bdrex: Jesus did not fulfill the most important prophecy. Isaiah and every other Jewish prophet predicted a messiah, an inspired man. Defining Jesus as a god, or The God was completely alien to Jews.
If you want to credit the Jews with predicting Jesus you must also acknowledge they were completely and utterly wrong about the most important part of the predictions, for they expected a man.
But because they were so accurate with all, the 300 plus, predictions maybe they were correct after all, and Paul was wrong.
The 300 prophecies is simple the mythmakers simply used the old testament to create their books. Easy peasy.
OSC: Thanks for getting in touch, Rex. I don’t think however that first century Jewish expectations can upend the kinds of prophesy that Jesus fulfilled. For example, Jesus was man, that’s classical Christian theology, so if we were to insist how the messiah has to be a man, Jesus certainly fulfilled that. They expected a man and as expected they received a man. Remember they also expected God to visit His temple and were hoping on a messianic visit during a certain time period (which again Jesus fulfilled).
I believe defining Jesus as “a god” is unchristian and more suited to the cult of Jehovah’s witnesses than historic Christianity. Jesus is God, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and Ending. Your claim about writers cheating us on the history is dislodged however, it’s dislodged if we have prophecies which are both historically provable and beyond the control of either Christ or the writers of the New Testament. All we need now is the criteria by which we judge and some historic material to compare with our earlier prophecy.
bdrex: I’m confused, are you saying jesus was only a man or supporting a trinitarian view? And where, biblically, is it said the Jews expected God to visit the temple? Historically provable? Okay, prove it. I apologize for my bluntness, I’m very sceptical. I’ve read the supposed proofs and I really don’t think the Jesus of scripture ever existed.
When I read Josephus I was bored silly, ben this ben that (son of) and then came the Jesus proclamation. Even I could recognize the complete change in writing style. And early Christians often argued with pagans and they quoted Josephus at times but never did the early christians quote the affirmation statement in Josephus now. Because it wasn’t there.
OSC: I’m sharing classical Christian theology, Rex. So, God being Triune, Christ as incarnate deity, everything that’s common to the majority of denominations. It being the standard Christian answer for many many centuries should keep confusion to a minimum. Classically it’s explained how Jesus is truly man and truly God. For which Jesus could teach things like He’s Alpha & Omega. This would mean your initial criticism wasn’t accurate. Jewish expectations varied wildly and shouldn’t be confused for scriptural prophecy. Ideas like two messiahs and others were sometimes in total contradiction with one another, due to which these expectations can’t be used by people to restrain God’s behaviour in history. Scriptural prophecy versus cultural expectation informed by scripture (often falsely informed) ought to be distinguished.
Malachi chapters two & three would be an answer to your question on whether Jewish believers had an expectation of God making an appearance (specifically an appearance in the temple). Beginning in verse seventeen:
You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”
I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
By proving something historically I didn’t mean to refer to glibly proof texting historians outside of the Bible, for which critics of Josephus can enjoy an early Sabbath. Rather historically provable means just that, proven to the satisfaction of the historians by the discipline of the historians.
Historically people used criteria so to judge whether any given event recorded truly happened. Some benchmarks would be dissimilarity, congruence, early attestation, embarrassment, not to forget traces of first century Palestinian Milieu (with regards to the biblical material).
Events like Jesus’ baptism, His being murdered by crucifixion and His inability to do miracles upon returning home are considered serious historical events proven to the satisfaction of historians. Yet that’s also applicable to the subject of biblical prophecy.
Jesus being buried “in a rich man’s tomb” for example (Isaiah 53), that’s not something just believed based upon blind faith, instead because Christ being honourably buried by the hand of a member of the hated Sanhedrin was so anathema to the readers historians consider it not serving (even contradicting) the early evangelists’ purposes.
Just so long as people can date prophecy as having been made before Jesus lived, in addition to confirming events historically, I’m of the opinion that believers can comfortably affirm Jewish prophecy of Jesus as Christ.
Finally, wouldn’t you agree it’s logically invalid arguing from silence in an attempt at denying some quotation from Josephus was written by their own hand/written at some certain time? People not quoting you doesn’t mean you haven’t been writing in 2018.
