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Old 02-18-2001, 07:26 AM   #21
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by penatis:

Where is evidence demonstrating Apollonius lived during the second century? My evidence indicates he was a Greek philosopher/sage/miracle worker of the early part of the first century CE. Also, according to the editors of the Loeb Classical Library, Apollonius "traveled through Asia to India absorbing much eastern mystic religion; and, during and after subsequent travels in Europe was revered as a saintly man with miraculous powers, though he claimed only to forsee the future. He founded a school in Ephesus and may have lived to be a hundred years old, though Philostratus often suggests that he never died." If he did live in the early first century, then he obviously is a contemporary of Jesus.</font>
I don't have any information on Apollonius of Tyana (assuming we are talking about the same person here) travelled through India, but what we do know is that he was a reputed miracle worker in the Roman Empire during the time of the Emperor Domitian (81-96AD), and that nothing was written about him until over a hundred years after his death.

So, while you are correct that Apollonius was a late 1st Century figure (my bad, I apologize), stories about him circulated and were not actually recorded until the 2nd Century.

"Under Domitian a wandering teacher named Apollonius of Tyana (in Cappadocia) was widely credited with supernatural powers of this kind; and in the days of Antoninus (Pius) (138-161) one Alexander of Abonutichus (in Bithynia) carried on a notorious thaumaturgical practice..."
(M. Cary and H.H. Scullard, A History of Rome, London, 1979, pg. 483)

"In the case of the phrase 'divine man,' scholars cannot point to one clear and coherent concept--or collection of concepts--connected with the phrase 'divine man' that was current in Greco-Roman literature before or during the time of Jesus. To construct their concept of a 'divine man,' scholars of the 20th century have culled ideas from a vast array of Greek and Roman works from Homer up until the writings of the late Roman Empire. While the vague constant in the phrase "divine man" is divine power as revealed or embodied in some human being, the exact human referent ranges widely over priest-kings of Asia Minor and Egypt (including kingly magicians and law- givers), monarchs whose vast power on earth was believed to extend over nature itself (especially the Roman Emperors), and various kinds of prophetic philosophers (including ecstatics, magicians, miracle-workers, apostles, hero-sages, founders and leaders of religious groups, shamans, and charlatans). In many of the reconstructions, scholars rely heavily on works like The Death of Peregrinus and Alexander or the False Prophet by Lucian, the satirist of the 2d century A.D., and The Life of Apollonius by Philostratus, the rhetorician of the 3d century A.D. Lucian almost certainly knew the Christian Gospels, and Philostratus probably did as well."
(John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, Vol. 2, pg. 596)


Clearly, by this time the stories of Jesus were well established and recorded in the Gospels (see my thread on Redating the Books of the New Testament), so the opportunity for Christians to copy this (and other similar) stories are non-existant. On the other hand, the second and third Century writers that talked about Apollonius certainly had the opportunity to copy from the Gospels. As we have learned already, by 130 AD a complete collection of the four Gospels and the 13 epistles of Paul were already collected and being circulated by Christians as Scripture comparable to the Old Testament.

Sorry for the mix up from my end, but the point remains. Jesus' actions and miracles were not being copied from other stories. The opposite, however, is a very real possibility.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited February 18, 2001).]
 
Old 02-18-2001, 07:59 AM   #22
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SecWebLurker: Let's examine a few of these alleged virgin births...

Yes, let us do that:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child
of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Mt. 1:18-20)

Any impartial reader can readily see that this story is a piece of fiction. It was included in Matthew's narrative to counter charges that Jesus was illegitimate (Mary was obviously pregnant when she married Joseph) and to make him literally a son of Yahweh. Some Christians believe the "virgin birth" myth based on nothing more than a writer's claim that Joseph had a dream.

But, behold, there is more: "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary...And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus...And Mary said to the angel, 'How shall this be, since I have no husband?' And 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 called holy, the Son of God."(Lk. 1:26-35)

Ostensibly, Luke knows of a different myth. In his story, Joseph does not have a dream. Rather, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will conceive Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Christians have two conflicting stories to believe. One involves a dream and the other involves an angel. One is just as incredibly absurd as the other. I do have a question for those who pretend the stories depict history: Who witnessed the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) going into Mary's womb?

