Science in Christian Perspective




A Proposed Biological Interpretation of The Virgin Birth
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From: JASA 35 September 1983): 129-136.

The following statements constitute a plausible biological scenario for Jesus during embryological development. (1) God's activity in which he accomplished the Virgin Conception and Virgin Birth is describable in terms of natural created processes. (2) Jesus' conception, gestation, and birth were parthenogenetic. (3) Nonsexual God was incarnated into the human race as a female. (4) Jesus was not only conceived as a female but remained chromosomally such throughout life. (5) Through the natural process of sex reversal Jesus became male, not instead of female but as well as female, assuming the phenotype of a man while retaining the chromosomal badge of a woman. (6) Thus Jesus was born and lived as the androgynous Christ.

Parthenogenesis and the Female Incarnation

From the viewpoint of a biological interpretation of the Virgin Conception- Birth story of the Scriptures, parthenogenesis (reproduction by a virgin) seems to have been the basic natural process that God used to accomplish the physical
aspects of the Incarnation. Such virgin birth among animals has been known for centuries. In fact, "the Greeks supported belief in occasional parthenogenesis in human beings by pointing out how widespread among animals was this method of conception."1

An Outline of Parthenogenetic Animal Groups

Phylum Aschelminthes
Class Rotifera.3,4Wheel animalicules" discovered by early microscopists; many species are parthenogenetic.
Order Bdelloidea. Apparently all females.
Order Monogonata. Some species are all females.
Class Nematoda (roundworms).
Order Rhabditida. Several species of the terrestrial genus Rhabdites5,6 many of the parasitic genus Strongyloides7 are known to be parthenogenetic. Gynogenesis occurs in the latter genus.
Order Tylenchida.8 Many species of tylenchoid genera utilize variations of parthenogenesis. 
Phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms).
Class Turbellaria.9ree-living flatworms of the genus Bothrioplana are parthenogenetic.
Class Trematoda (flukes).
Subclass Digenea (endoparasitic flukes).10 Species of the genera Schistosomatum, Schistosoma, Fasciola, Fasciolopsts, etc., have been reported to be parthenogenetic in both the adult and pedogenetic rediae, although some workers suspect the larval reproduction is better explained as polyernbryony.
Class Cestoidea (tapeworms). "Only recently has parthenogenesis been reported for tapeworms."11 The single report involves a triploid tapeworm of the family Caryophyllaeidae parasitic on fish. 
Phylum Annelida (segmented worms).
Class Oligochaeta (earthworms).12 "Parthenogenesis occurs in a few species. 
Phylum Mollusca
Class Gastropoda (snails).13 Only two parthenogenetic species are known, one each for the genera Campeloma and Potamopyrgus. 
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Crustacea
Subclass Branchiopoda. Parthenogenesis is of common occurrence in this group.
Order Anostraca (fairy shrimps).14,15 The genus Artemia is known to be parthenogenetic.
Order Diplostraca
Suborder Cladocera (water fleas).16 The genus Daphnia is parthenogenetic.
Subclass Ostracoda (mussel or seed shrimps).17,18 Parthenogenesis occurs in the fresh-water genus Cypris.
Subclass Malacostraca
Superorder Peracarida
Order Isopoda (sow bugs).19 The single genus Trichoniscus has parthenogens
Class Myriapoda (centipedes and millipedes)20 Parthenogens occur in a few species.
Class Arachnida. It is difficult to comprehend the immensity of this group which rivals the class Insecta in both total number of estimated species and number of individuals.
Subclass Acari. (mites and ticks).21 The mites occur in great variety, adapted as they are to almost every kind of environment. Although not much studied to date, it is probable that they will account for more than a million species when they are finally described. judging from the forms that have been studied, an immense number of parthenogenetic mites will be ultimately recognized. Parthenogenesis exhibits much variety in mites and parthenogenetic species, genera, and even families occur widely. It is likely that the subclass Acari has more parthenogens than all the other animal groups combined. The five orders Astigmata, Protostigmata, Mesostigmata, Metastigmata, and Cryptostigmata all have parthenogentic forms.
Class Insecta. In this class, with its million or more named species, there are many examples of partbenogenesis.
Order Orthoptera. 
Family Mantidae.22 Some species are parthenogenetic. 
Family Phasmidae (walking sticks).23 Parthenogenesis is rather common and some species are unisexual, being without known males. 
Family Blattidae (cockroaches).24 
Family Acrididae (grasshoppers).25
Order Psocoptera. Mockford26 lists 30 species of parthenogenetic psocopterans. They represent the 12 families listed and 20 genera.
