This post is really just for the good folks—Marv in particular—at the Theologica forum, who have been earnestly discussing my views on the virgin birth and my perceived cageyness regarding the divinity of Jesus. Marv has responded to the complaint that the defenders of orthodoxy are unwilling to discuss the actual analysis of the text with a lengthy and, I think, constructive comment that can be found here. It deserves a proper response.
Let me say, first, that I am all in favour of “orthodoxy”, but I am inclined to think that biblical orthodoxy should take precedence over theological orthodoxy. Or to put it another way, I see no reason why the philosophically informed reading of the New Testament that prevailed in the fourth century should be regarded as a more reliable guide to interpretation than a historically informed reading in the twenty-first century. I think that the historical reading of the New Testament—quest for the historical Jesus, New Perspective, etc.—has brought us to the point at which we at least have to ask the question whether formulae generated under the peculiar intellectual conditions of early Christendom still offer the best way of making sense of the narrative of Christian origins. That is another debate. For now I want to focus on Marv’s argument with respect to the Synoptic Gospels.