Unrecognized Testimony Concerning the Virgin Birth -- By: Herbert W. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 091:363 (Jul 1934)
Article: Unrecognized Testimony Concerning the Virgin Birth
Author: Herbert W. Magoun


Unrecognized Testimony Concerning the Virgin Birth

Herbert W. Magoun

The commentators have always found John 1:13 a crux. A crux it certainly is; but even so most scholars have not realized how much of a crux it is, because three points in the construction of the Greek original have usually been ignored. The first has to do with the verb at the end of the sentence. It has the form, ἐγεννήθησαν, from γεννάω, not γίγνομαι, and its basic meaning is to engender, to beget. When used of the mother, as it rarely is, its proper sense is to conceive, as is shown by its use in the middle, which means to create. In spite of that fact, it is usually rendered “to bring forth, to bear.” In the New Testament the usage is somewhat loose; but in Luke 1:13 and 23:29 the basic meaning, “to conceive,” shines through just as it does in Aeschylus, Suppliants 47. In Matthew 1:16 the basic meaning, “begotten,” again appears; for “born” fails to meet the situation. He was begotten of Mary by the Holy Ghost. Similarly, in John 1:13 the meaning can hardly fail to be “begotten” as will duly appear when the case has been presented in its entirety.

Translators are not unduly particular in their selection of words, as our English Bible abundantly shows. Thus, Luke does not say (3:23), “being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph”; but he does say, “being, as the custom was, a Son of Joseph”; for the Greek has no “the.” In other words, Jesus was enrolled as the law or custom required. He was a Bar-Joseph, getting his patronymic from his legal father. A father He had to have or become an outcast, and the natural thing to do

was to enroll Him in Joseph’s line. That He was so enrolled there can be no doubt as soon as all the facts are known. Moreover, no one in His day supposed that He was the son of Joseph. The Talmud, the Toldoth Jeshu, and the typical oriental three-fold insult in John 8:41 make that matter clear. From His own day until now He has been known to the Jews as “Jesus the Bastard,” a mamzer wʾben ha-niddah, ממזר ובן הנדה.

The passage in John makes no sense, unless it is remembered that the oriental, like the Mexican, insults by innuendo. What th...

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