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I will not discuss the wonders with which Matthew and Luke adorn their accounts of the Nativity, for they are sheer hagiography. I have already mentioned that the appearance of the miraculous star, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Infants, on the one hand; the birth in the stable, the announcement to the Shepherds in the field, the presentation in the Temple, on the other, form groups of incidents which it is futile to endeavour to blend into one, and still more futile to connect in history.
The redactors have merely sought to make up for their lack of knowledge of facts by introducing fictitious narratives founded either on supposed prophetic writings, or upon the then popular myths and folklore. They were faced with a peculiar situation. They naturally wished to avoid, as far as possible, the ridiculous, and yet did not like to relinquish the supernatural origin of Jesus; likewise they were conscious of the fact that a natural explanation would lead to conclusions which would be revolting to the faith. They, therefore, preferred the adoption of the mythus, as this alone could obviate the difficulty.
Not only are Pagan gods known in Greek, Roman, Persian and Indian mythologies to have been raised by virgin birth, but many peculiar incidents have been attributed to them as were ascribed to Jesus. In fact, the substantial identity of Christian and Pagan beliefs was actually used, at a very early stage, as a method of overcoming Pagan criticism of Christian teachings. Thus Justin Martyr, writing in defence of Christianity in the first half of the second century, said:
"By declaring our Master Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin without any human mixture, and to be crucified and dead and to have risen again, and ascended into heaven, we say no more of this than what you say of those whom you style the Sons of Jove. For you need not be told what a number of sons the writers among you assign to Jove. Mercury, the interpreter of Jove, is worshipped among you. You have Aesculapius, the physician stricken by a thunderbolt, and who afterwards ascended into heaven. You have Bacchus torn to pieces and Hercules burnt. You have Pollux and Castor, the Sons of Jove by Leda, and Perseus by Danae. Not to mention others, I would fain know why you always deify the emperors, and have a fellow at hand to testify that he saw Caesar mount to heaven. As to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him to be no more than a man, yet the title of the son of God is very justifiable on account of his wisdom, considering you have your Mercury in worship under the title of the Logos and the Messenger of God. As to the objection of our Jesus being crucified, I say that suffering was common to all the fore-mentioned Sons of Jove, only they suffered another kind of death. As to his being born of a virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that. As to his curing the lepers, and the paralytic and such as were cripples from their birth, this is little more than what you say of Aesculapius. "
Eusebius, the celebrated ecclesiastical historian, had also to appeal to a pagan oracle in similar circumstances and was forced to write to the heathen in the same strain:
"But thou at least listen to thine own gods, to thy oracular deities themselves, who have borne witness and ascribed to our Savior, not imposture, but piety and wisdom, and ascent into heaven like theirs."
Bishop Gore, a Modernist, writing on the same subject in recent times to the adversaries of Christianity, said:
"You say that we find in Christianity the relics of Paganism. On the contrary, we find in Paganism, intermingled with much that is false, superstitious and horrible, the anticipation of Christianity" (Gore, Studies in the Character of Christ, 2 : 102).
There was a time when Church dignitaries were bent on discovering more striking and more startling coincidences in pagan and primitive religions for use as "rays of confirmation of Gospel truths." But this study of comparative mythology soon lost much of its charm. Professor Max Muller says:
"The opinion that the pagan religions were mere corruptions of the religion of the Old Testament, once supported by men of high authority and great learning, is now as completely surrendered as the attempts to explain Greek and Latin as corruptions of Hebrew" (Muller, The Science of Religions, 40).
The Christian dogmas - the idea of a Triune Godhead, of an Incarnate Saviour, of the Virgin Birth, of the Second Advent, of the Baptism, of the Sacraments, of the Communion of Saints-were taken for granted to be the distinctive possessions of Christianity; these were, it was alleged, marks clearly dividing it from any form of Paganism. So at least, it was contended at one time by Christians on the authority of Holy Writ. But they were shocked to find that they were completely mistaken. To their utter dismay every one of these dogmas and rituals was proved to have been held in some part or other of the Pagan world quite independently of Christian influence. They, therefore, to save their faces and religion, took a new turn and treated them as supporting the Christian Dogmas. To borrow a phrase of Paul, these ancient rites and beliefs, obscured by superstition and insufficient to satisfy the longing which brought them into existence, were designed "to serve as the schoolmasters" who would lead the heathen at length to Christ.
