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Youtube series on the Virgin Birth

In case it seems that I'm not being Christmasy enough, in actual fact I've gotten pulled into quite a bit of conversation about the Virgin Birth. I've just started a Youtube series about the Virgin Birth, and the first video of that is out, here. Please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel and hitting the bell so that you get notifications.

Recording on it may be somewhat slow, though, because I've agreed to a debate on the Virgin Birth and infancy narratives (I usually refuse debates), which will be recorded on December 11. Plus I'm indexing The Eye of the Beholder--a huge and rather boring task. I did an interview yesterday about some objections to the birth narratives. That link is here.

Triablogue has a roundup of some great resources on the veracity of the infancy accounts and the Virgin Birth. See that link roundup here. Jason Engwer has done some stalwart work there. Theological blogger Steve Hays of Triablogue passed away from cancer during 2020. He was a great soldier for the faith.

So a blessed Advent to everyone, and if you don't hear from me again for a while, a Merry Christmas.

By the way, I heard a new Gospel Christmas song on the radio yesterday that Mr. Google does not seem to know about. It was mostly about the lost sheep. Here, from memory, are a few fragments of the words:

"Mary gave birth to light." "...the darkness we mistook for the light."


O what love the Good Shepherd has shown
To leave the ninety and nine
To go back for that one sheep, lost and alone.
I'm the one he came back to find.

Comments (19)

Big fan (and subscriber) of the youtube channel. Looking forward to listening to the podcast linked too.

Can you say ahead of time who you are debating?

Jonathan Pearce, a British atheist who apparently is a bit of a "fellow traveler" with Christ mythicists. I tried to get it shifted to having Jason Engwer debate him (because I generally don't do debates at all), but that didn't work out, so I agreed. Jason has reviewed Pearce's book, though, and I believe has had some on-line exchanges with him.

Jonathan Pearce rings a bell. I think I heard him on the Unbelievable? show talking about cancel culture.

I'll be sure to keep an eye out.

Good points in both talks, thank you.

It's funny how any hard-headed skeptic who attributes Mary's story to legend / myth made up has to deal with fact that if and when someone made up the myth, they would have had to deal with hard-headed skeptics who would have said "yeah, right, what dark hole did you pull that out of?"

Yes, very good, digestible videos. I like your last point about how the tumultuous transition of power from Herod to Archelaus, unmentioned with any specificity by Matthew (did I hear you say the independent source is Josephus?), explains why St. Joseph might, out of an abundance of caution, chose Nazareth over Judea as a place to settle the family.

Yep, it's in Josephus.

My recorded debate last evening with the atheist, Jonathan Pearce, went well. He insists that Matthew invented the entire flight to Egypt to "make Jesus the new Moses." This, of course, is entirely fanciful. He seemed almost shocked when I stated that there literally was no such genre as "midrash" at the time that involved making up fictional stories that bear loose resemblances to OT stories. Midrash is something else altogether. (E.g. St. Paul's weird, exegetical typology of Hagar and Sarah in Galatians or the author of Hebrews discussing Melchizadek.) I suspect no one he's debated before has ever straight-up challenged that entire concept of "midrash."

And such a theory of wholesale invention certainly doesn't account for Matthew's carefully weaving in the correct historical fact about Archelaus kinging it in Judea immediately after Herod's death, Joseph's worries about Archelaus, or the implication that someone else (Herod Antipas, as it happens) was in charge in Galilee.

The debate is due to air on Youtube a week from yesterday. I believe the podcast version will air then as well, and the radio version a week from today.

Hi Lydia. I thought it was only fair to let you know that I recently posted an article on Jesus' virginal conception over at The Skeptical Zone. Here's the address: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/an-a-z-of-unanswered-objections-to-christianity-q-the-virginal-conception-of-jesus/ . Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and Tim.

And here is the debate on Unbelievable.


