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BBC documentary to question Mary's virginity

A documentary to be screened on British television this Christmas will question the beliefs of billions of Christians by suggesting that Mary was not a virgin when she conceived Jesus.

The Virgin Mary, to be broadcast on the Sunday before Christmas Day, investigates three explanations, other than the Immaculate Conception, for Mary's pregnancy.

It looks at the possibility that she slept with Joseph while she was engaged to be married to him, secondly that she was raped by a Roman soldier and thirdly that she fell pregnant to an unidentified man before marrying Joseph. It concludes that Mary was most likely to have concieved Jesus with Joseph before their marriage as Joseph stood by her; an unmarried pregnant woman at that time in Palestine would have been cast out from the community or may even have been stoned to death.

Alan Bookbinder, the BBC's head of religion and the executive producer of The Virgin Mary said: "I hope the churches see that the Mary of faith and miracles is well represented and given a lot of prominence in the program."

A spokesperson from the Church of Scotland commented: "There is a diversity of opinion on the issue but there remains a diversity of opinion over whether there should be a diversity of opinion."

The Sunday Herald

10 Dec 2002