I have been unable to find a good answer to this question online.
Is there an established Christian doctrine that explains why Jesus was sent to man at that specific time and place? Why not a thousand years earlier or later? Was it something special in that era, or perhaps the fact that man had finally descended into such a level of destitute sin that it was deemed "the right time"?
Is the Catholic view different from the Protestant, etc. ?
"Nowhere does the Bible predict that the Messiah will be born to a virgin. In fact, virgins never give birth anywhere in the Bible. This idea is to be found only in pagan mythology. To the Jewish mind, the very idea that G-d would plant a seed in a woman is unnecessary and unnatural."
"The Hebrew term in Isaiah â??almahâ?? which means a â??young womanâ?? is mistranslated as â??virgin.â?? Honest Christian scholars now acknowledge that this is â??a pious fraudâ?? and now (see the new Protestant â??Revised Standard Versionâ?? of the Bible) translate the word correctly."
PIOUS FRAUD? IMAGINE THAT! How can there be pious fraud when the claim that the Holy Spirit guided construction and interpretation of the Bible?!
"Jesus was likely born in Nazareth - the Bethlehem story has no historical foundation."
"A tribal line cannot be passed on through adoption, so Jesus cannot be "son of David" through Joseph. A tribal line also does not pass through the mother, and even if it did, Mary was not descended of David through Solomon."
"Nowhere does our Bible say that the Messiah would be a god or G-d-like. The very idea that G-d would take on human form is repulsive to Jews because it contradicts our concept of G-d as being above and beyond the limitations of the human body and situation. Jews believe that G-d alone is to be worshiped, not a being who is His creation, be he angel, saint, or even the Messiah himself."
"They" say that absent the divinity of Jesus, that the basis for all of Christianity is moot. I say that is indeed true; there is no good use for Christianity, but there is certainly use for Jesus the Prophet's message and teachings, along with all the other good and moral teachings of all such prophets, messengers or wise men.
In my opinion, it matters not from where the truth springs forth, it only matters that it's the truth. The problem is that some men want to copyright the truth, claim it as intellectual property, and lead men and ask that they follow - instead of merely share in truth.
Perhaps a clearer and more succinct way to frame my question is: has Christian doctrine given an explicit reason for the exact time and place of Jesus' birth and life? Was there a precipitating cause for God to send his Son (or Himself or whatever) to Earth at that exact time in human history?
This is incorrect. If you look at the MT (which came after Jesus) manuscripts the Jews changed several verses from virgin to young girl. If you look at the Septuagint (which Jesus, the Apostles, and Hellenistic Jews used) it does plainly state that a Virgin will give birth to a Son.
Love the revisionist history. If you're going to use such horrid source, I won't bother commenting on the rest of it.
One thing I notice is that you seem to imply that God was "waiting" for the prophecies to be fulfilled and was therefore somehow limited by worldly circumstances. In other words, God's wish to send his Son to mankind was contingent upon the fulfillment of a prophecy written by man? This seems to bind God to the words of the Prophets rather than the other way around. Surely it is the prophecy which is subordinate to God--God was going to act a certain way at a certain time and the prophecies merely represent a foreshadowing of that action at that time.
Being omnipotent and omniscient, God would surely have had the power to control the preconditions of Jesus' coming. He would have chosen or at least tacitly approved of the timing of the fulfillment of the prophecies and the subsequent coming of Jesus, would He not?
Perhaps it simply comes down to God's unknowable will, as you alluded to?
"Matthew, writing in Greek about the virgin birth of Jesus, quotes the Septuagint text of Isaiah 7:14-16, which uses the Greek word "Ï?Î±Ï?Î¸ÎÎ½Î¿Ï?" (parthenos, virgin), while the original Hebrew text has "×¢×?×?×?" (almah), which has the slightly wider meaning of an unmarried, betrothedï¼?or newly wed woman such as in the case of Ahaz' betrothed Abijah, daughter of Zechariah."
"Some Jewish perspectives argue that Jesus was not in fact named "Immanuel" and point to other problems such as:
* If Christians claim that the virgin birth of Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled twice, who then was the first virgin having a baby boy in 732 BCE? If they insist that the word ha'almah can only mean virgin, are they claiming that Mary was not the first and only virgin to conceive and give birth to a child?
