Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Being born of a virgin

Mark 3
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

Didn't the family of Jesus know that he had been born of a virgin?

If you had a family member who was born of a virgin, would you be sceptical of his claims?

Christian apologists like Gary Habermas and Mike Licona solemnly tell us that James was a sceptic about Jesus.

This shows the nonsense that Christians believe. How could somebody be sceptical when their own brother was born of a virgin?

20 Comments:

Blogger dobson said...

How would you break this kind of news to a sibling anyway? "Son, I've got to explain this... uh... it's gonna be tough, but you and your brother a'int exactly brothers and I'm not your daddy... "

3:05 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I'm sure that Mary's heart was bursting with the news that Jesus was God-with-us.

1:16 PM  
Blogger abtruth said...

what does "being born of a virgin" mean?

i have heard it said that in hebrew that the word 'virgin birth' referred to someone who got pregnant after the first time they had intercourse..

this means that we have interpreted it wrong for many years but ultimately changes nothing.. but it does explain why it wasn't such a huge thing ..

5:09 AM  
Blogger randiss said...

I might point out that the virgin birth is not a pillar of the Christian faith. There are many Christian scholars that don't believe in the virgin birth.

With that said, you dismiss the majority of James scholarship which does hold that James (and Jesus' other siblings) were originally sceptical of Jesus' claims to be God.

If my mother simply told me that my older brother was conceived while she was a virgin I might wonder about her sanity as well.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Sadly, Randiss is unable to give us any of this alleged 'scholarship' which shows that James was sceptical, despite 30 years of observing his brothers literally Christ-like behaviour.

Randiss, of course, believes in the virgin birth without question , although he claims that even Jesus own brother regarded it as nonsense.

I guess James was not as gullible as Randiss...

Or perhaps James just never noticed that his brother was the only person who knew who never lied....

1:15 PM  
Blogger randiss said...

Sadly, Randiss is unable to give us any of this alleged 'scholarship' which shows that James was sceptical, despite 30 years of observing his brothers literally Christ-like behaviour.

I can't? Well aside from the fact that you feel confident in accusing me of blatently and purposefully lying about where the majority of scholarship is on James, I will do you the courtesy of giving you some resources on James (so you can be lazy and not check on it for yourself) from some of the foremost experts on James and from there you can look for yourself to see the background sources that these scholars use on James.

Richard Bauckham (Who is probably one of THE foremost expert on James today)- "James", "Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church", "James (New Testament Readings), "James and the Jerusalem Church" (and you can find many more on his site).

John Painter "James the Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition"

And of course, N.T. Wright ("The Resurrection of the Son of God"), Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans ("James the Just and Christian Origins") also Chilton (The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and his Mission) to name a few. It is well accepted as historically plausible that James did not believe in his brothers Messiahship until after his brother's death.

Here's the problem you have to deal with: You apparently don't want to believe that James was a skeptic and you don't want to believe that Christ was the messiah. But if you don't want to admit to his being a skeptic, you still have to deal with the fact that he was the head of the Jerusalem Church until his death and that his death was a martydom. Either way, you have to answer why? After Christ's death James believed that his brother was the messiah and that he rose from the dead and we have to ask why James believed this?

If you want to claim that James was never a skeptic of Jesus, you also have to ask why? If Jesus was not who the Christians say he was and instead more like the Jesus of Weisse and Bultmann, then there would be no reason for James to accept his messiahship since he never claimed to be the messiah. Also, the oral traditions about James and the other family members of Jesus are credited as being fairly strong. Scholarship on the letter of James suggests a very intamite and private knowledge with Jesus of Nazareth.

"Randiss, of course, believes in the virgin birth without question , although he claims that even Jesus own brother regarded it as nonsense."

And? What does that have to do with anything. I also accept that Jesus was the messiah, something which James did not accept during the same time he disbelieved in the virgin birth. It was only after Jesus' resurrection that James came to believe his brother was the Jewish messiah (and it is very likely that he would have conceded to believing in the virgin birth as well).

11:56 AM  
Blogger randiss said...

My bad. Correction. "It is well accepted as historically probable that James did not believe in his brothers Messiahship until after his brother's death."

11:59 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I see that Randiss evidence consists of producing the names of Christians who believe the Gospels are accurate.

Rather than producing evidence that the Gospels are accurate...

Apparently even the disciples had a lack of faith despite knowing Jesus was born of a virgin.

This is despite them allegedly having been given the power to raise the dead (Matthew 10)

And even Jesus family did not believe Jesus was born of a virgin despite the fact that they knew him and his mother better than anyone.