The subject of comparative mythology and the considerations of concrete parallels between the beliefs and teachings of ancient religions and those of Christianity are vast indeed. I cannot enter upon it. The late Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din has discussed this subject exhaustively in his well-known work, The Sources of Christianity. I may, however, mention that the celebrated text of the three witnesses of John, which is the foundation of the doctrine of the Trinity, has also been proved, by the labours of Newton, Porson and others, to be an interpolation; and Clement himself acknowledged that the verse is not found in any ancient copy of the Bible. "Jesus," he said, "taught the belief in One God, but Paul, with the Apostle John, who was a Platonist, despoiled Christ's religion of all its beauty and simplicity by introducing the incomprehensible Trinity of Plato, or the Triad of the East, and also deifying two of God's Attributes - namely His Holy Spirit, or the Agion Pneuma of Plato and His Divine Intelligence, called by Plato the Logos (word).
With this background, it is possible to see where the Son-God theory came from. It is significant that Paul, John and Mark, none of whom believed in the virgin birth, characterised Jesus as the Son of God. This description of Jesus, therefore, must be held to be prior to the establishment of the belief in the miracle mentioned by Matthew and Luke, and their assertions consequently do not arise out of it. On the contrary, the miracle followed the assertion of Paul. For as soon as they thought that not only had Jesus been raised up by God as a man full of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His plans and that his birth into this life had been Divinely predestined and glorified by the Holy Ghost, they attempted to signalise it by expressing this special relationship between Jesus and God. They described him as His son, because that was the only term in human language by which they could intelligibly, if not completely and adequately, express this relationship. Since the idea of the direct generation of a man by God could not appear to the Jews except as a monstrous absurdity, the expression was, in the first instance, only a metaphor.
It must, however, be conceded at once that the evangelists used the expression the Son of God in its literal sense. It appears in the Synoptic Gospels twenty-seven times and the word Son, in what may further be conceded in an equivalent sense, nine times. Of course, the numerical figure appears to be higher than it actually is because the same more or less identical passages are repeated in all three Gospels. The expression, however, is conspicuously used in all the most important events narrated in the Gospels: The Baptism (Mark, 1 : 1-4), the Temptation in the Wildemess (Matt., 4 : 3), the Transfiguration (Mark, 9 : 7), the Interrogation by the high priest (Mark, 14: 61), the Declaration of the Centurion at Calvary (Mark, 15: 39) and lastly, the Confessions of the devils and demons whom Jesus cast out (Matt., 8 : 29; Mark, 3 : 11; 5 : 7). All this kind of fantasy, in which the expression is used by a voice of heaven, alternating with hell, brings under suspicion everything connected with it, particularly as most of the passages as already mentioned, are the products of Christian forgeries. I mention but one: Mark was headed by someone: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark, 1 : 1). This descriptive title was a much later addition (Revised Version, P 45).
It is noteworthy, however, that this expression occurs once only in the Quelle, in a famous legend which is reproduced in the Gospels (Matt., 11 : 27; Luke, 10 : 22) and the significance of which I will discuss later on. In the Acts and the Pauline Epistles this appellation occurs in numerous places, but it finds no place at all in the Pastoral Epistles of James, Jude and I and II Peter.
It has been asserted that so numerous references as are found in the New Testament prove conclusively that Jesus himself took the expression the Son of God in its most strict and exalted significance. In other words, it is urged that the mere repetition of a lie must carry the force of conviction and convert it into and establish its truth.
The title in question, if taken literally, expresses a relation with God so intimate that no mere man could lay claim to it without being guilty of the most heinous blasphemy. It comprises a definite, if not perfectly lucid, explanation of the mystery of the Trinity, for it defines the second person of the Triad. A mere assertion, therefore, even by Jesus himself, is not enough to reveal the true position. It must be shown to have been understood by those who were to be enlightened.
