It has been pointed out previously that the one and only foundation for the doctrine of 'virgin birth' is a passage in Matthew Chapter 1, verse 23, quoting Isaiah 7:14.
There can be no doubt that the Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14 reads "hineh ha-almah harah"
There can be no doubt that the correct translation of the Hebrew is "Behold, the young woman shall conceive" or "behold, the young woman is pregnant." (The Hebrew word for virgin is invariably 'bethulah', hence to translate Isaiah 7:14 as a 'virgin will conceive' is definitely incorrect. Jewish Encyclopaedia, Vol 10. p.425. Vol. S, p.543).
In Matthew's Greek gospel where Isaiah 7:14 is quoted (1:23), we find the word 'parthenos' (virgin) used to translate the Hebrew word 'almah' (young woman).
The Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (LXX), also uses the word 'parthenos' (virgin) to translate the 'almah' of Isaiah 7:14 and it is this Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament that is most often used to prove that there was an expectation of a 'virgin birth'.
What the Christian Churches have is TWO Greek translations on which to base their doctrine of 'virgin birth' so first let us examine the Septuagint.
The three most important manuscripts of the Septuagint are the Vatican, "Codex Vaticanus" (fourth century); the Alexandrian, "Codex Alexandrinus" (fifth century), now in the British Museum, London; and that of Sinai, "Codex Sinaiticus" (fourth century), found by Tischendorf in the convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai, in 1844 and 1849, now part at Leipzig and in part in St. Petersburg.
Many scholarly works, both ancient and modern, attest to the fact that the origin and transmission of the Septuagint (LXX) is shrouded in mystery, embellished with fable, unreliable as to textual integrity, and poorly rendered from the Hebrew. For authorities see *
But, in any case, the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament is not relevant to our discussion of Matthew.
Why? Because we have it on the authority of Jerome that:
"Matthew, who is also Levi, and who from a publican came to be an apostle first of all the Evangelists, composed a gospel of Christ in Judaea in the Hebrew language and characters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed. Who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Beroea to copy it. In which it is to be remarked that, wherever the Evangelist makes use of the Testimonies of the Old Scriptures, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators but of the Hebrew." (Catal. Script. Eccl.)
WHAT ARE THE FACTS?
We have the Hebrew text of Isaiah which uses the word 'almah' - young woman
We have the Hebrew Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah which uses the word 'almah' - young woman
We have the fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls are older than any extant Greek manuscripts
We have the testimony of Jerome that Matthew quoted the Hebrew 'almah' and NOT the Septuagint 'parthenos'.
There was never any prophecy or expectation of 'virgin birth in the Old Testament. Hence, no fulfilment of a non-existent prophecy in the new!
* 1. Vander Heeren, A., The Septuagint Version: The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII, Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company, Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight.
2. Brenton, Sir L.C.E., English translation of the Septuagint, originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851.