A donation received today in the PCA Historical Center includes one issue of The Bible Today [New York: National Bible Institute] from 1924, which issue includes an article by Dr. J. Gresham Machen. The article is titled “The Virgin Birth”. Now most of our readers will remember that Machen wrote a book on this same subject, and many will even have read that work. But Machen’s book was first published in 1930, while this article is from 1924. It should come as no surprise that great works of literature and scholarship rarely spring full-blown. All of life is cumulative, and in particular, it seems that great minds never waste an accomplishment.
It turns out that Machen’s first published work, in 1905, was “The New Testament Account of the Birth of Jesus”, appearing in The Princeton Theological Review, vol. 3, pp. 641-670. A second article on the same subject followed in 1906. Another year later, Machen reviewed The Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ According to the Gospel Narratives, by Louis Matthews Sweet. And in 1908, he reviewed The Virgin Birth of Christ, by James Orr. Then for a few years the subject seemed to be put away, until in 1912 a spate of articles appeared from Machen: 1. “The Hymns of the First Chapter of Luke” ; 2. “The Origin of the First Two Chapters of Luke,” ; and 3. “The Virgin Birth in the Second Century“, all appearing in The Princeton Theological Review.
Another few years pass before a lay-level article appears in The Presbyterian, titled “Matthew 1:16 and the Virgin Birth” [18 March 1915, pp. 8-11]. Toward the end of World War I, Machen wrote a review of The Virgin Birth of Jesus: A Critical Examination of the Gospel Narratives of the Nativity, by G.H. Box. Read the rest of this entry »