the seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet Isaiah, addressing king Ahaz of Judah, promises the king that God will destroy his enemies; as a sign that his oracle is a true one, Isaiah says that a specific almah has conceived and will bear a son whose name will be Immanuel, "God is with us", and that the threat from the enemy kings will be ended before the child is weaned. The author of the gospel of Matthew used it to suggest that Jesus was born to a parthenos, a virgin.
Joseph is a figure in the canonical gospels who was married to Mary, Jesus' mother, and was Jesus' legal father. Perspectives on Joseph as a historical figure are distinguished by some persons from a theological reading of the Gospel texts.
The return of the family of Jesus to Nazareth, also known as the Return from Egypt, appears in the reports of the early life of Jesus given in the Canonical gospels. Both of the gospels which describe the nativity of Jesus agree that he was born in Bethlehem and then later moved with his family to live in Nazareth. The Gospel of Matthew describes how Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went to Egypt to escape from Herod the Great's slaughter of the baby boys in Bethlehem. Matthew does not mention Nazareth as being the previous home of Joseph and Mary; he says that Joseph was afraid to go to Judea because Herod Archelaus was ruling there and so the family went to Nazareth instead. The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, does not record anything about the flight to Egypt, but says that Joseph had been previously living in Nazareth, and returned there after the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical reference, but most theologians assume a year of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC. The historical evidence is too incomplete to allow a definitive dating, but the year is estimated through two different approaches—one by analyzing references to known historical events mentioned in the nativity accounts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and the second by working backward from the estimation of the start of the ministry of Jesus. The day or season has been estimated by various methods, including the description of shepherds watching over their sheep.
Virgin birth of Jesus
Gabriel announces John's
birth to Zechariah
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