My Suspicions about the Historicity of Judas Iscariot, Part II

Essay by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 9 April 2003 0 Comments
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Question

If the Virgin Birth is not true, then how could Christ, in his completely human conceived state, accomplish salvation for mankind?

Answer

Your question assumes that it was the Virgin Birth, which made Christ divine. I think it was the experience people had of meeting God in Jesus that created the narratives of the Virgin Birth. That tradition represents a primitive first century attempt to answer the question how it was that God got into Jesus so that people could have a God experience with Jesus. It is interesting to me that only Matthew and Luke resort to this explanation. Paul says only that Jesus was "born of a woman, born under the law." Mark says that God entered him at the time of the baptism when the heavens opened and the Spirit descended. John says he was the pre-existent Word or Logos, and described him in the Johanine text on two occasions as "the son of Joseph."

 
It is fascinating to me to note that the portraits of the most divine Christ in the New Testament are drawn by Paul, who appears never to have heard of the miraculous tradition of Jesus birth and by John who dismissed the virgin birth tradition in favor of the pre-existent Jesus.

 
The deeper question you need to raise is who is God that we experienced the divine presence in Jesus? But that would take longer than a Q & A column will allow. I do cover that in great detail in my book, BORN OF A WOMAN: A BISHOP RETHINKS THE VIRGIN BIRTH AND THE PLACE OF WOMEN IN A MALE DOMINATED CHURCH.

 
John Shelby Spong

 

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