1The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2Abraham became the father of Isaac. Isaac became the father of Jacob. Jacob became the father of Judah and his brothers. 3Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron. Hezron became the father of Ram. 4Ram became the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon. Nahshon became the father of Salmon. 5Salmon became the father of Boaz by Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed by Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse. 6Jesse became the father of King David. David the king became the father of Solomon by her who had been Uriah’s wife. 7Solomon became the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the father of Abijah. Abijah became the father of Asa. 8Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat became the father of Joram. Joram became the father of Uzziah. 9Uzziah became the father of Jotham. Jotham became the father of Ahaz. Ahaz became the father of Hezekiah. 10Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh. Manasseh became the father of Amon. Amon became the father of Josiah. 11Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12After the exile to Babylon, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel became the father of Zerubbabel. 13Zerubbabel became the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim. Eliakim became the father of Azor. 14Azor became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim. Achim became the father of Eliud. 15Eliud became the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan. Matthan became the father of Jacob. 16Jacob became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the exile to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ, fourteen generations.

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this: After his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. 20But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take to yourself Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21She shall give birth to a son. You shall name him Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.”

22Now all this has happened that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,

23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child,

and shall give birth to a son.

They shall call his name Immanuel,”

which is, being interpreted, “God with us.”

24Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; 25and didn’t know her sexually until she had given birth to her firstborn son. He named him Jesus.

Did the Biblical Account of the Virgin Birth Rely on Paganism?

Topical study | Matt 1:23 | Hershel Wayne House

Many novices in biblical studies, and even a few scholars, have attempted to identify the virginal conception of Mary with pagan myths, as though the New Testament authors relied on these myths to create the story of Mary and Jesus. Such a view is based on a number of faulty assumptions and methodology. First of all, there is bias rhetoric, in which unstated bias is against supernatural intervention in the world. Biblical history and teaching is simply the result of evolutionary development. 

 

Second is a faulty historical methodology. A few distractors to the virgin conception of Jesus seek to connect alleged parallels between mystery religions and Gnosticism with Christianity. It is true that world religions, ancient and modern, have some similarities, such as ritual meals, belief in some form of afterlife, ceremonies of initiation into the community, and some ancient religions practiced circumcision and sacrifice. To establish Christianity's dependence on these religions, though, would require not simply similarity of form, but agreement in essence. Having similarity is to be expected since we have a common human nature, experiences, and desires. What is important, however, is not the similarity of words and practices, but the meanings and significance attached to them.[1] One example of such borrowing is made by two authors, in which they state, “Like Jesus, who at his crucifixion is given a crown of thorns, Dionysus was given a crown of ivory." This suggested parallel ignores the significance differences: a crown of thorns was on one occasion only forced on Jesus as a cruel mockery of Him as “King of the Jews,” while a crown of ivory was frequently and willingly worn by both Dionysus and the pagan worshipers as part of pagan ritual. Such “parallels” are merely superficial and do not indicate dependence."[2]

 

Third, those claiming that the authors of the New Testament borrowed from pagan myths, fail to demonstrate that the myths of the pagan mysteries existed prior to Christianity. It is true that certain mystery religions existed before Christianity, but little information on them historically. It is more likely that they borrowed from the Christian stories.

 

Fourth, little examination from authors like those above is given to the Hebrew background of Christianity. Many of the Christian terms such as "mystery," "sacrificial lamb," and "resurrection" are found in the Hebrew religion even predating the mysteries from Greece, and from the Ancient Near East and not ancient Greece. There is no evidence that the Jewish culture framed its religion after Greek culture, and the Maccabean wars were fought over this attempt by the Greek rulers after the time of Alexander.

 

Fifth, and last, there is a considerable historical connection between those matters relating to Jesus, supposedly borrowed by the authors of the Gospels. All of the books of the New Testament were written between 20-60 years after the historical events. "These were matters not done in a corner (Acts 26:26) and were not cleverly devised tales (1Pet. 2:16), but were testified to by many witnesses (Acts 2:22; 13:30–31). That the claims about Jesus were part of a grand hoax perpetrated by the early Christians, as the authors suggest, is an implausible explanation since they could be easily disproved in such a historical situation. Claims about Jesus’ resurrection, for example, could be easily disproved by a visit to His still-occupied tomb."[3]

 

Additional errors could be answered, but it is sufficient to say that the stories of Jesus are based on reliable records and personal testimonies from those who heard and recorded the words and deeds of Jesus.

 

NOTES

See my article on the alleged dependence of Christians on pagan myths of the ancient world, from which this article was written, and for further sources that support the historicity and accuracy of early teaching about Jesus, and early Christianity. 

[1] H. Wayne House, "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the 'Original Jesus' a Pagan God?" https://www.equip.org/article/the-jesus-mysteries-was-the-original-jesus-a-pagan-god/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.