[This message has been edited by penatis (edited February 18, 2001).]
 
Old 02-18-2001, 08:30 AM   #23
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Layman: {Snip}
Accordingly, the following is the reconstructed version of the Testimonium Flavianum accepted by a majority of N.T. scholars: "At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following among many Jews and among many of Gentile origin." The term Josephus uses to describe Jesus' "startling deeds" (paradoxa) is also used by Josephus in undisputed references to the miracles of the prophet Elisha (Antiquities 9.7.6, section 182).


Sorry to have to point this out, but there is no Antiquities 9.7.6, section 182. Actually it is 9.8.6 where Josephus describes the prophet Elisha. (I personally think that Eusebius added the allusion to Jesus in 18.3.3, but, for the sake of argument, I will argue my points under the assumption that Josephus alluded to Jesus.) The story Josephus tells about Elisha is interesting: "He was a man celebrated for righteousness, and in eminent favor with God. He also performed wonderful and surprising works by prophecy, and such as were gloriously preserved in memory by the Hebrews." He goes on to describe how after Elisha died he was given a grand funeral. Shortly thereafter, grave robbers threw a man into Elisha's grave. According to Josephus, once the dead man's body came close to Elisha's, the dead man came back to life. (Apparently, the belief that dead people could come back to life was common among Jews during the first century.) Apparently, this man Elisha was a real magician, for we read of this episode in the OT: "He [Elisha] went up from there [Jericho] to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and thence he returned to Samaria." (2 Kings 2:23-25) Some Christians may not know this, but "cursing" is a magical act. (Only apologists can see a "miracle" in the cursing and killing of small boys.) And this is the person Josephus said did "wonderful and surprising" deeds; Layman compares this prophet to Jesus.
 
Old 02-18-2001, 11:28 AM   #24
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[SecWebLurker:]
"Among the parallels offered for the virginal conception of Jesus have been the conceptions of figures in world religions (the Buddha, Krishna, and the son of Zoroaster), in Greco-Roman mythology (Perseus, Romulus), in Egyptian and Classical History (the Pharaohs, Alexander, Augustus), and among famous philosophers or religious thinkers (Plato, Apollonius of Tyana), to name only a few.

"Are any of these divinely engendered births really parallel to the non-sexual virginal conception of Jesus described in the NT, where Mary is not impregnated by a male deity or element, but the child is begotten through the creative power of the Holy Spirit? These "parallels" consistently involve a type of hieros gamos (note: "holy seed" or "divine semen") where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration. In short, there is no clear example of virginal conception in world or pagan religions that plausibly could have given first-century Jewish Christians the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus."[The Birth of the Messiah, by Raymond E. Brown, Doubleday: 1993: 522-523]

[Me:]
A very Clintonian sort of distinction. Being impregnated by a god is being impregnated by a god no matter how that god does it.

[SecWebLurker:]
"A virgin is someone who has not experienced sexual intercourse, and a virgin birth, or parthenogenesis (Gr., parthenos, "virgin"; genesis, "birth"), is one in which a virgin gives birth. According to this definition, the story of the birth of Jesus is a virgin birth story whereas the birth of the Buddha and of Orphic Dionysos are not. Technically what is at issue is the loss or the preservation of virginity during the process of conception. The Virgin Mary was simply "found with child of the Holy Ghost" before she was married and before she had "known" a man. So, too, did the preexistent Buddha enter the womb of his mother, but since she was already a married woman, there is no reason to suppose she was a virgin at the time. In the Orphic story of Dionysos, Zeus came to Persephone in the form of a serpent and impregnated her, so that the maiden's virginity was technically lost."

[Me:]
Actually, that's Zeus and Semele. And the examples of god-human sex suggest that "virgin birth" might not be the best term for such miraculous impregnations. But a woman could have human virginity (not having had sex with a fellow human being) even if she loses her divine virginity (having sex with a god). That, however, is also rather Clintonian.

