“Born of a Woman” / Galatians 4:4 INDEX

Proper indexing of my posts has fallen behind. One small step towards correcting this has been to collate all Vridar posts that have dealt with Galatians 4:4 and the famous “born of a woman” phrase.

First I list persons whose various views have been presented here. Then . . . well, you can see how the list is structured.

If you want to know what my own view on the passage is then I can only say I am not dogmatic on any position. Even the absence of the text from Tertullian’s rebuttal of Marcion’s copy of Galatians is not necessarily decisive given that the word translated “born” could even more validly be rendered “made”. That is, Tertullian may have ignored the passage because it potentially favoured a docetic interpretation. See the Ehrman entry below for details.

Nonetheless, I do strongly favour the view that the expression is, as Hoffmann himself once wrote, “the language of myth”. No-one but a poet or a theologian explains that so-and-so “was born of a woman”! If anything in this context it is a credal statement. And if it’s a credal statement then it is not the quotidian data New Testament scholars like McGrath and Hurtado (and now Hoffmann) insist is evidence for a fact of history.


Paul-Louis Couchoud


Epistle to the Galatians — Couchoud’s view

This post makes special reference to Couchoud’s article (in which he says that Gal 4:4 is an echo from the Gospel of Luke’s first chapters to counter Marcion’s view of Christ) posted in full on Herman Detering’s site:

“And again in a passage about the descent of Christ he includes a profession of faith in the birth of Christ in the flesh as a Jew among Jews. Gal. 4 : 4:

“God sent his Son,
to redeem those under law.”

Between those two lines he interpolates: “born of a woman, born under the law,”, a line which comes from the same current as the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

Christ’s birth in the flesh stands in contradiction to the passages that proclaim his celestial, not terrestrial birth, e.g. to 1 Cor. 15 : 45; 47 . . . .”

Earl Doherty

Supplementary Articles – No. 15: “Born of Woman”? – Reexamining Galatians 4:4 (Earl Doherty’s website. I have only made references to this in my posts here and always left it to anyone interested to read Doherty’s own words. Note Doherty explains how his view has changed somewhat since his first publication, The Jesus Puzzle.)

Bart Ehrman


Hoffmann’s Mamzer-Jesus Solution to Paul’s “Born of a Woman” — link is to the subsection “No serious suggestion of interpolation?” quoting Ehrman in full.

Simon Gathercole


Addressing S. Gathercole’s Case for Jesus’ Humanity: “Born from a Woman” (#2)


Addressing S. Gathercole’s Case: “Born from a Woman” (#3)


R. Joseph Hoffmann

First two links are Hoffmann’s arguments from his days as a mythicist. The latter are from his more recent forays into attempting to break New Testament scholarship out of its dismal efforts to counter mythicist arguments.


THE JESUS TOMB DEBACLE: RIP (This is on Hoffmann’s site; I referenced it in my post on Hurtado’s views)

“(a) The earliest Christian literature, that written by Paul, knows the names of none of Jesus’ family members. It is sometimes pointed out that Paul makes reference (Galatians 4.4) to Jesus having “been born of a woman, under the law,” but it is widely believed that these words are an insertion into the text of Galatians: Marcion, our earliest witness, does not know them, and as Hilgenfeld once noted, if his opponent, Tertullian, could have quoted them against Marcion, a docetist thinker, to prove the essential humanity of Jesus, he would have. We are left with the bare fact that Paul knows nothing of the human family of Jesus. He does know the names of some of Jesus’ followers, and in the same epistle uses the phrase “James the brother of Lord,” which makes it the more remarkable that he would not know of an extended family with a strong female influence operating in Jerusalem. As suggested below, Paul’s use of the term “brother” is not dispositive since he is not using it in reference to a biological relationship.”


6 sound basic premises of early Jesus Mythicism — & the end of scholarly mythicism

Hoffmann calls it the “language of myth

English: A biker making a backflip. Español: U...
Backflip. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Hoffmann’s Mamzer-Jesus Solution to Paul’s “Born of a Woman”

Reply to Hoffmann’s “On Not Explaining ‘Born of a Woman’”


The Gospels Assure Us (Relatively) That the Hoffmann Jesus Is True


Initial response to Hoffmann’s latest

Larry Hurtado


Larry Hurtado’s Wearying Historical Jesus Question

In this post I direct readers to R. Joseph Hoffmann’s discussion of this point. See “The Jesus Tomb Debacle: RIP” post under Hoffmann above.

Gerd Lüdemann


Paul as a Witness to the Historical Jesus: Gerd Ludemann

J.C. (John Cochrane) O’Neill


“Born of a Woman” — Sober Scholarship Questioning the Authenticity of Galatians 4:4

Roger Parvus


A Simonian Origin for Christianity, Part 4: Excursus on Marcion, Valentinians, and the Pauline Letters

“a Catholic gloss intended to refute Marcionite belief that Jesus descended fully grown from heaven.”

John Shelby Spong


How Joseph was piously invented to be the “father” of Jesus

Tom Verenna


Was Paul’s Jesus an Historical Figure? — ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’ ch. 8

Frank Zindler


Did Jesus Have A Body?


That Second Question Frank Zindler Wanted to Ask Bart Ehrman

In the Richard Carrier-Mark Goodacre Exchange


The Carrier-Goodacre Exchange (part 1) on the Historicity of Jesus


Carrier-Goodacre (part 2) on the Historicity of Jesus

In the Earl Doherty-James McGrath Exchange


Doherty’s chapter 7 (2): reviewing McGrath’s review

“Born of a woman” and Bayes’ Theorem


Real Historians Do Bayes!

Other Vridar posts


Paul’s understanding of the Earthly Leprechaun (not necessarily Historical) Jesus


Seed of David, born of woman, and mythicism


Born of a woman in heaven: cosmic origin of the Messiah


In passing

Luke’s Infancy Narratives (Luke 1:5-2:52) as an integrated response to Marcionism

Jesus’ life in eclipse: Reviewing chapter 6 of Doherty’s Jesus Neither God Nor Man

Jesus: the Same in both Paul and the Gospels

How could Ehrman possibly have read the books he cites? and The Facts of the Matter: Carrier 9, Ehrman 1 (my review, part 2)

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