We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
1:19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
1:20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
1:21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
1:22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
1:23 "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
1:24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,
1:25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
"According to "The First Christmas" by Borg/Crossan, both the Christmas story by Luke and the one by Matthew are "parabolic overtures", in other words, symbolic stories designed to make a point, but not based on fact at all. In fact, the two stories are not only different, but contradict each other in several ways. The Matthew story is supposed to draw a parallel between Jesus and Moses. Verse 1:23 is based on an erroneous translation of Isaiah 7:14. The correct translation of "a virgin shall bear a son" is "a young woman shall bear a son". I believe the RSV version has it this way. Certainly my "Good News" translation has it this way. Matthew was going back in scriptures and trying to find passages that point to the coming of Jesus. When you read the whole story surrounding the Isaiah prediction, it is hard to see the connection, other than the name Emmanuel, meaning "God With Us". Jesus was "God With Us".
I believe the Bible is God's Word, but people wrote it, and as C.S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist said, "Error, contradiction, and even evil are not removed". For me, reading the Bible as a literal factual document makes it lose all credibility. What makes it meaningful to me is attempting to understand the point the writer was trying to make in the context of the culture and history of the times."
I would ask, the correct translation according to whom? It has been much disputed. We have a parallel word with similar ambiguity in English, "maiden."
Insisting on a meaning in a dead language isn't entirely possible. Words have different shades of meaning in the next valley. We can get probabilities only. As for the literary intent of the gospel writers, we are even more at sea. We do not agree on such things for authors who are still alive, of our our era and culture.
I am with you, and Lewis, about the error, contradiction, and evil being possible at many points and likely in some. But I am very cautious about advancing the claim in anything but tentative terms.
Assistant Village Idiot