Is Jesus Really the Messiah? Three Messianic Expectations at the Time of Jesus

Note: This post was updated and given the title Six Messianic Expectations and One Messiah

Over the years I have been asked why Jewish people don’t think Jesus is the Messiah. One of the most common responses is an online article called 7 Reasons Why Have Jews Rejected Jesus For Over 2,000 Years: A Must Read For Every Jew. As we see in the article, we have the traditional messianic views that are informed by Rabbinic Judaism and Maimonidies. Some of the messianic expectations are:

There is the promise of a future age of perfection characterized by universal peace and recognition of God. (Isaiah 2:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Hosea 2:20-22; Amos 9:13-15; Isaiah 32:15-18, 60:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23, 14:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Many of these prophetic passages speak of a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5).

The article also says:

What is the Messiah supposed to accomplish? The Bible says that he will:

  1. Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
  2. Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
  3. Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
  4. Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: “God will be King over all the world—on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One” (Zechariah 14:9).

Here is another quote that is similar:

“The state of the world must prove that the Messiah has come; not a tract. Don’t you think that when the Messiah arrives, it should not be necessary for his identity to be subject to debate – for the world should be so drastically changed for the better that it should be absolutely incontestable! Why should it be necessary to prove him at all? If the Messiah has come, why should anyone have any doubt?” (Rabbi Chaim Richman, available at http://www.ldolphin.org/messiah.html).

So after we read the online article and this quote, we are supposed to assume it is all settled. Jesus didn’t bring the messianic age, gather the Jewish people back to the land, nor restore the Davidic throne nor the Temple. If it was only that simple. And to assert that the Jewish community has always held to one view of the Messiah is complete nonsense. I want to mention that there are other answers to some of the other objections in this article on our resource page. Also, see Michael Brown’s Five Volume Set Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.  Also, I think it is evident that if Israel isn’t faithful to the covenants, God will still reach the nations for his purposes. But for now, let me mention the following:

For starters, let me offer some words of advice: Words and concepts are separate entities. “Word-bound” approaches to what really are concept studies can lead us astray. Messianism is a concept study. The word “messiah” means “anointed one” and is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.” The Hebrew Bible records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ), kings (1 Sam 10:1;2 Sam 2:4;1 Kings 1:34), and sometimes prophets (1 Kings 19:16b) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. Hence, they could be viewed as “a messiah.” However, this does not mean they are “the Messiah.”

Also, just as a king could be viewed as “a son of God,” it does not mean the king is “The Son of God.” The term “messiah,” meaning “anointed one,” is taken from the Hebrew word “masiah” which appears thirty-nine times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the term Messiah is translated as “christos” which was one of the official titles for Jesus within the New Testament. The “one who is anointed” was commissioned for a specific task.

Interestingly enough, the Qumran community which predated the time of Jesus thought there were possibly two Messiahs, one priestly and one royal (1QS 9.11; CD 12.22-23; 13. 20-22; 14. 18-19; 19.34-20.1; CD-B 1.10-11; 2.1; 1Q Sa 2. 17-22). In the words of Michael Bird:

“The role of the Messiah is multifarious. There was no single and uniform description of the messianic task.” Furthermore, before 70 CE, messianic figures could go by a variety of names such as Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man, the Prophet, Elect One, Prince, Branch, Root, Scepter, Star, Chosen One, Coming One, and so forth.” (1)

I have already offered some tips on how to interpret Messianic prophecy. I also offer an extensive bibliography and some other resources as well. But in this post, I want to mention a few of the messianic expectations that were evident during the Second Temple period.

#1: The Son of Man

“Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself throughout His ministry. First of all, “Son of Man ” is employed to Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mk. 2:10,28; 10:45; Matt. 13:37); Second, the Son of Man was to suffer and die and rise from the dead (Mk. 8:31;9:31;10:33). Third, the Son of Man would serve an eschatological function (Mk. 8:38;13:26;14:62; Matt.10:23;13:41;19:28:24:39;25:31). In other words, there is a correlation between the returning Son of Man and the judgment of God.

The term “Son of Man” in the time of Jesus was a most emphatic reference to the Messiah (Dan. 7:13-14). The title reveals divine authority. In the trial scene in Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Dan. 7:13 and Ps. 110:1 to Himself. Jesus’ claim that he would not simply be entering into God’s presence, but that he would actually be sitting at God’s right side was the equivalent to claiming equality with God. By Jesus asserting He is the Son of Man, he was exercising the authority of God.

As Randall Price notes:

“ The concept of the Messiah as a “son of man” after the figure in Daniel 7:13 is expressed in a section of the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch known as Similitudes, which has been argued to have a date as early as 40 B.C. While we will deal more with this messianic title in the next chapter, it should be noted that scholars have found in Similitudes four features for this figure: (1) it refers to an individual and is not a collective symbol, (2) it is clearly identified as the Messiah, (3) the Messiah is preexistent and associated with prerogatives traditionally reserved for God, and (4) the Messiah takes an active role in the defeat of the ungodly. New Testament parallels with Similitudes (e.g., Matt. 19:28 with 1 Enoch 45:3 and Jn. 5:22 with 1 Enoch 61:8) may further attest to a mutual dependence on a common Jewish messianic interpretation (or tradition) based on Daniel’s vision.” (2)

To see our entire article on this topic, click here:

#2: A Miracle Working Messiah

Even though miracles are often overlooked in the traditional messianic expectation (as in the article I posted),  it is evident that Jewish people at the time of Jesus did look for signs/miracles to accompany the Messiah’s work. In the New Testament, the Greek word for kingdom is “basileia,” which denotes “sovereignty,” “royal power,” and “dominion.” The references to the word “kingdom” can be seen in two classes: First, it is viewed as a present reality and involves suffering for those who enter into it (2 Thess 1:5). Second, the kingdom is futuristic and involves reward (Matt 25:34), as well as glory (Matt 13:43). In observing the ministry of Jesus, He demonstrated one of the visible signs of His inauguration of the kingdom of God would not only be the dispensing of the Holy Spirit (John 7: 39), but also the ability to perform miracles. But if the kingdom is breaking into human history, then the King has come. If the Messianic age has arrived, then the Messiah must be present.