[SecWebLurker:]
"IV. When Acrisius inquired of the oracle how he should get male children, the god said that his daughter would give birth to a son who would kill him.1 Fearing that, Acrisius built a brazen chamber [p. 155] under ground and there guarded Danae.2 However, she was seduced, as some say, by Proetus, whence arose the quarrel between them;3 but some say that Zeus had INTERCOURSE with her in the shape of a stream of gold which poured through the roof into Danae's lap. When Acrisius afterwards learned that she had got a child Perseus, he would not believe that she had been seduced by Zeus, and putting his daughter with the child in a chest, he cast it into the sea. The chest was washed ashore on Seriphus, and Dictys took up the boy and reared him."[http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Texts/apollod.summ.html]
[Me:]
Now what kind of sex could a pile of gold have with a woman? Especially a pile of gold on that woman's lap? I don't see how that's much different from the Holy Spirit saying "Boo" or whatever he had done to make Mary pregnant.

[SecWebLurker:]
The first biography of the Buddha, written by Ashvaghosha in the 1st century, called the Buddhacarita indicates Maya's non-virgin status in canto 1: "He [the king of the Shakyas] had a wife, splendid, beautiful, and steadfast, who was called the Great Maya, from her resemblance to Maya the Goddess. These two tasted of love's delights, and one day she conceived the fruit of her womb, but without any defilement, in the same way in which knowledge joined to trance bears fruit. Just before her conception she had a dream." (Buddhist Scriptures, Edward Conze, Penguin,1959. p. 35).]

[Me:]
So it's not a real virgin birth if the mother had already been sexually active? That's a very Clintonian distinction. And the Buddha climbing into his mother's womb would be something like the mode of JC's conception if the Son is co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit; the Son would also have to climb into Mary's womb. So the parallel is stronger than expected.

[SecWebLurker:]
Horus wasn't born of a virgin. Egyptian reliefs depict this conception by showing his mother Isis in a falcon form, hovering over an erect phallus of a dead and prone Osiris in the Underworld.

[Me:]
So it's a case of deity-deity sex?

[SecWebLurker:]
"In India a like tale is told of the beloved savior Krishna, whose terrible uncle, Kansa, was, in that case, the tyrant-king. The savior's mother, Devaki, was of royal lineage, the tyrant's niece, and at the time when she was married the wicked monarch heard a voice, mysteriously, which let him know that her eighth child would be his slayer. He therefore confined both her and her husband, the saintly nobleman Vasudeva, in a closely guarded prison, where he murdered their first six infants as they came."[ Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology, p. 342]

The mom gave birth to six normal children before conceiving Krishna.

[Me:]
But unlike those kids, Krishna had been an avatar of the god Vishnu, making one wonder how Vishnu got into Krishna's mother's womb.

[SecWebLurker:]
Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, is physically impregnated by the god Mars.

[Me:]
Same comment.

[SecWebLurker:]
Most of these tales have a god assume a human or animal form and impregnate a woman with a divine seed, often raping them.

[Me:]
However, being made pregnant without one's consent is not that much different from rape.

[SecWebLurker:]
"Any comparison of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 to pagan divine birth stories leads to the conclusion that the Gospel stories cannot be explained simply on the basis of such comparisons….For what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story of …a divine being descending to earth and, in the guise of a man, mating with a human woman, but rather the story of miraculous conception without the aid of any man, divine or otherwise. As such, this story is without precedent either in Jewish or pagan literature."[Ben Witherington III, "Birth of Jesus," in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, Ill. InterVarsity, 1992), p. 70]

[Me:]
That's just more of that Clintonian hairsplitting.

[SecWebLurker:]
The idea of a miraculous birth isn't at all foreign to Judaism. Isaac himself was the result of a miraculous birth, and an intervention in the normal natural cycle. ...

"Another example, but only over infertility, is that of the prophet Samuel's parents in 1 Samuel 1-2, where God hears the prayer and promise of Hannah and grants her and Elkanah a son. In both cases, of course, the son born of such divine intervention is thereby destined for greatness. ...

[Me:]
More like cases of unexpected fertility; these cases do not seem like NT-style or pagan-style divine impregnation, but more like God making a woman unexpectedly fertile.

[SecWebLurker:]
The fact that there were great heroes of old that were the product of intercourse between "gods" and mortals fits in quite well with Genesis 6. ...

[Me:]
Yes, the sons of God making it with the daughters of men. However, these are *sons* of God, not God himself.
 
