Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Clarification on the virgin birth
I did not mean to imply in the previous post that Leo I invented the doctrine of the virgin birth as a way for Jesus to avoid original sin. Christians believed in the virgin birth a long time before Leo. I meant that Leo joined his belief in the sexual transmission of original sin to his belief in the virgin birth in order to show how Christ could be fully human, yet without sin.
Belief in the virgin birth of Jesus is older than belief in the sexual transmission of original sin. The virgin birth shows that Jesus' birth is even more miraculous than those of other angel-announced babies: Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist.
I think the virgin birth also links Jesus' birth to the creation of the world.
Just as Adam was created from dust and spirit, Jesus was made from a human mother and the Holy Spirit. Just as Eve was drawn out of Adam's side, Jesus was born from Mary's womb.
Christ has often been called the second Adam. St. Paul came up with the idea: see Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23. The virgin birth is one way of showing that Jesus, like Adam, "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15).