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives  and recovering of sight to the blind,  to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”- Luke 4: 18-19

Even in the Messiah Apocalypse, which is dated between 100 and 80 B.C.E mentions a similar theme as seen in the Luke 4 text:

“He [God] frees the captives, makes the blind see, and makes the bent over stand straight…for he will heal the sick, revive the dead, and give good news to the humble and the poor he will satisfy, the abandoned he will lead, and the hungry he will make rich.” (3)

Also,  Paul says:

“ For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Paul notes here about how Jews demand signs. While actions by other prophets such as Ezekiel and Jeremiah etc. show some significant parallels to Jesus, Jesus is closer to the actions of the Jewish sign prophets such as Moses. “Signs” have a specific apologetic function in that they are used to provide evidence for people to believe the message of God through a prophet of God. Hence, the signs Moses does proves he is truly sent from God.  Moses had struggled with his prophetic call when he said “ But they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ (Exod. 4:1). God assures Moses that  the “signs”  will confirm his call:  

 God says, “I will be with you. And this will be אוֹת “the sign”  to you that it is I who have sent you” (Exod. 3:12).

“If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” (Exod 4: 8-9).

We see the signs are used to help people believe.

Moses “performed the “signs” before the people, and they believed; … they bowed down and worshiped” (Exod. 4:30–31)

The Works of Jesus

“Works” are directly related to the miracles of Jesus (Jn. 5:20; 36;10:25; 32-28; 14:10-12; 15:24) and is synonymous with “signs.” Interestingly enough, when Jesus speaks of miracles and he calls them “works” he doesn’t refer to  Exod. 4:1-9, but to Num. 16:28, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord.” For example:

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me” (John 10:25).

If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;  but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38).

But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me (John 5: 36)

“Sign” (sēmeion) is used seventy-seven times (forty-eight times in the Gospels). As far as the “signs’ Jesus does,  29:18-19; 35:5-6; 42:18; 61:1). In John’s Gospel, Jesus performs three “signs,” at the beginning of his ministry; the water turned into wine at Cana at Galilee (2:1-12), the healing of the son of the royal official at Capernaum (4:46-64), and catching of the fish in the sea of Galilee (21:1-14). The link between the first two signs in Jn 2:12 while the link between the last two are seen in Jn 7:1, 3-4, 6, 9. Jesus follows the pattern of Moses in that he reveals himself as the new Moses because Moses also had to perform three “signs” so that he could be recognized by his brothers as truly being sent by God (Exod. 4: 1-9). In the exchange between Nicodemus said to Jesus, Nicodemus said, We know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2). Also, the signs of Jesus are part of the apostolic preaching:

#3 A Prophetic Messiah

Moses and Jesus both claim to speak the words of God. It is also evident at the time of Jesus, that Jewish people were looking for a prophet like Moses. For example:

The people said, “When they heard these words, some of the crowd began to say, “This really is the Prophet!” (John 7:40)

Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (John 6:14)

John the Baptist began to preach, he was asked, “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:19-23).

Also, Peter refers to Jesus as the prophet of Deut. 18:15-18:

And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.—Acts 3: 17-24

Peter is referring to the Deut 18: 15-18 text:

 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Here, we can notice the emphasis, “And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” The prophet only respeaks the words of God (cf. Jer 1:9: Isa. 59: 21). God said to Moses “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exod. 4:12).

 We see  in the context of Numbers 16, Moses faced his opposition in that they challenged his headship and authority.  Hence, they challenge the idea that Moses has a special mission and that he was sent  from God.  In response, Moses  defends his mission in that he has never “acted on his own,” i.e., claiming for himself an authority which he did not have.  Moses says, ” Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord”  (Num.16:28).

 As far as Jesus being like Moses, we see a similar pattern in that Jesus doesn’t claim to speak or act on his own authority:

 So Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him”  (John 7: 16-18)

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world. (John 8:26)

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me(John 12: 49-50).

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10).

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me (John 14:24).

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me (John 17:8).

To summarize, when Jesus speaks, it is not His own word that he gives to the people, but that of the Father; it is as if God is speaking to us.  Also, there is a similar relationship between those who do no heed the words of Moses and those who do not listen to the words of Jesus. For example, Moses exhorts and warns the people about the consequences of not heeding the Word of God:

” See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.  But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,  loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut 30: 15-20).

Of course, one of the underlying themes of John’s Gospel is that Jesus is the Word (John 1:14). Likewise, Jesus, who is the Word incarnate and the new Moses gives a similar warning:

 “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5: 22-24).”

 Conclusion

These were just a few of the messianic expectations at the time of Jesus. To see some of the reasons, Jesus has begun to fulfill the messianic task, see our resource page.

Sources: 1.M.F. Bird, Are You The One To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 35. Qumran is the site of the ruin about nine miles south of Jericho on the west side of the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in nearby caves. The Dead Sea Scrolls contains some 800 scrolls with parts or the entirety of every book of the Old Testament except Esther, discovered in the caves near Qumran.

2.See The Concept of the Messiah in the Old Testament at http://www.worldofthebible.com/Bible%20Studies/The%20Concept%20…;

3. See Evans, C.A., and P. W. Flint, Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1997). Qumran is the site of the ruin about nine miles south of Jericho on the west side of the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in nearby caves. The Dead Sea Scrolls contains some 800 scrolls with parts or the entirety of every book of the Old Testament except Esther, discovered in the caves near Qumran.

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12 thoughts on “Is Jesus Really the Messiah? Three Messianic Expectations at the Time of Jesus

  1. Ed Atkinson October 17, 2014 / 7:56 am

    Hi Chab

    I want to talk about the big picture here, rather than the details. Jesus lived in an era of Messianic expectation, so what he said and how his community interpreted his words and deeds would all be a reflection of those expectations. So if there is some correlation between Messianic Expectations and the NT record it need not be evidence that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. This is a story of people’s beliefs not objective realities.

    Putting this another way, if your aim is “Responding to Critics, Seekers, and Doubters” then you need to do more than a Bible Study for believers.

    Cheers

    Ed

    • chab123 October 17, 2014 / 2:04 pm

      Ed,

      1. You may want to think through your comments more carefully. This post was a response to Jewish critics. If you read it carefully, you would of seen that. So no, it wasn’t just a Bible study.

