Is There Proof that Jesus Was Born of a Virgin?

by Sean McDowell

You don’t have to know much about the “birds and the bees” to know that virgins don’t have children by remaining virgins. Human reproduction requires that a female’s ovum (egg) be fertilized by a male’s gamete (sperm) to achieve human conception. There simply is no other option short of a miracle. So what proof is there that Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin?

Those who don’t believe in miracles of course dismiss the virgin birth. In fact, Mary, Jesus’ mother, questioned the whole concept herself when the angel Gabriel announced it to her. “Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin’ ” (Luke 1:34). The angel explained that the conception would happen by the Holy Spirit, “so the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The angel acknowledged that all this was miraculous and added, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God does perform miracles, and in this case he caused Mary’s pregnancy.

A Mistranslation?

The prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be born of a virgin seven centuries before the event took place. One objection that critics make is that the New Testament writer “misquotes” the word virgin from Isaiah 7. The Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 is ’almah, meaning“young woman.” Yet the Gospel writer Matthew, quoting the Greek translation of the Old Testament, used the word parthenos, meaning “virgin.” Critics say that Matthew is twisting what Isaiah was saying.

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Truth is, the Hebrew word ’almah can mean either “young woman” or “virgin,” even though there is a specific word for virgin in Hebrew. However, because of the word’s traditional usage, readers of Isaiah’s time understood he did mean that a virgin would conceive. And that is why the Jewish scholars over 200 years before Jesus was born rendered the Hebrew word ’almah as the Greek word for virgin when translating Isaiah 7:14 for the Septuagint. Matthew wasn’t twisting things at all—he was quoting the Greek translation, considered both then and now to be accurate in translating Isaiah.

How People Reacted

Prophecy provides clear evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin. But there is more. Notice how Scripture says that people of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, reacted to him after he began his public ministry. On one occasion, after he had taught in the synagogue, the people he had grown up with said, “ ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary’…They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him” (Mark 6:3). The label “son of Mary” was an unambiguous insult in a society that called children by the name of their fathers—except, of course, in the case of children whose paternity was doubted…


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