November 12, 2005

Where did Jesus get his Y chromosome?

Think about it. Knowing what we know now about genetics but assuming a virgin birth, shouldn't Jesus have been a woman?

57 comments:

bearing said...

It's a miracle, silly. :-)

IrishLad said...

An equally interesting question: Since it was a virgin birth with the father being God, is the Y chromosome not proof that God is a man?

By the way, simply a rhetorical argument. Somehow I don't see God as having genetalia of either sex.

Rick Lee said...

I guess he got it from the Holy Spirit... which I guess proves that God is a man??

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ann,

I don't understand your comment about virgin birth and genetics making Jesus a woman. Luke 1 makes it clear Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. One can believe it or not, but there's nothing in our understanding of DNA or genetics that conflicts with the biblical account. If you take the Bible at face value, this doesn't seem like a big problem for a supreme deity.

For centuries it was understood that sex preceded pregnancy, but what exactly happened to create the baby was shrouded in mystery. Not until the 1600s, with the advent of the microscope, did scientists learn about the role of sperm in triggering development.

It may have been a mystery to scientists, but ancient peoples understood quite well the role of sperm in reproduction. That's why the Bible talks about both semen and offspring as 'seed.' This arrogance of moderns is one of my pet peeves. Hebrews, Greeks and Romans were not stupid.

Two other points of clarification from the article: "Wildman says it's not as big a problem for Protestants like him to accept a non-virgin Mary as it is for Catholics who revere her. The Bible is ambiguous on the point, he says, since in the original Hebrew Mary is referred to as 'almah,' a word that can mean virgin or young girl."

First, it's still a pretty big point for those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and the deity of Jesus. But there are lots of Protestants like Wildman who don't hold to these beliefs.

Second, Wildman is misleading on the biblical text. In the original Hebrew of Isaiah 7, yes, the word almah is used and can mean virgin or young woman. But when the Jews translated the Old Testament into Greek 200 years before Jesus, they used the Greek word 'parthenos' that specifically means virgin. And it's the same word that Matthew uses when he quotes Isaiah in his Greek gospel.

Sean said...

pastor jeff, I agree with everything you say, but I would add that the distinction between "young girl" and "virgin" is a bit of a red herring. In traditional agricultural societies, such as those which produced the Old Testament and the Septuagint, young girls are virgins. We see this in the old English word "maiden," which isn't much used today, and which will require different translations depending on context. So in traditional societies, one isn't making a clinical statement with the use of the word "almah" or "parthenos" or "maiden." For instance, when Aeneas meets Venus near the beginning of the Aeneid, he addresses her as "virgo" (i.e., "young woman") although if there's one thing we know about Venus, it's that wasn't a "virgo" in the clinical sense.

mrbungle2103 said...

It's my understanding that there was no concept of a virgin birth until the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 decided women needed a more virtuous way of life. Then it caught on quite well.

On a related point, marriage until very recently required consumation - that being what getting married meant. The idea that Joseph and Mary were married but hadn't consumated just doesn't fit the rub.

Slocum said...

I'm just totally mystified that this worries anybody. If you believe in a miraculous, immaculate conception, why not believe in whatever other odd bits of magic are needed--why not assume, say, that a 'holy zygote' suddenly appeared in Mary's womb? Or that a 'sacred sperm' fertilized the egg (like the ones that Pythons sang about in 'The Meaning of Life')? Or whatever. I don't get it.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Sean,

Your observation about 'virgin' and its context is correct. But there is another perfectly good Greek word for young woman that is used elsewhere in the NT, so there is a linguistic distinction.


Mrbungle,

The writings of the early church fathers show widespread and unambiguous affirmation of the virgin birth. Ignatius in the 1st century teaches it repeatedly in more than a half-dozen letters. There's Clement and Iranaeus in the 2nd century, and on and on. This is a doctrine about which the early church was absolutely clear.

And the scandal was that they were engaged but not married and Mary was pregnant. The Bible is clear that they didn't have sex before Jesus was born.


Slocum,

I don't understand the issue either. If you don't believe in the virgin birth, what difference does it make? If you do, how is this a particular difficulty for God?

chuck b. said...

I think I've mentioned this before... The prevailing theory considers the Y chromosome do be a degenerate X (from an evolutionary perspective).

So God just chopped off what wasn't necessary and re-wrote some of what was left. Easy peasy.

Jacques Cuze said...

The swan?

Jacques Cuze said...

A 47,XXY female with unusual genitalia.

Mike said...

Slocum (interesting username for this conversation) -
Probably because that would just make the story all that more dirty.

