6 JUNE 1914, Page 15


ITO THE EDITOR Or THE "SPECTATOR:1, Sia,—Yonr reviewer in his sympathetic notice in last week's Spectator of Dr. Sanday's answer to Bishop Gore speaks of the immaculate conception where he intends the miraculous conception (of Christ). The epithet "immaculate" is techni- cally used by theologians of the conception of the mother of Jesus. It was Pope Pio Nono who elevated this into a Catholic dogma, as the great inscription in the chancel of St. Peter's records. The columns at the top and bottom of the Spanish steps in Rome also commemorate the proclamation of this dogma, originally excogitated by Greek monks in the sixth and seventh centuries, carried by them when they fled before the Iconoclastic Emperors to Sicily, thence brought by Norman monks to England and France, from which countries it was eventually propagated and accepted in Rome.

Your reviewer hints that Dr. Sanday's statement that Jesus was born "with every circumstance of holiness" falls to the ground with a denial of the miracle of a virgin birth. Yet surely if marriage is a sacrament (as the Christian Church rightly bolds it to be), the offspring of marriage may be held to be surrounded with every circumstance of holiness. " Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled," wrote the author of Hebrews xiii. 4. I believe it was the unfortunate prevalence in early Christian circles of the opposite belief which let into the Creeds the common pagan item of a virgin birth. We know from Justin Martyr that as late as the year 130 most Christians rejected this tenet, and still held with the Christians of Palestine that Jesus was "a man born of men." One of the best women I have known once said to me that, as a woman, a wife, and a mother, she felt the words of the Creed " born of a virgin " to be a slur and an insult.—I am,