Origin of christianity

En Hakkore

Well-known member
The whole point of the genealogy is to establish Jesus credentials as the messiah, i.e., that he is a male-line descendant of David, like all the previous messiahs, who were similarly adopted as the son of God.
Matthew's Christology is not adoptionistic, he understands Jesus as "son of God" from birth... the son of Mary (who may or may not be of Davidic descent in the author's mind) conceived through the Holy Spirit. If he thought Joseph was Jesus' biological father (or intended to include this alternative tradition) he would have plainly said so by continuing the formulae "And x fathered y, and y fathered z" right down to Jesus... but he doesn't, he alters it when he gets to Joseph so it is clear he is not Jesus' father in any capacity other than being married to his biological mother.

The author of Matthew let obliged to record both.

I think it interesting how the author of Luke clearly recognised this, so carefully words both to allow for the other.
Matthew does not record both traditions (see critique above). Luke, on the other hand, is a collector of traditions and his work reflects a number of different Christologies. That said, I think the author's own view is similar to that of Matthew's on this matter and thus considers Jesus as "son of God" from birth... the son of Mary (who is of priestly lineage) conceived through the Holy Spirit and heir to the Davidic throne through his biological mother's marriage to Joseph. We discussed Luke's gospel many months ago and, as I recall, came to no agreement on this particular topic... I remain unconvinced that Luke's narrative is ambiguous on the matter of Jesus' relationship to Joseph.

There is no virgin birth in John because the Christology has got higher, and now the belief is that Jesus was pre-existing,
Paul, author of some of the earliest writings of the New Testament, also thinks Jesus is a pre-existent divine being... your strictly linear trajectory of increasingly higher Christologies is thus not defensible, at least when applied to the biblical documents. You need a more sophisticated stratification model that acknowledges the development of high Christologies by the time of Paul's Asiatic travels and letter writing, as well as a lengthy process in the latter half of the first century during which competing models of Christology flourished and were eventually amalgamated in the second century and onward.

The author of Matthew, more familiar with scripture - as evidence by numerous references throughout his gospel...
Number of references and familiarity are entirely different things... Matthew is quite clumsy with several of his citations. For example, what or who he is citing at 2:23 is anybody's guess, he perhaps misattributes 13:35 to Isaiah (see the critical apparatus), blunders at 21:5 in thinking there must be two donkeys, mixes up his Zechariahs at 23:35 and does misattribute 27:9-10 to Jeremiah or, on a more charitable interpretation, jumbles up the words of two prophets, one of whom actually was Jeremiah. Matthew could give some Christian posters here on CARM a run for their money in terms of clumsiness with their own sacred texts... :D

Kind regards,
Jonathan

PS - Did you catch my response to you over in the human rights thread a week ago? It did take me a week or so to get back to it so if you did read it and want to leave things as they are, that's cool, too.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Matthew's Christology is not adoptionistic, he understands Jesus as "son of God" from birth... the son of Mary (who may or may not be of Davidic descent in the author's mind) conceived through the Holy Spirit. If he thought Joseph was Jesus' biological father (or intended to include this alternative tradition) he would have plainly said so by continuing the formulae "And x fathered y, and y fathered z" right down to Jesus... but he doesn't, he alters it when he gets to Joseph so it is clear he is not Jesus' father in any capacity other than being married to his biological mother.
I never meant to suggest the author of Matthew was an adoptionist himself, I doubt he was. I am saying he chose to include the genealogy because there were still a adoptionist tradition in the community. As far as I can see, the genealogy only has value in that tradition.

I see nothing there, though, to suggest he thought Mary was descended from David.

Matthew does not record both traditions (see critique above). Luke, on the other hand, is a collector of traditions and his work reflects a number of different Christologies. That said, I think the author's own view is similar to that of Matthew's on this matter and thus considers Jesus as "son of God" from birth... the son of Mary (who is of priestly lineage) conceived through the Holy Spirit and heir to the Davidic throne through his biological mother's marriage to Joseph. We discussed Luke's gospel many months ago and, as I recall, came to no agreement on this particular topic... I remain unconvinced that Luke's narrative is ambiguous on the matter of Jesus' relationship to Joseph.
I will admit I am only going on the English translation, but I find it interesting that Luke never says there was a virgin birth. All he says is Mary was a virgin when the angel talked to her. It is entirely possible that Mary subsequently had sex with Joseph, and so conceived in the normal way.

That does leave unexplained why Mary was incredulous that she could get pregnant, but this seems problematic either way.

