Photo courtesy Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; gift of Ferdinand Howald

ON THE COVER: With utmost tenderness, Mary gathers the infant Jesus to herself. Entitled Madonna, the painting is the work of American artist and photographer Man Ray (1890–1976). The words above and on either side of Mary’s head create a cross shape and give the year of composition as 1914. How we understand Jesus’ coming into the world is now colored by centuries of theological debates over the Virgin Birth. A careful reading of the infancy narrative—and of the Old Testament texts that influenced them—reveals a rich variety of understandings of this crucial event, as James E. Crouch contends in “How Early Christians Viewed the Birth of Jesus.”