Of hair-splits and dummy-spits
Of Greeks and Gifts

Matthew and the young woman

The gospel of Matthew is unique in that it focuses entirely on Israelite norms.

Matthew presents Jesus as portraying in his individual life the entire national history of the Israelite people - a re-enactment - the microcosm-macrocosm principle. Naturally, therefore, the work is replete with quotes from the Old Testament.

There is ample evidence that Matthew actually wrote in Hebrew and quoted the Hebrew of Isaiah ('young woman' not 'virgin'). Therefore, Matthew did not claim that a prophecy of 'virgin birth' was fulfilled in Jesus - no such prophecy existed!

And what became of Matthew's Hebrew gospel? A number of copies are known to have existed in the very earliest times. The situation was summed up neatly by the historian Edward Gibbon when he said that these Hebrew versions were:

"..most unaccountably lost...and we may accuse the diligence or fidelity of the primitive churches, who have preferred the unauthorised version of some nameless Greek." (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2, page 284)

And why did the 'primitive churches' prefer the 'unathorised version of some nameless Greek'? Because the Hebrew version did not support their new doctrine of 'virgin birth'!

So, church authorities must be hoping that no Aramaic or Hebrew gospel of Matthew ever turns up. Although I have to admit it's fairly unlikely that any goats would be wandering around unattended in the Vatican Archives.

Coming up: Matthew's Testimony



It sounds like you are questioning the authenticity of Matthew.

How about Luke 1:35?

I thought the following entries maybe useful for you to consider:



Again I submit to you if the virgin birth did not occur, our sins are not forgiven. Does this matter to you? It matters to me.


I think the interesting thing is that none of Mathew's references can be taken as prophecy in the generally accepted sense that prophecy deals with future events.
All of Mathew's references deal with past events only and become difficult when placed in a future context. Take for example the reference to the birth of Samson,'He shall be called a nazarene.'Mathew was saying to those familiar with the O.T. This bloke is a new Samson. He will begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of their enemies. To understand what Mathew is saying, you have to read around the quotation, and there the story is really told. Even Emmanuel's birth is a statement that God is with us and has nothing to do with doubly fulfilling prophecies or we would have either 2 virgin births or 2 normal births.
Basically, to put Mathew in a modern context he is just giving Jesus' C.V. as the entitled king of Israel.



Once again, I am not questioning the authenticity of Matthew's gospel. Luke's testimony will be examined in forthcoming posts.

As to your comment "if the virgin birth did not occur, our sins are not forgiven. Does this matter to you? It matters to me."

The doctrine of 'Original Sin' has no basis in the Old Testament - 'disobedience', 'deceit' and 'selfishness' are by no means inherited.

Nor does the doctrine find any support in the New Testament.

When attempts are made to justify 'original sin' the quotations are usually taken from Romans, Chapter 5 where we read:
"Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men for that all sinned."

If the rest of the Chapter is examined, it will be seen that this text does not justify 'original sin'.

The purport of the chapter is summed up in verse 19: "For as through one man's disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, the many shall be made righteous."

Simply put, those who follow Jesus are 'righteous', those who follow Adam are 'sinners'.

Paul describes Jesus as the 'last Adam' (1 Cor. 15:45). It follows logically from this that, even if Adam's sin was transmitted 'originally', such transmission ceased at the 'last Adam'.

The Christian ecclesia claim to commence their teachings from this 'last Adam'. How then can a Christian church teach that Adam's sin is still being transmitted while recognising Jesus as the 'last Adam'?

John's First Epistle demonstrates the 'unscripturalness' of this doctrine:

"My little children, let no man lead you astray: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous: he that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin... and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (1 John 3:7-10)

The doctrine of 'Virgin Birth' plays no part in this scenario.


Hi Vynette,

Interesting take on original sin. Are you implying that we are born as blank slates with no preconceived dispostion towards evil?

