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Miraculous Conceptions And Births In Mediterranean Antiquity (2006)

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Chapter Summary

Matthew's infancy narrative compares Jesus with the traditions about Moses' early life. This functions as part of Matthew's Christology. Luke's material about the birth and early life of Jesus functions within the ancient genre of prophecies of future greatness. This chapter deals with the question on how the authorial audience heard this material in Matthew and Luke and what cultural assumptions auditors brought. Pythagoras was said to be the offspring of Apollo and the human Pythais, the most beautiful of the Samians; Plato was believed to have been the son of Apollo and Amphictione . "A woman can be made pregnant by a spirit (πνεῦμα) of a god, but for a human there is no physical intercourse with a god". This trajectory shows that it was possible in Mediterranean antiquity to think of a miraculous conception without understanding it in terms of sexual intercourse between a deity and a human.

Keywords: Apollo; Christian auditor; early life of Jesus; Luke's infancy narrative; Matthew's infancy narrative; Mediterranean antiquity; miraculous conception and birth; Plato



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