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NEW AGE to a New Theology -
it's not too late brother...
Even the question of whether or not Mary was an actual virgin is irrelevant in the light of John’s Gospel. The Greek words used here that we translate as ‘virgin’ are ‘andra ou ginosko’. Again, outside the Bible, it has a slightly different meaning. They are simply used to identify a female who has never been married. It does not necessarily mean virgin. The implication, and certainly the hope of any prospective suitor, was that she would be a virgin, but it did not mean she was. Traditional Theology says that she had to be a virgin, whose son was without the seed of man, so that he could be pure, and so be our sacrifice. However, in John’s gospel, we find that this is not necessarily the case. John tells us that anyone who has the spirit of God given to them (God come upon them in power), is the actual flesh and blood child of God (John 1:12-13). Effectively, he tells us that in receiving the Spirit of God, the seed of man is removed from us, and so we become pure. That is what scripture means when we are told that we are ‘cleansed from all unrighteousness’ (2 Peter 1:9). So the question of whether or not she was a literal virgin is irrelevant in the context of John’s gospel. The Spirit of God came upon her, and so her child had the seed of man removed so that he was the literal flesh and blood child of God – as we all are under the new covenant. You see, the people of that time saw a much greater connection between the physical and the spiritual realms. They existed in the same time and space. They weren’t separate realms as we see them today. Therefore, it was possible for this to happen.
The next part of the narrative finds Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. Where to stay? Considering the reason Joseph went to Bethlehem – there is no way he would stay in a Public House. He was there to prove he belonged there – he was a resident. He would have wanted to stay with family. But there was no room in the inn. This is where we find another one of those examples of differences between NT Greek and other ancient Greek documents. The word used in scripture is ‘Kataluma’. Any NT Greek lexicon would say it is an ‘Inn’, or a ‘public house’, or a ‘Guest Room’ at best. However, other documents use this word in a different context. It refers to the ‘inner area of the house’ or the upstairs living area of a family home. Archaeology adds weight to the latter definition. We find the architecture of homes in Bethlehem at the time had an upper living area and a lower area. The lower area was where the animals lived during the winter months. This provided shelter for the animals so they didn’t die of exposure, and their warmth would permeate upwards and warm the family living in the upper living area. Other cultures around the world have been noted to have similar living structures. Until only a few decades ago, tribes in Papua New Guinea had similar structures for similar reasons. At the start of summer, the animals would be moved to the fields, and the downstairs area would have been thoroughly cleaned. This had to happen so that disease would not fester in the muck and make the family ill, or make the animals ill next winter when they came in. Also, given the obsession with cleanliness of the Jews at the time, it would have driven them mad if it wasn’t cleaned. The clean, empty area downstairs would have then cooled the place in summer.
The narrative tells us that there was no room in the ‘inner area of the house’ (not a Public or Guest house), so they were offered the downstairs area. A spacious, immaculately clean, cool in the heat of summer, quiet area. The perfect place to give birth. We could say this was a happy coincidence. But spiritually, I see this as evidence that God was orchestrating events to make sure that Jesus was born in a place that gave him the best chance of survival in a world with a very high infant mortality rate. Not even the temples that doubled as hospitals would have been as good a place to give birth as this lower area of the house where animals lived in the winter.