Why do we call him "Jesus?"

“Gosh, should we ignore all the previous posts by knowledgeable people telling us how it was not his given name”

Everyone has their own opinion, esp. where the bible is concerned. The bible can be interpreted in lots of ways. I don’t know what you read lately, but I just sold my Interpreter’s Bible, 48 lbs & 11,000 pages. I never could read it all.

I feel compelled to offer a few words in defense of Matthew here. The Isaiah prophecy, in context, seems to refer to events in his own time, and therefore not to a literal virgin birth (though the girl in question might have been a virgin at the time the prophecy was given. My understanding is that there wasn’t a word exactly equivalent to English “virgin” anyway (I could be wrong about this.)) However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Matthew is being dishonest. What he might be doing is claiming to find a double meaning in the passage – that the child of Isaiah’s prophecy is a kind of foreshadowing of the Messiah. It seems weird to modern western minds, but the original audience would have understood what he was doing.

What do you think?

Well, I don’t want to turn this thread into a debate on Matthew and Isaiah, but…

First of all, there is a specific hebrew word for virgin. The word is besulah. That is not the word used in Isaiah. Isaiah was not referring to anyone being born of a virgin.

Secondly, the woman in question was not a virgin when the propehcy was said. Verse 14 says ha-almah harah "the young woman has conceived. The word harah is past tense. She was already expecting at the time Isaiah made his statement.

Thirdly, there is nothing in the text to indicate that this verse is messianic, whether talking about someone in Ahaz’s lifetime or 700 years later.

If Matthew wants to find a double meaning in the text, that’s fine, but then he’s going way beyond the text of the verse and context of the text.

Zev Steinhardt

You’re right. On second reading, I can see that this part of the passage was not the angel, but the author of Matthew himself talking.

I didn’t accuse the author of Matthew of dishonesty. I just said that the version of the Old Testement he was familiar with was improperly translated, leading him to believe a prophecy reffered to a virgin when, in the original, it didn’t. It wasn’t really his fault; it was the fault of the Greek translator who substituted “virgin” for “young woman.”


So, what was Isaiah prophesizing, then? “A virgin shall be with child” sounds to me like a miracle, and something of note, but “A young woman shall be with child” is something that anyone could tell you. What’s the significance?

He was reassuring Ahaz. Judah was about to be attacked by Israel and Aram. He was telling Ahaz (the king of Judah) that by the time the kid (who was already on the way) is old enough to know the difference between god and bad, he would no longer need to worry about the two invading armies (i.e. they would be defeated by then). It wasn’t a prophecy about the kid; it was about the invading armies.

Zev Steinhardt

:rolleyes: Make that good and bad…

Zev Steinhardt

The “young woman” vs “virgin” issue arose during the creation of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of Jewish Scripture made in Egypt beginning around the third century B.C.E.

In that work, the Jewish almah (young woman) was translated to Greek parthenos (virgin).

Nah. Christ, meaning “annointed”–an attempt to render the Hebrew word we call messiah into Greek–was a title, both as Paul used it and as it was later used in the Gospels. It was certainly not a “given” name and no one would have used it when addressing Jesus to his face. In Paul’s epistles, he is as likely to refer to “Christ Jesus” as to “Jesus Chrit” and he also refers to “the Christ.”

As to the “atonement” connection, Nah, again. While various Christian explorations of what messiahship means might overlap with the concept of the sacrifice of Calvary, the name or title “Christ” has no such inherent association.

Minor hijack here:

Of course, one must wonder if the authors of the Septuagint considered the word parthenos to actually mean ‘virgin’ in the sense that we mean it today. A similar word parthenou is used to describe Dinah at Genesis 34:3 (where she was most definitely not a virgin).

Zev Steinhardt

‘Given name’ works for me. Even Websters says that it’s function is a biographical name. Which is fine by me.

“Christ=atonement” works for me, because it indicates a reconcilation of Christ & god with man’s word for this.

You can of course take it up with Websters, tomndebb.

Actually IMHO if he knew that this term was used to identify him, he would turn over in his… I guess that isn’t possible.

It can “work for you” if you wish, handy, but since this is the Straight Dope where we are trying to put forth accurate information, we need to have some accurate information to counter what works for you.