Re: spong's bad assumptions and virgin births - for jim

From: George Murphy (
Date: Wed Jan 01 2003 - 18:51:40 EST

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    George Murphy wrote:
    2 points concerning the following:
             1) In spite of the fact that almost everyone refers to the
    accounts of Jesus'
    origin in Mt & Lk as being about "virgin birth", let me point out
    again that what they
    speak of is virginal _conception_. Virgin _birth_, strictly
    speaking, is the belief
    that Mary retained her virginity in the process of giving birth.
    That has also been a
    popular belief - & not only among Roman Catholics & Orthodox - but it
    is distinct from
    virginal conception & does not have explicit biblical support as
    virginal conception
             2) The natural reading of Genesis 1:26-28 is that _adham_
    here means "man" in
    the collective (& inclusive) sense or "humankind" (NRSV) rather than
    to a single
    individual named "Adam" - pace the Zohar, the Gospel of Thomas &
    other speculations
    about the androgyny of the first human. The account of the creation
    of humanity in
    Genesis 2:4b-25 is of course different, but these are two different
    creation accounts.

                                                                     George wrote:
    > In a message dated 12/30/02 10:29:08 PM Eastern Standard Time,
    > writes:
    > > Was Adam virgin-born? Did he have any chance to live as a sinless being?
    > > Just wonderin' - Jim Armstrong
    > >
    > Jim,
    > Virgin births first appear in the rg veda. I think that's the oldest
    > religious writings we have. The people of the rg veda created a tripartite
    > social system. That tripartite system was appropriated by Zoroaster and was
    > then appropriated by Judaism which means there is a thread from the earliest
    > religion to current religion. You're going to want to go back to the vedas
    > and study the virgin birth of agni who brought the self sacrifice from the
    > gods and was called a son of god and then follow that thread to the NT and
    > perhaps even the nag hammadi texts. Then you will understand the virgin birth
    > and why certain figures are assumed to have been virginally born. Virgin
    > births are also a feature of the kabbalah of Jewish mysticism (see Campbell's
    > Myths to Live By). If you can make that journey you will come back refreshed.
    > As for Spong, when he wrote that the NT writers used the virgin birth because
    > they didn't know anything about conception, I had to laugh. Obviously spong
    > didn't realize that if the NT writers had not attributed Jesus with a virgin
    > birth they would have failed to assign him one of the characteristics of a
    > son of god that had been traditionally handed down for at least 2 thousand
    > years.
    > There is much more to religion than you think there is - though God does not
    > fashion things for our satisfaction.
    > In genesis 1:26 God creates Adam and calls him 'them.' Eve has not yet been
    > created.
    > A clue to this strange language is in the zohar, one of the books of the
    > Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism:
    > "From divine thought, when it is most completely revealed, proceed two
    > opposite principles, one active or male, the other passive or female."
    > Then:
    > The soul, in its purest essence has its root in intelligence. We speak here
    > of the supreme intelligence, where the forms of being begin to be
    > differentiated from each other and which is really the universal soul. From
    > there if it is to be a male soul, it passes through the principles of grace
    > or expansion, if it is a female soul it impregnates itself with the
    > principles of judgment or concentration."
    > "Every form in which the male and female principle is not to be found (says
    > the zohar) is not a superior or complete form. The Holy One, blessed be He,
    > does not establish his abode where these two principles are not perfectly
    > united; the blessing comes down only where this union exists, as we learn
    > from the following words: He blessed THEM and called THEIR name Adam on the
    > day they were created (Gen 5:2) for the name of Man can be given only to a
    > man and a woman who are united in one being."
    > Let's go back a few thousand years to the vedic hymns:
    > Agni is for us the first born of truth in the ancient vigor of life: the bull
    > - and also the cow. Veda 10.5
    > This is from Josephus' Jewish Antiquities Book 1:
    > Moreover, Moses, after the seventh day was over begins to talk
    > philosophically; and concerning the formation of man, says thus: That God
    > took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a
    > soul. This man was called Adam, which in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that
    > is red, because he was formed out of red earth, compounded together; for of
    > that kind is *virgin* and true earth.
    > Let's move forward to the Gospel of Thomas one of the Nag Hammadi texts:
    > Jesus is asked: shall we then as children enter the kingdom? In the answer is
    > this line: "...when you make the male and the female one and the same.'
    > At the end of the non-canonical gospel, is this exchange:;
    > "simon peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us." Jesus says to let her stay
    > and says:"I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too
    > may become a living spirit resembling you males. FOR EVERY WOMAN WHO WILL
    > I know that some of this non-canonical material is unfamiliar but Jim needs
    > more before he has eyes to see and ears...
    > rich

    George L. Murphy

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