Old 02-18-2001, 03:19 PM   #25
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[SecWebLurker]:
"Are any of these divinely engendered births really parallel to the non-sexual virginal conception of Jesus described in the NT, where Mary is not impregnated by a male deity or element, but the child is begotten through the creative power of the Holy Spirit? These "parallels" consistently involve a type of hieros gamos (note: "holy seed" or "divine semen") where a divine male, in human or other form, impregnates a woman, either through normal sexual intercourse or through some substitute form of penetration. In short, there is no clear example of virginal conception in world or pagan religions that plausibly could have given first-century Jewish Christians the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus."[The Birth of the Messiah, by Raymond E. Brown, Doubleday: 1993: 522-523]

[Me:]
A very Clintonian sort of distinction. Being impregnated by a god is being impregnated by a god no matter how that god does it.

SecWebLurker: I don't think so. I think its quite an important distinction. When looking for examples of borrowing, its important to go to the details. There's no geneaological link from God to Son of God through a "divine seed" here. I could just as easilly say "miraculous births are miraculous births", and we already have them in Judaism so there's no need to postulate borrowing. But anyway, I already pointed out that with Genesis 6, the Christian can indeed confirm the truth of physical impregnation of human women by beings which had a heavenly origin, and may have even been seen as 'gods'.

[SecWebLurker:]
"A virgin is someone who has not experienced sexual intercourse, and a virgin birth, or parthenogenesis (Gr., parthenos, "virgin"; genesis, "birth"), is one in which a virgin gives birth. According to this definition, the story of the birth of Jesus is a virgin birth story whereas the birth of the Buddha and of Orphic Dionysos are not. Technically what is at issue is the loss or the preservation of virginity during the process of conception. The Virgin Mary was simply "found with child of the Holy Ghost" before she was married and before she had "known" a man. So, too, did the preexistent Buddha enter the womb of his mother, but since she was already a married woman, there is no reason to suppose she was a virgin at the time. In the Orphic story of Dionysos, Zeus came to Persephone in the form of a serpent and impregnated her, so that the maiden's virginity was technically lost."

[Me:]
Actually, that's Zeus and Semele.

SecWebLurker: Actually, its not. Its Zeus and Persephone, in the ORPHIC myth, as is said. The story is retold by the epic poet Nonnus and is outside traditional Greek lore.

lpetrich: And the examples of god-human sex suggest that "virgin birth" might not be the best term for such miraculous impregnations.

SecWebLurker: My point exactly.

lpetrich: But a woman could have human virginity (not having had sex with a fellow human being) even if she loses her divine virginity (having sex with a god). That, however, is also rather Clintonian.

SecWebLurker: If she has sex with someone or something that impregnates her, it wasn't a virgin birth.

[SecWebLurker:]
"IV. When Acrisius inquired of the oracle how he should get male children, the god said that his daughter would give birth to a son who would kill him.1 Fearing that, Acrisius built a brazen chamber [p. 155] under ground and there guarded Danae.2 However, she was seduced, as some say, by Proetus, whence arose the quarrel between them;3 but some say that Zeus had INTERCOURSE with her in the shape of a stream of gold which poured through the roof into Danae's lap. When Acrisius afterwards learned that she had got a child Perseus, he would not believe that she had been seduced by Zeus, and putting his daughter with the child in a chest, he cast it into the sea. The chest was washed ashore on Seriphus, and Dictys took up the boy and reared him."[http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Texts/apollod.summ.html]
[Me:]
Now what kind of sex could a pile of gold have with a woman? Especially a pile of gold on that woman's lap? I don't see how that's much different from the Holy Spirit saying "Boo" or whatever he had done to make Mary pregnant.

SecWebLurker: Well, its physical impregnation with the divine seed. There's a genealogical link there, and physical intercourse.

[SecWebLurker:]
The first biography of the Buddha, written by Ashvaghosha in the 1st century, called the Buddhacarita indicates Maya's non-virgin status in canto 1: "He [the king of the Shakyas] had a wife, splendid, beautiful, and steadfast, who was called the Great Maya, from her resemblance to Maya the Goddess. These two tasted of love's delights, and one day she conceived the fruit of her womb, but without any defilement, in the same way in which knowledge joined to trance bears fruit. Just before her conception she had a dream." (Buddhist Scriptures, Edward Conze, Penguin,1959. p. 35).]