Now this expression was known to, and used by, Israel. In principle, all Jews were sons of Jehovah, and it was this which distinguished them from the rest of mankind. In the Old Testament, all human beings have been called the sons of God (Gen., 6 : 1-4; Job, 1 : 6; Dan., 3 : 25). The Israel, in particular, were styled as the son of God (My son) (Exod., 4 : 22), the sons of God (My sons) (Isa., 45 : 11, Hos., 1 : 10), and the children of the Lord (Dent, 14: 1; Isa., 1 : 2; Jer., 3 : 22). This appellation was especially applied, as it was throughout the ancient East, to outstanding personages, the Prophets of God, because of the love which God bore them and the tutelary care which He exercised over them. During the post-exilic period, pious men and teachers were regarded as the sons of God (Heit Muller, Jesus, 123; see also Wellhauson, Das Evangelism Marci : 6). From the Second Psalm we gather that, just as earthly kings chose their sons to reign with or under them, so the Israelitish kings were invested by Jehovah, the Supreme Ruler, with governments of his favourite provinces. Thus the designation the Son of God was applicable to every Israelitish king who adhered to the principles of theocracy. In the Second Psalm we find the verse which according to Codex D plays an important part in the baptism of Jesus:
"Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee" (Ps., 2 : 7; cf. Luke, 3 : 22).
This was nothing more than a part of the liturgy of the coronation rites of the Hasmonean kings (Duhm, Die Psalmen, 8).
In all these cases, therefore, there never was any idea of expressing anything more than a close moral and religious connection with God than was, or is, enjoyed by ordinary human beings. There could be no question, even remotely, of any real sonship for the Jews, for that would have been to them the most preposterous absurdity and the grossest blasphemy. Thus, at the time of Jesus, the expression Son of God was applied to one of two types: those who by their essential nature enjoyed a unique relationship with God-the heavenly kings, the Prophets; and the earthly kings, the Princes.
It is true that Israel expected the Messiah, whose coming they so ardently desired and awaited with high hopes, to set up a kingdom on earth and to be their redeemer. It is equally true that the Messiah was commonly described by them as the best beloved son of God and the most powerful vicegerent of God on earth, but he was to be a man among men (Justin, Dial. Cum Trypho, 49) and not a single passage in Jewish literature can be cited in which the title is given to the Messiah in the sense the Christians take it to be. By sheer dint of straining the texts, which do not carry conviction to any one except those who are already convinced, two passages are put forward. The early Christians were masters of the art of forgery. They always introduced passages in such a manner as I have explained in the case of Josephus that it is not easy to detect the forgery at first sight. However, the first passage is:
"Because I and my son will be with you always on the paths of truth" (Enoch, 105 : 2).
This passage has been proved, and is now universally admitted, to be an interpolation. The only other passage in which the words "For my son Christ. . . ." (4 Edros, 7 : 28-29) occur is also a later text which is now to be found only in Christianised recensions.
If, then, such was the original historical significance of the epithet, it is not unreasonable to say that Jesus used it of himself in this significance only. It is true that the two verses in the Gospels can be stretched to mean something different. I will consider them presently. But apart from these two verses, nowhere is the narrowest, the merely physical, import of the term put into the mouth of Jesus. It is always others who apply this title to Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, throughout his teachings, tenaciously maintained a distinction between himself and God. He clearly and repeatedly pointed out that he was only a human teacher and that Divine Attributes ought not to be applied to him. When tempted by Satan, who asked him to do various things if he was the son of God, Jesus drove him away by saying:
"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only thou shalt serve" (Matt., 4 : 10).
When asked which was the first and great commandment in Law, Jesus said:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind " (Matt., 22:37).
Jesus even renounced the predicate of goodness and insisted on its appropriation to God alone. When addressed as Good Master he replied:
"Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God" (Matt., 19: 17; Mark, 10 : 18; Luke, 18 : 19).
So precise was Jesus that he even put his status lower than that of the Holy Spirit, for he said:
"And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matt., 12:32).
Jesus knew and understood the metaphorical significance of the term: The Children of God (Matt., 5 : 9); and when he spoke of himself as one of them, he applied the term in its metaphorical and not physical sense. This is abundantly clear from the following incident recorded in the Gospels:
"Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them: Many good works have I showed you from the Father; for which of these works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because thou being a man makest thyself God.
These verses, occurring as they do in John, speak for themselves and a comment is hardly necessary. Jesus was quoting from the Psalms:
"I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High" (Ps., 82 : 6).