Families Lepidopsocidae, Atropidae, Psyllipsocidae, Liposeelidae, Epipsocidae, Caeciliidae, Elipsocidae, Psoculidae, Philotarsidae, Lachesillidae, Peripsocidae, and Psocidae.
Order Thysanoptera (thrips). Some species are partly parthenogenetic and at least one thrips is wholly so.27
Order Embioptera (webspinners). One species of the genus Haploembia is parthenogenetic.28
Order Homoptera (bugs).
Superfarnily Coccoida (scales). Nur29 lists 33 species of parthenogenetic coccids. These represent the four families listed below and 22 genera. 
Families Margarodidae, Pseudococcidae, Lecaniidae, and Diaspididae.Another source30 names Coccidae as having parthenogens.
Superfamily Aphidoidea (plant lice).31 Parthenogenesis is characteristic of this group. It consists of the families Aphididae, Phylloxeridae, Eriosomatidae, and Adelgidae, all of which have parthenogens. Some species lack males entirely. An aphidoid related family is Aleyrodidae which too may have parthenogens.
Order Lepidoptera. References to parthenogenesis in lepidopterans are few. Narbel32,33 studied two virgin-birth species in the family Psychidae. They represented the genera Apterona and Solenobia. Another lepidopteran genus having parthenogens is Tephrosia and was reported by Peacock and Harrison.34
Order Diptera (flies).
Family Drosophilidae.35-37 Many species demonstrate parthenogenesis, including the aptly named Drosophila parthenogenica. Family Culicidae. A single mosquito species, Culexfatigans, has been shown to be parthenogenetic.38
Family Chironomidae. Some of these midges are parthenogenetic.39
Family Lonchopteridae. Most scissor-winged fly species have few or no males.40
Family Cecidomyiidae (gall midges).41 The genera Miastor and Oligarces are famous for their combination of parthenogenesis with pedogenesis (reproduction by children).
Order Coleoptera (beetles).42 This is by far the largest order of insects, including about half of the known species and subspecies of all animals. It is estimated that there are about 750,000 kinds of living beetles. Parthenogenesis is widely spread in the group and occurs in all three of the suborders. Suborder Arebostomata. Partbenogenesis occurs in one family.
Suborder Adephaga. Parthenogenesis occurs in one family.
Suborder Polyphaga. Parthenogenesis is known to occur in several families including Scolytidae, Ptinidae, Ciidac, Chrysomelidae, and the great family Curculionidae,43 making in all some 80 forms known to be parthenogenetic in this suborder.
Order Hymenoptera. The peak of occurrence of parthenogenesis is found in this large order of some 125,000 species and subspecies. "All Hymenoptera thus far reported are parthenogenetic."44 The large sample thus far studied justifies the expectation that parthenogenesis in one form or another is unanimous for the 125,000 named kinds of hymenopterans and will hold true for the 75,000 species which it is estimated remain to be discovered and studied. The great number of already investigated forms constitutes a broad spectrum of the order and includes representatives of many superfamilies and families. Slobodschikoff and Daly,45 in their list of hymenopterans known to utilize the thelytoky variation of parthenogenesis, place them under 12 families: Diprionidae, Tenthredinidae, Ichneurnoidae, Brachonidae, Trichogrammatidae, Signipboridae, Eulopbidae, Eucyrtidae, Cynipidae, Bethylidae, Formicidae, and Apidae.
Phylum Chordata, Subphylurn Vertebrata.
Class Pisces.46 Two genera of fishes have parthenogenetic representatives.
Family Poeciliidae. Genus Poecilia (Molliensia), with one diploid gynogenetic "species."47 Genus Poeciliopsis, with three triploid gynogenetic "species. "48
Class Amphibia.49 As in the fish, parthenogenesis is relatively rare in amphibians.
Order Anura. Parthenogenesis is naturally occurring with polyploidy in three genera of frogs, viz., Ceratophrys, Hyla, and Odontophrynus.50
Order Caudata. Parthenogenesis occurs naturally with gynogenesis and/or polyploidy in three genera of urodeles, viz., Ambystoma, Eurycea, and Notophthalmus.
Reptilia.51 There is an extensive literature on parthenogenesis in reptiles, most of it pertaining to lizards.
Order Sauria. This group has many parthenogenetic species representing 6 families and 9 genera as follows: Family Teiidae, genera Cnemidophorus and Gymnothalmus. 
Family Lacertidae, genus Lacerta. 
Family Xantusiidae, genus Lepidophyma. 
Family Agamidae, genus Leiolepis.
Family Gekkonidae, genera Lepidodactylus, Hemidactylus, and Gephyra.52 
Family Chamaelonidae, genus Chamaeleo.53
Class Aves.
Order Galliformes. The only two birds that are known to sometimes reproduce by natural parthenogenesis are the turkey53,54 and chicken.55
Class Mammalia. Although there are no scientifically documented cases of naturally occurring parthenogenesis in mammals going to full term, there are a number of authentic reports of the early stages of such spontaneous unisexual reproduction in this class.56 Several of these cases are given in the general text.