If Randiss read stories of Muhammad's relatives doubting that the Angel Gabriel had visited him, he would laugh out loud at claims that these people were simply deluded sceptics.

How could James have been a sceptic if the events surrounding the birth of Jesus are accurately recorded in the Gospels, and if Jesus really had been born of a virgin? It is a joke.

Christianity - the story only stupid, gullible people would believe...

12:10 AM  
Blogger randiss said...

I will try to deal with your statements as best as possible. However, I should let you know that by talking over me rather than with me (i.e. "Randiss says", "Randiss believes,") it gives you the look of an arrogant prick. I don't know your intentions so I won't judge whether you are or not (though obviously I'm an apologist that speaks his mind), it comes off that way.

I see that Randiss evidence consists of producing the names of Christians who believe the Gospels are accurate.

First off, I congratulate you in showing your readers what the definition of ad hominem is. Secondly, I know some of them are Christian though I don't know if all of them are (John Painter, Bruce Chilton). Even if they all do consider themselves Christian certain people like Bruce Chilton represent a far more liberal aspect of Christianity. Remember, Crossan and Borg consider themselves Christians yet they obviously don't believe the gospels to be reliable. In fact, all of the names I mentioned treat the gospels as simply Greco-Roman biographies on antiquity and are not committed (even if some of them believe) in inerrancy. Thirdly, the list of names I provided is not to be taken on a whim. These are some of the best scholars working in the field and all of them are widely respected by all scholars. For example, Marcus Borg noted that N.T. Wright is the foremost British expert on Jesus today. That says a lot seeing as how they come from completely opposite spectrums of the field. Bauckham and Evans are also highly respected in the field. To dismiss the scholarship a priori because some of these scholars are convinced that the records are reliable illustrates ignorance and close-mindedness. You’re implying that we should reject the work of these scholars, or at the very least severely call into question the work of these scholars, based on the conclusions that they come to. Is that the way it should be done? I doubt it.


Rather than producing evidence that the Gospels are accurate...

You want me to do a whole exposition in your comment page??

Apparently even the disciples had a lack of faith despite knowing Jesus was born of a virgin.

I missed something. Tell me, where does it state that the disciples knew he was a virgin and, if they all knew this, where does it state that they actually believed he was born of a virgin? In any case, there’s a significant difference between believing an event occurred (the virgin birth) and having faith in Yahweh.

This is despite them allegedly having been given the power to raise the dead (Matthew 10)

The disciples raised the dead in Matthew 10? I’d give that a re-read if I were you.

And even Jesus family did not believe Jesus was born of a virgin despite the fact that they knew him and his mother better than anyone.

Would you believe your mother if she said your brother was born while she was a virgin?

If Randiss read stories of Muhammad's relatives doubting that the Angel Gabriel had visited him, he would laugh out loud at claims that these people were simply deluded sceptics.

When did I ever say that they were deluded? I would expect anyone to question these sorts of claims but I’m not going to sit here and deny that they exist. I’ve severely questioned the virgin birth as well and for a long time took Crossan’s approach that it was a theological message rather than historical fact. That has obviously changed though based on other discussions I’ve read.

And I’ve read those stories about Muhammad—and I didn’t laugh out loud. If I believe in the possibility of supernatural revelation I try to respectfully examine the cases as potentially legitimate. There’s no reason to deny every case a priori. As far as his relatives go, I don’t think they were warranted in denying it all together. Based on what I’ve studied concerning Islam and Muhammad’s “transformation”, the situation of his encounter with the supposed angel represents a likely demonic attack.

How could James have been a sceptic if the events surrounding the birth of Jesus are accurately recorded in the Gospels, and if Jesus really had been born of a virgin? It is a joke.

James didn’t have the gospels. He only had his mother’s testimony, which he probably regarded as slightly senile or fabricated.

I’d like to ask you though: What about if we toss out the virgin birth? Would you concede then that James was a skeptic? Or are you committed to begging the question here and saying that James wasn’t a skeptic.

And you still haven’t answered several of my questions:

1) Why did James come to believe in his brother’s messiahship?
2) Why did James die for this belief?
3) If James was not a skeptic during Christ’s time on earth, then why was he believing that Jesus was the messiah?
4) Since you probably take the scholarship of Weisse and Bultmann on Jesus as better, why should James ever come to believe in the resurrected Christ, come to worship his brother as God, become head of the church in Rome, believe his brother was the messiah, and later die for that belief?
5) How can you deny the strength of the oral traditions in first century Palestine and how they carried the James traditions, sayings, and writings during the lifetime of James, his successor, and the other apostles? Jesus had family that lived throughout the empire for years after that would have corrected this tradition if James was never a skeptic.

