Are There Other Virgin Births Beside Jesus? | Bart D. Ehrman PhD

Welcome back to Mythvision Podcast, Dr. Ehrmen. We have a course that everybody should go check out and it is on other virgin births in antiquity. That is the question. Tell us briefly about this course. Right. So we’re we’re in the Christmas season now. And one of the things

That’s obviously celebrated is Jesus birth to a Virgin. There are lots of elements of the Christmas story that are very much worth talking about. And this one is particularly intriguing for several reasons. You find the virgin birth in the New Testament only in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke.

The other two Gospels don’t mention Mark and John, and it’s nowhere else in the New Testament. Of the 27 books of the New Testament only to mention Jesus being born as a virgin. But it becomes a very central feature of Christianity and Christian doctrine, since,

Well, since the Enlightenment, some scholars have pointed out that there are other stories like that floating around in the ancient world where somebody is somebody is born in the union of a divine being, an immortal being in almost all of these cases have a male divinity,

A God who comes down and gets a mortal being a woman pregnant. And so the child is born then is the union of a immortal and immortal, both human and divine. And so the question so these kinds of stories are circulating throughout the Roman world,

And you have a number of cases of political figures, of philosophers, religious figures who are said to have divine parents. And if you go on the Internet, you’ll see that these things are called virgin births, that the virgin birth of Jesus was always a common trope throughout the

Throughout the Greek and Roman world, so that you have these divine followers, immortal mothers. My question in the seminar is, were any of these women in your stories virgins? Were they virgins? And if so, then are Christians just taking over this theme from others? If not, if they were actually weren’t virgins, then

Why did Christians come up with the idea of a virgin birth? Why do they tell that story as opposed to some other kind of story of the miraculous? So that’s that’s what the webinar is about. I’m looking forward to that webinar. And of course, I hope everybody goes down in the description.

WWE dot message and podcast dot com forward slash virgins plural. The link is there. So, Dr. Ehrman, I’d like to focus on something that really has intrigued me. The earliest gospel consensus academics say, is Mark, and if Mark is our earliest, why the heck doesn’t Mark

Capitalize on the birth of Jesus from a virgin? Right. Well, it’s a very interesting question, a really important question. There will be scholars, a different views, although I think my guess is the majority scholars think that Mark didn’t tell us anything about the virgin birth

Because he didn’t know about a virgin birth that this is not a story that would that he had heard yet. It’s not clear whether the story had even come into being yet. It’s gets even more interesting than that with Mark, because in Mark’s gospel, you have a passage.

You don’t you don’t quite get it this way. In the other gospels in March, in the Matthew Luke or John in Mark’s gospel. A couple of chapters late after when Jesus Jesus is ministry, a couple of chapters into his ministry, he is he’s attracted this big crowd.

And there’s a lot of rumors going on around him. And we’re told that his mother and his brothers come to rescue him from the public eye because they think he’s gone out of his mind, his mother. And so she doesn’t seem to know who he is. And Mark.

And that that’s often taken as an indication that in Mark’s gospel, at least, there’s not only not a virgin birth, but there’s a question about whether Mark, I mean, why change arguing against a virgin? Not arguing against because he doesn’t know about it. But his gospel seems to presuppose that it wasn’t

A virgin birth because because Mary doesn’t seem to know Jesus. It’s wow, this is great information. I’ve always wondered that. And I want to make one mention. There’s contemporaneous work to the Gospels. I’ll say, give or take a few decades. Suetonius writes, Actually, in lives the Caesars,

And I’m really impressed with his Augustus angle, because in this documentation on Augustus, you literally hear not only of portents of his birth, there’s like a prophecy where lightning strikes a certain wall and these people fight against the Romans almost to their own self-destruction. But the Senate and this is it’s really interesting

Catch his word that this prophecy is going to be fulfilled in a certain year. So the mothers didn’t want to rear up their children and put them in the census saying, hey, our kids are going to be born and they’re going to kill these children

If they find out that this might be one of them. That sounds a lot like Matthew. Do you think there’s something going on here? Well, it sounds like Matthew. It sounds a lot like Exodus. Same thing with the birth of Moses. They’re actually it’s it’s it’s a trope in an ancient literature

That that the great man had a lot of troubles to begin with and almost didn’t make it out of infancy. And so and so you have these kind of divine interventions to to make it happen. And so you get the divine intervention involved in the birth often,

But then also in the early protection of the child. And so I don’t think Sistani’s is getting this from Matthew. I think this is this trope that you get in in other in other contexts, including, you know, the ancient Greece, the birth of Sargon, the Great

As also a similar kind of story, the king of Assyria. And so, yeah, so I think it is a trope and it is interesting that you get this spectacular birth of Augustus instantaneous. And that is part of part of the trope. I must ask you your thoughts on this.

I watched your debate, the long debate on the resurrection with Mike Lickona and you. And there was a moment during the debate where I felt like maybe Mike was wiggling in his seat a little and you were getting a little hype. And I loved that

Because it’s fun to see this go on with academics. And you said there are so many other stories of other people. And I think you mentioned virgin births or miraculous births. And my and I don’t want to get caught up on whether they’re virgins or not

Because your course is going to get into this. But the point I do want to mention is this seems to be kind of an Achilles heel in my opinion, when the Christians set up a creed that demands you believe this is a virgin birth

And that you need to believe that in order to be a Christian. But we have all these other stories, whether they’re virgins or not. Don’t you see there’s a huge flaw on people being not consistent toward other narratives. There are speaking about other gods or demigods, you name it.

