Is the Virgin Birth Based on a Mistranslation?

Posted By on December 20, 2012

That’s the subject of the most recent podcast episode of Mark Goodacre’s NT Pod. As Naked Bible readers may know, my own answer is no. Professor Goodacre (Duke University) agrees. Have a listen!

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2 Responses to “Is the Virgin Birth Based on a Mistranslation?”

  1. Patrick says:

    A couple of additional thoughts come to me when we discuss this issue.

    1) In the Hebrew version of Isaiah 7:14 , the child the “almah” has is going to be a “sign” from Yahweh.

    I assume in LXX it is semeion.

    In Hebrew MT or DSS, does the word have the same Divine miracle type meaning? IF so, that lends support even in the OT era to the idea that Isaiah meant virgin it seems to me and this would explain why LXX used parthenos.

    2) In ANE Jewish tradition, they had a “Divine intervention, unique birth” tradition with Isaac’s conception and birth.

    Coupling that with the fact that the promises of Messiah/restoration to ANE Israel were seen as coming through Issac, it stands to reason the “greater Issac” could have a greater divine intervention/unique birth.

    Not saying ANE Jews expected a virgin born Messiah, just that it would track with the Jewish ANE traditions vis a vis Issac’s birth and role in their theology.

    • MSH says:

      It is semeion. I think “act of divine power” or “act of divine intervention” well captures the terminology (which of course in the OT passage doesn’t mean virgin birth — the point of the sign was always the birth of the CHILD, not the woman’s sexual status).

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