Thursday, December 03, 2009

Some articles on the historicity of the birth narratives

Just in time for Christmas, a thoughtful look at the historical reliability of the infancy narratives.

The virgin birth of Jesus is an insult to modern intelligence and should be abandoned. In addition, it is a pernicious doctrine that denigrates women.

Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar. Mark Roberts begs to differ.


Mark said...

Not to be rude, but I don't think is a very good or interesting article. All it says is: "While some specialists believe the virgin birth narrative is a later invention, some Christian specialists believe it's accurate. Also, vastly many Christian non-specialists believe it's accurate." How is this helpful?

Anonymous said...

The Jesus Seminar has sort of a habit of being offended by christian doctrines, doesn't it?

Gordon Knight said...

yes, mark, there was not much "there, there"

Also this caught my attention

"Thus if the story of Jesus is not the story of God’s entry into human experience, but simply one story among many religious and of philosophical options. After all, "if the baby Jesus was really God in the flesh, then all people ought to take him seriously whether they’d like to or not. But if the account of his miraculous birth was fabricated by early Christians to compete with Roman emperor worship, then non-Christian folk can feel free to continue to ignore Jesus. "

This statement implies that belief in the virgin birth is somehow necessary for belief in the incarnation, which is just silly.

And, OF COURSE Christianity is one of many philosophical/religious options. To deny that, one would have to claim that not only you belief in the reliability of scripture, but that you know infallibly the reliability of scripture.

Does anyone claim that? I don't even know there is really a chair upon which I sit.

Anonymous said...

Gordon, on inspiration and authority of scripture stuff, some of us argue from Jesus. If there are good reasons to suppose Jesus is divine rather than human in origin (from resurrection) then there is good reason to affirm what he affirms i.e. Jesus affirms the scriptures and first century lit indicate that Jesus said that the "apostles would be led by the spirit."

Gordon Knight said...

Anon: I don't see where that gets you. "being led by the spirit" is vague.

This whole all or nothing view of the Bible just gets one into trouble. I assume you don't need to be a YEC to be an inerrantist, and you can give all sorts of metaphorical readings of weird passages, as the ancients, including Augustine, were quite fond of doing. But sometimes such readings seem forced.

But my point was just that 'virgin birth" and incarnation are logically distinct, and as the author indicates, no one believes the divinity of Jesus based on the claim of the virgin birth, so evidentially its not relevant either.

normajean said...

Gordon, I agree that it's not an all or nothing deal, I just wanted to remind readers how it is that inspiration is normally defended. I'm not prepared to do the defense here and now, but I'm confident that it can be successfully done. By the way, I think it's a good idea to defend inspiration on the count that if the scriptures are actually inspired one might expect to encounter God in a significant way after reading them. Take care

Edwardtbabinski said...

The fate of your eternal soul rests on how you interpret 2000 year old stories.