Matthew 2.18->

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit, before they had come together; 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. She will bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

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” (which means ‘God with us’.)

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

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3 responses

  1. Couple of interesting points here for me.

    One is that the quote from the OT is from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew version (where it is more obviously to be translated as “young woman” than “virgin”). This is quite common, as I recall most of the OT quotations in the NT are either paraphrases or Septuagint. Does raise the interesting question of how the NT authors used the OT, after all, is the story we have here really a fulfilment of the prophecy? Well, yes, in that Mary is a young women, but is it in the terms that the author is thinking?

    The other is that “he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son” which seems very clearly to me to imply that after Jesus’ birth Joseph and Mary had a normal marriage, which rather kills the Catholic doctrine of Mary being always a virgin. It also obviates the need to invoke some sort of Levitical marriage for Joseph to explain Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

    1. First off, the story we have here is emphatically not “the fulfillment of the prophecy,” which had been fulfilled back near Isaiah’s time. His king was worried about a couple of aggressive neighboring kingdoms, and the prophecy essentially said: ~A child born soon will have this name, and by the time he grows up those two kings you’re worried about will be history [and so it was!]

      The Hebrew vs the Septuagint — the Hebrew text we have, in at least some places, seems to be more recent than the material used for the Greek translation. (Manuscripts among the Dead Sea scrolls, at least in places, confirm the Septuagint text over the earliest Hebrew we’d had.) But even if the woman had been called a virgin in the original, there was nothing about her ever being a pregnant virgin. The conception and birth would have presumably have occured the way such things normally do.

      The notion that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth — This gave rise to some ideas about how it was that Jesus was able to overcome and forgive sin. I consider those ideas mistaken, but the fact that he was able to — It was important for people to have an explanation that allowed them to believe that. If other explanations are likely more fruitful, these will be increasing preferred as people come to understand why they fit better.

      Basically, this prophecy is being used here as ‘further evidence that Jesus’ birth is a significant development of God’s work within Jewish history.’ It isn’t, in other words, here merely as ‘gee, wow’ material, but as establishing a setting for the meaning of this man’s life.

  2. Another thing… What’s this about “will save ‘his people’ from their sins”?

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