      2. Let me offer some defintions:

      1. Critics: those with criticisms of the Christian faith who are not open to the possibility of its truth. Critics need to be answered to neutralize the effects of their criticisms on seekers and doubters.

      2. Seekers: people who are open to our faith but are prevented from making a commitment primarily because of honest questions about the Christian claims.

      3. Doubters: are Christians who find it difficult to believe one or more tenants of the Christian faith with complete confidence. Doubters need to be restored to full Christian conviction by giving them the tools to remove their doubts.

      In own experience, I run into a lot of #1′s. Many of these people read a lot of the skeptic literature online or have decided to be a disciple of Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, or some other famous atheist. Or, they may say they used to be a Christian or a former Christian apologist and they now have a life calling to tell the entire world how bad Christianity is for the world.

      This is my blog and I am free to do address critics, seekers , AND doubters.

      So I am free to do as I please. Granted, I know you’re an atheist and since you have no teleology or moral obligations, you have created you have filled in both of these areas with your desire to be a critic/atheist apologist.

      So my advice to you if you don’t like my posts or have other issues, please feel free to find somewhere else to carry out your moral obligation to debate and attempt to convert people to atheism.

      Finally, I have been in Jewish missions for 20 years. You are welcome to read our suggested reading list of resources on Jewish Messianism that I left on the post.

      That wil be it.

  2. Ed Atkinson October 17, 2014 / 3:17 pm

    Hi Chab

    Great response.

    You start the article “Over the years I have been asked why Jewish people don’t think Jesus is the Messiah.” I took this to imply that the article is a response to a criticism like: “because even Jews don’t think Jesus was the Messiah, he probably wasn’t”. I couldn’t see where you say that the article is not about this but instead is a response only to Jewish critics.

    Yes I’m a critic, but under your definitions I actually come under ‘seeker’ as my other discussions with you demonstrate. I read heaps of Christian books as I can only know something is true if it survives being challenged. I have never read an atheist book (meaning atheist polemic), but I have read science books by atheists. I also listen to the excellent Unbelievable podcasts from Premier Christian Radio, which are quite balanced, the Debate God podcasts and yes – some atheist podcasts.

    I do like your posts. They give me something to respond to in my search for truth.

    What I’m taking from this exchange is that you don’t have a response to the actual point I made and have avoided it by claiming that I am closed and have dishonest motivation. Your claims about me may be correct – I need to doubt the nice story I tell myself about myself – but it would be fantastic if you want to engage with the substance: on what was happening when the NT authors were claiming that Jesus was fulfilling messianic prophesy.

    Cheers

    Ed

    • chab123 October 18, 2014 / 2:16 am

      Hi Ed,

      I don’t think you’re dishonest. I never said that. I am just more interested in one’s motives in these discussions. I think Unbelievable does a good job as well.

      I think Jesus has began to fulfill the messianic task. But he’s not done. You seem to have this issue of how the authors interpret events. I don’t know if you assume that equates to embellishing, inventing, or fabricating or, something else. I have provided enough resources on the reliability of the NT and what critical scholars would call the ‘minimal facts’ in that the NT is correct that Jesus died, he did miracles, and his followers at least think he rose from the dead. You can see those here: https://chab123.wordpress.com/what-can-we-know-about-jesus-resources-on-the-historical-jesus-and-historicity-of-the-new-testament/

      I would suggest reading some of the links I left to read on that post, especially the one on “Are There Over 300 Messianic Prophecies?”…

  3. Ed Atkinson October 18, 2014 / 11:20 pm

    Thanks Chab, you probably do get me to some degree but apologetics is mostly about evidence and reason.

    Getting down to the substantive point of whether (a) the gospel accounts are based on actual fulfilment of prophesy in the life of Jesus or (b) the OT prophesy has caused the account to be written up so that it seemed a prophesy was fulfilled.

    The minimal facts approach is a helpful one, but not on this issue as the facts do not really relate to prophesy directly. If they indeed show that Jesus is divine, then we don’t need prophesy. So for example if Jesus really did miracles then that’s remarkable. If the Messiah was prophesied to do miracles, then that’s minor compared to the miracles themselves.

    I’ll take 2 examples – first Jesus’ birth place as it was the obvious link from the list where you’d guided me. The link you gave there is this by Tim McGrew:

    http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2013/12/19/christmas-notes-part-1-jesus-born-bethlehem/

    Tim gives us all we need, he shows from the gospels that talk of Messiah did indeed lead to questions of birthplace, and Bethlehem was where it had to be. He talks of an individual prophesy from Micah. As Jesus’ followers came to believe the resurrection and that Jesus was the Messiah, then he just had to be born in Bethlehem. Hence presumptions developed into rumours that in turn developed into mini stories, which developed to the full narratives. The phrase in the prophesy from Micah that the Messiah figure “is to be ruler in Israel” was interpreted by the church in a spiritual way rather than militaristic way, we see this in Paul, and so was well established long before the gospels. We are now ready to compare the two theories (a) & (b) above. The data we have clearly fits (b) so much better because there are gross discrepancies between accounts.

    My second example I’ve mentioned in a comment to you elsewhere but has not yet had a response: “……. the charge that Matt and others make stuff up to force a fulfilled prophesy. ……… Mt21:7 is my best example, it gives the silly outcome of Jesus riding 2 animals at once, such is Matthew’s desperation to make the prophesy work spot on.”

    The two examples are different in that it seems religious belief in the church overall is at the heart of the idea Jesus was born in Bethlehem, while Jesus riding two animals not one seem to come from the gospel author himself.

    Thanks for the suggestion to look up your page “Are There Over 300 Messianic Prophecies?”. It’s a good article.

    Cheers Ed

    • chab123 October 20, 2014 / 2:38 am

      Btw, I am not sure if you are a Jesus myther in that you don’t think there was a real Jesus as recorded in the NT. If so, I don’t debate that cause I think it is really dumb. Just wanted to make that clear. That’s why I brought up the minimal facts. If you don’t agree on those issues with me, we really don’t have a lot to discuss about Jesus. Blessings!

