Posted by Vincent (18.104.22.168) on May 27, 2002 at 18:57:28:
In Reply to: Re: Responses posted by PatK on May 26, 2002 at 23:36:35:
Personally, I'm attracted to Christianity more for the cultural aspect, I don't fully subscribe to the traditional views. But I recognize that they *are* traditional, and that they have symbolic value. Churches that get rid of them end up with a guitar-playing priest, all happy-clappy. It's horrible.
Theologically, the precise mode whereby Mary became impregnanted is mysterious. Yes, it was through the Holy Spirit (who, like the other persons of the Trinity, is God). No one thinks it involved physical relations, and although I hear the Roman Catholic tradition has much theological discussion relating to the exact state of Mary's hymen at various points in her life, I don't personally see any profit in this sort of question, it reduced theology to a Monty Python sketch. The ancient Greeks (after Aristotle) didn't understand that women contribute to their children's genetic inheritance, they thought it was only the father's sperm which determined the offspring's characterisics.
Many biblical scholars believe the concept is originally based on a misunderstanding of a prophecy in Isaiah (Lo, a virgin/young woman shall conceive...") which is ambiguous in the Hebrew. The Greek did not permit this ambiguity, and there being ample precedent in pagan lore for a virgin birth, the word chosen was *parthenos*.
"All nations" in the Bible means what we would call ethnic groups--the various peoples subject to the Roman Empire (and perhaps Persia). Jews tended to speak of peoples other than themselves as "the nations" (ha goyim in Hebrew). Early Christianity found non-Jewish converts, foreshadowing its destiny as an independent religion.
I concede that Christianity during the Inquisitition could be described as cultic. Islam, Babism, and Baha'i of course were cultic from their very beginnings.
Thank you for the recommendation, I will look for Francis Beckwith's book.
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