The Hebrew word in Isaiah is עלמה (almah), which undisputedly means 'young woman', with no implication of virginity.
Actually it is a pleasure, for scientists can't often get satisfyingly dusty in the library indulging in a real academic footnote.
The point is in fact well known to biblical scholars, and not disputed by them.
In my edition of 1989 (reissued with new cover in 1999 by Oxford University Press) it starts at page 16 (chapter 2) and then descends into an endnote: We tend to regard erratic copying as a bad thing, and in the case of human documents it is hard to think of examples where errors can be described as improvements.
I suppose the scholars of the Septuagint could at least be said to have started something big when they mistranslated the Hebrew word for 'young woman' into the Greek word for 'virgin', coming up with the prophecy: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son ...'* Dawkins (1989, p.
The following sentences, however seem to make it clear that they have no creationist agenda: This translation, enshrined in the Septuagint, the Greek Bible of the early church, fixed the meaning for most of western civilization, even though the Hebrew was not so specific. Congenital human baculum deficiency: The generative bone of Genesis -23.
American Journal of Medical Genetics, 101(3):284-285)It is admittedly odd to find a piece of textual criticism of the bible in a medical journal, but even Richards Dawkins, the poster child of new atheism, relished engaging in a piece of textual criticism in The Selfish Gene.
Over at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, Sarah Hird mistook a piece of textual criticism as creationism judging: "this argument is an odd mix of science and creationism."Textual criticism is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts including scripture. Insofar as creationists regard scripture as sacred and never even suspect that scribes may have screwed up their translations, textual critics are diametrically opposed to the creationist frame of mind.
They treat scripture like any other human manuscript and analyze it that way.
The 'mutation' occurred when the pre-Christian Greek translation known as Septuagint rendered almah into παρθένος (parthenos), which really does usually mean virgin.
16)Several distressed correspondents have queried the mistranslation of 'young woman' into 'virgin' in the biblical prophecy, and have demanded a reply from me.
Hurting religious sensibilities is a perilous business these days, so I had better oblige.