Well, I think I think the consistency is the issue. I mean, I don’t think that it’s necessarily an Achilles heel for Christianity that we have these other stories floating around, because there are there are ways that you can explain that if you’re a theologian and have I mean, you know, I mean, C.S.

Lewis, for example, was an apologist, not a theologian, but C.S. Lewis claimed somewhat famously that that you have to and he’s actually borrowing it’s from Justin Mark from the second Christian century, who first of all argues that that you have kind of foreshadowing to what’s going to happen

With with when God comes into the world in other religions, because religions are all completely false, are also claims of truth in other religions that are actually true. And so they have reflections of what’s going to happen. And so, you know, you can get around these things on a theological level.

The problem is the historical level, which is the one that you’re talking about. If someone like an apologist like Michael Cohen wants to say, we’ve got proof of Christianity, here it is. It’s bam, bam, bam, bam. And the exact not the exact same thing, but the parallel thing, the exact parallel

Things can be claimed for other gods and other humans. Then why is it proof for Christianity and not for these other things? And when you come to it, so when you come to the miraculous proof, okay, I’m going to claim that the God was my was my literal fault,

And I’m going to claim that and my followers are going to believe me and they’re going to convince other people, how are you going to convince somebody that your father actually was God? I mean, isn’t that your mother going to say, oh, I actually never had sex or I didn’t want to?

But the others, God came down and he had his way with me. And so it’s based on what the woman said. What okay. Is that evidence? I mean, suppose marriage some people say, look, the only way the gospel writers could have gotten it is if Mary told them.

And so it had to be right. Well, okay. So today, if there’s a woman who gives birth and she says, look, I never had sex before, really, trust me, it’s like I’m not married, I never had sex. And she gives birth. You think, Oh, well, that’s evidence then. Okay. Yes. You accurate? Yes.

No. Okay. I think you had sex and so, you know. So what kind of evidence would be that somebody could say for the Virgin birth, what would be the other team that would be different from the evidence that Romulus, who was born of a Virgin

Or Alexander the Great or or any of these other who are who are not considered right now or born of a virgin. By the way, I am saying they were said to be born miraculously with the Divine Father. That’s not the same as the one. Being a virgin. And I understand that

Every narrative of every God is unique and special in its own way. But there’s also differences. There’s similarities. So I think that that’s also this like copout thing that apologists use this to say This is so unique and it’s like they’re all unique and different and there’s always something special about them.

Yeah, that’s exactly right. So you have you have apologist, though. They’ll take five divine men from the age of five sons of God and who are doing miracles, you know, do those things. And then they’ll say, Yeah, but Jesus is different because He does that. So let’s see.

So Jesus really is different or people ascending to heaven. Yeah, well the this year. Yeah, but Jesus is different because of that and it’s true Jesus is different because of that. But if you put that, if you’ve got five other divine men, if you put the pile of six, including Jesus and

You take one of the others out, you could do the same thing. Oh, yeah, those others, including Jesus, this isn’t but this versus that, you know. And so everybody’s different. So it doesn’t, you know. But I don’t know why apologists who want to argue objectively

For the for the historical truth and use logical argument. I don’t understand why they don’t understand logic, but it summed up. The idea of philosophy. I have found from reading books like Francesca Staver, Orkopoulos book, which takes your away and places him in his ancient Near Eastern context, where she spends

Multiple chapters talking about God’s penis. I mean, like the physical body of the deity. Over time, though, we find Plato comes in and the impact of the philosophers in the Mediterranean world, there seems to be this trickle down effect where they’re kind of even shit like, Oh, hold on, Jesus did what?

No, that must mean something else. It’s an allegory or a metaphor or something. Yet they still hold on to the idea that the gods have children. And my question, zeroing in specifically on Jesus is this He’s called son of God.

And Mark, how can he be a son of God if he isn’t born? At least Matthew’s narrative is trying to say, Hey, the poor numa, which is a whole nother thing. I think your course will probably get into is what births Jesus and Mary as a virgin

Using the Septuagint, which is a whole nother sidetrack. But the question is why is he a son of God? And Mark, if he isn’t birthed by God in Mark? So it’s a very good question, a very important question, because to understand what Mark means,

It’s important to understand what the term son of God met in the Roman world at the time. Son of God was a term in familial relationships. You would be in you could be the son of somebody if if they were your biological parent or if they adopted you. And so that’s why

That’s why Octavian could claim to be the son of Julius Caesar, who is who was declared a god. And so he declared himself the son of God within apart from apart from the theological things about Sons of God, it’s important that within family relationships, the the upper elite people who were adopting people,

If you were adopted in the ancient world by an elite person, you were normally adopted as an adult. So they’re not adopting a baby and raising. All of you probably do that sometimes. But like Julius Caesar adopted an adult or an older boy, Octavius, to be his to be his son.

Julius Caesar had another son with both Cleopatra and Cleopatra had a child, Kazarian, who was his biological son. But being the biological son was not as important as being the adopted son. The adopted son became Caesar Augustus Kazarian, whom you’ve probably never heard of, became a nobody.

They adopted son was the one who was given all the status, the power, the money, everything. And so being an adopted son was a big deal. And you’re still considered the son. Jesus is the son of God and Mark, probably because He’s the adopted son of God. God makes him his son.

So He doesn’t have to be born to be the Son of God. And around the world He can be adopted. Thank you so much, Doctor. Airman, go sign up. I hope to see you there. And let’s learn something together.

#Virgin #Births #Jesus #Bart #Ehrman #PhD