In the first chapter of Matthew we come across the following text:
“Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying: Behold, a virgin shall be with a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)
According to the Christian authors, the prophet stating this was Isaiah as in his book he has been quoted as saying:
“Thus, the Lord Himself shall give thou a sign: the virgin shall be with a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.“(Isaiah 7:14)
The authors of the New Testament have often quoted passages from the Old Testament, claiming such statements to be prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The number of such quoted passages is actually very high. Among the evangelists, Matthew is the one having made this phenomenon characteristic to his Gospel.
The prophecy carries a very important place in the Christian theology. Every Christian knows about the prophecies of the books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel related to the childhood, life, mission, and death of Jesus. To every Christian, these prophecies are the clear evidence of the truth of Gospels and mission of Jesus in general.
The problem is that according to the Bible, there exists true prophecies as well as false ones. Hence the question arises on the necessary criteria to distinguish a false prophecy from a true one.
Some of the criteria that we shall use to examine the “prophecy” mentioned above are as follows:
First Criterion: For a passage to be considered a prophecy, it must have the form of a prophecy. In general, the prophecies have a characteristic introductory part, distinguishing them from any other non-prophetic passage. The most frequent forms are as follows: “And it will come to pass that…”; “And when the promise and will of the Lord comes…”; “It won’t get long and…”. If one quotes as being a prophecy fulfilled centuries later in Jesus the words, “Amon was twenty two years when he began to reign and he kept his throne for two years in Jerusalem…” (2 Kings 21:19), his claim would properly be considered ungrounded, simply because of the fact that the quoted passage does not constitute a prophecy, as its form does not lead us to accept it as such.
Second Criterion: If any author quotes a passage from the Old Testament and during its citation he changes the text, thereby alienating its original meaning to adapt it to a prearranged aim, we would then be able to affirm that this author is not divinely-inspired and that the passage quoted by him is not a prophecy foretelling the person or the event claimed by the author.
Third Criterion: If the quoted passage is inaccurately extrapolated from the context, gaining a meaning that differs from its original, we would be able to affirm this to be a manipulation accomplished by the author and for this reason the so-called prophecy cannot be true. Related to this matter, the theologian Mike Brown in one of the subjects treated in his work “Interpretation and Exegesis”, says:
The issue of Biblical interpretation is very important. Sometimes it is very easy to find in the Bible a base to support a special teaching simply by taking a verse out of the context and connecting it with another verse found somewhere else in the Bible, and uniting both these passages one can create a new doctrine having nothing to do with the verses if they were taken in the appropriate contexts. As someone has said, “it is easy to make the Bible say anything we want it to say.1
Now let us examine whether the above-mentioned criteria have been respected in the issue of the Emmanuel prophecy.
In respect of the first criterion, the text applies it completely. Whoever reading the passage of Isaiah 7:14 will agree to be able to see a prophecy in it.
But the second criterion has not been respected. As we shall notice in continuation, the evangelist has changed the text of Isaiah 7:14, adapting it to his personal aims. The Hebrew word, used in the passage of Isaiah, is ‘almah, meaning “young woman”, while the Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as Septuagint (LXX), offers the erroneous term parthenos, meaning “virgin”. The evangelist, using the Septuagint in his quoting of Isaiah, translates the Hebrew word almah as “virgin”. Thus, he gains a prophecy on Maria’s giving birth to Jesus while being virgin. In fact, the word “virgin” in the Hebrew language is bethulah and not almah. For this reason, the translation of Septuagint is false.
According to tradition Matthew was knowledgeable in Hebrew, however he does not refer to the Hebrew text but instead supports his claim on the Greek text, because the Hebrew does not agree with his pre-conceived intentions. In fact, the variation of the young woman mentioned in the Hebrew text and that of the virgin mentioned in the Greek text of Septuagint and Mathew have stimulated sharp exegetic debates beginning since the second century between Justin Martyr and the Hebrews of his time, until the debates provoked by the publishing of the biblical translation named RSV in the year 1952, which brought in the passage of Isaiah 7:14 the use of the word “young woman”. This caused a harsh reaction from the Christian fundamentalists in the United States, where they publicly burned copies of this translation, claiming that this work denied the virgin conception of Jesus.2
Hebrews and Christians alike believed that Biblical prophets had foretold and prophesied events of distant future. Christians especially hade made the idea that the Biblical prophets had foreseen everything about the life of Jesus as an important part of their belief. An example to this is the prophecy of Emmanuel, written almost 700 years before the birth of Jesus. But related to this, the renowned theologian Raymond Brown warns that “this conception of prophecy as prediction of the distant future has disappeared from most serious scholarship today, and it is widely recognized that the NT “fulfillment” of the OT involved much that the OT writers did not foresee at all. The OT prophets were primarily concerned with addressing God’s challenge to their own times. If they spoke about the future, it was in broad terms of what would happen if the challenge was accepted or rejected. While they sometimes preached a “messianic” deliverance (i.e. deliverance through one anointed as God’s representative, thus a reigning king or even a priest), there is no evidence they foresaw with precision even a single detail in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.”3
A large number of Christian and Jewish theologians involved in the study of Semitic languages have affirmed that the exact translation of the text of Isaiah 7:14 is not “virgin”, but “young woman”. To prove this, we shall mention some of their statements.
The well-known theologian Bruce Metzger, in a Biblical commentary prepared by him in co-authorship with E. Murphy, states:
Young woman, Hebrew ‘almah, feminine of ‘elem, young man (1 Sam 17:56; 20:22); the word appears in Gen 24:43; Ex 2:8; Ps 68:25, and elsewhere, where is translated “young woman,” “girl,” “maiden”.4
Samuel Davidson writes in one of his works:
Almah is not the proper term for the Virgin Mary, according to the opinion of those who believe in her real and true virginity; because it simply means a young, marriageable woman. Bethulah denotes a virgin properly so called. Prov. XXX.19 shows that almah refers to others than virgins. There is no reason for restricting it to unmarried woman. Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, rightly render it neanis. Had the Messiah’s birth been intended, surely the true term for virgin would have been employed.5
Another Biblical commentary on Matthew 1:23 states:
A virgin: Hebrew ‘alma does not normally mean anything more than a young woman.6
According to a notorious Biblical commentary, Isaiah 7:14 must be translated as follows:
Behold, a [or “the”] young woman shall conceive and [or “has conceived and shall”] bear a son. Young woman, “maiden,” is the only correct translation of the Hebrew ‘almah, as is recognized by Aq., Symm., and Theod., who render it by neanis. Virgin is taken from the Greek word parthenos, found in the LXX [the Greek Old Testament Septuagint], although this corresponds rather to the Hebrew word bethulah. The quotation in Matthew 1:23 is taken from the LXX, not from the Hebrew, and is one of a number of such quotations used by the author of that Gospel [Matthew] to show that the O.T.[Old Testament] foreshadowed the life of Jesus Christ. That he uses these without particular regard to their meaning in their original context is clear from the quotation of Hos. 11:1 in Matt. 2:15. This later “messianic interpretation” is derived from the conviction that the messianic hope had been fulfilled in Jesus. This conviction we may firmly retain, while recognizing that the N.T.’s use of Isa. 7:14 is based on an inaccurate translation of the Hebrew text, which must not prejudice our interpretation of this verse in its original setting. The word ‘almah means “a young woman of a marriageable age”, possibly a virgin (cf. Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Prov. 30:19); if Isaiah had wished to make clear that he had in mind a miraculous virgin birth, he would have had to use the specific term bethûlah.7
Ch. Guignebert, professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Sorbonne, affirms:
Orthodox theologians have made every effort to prove that ha-almah might mean virgin, but without success.8
Based on the abovementioned statements, we can reach the conclusion that Mathew, in his citation of Isaiah 7:14, has not been loyal to the text in Hebrew, but has transformed the latter to suit to his personal intentions.
The exact translation of Isaiah 7:14 is thus the following:
“Thus, the Lord Himself shall give thou a sign: a young woman shall be with a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.”9
As it can be clearly seen, the correctly translated text does not mention any supernatural birth by a virgin, while the Septuagint text seems to lead exactly to such a conclusion. For this reason, the evangelist prefers to follow the Greek translation, skipping the original Hebrew.
But various theologians argue that the Septuagint translators, in spite of this erroneous translation, did not aim to prove the virgin birth of Messiah. Among them we may mention Raymond Brown, who argues that the Septuagint translators, by the words “the virgin shall be with a child” understood an actually virgin woman that, in completely natural ways, after the male intervention of her legal husband, will give birth to Emmanuel. These translators, according to Brown, thought that the sign to be given to Ahaz was not related to a woman already pregnant during the articulation of this prophecy, but to a virgin woman that would give birth to Emmanual in a normal way. Thus, Emmanuel would be her first-born son.
Brown continues reasoning that for the Hebrew text (Masoretic MT) and for the Septuagint (LXX) alike, the sign given by Isaiah is not concentrated in the way (how) of Emmanuel’s birth, but in the providential timing whereby a child who would be a sign of God’s presence with His people was to be born precisely when that people’s fortunes had reach their nadir.
The following is an undeniable truth stated by Raymond Brown:
Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek of Isaiah 7:14 referred to the type of virginal conception of which Mathew writes, and his Christian use of the passage has added a great deal to the literal meaning.10
Thus, Matthew has transformed and interpreted arbitrarily the Hebrew and the Greek text alike.
This prophecy doesnot fulfill also the third criterion. Matthew, as we shall see, has extrapolated from its context the passage of Isaiah 7:14 and in a forced and arbitrary way has wished to apply it to Mary and Jesus.
Let us examine the passage in brief. The Aramean King Rezin of Damascus (Syria) and the king Pekah of Izrael (Ephraim: the Northern Kingdom) organized a revolt against the superpower of the time: Assyria. The king Ahaz refused to unite with them and for this reason they turned against him, invested Jerusalem and tried to dethrone him and bring a vassal in the throne of Judah. To save himself, the King Ahaz decided to ask the support of the King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria. At this point, Isaiah forbade him to do this, because he knew quite well that after the Assyrian king’s routing the enemies of Judah, they would also reduce Judah to vassalage. The king acted this way, but the danger of being routed by his enemies was still great.
All this was happening during the years 735-734 B.C., and King Ahaz with his people were very afraid. God then sent Isaiah to ensure them that these “two kings” would not bring to the end their invasion. The most interesting part of this account, at least for us, comes when God wishes to give a “sign” to calm the king Ahaz. But Ahaz doesn’t wish to provoke God and thus he refuses to ask for any sign by Him. God then insists making Isaiah to say:
“Thus, the Lord Himself shall give thou a SIGN: a YOUNG WOMAN shall be with a child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. He shall eat cream and honey until he learns to reject the evil and to choose the good. But before the child learns to reject the evil and choose the good, the country though fear because of his two kings, shall be abandoned.” (Isaia 7:14-16)
As we can clearly see, this prophecy has been fulfilled during the life of Ahaz and not centuries later, as Mathew wishes to make us believe, because the given sign aimed to calm the king Ahaz and his people by their fearing of their enemies. After God said to Ahaz to ask for a sign showing that He was with him and his people and after the king’s refusing to provoke God, then God Himself took the initiative and promised to Ahaz the birth of Emmanuel. Before this child’s reaching his maturity, the kings terrorizing the people of Ahaz would get ruined. And the kings fearing Ahaz were routed many centuries before the birth of Jesus. The information that this child would be fed with cream and honey until learning to reject the evil and prefer the good, is another element identifying this child with the situation that Judah was actually undergoing; cream and honey instead of the common food of an agricultural population formed the subsistence of the people whose land was waste. Such human forms put the child in the period when this prophecy was fulfilled. “Applied to the Messiah, it is superfluous and unsuitable.”11
This means that the prophecy was fulfilled many times before the birth of Jesus (See 2 Kings 15: 27-29; 16: 1 et passim; 2 Chronicles 28:1 et passim). Thus, there is no place in this prophecy for Jesus and his revered mother.
CH. Guignebert in his book affirms:
The predication has a much more immediate bearing, and it is precisely for the purpose of indicating its speedy fulfillment that the author makes his comparison. It is required only the time necessary for a child to be conceived, born, and brought to the beginning of understanding, before Jahveh will crush the enemies of Judah. It is not the birth of the child which is emphasized by the prophet, but the happy issue for which the king is waiting, and of which he may now, relying upon the comparison given him, confidently-estimate the approaching date. The child in question is probably the same one referred to again by Isaiah in VIII.3: “Then I went in unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son.”12
Another reality clearly demonstrating that the inhabitants of Israel of the time expected this prophecy to be fulfilled soon, during the period of troubles, is related to the fact that many women of that time named their children Emmanuel.13 And of course none of them had given birth to her child in a state of virginity and without any male intervention.
Samuel Davidson states:
A prophecy of Christ’s birth seven hundred years afterwards, could have been no sign of the promise made to Ahaz. That promise was one of encouragement. It announced the speedy deliverance of Judah from her enemies. The confidence of Ahaz and his people depended on the sign or pledge. Hence it must have been something immediate, preceding the event or thing signified. Or, if it followed the deliverance or event itself, which formed the subject of the promise, it could not have fulfilled its purpose as a sign, unless it happened not long after, certainly in the time of the person to whom it was given. The promise of immediate deliverance to Ahaz might thus be confirmed by an appeal to a posterior event, but not to one long posterior as Alexander affirms. Sign to be verified by future events were given, as we know from Ex. Iii. 12 and Is. XXXVII.30; but there is a dissimilarity in them and the present case. They happened very soon, and so the signs were verified to Moses and Hezekiah respectively -the persons for whom they were intended. But here, the sign was not verified till centuries after Ahaz and his contemporaries. It was therefore no sign, in reality, to the person to whom it was given. The remoteness of the sign divests it of its use as such; for it is absurd to say, with Alexander, that it was better in proportion to its distance. How could it be good or better to Ahaz, long after he was dead? The danger from which he feared destruction, was impending, and he needed something to meet it immediately.14
Being faced with such impassable difficulties, some Christian theologians have tried to save at any cost this prophecy, conjecturing absurdly and arbitrarily that it has a double fulfillment. The first fulfillment occurred within the period of Ahaz, as mentioned above, and the second happened in the time of Jesus, with his miraculous birth.15
Samuel Davidson, commenting on this hypothesis, says:
The hypothesis of a double sense should be very cautiously assumed, if assumed at all. It is one that is still sub judice. The best interpreters are against its admission as unauthorized, or contrary to the true principles of grammatical interpretation. And we are now inclined to agree with them, perceiving the peculiar theory of inspiration out of which it has arisen to be unfounded. One sense alone seems to have been intended by the sacred writers, though their words may admit of many applications. We refuse assent therefore to this interpretation of the verse, because its basis is precarious.16
We will not dwell on analyzing such an absurd theory created by desperate apologists, but we will mention the affirmation of a well-known Biblical dictionary, where is stated as follows:
In Mt. 1:23, Is. 7:14 is quoted as a foreshadowing of the virgin birth of Jesus. The question has been raised whether this identification of Immanuel with Jesus was in the mind of Isaiah himself, or made by the evangelist either erroneously, or by way of appropriating the words of an ancient oracle as suitable to his purpose, but not with the intention of committing their original author to his interpretation of them. The difficulties in the way of taking it to be the primary intention of Isaiah to foretell the virgin birth of Jesus are inseparable. The meaning of his phraseology is so palpably fulfilled in the circumstances of his own day that as remote a reference as this to the birth of Jesus seems exegetically impossible. On the other hand, all interpretations, which find in the reference to Immanuel a double sense i.e. a first intention to speak of a child that might be borne in his own days and secondary one to predict the virgin birth of Jesus, are artificial and arbitrary. They have the appearance of ingenious devices to escape a difficulty rather than natural explanations of the fact of the case.17
This may lead to the following question: if the child that would be called Emmanuel was not Jesus, then who was he? On this issue, the Christian theologians have offered various answers. We shall mention some of them here.
Who, than, was the maiden referred to? “The maiden” may be general-“a certain maiden”-but since the sign would have to be one which would come to the attention of Ahaz, either this means that young women will be bearing children and calling them “Immanuel”, or it refers to a young women well known to both king and prophet, the wife of either (perhaps a new wife of Ahaz, since the LXX, Aq., Symm., and Theod. read here “thou shalt call his name”)18
An Italian translation of the Biblecontaining many commentaries, the result of a work of more than 90 experts in various Biblical fields, answers this question as follows:
A young woman: the Hebrew word translated this way means a woman having reached the age of marriage; most probably the question is related to the young woman of Ahaz, the mother of the future king Hezchia.19
This is also affirmed by one of the most famous Catholic Biblical commentaries in the world, that is related to the identity of the woman giving birth to Emmanuel relates in the page 235:
This is best understood as a wife of Ahaz; the child promised will guarantee the dynasty’s future (note again “the house of David” in v 13; cf. v 2) and for this reason can be called Immanuel (“with us is God”).20
Another renowned Biblical commentary states:
In the contest of the quotation in Isaiah (Is. 7:10-17), it seems that the woman referred to may have been a wife of King Ahaz. Lxx translated the word by the Greek parthenos (‘virgin’) for reasons which are uncertain. There was no expectation of a virgin birth in Israel, and it is clear that for Matthew the fact leads on to the prophecy rather than vice versa.21
We conclude this passage by quoting Raymond Brown, who has summarized the interpretations of modern theologians related to the text of Isaiah in the following points:
1. It was to the wicked King Ahaz (c.a. 735-715 B.C.) that Isaiah spoke of the oracle as mentioned in 7:14. It was intended as a sign to this disbelieving monarch during the Syro-Ephraimite war of 734 and must refer to something that took place during that year or shortly thereafter.
2. The child to be born was not the Messiah, for messianism had not yet developed to the point of expecting a single future king (footnote 9, §3). Scholars are not agreed on the identity of the child, but at most it may refer to the birth of a Davidic prince who would deliver Judah from its enemies. An ancient Jewish interpretation, known to Justin (Dialogue Lxvii 1) identified the child as Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son and successor, one of the few truly religious monarchs of the House of David.
3. The word ‘almâ, used to describe the woman, normally describes a young girl who has reached the age of puberty and it is thus marriageable. It puts no stress on her virginity, although de facto, in the light of Israelite ethical and social standards, most girls covered by the range of this term would be virgins.22
4. The presence of the definite article, “the young girl”, makes it likely that Isaiah was referring to someone definite whose identity was known to him and to King Ahaz, perhaps someone whom the king had recently married and brought into the harem. The proposal that the ‘almâ was the Isaiah’s own wife, “the prophetess” mentioned in 8:3, is most unlikely; for the fact that she had already borne Isaiah a son old enough to walk with him (7:3) makes such a designation for her implausible.
5. From the Hebrew participle construction it is not possible to know whether Isaiah meant that the ‘almâ was already pregnant or would become pregnant. The birth, however, was almost certainly future; yet even in that judgment we are hampered by the temporal vagueness of the Hebrew conjugations.
Raymond Brown, concluding his presentation of the abovementioned points, wrote:
The Masoretic Text (MT) of Isa.7:14 does not refer to a virginal conception in distant future. The sign offered by the prophet was the imminent birth of a child, probably Davidic, but naturally conceived, who would illustrate God’s providential care for his people. The child would help to preserve the House of Davidic and would thus signify that God was still “with us.23
In conclusion, we can state that the text of Isaiah does not contain any prophecy of a virgin birth to be fulfilled centuries later. Matthew, taking arbitrarily and in a forced way the passage of Isaiah out of its true context, has misused it trying to gain a prophecy on Mary’s giving miraculously birth to Jesus. Our analysis is aimed at showing the dishonest methods used by the evangelist and we believe that we have reached our goal.
What forbids then to the Christian theologians and simple professors of Christianity to accept such a reality? What hinders them from accepting such clear truth? In normal circumstances, the only factor hindering this is dogmatism. The phenomenon of dogmatism does not allow one to look at the facts clearly, it blinds the eyes and hardens the hearts. After all what we have shown above, look how ridiculous their claims now sound in a Protestant Biblical commentary:
It is clear, however, that in the judgment of most exegetes the translation given in the KJV is inexact, and has been made the basis for views which the Hebrew text cannot support. Modern criticism may protest against the use of this verse in support of the doctrine of the Virgin Birth; it may deny that this is a prophecy of the Messiah: but nothing can dissociate it in the minds of devout believers from the birth of our Lord, and the beautiful and beloved name Imanuel is forever the title of Jesus Christ to his disciples.24
And only God knows best!
Read More from Bismika Allahuma
- Mike Brown, in the book Përgjigjet për Dëshmitarët e Jehovait, Korçë 1995, p. 4 [⤺]
- Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, New updated edition, Doubleday Publisher, 1993, pp. 145-6 [⤺]
- Raymond E. Brown, op. cit., p. 146 [⤺]
- The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Roland E. Murphy, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 876 [⤺]
- An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Samuel Davidson, Vol. III, 1863, p. 77-78; see also The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Roland E. Murphy, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990, p. 235 [⤺]
- The New Bible Commentary Revised, Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman, Eerdmans Publishing, Michigan 1970, p. 818 [⤺]
- The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Nashville, NT: Abingdon, 1956, p. 218 [⤺]
- CH. Guignebert, Jesus, University Books, New York, 1956, p. 123; see also “The Text of the Old Testament, Second Edition, by Ernst Wurthwein, translated by Erroll F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995, p. 54 [⤺]
- For this translation, see: La Bibbia:Traduzione Interconfessionale in Lingua Corrente, quoted work, p. 468; “Holy Bible”, Today English Version, published by The Bible Societies 1982, p. 628; “The Jerusalem Bible” — Readers Edition, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1968, p. 981; “La Bible”- Ancien et Nouveau Testament, Alliance Biblique Universelle, Paris 1991, p. 324; “The Bible”, Revised Standard Version 1947 in CD-ROM; “The Interpreter’s Bible”, vol. 5, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1956, f. 218; S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 261 etc.) [⤺]
- Raymond E. Brown, op. cit., p. 149 [⤺]
- Samuel Davidson, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Vol. III, 1863, p. 78 [⤺]
- “Jesus” CH. Guignebert, University Books, New York, 1956, p. 123 [⤺]
- J.D. Douglas & Merrill C. Tenney, NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible, Zondervan Publisher 1989, p. 268 [⤺]
- An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Samuel Davidson, Vol III, 1863, p. 77; see also The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Nashville, NT: Abingdon, 1956, p. 218-19 [⤺]
- See: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Matthew R.T. France, Intervarsity Press 1990, p. 78-80; Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of Matthew, Loizeaux Brtohers, 1982, p. 36; The Mac Arthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, 1985, p. 20; The New Bible Commentary Revised, edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman, Eerdmans Publishing, Michigan 1970, p. 596; La Bibbia di Gerusalemme, Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna, 2002, p. 1566. [⤺]
- An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Samuel Davidson, Vol. III, 1863, p. 79 [⤺]
- New Standard Bible Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls Company, INC, New York 1936. p. 368 [⤺]
- The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Nashville, NT: Abingdon, 1956, p. 218-19 [⤺]
- La Bibbia: Traduzione Interconfessionale in Lingua Corrente, Torino 1986, p. 468 [⤺]
- The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990, p. 235 [⤺]
- The New Bible Commentary Revised, edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman, Eerdmans Publishing, Michigan 1970, p. 818; despite the above-mentioned statement, the dogmatism of the authors of this work doesn’t allow them to accept the non-fulfillment of this prophecy. Hereinafter, in a strange way, they seem to affirm the theory of the double sense of this prophecy. For the rejection of this absurd theory, see the quotations no. 16-17. [⤺]
- Raymond Brown, at this point, has put a footnote stating:
See Bratcher, “Study”, for an accurate summary of the immense literature on this question. ‘Almâ is used only nine times in the Hebrew OT, and two passages demonstrate how poorly it would underline virginity: In Cant 6:8 it refers to woman of the king’s harem, and in Prov. 30:19 an ‘almâ is a object of a young man’s sexual attention. We have no clear instance in the OT of ‘almâ being applied to a woman already married, so that Martin Luther could still win the bet of 100 florins he was willing to make on that point. However, there is a Ugaritic text (Keret 128, II, 21-22) that puts the cognate word ġlmt in poetic parallelism (and thus rough equivalence) with ’att, wife. The closeness of the two languages raises the possibility that in the Hebrew as well, a young wife might be called an ’almâ. Although it does not have the clinical precision of virgo intacta, the Hebrew word betûla is the normal word for a virgin (Ezek. 23:1-8 and Joel 1:8 are debatable). The reference to a betûla giving birth in the “Hymn to Nikkal” (Ugaritic text 77, line 5) is now generally discounted as an incorrect reading, although line 7 still has the interesting: (“Behold, the ‘alma will give birth to a son”).
For similar statements see also CH. Guignebert, Jesus, University Books, New York, 1956; p. 123.) [⤺]
- Raymond E. Brown, op. cit., pp. 147-8 [⤺]
- The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, edited by George Arthur Buttrick, Nashville, NT: Abingdon, 1956, p. 218 [⤺]