[Me:]
So it's not a real virgin birth if the mother had already been sexually active? That's a very Clintonian distinction.

SecWebLurker: LOL, exactly leptrich. You're not a virgin if you've already had sex.

lpetrich: And the Buddha climbing into his mother's womb would be something like the mode of JC's conception if the Son is co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit; the Son would also have to climb into Mary's womb. So the parallel is stronger than expected.

SecWebLurker: 1. that's not the type of parallel that indicates *borrowing* in the mind of anyone but a desperate skeptic (not that you are such a skeptic) 2. Its too late anyway...There's no borrowing here...

[SecWebLurker:]
Horus wasn't born of a virgin. Egyptian reliefs depict this conception by showing his mother Isis in a falcon form, hovering over an erect phallus of a dead and prone Osiris in the Underworld.

[Me:]
So it's a case of deity-deity sex?

SecWebLurker: I don't want to be "Clintonian", so lets just say its not a virgin birth.

[SecWebLurker:]
"In India a like tale is told of the beloved savior Krishna, whose terrible uncle, Kansa, was, in that case, the tyrant-king. The savior's mother, Devaki, was of royal lineage, the tyrant's niece, and at the time when she was married the wicked monarch heard a voice, mysteriously, which let him know that her eighth child would be his slayer. He therefore confined both her and her husband, the saintly nobleman Vasudeva, in a closely guarded prison, where he murdered their first six infants as they came."[ Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology, p. 342]

The mom gave birth to six normal children before conceiving Krishna.

[Me:]
But unlike those kids, Krishna had been an avatar of the god Vishnu, making one wonder how Vishnu got into Krishna's mother's womb.

SecWebLurker: Good point. Maybe he climbed in like Buddha. Still not a virgin birth. But since Hindus believe in a perpetual recycling of souls anyway, they've all got to get into the womb somehow. But let's not be Clintonian, let's call them all virgin births! ;-)

[SecWebLurker:]
Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, is physically impregnated by the god Mars.

[Me:]
Same comment.

SecWebLurker: Ditto.

[SecWebLurker:]
Most of these tales have a god assume a human or animal form and impregnate a woman with a divine seed, often raping them.

[Me:]
However, being made pregnant without one's consent is not that much different from rape.

SecWebLurker: We could be "Clintoinian" and argue the difference. I'll just say that, for me, its different enough.

[SecWebLurker:]
"Any comparison of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 to pagan divine birth stories leads to the conclusion that the Gospel stories cannot be explained simply on the basis of such comparisons….For what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story of …a divine being descending to earth and, in the guise of a man, mating with a human woman, but rather the story of miraculous conception without the aid of any man, divine or otherwise. As such, this story is without precedent either in Jewish or pagan literature."[Ben Witherington III, "Birth of Jesus," in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, Ill. InterVarsity, 1992), p. 70]

[Me:]
That's just more of that Clintonian hairsplitting.

SecWebLurker: Its in the details where we look for borrowing. If we want to stick with broad categories, we don't have to leave Judaism.

[SecWebLurker:]
The idea of a miraculous birth isn't at all foreign to Judaism. Isaac himself was the result of a miraculous birth, and an intervention in the normal natural cycle. ...

"Another example, but only over infertility, is that of the prophet Samuel's parents in 1 Samuel 1-2, where God hears the prayer and promise of Hannah and grants her and Elkanah a son. In both cases, of course, the son born of such divine intervention is thereby destined for greatness. ...

[Me:]
More like cases of unexpected fertility; these cases do not seem like NT-style or pagan-style divine impregnation, but more like God making a woman unexpectedly fertile.

SecWebLurker: Let's not be Clintonian. A miraculous birth is a miraculous birth.

[SecWebLurker:]
The fact that there were great heroes of old that were the product of intercourse between "gods" and mortals fits in quite well with Genesis 6. ...

[Me:]
Yes, the sons of God making it with the daughters of men. However, these are *sons* of God, not God himself.

SecWebLurker: I have no problem with these 'sons of god', or angels who left their estate in Genesis 6, having been considered 'gods' in the myths of other cultures.

SecWebLurker


 
Old 02-18-2001, 03:42 PM   #26
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SecWebLurker: Let's examine a few of these alleged virgin births...

penatis: Yes, let us do that:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child
of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Mt. 1:18-20)

penatis: Any impartial reader can readily see that this story is a piece of fiction.