And, I just want to point out that I think that pastor_dan makes a fairly typical religious argument about anything that remotely brings biblical "Truth" into question.

First, the question is significant to those that believe in immaculate conception when you need yet one more miracle to add a Y chromosome. In real life, parthenogenic, growth and development without male fertilization, populations are usually entirely female.

Secondly, people have long been familiar with how sex and conception go together. It didn't take a microscope to figure that part out. What wasn't clear was what it was ABOUT semen--and in particular, the sperm--allow the cells to begin division. I don't think there's arrogance of "moderns". Most people today think, for example, that it's pretty damn amazing that early civilizations successfully domesticated just about every domesticatable animal, were able to accurately chart the stars, and devised complex understandings genetics (even without realizing they were manipulating genes). Explaining things accurately the observable, though, is only half the battle--ask Newton.

Anyway, enough from me. For more Virgin Birth, see: Wikipedia

Jacques Cuze said...

I signed on this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget.

Transporter accident.

Jacques Cuze said...

mu

Sean said...

pastor jeff, my point was only to refute those who claim that Matthew's use of the word "parthenos" (Matt. 1:23) is some sort of mistranslation of "almah."

Incidentally, I don't know whether it is the writer of the original article or Prof. Wildman, but someone is hopelessly confused, since the article quotes Wildman as stating that the Virgin Mary is referred to in the original Hebrew as "almah." Obviously Mary is not referred to in Hebrew, but in Greek. Isaiah 7:14 uses the word "almah," but to believe that this passage refers to the Virgin Mary, you have to follow the Gospel of Matthew, which Prof. Wildman clearly does not. In fairness, I am sure that it is the reporter, who probably doesn't know either Hebrew or Greek, who is confused.

Tony said...

"Think about it"

I thought about it for 5 seconds. I didn't have to write the feminist PHD dissertation to figure out He got the Y chromosome from his Father (God, for the confused).

Icepick said...

Damnit, first Quxxo's on-topic subroutine broke, and now the whole dang program is frayed. Now it's just running the pop-culture data dump subroutine. Grrrr.

We're going to have to take it off-line again. We're never going to pass the Turing Test at this rate....

Starless said...

This discussion really could have ended with bearing's comment.

Curt said...

With respect to starless, there is a lot that can be said on this subject and with Dan Brown's book selling well and now being done as a movie, it's a question a lot of people are curious about.

I've done a post at my own blog in response and included a lot from our new Pope on the subject. Anyone who's interested, c'mon by. Thanks to Ann for the tip to that story. It was a hoot.

http://northwesternwinds.blogspot.com/2005/11/gods-sperm.html

Starless said...

curt said...
With respect to starless, there is a lot that can be said on this subject

I wasn't suggesting no one should talk about it, just that bearing's answer may be the best one anyone could probably find.

Jim Gust said...

No, no, no.

The virgin birth was *not* the result of the immaculate conception. That's a regrettably common misunderstanding.

The "immaculate conception" refers to the fact that Mary, alone among all the descendants of Adam and Eve, was herself conceived without Original Sin. Therefore, she was worthy to be the Mother of God.

Even Catholics get this one wrong.

Pastor_Jeff said...

mmmbeer - love the name.

And, I just want to point out that I think that pastor_dan makes a fairly typical religious argument about anything that remotely brings biblical "Truth" into question.

the question is significant to those that believe in immaculate conception when you need yet one more miracle to add a Y chromosome. In real life, parthenogenic, growth and development without male fertilization, populations are usually entirely female.


Well, first it's Jeff, not Dan. And I'm not sure how this is a "typical religious argument" defending the Bible since I still don't understand how this brings anything the Bible says into question. You either believe that there is a God who can intervene in natural processes (i.e., perform miracles) or you don't. Needing 23 chromosomes from a male for conception is not some big "gotcha" that disproves the Bible. I just don't get that. I mean, if you want to challenge the Bible, go for the big stuff - resurrection, axes floating on water, instant healing of congential blindness. This is small potatoes.

Because you can't explain a miracle through normal material causes you think that somehow undermines biblical trustworthiness? You either accept the Bible's worldview or you don't. Taken on its own terms, the Bible is not unbelievable, weird or inconsistent. It's just inconsistent with logical positivism.

Jeffrey Boulier said...

Here are three naturalistic possibilities that could result in Jesus' parthenogenic birth:

1. Mary was an XX/XY chimaera, carrying cells from two different sperm, resulting in a "normal" XY Jesus, with his Y derived from Mary's father.

