Reproductive biology, the Virgin Birth, and Christology


#1

In the ancient Hellenistic world, based largely on Platonic or Aristotelian ideas, women were considered to be failed men. In that conception, the male sex was more divine, and closer to the divine ideal. To many of the ancients, women were born because something went wrong in the developmental process. They asserted that “successful” development resulted in a male baby, and imperfect development resulted in a female baby.

In reproduction, they assigned higher and lower roles to men and women. According to Greek thinking, the process of insemination created the “form” of a person, while the woman who received semen simply contributed the base matter of which people were made. Unsurprisingly, the Greeks thought semen was a very special thing, full of all sorts of wisdom and goodness derived from the “higher” type of humanity, the male.

In hearing the story of the Virgin Birth, I would guess that the average listener or reader in the ancient world would view the Annunciation along similar lines. Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord, contributed the base material of Jesus’ body, while God create the “form” of Jesus. In an ancient understanding, God substituted his act of incarnation for insemination.

The notion of Jesus’ humanity and divinity was a major point of controversy in the early church. From the late 1st century on, the heresy of docetism asserted that Jesus did not have an earthly body, and that he only appeared as human. In 1 John, we see the author countering this type of claim. Many Gnostics made similar claims. The corporeal body of Jesus was a doctrine of the earliest Christian creeds, including the pre-Pauline creed found in 1 Corinthians 15.

Modern biology seems to throw a curveball into the traditions of Jesus birth. Now, we know that human fertilization requires both a sperm and an egg, each contributing one of each pair of the 23 chromosomes that make up the human genome. With this modern scientific understanding of biology, it seems that the Church may need to reexamine its understanding of the Virgin Birth.

The notion that Jesus did not have two sets of chromosomes is not biologically plausible. No living person has half of each pair of chromosomes. People with irregular numbers of chromosomes experience profound developmental problems. Furthermore, for Jesus to be a male, he had to receive a Y chromosome from one of his parents, and Mary did not possess one.

These are the types of questions I think are reasonable to ask:

  1. Did Mary contribute an ovum (unfertilized egg) to the conception of Jesus?
  2. Did God implant a sperm in Mary or a fertilized conceptus (egg)?

The answers to these questions seem to directly bear on our understanding of Christology. Does that make sense?


#2

[quote="fnr, post:1, topic:318839"]
Now, we know that human fertilization requires both a sperm and an egg, each contributing one of each pair of the 23 chromosomes that make up the human genome. With this modern scientific understanding of biology, it seems that the Church may need to reexamine its understanding of the Virgin Birth.

[/quote]

That is only the criteria if a miracle is not involved. God could have done it by way of effecting a sperm, or by simply ordering Mary's ovum fertilized, or who knows. The matter is a mystery, but all we know for certain is that Mary gave birth to Jesus, whom was fully God and human.


#3

From a homily by Saint Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church:

Let no one judge in a human way what is done is a divine mystery

A virgin conceived and a virgin brought forth her child.

Do not be disturbed at this conception or confused when you hear of this birth.

Let no one judge in a human way what is done in a divine mystery.

Let no one try to penetrate this heavenly mystery by earthly reasoning.

Let no one treat this novel secret from knowledge of everyday occurrences.

Let no one manipulate the work of love into an insult, or run the risk of losing faith.


#4

Honestly, I understand following a line of thought, but this "stumbling block" to a virgin conception is predicated on God being limited by the natural workings of fertility. God changes the natural order at will. In one way God is consistent. He always invites us to join in his creative works, and his plans for salvation. Therefore, I believe that God used Mary's ovum.

Prophecy says that the Savior will come from the line of David. Which the Jews tracked through the male lineage. What is interesting, is that Mary is also fromt he line of David. So God chose to fulfill his prophecy in a most humble way through Mary.


#5

=fnr;10493307]In the ancient Hellenistic world, based largely on Platonic or Aristotelian ideas, women were considered to be failed men. In that conception, the male sex was more divine, and closer to the divine ideal. To many of the ancients, women were born because something went wrong in the developmental process. They asserted that "successful" development resulted in a male baby, and imperfect development resulted in a female baby.

In reproduction, they assigned higher and lower roles to men and women. According to Greek thinking, the process of insemination created the "form" of a person, while the woman who received semen simply contributed the base matter of which people were made. Unsurprisingly, the Greeks thought semen was a very special thing, full of all sorts of wisdom and goodness derived from the "higher" type of humanity, the male.

In hearing the story of the Virgin Birth, I would guess that the average listener or reader in the ancient world would view the Annunciation along similar lines. Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord, contributed the base material of Jesus' body, while God create the "form" of Jesus. In an ancient understanding, God substituted his act of incarnation for insemination.

The notion of Jesus' humanity and divinity was a major point of controversy in the early church. From the late 1st century on, the heresy of docetism asserted that Jesus did not have an earthly body, and that he only appeared as human. In 1 John, we see the author countering this type of claim. Many Gnostics made similar claims. The corporeal body of Jesus was a doctrine of the earliest Christian creeds, including the pre-Pauline creed found in 1 Corinthians 15.

Modern biology seems to throw a curveball into the traditions of Jesus birth. Now, we know that human fertilization requires both a sperm and an egg, each contributing one of each pair of the 23 chromosomes that make up the human genome. With this modern scientific understanding of biology, it seems that the Church may need to reexamine its understanding of the Virgin Birth.

The notion that Jesus did not have two sets of chromosomes is not biologically plausible. No living person has half of each pair of chromosomes. People with irregular numbers of chromosomes experience profound developmental problems. Furthermore, for Jesus to be a male, he had to receive a Y chromosome from one of his parents, and Mary did not possess one.

These are the types of questions I think are reasonable to ask:
1. Did Mary contribute an ovum (unfertilized egg) to the conception of Jesus?
2. Did God implant a sperm in Mary or a fertilized conceptus (egg)?

The answers to these questions seem to directly bear on our understanding of Christology. Does that make sense?

I'll assume that you DO know better based on your final quote:shrug:

As the expression goes: "this ain't Rocket Science"

Either God is Good [always and everytime and everywhere]

God is Perfect [and can't be less than perfect]

God is All Powerful [or man is at least equal; perhaps even exceeds thier god[s] ]

or God simply does not exist; Jesus never existed and catholicism **and its **Imitators in christianity REALLY "missed the boat"

Or God CAN do any good thing.:thumbsup:

He can and HE DID:D

God Bless you,
pat/PJM


#6

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