Christianity - the story only stupid, gullible people would believe...

Thank you once again for illustrating an ad hominem. I think you are doing more hurt than help to your cause by suggesting that people like (for example) Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, James Dunn, N.T. Wright, William Craig, Darrel Bock, Craig Evans, Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, John Locke, John Newman, F.F. Bruce, William Ramsey, B.B. Warfield, C.S. Lewis, Francis Sheiffer, Wolfhart Pannenberg, G.K. Chesterton, Craig Blomberg, Galileo, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Allister McGrath, Patrick Henry, Michael Faraday, Craig Blomberg, Augustine, Albert Schweitzer, etc. are “stupid” and “gullible”.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Randiss still gives zero evidence that

1) There is convincing evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin

2) It was perfectly reasonable for Jesus own brother to doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin.

3) James denied that Jesus had been born of a virgin

You can mock Christians until you are blue in the face, and they still will not respond by producing evidence...

All they can do is give lists of names, which is as stupid as a Muslim giving the names of 20 Mullahs who believe Muhammad was sinless....

Randiss has zero doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin, because he has read it in an old book, yet claims that he would not believe his own mother on the subject of whether or not she had had a virging birth.

Such are the double-standards of Christians.

They swallow everything they read in old books, while preaching that the very family of Jesus did not believe what had happened to them.

As for Randiss' claim that Matthew 10 does not have the disciples being given the power to raise the dead, here is what it says 'Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead...'

The disciples had been given the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, and still Randiss claims it was reasonable for them to doubt...

12:04 PM  
Blogger randiss said...

Randiss still gives zero evidence that

1) There is convincing evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin

2) It was perfectly reasonable for Jesus own brother to doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin.

3) James denied that Jesus had been born of a virgin


Steven, I really wish you would actually go back and read through your own posts before you jump down my throats. If I were you, I really would be embarrassed by what I was writing.

1) This discussion had nothing to do with the evidence of Jesus being born of a virgin. It was based on hypothetical scenarios “If he was/wasn’t born of a virgin then James…”. Furthermore, why should I be expected to have given evidence for something you never asked me to give evidence for. You state (1) in a manner which you imply that I was ‘supposed’ to answer a question about the evidence of the virgin birth—but you never asked the question.
2) It was perfectly reasonable. Miracles are, by definition, rare occurrences. You have ignored the very question that answers your objection. Would you believe your mother if she told you that one of your brothers was born while she was still a virgin—especially when you know that she was engaged to a certain individual and supposedly “conceived him in virginity” just days/weeks before her and your father got married. It was perfectly reasonable for James to call his mothers integrity and/or sanity of that moment into question.
3) If James was in fact skeptical of his brother’s claims, then yes I would suggest he would be skeptical of his virgin birth. In any case, you’re not being consistent in your claims. You state that the virgin birth never occurred. But then you state that James wouldn’t have been skeptical because he would have believed the virgin birth. But you can’t allow the virgin birth. So what is it? Did the virgin birth occur (and James not be a skeptic) or did it not occur (and James rightly be a skeptic)? And for the record, you have completely ignored all 5 of the questions I have asked you throughout our discussion. Before you start accusing me on not answering questions (some of which I already had, and some of which you never asked), answer those that were posed to you.

You can mock Christians until you are blue in the face, and they still will not respond by producing evidence...

I can see that you don’t really read that much do you Steven?

Randiss has zero doubt that Jesus was born of a virgin, because he has read it in an old book, yet claims that he would not believe his own mother on the subject of whether or not she had had a virging birth.

Such are the double-standards of Christians.

They swallow everything they read in old books, while preaching that the very family of Jesus did not believe what had happened to them.


Strange how you claim to know why I believe in the virgin birth and what led me to believe in it. You can pick that up from a few posts? Hmmm…I’m actually going to start talking like you Steven. Maybe then you’ll actually listen to what I’m saying. Here goes:

By suggesting that I believe in the virgin birth because an old book told me it happened, I have to say that Steven presumes way too much. Actually my belief in the virgin birth (and Christianity for that matter) has been a purely intellectual exercise. My heart connects with Yahweh and led me into a relationship with him, but believing that these events actually happened has been a purely intellectual pilgrimage. If it was, as Steven suggested, simply because an old book told me to believe in it I would believe anything and everything that was in old books. But that is not the case. Though this is a common testimony, I became an agnostic during my junior year of high school after reading Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman and rejected the vast majority of Christianity as fabrication (I took Crossan’s interpretation of the virgin birth). I came back to Christianity after reading through all of McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. I have since been open to rejecting certain parts of the scriptures as interpolations, legend, and whatnot but I have found no reason to reject the tradition of the virgin birth. In fact, I have found the opposite. See my blog randiss.blogspot.com and my December post on the virgin birth for a brief discussion of some of the evidences that convinced me that Crossan’s purely theological interpretation of Matthew 1-2 and the early passages of Luke is incorrect.