  4. chab123 October 20, 2014 / 1:07 am

    Ed, you say:

    “(a) the gospel accounts are based on actual fulfilment of prophesy in the life of Jesus or (b) the OT prophesy has caused the account to be written up so that it seemed a prophesy was fulfilled”

    Response: As I say in my article on 300 prophecies, not all prophecy is predictive. But you seem to think here that the NT authors make it sound like Jesus fulfilled a prophecy and made it up to sound that way. We have to look at the OT context and see where the prophecy is. We then do our exegesis. We then see how the NT author understood the prophecy. Whether you think Jesus a actually fulfilled them or not depends on whether you think there is a God who can speak into history which at this point you reject. When it comes to the history of Israel, God would continually speak through prophets to correct the problem of His people turning away from him towards false gods/nature deities.

    There are texts that support the God of Israel from other nature deities: For example:

    “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”-Isaiah 42:8-9

    We see the following:

    1. God will demonstrate his true omniscience by demonstrating he is the one talking.
    2. He will do so by declaring in advance what the course of future history will hold.
    3. This provides a verification test as to who the true God is and that such a writing is from him.

    God also challenged Israel’s ‘gods’ to do the same:
    “Present your case,” says the Lord. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable.”- Isaiah 41:21-24

    In this passage we see that if these gods could declare the course of history before it took place.

    Now we can back up and I am more than happy to show you the emptiness of metaphysical naturalism and why it doesn’t explain reality, and you would need to really have a strong grasp on all the issues I discussed in the 300 prophecy article.

    You say:

    “As Jesus’ followers came to believe the resurrection and that Jesus was the Messiah, then he just had to be born in Bethlehem.”

    Response: The text in Micah was written well before that which discusses a Davidic King that will be from eternity past and who will be born there. So the prophecy was clear on that.

    You say:

    “The phrase in the prophesy from Micah that the Messiah figure “is to be ruler in Israel” was interpreted by the church in a spiritual way rather than militaristic way, we see this in Paul, and so was well established long before the gospels”—

    Response: The Davidic King/the Messiah is supposed to be a priest, prophet, and a king. The Kingdom of God encompasses many themes- not just spiritual. My point is don’t oversimplify and try to just say “Jesus was not the Messiah they were looking for because he brought this spiritual concept rather than a national/military Messianic understanding.”

    You say:

    “Hence presumptions developed into rumours that in turn developed into mini stories, which developed to the full narratives”—

    Response: We are back to historical method and we would have to understand the genre of the Gospels.

    You say:

    “We are now ready to compare the two theories (a) & (b) above. The data we have clearly fits (b) so much better because there are gross discrepancies between accounts. My second example I’ve mentioned in a comment to you elsewhere but has not yet had a response: “……. the charge that Matt and others make stuff up to force a fulfilled prophesy. ………”

    Response: I see no reason to think Jesus didn’t actually fulfill the prophecy and that a is correct. And I don’t see how you would come to the conclusion (b) by reading Tim’s article. So you don’t really provide any evidence.

    You say:

    Mt21:7 is my best example, it gives the silly outcome of Jesus riding 2 animals at once, such is Matthew’s desperation to make the prophesy work spot on.”

    Response: no, this is not a defeater at all. The inseparability of a donkey and its colt was proverbial in Judaism. Matthew noted both animals because of his use of the prophecy in Zech 9:9- two animals are mentioned, though he understood one animal was being ridden here and he intends to tell his readers that it was upon the colt that Jesus rode. Mark and Luke refer only to the colt since they make no mention of the prophecy. The Gospel authors are writing to different authors with different purposes. Or, there any many possible solutions as seen here: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=773

    Note: If you are a big proponent of trying to point our what you and other critics like to cite as ‘discrepancies’ or what you think are apparent ‘contradictions’ you will have to work harder. I am not going to spend all my time answering those because there have more than enough resources that have done that. . You can see Mcgrew’s lecture on that page or Mike Licona’s here:

    https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/hbu-dr-mike-licona-why-are-there-differences-in-the-gospels/

    Ed, if you’re a critic and you want to spend a large majority of your time debating apologetic issues, a few things: If you have much concluded that God doesn’t exist and Jesus isn’t whom the NT says he is and now you just want to confirm that, then it is not incumbent on me to spend lots of time answering your objections unless you now answer my question. What would convince you that the God of the Bible exists and that Jesus really is the Son of God? If you are really seeking (you’re not truly just a critic), than trying to wait for God to give you some sort of sign (such as testing him), isn’t going to work. We discussed this before. Because given the link you left me in that resurrection discussion (which was awful and showed zero understanding of historical apologetics), then discussing history with you is a fruitless discussion. Like I said, we are back to metaphysics.

    I haven’t seen any good arguments that show me the natural world is all there is and naturalism is deficient to answer several aspects of reality. So you’re welcome to tell me what would convince you. You had said you prayed and didn’t get your ‘experience’ so in the end, I am not sure that factual evidence is the issue.

    I have seen many people like you over the years. It seems they leave Christianity, then they either do a couple of things: 1. They spend all their time evangelizing for atheism and trying to project their experience onto other Christians- they think if they couldn’t work through the doubts, surely, no other Christian has or can do the same; 2) Second guessing that maybe they made a mistake and maybe Christianity is true.

  5. Ed Atkinson October 21, 2014 / 8:45 am

    Hi Chab, thanks for continuing to spend time on this.

    First a plea to keep this focussed. Eg you say: “Whether you think Jesus actually fulfilled them (prophecies) or not depends on whether you think there is a God who can speak into history which at this point you reject.” Can’t we hold off from the conclusion for now? There are two explanations (my a & b) and all we can do here is see which fits the data better. Whether there is a God who can speak into history is a major judgement to assess and it pulls in all the evidence of apologetics (such as your “the emptiness of metaphysical naturalism”) together with our personal experiences and everything! We can only make progress by looking at each issue at a time.

    On the issue of where I am coming from and how open I am, you can hear me on Unbelievable on 28 June 2014. The discussion under that show on their website gives some more material and if you want you don’t have to listen for an hour, just read the discussion.
    http://ez.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Os-Guinness-the-ex-Christian#comment-1645179361

    You insist that I answer this: “What would convince you that the God of the Bible exists and that Jesus really is the Son of God?” but you know the answer: evidence, which is what I am trying to discuss here.

    I agree the evidence points to Jesus as historical & not myth and generally supports your minimal facts. I don’t think that Jesus’ miracles were divine, of course, and many of the miracle stories reported in the gospels can’t be relied on as eye-witness history.

