People believe that Jesus was born of a virgin because they assume that the Bible says that he was born of a virgin. However, in none of the New Testament books did Jesus claim he was born of a virgin.
The main reason for assuming that Jesus was born of a virgin is that, in the first chapter of the New Testament, Saint Matthew refers to a prophecy about a virgin who is going to give birth to a son and that, according to him, comes true in Jesus. But that prophecy is from Isaiah and the original text mentions the Hebrew word almah which, according to most linguists, means young woman and not virgin.
There are some interesting studies in favor of one or another translation. Some Bible scholars point out that this prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus or with the announcement of a Messiah. They assume that Saint Matthew misinterpreted that word because Hebrew was not his mother tongue. Others claim that this word has always meant virgin and that those who say otherwise are skeptics.
Both defend their opinion with serious arguments, but while some seek the truth, others only defend a belief. The latter are unaware that, in his epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul says of Jesus, “born of the lineage of David according to the flesh.” Saint Paul made this comment because the Jews assumed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David.
Saint Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy of Jesus because he wanted to demonstrate that Jesus was a descendant of David. This genealogy holds an enigma because it begins with Abraham, instead of David, and although it is based on the ‘father begot son’ principle, it ends with, “… Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. The sum of generations is therefore: 14 from Abraham to David; 14 from David to the deportation to Babylon; and 14 from the deportation to Babylon to Christ “
Also Saint Luke offers a genealogy of Jesus and also he doesn’t mention that Joseph begat Jesus. Saint Luke says, “Jesus was, as it was thought, the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of …” Therefore, both evangelists associate Jesus’ conception with a mystery.
The gospels managed to convinced the Christians that Jesus was born of a virgin because they appeared many years after his death. By that time Christians gave more credibility to written testimonies than to oral testimonies about Jesus’ life. And since all those who had known Jesus had died, nobody could disprove the idea of his virgin birth.
In the days of Jesus the Egyptians believed in a god who is born of a virgin and the Persians in a messiah who is born of a virgin. When the gospels appeared, the Christian authorities were descendants of pagans who believed in miracles, and who were familiar with ideas such as that of a god or a messiah who is born of a virgin, instead of descendants of Jews who were familiar with books that guard secrets.
To understand the genealogies in the Bible one must reflect on what tracing a lineage implies. Jews consider that someone is a Jew when his mother is a Jew because, due to extramarital affairs, one can be sure who is the mother of a child, but not who is his father.
What is most relevant about the genealogies of Jesus in the gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke is not that they don’t mention who was Jesus’ father, but that they don’t coincide in all the names and offer a different number of generations.
Some theologians suggest that one evangelist offers Jesus’ lineage through Joseph and the other through Mary, but both mention Joseph: while Saint Matthew says, “Jacob begot Joseph,” Saint Luke says, “Jesus was, as it was thought, the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son… “
Someone who pays attention to the exact meaning of our vocabulary realizes that there is a great difference between a genealogy that is based on the ‘father begot son’ principle and one that is based on the idea ‘he was, as it was thought, the son of…’. Saint Matthew offers Jesus’ real lineage, while Saint Luke offers his supposed lineage: he not only informs us that people thought that Joseph was the father of Jesus, but also that they thougth that Heli was the father of Joseph, that Matthat was the father of Heli, etc.
The supposed genealogy in Saint Luke offers additional information about the real genealogy in Saint Matthew. An example: since Saint Matthew says, “Jacob begot Joseph” while Saint Luke points out that people believed that Joseph was the son of Heli, we can conclude that Jacob begat Joseph from Heli’s wife.
Saint Matthew mentions 4 women in his genealogy of Jesus: Judah begot Fares of Tamar; Solomon begat Boaz from Rahab; Boaz begat Obed from Ruth; David begot Solomon from the woman who had been Uriah’s wife. When we look up their names in the Old Testament we find that they all had extramarital affairs: Tamar was Judah’ daugther-in-law; Rahab was a prostitute; Ruth slept with Boaz when she was not yet married to him; and Bathsheba had relations with David when she was still married to Uriah.
People who studied the Bible have ignored certain information in it and have misinterpreted other because they weren’t familiar with the original meaning of a sacred book. Originally they called a book ‘sacred’ when it kept secrets –’sacred’ and ‘secret’ derive from the Latin verb ‘segregare’– and they called the study of these books ‘religion’ –the Latin verb ‘legere’ first meant ‘to unite’ and then ‘read’– because to discover its secrets one had to read them over and over again.
A reason for concealing who was Jesus’ father was that the Jews stoned adulterers and discriminated their illegitimate children. A reason for suggesting that Jesus was born of a virgin was to attract the pagans who were familiar with the idea of a god or a messiah who is born of a virgin to Christianity. Another was that Christians then didn’t investigate who was Jesus’ father. The first chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew made people assume that Jesus was born of a virgin, but really indicates who his father was. By dividing the generations between Abraham and Jesus in a coherent way in three columns of 14 generations one can discover who he was.