Topic moved here for further discussion regarding how genetics and religion intersect in Jesus.
Oh boy! Now that is quite a question!
As I recall, it was decided at a Church Council some time ago that Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. Mary would be his only source of human genetics. I don’t even want to guess about the God part though. I mean, does God even have a genome?
I suppose this would be a whole new thread, and I don’t know if anyone (including me) is up for it, but I think a careful consideration of Jesus’ genome, along with some (I think) basic historical Christian theology, need not be unsettling. The only unsettling thing I can think of is the one you were probably alluding to: the fact that Jesus’ genome, and especially his Y chromosome, would identify his father. I mean in principle, of course, since I don’t see how we can expect to have DNA from the human candidates (Joseph et al.). Maybe his Y chromosome would somehow say “god” but I don’t know how that would work.
Given the number of relics claimed to come from Jesus’ body (including his foreskin, now there’s a nice unsettling thought), we might wonder if we have access to some of his DNA. I don’t personally find any of the relics credible, but it’s not biologically/physically ridiculous to think that some of his DNA is still intact on earth.
One pastor categorically said to me that God provided the sperm. I don’t know. It seems to me that there was not even any necessity for Jesus to have Mary’s genes, come to think of it. His genome could be entirely de novo. What do you think @jpm?
For me this is categorically unacceptable for a legion of reasons. Adam created from dust by magic is a golem not a human being. And Jesus made from artificial DNA designed by God is no more human than that golem – do we use the term “replicant” from “Blade Runner” for that? Furthermore, the world was full of perfectly adequate DNA which was billions of years in the making, so why in the world would God start from scratch. Frankly the philosophical implications of doing that are horrific and derive from racist ideas that the quality of the human spirit has something to do with genetics. Finally, the only thing we find in the Bible are things such as the genealogies which contradict this idea of a genetic discontinuity between Jesus and the rest of humanity.
GOD IS NOT a genetic biological organism. Thus genetics has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with being the son of God. It is a memetic inheritance from God which makes us His children and that is likewise the only discontinuity which makes any sense in regards to Jesus. He grew and learned just as we do but his connection with God was absolute. So while Mary and (Joseph?) may have been his biological parents, his parent in every other sense was the Father, and it seemed that Mary and Joseph did not really know Him in that sense. If we had known the boy, we would most probably have thought he was a really strange kid, talking to someone we could not see all the time.
Thank you for your comment. Reconciliation should always be the goal of the Christian message. The problem is when people believe that the Bible is the Absolute Word of God, there is no basis for reconciliation, even with other Christians because they usually understand the Absolute Truth in a very narrow way.
That is why it is necessary to understand the Word/Logos of God as the Living Word Jesus Christ Who is much larger than our narrow interests. That is exactly what we need today. I really do not understand how some “evangelical” leaders can still support the President.
@mitchellmckain, thank you for the scripture.
John 5:36-40 (NIV2011)
37 And the Father Who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me. You have never heard His voice nor seen His Form,
38 nor does His Word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent.
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me,
40 yet you refuse to come to Me to have Life.
John 5:16-18 (NIV2011)
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute Him.
17 In His defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.”
18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
I trust you are familiar with this pericope from the same passage where Jesus challenges the statement that God rested on the Seventh day.
Orthographic conventions have meaning. The capitalization of the Word of God in John 1:1 indicates that Jesus is God, which we also know from the context. When evangelicals capitalize the Word of God meaning the Bible, they indicate that they consider the Bible divine because they give divine attributes such as infallibility and final authority.
The Bible is not God’s Word, it is not Jesus Christ. Jesus is without sin. The Bible is not inerrant.
As @mitchellmckain pointed out through the scripture Jesus criticized the Pharisees because they were Legalists who put their faith in the Torah, rather than God. Jesus told us that we must put our faith Him and Him alone, sola Jesus.
Those who put their faith in the Bible as the Word of God are following the path of the Pharisees and could end up in the same place. I am not here to judge anyone, but to proclaim the goodness that repentance and faith in Jesus Christ saves. Good works do not save, nor does theology save. Only Jesus saves and only Jesus judges who is right with God, not me or anyone else.
Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of our faith. When we make the Bible our Standard as the Word of God, then we place a God between us and the Father. Also we know Living God directly through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while the Bible interpreted by human tradition is a product of the dead past.
God the Father is not the biological father of Jesus. If so Jesus would be one half human and one half divine, which would make Him neither human nor divine, a thirdkind of being (tertium quid,) who would have nothing to do with salvation and not be the Second Person of the Trinity.
The Catholic Church with the Immaculate Conception of Mary (not Jesus,) the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the transmittal of the Original Sin by sexual intercourse all make this topic problematic.
You should be aware of the fact that the original prophecy concerning a Virgin Birth is not about a virgin birth, but a time table (within 9 months) that prophecy would be fulfilled. Some it became a Virgin Birth and a Messianic prophecy and was translated into Greek as such for the Greek Jewish Bible.
Either Jesus was born of a virgin because God the Father chose to fulfill this messianic prophecy despite its mistaken origin or Matthew and Luke made this prophecy a part of their story after the fact because they knew that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
That would be a problem, because many prophesies in the Bible indicated that the Christ would be a descendant of David.
FWIW it’s in the Bible and is part of the Christian tradition.
Though evidently the biblical sense of being a descendent has little to do with genetic descent, according to some. I’ll have to think about that, as I ponder how Oklahoma managed to get in the college playoff series.
I will try to separate this into its own post, though that is not my strong suite either
Missed one… the one that kind of started it all… (and I will adjust it so it doesn’t depend on the previous topic of fundamentalism)…
The virgin birth does not define Christianity though I think the Bible clearly suggests that even if Mary was a virgin, it doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t have a human biological father.
My thinking on the virgin birth is pretty much in line with my view that the miracles are historical but not a violation of natural law. If Mary was a virgin it is certainly pretty miraculous in the sense of being quite unexpected and very much involving God doing something. But this doesn’t have to mean magic or the violation of natural law. We know that pregnancy only requires fertilization not sex. As for how the sperm got where it needed to be then along with many of the other miracles, your guess is as good as mine. But I don’t think it even has to necessarily be a result of “messing around.” Call it happenstance or whatever but sometimes the strangest things happen by the most bizarre sequence of events.
Like jpm, I am neither convinced that Mary was a virgin nor am I opposed to the idea and the possibilities are many by which Mary could have been a virgin in a number of different senses of the word. Regardless, I do not consider this particular doctrine to define the Christian religion because it is not in the first agreement of Nicea 325 AD.
Got it moved though your post Cindy is a bit out of sequence. My flakey iPad had a hiccup in moving.
It does go to the idea that in the pre-science culture genealogy did not mean genetics. It also is interesting to consider how some denominational theology does not consider Jesus as God incarnate until the Spirit descended on him at his baptism, as I recall, though that is just off the top of my head and I apologize if that misrepresents things.
Here is a link that expounds on that idea:http://www.christianorigins.div.ed.ac.uk/2017/05/24/adoptedasgodsson/
Wow, this is a great post by Michael Bird! I appreciate his humility in saying things are far from clear even from 1st century opinions.
“When it comes to the beginning of christology, first century memories, interpretations, experiences, and presentations of Jesus were far from monolithic.”
But he addresses Ehrman’s thoughts and Ebionites–cool; I learned a lot. Thanks.
By the way, I value and respect your opinions, especially based on what I’ve read, @mitchellmckain . I was kind of short and misleading on this. I actually was writing rather laconically and incompletely as I was putting my kids to bed (and one keeps getting up! Love these days). I take @beaglelady’s point about being a descendant of David very well; good point there, too. I’m not sure of how that fits in, especially as genes weren’t even in the lexicon back then. But I thought it was a bit over confident of the pastor to tell me that the male genes came from God. I think it’s too much for us to tell if they came from any particular spot, but tend toward thinking that it doesn’t really matter. The arguments that troubled Byzantium are not my forte.