2. Mary was not a chimaera, but did carry SRY, which was somehow suppressed. This would make Jesus an XX male.

3. A combination of 1 & 2, with Mary still a chimaera, but possessed of two XX lines, one of which carried SRY. This again would result in an XX male Jesus.

Personally, I opt for a supernaturalistic explanation, maybe with God using Joseph's DNA as a template. This provides a reason for the Book of Matthew starting with Joseph's genealogy.

I like Pastor Jeff's arguments, not just because his parents had good taste in first names!

mcg said...
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mcg said...

Put me in the category of those who don't really understand why this is an issue. Either Jesus' conception was supernatural, or it wasn't. If it was, then, well, that ends that. If it wasn't, wouldn't one just dismiss the virgin conception as mythical?

Finn Kristiansen said...

Both MCG, and Slocum (below) kind of nail it for me:

I don't understand the issue either. If you don't believe in the virgin birth, what difference does it make? If you do, how is this a particular difficulty for God?

I actually believe in the virgin birth but not the Catholic extrapolation of that birth into the concept of immaculate conception (Mary having never sinned in order to bear a sinless God; in that case, for Mary to be sinless, then her mother would have to be sinless and so on).

But the minute you assume the story is true, you enter the realm of Marvel or DC Comics, in that you assume God with his superpowers can use any method possible to create Christ, and using a science we have yet to figure out.

I am of the opinion that every thing we take on faith, and as religion, can ultimately have a scientific explanation derived from God.

So then, either you believe it, and chromosomes are are not an issue, or you say ridiculous, in which case, it's still not an issue, cause Joseph was just up in there getting a little something something.

Noumenon said...

I enjoy the idea of interpreting Jesus' birth according to biology, just because it leads to this riddle:

Q: What does the H. stand for in Jesus H. Christ?

A: Haploid.

Starless said...

mcg said...
Put me in the category of those who don't really understand why this is an issue. Either Jesus' conception was supernatural, or it wasn't. If it was, then, well, that ends that. If it wasn't, wouldn't one just dismiss the virgin conception as mythical?

I think there are these three reasons:

1) Some theologians feel the need to answer all questions regarding their faith.

2) They just enjoy speculating about things like this.

3) It's one of those questions that strikes at the heart of something like the idea of an "Intelligent Designer". If they're going to accept that genetics is real, how do they account for Jesus?

And no, I'm not trying to re-ignite the "ID" v. Evolution debate.

Richard said...

I don’t know, Anne. Are you baiting Christians or asking a serious question? I hope you’re just baiting. Believing silly things like a virgin birth is the first small step on the road to eventually believing things like there's only One Truth, or that killing the infidel is honorable. I loathe sounding so serious about this, but isn't it time to question and confront such nonsense? It's often lead to some pretty horrendous stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

Richard: I just thought it was interesting.

Greg AKA Rhymes With Right said...

If one accepts that God created teh universe, it isn't much of a stretch to believe he created one necessary Y chromosome.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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F15C said...

As a thirteen year old in sunday school, I remember one class where I thought I'd discovered a profound gap in the Bible that would call to question much of whatever it was we were studying. The class teacher had no answer for me so she called in the minister of the church. He was a towering intimidating man, who was as gentle and wise a person as I've ever met. I explained the matter to him in youthful honesty, not trying to claim a 'gotcha', but sincerely wanting to understand.

He looked at me for a moment, then said clearly: "God does not have to explain everything to us. If he wanted us to know that, if he thought it was important for us to know that, he would have told us." He smiled warmly, turned around and walked out.

To this day, I believe his answer was completely correct. My life has been none-the-worse for not having that question answered. As a matter of fact, the answer he gave me has explained a lot of things since that time and helped me to understand more than the answer to the original question ever would have.

Maybe His not providing all the answers to us is God's way of helping us to focus on what is important, versus what is only interesting.

I find myself not really caring so much how Jesus was born, just the fact that he was born is what is both profound and important.

And I'm not particularly religious these days.

Brando said...

You know, i wish we'd spend more time on something more practical, like that water to wine thing. A delicious Merlot running right out of my faucet would be most excellent.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Brando said...

Ooooh, yes. Pinot. Why slum it when we're talking miracles?

downtownlad said...

Maybe Jesus was transgendered.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Ruth Anne Adams states:

Mary was not the first female created by God sinless. Her name was Eve and she sinned. Mary, being the new Eve, got it right [through perfect obedience and more grace].

Then pray tell, why the need for Jesus at all? Why not just nail Mary's sinless derriere to the cross if you needed someone without sin to stand in for the sins of man. Or maybe because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God? I read that in some book once.

