— * Gore, Dissertations, p. 29. + Greek Test., vol. i. Prolog. sect. viii. p. 48. —
There is no other alternative but to regard both stories as legends independently circulated in the ancient Church. “So artificial an explanation would probably have found little favour with scholars if there had been no miracle to suggest it. It is too commonly assumed that evidence which would be good under ordinary circumstances is bad where the supernatural is involved."*
Certainly it would seem to be in a high degree improbable that two such accounts as those of the Birth of Jesus Christ which we have in these two Gospels should be the work of forgers; and this improbability is further heightened when we compare them with the legendary accounts of His infancy which were actually current in the early centuries.+
— * Swete, Church Congress Report (1902), p. 163. + See Preface, p. xi. —
THE SILENCE OF OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS
What are the objections brought against all this evidence? The main objection is the silence of the other writers of the New Testament. To reply—
(I) First, we may surely ask—Why should they mention it? This sort of argument from silence is most precarious. Are we to infer that because there is no mention of the Cross or the Crucifixion in the Epistles of St. James or of St. Jude, that it was unknown to this group of writers, and that they were unaware of the manner of Christ’s Death?
“We might much more naturally infer it than we may infer that the Virgin-Birth was unknown because St. James speaks of Christ’s Death, and it would therefore have been quite natural for him to speak of the exact mode of it, whereas our Lord’s Birth is very seldom referred to in the New Testament, and when it is referred to it would not have aided the argument, or been at all to the point to mention how that Birth was brought about."*
— * A. J. Mason, in the Guardian, November 19, 1902. —
Or, because St. John omits all mention of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, are we to suppose that he knew nothing of that Sacrament?
(2) The subject of the Virgin-Birth was not one which the Apostles would be likely to dwell on much. They were above all witnesses of what they had seen and heard. They come before us insisting, therefore, on what they could themselves personally attest—especially on the Resurrection. They had seen and heard the risen Christ, and the Resurrection was at once a vindication of His Messianic claims, and a manifestation of the dignity of His Person. “This praeternatural fact, the fulfilment of the ’sign’+ which He had Himself promised, a fact concerning the reality of which they offered themselves as witnesses, would carry with it a readiness to accept a fact like the Virgin-Birth, concerning which the same sort of evidence was not possible."^