And arguing that if the Judges, as God's representatives, could be called "gods" (Exod., 22 : 28) or sons of the Most High, by God Himself, he could not possibly be guilty if he spoke of himself as a son of God in that metaphorical sense. Christian apologists have spilt oceans of ink to explain away the incompatibility of these verses with their Son-God theory and to establish that "these verses neither imply any degradation of the Divinity of Jesus nor do they present Jesus to be a mere man."
But I repeat that Jesus was very precise in this matter. He always spoke of himself as the Son of Man. This expression, as I will show later, meant a mere man, and those who heard Jesus took him to be a man (Matt., 8 : 27; 13 : 56; Mark, 2 : 7; 6 : 2; John, 11 : 37) and nothing more. He even spoke of himself as a man for he said:
"But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God; this did not Abraham" (John, 8 : 40).
Jesus also spoke of himself as a Prophet (Matt., 13: 57, Mark, 6 : 4; Luke, 4 : 24; John, 4 : 44), and indeed those who listened to him took him to be a Prophet (Matt., 16: 14; Mark, 8 : 28; Luke, 9 : 19) and a teacher (John, 3 : 2). Even his disciples took him to be a Prophet only (Luke, 24 : 19). Peter, it is true, when questioned by Jesus as to what he thought of him, replied: Thou art Christ, the son of the living God (Matt., 16 : 16), but Jesus not only then and there contradicted him by using the phrase Son of Man for himself (Mark, 8 : 31; Luke, 9 : 22) but he also repudiated vehemently this appellation, for:
"He straightly charged them and commanded them to tell no one that thing" (Luke, 9 : 21. cf. Mark, 8 : 30).
I need hardly repeat that the phrase ascribed to Peter was in fact a later forgery (Revised Version, p. 1177. cf. John, 6 : 69).
I take another incident. The Sanhedrin had assembled to find Jesus guilty of a charge of blasphemy; yet they could not get witnesses. If Jesus had been proclaiming his sonship of God to the multitudes, as Christians would have us believe, surely the elders ought not to have felt any difficulty in getting the two requisite witnesses, particularly when the Scribes and Pharisees were always present in the crowds which used to gather around Jesus. It is, however, alleged that Jesus asserted before the Sanhedrin that he was the Son of God. Luke narrates that the Jews questioned Jesus:
"Art thou then the son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am" (Luke, 22 : 70).
Apart from the fact that in the very preceding verse he had told the elders that he was Son of Man, he wished to clear the position and meant to convey: Ye say that I am, but I do not. This was a peculiar but usual method of giving the negative answer. Matthew gives the answer as: "Thou hast said" (Matt., 26: 64). Peake, commenting on this verse says:
"We should perhaps take the ambiguous reply, 'Thou hast said,' as a refusal" (Peake, Commentary on the Bible, 722).
The Jews, however, were bent on misconstruing his reply and did take it as an admission, but not so Pilate. The charge of the Jews which would have brought the case within the jurisdiction of Pilate, was that Jesus had claimed to be king of the Jews. Therefore, Pilate questioned him:
"Art thou the king of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it? " (Luke, 23 : 3).
Pilate took the answer, as should have been done by the Jews, to be a denial of the charge:
"And said Pilate to the chief priest and to the people, I find no fault in this man" (Luke, 23 : 4).
It is obvious, therefore, that Jesus had equally denied the charge of having ever claimed to be Son of God in the narrow sense, and it is merely a puerile and childish prank of Christians to construe these verses as supporting the godhead of Jesus.
As I have said, two verses, and no more, one in Mark and the other in the Logia, put words into the mouth of Jesus which, if read superficially, show that he did designate himself as the Son of God. It should not be forgotten that Jesus spoke Aramaic and not Greek; and when, for instance, he said Abba, Mark correctly translated it as Father (Mark, 14: 36), but Matthew converted it into O my father (Matt., 26: 39), while Luke and John improved it as My father (See Revised Version, p. 1190; John, 14: 28), and the editors of the Revised Version have to mention time and again that the should be read in place of my. There is another subtle way in which the redactors tried to impress the physical sonship of Jesus. When anyone, for example, the Centurion, said of Jesus that he was a son of God, the redactors changed it into the son of God (Matt., 27 : 54. See Revised Version, 1096). Such forgeries were so cleverly made that they almost escape detection. They also prima facie established the alleged fact, carried conviction and left an everlastingly wrong impression. If, however, we read the Gospels with these forgeries in mind, the distinction which is sought to be made disappears from the source. Thus we read:
"And I appoint unto you the kingdom, as my father hath appointed it unto me" (Luke, 22 : 29).