    At last I can get on to evidence. Here we go (using your helpful format):

    I said: “As Jesus’ followers came to believe the resurrection and that Jesus was the Messiah, then he just had to be born in Bethlehem.”

    You say – “The text in Micah was written well before that which discusses a Davidic King that will be from eternity past and who will be born there. So the prophecy was clear on that.”

    Response: How is that relevant? All I point out is that Messiah-belief must lead to Bethlehem-birth-belief for that culture, as Tim showed. The details and sequence of the prophecies that led to those beliefs are not relevant.

    I said: “The phrase in the prophesy from Micah that the Messiah figure “is to be ruler in Israel” was interpreted by the church in a spiritual way rather than militaristic way, we see this in Paul, and so was well established long before the gospels”

    You say – “The Davidic King/the Messiah is supposed to be a priest, prophet, and a king. The Kingdom of God encompasses many themes- not just spiritual. My point is don’t oversimplify and try to just say “Jesus was not the Messiah they were looking for because he brought this spiritual concept rather than a national/military Messianic understanding.”

    Response: the background here is Tim’s argument that the phrase “is to be ruler in Israel” in the Micah prophecy is in contrast to the humility in the nativity narratives and so, Tim claims, Micah is not behind a Bethlehem-birth legend. I am not trying to give a full account of how the Jews of his day understood Jesus, just that the thinking within Christendom regarding Jesus’ humility was well established long before the nativity narratives and hence the narratives reflect that and the agreed birthplace of Bethlehem. On humility see Phil2:6-8, which looks to me like an early hymn or creed.

    I said: “Hence presumptions developed into rumours that in turn developed into mini stories, which developed to the full narratives”

    You say – “We are back to historical method and we would have to understand the genre of the Gospels.”

    Response: the background here is how the narratives can develop from beliefs. I agree that this is a large area, but we don’t need to go into it. We both know that there are mainstream scholars on each side, so all I am doing is setting out a plausible account that can be compared to the evidence we see in the gospels.

    I said: “We are now ready to compare the two theories (a) & (b) above. The data we have clearly fits (b) so much better because there are gross discrepancies between accounts. My second example I’ve mentioned in a comment to you elsewhere but has not yet had a response: “……. the charge that Matt and others make stuff up to force a fulfilled prophesy. ………”

    You say – “I see no reason to think Jesus didn’t actually fulfill the prophecy and that a is correct. And I don’t see how you would come to the conclusion (b) by reading Tim’s article. So you don’t really provide any evidence.”

    Response: yes I do provide evidence and you haven’t addressed it: the gross discrepancies between the birth accounts in Mt & Lk. They make sense if the narratives arose from beliefs and don’t make sense if it is somehow based on eye witness reporting. On Tim’s article the only point I saw that sought to undermine my conclusion was the one based on the phrase “is to be ruler in Israel” discussed above.

    I said: “ ….Mt21:7 is my best example, it gives the silly outcome of Jesus riding 2 animals at once, such is Matthew’s desperation to make the prophesy work spot on.”

    You say – “Matthew noted both animals because of his use of the prophecy in Zech 9:9- two animals are mentioned, though he understood one animal was being ridden here and he intends to tell his readers that it was upon the colt that Jesus rode.”

    Response: Sorry, I’ve used Bible Gateway and looked it up in several translations, in all both the animals have coats on and are ridden. The link you gave was entertaining reading as the hand waving author tried to wriggle out of this. If you need to go to so much effort to get the verse to read what it does not say, then it can be taken as good evidence that Matthew got it wrong due to misunderstanding Zechariah. If your faith position is that Matt must be correct, then the link will satisfy you, but that can not be your stance as an apologist. You have to admit that in this case the text is embarrassing for you and fits well with the theory that Matthew was using the prophesy to guide the narrative, as he does elsewhere in his gospel.

    You then say – “If you are a big proponent of trying to point our what you and other critics like to cite as ‘discrepancies’ or what you think are apparent ‘contradictions’ you will have to work harder. I am not going to spend all my time answering those because there have more than enough resources that have done that.”

    Response: My point on discrepancies is “what fits the data better”. If you need weird circumstances not mentioned in the text to force out a discrepancy then the fit is poor with the theory that the accounts are based on eye-witnesses. I am not trying some juvenile ‘got-ya’ on each discrepancy I mention. We use the discrepancies as evidence. Some discrepancies fit well with the eye-witness theory and some really don’t.

    So my conclusion is that there is very good evidence in these two instances of the church community generating material that makes Jesus’ life fit the prophecy.

    Cheers, Ed

  6. chab123 October 22, 2014 / 2:59 pm

    Ed,

    You say:

    “Response: Sorry, I’ve used Bible Gateway and looked it up in several translations, in all both the animals have coats on and are ridden. The link you gave was entertaining reading as the hand waving author tried to wriggle out of this. If you need to go to so much effort to get the verse to read what it does not say, then it can be taken as good evidence that Matthew got it wrong due to misunderstanding Zechariah. If your faith position is that Matt must be correct, then the link will satisfy you, but that can not be your stance as an apologist. You have to admit that in this case the text is embarrassing for you and fits well with the theory that Matthew was using the prophesy to guide the narrative, as he does elsewhere in his gospel”

    Response: The link I gave is not hand waiving at all. It provided many possible solutions. It sounds to me like you don’t like it so you just tend to blow it off by saying it is hand waiving. And that was an apologetics link. So yes, it is fine. You can keep trying to hammer this as some sort of major discrepancy and then assume the authors make Jesus fulfill prophecy. Think about it: you actually think because Matthew mentions 2 animals here, that is some discrepancy? Do you really understand the cultural context? To make such a mountain out of that text in Matt 21 is silly. Have you read any commentaries on Matthew? Or, if you must go further again, see Carm’s treatment of the so called discrepancy. http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/isaiah-malachi/were-one-or-two-animals-brought-jesus

    My advice is to do some research and make sure whatever what you call a so called ‘discrepancy’ has been responded to. You would be surprised. the same objections get rehashed decade after decade.

