DNA in antiquity : revisiting Jesus’s birth

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Peer-Reviewed Research


In order to be born fully human (Latin: vere homo) X and Y chromosomes are needed. Without the involvement of chromosomes, Jesus of Nazareth would have had no ties to humanity. Aristotelian (“On the generation of animals” / “Peri zōōn geneseōs”) and ancient Hellenistic (Galen on the Hippocratic Corpus) views on how the vere homo came into being differ much from today’s knowledge of biology. In the Hebrew Scriptures, rabbinic traditions and Graeco- Roman literature, vere homo was the result not only of a male and female contribution; the third component was divine involvement. This article revisits the textual evidence of the conception of Jesus in the New Testament. The results are compared to propositions in the Athanasian Creed (Quicunque Vult) and the exegetical and/or dogmatic/socio-cultural views of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. The article explores the ethical and cultural relevance of the Christian belief that Jesus was both vere homo and vere Deus, and enters into critical discussion with British New Testament scholar Andrew Lincoln and his idea of “DNA in antiquity.”