Paul, author of some of the earliest writings of the New Testament, also thinks Jesus is a pre-existent divine being... your strictly linear trajectory of increasingly higher Christologies is thus not defensible, at least when applied to the biblical documents. You need a more sophisticated stratification model that acknowledges the development of high Christologies by the time of Paul's Asiatic travels and letter writing, as well as a lengthy process in the latter half of the first century during which competing models of Christology flourished and were eventually amalgamated in the second century and onward.
As I said, Paul's view of Jesus is questionable, however, some of what he says suggests he believed Jesus was appointed by God. I mentioned some of this earlier in the thread. 1 Cor 15 indicates he saw Jesus as the prototype for the imminent resurrection, and what happened to Jesus would soon happen to the righteous. To me that indicates Jesus was a man, not God.

Furthermore, as a previous Pharisee, this fits with Paul's earlier beliefs. Before his conversion, he was a Jew striving to do what he could to hasten the arrive of the Jewish messiah. After his conversion, he was a Jew who belief the Jewish messiah had arrived.

Number of references and familiarity are entirely different things... Matthew is quite clumsy with several of his citations.
Agreed, but I do not think that invalidates my point about the reason for the differences in the genealogies.

PS - Did you catch my response to you over in the human rights thread a week ago? It did take me a week or so to get back to it so if you did read it and want to leave things as they are, that's cool, too.
I did read, and had decided not to respond.
 

SteveB

Well-known member
Because I am interested in the truth.
I think you just want to avoid the truth, no matter what the cost.


That works great for you Steve, you are clearly not interested in what is actually real or not. It does not work so well for those who are.
Actually, I've long since realized that if you actually wanted to know the truth you would be talking to YHVH instead of continuing to run yourself in circles with your vain arguments.

Your- but I'm an atheist and don't believe YHVH exists- routine is for intellectually lazy people who don't want to know the truth.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
I think you just want to avoid the truth, no matter what the cost.
Because I reject your opinions?

You are the guy who was wrong about positron, despite claiming to know about them, and refused to acknowledge you were wrong.

You are the guy who was wrong about Paul, despite claiming to know about him, and refused to acknowledge you were wrong.

Why on earth would I accept your unsupported opinions, Steve?

Actually, I've long since realized that if you actually wanted to know the truth you would be talking to YHVH instead of continuing to run yourself in circles with your vain arguments.

Your- but I'm an atheist and don't believe YHVH exists- routine is for intellectually lazy people who don't want to know the truth.
No, Steve, it is for people who reject your baseless opinions.

Time and time again Christians fail to give anything more than the weakest of arguments. Look at this thread; the article you cite in the OP shows how much Christianity changed in the first century from what Jesus actually said to the gentile religion we know today. And yet you seem to think the the article somehow supports your view of Christianity!

So, yes, I reject the "truth" as you see it, and I do so for good reason. What I am looking for is the actual truth, not what SteveB wishes were true.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I never meant to suggest the author of Matthew was an adoptionist himself, I doubt he was. I am saying he chose to include the genealogy because there were still a adoptionist tradition in the community. As far as I can see, the genealogy only has value in that tradition.
The genealogy has been constructed (or modified) specifically to deny the idea Joseph is Jesus' natural father so clearly the author (and presumably his community) saw value in a genealogy that provided a legal rather than biological claim to the Davidic throne... the same can be said of Luke as he also constructs (or modifies) his genealogy this way.

I see nothing there, though, to suggest he thought Mary was descended from David.
Agreed... I noted that Mary may or may not be of Davidic descent in the author's mind. All we can conclude from his silence on the matter is that her descent from David was of no importance to him one way or the other in establishing Jesus' messianic credentials.

I will admit I am only going on the English translation, but I find it interesting that Luke never says there was a virgin birth. All he says is Mary was a virgin when the angel talked to her. It is entirely possible that Mary subsequently had sex with Joseph, and so conceived in the normal way.

That does leave unexplained why Mary was incredulous that she could get pregnant, but this seems problematic either way.
There is nothing new here from our previous discussion in which I laid out the case that Luke protects Mary from any accusation of natural conception (with Joseph or anyone else) by narrating her hasty departure to see Elizabeth, her stay with her for several months and return to her own house... during the visit, her relative refers to the fruit of her (Mary's) womb in the present tense meaning the conception has taken place from the time Mary conversed with the angel to the meeting of the two women. To suggest Mary had sex with Joseph and conceived naturally is reading something into Luke's narrative he clearly doesn't intend to convey or even leaves open as a possibility.