    Also, there are several aspects of the life of Jesus that can’t be explained away:

    The Old Testament explains:
    •The emergence and present existence of Israel
    •Predictive prophecy: (i.e., timing of coming of Messiah (Gen. 49:8-12; Deut. 18:15-18; Dan. 9; Haggai 2); Gen 12:1-3: Forming of Israel will lead to Jewish Messiah who will enable millions of non-Jews to come to know the one true God; manner of Messiah’s death and rejection: (Isa. 52:13-53:2; Psalm 22); divinity of Messiah (Gen. 49:8-12: Dan 7:13-14; Isa. 9:1-9).

    If you want, see my explanation, of each one, see here: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/a-case-for-christian-theism/

    You keep bringing up the issue of eyewitnesses and how the Gospels are not written by eyewitnesses, and all those objections…etc….

    See our section under “eyewitness testimony”… https://chab123.wordpress.com/what-can-we-know-about-jesus-resources-on-the-historical-jesus-and-historicity-of-the-new-testament/

    And don’t confuse direct and indirect autopsy.

    As Bauckham notes, the Greek word for “eyewitness” (autoptai), does not have forensic meaning, and in that sense the English word “eyewitnesses” with its suggestion of a metaphor from the law courts, is a little misleading. The autoptai are simply firsthand observers of those events. Bauckham has followed the work of Samuel Byrskog in arguing that while the Gospels though in some ways are a very distinctive form of historiography, they share broadly in the attitude to eyewitness testimony that was common among historians in the Greco-Roman period. These historians valued above all reports of firsthand experience of the events they recounted. Best of all was for the historian to have been himself a participant in the events (direct autopsy). Failing that (and no historian was present at all the events he need to recount, not least because some would be simultaneous), they sought informants who could speak from firsthand knowledge and whom they could interview (indirect autopsy). This, at least, was historiographic best practice, represented and theorized by such generally admired historians as Thucydides and Polybius. The preference for direct and indirect testimony is an obviously reasonable rule for acquiring the testimony likely to be reasonable. (Pg 479)

    Let me give one small example: So Luke is obviously a case of (indirect autopsy). Does this mean Luke is unreliable? Luke’s Gospel shows displays a variety of historical figures that have been confirmed. For example, Luke gives correct titles for the following officials: Cyprus, proconsul (13:7–8); Thessalonica, politarchs (17:6); Ephesus, temple wardens (19:35); Malta, the first man of the island. Each of these has been confirmed by Roman usage. In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without an error. (see See Geisler, N. L., BECA, pg 431

    In his monumental work called The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, classics scholar Colin Hemer has shown that Luke has also done his work as an historian. There are at least 84 events, customs, people, locations, etc, which have been confirmed by archaeology. Some of them are:

    1. A natural crossing between correctly named ports (13:4–5). Mount Casius, south of Seleucia, stands within sight of Cyprus. The name of the proconsul in 13:7 cannot be confirmed, but the family of the Sergii Pauli is attested.
    2. The proper river port, Perga, for a ship crossing from Cyprus (13:13).
    3. The proper location of Lycaonia (14:6).
    4. The unusual but correct declension of the name Lystra and the correct language spoken in Lystra. Correct identification of the two gods associated with the city, Zeus and Hermes (14:12).
    5. The proper port, Attalia, for returning travelers (14:25).

    If you agree with the minimal facts, then all these objections about prophecy, etc… really should NOT make a huge difference because in the end you hold to 1) Jesus died, 2) his followers think he rose.

    So in the end, you are right back to your subjective vision hypothesis which we went over. But then you say you want evidence but you left me some link that said we can’t possibly think evidence in some written account about a guy rising from the dead is reliable. So I bring this all up because you seem very inconsistent. You don’t think any historical account can be a form of evidence but you want to argue about the historical account as reliable or not reliable? Have you changed your tune and don’t agree with that link? Can history be a reliable form that God has spoken into history somewhere? Which is it?

    So my point is, these discussions are worthless because atheists and theists define evidence differently and one thinks they can set the rules as to what counts as evidence and then say “oh theist, that isn’t evidence!”

    I think in the end, it isn’t about factual evidence with you. It is about you didn’t get your ‘sign’ or ‘experience’ from God. Now you go out and try to act like if you got enough evidence (whatever that is?), you will then go back to God and try it again and look for another experience that confirms you are on track? You say you want evidence. Please tell me what kind of evidence you are looking for. I cover many of these issues in the post “Evidence We Want vs Evidence We Should Expect” https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/a-look-at-evidence-we-want-and-evidence-we-should-expect/

    Keep in mind I am not trying to be snarky. I appreciate you and your journey. Blessings.

  7. Ed Atkinson October 24, 2014 / 7:25 pm

    Hi Chab

    Thanks I appreciate your reply.

    I think you are not targeting your efforts on the issue in hand, and so are needlessly spending time on side issues. The point is whether or not we see evidence in the gospels that narratives or narrative detail were caused by the expectations as Christians considered Messianic prophesy. Your wide website covers all the other issues you are raising, but we need to keep things focussed otherwise we’ll make no progress.

    Your key point is at the start of you response: you need me to justify my claim that the apologeticspress.org link on Matt21 you gave before was just hand waving. I’ll deal with that just below. However, I feel that you have latched onto the idea that I’m claiming “discrepancy!”, and that is the basis of my point. That’s not what I’m saying, (so the CARM link is just not relevant). What I am saying is that Matthew wanted Zechariah’s prophecy to be fulfilled spot-on and he misread the poetry to mean 2 animals. He thus invented a second animal and made Jesus ride both at the same time. The issue is not the discrepancy between one or two animals, a minor point, but Matthew’s mistakes, which reveal his method of “make it fit the prophecy”.

    The relevant link is the apologeticspress.org one, which I claimed is hand waving. Here are their “possible solutions” (a telling phrase), quoting from that link :

    1 “Instead of saying, “He rode one donkey and brought the other with Him,” the writer simply wrote that He rode “them” into Jerusalem. If a horse-owner came home to his wife and informed her that he had just ridden the horses home a few minutes ago from a nearby town, no one would accuse him of literally riding both horses at once. He merely was indicating to his wife that he literally rode one horse home, while the other one trotted alongside or behind him.” My response: This fails because he mis-quotes the text. Jesus did not ride both animals, he sat on them. I checked my interlinear NT (I don’t know NT Greek myself) and the word is sat upon – ‘epi-kathisen’. The solution here uses the way that ‘riding’ a horse can have a wider meaning in some contexts, but that cannot apply because Jesus sat on the ass and the colt.

