James Tabor puts out a lot of information and there is just too much to go through effectively in pointing out the misconceptions unbelieving academics put out there.
This article will go through several of his articles and discuss key points. Links won’t be provided except for the main page but titles of each article where the excerpts are pulled will be written at the beginning of each discussion.
There are three basic positions that have been offered in response to the two birth stories we get in Matthew and Luke: 1) Jesus had no human father; 2) Jesus is in fact the biological son of Joseph; 3) Jesus is the biological son of an unnamed male under unknown circumstances.
Yes that is true. These are the three major positions when academics discuss Jesus’ birth but there is only 1 that is true– Jesus did not have a human father. The reason why the alternatives crop up is that too many people cannot accept what the Bible says is true and they do not believe in miracles.
The Bible is an ancient text and it is valid source for history. Just because secular scholars reject it as such doesn’t make it so.
The Greek philosopher Celsus relates in polemical work against the Christians preserved by the Christian theologian Origen that he had found it “written” that Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier named Pantera (Contra Celsum 1. 69). This text dates to the late 2nd century.
It doesn’t matter what humans say about the Bible or the historical miraculous birth of Jesus. They do not have final say on what took place in history. Their comments are influenced by their bias and unbelief, plus their rejection of the truth.
If someone disagrees with the Bible then it is not the Bible that is wrong. The Bible is not up for scrutiny concerning its truthfulness. When God gave man dominion over the earth, He did not place His word under that dominion. God’s word is not subject to man’s judgment; it is a book that requires a choice–to believe it or not.
If one disbelieves, then they have no right to concoct their own idea of what took place 2,000 years ago and use that false tale to replace the truth of the Bible. There was no human father for Jesus in the biological sense, no matter what ancient or modern author writes or claims.
Although only Matthew and Luke assert the “virgin birth” of Jesus, and the teaching is found nowhere else in the New Testament, the belief that Mary’s pregnancy resulted from a divine act of God without any male involvement developed into a fundamental theological dogma in early Christianity
There doesn’t have to be any more mentions of the virgin birth in the NT for it to be valid or accepted by other disciples and early christians. God does not have to be redundant. He mentioned it twice in the Gospels, He doesn’t have to keep mentioning it.
Do we need mentioning of the Sermon on the Mount to be repeated for the beatitudes to be true and spoken by Jesus? Of course not. Nor do we need multiple mentioning of His birth for it to be valid and true.
But there is another possibility; an alternative explanation as to what might be behind these “virgin birth” accounts. And it has some compelling evidence in its favor. When you read the account of Mary’s unsuspected pregnancy, what is particularly notable in both texts is an underlying tone of realism that runs through the narratives
The alternatives just are not true and are mere weak attempts to justify a person’s rejection of the Biblical account of Mary’s pregnancy. There is no ‘compelling evidence’ supporting any alternative pregnancy idea. referring to other pregnancies is not evidence for Mary’s. They have nothing to do with the biblical narratives and shed no light on the work of the Holy Spirit.
Of course there would be an ‘underlying tone of realism’ in the biblical accounts of Mary’s pregnancy because it was real and the accounts are recording the actual events that took place.
A recent piece I wrote for the Daily Beast titled “Should Christians Celebrate the Birth of Jesus or of Paul?” was published on Christmas Eve, just in time for the grand celebrations of Christmas around the world:
Millions celebrate the birth of Jesus without realizing that it was the Apostle Paul, not Jesus, who was the founder of Christianity
This is simply not true. Paul was the servant of Christ who prior to his conversion attacked the Christians and the church relentlessly. It would be impossible for Paul to be the founder of Christianity since the 12 disciples preached the gospel long before Paul came on the scene.
Paul had to learn much before he was allowed to go preach and we have record of that in Acts as Paul worked as a tent maker while ‘training’ for full-time service. People say that Paul was the founder simply because of his dominant role in the Bible. Why God chose Paul’s letters over other disciples for inclusion in the NT, we do not know.
God could easily have had the other disciples do the majority of teaching but He chose Paul for His own reasons. That selection does not diminish the work and teachings of the 12 disciples nor does it elevate Paul to the founder of Christianity. Paul simply was used by God to address difficult issues and to provide further instructions for His followers.