As I said, Paul's view of Jesus is questionable, however, some of what he says suggests he believed Jesus was appointed by God. I mentioned some of this earlier in the thread. 1 Cor 15 indicates he saw Jesus as the prototype for the imminent resurrection, and what happened to Jesus would soon happen to the righteous. To me that indicates Jesus was a man, not God.

Furthermore, as a previous Pharisee, this fits with Paul's earlier beliefs. Before his conversion, he was a Jew striving to do what he could to hasten the arrive of the Jewish messiah. After his conversion, he was a Jew who belief the Jewish messiah had arrived.
I don't think "questionable" is the correct word... Paul's theology is difficult to pin down because his letters are occasional rather than systematic and also incorporate a number of pre-Pauline traditions (ex. Phil 2:6-11) and fragments from his correspondents (ex. 1 Cor 8:6). Since Paul does not repudiate these, we can safely assume he largely if not entirely agrees with these contemporary and/or earlier Christological claims... in the first Jesus has a divine form that he divests himself of to become human and in the second he is an agent involved in creation. Elsewhere, Paul connects Christ to a being who provided spiritual nourishment to the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings (1 Cor 10:4). I don't think it can be successfully argued that Paul viewed Jesus as only a man later exalted.

Agreed, but I do not think that invalidates my point about the reason for the differences in the genealogies.
That may well explain the different line traced between David and Salathiel, but my critique was aimed at your claim that Matthew was "more familiar with scripture" than Luke based on the number of citations... that is not a good argument because his actual handling of Israel's sacred texts is poor when compared to that of Luke.

I did read, and had decided not to respond.
Fair enough.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
The genealogy has been constructed (or modified) specifically to deny the idea Joseph is Jesus' natural father so clearly the author (and presumably his community) saw value in a genealogy that provided a legal rather than biological claim to the Davidic throne... the same can be said of Luke as he also constructs (or modifies) his genealogy this way.
Do you think a legal claim, without also the biological claim, would satisfy Jewish Christians? It seems unlikely to me. They expected the messiah to be of the seed of David.

As I said, I agree the author believed in the Virgin Birth. I would suggest this was a holdover from when Christianity was rather more Jewish.

Agreed... I noted that Mary may or may not be of Davidic descent in the author's mind. All we can conclude from his silence on the matter is that her descent from David was of no importance to him one way or the other in establishing Jesus' messianic credentials.
Okay... I am a little confused, then, why you raised it. My feeling is the female line was of no importance at all to the Jews, and I see no reason to suppose the author knew or cared

There is nothing new here from our previous discussion in which I laid out the case that Luke protects Mary from any accusation of natural conception (with Joseph or anyone else) by narrating her hasty departure to see Elizabeth, her stay with her for several months and return to her own house... during the visit, her relative refers to the fruit of her (Mary's) womb in the present tense meaning the conception has taken place from the time Mary conversed with the angel to the meeting of the two women. To suggest Mary had sex with Joseph and conceived naturally is reading something into Luke's narrative he clearly doesn't intend to convey or even leaves open as a possibility.
And yet Luke does leave it ambiguous. I appreciate there may be nuances in the Greek I miss, but Mary was not pregnant when she said she was a virgin. The angel tells her she will later conceive.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I [v]am a virgin?”

Whether you believe the virgin birth or not, this is strange; it indicates Mary is not aware that virgins can get pregnant. I doubt she can have been that naïve! But this certainly allows for sex to take place and normal conception, and there are other examples of the Bible where God has helped women conceive, but there is no suggestion of a virgin birth, so even the angel saying she will conceive by the Holy Spirit does not preclude a virgin birth.

Was Luke convinced Mary was a virgin when she conceived? I find that doubtful because his wording here is so odd.

I don't think "questionable" is the correct word...
Agreed - I meant his position is unclear because different verses indicate different beliefs. I did not mean they were unsavoury!

Paul's theology is difficult to pin down because his letters are occasional rather than systematic and also incorporate a number of pre-Pauline traditions (ex. Phil 2:6-11) and fragments from his correspondents (ex. 1 Cor 8:6). Since Paul does not repudiate these, we can safely assume he largely if not entirely agrees with these contemporary and/or earlier Christological claims... in the first Jesus has a divine form that he divests himself of to become human and in the second he is an agent involved in creation. Elsewhere, Paul connects Christ to a being who provided spiritual nourishment to the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings (1 Cor 10:4). I don't think it can be successfully argued that Paul viewed Jesus as only a man later exalted.
So how do you understand Paul's view of the resurrection as he details in 1 Cor 15? In what way is Jesus the "first fruits" if he is more divine than he is man?