This verse with the substituted for my can be subscribed to by the followers of any other denomination. Thus if we read the two verses with these changes in mind, it will become evident that even they do not support the sonship of Jesus. The first passage reads:
"But that day and that hour (i.e., the Day of Judgment) knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the father" (Mark, 13: 32).
The second verse is:
"All things are delivered unto me of the Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the son, and he to whomsoever the son will reveal him" (Matt., 11 : 27; cf. Luke, 10 : 22).
The first verse embodies a confession of Jesus of his limited knowledge and avowed ignorance of the Last Day of Judgement. The words neither the son are omitted from the Authorised Version of Matthew's (Matt., 24: 36) though many ancient authorities contain them. According to Dummelow, this omission was due to the fact that they were looked upon "as being a difficulty to faith" (Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible, 731). For similar reasons, both Luke and John omitted the entire verse. This verse led the Arians to believe and teach that Jesus was ignorant of the Divine Will and Athanasius had to explain to them that "ignorance is part of human nature of Jesus." But if we read this verse with the second verse and with the verse preceding it, the meaning becomes abundantly clear. This preceding verse reads:
"I thank thee, O father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matt., 11 : 25).
Thus while Jesus in one place confesses ignorance of the Divine Will, he in another place thanks God for His revelation to him and goes on to explain that no one else knoweth of His Will, His revelation, until he discloses it to him. There is nothing extraordinary in such an assertion. The Divine revelation to a Prophet of God is unknown to men till the Prophet himself discloses it.
But even this explanation does not remove the difficulty of belief in the divinity of Jesus. His ignorance of things around him is incomprehensible if he was Divine and therefore Omniscient. As the "Very God of the Very God," he should have known that prescience shown by him would be a proof of his Divinity, and yet he deliberately, and I think intentionally, time and again confessed his lack of knowledge of the unseen. I give but a few instances which exhibit this ignorance of Jesus.
When a certain woman "which had an issue of blood twelve years" came behind Jesus and touched the border of his garment, Jesus did not know and had to ask: "Who touched my clothes?" (Mark, 5 : 25-30).
Jesus did not know whether anything could be found on a fig tree except leaves (Matt., 21 : 18-19). Jesus said that of his own he could do nothing and confessed:
"I can of my own self do nothing" (John, 5 : 30; see also John, 8:28; Matt., 20: 20-23).
And went on to say:
"If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true" (John, 5 : 31).
But I must revert to the two verses under discussion. It is hardly necessary for me to point out that they, if the Christian interpretation be correct, are fundamentally inconsistent with each other. The whole periscope of which these passages form a part is called The Prayer of Thanksgiving. But the very clearly marked rhythm of the whole of this prayer gives it the appearance of a piece of liturgy of an Eastern religion, for example, Ea said to Marduk: "My son, what I know, thou knowest." Further, the fundamental ideas and the characteristic expressions have every appearance of having come from the Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach, and verses of Sirach can be easily picked out which compare with those of this prayer. (The beginning of the prayer in Matthew is indicated by Sir 2 : 1; Matt., 11 : 28-a and Sir 2 : 23; Matt., 11 : 28-b and Sir 24 : 2; Matt., 11 : 29-a and Sir 6 : 24; Matt., 11 : 29-b and Sir 6 : 28; Matt., 11 : 30 and Sir 6 : 29.)
It is not difficult to cite similar passages from the Old Testament (Isa., 55 : 1-3; Zech., 9 : 9; Jer., 6 : 16, etc..) which may equally have served as the source of these verses and from which the redactors may have copied. If such be the case, the two verses would have to be given the same significance as that obtaining in the Old Testament, and which has already been explained by me.
But to find the real explanation of the introduction of the Son-God theory into the simple faith of Jesus we shall have to look to the Greek atmosphere in which Paul created Christianity. It was there that the word Christ became a proper name of Jesus. They spoke of Jesus Christ as of Julius Caesar. I am not really concerned here with the problem of the Christological development. I merely wish to point out that the Messiah to Jews was to be a servant (Ebed) of God and not the son of God in the physical sense; but on Greek soil the Christological belief found an environment very different from that of Palestine. There the idea of procreation of a human being by gods was current and the relationship between Jesus and God could shock no one. On the contrary, the term Son of God was more likely to arouse sympathy in that quarter than the Jewish name of Messiah. Hence it was among the Greeks that the expression arose.