Lydia, At 36:27 Pearce says you're just making up coulds in explaining why Joseph went to Bethlehem for reasons besides it was his ancestral home from 41 generations ago. But in his intro, he said that if he can find possible explanations (to counter the Christian narrative), then he's found probable explanations. Am I interpreting him poorly?

Yes, I think in general he's fairly inconcistent on the matter of "coulds." Of course, no doubt the claim would be that making up "coulds" to explain away the Christian story is justified because they are natural and natural explanations are to be preferred epistemically. Where the inconsistency gets more blatant is with theories that aren't even necessary to reject the miracle. For example, saying that Luke is alluding to Psalm 87:6 (which is frankly so ridiculously over-complex that it's not worth refuting) is not necessary to say that the miracle didn't happen. Or saying that Matthew is making up the whole story of the flight to Egypt to "make Jesus the new Moses." These are not *remotely* probable theories, yet he treats them as *probable* apparently just because they can be dreamt up. Then he accuses Christians talking about the kinds of things that happen all the time in the ordinary world (such as a person having a familial and/or property connection to a city while living temporarily in another city) and says they are "committing the possibiliter ero probabiliter fallacy."

Hi Lydia. Just watched your debate. Despite the fact that I would mostly disagree with you, I have to say that I think a fair-minded adjudicator would score the debate in your favor. Cheers.

Thanks, I think. :-) Merry Christmas!

I thought you did well Lydia. But I can see why you aren't keen on debates, it doesn't lay a finger on written work. Your complimentary blog posts for your video series makes the strongest case because you can stretch your legs and really delve into detail. A good debate rarely answers questions - they mostly raise more questions!

The video/accompanying blog post is a stroke of genius BTW. The best of both worlds.

And merry Christmas!

Thanks, Callum! I did the video-plus-blog-post thing for my whole Licona series in the summer, too. Sometimes I even had multiple blog posts per video. It's grueling, though. Not something I could keep up. For my next video in the Virgin Birth series I'm linking a couple of old blog posts from 2016.

Two classic McGrewian images from this series that I, for one, will certainly remember: "crushing a nut with a steamroller" and "cracking a nut with a jackhammer."

Merry Christmas!

I decided to change it up. :-)

Merry Christmas!

Good afternoon,
What do you think about Luke 1-2 possiblity being later interpolation? Found this blog from Jonathan Pearce: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2020/12/21/luke-1-2-infancy-narratives-as-a-later-interpolation/

Thoughts on this particular counter?

That's a really poor argument, which is putting it nicely. I don't have time to fisk it. But the whole textual variant thing about Luke 3:23 doesn't support it anyway and is just another of Ehrman's crappy arguments, and the text family he is using there is highly dubious. His own teacher who taught him textual studies couldn't figure out why Ehrman keeps bringing up variants from this other text family. The "this day have I begotten thee" *is* a fairly obvious interpolation taken from a Psalm that is used also in Hebrews.

The other "arguments" are just laughable. Mark and John start with the baptism....annnd?? So what? More arguments from silence about the virgin birth. It just goes on and on. A compendium of bad arguments.

One insteresting thing I found not featured in his article was the following from here:

Church Fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian attest to the existence of versions of Luke that must have been in prominent circulation by c.150CE that did not include chapters 1-2. These were found in Marcionite churches. Is it just a coincidence that these are the very chapters that differ thematically and stylistically? Of course Irenaeus and Tertullian say that these chapters had been edited out by the holders of these gospels, but they don’t provide compelling evidence and argument. It’s their word against the word of the Marcionites. To quote scholar Jason BeDuhn: “[criticism by the Church Fathers that Marcion edited out Luke 1-2] was at best a guess on their part, and it cannot be given any weight as history just on their word”

Ever heard of this incident? Seems rather suspicious to say the least.

(This article might be more insteresting to you. I think it's better argued but includes a couple of the same points.)

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Been really insterested in this a wasn't able to find many counter arguments on Google.

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