Providing more teaching so believers can grow strong does not mean one is a founder of a new religion, it simply means that those people have a specific duty to perform for God. Christ established Christianity not Paul. Paul built upon the foundation Christ brought with the direction and permission of God.
All four New Testament gospels are written in Greek though we have an ancient tradition that the gospel of Matthew was originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic. The names associated with these gospels are traditional and the authors, whoever they might have been, never identify themselves by name.
We do not know the original language used to write the Gospels. No one has seen the originals for almost 1,900 years, (give or take a century), unless some ancient source does mention it but it would be hard to verify their statement.
The names associated with the Gospels are the names of the authors who penned them. God would not have a lie in His book or it would not be His word. Having false names on the books would simply bring suspicion to the contents and people would reject the words as possible lies.
Mark is our earliest gospel, even though it comes second in the New Testament. Mark was written around 70 AD, and it provides us with the basic narrative framework of the career of Jesus. Matthew was written next, likely around 80 AD, and the author uses Mark as his main source but edits it freely, as we will see. The author of Matthew also had access to a collection of the teachings of Jesus that we call Q, which Mark did not have. He incorporates that material into his work as well. Luke was written around 90 AD and the author uses both Mark and the Q source, but he has a considerable amount of his own material with which he supplements his story
We do not know which Gospel was written first nor are we sure of the exact dates when they were written. There is no such document as ‘Q’. No one has ever seen it, no ancient writer mentions it, and no one quotes from it.
‘Q’ is the fictitious creation of scholars and academics who could not/cannot accept that the authors were given the material via the Holy Spirit and their own personal observation as they lived and learned from Christ. The supposed content of ‘Q’ is picked arbitrarily by those academics but again, there is no way to verify their choices. The supposed source called ‘Q’ has no manuscript in existence today or ever.
The contents are purely the result of the subjective opinion of those scholars who have worked to ‘construct’ it. It is hard to construct something that never existed and provides no way to confirm if they are right or wrong.
This idea of humans being fathered by gods is quite common in Greco-Roman culture. There was a whole host of heroes who were said to be the product of a union between their mother and a god–Plato, Empedocles, Hercules, Pythagoras, Alexander the Great and even Caesar Augustus.
The answer to the article question is a simple ‘no’. If Paul invented the virgin birth, it wouldn’t have taken long for the enemies of Christianity to expose the fraud and no one would believe , especially 2,000 years later.
Christianity would not exist as well as the virgin birth is a lynch pin belief and if that was proven false then all of the beliefs of Christianity would be false as well. How could Jesus be the way of salvation if He sinned prior to His death and resurrection?
No, Paul did not invent the virgin birth, it was a true event and God did it so that His son would remain sinless and be the perfect sacrifice for all.
The quote comes from the actual article published at the Huffington Post and its content shows a lack of critical thinking applied to secular ancient works. We have been aware of such stories about these strange events in other human lives but one only has to look at the existing manuscripts and their dates.
All of them date to long after the 1st century AD which tells us that the copyists or authors of those manuscripts edited them to copy the truth of the Bible. Mithras is a good example of this:
Interestingly, from about the 7th Century B.C.E. some documents hint that some amount of Mithraism may have been codified in writing. However, none of those hinted-at writings have survived or have yet been found by modern researchers. This lack of B.C.E. canon for Mithraism stands in stark contrast to Judaism whose laws and writings have withstood numerous invasions, exiles, and national disasters
As we scan Dr. Tabor’s work we can see how far astray he goes in pursuit of his academic endeavors. It is important for the believer not to be caught up in these wild goose chases but stick to the truth and learn how to refute the lies that academics promote.
As said earlier, it a person disagrees with the Bible then the person is wrong not the Bible. If the Bible is wrong then it is no longer God’s word and it brings no revelation and no hope of salvation. The same goes for scientific and archaeological discoveries– if they disagree with the Bible then they are wrong, not the Bible.
Believers need to be strong and not swayed by the unbeliever who drops names of experts and discoveries that they claim contradicts the Bible and proves it wrong. If the Bible is wrong at any point, then we have no faith and nothing to believe.