Imagine with me for a few paragraphs…what if. What if Jesus was a lot different than the story we have today—one that has morphed and enhanced over two millennia? What if, instead, Jesus was more of a regular guy—albeit certainly a guy with a unique anointing and mission? Would it necessarily change anything about his importance and crucial role in The Story for any of us? Is there any chance it might it make him even more relatable and significant to us, not less? For example…
What if Jesus wasn’t really born of a virgin. What if “sin” is a bit different than what we now think and that maybe Jesus threw tantrums as a toddler, fought with his siblings, and had to learn how to “be good” for his mother. What if, during the course of growing up, he had a big crush on a girl, or played poker with his buddies on the weekends (while smoking cigars), went to school dances, drank a couple beers at the local pub, and maybe even went to an R-rated movie a couple times—all things worthy of a ticket to hell in my conservative Nazarene upbringing. What if he got married to the woman he loved, and had a child or two. Would that REALLY change anything about his importance in God’s plan or his ability to save/heal everyone from death (not hell, mind you)? And if our answer is “BLASPHEMY! YES!” could it perhaps be merely because we are missing perspective, not because it is actually so?
Before you write me off as worthy of a stake positioned over green, water-logged wood, hear me out. I’m not declaring that this is the knowable truth, obviously, but I certainly have some noteworthy thoughts to consider when contemplating the portrayal, essence, role, and purpose of Jesus. And don’t we have the freedom to ask anything with a sincere desire to know a greater revelation of the truth?
Also, before moving forward, I openly begin upon the premise that the Bible, especially as we have it today, is not 100% reliable. Inspired? Yes! Reliable on every point and verse, no. Thee full revelation of God? Absolutely NOT. Not only were many other inspired writings and even authentic gospels suppressed and/or destroyed by Roman influence in early centuries (any that did not support the Church’s propaganda and position as the ultimate, unquestioning authority in men’s lives), but we find evidence in the New Testament that the written words on paper are not the revelation—Jesus himself in his full-bodied, living word form is the revelation of God.
As we go down this road, bear in mind that it is common belief by many respected scholars today that the western Roman Church inserted some of their own doctrines into the mouths of the NT writers (later), a phenomenon called “interpolation.” This is able to be spotted by linguistic experts in that the style and form of certain verses does not fit in with others. Not to mention, between the two primary Greek manuscripts we have translated our modern New Testament’s from, you can see evidence of interpolations just by comparing verses (e.g. compare 1 John 5:7-12 between the KJV (Textus Receptus) and the NASB (Nestle Aland)). So, for a moment in time, let’s consider some interesting facts that might shed light, or at least questions, on the modern version of Jesus 6.0.
I. Virgin birth. One of the prophecies that virginal advocates rely upon heavily is from Isaiah 7:14, “Behold the virgin will be with child and bear a son.” This passage has long been a controversy in that the earlier Hebrew word used in this passage cannot decisively mean a virgin, only a young woman, and it was the Septuagint that first used the word “virgin.” In context, this prophecy was given to King Ahaz as an impending prophecy fulfillment during his lifetime, 800 years before Christ, which is why Jews reject it as a messianic prophecy. Consider this tidbit from Wikipedia, where you can also read about the major controversy among Bible versions and Christians to this day surrounding this passage.
The “virgin birth” is found only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke – it is not mentioned in Mark’s gospel, nor by John, who refers to Joseph as Jesus’s father, nor by Paul, who says that Jesus was “born of a woman” without mentioning that the woman was a virgin.
If Jesus’ birth was all that supernatural and amazing as being brought about through a virgin —worthy of focusing an entire religion and worship around—don’t you think the other writers of the New Testament would have mentioned it, especially Paul? Paul was sent to educate the unknowing Gentiles in all things important to their faith. Don’t you think a virgin birth would have been significant enough to him to pass along? It’s not like that kind of thing happens every day!
Another reason I suspect the falsity of the virgin birth is due to the morally ascetic emphasis of the Middle/Dark Ages Church traditions aimed at creating an impossible standard of moral piety or superiority (a.k.a. Mother Superior?), which set up the need for human intercessors between God and man, namely priests and nuns who held much control over people’s money and movement, while destroying healthy and beautiful human sexuality. This is not the message of liberation in Christ that I see presented in the New Testament. In fact, the Virgin Mary created an impossible, guilt-ridden standard throughout the centuries, in her own right another “god to be worshiped” (she is still worshiped to this day by nearly 1/6 of the world).
What’s interesting is that, in the Catholic tradition, Mary was not only a virgin, she was also sinless in the traditional sense, like her son. Why does Protestant Christianity reject the Catholic notion of Mary being sinless but affirm her Catholic virginity?
Though there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that would encourage a life of complete sexual abstinence as being holier or closer to God, this distortion has always been propagated by the Catholic Church through the priesthood and “vows of chastity” (even though their “first revered pope,” Peter, was married). Nearly all the Biblical times people were married with children, many of them even practicing polygamy. Paul’s reason for suggesting singlehood (if indeed it was even Paul who said that) was not to do with being “chaste” or “holy,” but merely his opinion offered as a way to focus on the huge distraction of ministry without neglecting your family. However, even Paul said it is better to marry than not for any warm-blooded person and, as far as I know, nearly all Pharisees and rabbis married in those days because they were fulfilling God’s edict to “be fruitful and multiply.”
The next question is, if Jesus didn’t come through a virgin, why and how would that rumor have gotten started? Tune in next time for more of why I suspect Jesus just might have been more of a regular Joe, and why it matters in the end.