SecWebLurker: I don't know what an impartial reader is. We all have background beliefs that affect perception.

penatis: It was included in Matthew's narrative to counter charges that Jesus was illegitimate (Mary was obviously pregnant when she married Joseph) and to make him literally a son of Yahweh.

SecWebLurker: I don't find this convincing. I think if there were charges that Jesus was illegitimate we'd see a lot more evidence of this in the Gospels and Paul, and in 2nd century apologetics. And Matthew could just as easilly have lied and said that he was the son of Joseph, as some know him in John's gospel (John 1.45,6.42). A mamzer would have been a lot harder to establish as the messiah than a crucified man, so I think it would have been much more of a point of contention. As far as the Son of God issue, Jesus could still be both Messiah and God's Son in a Jewish context without fabricating a virgin birth, as is the case in Paul and the other synoptics, if your theory is true. Furthermore, I don't think Matthew or any other text believes Jesus BECAME God's Son at His conception.

penatis:
Ostensibly, Luke knows of a different myth. In his story, Joseph does not have a dream. Rather, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will conceive Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Christians have two conflicting stories to believe. One involves a dream and the other involves an angel. One is just as incredibly absurd as the other. I do have a question for those who pretend the stories depict history: Who witnessed the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) going into Mary's womb?

SecWebLurker: That's all fine and well. The differences in the accounts argues for independent traditions, which is never a bad thing historically. There are possible harmonizations but if you don't accept it, you don't. The virgin birth is, and always will be, a matter of faith. The issue I was addressing was that of 'borrowing' so this is all sort of a non-sequitur. As far as witnessing the Holy Spirit going into Mary's womb - Sorry, can't help there. :-)

SecWebLurker
 
Old 02-18-2001, 06:06 PM   #27
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by SecWebLurker:
SecWebLurker: Let's examine a few of these alleged virgin births...

penatis: Yes, let us do that:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child
of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Mt. 1:18-20)

penatis: Any impartial reader can readily see that this story is a piece of fiction.

SecWebLurker: I don't know what an impartial reader is. We all have background beliefs that affect perception.

An impartial reader has no need to convince himself or others that the impossible happened. He merely wishes to ascertain what actually happened in history.

penatis: It was included in Matthew's narrative to counter charges that Jesus was illegitimate (Mary was obviously pregnant when she married Joseph) and to make him literally a son of Yahweh.

SecWebLurker: I don't find this convincing. I think if there were charges that Jesus was illegitimate we'd see a lot more evidence of this in the Gospels and Paul, and in 2nd century apologetics. And Matthew could just as easilly have lied and said that he was the son of Joseph, as some know him in John's gospel (John 1.45,6.42). A mamzer would have been a lot harder to establish as the messiah than a crucified man, so I think it would have been much more of a point of contention.

Which of the following is more credible?
1. Mary became pregnant the natural way before she married Joseph. Since Jesus was illegitimate, stories were fabricated to counter the truth. Two Christian propagandists repeated two contradictory versions of the fabulous stories.

2. Something known as the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. Only two writers in the whole world deemed this fact important enough to mention.

I find option number one infinitely more credible. Furthermore, we should not forget that the Talmud and Celsus depicted Jesus as illegitimate. According to R. Joseph Hoffman, "These polemical statements were long-lived and known to Celsus, who comments on the illegitimacy of Jesus and the absurdity of the story of the virgin birth...Undoubtedly, the bulk of this Jewish tradition can be traced back to a period before the formation of the written Gospels." Jesus Outside the Gospels, P. 40.

SecWebLurker: As far as the Son of God issue, Jesus could still be both Messiah and God's Son in a Jewish context without fabricating a virgin birth, as is the case in Paul and the other synoptics, if your theory is true. Furthermore, I don't think Matthew or any other text believes Jesus BECAME God's Son at His conception.