* What does the "butter and honey" refer to?
* Why is Jesus, who was sinless from birth in the traditional Christian understanding, described as having to learn to refuse the evil and choose the good?[Isa. 7:15-16]
* What age did the baby Jesus mature?
* Which were the two kingdoms during Jesus' lifetime that were abandoned?[Isa. 7:16]
* Who dreaded the Kingdom of Israel during the 1st century CE when there had not been a Kingdom of Israel in existence since the 7th century BCE?
* When did Jesus eat cream and honey? 
A more common view among Christian commentators is that Matthew applied this text to the conception of Jesus in much the same way that John applied[Exodus 12:46] to the crucified Jesus' legs not being broken like those of the two who were crucified with him.[John 19:36]"
"The argument that Old Testament prophecies of the virgin birth of Jesus were what inspired seemingly similar pagan myths was made by Justin Martyr in The First Apology of Justin, written in the 2nd century. He made this argument also in his Dialog with Trypho, in which he debates with a Jew called Trypho:
"Be well assured, then, Trypho," I continued, "that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the Devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah's days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by Jupiter's intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that the Devil has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses?""
"Some have tried to demonstrate Christian dependence on a Roman mystery cult called Mithraism, which was established prior to Christianity. Early reconstructions of the Mithras legend proposed, from Persian sources, that he might have been born of the union of Mother Earth and Ahuramazda, however the theory has not endured. Carvings illustrating the legend reinforce documentary sources that focus on Mithras being born purely from rock (saxigenus), as Athena, the daughter of Zeus and Metis, sprang from the forehead of Zeus."
Now what's more likely? God decided to follow in a well-used prior myth of virgin births, death and resurrection, or, those that were creating a "tradition" or "doctrine" borrowed (stole) from current believes in an effort to lend credence to their fantastic claims?
These myths existed prior to Jesus. God chose to duplicate them?
Here's how I would answer this: I am not aware if there is anything specific to the exact TIME in the Scriptures. But in answer to your question as to why not a thousand years later or earlier, I would posit--like a number of very highly respected mainstream historians-- that the Pax Romana was the most peaceful time on earth. The known world at that time was united under Roman rule, road systems, commerce, trade, common language and ease of transport (relative to the time of history) made it a time unlike any we have seen since.
A bare 200 hundred years later, the Roman empire was cracking and breaking, and after its demise the world plunged back into the equivalent of tribal warfare for hundreds of years. Learning, languages, books, histories, and knowledge were all lost. We have never seen another time in history as relatively "at peace" as the Roman Empire. Even after the Dark Ages were over the entire Continent was plunged into warfare up until after Napoleon.
As a result, I would say the same thing that many people would say in anwer to the question: "What made the Greek and Roman contributions to Western Thought so pervasive/foundational/long lasting?" Answer: it was the most unified time and relatively peaceful time for Western History, and therefore ideas could propagate at a rate faster than anything they would see up until probably the later half of the 1800s. Right before more war.
And no, I don't think the Catholic view is any different from the Protestant in this regard.
Your dislike for religion aside, there are a number of Jews that both have the cultural history and command of the language and also accept that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, not all Jews are united in agreement that the Catholic church screwed up the translation of the "virgin" part of the virgin birth.
And while I agree that the Catholic Church needs to be taken with a deal of salt in many things, I don't agree that it is automatically wrong in its analysis of the ancient prophecies or language. The reasons for that are complicated and I really don't have the frame of mind to actually try to articulate them all right now. But, if you are a Christian there are a number of passages refering very directly to the "stiff necked" and "deaf" Jews in relation to acceptance of the Messiah by Jesus himself. And if you are not a Christian then there is always the point of view that you need not be a Jew to be able to critique language in its historical sense. That would be the equivalent of saying that you need to be Egyptian in order to comment on Egyptian language. Or that if you are not a historian of the same ethnic background as your subject matter you are automatically less qualified to comment on said subject than if you were.
Both of those analogies negate a large, large chunk of scholarship over the past centuries on all subjects, ethnic, relgious, anthropological, sociological, political, and otherwise. Therefore I do not see it as a tenable position to say that the Catholic interpretation of the wording is wrong because many Jews do not believe it. I also do NOT think that the Catholic Church is the final arbiter either btw.
