Thursday, December 20, 2007

News: Rowan Williams (Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury) on the Nativity according to St. Matthew

From an article in the Telegraph:
Dr Rowan Williams has claimed there was little evidence that the Magi even existed and there was certainly nothing to prove there were three of them or that they were kings.

He said the only reference to the wise men from the East was in Matthew's gospel and the details were very vague. [So anything mentioned in the Bible once -- or anything vague -- can be discounted?]

Dr Williams said: "Matthew's gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that's all we're really told. It works quite well as legend."
And, while he does believe in the Virgin birth, he questions Matthew's use of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy:
Simon Mayo: Christopher Hitchens and many others make the point that isn't the translation for young woman rather than virgin? Does it have to be seen as virgin; might it be a mistranslation?

Archbishop of Canterbury: It is... well, what's happening there one of the gospels quotes a prophecy that a virgin will conceive a child. Now the original Hebrew doesn't have the word virgin, [but we don't have the original Hebrew, the oldest translation we have is the Septuagint; extant Hebrew manuscripts are later in date] it's just a young woman, but that's the prophecy that's quoted from the Old Testament in support of the story which is, in any case, about a birth without a human father, so it's not that it rests on mistranslation; St Matthew's gone to his Greek version of the bible and said "Oh, 'virgin'; sounds like the story I know," and put it in. [If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is!]
Oh well. Anyone else in the Anglican Church considering returning to Rome?

1 comment:

Tim A. Troutman said...

What a shame.

He should be aware of Justin's dialogue with Trypho in which Justin accuses the Jews of manipulating the text of their Scriptures to avoid certain prophecies (this one among others is mentioned specifically) looking like they point to Jesus.

Now it's not hard to see how the Jews could wiggle their way out of that prophecy referring to Jesus but from a Christian perspective - Matthew obviously cannot be seen as making a mistake in saying Jesus fulfilled that prophecy.

If only CS Lewis was alive today.. think he'd still be an Anglican?