It is true that many Judeans believed that the future Messiah could be "God's Son" in a non-literal sense, but I don't think the writers (interpolators?) were typical Judeans. Also, logical consistency was not of prime importance to them. Hoffman states: "[T]he doctrine of virgin birth nullifies the two different Davidic genealogies in Matt. 1:1-7 and Luke 3:23-34 and makes Joseph merely the foster father of Jesus." Ibid, P.42. In my view, the writers wanted hearers to believe that Jesus was literally the "Son of God" and literally the "son of David" (through Joseph). The impossibility of this was no more a concern than the impossibility of the virgin birth.


penatis:
Ostensibly, Luke knows of a different myth. In his story, Joseph does not have a dream. Rather, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will conceive Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Christians have two conflicting stories to believe. One involves a dream and the other involves an angel. One is just as incredibly absurd as the other. I do have a question for those who pretend the stories depict history: Who witnessed the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) going into Mary's womb?

SecWebLurker: That's all fine and well. The differences in the accounts argues for independent traditions, which is never a bad thing historically. There are possible harmonizations but if you don't accept it, you don't. The virgin birth is, and always will be, a matter of faith.

Yes, the virgin birth is a matter of faith, not history. BTW, do you personally believe that Mary was impregnated by anything other than human sperm?

SecWebLurker: The issue I was addressing was that of 'borrowing' so this is all sort of a non-sequitur. As far as witnessing the Holy Spirit going into Mary's womb - Sorry, can't help there. :-)

1. Yes, but you called the OTHER virgin births "alleged." I merely wished to point out that one virgin birth is just as "alleged" or mythical as another.

2. If you believe the virgin birth stories of Matthew and Luke to be history, surely you have an idea of who might have witnessed history in the making.

Ron


 
Old 02-18-2001, 06:29 PM   #28
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Hi penatis

Since, for you, a virgin birth is simply "impossible", the rest of the discussion is, from your point of view, what?

Seriously, once a person rejects an event as "impossible", they will reject any and all evidence made available to them. On that basis, you cannot be convinced of the verasity of this story regardless, and that, to me, looks pretty dogmatic.

I seem to recall certain priests that refused to look through Galileo's telescope as well... it seems that they already "knew" what they would see, so they didn't need to look.

Interesting, eh?

Nomad

P.S. You still haven't answered my long ago asked question that if science ever successfully produces a true virgin birth, would you change your mind on what is and what is not impossible? I am very curious to know the answer to this question.
 
Old 02-18-2001, 09:55 PM   #29
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penatis: Any impartial reader can readily see that this story is a piece of fiction.

SecWebLurker: I don't know what an impartial reader is. We all have background beliefs that affect perception.

penatis: An impartial reader has no need to convince himself or others that the impossible happened. He merely wishes to ascertain what actually happened in history.

SecWebLurker: I guess I'm an impartial reader then. I certainly don't have a need to convince anyone of the impossible. But of course, a virgin birth miraculously brought about by God is not impossible.

penatis: It was included in Matthew's narrative to counter charges that Jesus was illegitimate (Mary was obviously pregnant when she married Joseph) and to make him literally a son of Yahweh.

SecWebLurker: I don't find this convincing. I think if there were charges that Jesus was illegitimate we'd see a lot more evidence of this in the Gospels and Paul, and in 2nd century apologetics. And Matthew could just as easilly have lied and said that he was the son of Joseph, as some know him in John's gospel (John 1.45,6.42). A mamzer would have been a lot harder to establish as the messiah than a crucified man, so I think it would have been much more of a point of contention.

penatis: Which of the following is more credible?
1. Mary became pregnant the natural way before she married Joseph. Since Jesus was illegitimate, stories were fabricated to counter the truth. Two Christian propagandists repeated two contradictory versions of the fabulous stories.

SecWebLurker: More credible according to what background beliefs/presuppositions? The above has no evidence in its favor.

penatis: 2. Something known as the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. Only two writers in the whole world deemed this fact important enough to mention.

SecWebLurker: Err...I don't think there were too many ancient writers present at the event. Ancient writers didn't take much notice of Jesus, period.

penatis: I find option number one infinitely more credible. Furthermore, we should not forget that the Talmud and Celsus depicted Jesus as illegitimate.

SecWebLurker: And they give no evidence for this either. Nor are the Talmud or Celsus held to have ANY historical credibility in these claims by anyone. For good reason - they are too far removed.

penatis: According to R. Joseph Hoffman, "These polemical statements were long-lived and known to Celsus, who comments on the illegitimacy of Jesus and the absurdity of the story of the virgin birth...Undoubtedly, the bulk of this Jewish tradition can be traced back to a period before the formation of the written Gospels." Jesus Outside the Gospels, P. 40.