There is no suggestion anywhere in scripture that Mary was in fact without sin, or the mother of God, but rather, a multitude of scriptures that point to all men having sinned. Indeed, the very purpose of Christ's death was a de facto admission that man, through his own efforts alone, could not live without sin.

The Immaculate Conception is a pleasant little confection that people love, as it makes for a more balanced religion emotionally speaking. People like chicks to worship. It's like frosting on cake.

But God (real or theoretical)does not need a sinless mom to enter the world any more than he needs to come up with a spare Y chromosome in order to make Jesus a man.

This whole thread must be amusing to the atheists.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Finn Kristiansen said...

The Bible speaks of people also being "saved by grace" which should not at all make one leap to equate grace, or being filled with it, as being without sin. Again, the Bible does not say Mary is sinless, and faith (yours or mine) has little to do with it. Nor does having grace mean being without sin.

As for new wine into old bottles, and other impossibilities,
I do recall, rather vaguely, the holy spirit coming to rest inside a bunch of sinners.

How does God pull that off? He puts his spirit-a part of the Godhead- into sinners. Where did that happen? Was that... the upper room in Acts?

So yea, he could have just as easily dumped Jesus into the womb of a sinner, and, according to actual scripture, he did. Gabriel, knows the difference between grace and being without sin.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ruth Anne,

Gabriel calls Mary "full of grace" only in Jerome's Latin translation. Even the New Jerusalem Bible follows all other English translations with 'favor' rather than grace. And the same Greek word is used in Ephesians 1:6 to describe all Christians. Whatever Gabriel is saying to Mary, it applies to all who are in Christ.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Finn Kristiansen said...

Not to be too harsh, but, again, my point about the Upper Room was related to your suggestion that God cannot put part of himself into sinners (or old bottles, as you suggested). Clearly he did, and does. Whether Mary was also there is not relevant to the response.

Second, the Bible speaks of "in Christ being a new creation and old things having passed away"...a loose paraphrase. That applies to every believer, according to scripture. Being in Christ has nothing to do with Christ being, physically, inside of your womb.

Further, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, did not suddenly start existing in the New Testament. They were a part of the Godhead.

Finally, the plan of salvation has nothing to do with Mary. God could have used a rock to give birth (and read Christ's discussions with Satan about what rocks can and cannot do). Christ's arrival was foretold in Old Testament scripture and it is not incumbent upon God to base his whole plan of salvation on one mortal saying, "yes". He could have used, again, anyone, though Mary was probably ideal.

You mention having faith. But faith in itself, in teachings, is not always a good thing. I can have faith that my father is superman. Perhaps it is true and the idea of faith is that some things cannot be proven. But when you have faith in a concept that one's own scripture (arguably the source of one's faith) contradicts, then what type of faith is that?

And this is not to say that Mary was not important to the story, or does not deserve respect. There was something in her nature that made her a prime tool for God's plan, in the same way God has designed each of us with unique qualities.

People often say, "Well I don't need Jesus, or anything like that, because I do good." Well indeed, we can all do good, but the key is finding the "right good", or rather, that good that is best designed for our personalities.

Part of Christianity is knowing the "right good". Mary, faced with probably many options of doing good, had the ears to hear what the right good was for her, and was open to God. But sinless, no.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Hmm, Ruth I think you need to post the last word on this, I am tuckered out...

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Head said...

Jesus Christ got his human body and Y chromosome from the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 10:5
Therefore when Christ came into the world he said:"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me"
Hebrews 10:6
"With burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
Hebrews 10:7
Then I said, here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will O God.
Read
Isaiah 53:1-12
800 years before Jesus Christ was born.

William

Sun Kid said...

If we are to believe in the unchangeable nature of a structured God, I can see no way of accepting virgin birth if he created man and woman in the beginning and everything else that he miraculously created back then continue to run with the instructions given then.

I see no reason for God to come up with a bright for the conception of the Christ. And if he did come up with such, then geneticist should be allowed to fiddle as much as they please with cloning!!

ezzsakr said...

Only God can write code. It is not only the Y chromosome but the whole genome was written. How the code (DNA) is transmitted to earth? In case of Adam we do not know but in case of Jesus it is known, the code was transmitted by the holy spirit who as it seems has the power to replace the code in an Ova from Holly Mary. The question is does the code of Jesus includes the maternal half or is it totally new (I mean not a descendent of Adam and Eve)? Nevertheless the Y chromosome has a special importance because If Jesus Christ had a daughter and if we can apply Y Chromosome analysis we may detect evidence of a new code introduced into the human genetic pool at that era. Millions of people all over the world may be carrying parts of the new Code.

mr.howell said...