Also, as it relates to the virgin birth why did the Jewish who translted the Old Testament interpret the word 'alma' in Isaiah as virgin? Apparently, there was an understanding that the messiah would be born of a virgin. Also, the word 'alma' is interpretted as virgin in other Old Testament texts.




I find support for original sin in the Old Testament in the followng passages:

Genesis 6:5 and 8:21
Psalm 14:1
Psalm 51:5
Psalm 53:1-3
Jeremiah 17:9

If there were no original sin, wouldn't you expect to see at least some people living a sinless life? The odds would have to be at least 50/50.



Your quotes from the OT in justification of Original Sin should be weighed in the balance against the entire 18th chapter of the prophet Ezekiel which expressly forbids such a concept.

It begins with "The word of YHVH came to me saying..."

If one believes that God spoke through his prophets, which is stated time and time again in the Bible, then it is the definitive statement regarding God's disapproval of the concept of 'Original Sin'.


I am glad you brought this up...it kind of proves my point. And necessitates an answer for my question. Where are these righteous people referred to in Ezekial 18?

Of course, I would not expect you to agree with the analogia de fide, however this is a perfect example of this hermaneutical principle.

God is just and would not condemn the righteous. However, as Scripture testifies there are none out there. There are none out there, because they are all tainted by Adam's sin.



I totally disagree with your view that there are no 'righteous' people on earth, but that is only my personal opinion - it's not up to me to judge my fellow humans.

As to 'hermeneutics', the word is derived from the name of the Greek god Hermes in his role as the interpreter of the messages of the gods.

The Greek word thus has the basic meaning of one who makes the meaning clear.

Far from 'making the meaning clear', scriptural hermeneutics, more often that not, are used to wrest meanings from scripture TO SUPPORT CHURCH DOCTRINE. I am opposed to this misuse of hermeneutics which is, essentially, that one's understanding of the text as a whole should be established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole.

In other words 'scripture should be interpreted by scripture', NOT BY CHURCH DOCTRINE.

I am indeed opposed to the 'analogy of faith' principle of hermeneutics. Luther's description is: "It is the attribute of Holy Scripture that it interprets itself by passages and places which belong together, and can only be understood by a rule of faith..."

Once again, we have 'faith' adduced to undermine scripture and bolster the doctrines of the Christian Churches.

Nearly two millenia of attempts by theologians to not only justify doctrine but also to justify their own existence, have resulted in the wholesale destruction of the man Jesus of Nazareth and the principles for which he lived and died.


If you believe there are righteous people then you must not take Scripture seriously.

There has only been one righteous person born into this world and He was nailed to a cross for the sins of His people.

"In other words 'scripture should be interpreted by scripture', NOT BY CHURCH DOCTRINE"

I agree and Ezekiel 18 can only be intrepted in light of the passage that I've cited. Not only is the doctrine of Original Sin biblical, it is consistent with the reality of human depravity that exists.

Peter Kirk

Vynette, you claim in a comment above that "I am not questioning the authenticity of Matthew's gospel". But the point is surely that you are questioning the authority of the form of this gospel which has been accepted as one of the four authoritative gospels and part of the New Testament for something like 1800 years. Instead you seem to take as authoritative a lost and somewhat speculative original Hebrew version of the gospel. It is of course convenient for some that an authoritative book has been lost, and so anyone can speculate for themselves about what was in it!

I think you might find a stronger argument if you took the same line as your fellow Australian woman scholar Ann Nyland, who has written the following in a note on Matthew 1:23 in her annotated translation "The Source" (http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/2005/07/source-new-testament-tsnt.html):

παρθένος, /parthenos/, "unmarried woman", "girl of marriageable age" not παρθένιος, /parthenios/, "virgin" (of either gender). The actual word παρθένος, /parthenos/, carries no connotation of virginity, cf. G.R. Horsley, NDIEC 4.222. ... Horsley states, "... While viginity may have been expected, the word does not require that connotation." ... Nevertheless, verse 25 does make it clear that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.

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