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Old 03-12-2001, 01:37 PM   #1
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Post Virgin Birth myth AGAIN!

Let's look at the the Virgin Birth myth one more time.

Point #1
On another thread, Helmut Koester, a biblical scholar, was quoted. With respect to the origin of the virgin birth myth, he makes the following comment: “The most striking feature revealing the non-Jewish origin of the story of the birth of Jesus is the divine conception of the child. ‘The idea of divine generation from a virgin is not only foreign to the Old Testament and to Judaism, but it is completely impossible.’ This statement of Rudolph Bultmann is still valid insofar as the origin of this concept is concerned, and it cannot be moderated by theological or historical reflections. This concept is Hellenistic and, ultimately, Egyptian. No other religious or political tradition of antiquity can be identified as its generator. However, though Jewish circles did not create this concept, it may well have found a cautious acceptance in circles of Hellenistic Judaism.” Ancient Christian Gospels, P. 306.

It has been argued that the above is false because Isaiah, a Hebrew who had visions of Yahweh and wrote about them, allegedly mentions a virgin birth as a prophecy of Jesus’ own “special” conception and birth. Based on my reading of Chapter 7 of Isaiah, I think Koester is correct. There is no mention of a “divine generation from a virgin,” nor is there any reference to Jesus or a Messiah. To make it easy for readers to see this for themselves, I have reproduced the pertinent chapter from the Tanakh. Please read the following carefully:

Ahaz Receives a Sign
During the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to attack it.
It was reported to the family of David, "Syria has allied with Ephraim." They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. So Yahweh told Isaiah, "Go out with your son Shear-jashub and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. Tell him, 'Make sure you stay calm! Don't be afraid! Don't be intimidated by these two stubs of smoking logs, or by the raging anger of Rezin, Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise. They say, "Let's attack Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it. Then we'll set up the son of Tabeel as its king." For this reason the sovereign master, Yahweh, says:
"It will not take place;
it will not happen.
For Syria's leader is Damascus,
and the leader of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will no longer exist as a nation.
Ephraim's leader is Samaria,
and Samaria's leader is the son of Remaliah.
If your faith does not remain firm,
then you will not remain secure."
Yahweh again spoke to Ahaz: "Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous." But Ahaz responded, "I don't want to ask; I don't want to put Yahweh elohiym to a test." So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of elohiym? For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land those two kings you fear, will be desolate. Yahweh will bring on you, your people, and your father's family a time unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah-the king of Assyria!
At that time Yahweh will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. All of them will come and make their home in the ravines between the cliffs, and in the crevices of the cliffs, in all the thorn bushes, and in all the watering holes. At that time the sovereign master will use a razor hired from the banks of the Euphrates River, the king of Assyria, to shave the head and the pubic hair; it will also shave off the beard. At that time a man will keep alive a young cow from the herd and a couple of goats. From the abundance of milk they produce, he will have sour milk for his meals. Indeed everyone left in the heart of the land will eat sour milk and honey. At that time every place where there had been a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels will be overrun with thorns and briers. With bow and arrow men will hunt there, for the whole land will be covered with thorns and briers. They will stay away from all the hills that were cultivated, for fear of the thorns and briers. Cattle will graze there and sheep will trample on them.

It should be clear to all that there is no prophecy in the above. Koester’s statement holds true.

Point #2
At this point a reasonable reader might ask: How could the writer of Matthew find a “prophecy” in this chapter? After all, he wrote “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” (1:22-23) Emmanuel IS Jesus. How could this be?

Francis Wright Beare, a Christian scholar, rightly states, “He [Matthew] is always eager to point out the correspondence of prophecy and fulfillment in the life of Jesus. Often enough...he cites the text of the Septuagint, heedless of the context and indifferent to the meaning of the underlying Hebrew. It is clear to anyone reading Isaiah vii that the prophet, in offering a ‘sign’ to King Ahaz in 734 B.C., is speaking of something that will occur within a few months, not pointing to events more than seven hundred years distant. Further, the Hebrew text does not suggest the birth in question is miraculous; it is only the Greek version that introduces the notion that the mother will be a virgin...[T]he name Emmanuel does not, in the oracle itself, suggest that the child to be born will be a divine being; he will be given this name because by the time of his birth it will be clear that the danger (of the Syro-Ephraimitic invasion) has passed away; his name will be a testimony that God is among his people to deliver them. The oracle of Isaiah vii which is here cited was not, in its original context, a Messianic prophecy and certainly not a prophecy of birth from a virgin.” The Earliest Records of Jesus, P. 31.

