Why do you think that stories of Virgin Births were common in the ancient world? What were these stories attempting to convey and do you think that they are allegorical or literal? Please give specific examples.
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It is to be remembered that, in many cultures, a female found to be with child (who was not married) was put to death for fornication. With such a strong incentive, many women who found themselves in such a situation might be excused for crediting their unborn child to the miraculous impregnation efforts of a god or diety - I know I certainly would have made such a claim myself, had I been found out under those circumstances! Mendacious tendencies aside, it is true that many cultures have legends and stories of miraculous virgin births, impregnation at the hands of gods or dieties, and children who were wholly or partly divine. The legends of Hercules are an example known to many Americans. He was (supposedly) sired by the god Zeus, I believe, and thus was the source of his great power and legendary feats. It may have been that any person who accomplished much in the ancient world ascended into the "spawn of the Gods" realm as an explanation for their great deeds, by a culture who worshipped them as a hero. We sort-of do the same thing to our movie stars and sports stars, except that we no longer ascribe to the theory that their parents (or one of them, at least) was a divine being.
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SHAKEN CREEDS: The Virgin Birth Doctrine By Jocelyn Rhys - Published 1922
THE VIRGIN BIRTH STORY
OTHER STORIES OF VIRGIN BIRTHS
It may be thought that the story of a virgin birth is too wonderful to have been invented merely to show that a misunderstood prophecy had been fulfilled, and that so miraculous a doctrine could not, without some basis of fact, suddenly be created by any brain, however fertile. But a study of ancient literature discloses the fact that myths of virgin births were part of many if not of all the surrounding pagan religions in the place where, and at the time when, Christianity arose.
"The gods have lived on earth in the likeness of men" was a common saying among ancient pagans, and supernatural events were believed in as explanations of the god's arrival upon earth in human guise.
About two thousand years before the Christian era Mut-em-ua, the virgin Queen of Egypt, was said to have given birth to the Pharaoh Amenkept (or Amenophis) III, who built the temple of Luxor, on the walls of which were represented:-
1. The Annunciation: the god Taht announcing to the virgin Queen that she is about to become a mother.
2. The Immaculate Conception: the god Kneph (the Holy Spirit) mystically impregnating the virgin by holding a cross, the symbol of life, to her mouth.
3. The Birth of the Man-god.
4. The Adoration of the newly born infant by gods and men, including three kings (or Magi ?), who are offering him gifts. In this sculpture the cross again appears as a symbol.
In another Egyptian temple, one dedicated to Hathor, at Denderah, one of the chambers was called "The Hall of the Child in his Cradle"; and in a painting which was once on the walls of that temple, and is now in Paris, we can see represented the Holy Virgin Mother with her Divine Child in her arms. The temple and the painting are undoubtedly pre-Christian.
Thus we find that long before the Christian era there were already pictured in pagan places of worship virgin mothers and their divine children, and that such pictures included scenes of an Annunciation, an Incarnation, and a Birth and Adoration, just as the Gospels written in the second century A.D. describe them, and that these events were in some way connected with the God Taht, who was identified by Gnostics with the Logos.
And, besides these myths about Mut-em-ua and Hathor, many other origins of a virgin birth story can be traced in Egypt.
Horus was said to be the parthenogenetic child of the Virgin Mother, Isis. In the catacombs of Rome black statues of this Egyptian divine Mother and Infant still survive from the early Christian worship of the Virgin and ...
Scholarly article regarding many culture's legends of virgin birth, with URL reference, and OTA comments on virgin birth legends.