Isa. 7:14

Re. Isa. 7:14, I don't have the time to pursue the linguistic 
ramifications just now, but I will suggest one hermeneutical 
factor that ought to be considered. If Matthew's citation is 
viewed as asserting the fulfillment of a _prophecy_, then there 
are some difficult questions to answer. That is not, however, the 
only option. I think that it would be extremely difficult to 
justify an exegesis of Isa. 7 that attributes to Isaiah explicit 
reference to Messiah's birth. The context of chapters 7 & 8 
demands, I think, an immediate, historical ref. to the birth of 
Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz as a sign to Ahaz. In such an instance almah 
need not refer to a virgin in the technical sense. [The only 
alternatives to this (other than suggesting an error somewhere) 
are to postulate some sort of double-meaning or sensus plenior 
(IMHO, problematic as often defined).]

I would suggest that we should view Matthew's reference 
typologically. I.e., he identifies the Immanuel prophecy and its 
fulfillment as an appropriate type of Jesus' birth (types, as well 
as direct prophecy, can be fulfilled). This obviates Isaiah's 
understanding the technicalities of the virgin birth and the 
resulting discrepency (in word meaning &/or translation choice) 
between the immediate and prophetic contexts. In the context of 
Matthew's citation, as has been pointed out already, there is no 
question that he intended Jesus' conception to be understood as 

Hopefully Dave Turner will have time to comment on this issue 
since he is in the midst of writing an exegetical commentary on 
Matthew (hopefully nearing completion, Dave?).


Rodney J. Decker
Assistant Professor of Greek and Theology
Calvary Theological Seminary, Kansas City
(94-95 sabbatical explains the Univ. of Wisc. address!)