Very good point.
Thanks for the link, I will read it later. It seems though, that if Jesus did not become incarnate until his baptism that there would be no need for a virgin birth.
The virgin birth is written about in both the old and new testaments.
Yeah and the biggest church in the world, the RC, says so!
It has already been pointed out that the principle meaning of the Greek word used is a young, unmarried woman, or maiden.
And as for tradition, that has always be a very very poor reason for anything – a formula for the perpetuation of error, injustice, and atrocity. It was kind of the whole point of the Protestant 5 Solas, that tradition isn’t one of them.
But pay attention. I am not arguing against this belief. I have no problem with it. And I will dispute with people who claim this is a proof that the Bible and Christianity is nuts because such a thing isn’t possible. It is possible. Science has demonstrated that this quite possible. But I don’t know that it is true… and… it was not in the very first agreement of Nicea 325AD. So… I am not going to tell someone they are not Christian because they don’t believe it.
For me, the only logical explanation for this question is that Jesus was born in the same biological way that His brothers and sisters were born. They hold the genome of Jesus, as does Many and Joseph. The difference between Jesus and His siblings is that He was filled with the spirit of the King of Heaven - the Logos. When His physical body died, the angels dissolved it so as no one could claim to have a piece of Jesus. When He retuned to His apostles, it was His materialized spirit that they saw and touched. This is how He could walk through locked doors.
What you call fringe, I call biology. How else did Jesus come back to His disciples? Do you really think that the three day old corpse rose and walked through locked doors? No one has every reanimated a three day old corpse.
How can God have sperm? What is the scientific explanation for an immaculate conception? Is not this the intersection between biology and Christianity?
Ps. Why do you always ridicule me?
It is hard to convey lighthearted humor in posts, but that is what it appears what Mervin is doing over the Gnome typo or autocorrect. He is half way to his goal of being a wit!
I did think I would be laughing with you over a couple of humorous typos - not laughing at you! But that post will be deleted here shortly as I do not want to promote or engage in mockery. My apologies for that fun at your expense. Please know that these kinds of typos happen to me all the time, though I usually correct them when I see them, and appreciate any help others may offer in that regard. On the occasions they make somebody chuckle, I won’t begrudge you or anybody else the humor.
All that said, I was not at all engaging with this specific topic, which should not be taken as commentary by me (either way) about Jesus’ DNA. The suggestion that God the Creator is a member of this universe like any other created being (angel, human, or otherwise) much less the suggestion that God has male anatomy or DNA or any other creaturely attributes that does not strike me as a plausible theology. And likewise, the notion that Jesus didn’t have fully human attributes (including fully human DNA just like you and me) is likewise not a discussion that has much traction with me. But for those troubled by such a suggestion, you are correct that they should be welcome to work out their concerns here. The conviction that this 100% human, Jesus, is also fully God for us is the mystery that I do find much traction with exploring to the extent that we can. But I don’t expect it to be explainable on scientific terms, and remain naturally suspicious of those who have quick answers on that score. I’m also fine just accepting that as a mystery of my faith. Christ is the very essence of God for us and our salvation as far as I’m concerned. Making that commitment in any way contingent on nailing down some understanding of Christ’s DNA or supposing that was somehow not fully human in that regard shifts around the whole question to try to make this all about science. And that is a move that I will not follow. Sorry if that means that I’m not taking something seriously … but there it is; where else can I stand? But I don’t mock others who do feel embroiled in these questions for the moment. Or if I seem to, then feel free to continue to call me on it.
That is an interesting view of the empty tomb, and materialized spirit is as good a description on the resurrected body as I know, though shrouded in mystery to us.
It reminds me again of how differently we see the world and reality through science as compared to how they viewed it in that day and time before. It is really difficult to step in their sandals, which is one problem with literalist type interpretations, in that the modern viewpoint is superimposed on top of the original meaning.
(Forgive me as I know this is not new, but it helps me clarify my thoughts when I write it down.