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Brandon Crowe: Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?

Brandon D. Crowe, Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin? (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2013), 30 pages, ISBN 9781596386808.

Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin? is one of a series of little books produced by P & R Publishing that examines questions often asked by unbelievers and even believers. The series is called Christian Answers to Hard Questions. This particular booklet focuses on the supernatural origins of our Lord’s birth. It is short but it is comprehensive.

Brandon Crowe begins by stating briefly the biblical case and notes that we are really talking about “the virginal conception” of Jesus, rather than the virgin birth. He then considers and answers various objections. These include: the “Scientific”, the “Philosophical”, and the “Mythological” objections. At the end of each is a section “Before We Move On”, which asks questions about what has just been said. Through this method readers are able to immediately review what they have read.

It is common for people today to object to the virgin birth on the grounds that such a birth is scientifically impossible. But, as Crowe points out, believers in the first century, including the writers of the Gospels, were not ignorant of the only method of procreation and to them Christ’s conception was a most believable miracle. In fact, as Crowe says, “The issue rather is whether God is able to work above and beyond the laws of nature … to accomplish his purposes.” To that the author responds that He is.

Crowe also shows that the virgin birth was a common teaching in the early church. In other words, it was an early part of Christian tradition. He mentions the writings of Ignatius, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis, and Irenaeus, who all referred to it in the second century A.D. It was also a feature of the so-called Apostles’ Creed.

Brandon D. Crowe is assistant professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia).

After dealing with the objections, Crowe moves on to examine the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In doing so he stretches his purpose a little to examine other issues in the birth narratives, but he retains his primary focus on the supernatural nature of Christ’s birth.

It is striking that the two accounts of the birth of the Lord Jesus in Matthew and Luke are quite different. Crowe argues that the two writers were being “selective” in their choice of the material they used (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit), but that their accounts are not “contradictory”. For example, one has Jesus visited by shepherds, the other has Him visited by wise men. One has a message from angels, the other has a guiding star. They have different features, but they are not contradictory.

One of the few aspects of the birth story that both Gospels tell us is that Jesus was born of a virgin. That vital detail is strikingly common to both. While some may regard the doctrine of the virgin birth as unimportant, these biblical writers seem to have considered it most significant. And so should we.

Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God, and the virgin birth, virginal conception if you prefer, was the means by which He came to us and became one of us.

This is an excellent booklet on this subject, which would be a great help to those who have doubts about the virgin birth and for those who underestimate its importance.

Reviewed by David Malcolm Bennett

Publisher’s page: http://www.prpbooks.com/book/was-jesus-really-born-of-a-virgin

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2015

About the Author: David Malcolm Bennett, Ph.D., is an Anglo-Australian Christian researcher and writer with over 15 books in print. They include The Altar Call: Its Origins and Present Usage, The Sinner’s Prayer: Its Origins and Dangers (companion website: SinnersPrayerBook.com), The Origins of Left Behind Eschatology, Edward Irving Reconsidered: The Man, His Controversies, and the Pentecostal Movement, and The General: William Booth. He is also the transcriber, editor and publisher of The Letters of William and Catherine Booth and The Diary and Reminiscences of Catherine Booth.

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