The New Testament is a beautifully written collection of books. We are invited in with the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All four gospels are four different perspectives of the same account. Christ life as a grown man, his works, and his teachings. However upon reading the first chapter of Matthew we are introduced to a brief note of the generations. Christ’s conception came through the lineage of Joseph, his worldly father. Many are caught in the meaning of the word virgin from an English perspective. On the contrary Mary was not a “virgin”, as to have not ever have sex with a man. Mary was “virgin” like a young maiden who has not been publicly married off to Joseph before they had sex. From Strong’s Concordance G3933 “Parthenos, a maiden, an unmarried daughter- virgin.”
As a quick note, in this article I will be making you aware of the different levels of biblical interpretation. This is what I am using to decode Christ conception and birth from scripture. I will be referencing the first four levels of interpretation for this account.
Reading the new testament without complete understanding of the Old testament may bring about confusion. That confusion turns into an accepted truth until someone with understanding is brave enough to correct a false popular truth. One of these popular accepted false truths is the virgin Mary lie. Mary and Joseph grew up in Israelite culture, customs, laws, and etc. Therefore we must view the scriptural situation between Mary and Joseph through their cultural norms.
The Meaning of Biblical words.
Let’s examine the scripture through the eyes of Israelite culture. The opening verse of Matthew reads “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. Notice how the verse introduces Christ as a legit descendant of King David and Abraham. Christ is an Israelite born savior. Furthermore as we read through the generations we see that there is a word worth our attention. Matthew 1:15 “And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called christ.” The word “begat” is mentioned a lot throughout the description of the generations in the bible.
According to Strong’s Concordance G1080, Begat, to procreate of the father, but by extension of the mother. Figuratively to regenerate, procreate, bear, bring forth…As we can conclude from the definition, the word begat is dominantly referring to the father throughout the scripture. Also notice that the father can only “begat” a child with the aid of the mother. Therefore the scripture, Matthew 1;15 means that Joseph who is married to Mary brought forth Christ through Mary, his mother. Joseph and Mary procreated Christ, not that Mary mysteriously conceived a deity baby. Simply understanding the original meaning of the word begat helped us to know what this particular verse meant. This is a level two biblical interpretation of scripture mentioned in my previous post. That being said next we will reach the third level of biblical interpretation by examining Matthew 1:18.
Understanding Biblical Culture.
The overall myth of “Mary’s miraculous conception” typically comes from Matthew 1:18 where it reads “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with the child of the holy ghost.”
Espoused means engaged, promised to etc. Now it says that as she was espoused to Joseph, in other words, during her engagement and before their marriage ceremony Mary conceived Josephs first born. That means Marry and Joseph consummate their marriage before their public ceremony. The issue with Joseph and Mary conceiving Christ was that they gave into divinely influenced intercourse before their desired time. The custom of Israel at the time was to abstain until after the public marriage ceremony. It was a shameful act if they progressed their relationship out of this holy order. However, The Most High God ordained that Marry shall conceive in this way so that Christ could be hidden. Christ was meant to be hidden at that time living under the rule of king Herod of Rome.
Cultural Law of a “Virgin” and Marriage.
Moving on to the Level four biblical Interpretation of understanding the culture of the bible. Concerning Joseph and Mary, their marriage culture comes from the books of Moses. Though I hinted at this technicality earlier, it’s worth knowing where it came from. According to the biblical law, Exodus 22: 16 “16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”
Men were obligated to marry the woman/ maiden that they carnally had premarital sex with. Proper marriage customs are seen from Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah; and Issac and Rebecca. Jacob and Issac both went through the process of seeking a wife, making a covenant with her family, paying a dowry, and consummation. The ceremony wasn’t necessary until later in scripture when the family population grew into thousands of people. See Samson Judges 14-15.
A marriage ceremony wasn’t absolutely necessary according to the law but it became that way over time. Therefore Joseph, seeing that Mary was pregnant with his Christ child was discouraged from publicly displaying her baby bump at the wedding. The Israelites would assume that she might have played the harlot in Israel and kill her. Furthermore, he might not have stored the tokens of her virginity (Deuteronomy 22:15-17) to prove that she was consummated by Joseph. This is what Joseph was mindful of Matthew 1:19 19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.”
Josephs Responsibility To His “Virgin”.
As we continue to read: Matthew 1:20-25.
“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”
Joseph kept her safe by keeping her secretly. Later, an angel informed him that this is a divine happening. Notice how she is called his wife not just some random maiden. Also notice that this event was prophesied by one of the former prophets. Mary and Joseph were supposed to bring forth Christ prively.
We went through the first four levels of biblical interpretation and came to a very accurate understanding of the text regarding Christ conception and birth. First we read the text and understood it at face value of the characters listed. Secondly we reviewed the original meanings of the three words, virgin, begat, and endow. Thirdly we understood the moral justice of Joseph and Marry to be engaged. And the fourth level that we generously conclude at is that their marriage custom laws.
I have hinted at the fifth and sixth level of biblical interpretation by mentioning king Herod of Rome and that this situation was prophesied.
However, for now this bit of information should be enough to help you to understand that Mary was not a “virgin” as in to never have had sex with a man to conceive Christ, but rather she was a “virgin” that means a fine young maiden not publicly married. Now you understand that the “virgin Mary myth” is not Biblical when it is properly interpreted.