SecWebLurker: LOL, that is utter garbage. This "tradition" barely peeps its head in the gospel of John. If it was present prior to the Gospels, we should see the church combatting it all over the place in the earliest writings, as it would have been one of their biggest problems. We don't. Furthermore, there would be no reason to make up a virgin birth. Matthew could have just said Joseph was the real father.

SecWebLurker: As far as the Son of God issue, Jesus could still be both Messiah and God's Son in a Jewish context without fabricating a virgin birth, as is the case in Paul and the other synoptics, if your theory is true. Furthermore, I don't think Matthew or any other text believes Jesus BECAME God's Son at His conception.

penatis: It is true that many Judeans believed that the future Messiah could be "God's Son" in a non-literal sense, but I don't think the writers (interpolators?) were typical Judeans.

SecWebLurker: That's a moot point. They had categories for divine sonship related to royal Davidic descent. And there is no evidence that Matthew thinks Jesus all of a sudden *became* God's son at the VB.

penatis: Also, logical consistency was not of prime importance to them. Hoffman states: "[T]he doctrine of virgin birth nullifies the two different Davidic genealogies in Matt. 1:1-7 and Luke 3:23-34 and makes Joseph merely the foster father of Jesus." Ibid, P.42. In my view, the writers wanted hearers to believe that Jesus was literally the "Son of God" and literally the "son of David" (through Joseph). The impossibility of this was no more a concern than the impossibility of the virgin birth.

SecWebLurker: Hoffman just pointed out another reason why a virgin birth wouldn't have been INVENTED, *ESPECIALLY* by the two gospel authors who are trying harder than any other to establish Davidic descent!

penatis:
Ostensibly, Luke knows of a different myth. In his story, Joseph does not have a dream. Rather, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will conceive Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Christians have two conflicting stories to believe. One involves a dream and the other involves an angel. One is just as incredibly absurd as the other. I do have a question for those who pretend the stories depict history: Who witnessed the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) going into Mary's womb?

SecWebLurker: That's all fine and well. The differences in the accounts argues for independent traditions, which is never a bad thing historically. There are possible harmonizations but if you don't accept it, you don't. The virgin birth is, and always will be, a matter of faith.

penatis: Yes, the virgin birth is a matter of faith, not history. BTW, do you personally believe that Mary was impregnated by anything other than human sperm?

SecWebLurker: I do indeed believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

SecWebLurker: The issue I was addressing was that of 'borrowing' so this is all sort of a non-sequitur. As far as witnessing the Holy Spirit going into Mary's womb - Sorry, can't help there. :-)

penatis: 1. Yes, but you called the OTHER virgin births "alleged." I merely wished to point out that one virgin birth is just as "alleged" or mythical as another.

SecWebLurker: And that is simply a non-sequitur. I said they are "alleged" in the sense that it is "alleged" that they are VIRGIN births, not in the sense that it is "alleged" that they occured.

SecWebLurker
 
Old 02-18-2001, 11:25 PM   #30
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Comparing this thread to another one on Mary Magdalene, I notice that some people (metaphorically) choke on the gnat of Jesus Christ having Mary Magdalene as his girlfriend while they swallow the camels of miracles and the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

Also, I consider the various attempts to discredit comparisons of JC's Virgin Birth to other miraculous conceptions to be the sort of hairsplitting that ex-President Clinton had been known for; he had allegedly claimed to have worked out from the Bible that oral sex is not cheating.

For example, the Buddha's mother having had sex with his father does not get in the way of the Buddha's conception being as non-sexual as JC's conception had supposedly been.

Also, deity-human sex might be considered a form of miraculous conception; I understand that the Mormons believe in something remarkably similar, that God had had sex with Mary to conceive JC.

Even if we eliminate cases of previous sexual activity and deity-human sex, there are still some interesting sorts of conceptions, such as Danae being made pregnant by Zeus turning himself into a shower of gold dust and pouring himself onto her lap, and Mithras being born from a rock.

Now how does one have sex with a pile of gold? Or a rock?
 
 

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