However, Jesus’ birth is not what I want to ‘talk’ about in this post. A Biblical newsletter I have subscribed to since first researching the background of the Apostle John Series poses some questions. The following are some…
- Was Jesus conceived by Mary and someone other than her husband Joseph or the Holy Spirit?
- Could a Roman soldier have been involved?
- What were the cultural norms of the time about pregnancies out of wedlock?
Mary was a betrothed wife. That meant she had accepted Joseph as a husband, probably drunk from a betrothal cup (since that was the custom). Then he would have gone home to ‘prepare a place’ while she remained with her family. No sexual contact happened between the betrothed couple before the husband until he returned to claim her – usually a year later, but this could vary depending upon circumstances. Once the betrothal had taken place they were legally married, and it could only be dissolved by divorce. This could have been what Joseph considered when the news of Mary’s pregnancy came to him.
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Matt1: 19 ESV
‘Just’ in some versions is translated ‘righteous.’
Perhaps, though, ‘just’ is appropriate too, because he could have publicly broken off the marriage on the ground of the apparent guilt. The consequences were ‘dire.’
“then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 22: 21 ESV
However, Joseph ‘being unwilling to put her to shame’ had the option of a “writ of divorcement,” which did not necessarily specify the ground of repudiation, except in vague language implying disagreement.
This answers questions number 1 and 3, what about number 2?
Jesus' birth was the result of an ‘affair’ with a Roman soldier?
That is what it could seem to imply. However, the Bible has a different answer…
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1: 26 – 30 ESV (Bolding mine.)
Does this sound like a woman who would have an affair with a Roman soldier?
God had chosen the one to give birth to His Son.
Since His Son would be the Messiah, God would not have chosen a ‘vessel’ that was not pure.
If you think that is a ‘fantasy’ and God did not ‘father’ Jesus – consider how many miracles he performed. There are also a long list of prophecies fulfilled – between 300 and 400 according to some sites. A clear list can be found at
Or, does the reference to a Roman soldier suggest she might have been raped?
Again, looking at the culture of the times, young women of good families did not go out unaccompanied. After a woman’s betrothal she was veiled.
Mary was of the house of David, the purity of the ‘line’ was important to God as well as to David’s descendants.
I prefer to believe the Bible on the subject of Jesus’ birth.
Traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth
Clue: Related to the custom of the day.
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Have a safe week <smile>