As for Randiss' claim that Matthew 10 does not have the disciples being given the power to raise the dead, here is what it says 'Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead...'

The disciples had been given the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, and still Randiss claims it was reasonable for them to doubt...


Well aside from the fact that many theologians would differ on what is meant by ‘authority’ and ‘power’, the passage says nothing about the disciples actually raising the dead. In fact, I don’t see evidence of the disciples raising the dead until after the resurrection (although I have not done an exhaustive search). It only states that they had been given “authority” to do these things. Also, I believe in Christ as my Lord but that doesn’t mean I don’t lack faith. I lack faith all the time, not just in Christ but in myself and the world. Imagine if the disciples went out and tried to raise a dead person and failed. Their faith would certainly decrease even more. We see this happening when they were given authority to cast out demons. Their faith was too weak to cast out the demons, they failed, and it decreased even more. Finally, there were many ‘messiahs’ popping up at that time. You know the disciples had to ask themselves often “Are we following the true messiah?” Christ obviously wasn’t assembling an army to overtake the Romans as had most of the other ‘messiahs’ at that time. The disciples certainly would have had room for doubt about his claims. And I never said the disciples were justified in their doubt (I said James was). But it certainly should be expected given the first century Palestinian milieu.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Randiss continues to claim that Jesus was born of a virgin and that Jesus own brother would not believe Jesus own mother.

Why the hell should we believe Jesus was born of a virgin then?

Of course, Randiss also believes James knew his brother was the only person he had ever met who always told the truth.

And that the amazing events surrounding Jesus birth are true.

And still Jesus , who allegedly taught with an authority not seen before, could not persuade his own brother, despite his own brother having a personal relationship with Jesus.

Randiss has more faith than people who lived with Jesus for years!

And we see Randiss now simply denying the Bible....

When Jesus tells the disciples to raise the dead in Matthew 10, apparently they disobeyed Jesus and did not raise the dead...

Apparently the disciples had been given the power to raise the dead, but they never did, in case they failed.


I find Randiss comments a simple insult to the intelligence.

As insulting as his claim that when Jesus gave the disicples power to expel demons, he stupidly forgot to tell them how to expel demons. (Apparently you have to pray first, and Jesus was too dumb to remember to tell the disciples this essential step)

The Bible is just a big joke. It is laughable.

10:18 PM  
Blogger randiss said...

Steven, I can see that you are going to keep ignoring the questions I have asked you several times.

So that you might actually begin to debate properly, you might like to know that a couple people have contacted me and have said that your objections and debate skills are laughable.

Please stop ignoring my posts and please stop saying only stupid people believe in the Bible when you have yet to answer any of my questions and are yet to prove your case.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Randiss still has produced zero evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that the brother of Jesus disbelieved his own brother and mother, despite the evidence for a virgin birth.

Perhaps James had asked Randiss for evidence that Jesus was born of a virgin and also was not given any?

James would have been amazed that 2,000 years later Christians still cannot come up with any evidence of a virgin birth, other than that they have read it an old book and so believe something that Christians claim people didn't believe, even though knew Jesus better than Christians ever will.



As for Randiss questions, perhaps he will produce evidence that James was killed for his belief that Jesus was the Messiah?



I will answer the question when he produces evidence that James preached that the corpse of Jesus had risen from the grave and that Jesus was not the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.

Josephus, of course, gives no evidence that James was killed for believing that Jesus was the Messiah.

And not one named person who knew James wrote that James believed his brother was born of a virgin.

So much for the 'oral traditions' of Randiss, which he has simply made up.

But , as I said, you can mock Christians until you are blue in the face, and they still will not respond by producing evidence...

9:33 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Does Randiss have one word by this James claiming Jesus corpse rose from the grave?

No. It is pitiable to see Randiss waste his life on a load of unevidenced junk.

Why can't Randiss raise the dead like the disciples could after Matthew 10?


Because he does not have enough faith?

Or because the disciples could no more raise the dead than Harry Potter can really cast spells?

