This chapter explores Jewish philosophical arguments against the Christian doctrine of virgin conception. The Christian dogma of virgin birth teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin her entire life, before (ante partum), during (in partu), and after (post partum) the birth of her son. The doctrine was not attacked per se; the possibility that a woman might conceive with her virginity intact, though by means of normal fertilization, is an occurrence which is conceded in the Talmud. Nevertheless, the Jewish polemicists rejected the notion that God could become incarnate by impregnating a virgin and fathering an offspring who was, according to Christian doctrine, God Himself. Hence, the Jewish thinkers rarely offered arguments against the doctrine of Mary's virginity ante partum without reference to incarnation. The denial of incarnation was sufficient justification for rejection of the doctrine of Mary's virgin conception of Jesus. In addition, the Jewish polemicists were cognizant of the fact that the doctrine of virgin birth in partu raised a number of philosophical questions. In their critique of this Christian belief, they argued (1) that the impossibility of the interpenetrability of bodies precluded virgin birth, and (2) that the various images of virgin birth cited by the Christians were not convincing.
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