This post is not on whether or not Jesus was conceived by Mary while she was still a virgin. I deal with more theological questions at my other website. Belief in the virgin birth is a faith statement and this post is going to deal with history.
To be clear, the New Testament teaches the virginal conception rather than a virgin birth. There is a subtle difference. The doctrine only teaches that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. However, “virgin birth” will be used as the popular form.
It is also important note that only Matthew and Luke describe the virgin birth. Not only did Mark and John not mention it, neither did Paul. That doesn’t mean that other early Christians didn’t believe it.
What I want to deal with is the claim by people, commonly called Jesus Mythicists, that the virgin birth of Jesus was based on pagan myths, specifically Horus, Dionysus, Mithras, among others.
My response here is not based on a desire to defend the Bible (although I am a Christian) but by looking to the myths of these gods/heroes.
The problem with the claims that the virgin birth was based on pagan myths is that most of the examples given by mythicists are not virgin births. What is claimed as a “virgin birth” are really conceptions with a supernatural element. Often the mother was not a virgin even before the conception and the baby was conceived through intercourse.
So why do they describe it as a virgin birth? I suppose because many of them include intercourse between a god and a mortal, thus not including a human male. But that is not a virgin birth. Nor is that the type of conception described by Matthew and Luke.
My problem with the pagan origins of the virgin birth are not theological but historical. Mythicists, apart from misrepresenting the New Testament, also misrepresent the ancient myths.