Two of the New Testament gospels tell us that Yeshua’s mother was a virgin at the time of his conception and that this had been prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures. About a third of the world’s population choose to believe this. But this particular prophecy was a mistranslation of a passage from the Book of Isaiah, written in Hebrew in the 8th Century BCE.
Modern translations such as the New Revised Standard Version, 1989 by Oxford University Press, read as follows: ‘Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son…..’ Older, inaccurate translations (including the King James Bible) say, ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive…’
Moreover, when you read the passage in Isaiah it is clear that the author was predicting something that would happen to King Ahaz in his own time, not 800 years later!
Regrettably, the incorrect version continues to be widely used, compounding the error and perpetuating the Christian myth.
In the 1980s the Anglican Bishop of Durham, Dr David Jenkins, said it was not necessary to believe the gospel birth stories to be a good Christian. He attracted huge publicity and was widely chastised in Christian circles.
But there was nothing new in what he said – he was merely expressing a view that had long existed among scholars. For example, in 1906 Dr Albert Schweitzer described the virgin conception as ‘not literary versions of a tradition, but literary inventions.’
And so, by any reasonable criteria, they are.
©David Lawrence Preston, 24.8.2016
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Balboa Press, 2015