In the second place, it was assisted by a phrase which Jesus used and which was used by those around him to express his intimate relations with God, namely, and without any doubt, ebad Jehovah, the servant of God. This expression was used in the Septuagint to designate those who were especially devoted to fulfilling the Will of Jehovah (Ps., 69: 17 A.V.; Wisd., 2 : 13). In this sense, it was often applied to Israel as a whole (Isa., 41: 8; 42: 19; 44: 1, etc.). It was applied to Moses (Neh., 1 : 7), David (Ps., 18 : 1. Intro) and other prophets (Gen., 9 : 25; 2 Sam. 2 : 12, etc).
Such an expression, so consecrated by the Scriptures as the designation of a prophet of God, could hardly, it seems, have failed to be applied to Jesus. But we find that in the Gospels the phrase was applied to him once only (Matt., 12: 18), and that for a reason. The redactors could not avoid this description because they were quoting a passage from the Old Testament (Isa., 42: 1) and showing its fulfilment in Jesus (Matt., 12: 17). Again, I suppose by an oversight Jesus is spoken of as a servant of God in three places in the Acts (Acts, 3 : 13 (RV. 1203); 4 : 27 (RV. 1204); 4: 30 - RV. 1204), and once by Paul (Phili., 2 : 7).
The word ebed was unfortunately translated into the Greek word pais meaning a servant and also a child. And from child to son was an easy transition for the Greeks. But it soon took the Christological idea expressed in the Epistles of Paul. It found its Pauline and Johannine justifications in the doctrine of Divine pre-existence and of the incarnation of Jesus. The legend of the virgin birth was a "Consequential Relief," and the reassuring alterations in, and additions to, the texts provided its confirmation. I quote but one instance. In the beginning, according to Luke when Jesus was baptised, the Lord had said: This day have I begotten thee (Western Text and Codes D), but it soon became changed into: thou art my beloved son, in thee I am well pleased (Luke, 3 : 22). Among the Gentiles, Jesus became The son of God from the day of his Baptism, but in the Rabbinical traditions Jesus continued to be a man among men, a man of humble status (Langrange, Le Messianisme Chehes Juis, p. 223).
In view of this explanation, the two verses do not present any further difficulty. If the word servant is substituted for son, the passages do not establish any relation of sonship with God. The compilers of the Encyclopaedia Biblica, while commenting on these two verses, and taking the two passages together, say:
"We must infer that Jesus had indeed communion with God but nothing beyond it: but this connection was under such limitations that the attribute of Goodness as well as absolute knowledge belonged to God, and hence the boundary line between the Divine and human was strictly preserved" (Ency. Biblica, Art: Son of God. Italics are mine.).
A prophecy in Isaiah (Isa., 7 : 14) was supposed to have led to the belief that Jesus, as the Messiah, would be born of a virgin by means of Divine agency. I will explain later how the word virgin was dishonestly introduced into this verse. But this forgery led to a philosophical mythus resulting in faith unknown to Jesus. The theory of the incarnation of God was merely a departure from this faith to a dogmatic assertion. What had to be was actually made to have been, and the redactors of the Gospels introduced it accordingly (De Wette, Bible Dogma, S. 281). The historical truth that Jesus was the offspring of an ordinary marriage, which would have maintained the dignity of Jesus as a prophet of God, was perverted into a supernatural and mythical conception of Jesus. Paulus, from a true perception of the identical character of the two son-Gods, compares Jesus with the son of Apollo and the virgin mother Perictiones. To this mythus must be added the Jewish idea that the Holy Spirit sometimes descended upon its choicest sons of God. The title "son of God," coupled with the factors already mentioned, led to a more precise interpretation and later to a literal acceptance. The prophecy of Isaiah was matured by the phrase:
"Thou art my son; this day I have begotten thee" (Ps., 2 : 7).
Thus a physical union with God was stressed and the words son of Virgin and son of God competed with each other; and with the Pagan deities in the background, the Divine agency became substituted for a human participation; and Jesus became another son of God through a Virgin. This legend, which was thus substituted for a humble reality, was old, and the reason for the substitution was also very old.