These legendary stories from Greco-Roman culture may well have contributed to accounts of Jesus’ miraculous birth in Matthew and Luke but I would suggest an alternative. I am convinced that the idea of Jesus’ birth from a virgin–without a human father–implicitly goes back to the apostle Paul. Paul’s letters date several decades before our New Testament gospels and it is Paul’s understanding of Jesus as the pre-existent, divine, Son of God, that lays the conceptual groundwork for our Christmas stories.
I’m not completely convinced Paul believed in a pre-existent son in the Platonic sense, although I think he would have in the ideal sense — the Jewish sense as expressed in the Psalms of Solomon.
There is not much I over all disagree with, don’t get me wrong, with the article, except for Paul’s pre-existent son and his invention of the virgin birth. It is possible that such a tradition existed early on, although we find nothing of it in the Gospel of Mark, nor do we find it in Mark’s literary sequel, John.
Anyway, read the article. Good stuff.