I would like to inject my two sense into the discussion. The conception was supernatural, but the birth was natural. The blend of divinity with humanity is a mystery (mystery of godliness), but the fact that he was a man is no mystery. He was verily man. He was 100% man and 100% God. However, he lived as a man hungered, thirst, felt pain, sorrow and grief, was tempted and died as a man. More importantly he obeyed as a man and not as a God. We are born again by the holy spirit, but who can explain the process. It is a mystery. Christ was a jew according to the flesh. His humanity was not make believe. He recieved features from His mother. Christ did recieve from His mother 23 Chromosones. He recieved His human body from his mother as all children recieve their body from the mother. The body of that single cell comes exclusively from the mother. From the father is passed the exclusively selfish nature. It is passed to son and daughter, but only too the son is passed the ability to pass it. This is why Christ could be called unlike any other child of humanity, "that Holy Thing". He was to be a sacrifice for our iniquity. Therefore, He could not have a human father of whom iniquity is passed. Christ could not have a human father by design. His father had to be of an heavenly origin. Adam was made in the image of God, but He wasn't the express image of God. he recieved his Character (love as oppossed to selfishness) from God, but his body from the earth. However, adam was not God, Christ was. Adam came from the earth, but Christ from heaven. What the holy spirit did is a mystery. some say that on examining christ blood from 2000 years ago it was discovered that he had 24 chromosones. 1 not of a earthly origin. I am still studying this point.

puzzle said...

When God made Eve. He took a part of Adam from his side and made into Eve. IF the entire part that was taken from Adam was used, Eve would have been a male. Instead God took out the "Y" chromosomes leaving "X" which makes Eve a female and held it in abeyance until the time of Mary and implanted that uncorrupted pre-fall "Y" chromosomes into Mary. That makes Jesus a "male" without the sinful nature of Adam. Jesus was called the last Adam. Made like the pre-fall Adam. Looking throught the Scripture, we also can see that the original sin is passed through "Y " chromosomes. "X" chromosomes serves only as "carrier" and not a transmitter.

ronamain said...

i agree we are misinterpreting. mary was jesus's mother because she was pure?
my problem is her having such a healhy son with no ouput for his normal male functions.if he had sperm where were they and were they half human half godly or what? or did they just go away?

ronamain said...

did jesus have sperm?

betsy said...

Jesus Christ has only 1 Y Chromosome and 23 X chromosomes in overall whereas human beings normally have 46 chromosomes but according to the research done on the blood of christ by the scientist, it was found that there are only 23X chromosomes and 1Y chromosome which states 1 God. His birth was from God (A true Symbol) of Father and Son.-----

betsy said...

Jesus Christ has only 1 Y Chromosome and 23 X chromosomes in overall whereas human beings normally have 46 chromosomes but according to the research done on the blood of christ by the scientist, it was found that there are only 23X chromosomes and 1Y chromosome which states 1 God. His birth was from God (A true Symbol) of Father and Son.-----

Calvin said...

Jesus birth was not only a miracle, it is also declared in the bible to be a mystery. There are some questions that can not be answered with satisfaction. To say that jesus possed a Y chromosone is speculative, and an attempt to explain that which God has not revealed through our limited understanding of the laws of nature. Adam's genderwas not determined by any chromosone but, by the power of God. In that first man He obviously made a Y chromosones to be passed from father to son. Adams first son was the first to experience this. I refer all to Luke 1: 30-35. When mary asked how she being a virgin was to give birth to a son (human) who also was God the angel declared "the Holy Ghost...and that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God". He did not even refer to physiology and anatomy though there Jesus was human (posseing a body like a man). We are to teach His nature to others using only that which is revealed and clearly revealed. And by the way God himself is not human, nor does he possess a fleshly body. Jesus himself was in the form of God before the incarnation, and in the incarnation He clothed His divinity with flesh. God endowed man with the ability to reproduce. He made the first man and gave us the ability to replenish the earth through reproductive systems

Paul C said...

Luk 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
I believe Jesus created His own 23 Chromosomes and the Father was the Y sex-determinant one. Jesus is the Second Adam simply means like one person said a Mystery and so it did not include Mary at all .

Paul C said...

Luk 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. I believe Jesus created His own 23 Chromosomes and the Y Chromosome came from the Father and I got this from His statement on John the Baptist being a great prophet. Christ is more than a prophet. He's a creator of prophets and greater than any prophet ever born of a women. So Jesus just said in so many words , that He was not born from Mary's dna makeup . Jesus is the second Adam , His own creation not of man but of God.