Since the time of the Greeks, knowledge of parthenogenesis has expanded many times so that now most of the groups of multicellular animals are known to have representatives that exhibit unisexual reproduction in one form or another. This view is supported by Suomalainen, author of the major English publication on the subject of parthenogenesis in animals.2

Parthenogenesis is a very common phenomenon in the animal kingdom, forms with parthenogenetic reproduction being found in most animal groups. It is consequently natural that parthenogenesis and cytological questions connected with it have been much studied, the respective literature being very extensive.

Some invertebrates (e.g., aphids) use parthenogenetic (unisexual) reproduction regularly, alternating with bisexual reproduction in seasonal cycles. Others (e.g., bees) use it to differentiate the sexes. Still others (e.g., certain flies) reproduce exclusively without benefit of males and exist as allfemale species. Ants have few males in an overwhelming population of females. Certain fish and salamanders use a form of parthenogenesis known as gynogenesis in which sperm from males of the same or another species trigger the eggs to develop but contribute no genetic material to the offspring. Because most vertebrates practice biparental reproduction, many persons think of bisexual reproduction as the only kind of sexual reproduction. But parthenogenesis is genuine sexual reproduction because it also uses sex cells.

To answer the question of what groups and what species of animals are involved in parthenogenesis, I have made a survey of available literature and prepared an outline showing the major taxa which, for biological reasons, are known

Edward L. Kessel is Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of San Francisco, and Emeritus Curator of Insects, California Academy of Sciences. He received his education at Greenville College, Illinois, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and the University of California, Berkeley (B,S., M.S., Ph.D.). He has published some 100 scientific papers and is a member of honor societies Phi Sigma, Alpha Sigma Nu, and Sigma Xi. Other professional societies of which he is a member include the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow), California Academy of Sciences (Fellow), Pacific Coast Entomological Society (former President). He is cited in Who's Who in America and World Who Who in Science.

or presumed to include parthenogens. As for the parthenogenetic species, even if I had a complete listing of them, it could not be published here as the number would run into hundreds of thousands. Some genera are included with the outline, as are a few pertinent data and the documentations.

Again and again, workers have observed spontaneous cleavage divisions occurring in unfertilized germ cells of many kinds of animals ranging from worms to human beings. This conclusion is supported by the reports of several investigators who found early embryos in various cleavage stages still attached to the ovaries of several kinds of virgin mammals. Examples of such preovulation pregnancy are given by Strassman 57 who worked on the ova of cats, L.Loeb;58 who used guinea pigs, and Krafka59 who studied human ovaries.

Other researchers worked on unfertilized mammalian ova following ovulation, eggs that had been released from the ovary and were encountered in the fallopian tubes or the uterus. Among these investigators were Chang60 who studied ferrets, Pincus61 who used the rabbit, and Austin62 who worked on the rat. Because they all represented early embryological development, the cleavage stages observed by the six workers show that mammalian eggs, like those of lower animals, possess the inherent capacity to initiate cleavage without spermatozoon participation. This potential of the unfertilized egg to reproduce without male assistance is clearly demonstrated by artificial parthenogenesis whereby even animals that are not known to reproduce by natural parthenogenesis may respond to artificial stimuli. While no viable young were produced in any of the above cases, it seems to be the consensus of embryologists that given optimum environmental factors all animal species, including human beings, have the capacity to react positively to natural or artificial stimuli and to develop to full term. Repeatedly, artificially initiated development has been shown to be fairly easy to achieve, leading even to the production of living young.

The first experiments succeeded in inducing parthenogenesis in echinoderms and were performed by J. Loeb.63 Since his pioneering work, the eggs of many species other than echinoderms have responded to a variety of stimuli with parthenogenetic development. These animals include annelids, silkworms, mollusks, and such vertebrates as fish, frogs, mice, rats, and rabbits. The artificial stimuli have included treatment with various acids, changes in salt concentration of the fluid in which the eggs were immersed, mechanical agitation of the immersing fluid, temperature shock by heating or chilling, electric shock, and mere pricking the eggs with a needle. Almost 30 years ago Peacock64 had already counted 371 procedures that had been used to artificially initiate cleavage in unfertilized eggs. These he classified as 45 physical, 93 chemical, 64 biological, and 169 combinations of the above. It is clear that practically any kind of stimulus may serve to induce artificial parthenogenesis providing it has proper shock value and the egg in question is in a receptive condition. We may presume therefore that many cases of supposed natural parthenogenesis may result from physical or chemical contaminating environmental factors rather than from spontaneously acting endogenous stimuli existing within the egg. It seems evident however that eggs have within them all the potentialities of successful embryonic development and may respond to various stimuli to trigger cleavage. For these reasons a male parent is not to be regarded as an absolute requirement for successful reproduction.

Through the natural process of sex reversal Jesus became male, not instead of female but as well as female, assuming the phenotype of a man while retaining the chromosomal badge of a woman.

