The Story Of The Nativity -- By: Herbert W. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:333 (Jan 1927)
Article: The Story Of The Nativity
Author: Herbert W. Magoun


The Story Of The Nativity

Herbert W. Magoun, Ph.D.

There is, perhaps, no other story in all literature that has caused so much comment or met with so much incredulity as that of the virgin birth. From the very beginning that story has been ridiculed by the foes of Christianity, it has been regarded by them as absurd, and it has accordingly been rejected as a wild tale of some fanatic. In our day, the incredulity has spread to members of the various churches and likewise to “liberal” preachers, regardless of the denomination to which they belong.

Such persons hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph. They thus reduce him to an ordinary man, but one of unusual acumen, and they seek to account for his appearance as a leader. They persist, however, in calling themselves Christians, though they must of necessity give up any worship of Jesus as the Christ on such a basis. They are therefore not Christians in the traditional sense.

They accept the teaching of the “New Syriac”; but they overlook the fact that even that version, which attempts to show that Joseph was the father of Jesus, retains Matthew 1:18 and makes it say: “When they had not come together, she was found with child from the Holy Ghost.” In plain English that means that Joseph had no chance to be the father of Jesus, and verse 25 in the true text makes it plain that he was not even an accessory after the fact, since he had no carnal intercourse with Mary until after Jesus was born.

Even the New Syriac, then, teaches inadvertently that Joseph could not have been the father of Jesus, and but two alternatives are left. Either the gospel story is true or Jesus was a bastard, precisely as the Jews have always maintained. He is so called by them to-day. There must be a reason.

But if the gospel story is not true, the question at once arises: “Whence came it?” Men say that it is merely a story similar to those found in heathen literature where

virgin births are common; but they forget one thing. No true virgin birth can be discovered in any other literature, unless we except a case or two that are doubtful to say the least. A Japanese legend says that the mother of Nichirim dreamed of seeing the sun on a lotus blossom and then conceived him, presumably, we may infer, without sexual intercourse, which makes the story a fairy tale and nothing more.

Other heathen virgin births all involve a god, or a hero, and sexual union except one, which still includes the same basic principle. In the Zend-Avesta a remarkable prediction appears concerning a last Saoshyant, or Savio...

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