9:36 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

RANDISS
Jesus had family that lived throughout the empire for years after that would have corrected this tradition if James was never a skeptic.

CARR
Wow!

Where is the evidence of Jesus family 'living throughout the empire for years afterwards'?

How can I debate with somebody who resorts to fantasy and make-believe?



And how could James have been a sceptic if his brother really had been born of a virgin?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

What converted James?

Perhaps he had a dream , like his father allegedly had a dream, and thought that what happened in dreams was true?

Apparently people were so dumb in those days that they believed that what happened in dreams was real.

Just like Randiss, who I'm sure believes a real angel really did appear to Joseph in a dream.

10:24 AM  
Blogger randiss said...

Don't turn this around Steven. I see your game and I'm not going to play by it. You trail off onto different topics that have little, if anything, to do with the actual discussion. And after you're already on these other topics, you ask a whole host of questions that have no bearing on the original question. If your plan is to ask more and more and more and more questions until I give up so that you can claim a victory then you can have it. I don't have the time to answer every single question rumbling around in your mind. But I have already answered a host of your questions and you have yet to answer a single one of mine.

1) Why did James come to believe in his brother’s messiahship? (This is attested to by Paul who notes that he was among the apostles, took the head of the Jerusalem church, preached the Lordship of Jesus, and taught the forgiveness of sins, and developed one of the first oral church creeds)
2) Why did James die for this belief? (Virtually every scholar on the market believes this is why James died. Josephus does not explicitly state this, but in conjunction with what we find in Paul, and the reason for his execution was that Annanus, a Sadducee, found James and others [most scholars believe to be other Jewish Christians and/or students of James], as breakers of the law...which is in conjunction with how the Saducees saw Christianity.
3) If James was not a skeptic during Christ’s time on earth, then why was he believing that Jesus was the messiah? (Again, Paul)
4) Since you probably take the scholarship of Weisse and Bultmann on Jesus as better, why should James ever come to believe in the resurrected Christ, come to worship his brother as God, become head of the church in Rome, believe his brother was the messiah, and later die for that belief?
5) How can you deny the strength of the oral traditions in first century Palestine and how they carried the James traditions, sayings, and writings during the lifetime of James, his successor, and the other apostles? Jesus had family that lived throughout the empire for years after that would have corrected this tradition if James was never a skeptic.
6)What if we toss out the Virgin Birth (as you would do). What then do you say about James' skepticism?
7)In any case, you’re not being consistent in your claims. You state that the virgin birth never occurred. But then you state that James wouldn’t have been skeptical because he would have believed the virgin birth. But you can’t allow the virgin birth. So what is it? Did the virgin birth occur (and James not be a skeptic) or did it not occur (and James rightly be a skeptic)? And for the record, you have completely ignored all 5 of the questions I have asked you throughout our discussion. Before you start accusing me on not answering questions (some of which I already had, and some of which you never asked), answer those that were posed to you.

Can we keep the discussion on topic Steven? This has nothing do do other than with James's skepticism. Not Jesus' relatives, not the factuality of the virgin birth (though it has to do with the hypothetical scenarios: if the virgin birth happened, if it didn't happen), not the authority to raise the dead, etc. Of course, some of them I've brought up in some form or another but not as arguments for James' skepticism, just background information. I've been appeasing you and mildly discussing these topics but let's try to keep it on topic from now on. Shall we?

Was James a skeptic or not? That depends on how you answer those above 7 questions.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Randiss is living in a fantasy world where there is a 'strength of oral tradition' that James was a sceptic.

One thing is clear. Randiss cannot produce a shred of evidence for his claim that Jesus was born of a virgin and that not even the family of Jesus believed Jesus was born of a virgin.

Si I get to keep mocking Randiss for his lack of evidence....

Did James die for his claim that Jesus was the Messiah? Who knows?

The penalty for being found out as a fraud was often execution, so perhaps he did die for his fraudulent claim.

Liars often died for their lies in the rough justice of the 1st century.

I don't know why James believed somebody called Jesus was the Messiah. I am not a doctor.



James never wrote a word as to why he believed.

Paul never wrote one single word claiming James had been a sceptic.

All we have are anonymous claims that Jesus was born of a virgin and that his own family thought he was mad, although they were in the best position to know whether or nor James had been a sceptic.

But the idea that your brother was born of a virgin and that you are a sceptic can only be believed by people who live in a fantasy world where they think real angels appear in dreams and tell people that their wife is pregnant without ever having had sex.

All that can be done with such people is mock them as they cannot produce evidence for the fantasy world that they live in.

10:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home