Experiments on artificial parthenogenesis in rabbits began when unfertilized eggs, left in a glass container, were found to have undergone what appeared to be spontaneous parthenogenesis involving a number of cleavage divisions. Pincus65 then exposed unfertilized rabbit eggs to some of the treatments which had been successful for nonmammalian forms, including high and low temperatures, hypertonic and bypotonic solutions, and various chemicals. They all worked and he transferred the developing embryos to surrogate mothers. Next, Pincus and Shapiro66 tried cooling unfertilized eggs within a rabbit's own fallopian tubes. The tubes of a virgin female were surgically exposed and cooling jackets were placed around them, chilling the eggs in situ. The cold treatment was effective and the virgin rabbit gave birth to live off spring. Later the cold treatment was tried by cooling the entire rabbit instead of just her fallopian tubes. Again the unfertilized eggs in the tubes were activated to embryonic development.

Returning to the subject of the probability of parthenogenesis in the human species, the observations of Krafka67 revealing the extraordinarily early cleavage divisions of unfertilized human eggs, developing even prior to ovulation, indicate a potential toward unisexual development that is as strong for humankind as it is for our fellow mammals. Such demonstration that the early stages of parthenogenesis are known to actually occur in human beings gives good reason to recognize that full-term parthenogenesis may also occur in our species.

Spurway,68 the leading authority on the possibility of human parthenogenesis, supports this view and concludes that virgin birth is "probable among humans." She reached this conclusion after many years of research at London University. Aside from the reference given above, the results of her study were announced in a United Press release in London, dated Nov. 13, 1955. Previously she had given a lecture on the subject entitled "Virgin Births." A resume' of this lecture was published by Lancet under "Annotations" and the title "Parthenogenesis in Mammals."69

A rare event which is hard to prove is likely never to be reported at all if it is also an event which according to the common experience is 'known' to be impossible.... Possibly some of the unmarried mothers whose obstinacy is condemned in old books on forensic medicine ... may have been telling the truth.

Beatty70 takes a similar view. Referring to mammals in general and directing the application to human beings, he says:

We have seen examples of experimentally induced parthenogenetic development in mammalian embryos in which the facts are undisputed.... How could the animals be identified? A little reflection shows that there are difficulties.... in man, unmarried mothers have sometimes claimed that no father was involved but the validity of such claims is normally ignored.

No doubt a parthenogenetically produced child of a married mother would be even more difficult to discover.

The recognition that parthenogenesis may take place in humankind makes it available as a suitable part of the proposed biological interpretation of the Virgin Birth story that is the subject of this paper. This explanation proposes that God's activity by which he accomplished the Virgin Conception and Virgin Birth is describable in terms of natural created processes. In this case the process was virgin birth which, translated into biological terminology, is parthenogenesis.71 If Mary's conception of Jesus was parthenogenetic, the Holy Spirit may have provided by some natural means the triggering environmental stimulus, e.g., simple cold shock that worked so well in animal studies. According to our biological interpretation of the Virgin Birth, Jesus' conception was parthenogenetic, and because human beings have the same X-Y kind of sex determination found in other mammals, with the female homozygous and possessing two X chromosomes, Jesus was conceived as a chromosomal female.

Sex Reversal to the Androgynous Christ

Our proposed parthenogenetic interpretation of the Virgin Conception requires a chromosomal female offspring. Because this offspring was Christ, the Person of the Incarnation, both a female Jesus embryo and a female Incarnation were biologically necessary. This understanding is the basis for some of the statements made in the Abstract, viz., "(3) Nonsexual God was incarnated into the human race as a female," and "(4) Jesus was not only conceived as a female but remained chromosomally such throughout life." Because no animal can change the genotype that it receives at conception, Jesus remained female always in this chromosomal sense.

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was conceived by and born of a virgin mother, thereby informing us biologically that the sex of the embryo was female. But the Bible also tells us that Jesus was born a phenotypic male. Because of this seeming contradiction, a Christian is likely to be confronted by a dilemma: the difficulty in understanding how Jesus, a female embryo at conception, could have been born a male child developed from that same female embryo. Clearly, the scenario of parthenogenesis producing a chromosomal female Jesus required a subsequent sex reversal to the male phenotype. How could this happen?

Biologists are generally agreed that sex reversal, like parthenogenesis, may sometimes occur in human beings as it does in lower animals. Among the vertebrates, complete sex reversal has been known for years in fish, amphibians, and birds but not until 1971 was it observed in mammals. In that year Cattanach et al.73 discovered sex reversal in mice and in 1976 Fredga et al.74 found sex-reversed wood lemmings. Until then almost everyone regarded such environmental factors as nutritional, and temperature levels and radiation to be responsible for sex reversal as well as for parthenogenesis.

It did seem conceivable that partial sex reversal to a pseudohermaphrodite status might result from enviromental causes, e.g., medical accidents in which hormonal drugs administered to a pregnant woman gave rise to sexual birth defects in the fetus. But it seemed unlikely that complete sex reversal could be accomplished in humans without genetic help. This view is in agreement with the new consensus in the field of human genetics that "in contrast to most vertebrates, mammalian sex development cannot be modified by manipulating the embryonic environment.. . . "75 While in the past hormones superseded genes in importance in this field of sex reversal, an important recent advancement has restored genes to their primary role in sex determination. This recovery was made possible by an alliance, during the past decade, between genetics and immunology. The most interesting and helpful of the new developments resulting from this alliance was the discovery and characterization of the histocompatibility-Y factor. It is this gene that provides the key to understanding how the female embryo Jesus, with no Y chromosome, could have undergone sex reversal to be.born a phenotypic male and the androgynous Christ.

