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My landlord who is Jewish and whose family is among the finest I have ever met said to me by chance one day that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was an almah.

That caused me to do a web search on the word “almah.”

The clearest, most precise definition I found is that an almah is a young woman between the age of eleven and twelve at that moment in her life when she can first decide what happens to her.

That last part is important. She can decide what happens to her: 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The angel which appears to Mary does not say this is going to happen to you. Her permission is required before it can happen.

Most state that Mary was 14 when Jesus, by whatever power, was conceived in her.

I say she was 11. Jesus was born when she was 11 years 9 months.

The reason I say that is because it makes sense to me that if we accept the idea that God exists (which I do) then the moment something can happen it does.

That post is no longer on the web which is unfortunate.

Here are the two gospel accounts of that moment:

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Now people can and do argue about whether or not the word “almah” means virgin.

The argument is pointless because the clear statement from Mary in Luke is, 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Nonetheless, the argument persists.

Chester Brown is a long time friend. We met in 1981 when he came to my programs at The Palmerston Library in Toronto. I have been and continue to be an ardent and strong supporter of his work. Have been since I first met him.

His book MARY WEPT OVER THE FEET OF JESUS is subtitled “Prostitution And Religious Obedience In The Bible.” It is more than well worth reading.

Chester’s observations in it are prompted because he has chosen to forgo having a girl friend or a wife for the services of a prostitute.

I am not faulting him for that.

Nonetheless, they are coloured as a result of that decision.

Now Jesus was called by those who opposed him a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Some translate the word “sinners” as “prostitutes.”

If there is one big difference between Jesus and conventional Christianity it is that conventional Christians are not friends of either sinners or prostitutes.

The comic book (graphic novel) medium, like the movies, is a medium which demands drastic oversimplification.

Let us take a look at how Chester portrays the moment when Mary and Joseph encounter the angel:





As we can see Chester has altered the account. Mary has no decision in the matter. Joseph is not told Mary is pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is told, “What does it matter which man got her pregnant?”

Well, it does matter and it matters a great deal.

Thomas Cahill in THE DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS (part of his superb HINGES OF HISTORY series) goes much deeper into this. By that I mean he shows us a feisty woman who says, “This doesn’t make any sense. I haven’t had sex yet.”







For myself I have no problem following the path Jesus sets out for us. I have been stumbling along that path since 1970.

I do very much however have a problem joining any of the communities (the word “church” means “community”) which call themselves Christian.

We are told that Joseph did not consummate his marriage to Mary until after she had given birth to Jesus. In that statement we have two things said. The first is that Mary was a virgin. The second is that contrary to the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity Joseph did have sex with her.

For that reason I can not be a Roman-Catholic.

When I read THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT I find it impossible to be any of the Protestant faiths.

Chester is right to address the issues he addresses in his book which is wonderfully drawn.

Jesus never faulted a prostitute.

He did fault those who condemned prostitutes. He faulted those who condemned all whom the conventional call sinners.

If one thing is clear to me from reading and re-reading the gospels it is that Jesus will, in THE LAST JUDGMENT, say to many who think themselves saved, “Go away. I never knew you.”

Until that moment however we who stand condemned by those who see themselves as righteous will have to bear their stings with grace and with love.

Hopefully in doing that we can lead them to have a change of heart for the better.

A friend spoke to me of a woman who is a sex worker who calls herself “THE WITCH.”

Her chief clients are ultra-orthodox Christians and Jews who can’t get from their wives what they can get from her.

I can’t recommend too highly Chester Brown’s MARY WEPT OVER THE FEET OF JESUS and Thomas Cahill’s wonderful HINGES OF HISTORY series which includes THE DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS.

Our media is identical to the pharisees ans scribes who called Jesus a friend of prostitutes.  Their business is the public disgrace of the fallen.

That’s how they make their money.

Like Jesus I have been and continue to be a friend to sinners. I much prefer their company to that of those who see themselves as righteous.

There hangs in my home a full sized authorized replica of THE TURIN SHROUD. I have most of not all of the books on this fascinating document and many if not all of the dvds. THE SHROUD has rightly been called THE 5TH GOSPEL. For myself, though silent, it is the most eloquent and the most powerful. St. Francis is said to have stated, “Preach Christ constantly. Use words if you must.”

I do my best to preach without words.

Proud to be a sinner.

–Reg Hartt (2019–11–09)

Lack of Y Chromosome on THE SUDARIUM OF OVIEDO:

BBC: Shroud Of Turin:

Cover art created by Chester Brown.



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