What do you think Paul believed before his conversion? This feeds into the discussion on the genealogy. The Jewish belief was that the messiah would be a man descended from David (though admittedly there were plenty of diverse beliefs among the Jews).

This verse comes to us via Luke, but is still worth noting:

Acts 13:33 that God has fulfilled this promise [h]to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’

The Psalm itself refers to David, who was adopted by God; Paul would seem to be saying the same is true of Jesus.

I will almost point out this verse:

Romans 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power according to the [c]Spirit of holiness [d]by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

This may well be a creed Paul is repeating, but the fact is that he repeats it, indicating it does reflect his own beliefs.

That may well explain the different line traced between David and Salathiel, but my critique was aimed at your claim that Matthew was "more familiar with scripture" than Luke based on the number of citations... that is not a good argument because his actual handling of Israel's sacred texts is poor when compared to that of Luke.
Okay, fair point; I should have said the author of Matthew was more familiar with this specific aspect of scripture.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Do you think a legal claim, without also the biological claim, would satisfy Jewish Christians?
Your question implies Matthew envisioned "Jewish Christians" as his audience. The community for which he wrote would appear to be a law-observant one, but that does not exclude them from being predominantly Gentile converts... consider, for example, the controversy over law observance underlying Paul's letter to the Galatian churches. Writing in the decades after the Jewish War, Matthew is far removed from the earliest Christians, Jews who understood Jesus as appointed "son of God" at the resurrection and for whom biological descent from David is likely to have been an important qualification for being the messiah. The genealogy as it is presented in Matthew, however, presents a legal claim through Joseph as Mary's husband... this reflects a more advanced Christology that moves Jesus' claim to divine sonship back to his birth and subordinates descent from David to it, which is implied in the exchange later at 22:41-45.

It seems unlikely to me. They expected the messiah to be of the seed of David.
See above... this mistakenly conflates the community for whom Matthew wrote with the earliest Jews who came to believe Jesus was the "son of God" --- they are at least several decades removed from each other.

As I said, I agree the author believed in the Virgin Birth. I would suggest this was a holdover from when Christianity was rather more Jewish.
As it appears in Matthew's gospel, the genealogy reinforces the idea of a virginal Mary conceiving by means of the Holy Spirit. The strongest argument you could make in terms of a "holdover" would be that Matthew has modified an earlier genealogy that presented Jesus as Joseph's biological son, but this is conjecture and of limited value in assessing the views of the author and/or those of the community for which he was writing.

Okay... I am a little confused, then, why you raised it. My feeling is the female line was of no importance at all to the Jews, and I see no reason to suppose the author knew or cared
I raised it within parentheses, which are indicative of the enclosed material's secondary importance... I typically include these comments for the sake of thoroughness, a form of in-line footnote.

I appreciate there may be nuances in the Greek I miss, but Mary was not pregnant when she said she was a virgin. The angel tells her she will later conceive.
I've nowhere suggested Mary was pregnant when she declared her virginity to the heavenly messenger.

Whether you believe the virgin birth or not, this is strange; it indicates Mary is not aware that virgins can get pregnant. I doubt she can have been that naïve!
I'm not sure what belief has to do with our discussion since neither of us identify as Christian "believers". In any case, Mary is narrated to correctly connect conception to having sex with a man. I trust we can agree that (1) once a woman has been penetrated by a man she is no longer a virgin and (2) conception, if it occurs, can take up to several days after that sexual union. Here one of those nuances in the Greek would help you... she says "I know not {a} man" --- the verb is present tense, she is betrothed and thus not sexually active with Joseph (or with anyone else for that matter). Her question only makes sense against the background of the very stories in Israel's sacred texts you mention next...

But this certainly allows for sex to take place and normal conception, and there are other examples of the Bible where God has helped women conceive, but there is no suggestion of a virgin birth, so even the angel saying she will conceive by the Holy Spirit does not preclude a virgin birth.
The women in the stories to which you allude were sexually active with their husbands and it is precisely this difference in the present story that accounts for Mary's response... she assumes conformity to the pattern, followed even in the close context of Elizabeth conceiving in her old age, and is thus bewildered since she is not having sex with Joseph. After the angel departs from Mary, she goes with haste to see her relative and she is pregnant when Elizabeth speaks to her about the fruit of her womb, the grammatical construction demanding a present tense form of the verb 'to be' in relation to being blessed. To suggest Mary stopped by Joseph's house on her way for a quick intimate liaison is clearly reading something into the text the author doesn't intend...