According to our proposal, Jesus was androgynous in the unique way of being chromosomally female and phenotypically male at the same time, fully retaining the chromosomal and cytological femaleness received at conception. But Jesus was (1) not bisexual with respect to having any pathological conditions, morphological or physiological; (2) not hermaphroditic, possessing a double set of sex organs; (3) not pseudohermaphroditic, with a compromising, "in between," defective set of organs suggestive of both sexes; (4) certainly not bisexual from the viewpoint of sexual behavior patterns. Instead of having any or a combination of the above problems, Jesus was completely sex reversed and without physical or psychological imperfections, the Perfect Human Being.

The H-Y antigen that provides a biological explanation of how Jesus' sex reversal could have happened was discovered through standard immunologic procedures. By means of repeated inbreeding of laboratory mice, strains of strong genetic uniformity had been developed, strains that regularly accept tissue grafts of all kinds when they are interchanged among members of the group. In this instance, however, when female mice were given skin grafts from males of their own strain, the grafts were rejected. Such intrastrain rejection of male-to-female grafts indicates a male antigen to which the females are sensitized. Subsequent research located the H-Y gene on the Y chromosome, hence the name.76

H-Y antigen has been found in several mammals, including the rat, guinea pig, and humankind, and it is expected that it will be found in all species of the class. 77 Recognizing that other genetic factors, and to a less extent environmental ones as well, may have influence on the result, many workers regard the presence or absence of H-Y genes as the primary factor in the determination of phenotypic sex in higher animals. The presence of the H-Y factor is believed to direct the first steps toward testis formation, and once this is under way testicular hormones take over the job of converting the nondifferentiated embryo into the male phenotype.78

But what part could the male-causing H-Y gene play in Jesus'sex: reversal when this gene is known to be Y-linked and the embryo Jesus did not have a Y chromosome, possessing two X chromosomes instead? The solution is found in Wachtel's paper cited above.' While the H-Y factor is a maledetermining gene and has its locus on the Y chromosome, it may be translocated to an X chromosome or even an autosome. In such cases the translocated H-Y fragment could be submicroscopic and not change in the least the karyotypic picture of the receiving chromosome.

In the context of the Virgin Birth, one of Mary's two X chromosomes, or one of her 44 autosomes, may have carried such an invisible but effective H-Y fragment. Any of her forefathers on either side of the family could have been the source of the translocation that she inherited and passed on to her virgin-conceived female-embryo Jesus who then, at about seven weeks of embryonic age and because of this H-Y gene, began to show sex reversal toward the male phenotype.

How could Mary have had an H-Y gene and still be a functional female? Again we turn to Wachtel and his fellow workers for a satisfactory answer. He describes the situation in the wood lemming where many of the XY young do not develop as males as expected, but as functional females indistinguishable phenotypically from their XX sisters. How is this possible since they all possessed an H-Y gene on their Y chromosome? These XY but female lemmings tested H-Y negative, showing that their H-Y factor had been inactivated. In fact the regulatory gene responsible for this inactivation occurs on the X chromosome. Its function is to serve as an inhibiting factor, in this case completely suppressing the expression of the H-Y gene wherever it is located. As for our proposed biological interpretation of the Virgin Birth, Jesus' progenitors may have bad a regulatory gene similar to the lemmings' suppressor gene.

Before considering the possibilities of Mary's and Jesus' genotypes with reference to the H-Y gene and its presumed suppressing regulatory gene S, we should consider whether Jesus' parthenogenetic conception would have utilized a diploid or a haploid egg. Although the direct diploid-egg type of parthenogenesis is commonly used in animals, it seems certain that the haploid-egg form would have been required in Jesus' case. This conclusion is based on the fact that if a diploid egg develops parthenogenetically the genotype of the offspring will be identical to that of the mother. if developed from a diploid egg by parthenogenesis, Jesus would have been genetically and phenotypically identical to Mary and would have lacked the genetic ability to undergo sex reversal. But at birth Jesus was anatomically Mary's son, not her identical daughter.

Some Possible Genetic Scenarios

As f or the details regarding the probable genotypes of Mary and Jesus, and the specific gametes produced by Mary, all of these possibilities are based on the translocation of the H-Y gene H from its usual Y position to an X or an autosome, along with a suppressor S gene on the X chromosome. A nontranslocation scenario was examined and shown to be negative.

