“Late in time behold Him come/Offspring of a Virgin’s womb”
Between singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” listening to sermons, and doing advent readings with my daughter, I can’t help but think about the significance of the virgin birth.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to show how to use Logos 4 to study the virgin birth. Typing Matthew 1 or Luke 1 into the box on the Home Page and clicking “Go” is a great place to start. Doing a Bible Word Study on parthenos (παρθένος) is also a useful exercise. You can launch a Bible Word Study from the Guides menu by typing g:parthenos or by right-clicking on virgin in a verse like Matthew 1:23, selecting “Lemma παρθένος,” and choosing “Bible Word Study.”
Another direction you might take is a systematic or theological one. I started by doing a search of my entire library for “Virgin Birth.” I instantly received over 7,500 hits. Awesome, but I wanted to make my search a bit more focused.
In order to narrow it down, I made a collection of my Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. Searching only those books yielded a more manageable 565 results. I started by looking at the article “Virgin Birth of Jesus” in the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Of its theological importance I learned, “From the very beginning the doctrine of the virgin birth became the foundation of a high Christology. Many have pointed out that the earliest church fathers stressed this more perhaps than any other event as proof of the incarnation and deity of Christ” (2126). And in New Bible Dictionary I read about Biblical evidence for the virgin birth outside of Matthew and Luke. It turns out those books aren’t the only place to go for allusions to the virgin birth. Paul makes a possible reference in Galatians 4:4.
The next thing you might do is ask, “What have Christian writers throughout the centuries had to say about the virgin birth?” I quickly made a collection of all my systematic theology books and discovered over 1,000 potential targets!
The first thing I checked was G. C. Berkouwer’s chapter in The Work of Christ entitled “The Great Mystery.” In it he dealt with the virgin birth at length and connected it with a doctrine of original sin: “In confessing the virgin birth we do not attempt to exclude Christ from the original sin which supposedly would be derived from a human father, but rather from the original guilt of all who are born of Adam” (129). Clearly that’s food for thought!
In Church Dogmatics I/2, Karl Barth called the virgin birth the “Miracle of Christmas” and described the coming of the Son of God in flesh through the Virgin Mary as a “new thing” outside our normal experience as humans. And because Jesus Christ came for us and our salvation, the exclusion of an earthly biological parent excludes the possibility of us humans contributing to our salvation in any way. The virgin birth is a sign of God’s total grace towards us.
However you celebrate your Christmas, Logos 4 is an excellent tool for understanding the significance of this important season.