So how do you understand Paul's view of the resurrection as he details in 1 Cor 15? In what way is Jesus the "first fruits" if he is more divine than he is man?
In the context of his discussion on the resurrection, Paul deliberately compares and contrasts Adam and Jesus... the first is described as a man out of the earth, an allusion to Gen 2:7, whereas the second is described as a man from heaven --- the Christ in Paul's view has heavenly origins, different from and superior to that of Adam (and all humans descended from him) insofar as he pre-existed his earthly life in the heavenly realm, was involved in creation and nourished the Israelites of the wilderness wanderings (see previous post).

What do you think Paul believed before his conversion?
I see no reason to speculate about this... piecing together Paul's post-conversion beliefs is difficult enough without trying to reconstruct his pre-conversion beliefs. It is clear that in becoming a follower of the risen Jesus, Paul changed his beliefs... some of these could be slight revisions, others quite radical --- we have no way of knowing to what degree they may have changed in the present context.

This feeds into the discussion on the genealogy. The Jewish belief was that the messiah would be a man descended from David (though admittedly there were plenty of diverse beliefs among the Jews).

This verse comes to us via Luke, but is still worth noting:

Acts 13:33 that God has fulfilled this promise [h]to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’

The Psalm itself refers to David, who was adopted by God; Paul would seem to be saying the same is true of Jesus.
The content of this speech is important to understanding what Luke might think or imagine Paul to have said on the occasion... it is of no relevance to what Paul himself believed --- you seem to anticipate this rebuttal in your reserved presentation of the evidence. Luke is a collector of traditions, not unlike the Paul he idolizes and writes about at some remove... despite his admiration for Paul, however, it is clear he doesn't always understand or agree with him --- compare, for example, Paul's own scathing condemnation of idolatry in Romans 1 with the speech attributed to him in Acts 17.

I will almost point out this verse:

Romans 1:3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power according to the [c]Spirit of holiness [d]by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

This may well be a creed Paul is repeating, but the fact is that he repeats it, indicating it does reflect his own beliefs.
I agree that Rom 1:3-4 is pre-Pauline and represents the earliest Christological formulation... a man descended from David who is declared "son of God" at the resurrection. It does not follow, however, that Paul restricts himself to this understanding... rather he incorporates it into his higher Christological vision of the divine son who, in coming to earth as a man, divested himself of his divinity and who is restored to this exalted status at the resurrection.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Hypatia_Alexandria

Well-known member
Your question implies Matthew envisioned "Jewish Christians" as his audience. The community for which he wrote would appear to be a law-observant one, but that does not exclude them from being predominantly Gentile converts... consider, for example, the controversy over law observance underlying Paul's letter to the Galatian churches. Writing in the decades after the Jewish War, Matthew is far removed from the earliest Christians, Jews who understood Jesus as appointed "son of God" at the resurrection and for whom biological descent from David is likely to have been an important qualification for being the messiah. The genealogy as it is presented in Matthew, however, presents a legal claim through Joseph as Mary's husband... this reflects a more advanced Christology that moves Jesus' claim to divine sonship back to his birth and subordinates descent from David to it, which is implied in the exchange later at 22:41-45.


See above... this mistakenly conflates the community for whom Matthew wrote with the earliest Jews who came to believe Jesus was the "son of God" --- they are at least several decades removed from each other.


As it appears in Matthew's gospel, the genealogy reinforces the idea of a virginal Mary conceiving by means of the Holy Spirit. The strongest argument you could make in terms of a "holdover" would be that Matthew has modified an earlier genealogy that presented Jesus as Joseph's biological son, but this is conjecture and of limited value in assessing the views of the author and/or those of the community for which he was writing.


I raised it within parentheses, which are indicative of the enclosed material's secondary importance... I typically include these comments for the sake of thoroughness, a form of in-line footnote.


I've nowhere suggested Mary was pregnant when she declared her virginity to the heavenly messenger.


I'm not sure what belief has to do with our discussion since neither of us identify as Christian "believers". In any case, Mary is narrated to correctly connect conception to having sex with a man. I trust we can agree that (1) once a woman has been penetrated by a man she is no longer a virgin and (2) conception, if it occurs, can take up to several days after that sexual union. Here one of those nuances in the Greek would help you... she says "I know not {a} man" --- the verb is present tense, she is betrothed and thus not sexually active with Joseph (or with anyone else for that matter). Her question only makes sense against the background of the very stories in Israel's sacred texts you mention next...


