In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”
Today is the third Sunday of Advent — a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
In Luke 1‘s account of angel Gabriel’s visitation of Mary, it was made clear that:
- Mary was a virgin.
- She conceived a child not by man but “by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
- Her child is the Son of God.
Translated into the language of modern biology, what this means is that Jesus’ DNA would have no Y chromosome because He was not fathered by a human male.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid containing the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all (except RNA viruses) known living organisms. DNA segments carrying this genetic information are called genes. A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements, other nucleotide sequences, and proteins that package the DNA and control its functions.
In human beings, as in all mammals, sex/gender is determined by the XY chromosomes. The XY sex chromosomes are different in shape and size from each other. Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), while males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY). A male child gets his Y chromosome from his biological father. The combination of two Y chromosomes is always lethal in humans.
Within the Y chromosome is a gene, SRY, that is the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome. Once SRY is activated, cells create testosterone and anti-müllerian hormone to turn the genderless sex organs into male. With females, their cells excrete estrogen, driving the body down the female pathway.
In his book, The Physics of Christianity (Doubleday, 2007), Tulane University physicist Dr. Frank J. Tipler reasons that if the Gospels’ account of the virgin birth is true, then Jesus’ DNA makeup would have no Y chromosome because he did not have a human father. Instead, Jesus wouldhave two X chromosomes. However, since Jesus was clearly male, he must have the SRY gene. But the SRY gene, instead of being in the Y chromosome, was inserted into a location where it is not normally found – inside one of the two X chromosomes imparted from Mary, his mother.
And that’s exactly what a team of Italian researchers found.
In January 1995, led by Professor Marcello Calane of the Institute of Legal Medicine in Genoa, a group of Italian researchers, including several workers who had invented the standard DNA test for gender, conducted a DNA analysis of the blood on the Shroud of Turin and on the Oviedo Cloth, also called the Sudarium of Oviedo. Note that:
- A recent report by scientists confirms that the Shroud is not a fake.
- Mark Guscin provides strong evidence that the Sudarium of Oviedo is the cloth described in John 20:7 as being wrapped around Jesus’ head.
- Both the Shroud and the Sudarium show bloodstains on the head in approximately the same position, formed by sharp objects similar to what thorns would produce. Jesus was the only person in recorded history to have been crowned with thorns before crucifixion. (Janice Bennett, author of Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo, New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin)
- The blood found on both the Shroud and the Sudarium is Type AB (National Review). AB is the rarest blood type, found in only 4% of the general population.
Here is Dr. Tipler’s account (from pages 183-187 of his book):
Normally, the results of a DNA test of the blood on such a famous object would be published in English in a major scientific journal.… Not so the results of this DNA test. The results were published, in Italian, in the very obscure Italian journal devoted to the study of the Turin Shroud. Furthermore, only the raw data were published. That is, the Genoa team published black-and-white Xerox copies of the computer output of the DNA analyzer. This is never, never done. Always, the data are presented in a neat table or figure, and they are accompanied by a discussion of their significance. The Genoa team made no effort to interpret their data.
But I was able to interpret the data at once. They are the expected signature of the DNA of a male born in a Virgin Birth! …
The Turin Shroud data show 107 (106+1) but no trace of a 112 base pair gene. The Oviedo Cloth data show 105 (106-1) but no trace of a 112 base pair. The X chromosome is present, but there is no evidence of a Y chromosome. This is the expected signature of … virgin birth, the XX male generated by an SRY inserted into an X chromosome. It is not what would be expected of a standard male.
Other explanations are possible. The DNA analyzed could be entirely contaminated from people who later touched the Shroud and the Cloth. But we have witnesses that men touched the two samples also, and it seems incredible that no trace of male contamination would be seen…. Another possibility is that the Turin Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth are fakes and that the fakes used real blood from males they knew were born of virgins. This possibility, in my opinion, has zero probability.
The DNA data thus support the virgin birth hypothesis. The DNA data supporting a virgin birth also support the hypothesis that both the Turin Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth are genuine.
So much for Rudolf Bultmann, a leading theologian of the 1930s, who once sneeringly said: “Myths [like the Virgin Birth] are difficult to believe in these days of electric lights.”
On the contrary, it is precisely the “electric lights” of science that point to the miraculous and true nature of the Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing . . . .
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
May the joy and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,