    2 “A second possible solution to this “problem” is that Jesus did ride both donkeys, but He did so at different times. However unlikely this possibility might seem to some, nothing in Zechariah’s prophecy or the gospel accounts forbids such.” My response: And that is not hand waving?! Again it might just work if the text said Jesus rode them into Jerusalem. But it does not say that, it says Jesus ‘sat upon’ on the animals. Jesus actively sat upon, the word describes the active sitting process (hence the ‘epi-‘) not a passive sat – such as being supported by the seat. So Matthew is describing Jesus mounting both animals at the start of the journey.

    3 This starts with an apparent admission that the solutions thus far are not very good. “Perhaps a more likely answer to the question, “How could Jesus sit ‘on them’ (donkeys) during His march to Jerusalem?,” is that the second “them” of Matthew 21:7 may not be referring to the donkeys at all. ….…. Greek scholar A.T. Robertson believed that the second “them” (Greek αυτων) refers to the garments that the disciples laid on the donkeys, and not to the donkeys themselves…………. If the disciples’ clothes were placed on both donkeys (as Matthew indicated), and then Jesus mounted the colt, one logically could conclude that Jesus sat on the clothes (which were placed upon the colt).” My response: For this to work you have to accept that it might be possible that the 2nd ‘them’ is clothes, when you would never think that unless it was suggested. If I was injured and said “please get that chair, put a cushion on it, and I’ll sit on it” would you think the second ‘it’ was the chair or the cushion? It would be the chair every time. The next difficulty to get over here is that we have to believe that Matthew meant Jesus sat on only some of the garments when he didn’t say that. The two difficulties combine to make this just as implausible.

    4 “One of the fundamental principles of nearly any study or investigation is that of being “innocent until proven guilty.” Any person or historical document is to be presumed internally consistent until it can be shown conclusively that it is contradictory. ………. If we believe the Bible is innocent until proven guilty, then any possible answer should be good enough to nullify the charge of error.” So he is retreating now, knowing the difficulty of the problem. He is now merely defending against someone trying to prove the Bible has errors. I am not playing those games. I am showing how the simplest and best explanation is that Matthew is trying to follow his understanding of Zechariah’s prophecy. I guess the solutions here can pass as just about possible, but that does not help if we are seeking to follow where the evidence leads.

    The apologeticspress.org link also says this: “However, when Matthew’s gospel is taken into account, the elusive female donkey of Zechariah 9:9 is brought to light.” It seems apologeticspress.org does not understand Hebrew poetry, even Zechariah only imagined one donkey:
    https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Major-Characteristics-Hebrew

    The appearance of a second donkey, even without the phrase ‘sat upon them’, is evidence that Matthew is adjusting the account to fit the prophecy better. It could also be said that if there were two animals, the prophecy was not exactly fulfilled because a correct reading of Zechariah says there was just one animal.

    Turning now to some other points in your post of relevance to Messianic prophesies. When I speak of eye witnesses, I use the term as shorthand for what you claim is behind the gospels. I.e. your explanation for the data we are discussing: of Jesus being born in Bethlehem and seeming to ride 2 donkeys.

    We have a misunderstanding where you say: “.. you say you want evidence but you left me some link that said we can’t possibly think evidence in some written account about a guy rising from the dead is reliable. So I bring this all up because you seem very inconsistent. You don’t think any historical account can be a form of evidence but you want to argue about the historical account as reliable or not reliable? Have you changed your tune and don’t agree with that link? Can history be a reliable form that God has spoken into history somewhere? Which is it?”

    My response: What I took from that link (it’s an apologist website) is that a single piece of historical evidence cannot convince a rational person to become a Christian. A case has to be built up. So if the only evidence was good historical accounts of a resurrection, then it would not be sufficient due to the problems with any historical evidence of that antiquity. However, if science, philosophy, etc also gave strong evidence, then good resurrection evidence becomes pretty compelling. My view is that the evidence from science etc points away from theism and the case for the resurrection is not strong. I continue to debate because these are vital issues and I need to test my conclusions by promoting my arguments against someone who believes them to be wrong. I want as much clarity as is possible. That is why evidence is important. I hope that clears up the misunderstanding.

    So where have we got to in our discussion? A) On the Bethlehem birth I have given a careful argument for why OT prophesy is the best explanation for that account, and your last post has not come back on the points I’ve been making there. B) On the ‘2 donkeys’ the evidence points strongly to Matthew being influenced by the OT prophesy.

    I hope I’m keeping to a respectful tone, and I appreciate your respect for me. I didn’t read it as sarky at all.

    All the best

    Ed

    • chab123 October 26, 2014 / 2:51 am

      Ed, I am going to wrap it up here on Matt 21. First a quote:

      “The point is that Jesus was riding a colt never put to this use before. This can be expressed be reducing the parallel phrases to the simple [“colt on an ass” as in John 2:15]….But the chief motive in Matthew’s version is again to draw attention to the freshness of the colt. This time it is done not by abbreviating but by a fuller and more literal rendering of the Hebrew. This is also the reason why Matthew’s narrative mentions the ass in addition to the colt (Matt. 21.2,7). It is a refinement of exegesis, whereby two members of the parallel have been used to say virtually the same thing as Mark 11.2. For it goes without saying that a colt “whereon no man ever sat” has not yet been parted from its mother. This is thus not the case of ignorantly misunderstanding the nature of Hebraic parallelism, but a way of correlating the text more closely to the facts for the sake of greater cogency”—B Lindars, New Testament Apologetic: The Doctrinal Significance of the Old Testament Quotations: London: SCM, 1961, 113: Cited in Richard Longeneckers Biblical Exegesis In The Apostolic Period, pg 132.

      Second, both Rashi (who is of the big names in the history of Jewish thought) and b. Sanhedrian 98a saw Zech 9:9-10 as a messianic text/prophecy. So my point is that those outside the NT saw the text as pointing to the Messiah.

      I can’t do much else for ya here. There are plenty of messianic texts that find their fulfillment in Jesus.
      Now you have answered my question and said that science is what gives us evidence . I figured you would say this given 98.9 atheists say this. But let me respond to this since I have done so on hundreds of other occasions.