The first scenario considered was based on independent assortment, with the H gene translocated to an autosome. With H standing for the H-Y gene and h for its absence, and S for the suppressor gene and s its absence, Mary's genotype was likely HhSs. Probably her father donated the H but be could not also give her an S because if he had had one it would have made a woman out of him. On the other hand, Mary had to have an S to inactivate her H and thereby allow her to become a woman. Of course Mary had to carry an H in order to pass it on to Jesus to insure complete sex reversal. Mary had to keep her H defused by her S, thus permitting her to function as a fertile female. As for the S, while Mary needed it Jesus could not use it. There bad to be a way to eliminate it when Mary passed the H on to Jesus. Use of a diploid egg would have prevented sex reversal by forcing an S on Jesus.

The problem of how to get rid of the S gene may be solved by the use of the haploid egg. Using Mary's presumed genotype HhSs, four kinds of haploid gametes (HS, Hs, hS, hs) could have been produced by meiosis through the agency of independent assortment. Of these gametes, only the Hs had the right combination for use in Jesus' parthenogenetic conception. Upon activation by whatever environmental stimulus God chose, the ovum duplicated its Hs haploid set of chromosomes to HHss, Jesus' genotype, differing from Mary's HhSs by being doubly homozygous and lacking an S gene. Diploidization was achieved by omitting the cytoplasmic division of the egg following the duplication of chromosomes, thereby delaying the first cleavage division for a complete mitotic period.

There are other possible scenarios based on independent assortment that would have the H gene translocated to different autosomes, but our example represents the entire group. All would provide the same means of preventing the S gene from getting into Jesus' genotype, thereby allowing the masculinity that had been submerged in Mary for a generation to resurface in Jesus.

Transferring our attention to the linkage-crossover types of scenarios, we examine the situation in which the H and S genes are both on the X chromosome. In such cases it is customary to enclose within parentheses the genes that occur on an individual chromosome, Using this system and knowing that Mary had both an H and an S gene, it is supposed that Mary's genotype was (Hs)(hS), the (Hs) having come from her father and the (hS) from her mother. In this case, Mary would have produced four kinds of gametes, of which two, (Hs) and (hS), retained the original gene combinations of her parents' gametes (= linkage). The others, (HS) and (hs), would represent new combinations of genes produced by crossing over during meiosis. Here the (Hs) gamete required for Jesus' parthenogenesis is a linkage product. Diploidization would have occurred as in the independent assortment example to give Jesus the same doubly homozygous genotype as before although expressed in linkage form as (Hs)(Hs). Note that Jesus' genotype differs from Mary's.

Our last example involves crossing over. If Mary's mother had given her an (HS) egg and her father an (hs) sperm, her genotype would have been (HS)(hs) and crossing over of genes at synapsis would have been required to get an ovum with the new gene combination (11s) which was necessary for Jesus' parthenogenetic gamete.

Jesus was androgynous in the unique way of being chromosomally female and phenotypically male at the same time, fully retaining the chromosomal and cytological femaleness received at conception.... Jesus was completely sex reversed and without physical or psychological imperfections, the Perfect Human Being.


In concluding this proposal, the following thoughts deserve emphasis: (1) The biological deduction from Scripture that Jesus was conceived as a female is based on the scientific knowledge that virgin-conceived offspring are chromosomal females. (2) Therefore the scriptural information that Jesus was born a male requires sex reversal to have occurred. (3) Having used the natural biological process of parthenogenesis to give Jesus chromosomal femaleness, God again used a natural biological mechanism to add the complementary sexual quality of maleness. This time God used the biological process of sex reversal which is fully supported by the known facts of genetics that have been described. (4) But in expanding the sexual identification of Jesus to include maleness, God did not strip away femaleness. Chromosomal femaleness was not involved in sex reversal; every cell continued to have its XX identification of womankind. (5) Thus the female embryo Jesus of the Virgin Conception and Incarnation became the two-sexed Infant of the Virgin Birth who was the androgynous Christ, bearing both the chromosomal identificaton of a woman and the phenotypic anatomy of a man. (6) If this proposal is correct, the inequity of the sexes taught under the Old Covenant has been transcended and no one can longer argue effectively against the ordination of women in the Church on the grounds that Christ was a man. Christ was also a woman.


1H. Spurway, "Virgin Births," The New Statesman and Nation 50, 651 (1955) 

2E. Suornalainen, "Parthenogenesis in Animals," Advances in Genetics 3, 194 (1950) 

3C.W. Birky and J.J. Gilbert, "Parthenogenesis in Rotifers," American Zoologist 11, 245 (1971)

4R.D. Barnes, Invertebrate Zoology, W. B. Saunders, p. 144 (1963) 

5Barnes, op. cit., p. 159 

6Suomalainen, op. cit., p. 207 

7 R.M. Cable, -Parthenogenesis in Parasitic Helminths," American Zoologist 11,268 (1971) 

8Cable, op. cit., p. 267 

9Suomalainen, op. cit., p. 216 

10Cable, op. cit., p. 270 

11Cable, op. cit., p. 269 

12Barnes, op. cit., p. 222 

13Suornalainen, op. cit., p. 213 

14L.J. Milne and M. M. Milne, Animal Life, Prentice Hall, p. 236 (1959) 

15Suomalainen, op. cit., p. 207 

16N.J. Berrill, Biology in Action, Dodd Mead and Co., p. 669 (1966) 

17G. Moment, General Zoology, Houghton Mifflin, p. 368 (1967)

18Suomalainen, op. cit., p. 213

19Milne and Milne, op. cit.,
p. 236

20R.M. Fox and J.W. Fox, Introduction to Comparative Entomology, Rein hold, p. 220 (1964)

21J.H. Oliver, Jr., "Parthenagenesis in Mites and Ticks," American Zoologist 11, 283(1971)

22Fox and Fox, op. cit., p. 349

23Fox and Fox, op. cit., p.

24L.M. Roth and E.R. Willis, "Parthenogenesis in Cockroaches," Annals of the Entornological Society of America 49,195 (1956)

25A.G. Hamilton, "Thelytokous Parthenogenesis for Four Generations in the Desert Locust (Schistocerca g regaria Forsk)(Acrididae), " Nature 172, 1153 (1953)

26E.L. Mockford, "Parthenogenesis in Psocids (Insecta: Psocoptera)," American Zoologist 11, 327 (1971)

27Fox and Fox, op. cit., p. 373

28E.S. Ross, "A Revision of the Embioptera, or Webspinners, of the New World," Proceedings of the United States National Museum 94, 401 (1944)

29U. Nor, "Parthenogenesis in Coccids (Homoptera)," American Zoologist 11, 301(1971)

30Suomalainen, op. cit., p. 194

Fox and Fox, op. cit., p. 370

'32M. Narbel, "La Cytologie de la Parth6nog6nes6 chez Apterona helix Sieb. (Lepid. Psychides), " Revue de Suisse Zoologle 53, 625 (1946)

33---"La Cytologie de la Partb6nog6nes~ chez Solenobia s p. (Lepidopteres Psychides), " Chromosoma 4, 56 (1950)

34A.D. Peacock and J.W. Harrison, "Hybridity, Parthenogenesis, and Segregation," Nature 117, 378 (1926)

35H.D. Stalker, "Parthenogenesis in Drosophila," Genetics 39, 4 (1954)

36H.L. Carson, "Selection for Parthenogenesis in Drosophila mercatorium," Genetics 55, 157 (1967)

37M.W. Strickberger, Genetics, Macmillan, p. 233 (1968)

38I.B. Kinsmiller, "Parthenogenesis in Culex fatigans," Science 129, 837 (1959)

39Fox and Fox, op. cit., p. 394

40H.D. Stalker, "On the Evolution of Parthenogenesis in Lonchoptera (Diptera)," Evolution 10, 345 (1956)

41C.P. Hickman, Integrated Principles of Zoology, C.V. Mosby, p. 319 (1966)

42S.G. Smith, "Parthenogenesis and Polyploidy in Beetles," American Zoologist 11,341 (1971)

43E. Suomalainen, "Evolution in Parthenogenetic Curculionidae," Evolutionary Biology 3, 261

44C.N. Slobodschikoff and H.V. Daly, "Systematic and Evolutionary Implications of Parthenogenesis in the Hymenoptera," American Zoologist 11, 273 (1971)

45Slobodschikoff and Daly, op. cit., p. 275

46R.J. Schultz, "Special Adaptive Problems Associated with Unisexual Fishes," American Zoologist 11, 351 (1971)

47R.M. Darnell and P. Abramoff, "Distribution of the Cynogenetic Fish Poecilia formosa, with Remarks on the Evolution of the Species," Copeta 2,354 (1968)

48R.M. Miller and R.J. Schultz, "All-female Strains of the Teleost Fishes of the Germs Poeciliapsis," Science 130, 1665 (1959)

49J.H. Asher and G.M. Nace, "The Genetic Structure and Evolutionary Fate of Parthenogenetic Amphibian Populations," American Zoologist 11, 381 (1971)

50L.M. Bei~ak, W. Berak, and M.N. Rabello, "Cytological Evidence of Constant Tetreploidy in the Bisexual South American Frog Odontophrynus americanus," Chromosoma 19,188 (1966)

51J.P. Maslin, "Parthenogenesis in Reptiles," American Zoologist 11, 361 (1971)

52W. P. Hall, "Three Probable Cases of Parthenogenesis in Lizards (Agamidae, Chamaelonidae, Gekkonidae), " Experientia 26, 1271 (1970)

53M.W. Olsen, "Natural Parthenogenesis in Turkey Eggs," Science 120, 545 (1954)

54'---"Twelve Year Summary of Selection for Parthenogenesis in the Beltsville Small White Turkey," British Poultry Science 6, 1 (1965)

55--"Genetic Control of Parthenogenesis in Chickens," Journal of Heredity 59, 41 (1968)

