Many times, when I mention the early Church father’s interpretation of John 3:5, I get a reaction like: “So what? That was his interpretation.” Even if I mention that they were closer to the early Church and were much more capable of understanding the original meanings of Christ’s words, some *still *scoff at the Church fathers.
I am wondering if it is better to ask them what it actually means to be “born of” something. This is a phrase that is not commonly used. The only time I say the phrase “born of” is whenever I recite the Creed:
“He was born of the Virgin Mary…”
Note that the use conveys that she was born of the Virgin Mary and not her amniotic fluid. Another thread reminded me of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and how that play used the phrase “born of”
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm Macbeth. Macbeth Act IV, Scene I
Thou wast born of woman.
But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,
Brandish’d by man that’s of a woman born. Macbeth Act V, Scene VII
Anyone who knows Macbeth is familiar with what “born of” meant. In Shakespeare’s time (and King James’ time) to say “I was born of my mother,” actually meant “my mother gave birth to me.” Macbeth thought he was invincible against Macduff because he believed that Macduff’s mother gave birth to him. However, Macduff was not “born of woman” or “of a woman born”, he was taken from his mother’s womb via c-section.
So what does “born of woman” have to do with “born of water”? For one thing, it can be proven somewhat that if “born of woman” indicates that “my mother gave birth to me” then “born of water” cannot mean the same thing. In these examples, the word “of” indicates a causation. My mother and any woman who has gone through the pangs of labor can testify that amniotic fluid did not give birth to me or cause my birth - my mother gave birth to me or caused my birth.
Catholics believe that a sacrament of Baptism is a *visible *sign of God’s grace, which is *invisible. *The waters of Baptism gives birth as the Holy Spirit gives birth, hence we are born of water and the spirit. It was too bad for Macbeth, just as it is too bad for some other Christians, that the phrase “born of” in not understood properly. It’s also too bad we have to look to Shakespeare’s wierd sisters in order to clarify wierd interpretations.
What do you think? Maybe Shakespeare was Catholic afterall!:shrug: