As soon as I started reading Mark this week, I realized that, in contrast to Matthew, there was no account of Jesus’ birth. If the virgin birth was so important, why did the author of Mark not include it? The Gospel of Mark is widely believed to have been the first gospel written. Was the virgin birth of Jesus a later addition to the story to fulfill the prophesies?
Since Mark is widely received as the first gospel written, the lack of a Jesus’ birth story is odd. Personally, if a virgin birth happened, that would be the first thing I would mention. The virgin birth is prophesied in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Could the virgin birth have been a later addition to the story of Jesus to make his life more prophesy fulfilling?
- At this time, the idea of virgin births were common. The Egyptians had gods who were conceived through “Immaculate Conception”. Horus was known to all of ancient Egypt as having been born of the virgin Isis, and his conception and birth was considered one of the three great mysteries or mystical doctrines of the Egyptian religion. Sound familiar?
- Some theologians believe that the addition of the virgin birth was partly based on a Greek mistranslation of the book of Isaiah from the original Hebrew. Its purpose was to make Christianity more competitive with contemporary Pagan religions in the Mediterranean region, most of whom featured their founder having being born of a virgin.
Some believe that the Gospel of Mark does have a story of Jesus’ birth. They believe that the baptism is Jesus’ birth. Jesus was either adopted by God at baptism (adoptionism), or that the” Son of God” entered Jesus at baptism and from that moment there were two beings in one (separationism).
One source says that Mark does not include the birth of Jesus because the author had other things more important to highlight. The Gospel of Mark is focused on the public life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is portrayed as a servant. Servants during this day did not have birth records or a family line that could be traced back to the beginning of time. According to one website, the author of Mark wrote this to the Romans of his day. The emphasize was on the paradoxical message of the hidden service of Jesus as Lord. Together with the secrecy motives in this Gospel, the omission of any details of the birth of Jesus helps the reader to understand that it is not important where a servant is born of from which family he comes – it is his service that defines him. The Gospel of Matthew portrays Jesus as a king. So, this would explain the genealogy that begins that book.
There were a lot of opinions on these topics. I chose a more faith-based question than I normally would without realizing it. Ultimately, there isn’t one specific answer to these questions, but I learned a lot.