It must strike everybody who carefully reads the Scripture record concerning the virgin birth how simple and sober it is. Of those many theories woven around it later on, and on which the rejection of the virgin birth was based, we find not the slightest indication. One must, indeed, be very critically preoccupied to think that this account fits in beautifully with the heathenish imaginations of the Caesarean era. In the text there is no trace of such indications, but only an account, in simple language, concerning the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.”
The power of the Spirit is announced here; the overshadowing, a word which is also used in the account of the transfiguration on the mount: a cloud which overshadowed them. The emphasis in this overshadowing is on the divine power by which the birth of Messiah is announced. When Barth remarked that the accent in this power of the Spirit over Mary was not on generatio but on jussio or benedictio, Kohnstamm raised the question how such a fine distinction could be preached and presented to heathen people as a missionary message. But apparently this had been done since earliest times without for a moment impairing the unique character of this overshadowing. There is not a trace of justification for Kohnstamm’s reference to a marriage of deities. This is, moreover, confirmed by Joseph’s position in the Christmas account. The act of the Spirit is of a very special character and must indeed be described as jussio or benedictio, the supreme power in this unique event by which he, who is the Son of the Father, is born as a man of Mary. This limits all speculation. Whoever ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more