Christmas: How to show a God being incarnated


From the start of Christianity, there had been stormy debate about the nature of Christ’s divinity and his humanity. Early Christians were bitterly divided over whether he was all human, all divine or a bit of both. Some thought he started out human but was then “adopted” into the Godhead. Others thought he was divine but inferior to God the Father. And on top of this confusion was the question of Mary. Mother of Christ? Mother of God? Virgin or not?

The idea of a holy person being born of a divine father and earthly mother went right back into Egyptian mythology and was nothing particularly new. But the concept was a difficult one to grasp and Christians certainly wrestled with the mechanics down to a minute level.

Here is a statue from 1300 made in the Rhine valley. It has two little doors and when closed shows the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus and a dove representing the Holy Spirit. But when it opens, there seated in majesty is God the Father within the body of Mary. I can’t help feeling that this image throws up more questions and dilemmas about the concept of the virgin birth.

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