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Biblical Archaeology Review 3:2, June 1977

Does the Gospel of Matthew Proclaim Mary's Virginity?

By Charles D. Isbell

In a recent BAR article, Père Benoit’s explanation of Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 was quoted without comment and apparently accepted at face value.a Dr. Dwight Young and I have recently completed an extensive study of the concept of virginity in the world of the Bible.b Since some of our conclusions bear upon this passage cited from Benoit, I would like to present a different aspect of the issue.

First, there is simply no single word in the languages of the ancient Near East which carries in and of itself the idea of virgo intacta. This means that the distinction which Benoit is drawing between Hebrew bethulah and ’almah and also between Greek parthenos and neanis is invalid. Only a few illustrations will suffice to demonstrate this.

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