The women in the stories to which you allude were sexually active with their husbands and it is precisely this difference in the present story that accounts for Mary's response... she assumes conformity to the pattern, followed even in the close context of Elizabeth conceiving in her old age, and is thus bewildered since she is not having sex with Joseph. After the angel departs from Mary, she goes with haste to see her relative and she is pregnant when Elizabeth speaks to her about the fruit of her womb, the grammatical construction demanding a present tense form of the verb 'to be' in relation to being blessed. To suggest Mary stopped by Joseph's house on her way for a quick intimate liaison is clearly reading something into the text the author doesn't intend...


In the context of his discussion on the resurrection, Paul deliberately compares and contrasts Adam and Jesus... the first is described as a man out of the earth, an allusion to Gen 2:7, whereas the second is described as a man from heaven --- the Christ in Paul's view has heavenly origins, different from and superior to that of Adam (and all humans descended from him) insofar as he pre-existed his earthly life in the heavenly realm, was involved in creation and nourished the Israelites of the wilderness wanderings (see previous post).


I see no reason to speculate about this... piecing together Paul's post-conversion beliefs is difficult enough without trying to reconstruct his pre-conversion beliefs. It is clear that in becoming a follower of the risen Jesus, Paul changed his beliefs... some of these could be slight revisions, others quite radical --- we have no way of knowing to what degree they may have changed in the present context.


The content of this speech is important to understanding what Luke might think or imagine Paul to have said on the occasion... it is of no relevance to what Paul himself believed --- you seem to anticipate this rebuttal in your reserved presentation of the evidence. Luke is a collector of traditions, not unlike the Paul he idolizes and writes about at some remove... despite his admiration for Paul, however, it is clear he doesn't always understand or agree with him --- compare, for example, Paul's own scathing condemnation of idolatry in Romans 1 with the speech attributed to him in Acts 17.


I agree that Rom 1:3-4 is pre-Pauline and represents the earliest Christological formulation... a man descended from David who is declared "son of God" at the resurrection. It does not follow, however, that Paul restricts himself to this understanding... rather he incorporates it into his higher Christological vision of the divine son who, in coming to earth as a man, divested himself of his divinity and who is restored to this exalted status at the resurrection.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
Excuse my intrusion into an ongoing exchange but what do you make of Geza Vermes' comments concerning "a virgin mother" as understood in first century Judaism? He deals with it in his monograph The Nativity and the virginal conception in Luke.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Excuse my intrusion into an ongoing exchange but what do you make of Geza Vermes' comments concerning "a virgin mother" as understood in first century Judaism? He deals with it in his monograph The Nativity and the virginal conception in Luke.
Thanks for chiming in... your contributions are always welcome. I haven't read the monograph you mention though I did read his Jesus in the Jewish World, a collection of his essays, about seven years ago --- off the top of my head I don't recall anything such as you what you describe therein. Are you able to provide a pertinent excerpt that summarizes his position in the book you mention and the primary sources he cites. I'd be happy to review them and comment...

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Ray st peter

New Member
Seems pretty standard.

The only bit I would dispute is at the end, where the author says: "the Jewish Christians either rejoined their Jewish peers or become part of the newly gentile Christian church". I would suggest they continued for some centuries, known as the Ebionites.
Your thinking.... not just the two options. the followers of Ebion are an example of others. Sure. We see in scripture Jews who only heard of John the Baptist and His Gospel, were baptized and followed a repentance and supposedly strict Judaism because we aren't too sure about what John taught. The two main groups of consequence mentioned by Gospel writers who lived in Jerusalem at the time were Judaizers who kept all the laws and tried to follow all the teachings of Christ. That became impossible due to being removed from Temple worship, and probably Synagogue. hard to argue against that.
 

Hypatia_Alexandria

Well-known member
Thanks for chiming in... your contributions are always welcome. I haven't read the monograph you mention though I did read his Jesus in the Jewish World, a collection of his essays, about seven years ago --- off the top of my head I don't recall anything such as you what you describe therein. Are you able to provide a pertinent excerpt that summarizes his position in the book you mention and the primary sources he cites. I'd be happy to review them and comment...

Kind regards,
Jonathan
Thank you for your kind words. Vermes deals with the fact that in ancient Judaism there were two ways to define a virgin. He refers to the definition most of us are familiar with, i.e. a woman who has never had intercourse and cites the Hebrew betulah as in one meaning having this definition e.g. in the Hebrew texts [re: Rebekah in Genesis 24.16] but also in later rabbinic writings [Tosefta Shebiit 3:15] . This form of virginity ended with intercourse.

However, according to the second definition a girl remains a virgin until puberty and this definition ends with menstruation. He cites the Mishnah as defining a virgin in that second sense as a girl “who has never seen blood” with the text adding “even though she is married” [Niddah 1:4].

