Bible Review 7:5, October 1991

How Early Christians Viewed the Birth of Jesus

By James E. Crouch

“Can Scholars Take the Virgin Birth Seriously?” BR 04:05, by J. Edward Barrett, produced more letters to the editor than any other article ever published in this magazine. Of the 27 letters printed, only two suggested that Barrett’s exploration of the subject had any merit whatever. Such a response leads me to believe that a closer examination of early Christian views about the origin of Jesus is in order.

For believers and nonbelievers alike, the Apostles’ Creed represents the essence of Christian faith. It affirms: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary. …”

Far from being a central dogma handed down by the apostles, however, the virgin birth was for several generations but one of a number of ways in which Christians gave expression to their belief that Jesus stood in a special relationship to God.

Regardless of your opinion about the historicity of the virgin birth, it is important to recognize that in the earliest centuries of Christianity, Christians themselves held different opinions about the origin of Jesus.

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