It may seem like that, but that is not the case. Technically, Catholics only recognize one prophet, Jesus. However, we're not being technical here, so we have several prophets through the years, now this wasn't prophesy by man, this was prophesy by G-d. Even though the prophesy was told by man, it was revealed to the man by G-d. So, G-d wasn't waiting for man to prophesy that the Christ would come after certain events and then wait until those events happened. G-d revealed told the prophets when he was going to send Christ. So, it wasn't man directing G-d, but the prophets revealing what G-d's plan was.
Did I make sense above, let me know.
I'm not sure if I would say the prophesy is subordinate (they are not above G-d, but I do not think it is that kind of relationship) to G-d, G-d told the prophets what he was planning.
Well, control is a little much, I would say more that G-d saw the events unfolded, and then revealed to the prophets through time when he would send his son.
Well of course, true prophesy comes from G-d, it is not from man. So, G-d knew the events and he revealed to his people when he would send his Son.
Yes, just a misconceived notion. It's hard to understand, but G-d has a plan. He knows all, so he knew the events would happen before humans experienced them.
I don't know how long you've been on the CBW (Catholic Bashing Wagon), but get some better resources than religioustolerance.org.
From their About Us page:
"As of 2010-DEC, we consist of one Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Thus, the OCRT staff lack agreement on almost all theological matters, such as belief in a supreme being, the nature of God, interpretation of the Bible and other holy texts, whether life after death exists, what form the afterlife may take, etc."
Sorry, all these things disqualify them from being a reliable source (MOSTLY: because they deny absolute truth). They dislike the fact that the Church has a claim on authority of truth (in matters of faith and morals) and interpretation, not that the Church claims it (which they hate), but because it's a truth held by just over 1/6th of the world. As well, the site is relative on issues of morals. On top of that, they use private interpretations of the Bible, I don't accept private interpretations because it holds no authority.
And, sorry I have a tendency to discredit people who don't look to the Early Church Fathers and try to disprove the Church, because am I supposed to believe a man 2000 years after it happened or the early Christians who clung to the traditions that they were taught?
"The Book [the Protoevangelium] of James [records] that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word . . . might not know intercourse with a man after the Holy Spirit came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the firstfruit among men of the purity which consists in [perpetual] chastity, and Mary was among women. For it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the firstfruit of virginity" (Commentary on Matthew 2:17 [A.D. 248]).
Hilary of Poitiers
"If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been MaryÃ¢??s sons and not those taken from JosephÃ¢??s former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, Ã¢??Woman, behold your son,Ã¢?? and to John, Ã¢??Behold your motherÃ¢?? [John 19:26Ã¢??27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate" (Commentary on Matthew 1:4 [A.D. 354]).
"Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary" (Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 [A.D. 360]).
Epiphanius of Salamis
"We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . who for us men and for our salvation came down and took flesh, that is, was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit" (The Man Well-Anchored 120 [A.D. 374]).
"And to holy Mary, [the title] Ã¢??VirginÃ¢?? is invariably added, for that holy woman remains undefiled" (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 78:6 [A.D. 375]).
Let me be more clear. Myths of virgin births and even resurrection predate Christianity. If there is "scripture" that attests to such, it's inspired by man, and stolen from pagan myths. I believe Jesus walked the earth. I believe he was a prophet, wise man, etc, and that his teaching have value. I don't believe the other "stuff" no matter who wrote it or interpreted it.
The only absolute truth in your mind goes back to your Church. It's a circular and pointless discussion. It's why I didn't sift thru the remainder of your post - no disrespect intended. I don't believe any of the lore, no matter who wrote it.
Chris, I did finally "sift" - did not read completely - through your post and you know what it reminds me of? The thread in GAL where grown men were arguing about fictional superhero powers and which one could defeat the other. You're not going to get anywhere with me.
I DO NOT BELIEVE THE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE NEEDED TO BIRTH HIMSELF THRU A HUMAN WOMAN (AN ALLEGED VIRGIN) TO COME TEACH US A LESSON THAT 2000 YEARS LATER STILL DIVIDES THE WORLD. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN "INSPIRED" VERSIONS OF VIRGIN BIRTHS AND RESURRECTIONS ANY MORE THAN I BELIEVE THE PAGAN TALES OF VIRGIN BIRTHS.