56. Cuellar, "On the Origin of Parthenogenesis in Vertebrates: the Cytogenic Factors," American Naturalist 108, 628 (1974)

57E.O. Strassman, "Parthenogenetic Development of the Ovum as Observed in Vital Staining," American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 58, 237 (1949)

58L. Loeb, "The Parthenogenetic Development of Eggs in the Ovary of the Guinea Pig," Anatomical Record 51, 373 (1932)

59J. Krafka, "Parthenogenetic Cleavage in the Human Ovary," Anatomical Record 75, 19 (1939)

60M.C. Chang, "Cleavage of Unfertilized Ova in Immature Ferrets," Anatomical Record 108, 31 (1950)

61G. Pincus, "Observations on the Living Eggs of the Rabbits," Proceedings of the Royal Society, ser. B, 107, 132 (1930)

62C.R. Austin, "The Fragmentation of Eggs Following Induced Ovulation in Immature Rats," Journal of Endocrinology 6, 104 (1949)

63J. Loeb, "on the Nature of the Process of Fertilization and Artificial Production of Normal Larvae from the Unfertilized Eggs of the Sea Urchin," American Journal of Physiology 3, 135 (1899)

64A.D. Peacock, "Some Problems of Parthenogenesis," Advances in Science 9, 134(1952)

65G. Pincus, "The Breeding of Some Rabbits Produced by Recipients of Artificially Activated Ova," Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, Washington 25, 557 (1939). Also "The Comparative Behavior of Mammalian Eggs in Vivo and in Vitro. IV. The Development of Fertilized and Artificially Activated Rabbit Eggs," Journal of Experimental Zoology 82, 85(1939)

66G. Pincus and H. Shapiro, "Further Studies on the Parthenogenetic Activation of Rabbit Eggs," Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, Washington 26,163 (1940)

67Krafka, op. cit.

68Spurway, op.

69Anonymous, "Parthenogenesis in Mammals," Lancet 269, 967 (1955). [A r6sum6 of Spurway's conclusions. This was partly quoted by Time, Nov. 28, 1955, p. 63]

70R.A. Beatty, Parthenogenesis and Polyploidy in Mammalian Development, Cambridge Monographs in Experimental Biology, University Press, Cambridge, 131 pp. (1957)

71Partbenogenesis as a biological interpretation of the Virgin Birth is not a new idea. For many years it has been the obvious synonym used by many Christian biologists and theologians and their students. See Preston Harold, The Shining Stranger, Wayfarer Press, p. 85 (1967)

72J. Loeb, "The Sex of Parthenogenetic Frogs," Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, Washington 2, 313 (1916). Also "Further Experiments on the Sex of Parthenogenetic Frogs," Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, Washington 4, 60 (1918)

73B.M. Cattanacb, C.E. Pollard, and S.G. Hawkes, "Sex-reversed Mice: XX and XO Males," Cytogenetics 10, 318 (1971)

74K. Fredga, A. Gropp, H. Winging, and F. Frank, "Fertile XX- and XY-type Females in the Wood Lemming Myopis, schisticolor," Nature, London 261, 225 (1976)

75J.W. Gordon and F.H. Ruddle, "Mammalian Gonadal Determination and Gametogenesis, - Science 211, 1265 (1981)

76W X Silvers and S.S. Wachtel, -H-Y Antigen: Behavior and Function," Science 195, 956 (1977)

77S.S. Wachtel, -H-Y Antigen and the Genetics of Sex Determination," Science 196,799 (1977)

78F.P. Hazeltine and S. Orno, "Mechanisms of Gonadal Differentiation," Science 211, 1272 (1981)

A Christian Medical Society Statement on In

Vitro Fertilization

The following statement on in vitro fertilization was passed by a vote of 60-2 (2 abstentions) at the 1983 Christian Medical Society House of Delegates convening in Boston, May 11-13, 1983.

In vitro fertilization, IVF, may be morally justified when such a pregnancy takes place in the context of the marital bond.

When IVF is advocated outside the context of marital commitment, such a procedure lacks moral justification.

Christian medical scientists differ on the moral worthiness of research with the human ovum and human sperm as a necessary part of perfecting techniques for in vitro fertilizations.

Our consideration of in vitrofertilization is qualified by thefollowing recommendations:

1. Laboratory IVF research should not be supported or allowed unless such research is with the explicit intent Of embryo transfer and eventual normal pregnancies.

2. Clinical IVF and embryo transfer isjustified morally only within the context of the marital bond, using "gametes obtained from lawfully married couples" as the recommendations of the Ethics Advisory Board of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare indicate.

3. Finally, amniocentesis with possible abortion should not be an expected part of the clinical protocol.

This statement was adopted by the Christian Medical Society House of Delegates to provide a means of stimulating ethical debate and reflecting a sense of moral suasion.

A further development of this subject may be found in the CMS Journal, Vol XIV, No. I (Spring, 1983) by Robert M. Nelson, "The Ethics of In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer" (pp. 19-25, 32).