Tonight, we continue our look at the doctrine of the Virgin Birth in reply to wallsofjericho.info. For those wanting another installment last night, I apologize, but I had a busy evening and I had to get up early today and as I heard someone say in quoting that great philosopher of the last generation, Red Skelton, “Late to bed, early to rise, makes me a lot sleepier than other guys.”
For those interested, I will be dealing with the argument here:
We are first told that the foundation of the virgin birth is Isaiah’s prophecy cited in Matthew. Matthew spells it out more explicitly, I’ll grant, but I think the case could easily be drawn out of Luke as well. The difference is that Matthew does cite the OT and whether that citation is valid or not is certainly an important question. To use a reference I’ve referred to before, I suggest the reader try to get a copy of “Jesus: Divine Messiah” by Robert Reymond. Reymond spends nearly 20 pages on this one prophecy and he devotes more time to others afterwards.
Walls of Jericho states that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled within his lifetime. There is no problem with this. I have no doubt that Isaiah was speaking of a young woman in the court and saying “That woman will be with child!” That the child will be able to survive would be a sign that God had delivered his people from the threat that was coming.
The point is also made on how Matthew is going with a dual fulfillment of prophecy in that one fulfillment is greater than the other. For those who believe in the virgin birth, while Isaiah did speak of a young woman who would have a child, which would be a more natural sign, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment in a greater way in that he would be conceived of a virgin. This will be looked at more later. For now, let us look at the word used in Isaiah that is translated as virgin by some translations.
I will agree that Almah does not mean virgin. However, it does refer to a young woman and it does not refer to a married woman. It can mean a virgin though. That is all that matters at this point. While there are various references given, none of them really address the argument. I could agree with much of what is said and not have a problem.
Also, was the young woman already pregnant? I don’t know if she was or not. My thinking is that she wasn’t, but that is left for the Hebrew scholars. I would simply ask “Does it make a difference?” For the prophecy of Isaiah, not really. When it comes to Matthew, he would apply it properly for his own time and again, I don’t see much difference. If the virgin is with a child while a virgin, it still counts. If the virgin will miraculously conceive without sacrificing her virginity, it still counts.
It’s also noted that Matthew did not mention Isaiah’s sign. Why should he though? This is the style of format called pesher where there didn’t have to be a literal one-to-one correspondence on everything but that rather there was a type of sorts being shown which is a rather “This for that” method of interpreting a passage in the OT.
There is not much need to speak on the name Immanuel and how it was used. Our writer says that none of the other names refer to someone being God when used of them. I think the ones that he has such as Elijah meaning “God Himself” could better be read “The Lord is God,” and Elihu could best be read as “He is my God.” Immanuel though while a name for the child in the sense that God is with his people, was fulfilled in a greater sense in Christ with God literally being with his people. This gets into a Trinitarian attack and while I would be glad to focus in on that, that is for another blog entry. This isn’t about the Trinity but the virgin birth.
A point is also made about other Greek translations that don’t translate as Matthew does the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. However, all of these were second century and Aquila, for instance, was done in response to the Christians and trying to get a translation to avoid the Christian ideas that were coming from the OT.
Now we get back to our earlier point about Matthew showing Jesus re-living the history of Israel. Our author is right on that but doesn’t grasp the full connotation. Let’s consider.
The child goes to Egypt like Israel.
The child leaves Egypt like Israel.
The child is baptized as Israel was vis a vis 1 Cor. 10.
The fulfillment of Israel in Matthew 4.
Then we get to Matthew 5 and Jesus goes up and gives the law from the mountain. This is why it says “out of his mouth” even. That would seem obvious that that was where his words came from, but Matthew is making a great statement. Jesus is the lawgiver par excellence that exceeds Moses. Moses received the Law. Jesus GAVE the Law. This is a strong argument for who Jesus is.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are also referenced and it is said that they say nothing about a virgin birth. I read this and I’m thinking “You were expecting them to?” I really don’t see the difficulty with this. If this is a miraculous fulfillment to come in the future, why would the Jews have been expected to know about that entirely? (I do understand that there are some findings that call the claim that the DSS don’t see the prophecy that way into question.)
Overall, I really think the article in this case is sound and fury with no substance.