According to Vermes the matter had practical relevance with regard to arranged child marriages as practised in Jewish society in the first century, and the question could arise as to whether the bloodstain found on the sheets of a minor [a young girl who had not previously menstruated] after her wedding night should be attributed to her hymen breaking or to her first menstruation.

He goes on to note that if a girl past the legal age of twelve was married, although she was still prepubertal, it was theoretically possible for her to conceive after her first ovulation but before her first period. Hence such a girl could become a virgin mother [insofar as menstrual blood was concerned] and possibly the virgin mother of more than one child according to the saying attributed to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus in the late first century CE [Tosefta Niddah 1:4].
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Thank you for your kind words. Vermes deals with the fact that in ancient Judaism there were two ways to define a virgin. He refers to the definition most of us are familiar with, i.e. a woman who has never had intercourse and cites the Hebrew betulah as in one meaning having this definition e.g. in the Hebrew texts [re: Rebekah in Genesis 24.16] but also in later rabbinic writings [Tosefta Shebiit 3:15] . This form of virginity ended with intercourse.

However, according to the second definition a girl remains a virgin until puberty and this definition ends with menstruation. He cites the Mishnah as defining a virgin in that second sense as a girl “who has never seen blood” with the text adding “even though she is married” [Niddah 1:4].

According to Vermes the matter had practical relevance with regard to arranged child marriages as practised in Jewish society in the first century, and the question could arise as to whether the bloodstain found on the sheets of a minor [a young girl who had not previously menstruated] after her wedding night should be attributed to her hymen breaking or to her first menstruation.

He goes on to note that if a girl past the legal age of twelve was married, although she was still prepubertal, it was theoretically possible for her to conceive after her first ovulation but before her first period. Hence such a girl could become a virgin mother [insofar as menstrual blood was concerned] and possibly the virgin mother of more than one child according to the saying attributed to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus in the late first century CE [Tosefta Niddah 1:4].
Thanks for the summary. I've read the two pertinent texts in Niddah and Tosefta Niddah... the latter contains an important clause IMO where Vermes' second definition is qualified as one not speaking of a virgin "according to virginity" (לבתולה) but "according to blood" (לדמים). I'm no expert in rabbinic literature, but this suggests to me a primary or fixed definition of virginity (ie. no sexual intercourse) from which a secondary or derivative one developed and which was expected to dovetail with the other (see below).

The Niddah text is as laconic as your summary so it's not clear to me that the marriage has necessarily been consummated, though contextually this is perhaps inferred. I struggle to understand why the origin of a bloodstain would, on consummation of the marriage, matter to anyone (Vermes' apparently idiosyncratic suggestion notwithstanding) since the whole point of the regulations surrounding such were to determine if the stain was due to the onset of menstruation or evidence of sexual impropriety, whether the girl's own (seduced) or not (raped). This is what I've gleaned from a quick perusal of Hagith Sivan's pertinent section in her monograph Jewish Childhood in the Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and citing the Niddah text she writes:

Girlhood (minors and adolescents) in general signified virginity, the first of four bodily categories into which the female race was divided. The other three were pregnancy, nursing and old age. Girlhood or virginity marked the female body as pristine, untouched and unpenetrated. The three others signaled major changes of the female body, two (pregnancy and nursing) in close succession, the third (old age) an inevitable conclusion rarely reached in antiquity. All four categories had in common the absence of menstrual blood. (131-32)

Here the definitions dovetail and coincide with the practice of fathers marrying their daughters off at or just before the onset of puberty in the ancient world. The saying of the Tosefta Niddah text appears to speculate on immediate conception after first ovulation and a succession of such after the nursing of each child so as to theoretically avoid the impurity caused by menstruation... ingenious, the musings of a rabbi with far too much time on his hands, and practically implausible. In any case, I'm curious as to how and why Vermes raises this in the context of a discussion on the alleged virginal conception of Mary in Luke's gospel... are you able to clarify this?

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Hypatia_Alexandria

Well-known member
Thanks for the summary. I've read the two pertinent texts in Niddah and Tosefta Niddah... the latter contains an important clause IMO where Vermes' second definition is qualified as one not speaking of a virgin "according to virginity" (לבתולה) but "according to blood" (לדמים). I'm no expert in rabbinic literature, but this suggests to me a primary or fixed definition of virginity (ie. no sexual intercourse) from which a secondary or derivative one developed and which was expected to dovetail with the other (see below).

