We all know the story of the Virgin Mary in the Bible, and the Immaculate Conception that led to the birth of baby Jesus. However there has recently been speculation regarding the use of the word “virgin” with regards to Mary. The reason for this speculation being that it has been discovered that in the original Hebrew text the word “ha-almah” was used, a word similar to the English “young” or “maid”. The mistranslation occurred when this text was translated into Greek, where the word “parthenos” meaning virgin is used. The Hebrew word for virgin is “bethulah” and cannot be found anywhere in the original Hebrew text, meaning that the original writer did not intend for it to be read as “virgin” but as “young” girl.

This error in the text begs the question, was it really a mistake? Or was it purposeful? Taking into account that the word “virgin” is not in the original text it is quite a leap from young to virgin, especially in the context of religion. Moreover if this was only a mistake imagine a world where Mary was just an average, young girl. How much would this change things? On the other hand there are others that argue that it was not an error but that the word virgin was strategically chosen instead of the word young, the end result being that Mary was held above other women and led a holier existence.

In his book Orpheus, the Hebrew scholar Salomon Reinach wrote that, “As early as the second century B.C. the Jews perceived the error and pointed it out to the Greeks; but the Church knowingly persisted in the false reading, and for over fifteen centuries she has clung to her error. The mystery and questions over the choice “virgin” remain unsolved to this day.

A part of the New York times company. (2012). Retrieved from: http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/western/bldef_virginmary.htm

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