The Prophecies of Parthenogenesis

  • Alan R. Templeton
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


Parthenogenesis is the development of an unfertilized egg into a new individual. This phenomenon has long fascinated both scientists and laymen alike. Undoubtedly, the most celebrated case of a virgin birth is that given in Matthew 1, 19–25: the account of the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether or not one accepts this account literally, one can still legitimately ask the question: Why is this account of a virgin birth contained in Matthew? Most people would respond by answering there was a prophecy that the Messiah would be the result of a virgin birth, and that this account was inserted into the Gospel to show that this prophecy was met. If the person asked is a bit more knowledgeable about the Bible, he or she may quote Isaiah 7, 14, which is also quoted in Matthew 23 and reads in the King James version: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Thus, the prophecy seems to be rather clear-cut. However, if the same passage in Isaiah is read in the New English Bible, it begins: “A young woman is with child.” The word in question here is the Hebrew word almah which scholars of the Hebrew language agree simply means a young woman of marriageable age, whether married or not (Argyle 1963, p. 28). However, the quote of Isaiah 7, 14 found in Matthew gives the Greek word parthenos meaning “virgin” as the translation of almah. Consequently, this most famous instance of parthenogenesis does not owe its existence to any “prophecy of a virgin birth,” for such a prophecy never existed. Instead, it owes its existence to the far more mundane reason of a mistranslation from Hebrew to Greek (Argyle 1963, p. 28).


Virgin Female Central Fusion Sexual Population Isofemale Line Sexual Isolation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan R. Templeton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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