The doctrine of the virgin birth (or, more properly, the virginal conception) has had a little extra attention around the web in recent weeks. There are at least two reasons for this. First, it’s nearly Christmas, which usually brings various posts defending or attacking the creedal claim that Jesus of Nazareth was “born of the Virgin Mary”. Second, New Testament scholar (and my doctoral supervisor) Andrew T. Lincoln has just published his newest book, Born of a Virgin? Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, Tradition, and Theology (Eerdmans, 2013). The book is already getting a lot of attention and, I suspect, will get even more in the weeks and months to come. Here are few interesting links to fill you in on what’s being said about the virginal conception of Jesus in these days leading up to Christmas.
Heath Bradley has a favorable review of Lincoln’s Born of a Virgin?, in which he summarizes the book’s argument that multiple documents in the New Testament (Acts and Paul in particular) claim that Jesus’ Davidic descent must have come through his father’s line. Or, more briefly, if Jesus is not Joseph’s son, neither is he descended from King David. The book further argues that the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke were never intended by their authors to make historical claims and are, instead, examples of conventional literary devices in ancient Greco-Roman biographies intended to communicate theological truth about Jesus. The most interesting part of Bradley’s review was his discussion of the claim that, “one could arguably even be an ‘inerrantist’ and still embrace Lincoln’s proposal.” Also check out Bradley’s follow-up post titled, “Why I Believe in the Virgin Birth”.
As we expect, Larry Hurtado provides a thoughtful and judicious review.
Jason Engwer at Triablogue is unpersuaded. Here’s his six-part review of Lincoln’s book in which he explains why the evidence for the virgin birth outweighs the evidence against it.
Scot McKnight asks, “How Important is the Virginal Conception?”
Douglas Wilson raises the “Why?” question and argues that you need a virgin conception to have a sinless Savior.
If there’s a good post that I’ve left off the list, be sure to share the link in a comment. Happy reading.