Point #3
Further, for those who argue that the Septuagint (Greek translation of OT) is somehow superior to the Hebrew text, with respect to Isaiah, and more specifically Isaiah 7, the following facts should be considered. To my knowledge, the oldest extant Greek translations of Isaiah are in Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. These date to the fourth century CE. The oldest extant Hebrew text of Isaiah is 1QIs(a) a full scroll discovered in a cave at Qumran. Paleographers date the MS to sometime between 150 and 125 BCE. Scientists from the University of Arizona, Department of Physics, using the radiocarbon method of dating, have suggested the scroll dates to sometime between 335 BCE and 122 BCE. If these dates are correct, the extant Hebrew texts predate the extant Greek translations by four to five centuries. Also, how could a TRANSLATION of the Hebrew text be superior to the Hebrew text itself?

rodahi

[This message has been edited by rodahi (edited March 12, 2001).]
 
Old 03-12-2001, 02:10 PM   #2
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Yeah, sure if you quote from the "TaNaKh"!

This translation of the Hebrew that you use translates it exactly the way you want to hear it ("young woman" and not "virgin").

The actual Hebrew behind this verse as according to the BHS uses the word "almah". This word can be translated either way - "young woman" or "virgin". IMHO, it should be translated into English as "virgin" and not the later polemical reaction to Jesus by the Jewish TaNaKh, "young woman".

In the Jewish rendering of the OT into Greek, the Septuagint (or LXX), "almah" was translated as "parthenos", or "virgin". I would think that they would have known better if this was not what was intended!

If you would like, I'll give you a couple of verses to compare from the book of Genesis that a young "virgin" woman can be implied by "almah".

Ish

 
Old 03-12-2001, 02:13 PM   #3
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By the way, dealing with the LXX, you are correct in saying that the DSS Hebrew texts of the OT date much earlier than the LXX. However, what I have read says that the DSS text lines up more often with the LXX than it does with the Masoretic text of the "TaNaKh". Explain that one! Polemical reactions again, maybe? Regardless, the LXX is a translation of the Hebrew just like all English versions are translations of the Hebrew. The Greek LXX is obviously an older translation of the original Hebrew than your chosen rendering in English.

Ish


[This message has been edited by Ish (edited March 12, 2001).]
 
Old 03-12-2001, 03:55 PM   #4
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Here is a much stronger case than what I have built so far.

Virgin conception?

I think this should lay your concerns to rest.

Ish
 
Old 03-12-2001, 05:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
Here is a much stronger case than what I have built so far.

Virgin conception?

I think this should lay your concerns to rest.

Ish
</font>
Far from alaying concerns, this one simply raises more. The author glides rapidly past the topic at hand, hoping the reader will not notice that none of the prophecies have been fulfilled. The author quotes:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Isa. 9:6-7: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom.</font>
Now, obviously, none of this ever happened in either metaphorical or practical terms. He wants to do away with the context in Isaiah 7, but unfortunately that same context is still there in Isaiah 9, as the next verses show:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
9:11
Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together;
9:12
The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
9:13
For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the
LORD of hosts.
9:14
Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one
day.
</font>
The whole sequence obviously relates to Israel's immediate problem of being surrounded by enemies and commanded by the feckless Ahaz.

The idea that either one of the writers of Isaiah prophesied about Jesus is absurd. Isaiah was concerned about his here and now.
He also twists the text where it clearly says Jesus' name will be Immanuel, which it was not. Finally, the "virgin prophecy" was in response to a ritual question/refusal/answer anyway between ol' Ahaz and God:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
7:11
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
7:12
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
7:13
And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary
men, but will ye weary my God also?
7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
</font>
Clearly the prophecy is given to Ahaz and meant for him. The text is not obscure (how unusual for Isaiah!) and the meaning is obvious. The child was to solve Ahaz's/Israel's problems. It didn't. Isaiah is a false prophet.

Ask any Jew. None of the messiah prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus. I mean, the Jews had him right there in front of him, and they simply rejected him. End of discussion.

Michael

[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited March 12, 2001).]
 
Old 03-12-2001, 06:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">turtonm:
None of the messiah prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus. I mean, the Jews had him right there in front of him, and they simply rejected him. End of discussion.</font>
Obviously, your conclusion is a matter of opinion and perspective. To say the Jews had him right there and rejected him is silly. What about the disciples? What about Paul the learned Pharisee? What about Jesus' followers? What about those later Jews who became Christians? The Jews you refer to as rejecting Jesus are the very Jews that Jesus warned would reject him because they were only concerned with the outward appearances and not the inner self.

I also noticed you did not address points one and three that I turned completely upside down. You are talking only to point two and making a rather weak case. The text of Isaiah does refer literally to Ahaz. However, literal events were often interpreted as carrying double meaning and prophecy. These verses in Isaiah are a perfect example.