      What is science? “Science the attempted objective study of the natural world/natural phenomena whose theories and explanations do not normally depart from the natural realm.” (Del Ratzsch, Philosophy of Science (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 15.

      Now Is God natural or non natural? Is God a physical object? How would science ‘prove’ or provide evidence against the non-existence of God? Science operates on induction (A posteriori knowledge which is dependent on experience or empirical evidence ).The inductive method entails searching out things in the world and drawing generalized conclusions about those things based on observation. The only way one can say a thing does not exist is by using a deductive method (A priori knowledge which is independent of experience).

      Scientism ends up committing the reductive fallacy by taking one area of study and reduces all reality to this one area alone. Furthermore, for those that assert that all truth claims must be scientifically verifiable end up making a philosophical assumption rather than a scientific statement.
      Science used to be the search for both natural and non natural causes.

      Some of the scientists (although some were deistic) who believed that God was the Primary cause of the universe were: Johann Kepler (1571–1630), celestial mechanics, physical astronomy Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), hydrostatics Robert Boyle (1627–1691), chemistry, gas dynamics Nicholas Steno (1638–1687), stratigraphy Isaac Newton (1642–1727), calculus, dynamics Michael Faraday (1791–1867), field theory Charles Babbage (1792–1871), computer science Louis Agassiz (1807–1873), glacial geology, ichthyology James Simpson (1811–1870), gynecology Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), genetics Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), bacteriology William Kelvin (1824–1907), energetics, thermodynamics Joseph Lister (1827–1912), antiseptic surgery James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), electrodynamics, statistical thermodynamics William Ramsay (1852–1916), isotopic chemistry.

      When science shifted and the search became for natural causes alone, we now have metaphysical naturalism as not a discovery of science. It must always be viewed as a presupposition of science as presently practiced. So when the rules are rigged by philosophy, that will determine what we can know and can’t know in the sciences. Notice I say ‘sciences.’ That’s because there are different branches of science- biology, physics, cosmology, etc… and none of them has yet to be able to show God exists or not. And they never will.

      I am sure you know human beings habitually understand themselves as agents. Agents have goals (things they desire), and produce behavior which they believe will achieve those goals. They plan ahead and show intentional design and purpose. Does the universe have a goal or purpose? Is the universe set up to allow for scientific discovery? It is set up for life to get going on earth? I could go on and on. Don’t confuse agency and mechanism. You are assuming nature as a mechanism can do it all. Why do you think a guy like Paul Davies (a deist and a physicist) said this:

      “Science may explain the world, but we still have to explain science. The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly to me that the purpose includes us” –Paul Davies, Superforce (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), 243

      And the Davies quote is similar to what I said when I left this info from Who Made God: Searching For A Theory Of Everything? by Edgar Andrews :

      It is important to understand that science can explain nothing except in terms of the laws of nature. Science works by first discovering (by observation) laws that describe the workings of nature and then using this knowledge to seek out further explanations — beginning with hypotheses and then confirming these hypotheses by various tests, the chief of which must always be repeatable experimental verification. To offer a scientific explanation of anything one must always appeal to existing laws (or at very least plausible hypotheses). No laws, no science; it’s as simple as that. To explain the origin of the universe scientifically, therefore, requires an appeal to laws of nature (established or hypothesized) that pre-existed the universe. But laws of nature are nothing more than descriptions of the way nature operates. No one has ever proposed a law of nature that does not involve existing natural entities, whether they be matter, energy, space-time or mathematical systems. (Note that mathematics are arguably philosophical rather than scientific in character and are only scientifically relevant when applied to natural realities — that is, the world as it exists). This creates a dilemma; the laws of nature cannot exist without nature itself existing but the origin of nature cannot be explained scientifically without pre-existing laws. The logical conclusion is that science cannot, by its very nature, explain the origin of the universe.

      Feel free to read some of the Christians who have written on science such as The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry: by Dr. Fazale. Rana, or John Lennox’s Has Science Buried God? There are plenty out there. Yes, I can make a cumulative case argument for theism before the resurrection. For starters, you will have a tough time grounding the laws of logic (which you need in order to look at evidence), or reason itself on naturalism. In the end, the debate over God is more about philosophy than anything else.

      That will be it on this thread. You can have the last word.

  8. Ed Atkinson October 26, 2014 / 9:48 am

    Thanks Chab

    I am happy to tidy up and finish off. I have appreciated the discussion.

    You do have a wonderful knack of misunderstanding me and flying off with it! In this instance when I was putting historical evidence for the resurrection in context I said “However, if science, philosophy, etc also gave strong evidence, then ….”, and next sentence “….the evidence from science etc points….”. So it is clear that I use science within my assessment, but I also use philosophy and that these are in a longer list that need not be spelt out. You respond by giving me heaps of material on why narrowing the evidence to just science is a fallacy. You finally conclude “In the end, the debate over God is more about philosophy than anything else.” Well, yes, I was already saying that philosophy is important. (I am reading John Lennox’s Has Science Buried God?, so don’t worry).

    Back to Matt21. Firstly your B Lindars quote. What he is arguing is that John and Mark also indicate both animals were present. Whether or not Lindars succeeds is debateable, but the key point is not addressed: why does Matthew say Jesus was riding both animals?

    Finally you say “Second, both Rashi (who is of the big names in the history of Jewish thought) and b. Sanhedrian 98a saw Zech 9:9-10 as a messianic text/prophecy. So my point is that those outside the NT saw the text as pointing to the Messiah.” Yes, excellent, it shows why Matthew (who is writing to such people) is so keen to get the narrative to fit the Zech text.

    You’ve kindly left me with the last word. I’ve been showing how Mt21’s 2 donkeys and the identification of Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace and 2 examples of the narrative in the gospels being generated by the prophecy. I have given evidence for each.

    On Mt21 I show how Matthew made the mistake to have Jesus sitting on 2 animals, you linked to material that gives various ‘solutions’ to Jesus sitting on 2 animals, I explained how they all fail comprehensively. In your last post you did not seek to challenge that, so all I can conclude is that my point prevails: there is good evidence that Matthew’s details were generated by the prophecy.

    On Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace, I gave my evidence several posts ago and have noted before that you have not responded, and you still don’t, so again all I can conclude is that my point prevails.

    Thanks for the discussion, all the best, Ed

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