The Niddah text is as laconic as your summary so it's not clear to me that the marriage has necessarily been consummated, though contextually this is perhaps inferred. I struggle to understand why the origin of a bloodstain would, on consummation of the marriage, matter to anyone (Vermes' apparently idiosyncratic suggestion notwithstanding) since the whole point of the regulations surrounding such were to determine if the stain was due to the onset of menstruation or evidence of sexual impropriety, whether the girl's own (seduced) or not (raped). This is what I've gleaned from a quick perusal of Hagith Sivan's pertinent section in her monograph Jewish Childhood in the Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and citing the Niddah text she writes:

Girlhood (minors and adolescents) in general signified virginity, the first of four bodily categories into which the female race was divided. The other three were pregnancy, nursing and old age. Girlhood or virginity marked the female body as pristine, untouched and unpenetrated. The three others signaled major changes of the female body, two (pregnancy and nursing) in close succession, the third (old age) an inevitable conclusion rarely reached in antiquity. All four categories had in common the absence of menstrual blood. (131-32)

Here the definitions dovetail and coincide with the practice of fathers marrying their daughters off at or just before the onset of puberty in the ancient world. The saying of the Tosefta Niddah text appears to speculate on immediate conception after first ovulation and a succession of such after the nursing of each child so as to theoretically avoid the impurity caused by menstruation... ingenious, the musings of a rabbi with far too much time on his hands, and practically implausible. In any case, I'm curious as to how and why Vermes raises this in the context of a discussion on the alleged virginal conception of Mary in Luke's gospel... are you able to clarify this?

Kind regards,
Jonathan
Thanks for that reply. I found a copy of Sivan's work. It is very interesting. The proscriptions surrounding female behaviour and the female body are almost risible. I might even buy a copy.

Your first remark re "according to blood" is, I assume, the reference Vermes makes re menstruation although like yourself I have no expertise in rabbinic scholarship. Perhaps you are right with regard to Rabbi Eliezer. The musings of older men on the bodies and behaviours of girls and young women can often be entertaining.

As to your final question, the section in Vermes' monograph deals with the Lucan virginal account and and he prefaces his remarks on the contemporary Jewish understandings of virginity [as briefly outlined] by noting that the author was unfamiliar with things Jewish and that "Few if any readers of the New Testament, apart from those versed in rabbinic literature, know that in ancient Judaism there existed two ways to define a virgin."

Hope that helps.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
Thanks for that reply. I found a copy of Sivan's work. It is very interesting. The proscriptions surrounding female behaviour and the female body are almost risible. I might even buy a copy.

Your first remark re "according to blood" is, I assume, the reference Vermes makes re menstruation although like yourself I have no expertise in rabbinic scholarship. Perhaps you are right with regard to Rabbi Eliezer. The musings of older men on the bodies and behaviours of girls and young women can often be entertaining.

As to your final question, the section in Vermes' monograph deals with the Lucan virginal account and and he prefaces his remarks on the contemporary Jewish understandings of virginity [as briefly outlined] by noting that the author was unfamiliar with things Jewish and that "Few if any readers of the New Testament, apart from those versed in rabbinic literature, know that in ancient Judaism there existed two ways to define a virgin."

Hope that helps.
Thanks for the clarification on how Vermes invoked this material. I agree that Luke's knowledge of Judaism is limited, but I think Vermes is making too much of the rabbinic texts (which can only cautiously be applied to a first century context) and the two definitions that were intended, based on marital practices, to dovetail with each other. Yes, Sivan's monograph is among an explosion of excellent studies on childhood in the ancient world that have come out in the past decade. Indeed, the various regulations surrounding the female body are risible, though sadly no laughing matter for those girls and women who lived (and in some contexts still live) under such idiocy.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

Hypatia_Alexandria

Well-known member
Thanks for the clarification on how Vermes invoked this material. I agree that Luke's knowledge of Judaism is limited, but I think Vermes is making too much of the rabbinic texts (which can only cautiously be applied to a first century context) and the two definitions that were intended, based on marital practices, to dovetail with each other. Yes, Sivan's monograph is among an explosion of excellent studies on childhood in the ancient world that have come out in the past decade. Indeed, the various regulations surrounding the female body are risible, though sadly no laughing matter for those girls and women who lived (and in some contexts still live) under such idiocy.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
You are welcome. As previously stated I am no expert on rabbinic texts and thank you again for the pointer towards Silvan's monograph. I have requested a copy. The present-day repression of women in Islam of course has antecedents in earlier Semitic history and given the prevalence of such attitudes [not just in Afghanistan] the futures for millions of women and girls, as ever, looks horrific.

I have come to the conclusion, given the current state of the world [politically and environmentally] that I am glad I am old. I have grave misgivings for what the future will be like for the babies of today.

Best wishes as always.
 
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