Virgin Mary’s Question – a quiz for you

Here is a puzzle you may want to think about.

In Judaism in effect betrothal was already a marriage, but without moving in together. If such couples wanted to break up, they had to go through the process of divorce.

Jews take bearing children very seriously because they believe it is their duty to fulfill the command “go forth and multiply”, indeed, having less than two children is considered sin for a Jewish family. Thus, the very hope of every Jewish women is having children, a number of them.

Now, knowing this we stand perplexed at Mary’s question. Read the following:

Lk. 1:26 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

The angel Gabriel comes and tells her that she was going to have a child who will be a great leader. Mary’s question is the following:

Lk. 1:34 “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?””

She is asking this while having a husband! Notice, the angel didn’t tell her when she would fall pregnant. If she was betroathed to Joseph while still a child, she could have said, she was too young to fall pregnant. But no, she points to her virginity. Every Jewish women knew that they could fall pregnant from their husbands, thus, Mary’s question is extremely strange. It is even stranger that she was just told that her son would be the king Messiah, but it doesn’t surprise her at all. Shall we suppose that such revelations happened every day to betrothed Jewish women, so that there was nothing shocking in such revelation anymore? Why is it that her majour concern is her virginity rather than the promise about her son, the long-awaited seed of David?

Consider what the earliest gospel, Mark, that served as a template for both Matthew and Luke, has to say:

Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Surely, to Mark the good news about Jesus started with his baptism, not with his birth. It is also striking that outside Matthew and Luke the NT is totally silent about it. Consider 1John has to say about the subject:

1John 5:6 “This is he who came by water [i.e. baptism] and blood [i.e. his death], Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.”

Therefore, John agrees with Mark about the two most significant events that marked the life of Jesus on earth.


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