Ish

[This message has been edited by Ish (edited March 12, 2001).]
 
Old 03-12-2001, 06:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
Obviously, your conclusion is a matter of opinion and perspective. To say the Jews had him right there and rejected him is silly. What about the disciples? What about Paul the learned Pharisee? What about Jesus' followers? What about those later Jews who became Christians? The Jews you refer to as rejecting Jesus are the very Jews that Jesus warned would reject him because they were only concerned with the outward appearance and not the inward.

I also noticed you did not address points one and three that I turned completely upside down. You are talking only to point two and making a rather weak case. The text of Isaiah does refer literally to Ahaz. However, literal events were often interpreted as carrying double meaning and prophecy. These verses in Isaiah are a perfect example.
Ish
</font>
Points one and three were not relevant to the point I was making. I'm not really turned on by the whole almah=virgin debate. The real issue is what Isaiah intended and what can be inferred from context.

Show me any evidence that they were intended with any double meaning. There is none.

As you already conceded, the context does refer to Ahaz. So you have no case. Where, in the context, is there any evidence that Isaiah's ramblings have a double meaning? Absolutely none.

That some event in the past was interpreted as a reference to the present by current people is common. So what? We have no clue as to what Isaiah's intentions were; we can only infer from the (blindingly obvious) context.

As you state below, any out-of-context interpretation resides entirely in your head.

"Obviously, your conclusion is a matter of opinion and perspective."


Michael
 
Old 03-12-2001, 07:37 PM   #8
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Ish:
Yeah, sure if you quote from the "TaNaKh"!

The above "translation" came from NetBible.com, an evangelical Christian website. All I did was change the words "God" and "Lord" to "Yahweh" or "elohiym."

This translation of the Hebrew that you use translates it exactly the way you want to hear it ("young woman" and not "virgin").

The words "young woman" fit the context perfectly. The word "virgin" does not.

The actual Hebrew behind this verse as according to the BHS uses the word "almah". This word can be translated either way - "young woman" or "virgin". IMHO, it should be translated into English as "virgin" and not the later polemical reaction to Jesus by the Jewish TaNaKh, "young woman".

Both "alma" and "parthenos" can mean "young woman" or "virgin." For the Greek, see Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, #3933. I wonder why the Christians at NetBible are reacting to Jesus in a "polemical" way?

In the Jewish rendering of the OT into Greek, the Septuagint (or LXX), "almah" was translated as "parthenos", or "virgin". I would think that they would have known better if this was not what was intended!

Since "parthenos" can mean "young woman," then they probably meant "young woman." Look at the context of Isaiah 7.


If you would like, I'll give you a couple of verses to compare from the book of Genesis that a young "virgin" woman can be implied by "almah".

Generally, "almah" means "young woman." See Genesis 24:43. The Hebrew word "bthuwlah" means "virgin." See Genesis 24:16; Leviticus 21:3; and Deuteronomy 22:28.

rodahi

 
Old 03-12-2001, 07:45 PM   #9
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Ish:
By the way, dealing with the LXX, you are correct in saying that the DSS Hebrew texts of the OT date much earlier than the LXX. However, what I have read says that the DSS text lines up more often with the LXX than it does with the Masoretic text of the "TaNaKh". Explain that one! Polemical reactions again, maybe?

The translation of Isaiah 7 I provided is consistent with the Qumran scroll. Where are you getting this "polemical" stuff? A Christian apologetic website?

Regardless, the LXX is a translation of the Hebrew just like all English versions are translations of the Hebrew. The Greek LXX is obviously an older translation of the original Hebrew than your chosen rendering in English.

If it is so "obvious," then prove the extant Greek translations are more original than the Qumran Isaiah scroll, 1QIs(a).

rodahi


 
Old 03-13-2001, 07:33 AM   #10
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*sigh* I'm very tired of this old argument. Since I have a life, I can't respond as thoroughly as I'd like to at the moment.

Suffice it to say for the moment that the argument against my presentation of "almah" is weak. As a matter of fact, you use the very verses in Genesis that show a connection and the interchangeability of "bethulah" and "almah".

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">rodahi:
Ish: Regardless, the LXX is a translation of the Hebrew just like all English versions are translations of the Hebrew. The Greek LXX is obviously an older translation of the original Hebrew than your chosen rendering in English.

If it is so "obvious," then prove the extant Greek translations are more original than the Qumran Isaiah scroll, 1QIs(a).
</font>
You most definitely missed my point here. I said the Greek translation is obviously (to anyone) older than the English translation. Your reply to my statement is completely off point. However, to respond to what you said, they possibly date to araound the same time period anyway, so who's to really say the LXX didn't come before the DSS? Can you prove it didn't?

Ish
 
 

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