Similarly something being edited doesn’t mean any quotation’s been composed wholesale. Josephus also composed clearly unedited material on the subject of the stoning of Jesus’ brother James and the baptiser John. Nevertheless, it’s not related to my earlier message. Just some thoughts which are shared by our less polemical friends in scholarship.
Sending my best wishes.
Finally, wouldn’t you agree it’s logically invalid arguing from silence in an attempt at denying some quotation from Josephus was written by their own hand/written at some certain time?
Many people were denying the existence of Jesus and Christians argued with them. Josephus was the preeminent historian of 1st century. The best evidence outside the Biblical books was Josephus if the quote existed. Martyrs, including Justin Martyr, would surely have quoted josephus.
Look at your own post you quote old testament prophecy to validate your point. If a prophecy said his name will be Jesus and he will die for sins of the people on a cross, would you not have quoted it?
OSC: I’d appreciate sources on the supposed early persons and groups who denied Jesus’ very existence. The earliest listed proponents of the Jesus myth theory are Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Charles François Dupuis (1742–1809), Constantin-François Volney (1757–1820). With the most famous modern advocate of the viewpoint in the popular sphere being Richard Carrier.
The most obvious issue which myself and mainstream scholarship have with your question is that it’s an exercise in psychology upon people who’ve been dead for around nineteen hundred years. Variables ranging from the disintegration of treaties scribed upon perishable papyri to the personal (private) thought life of an author would render an argument from silence, arguments which are already universally panned as weak, thoroughly useless.
“Myth making” isn’t an appropriate accusation against people who have simply recorded an assortment of events (many of which are historically verifiable events), whereas the charge is totally warranted against persons who’re judging what ought to be private intentions and have composed further thou shalt behaviours for the ancients. You can appreciate how that’s an awfully fanciful style by which to judge the history of people. “If I’d done it” is an O. J. Simpson cash grab, not a scholastic method.
When you share how “the best evidence for Jesus outside of the Biblical books was Josephus”, I do appreciate how that’s your perspective, however using Josephus’ material would be an argument in the first and second centuries for? Certainly not for the existence of Jesus as I haven’t found anybody arguing against Him being historic. Afterwards you’ve shared how:
If a prophecy said his name will be Jesus and he will die for sins of the people on a cross, would you not have quoted it?
My problem with your above point is that it’s an inaccurate description of the writings of Josephus. Roman histories which could only be written in retrospect can’t be categorized as prophetic, furthermore if we were to mistakenly believe they’re prophetic in nature, prophecy isn’t a particularly good argument for making known the historicity of any given person (an objection I’ve yet to find being made in the literature).
In reply I’ve used my Bible because you requested very specific information. Remember you wanted “biblical” evidence for Jewish expectations, and having the very info you wanted I’ve shared. So I’ve quoted OT prophecy not merely for the sakes of validating my point, although that’s certainly happened.
Jewish believers had an expectation of God visiting “His temple”, obviously it’s an inappropriate idea describing the second temple as belonging to a merely human Messiah/some other prophets, in addition to the continued theme of God being as refining fire (meaning chapters two and three can be about none other).
Jesus came when prophecy demanded He come, preformed signs, wonders and knew God “face to face” as scripture exclaimed messiah would, He visited His temple, and died how prophets prophesied He would die, rising again upon the third day in accordance with the scriptures. That’s extraordinary, Rex.
Sending you blessings my friend.
bdrex: One of the first proponents of a triune christ was Irenaeus (against heresies). He attacks the gnostics who proclaim to be cosmic Christ followers and reject the worldly Jesus as myth, a representation. The gnostics were widespread and numerous. Even Paul acknowledges this. I think since my source is Paul i am on firm ground. Irenaeus says the gnostics are but one group denying jesus, existence. Irenaeus was writing about 150ad, long before thomas Paine. Here is 1 quote in Heresies:
He has also laid it down as a truth, that the Saviour was without birth, without body, and without figure, but was, by supposition, a visible man; and he maintained that the God of the Jews was one of the angels; and, on this account, because all the powers wished to ….
Check out my Good Reads section at my site and you will see what I read and where my info comes from.
OSC: Denying the mode which Jesus took upon His appearances isn’t to be confused with the position of modern Jesus mythicists. Conflating the two is deep equivocation. Mythicists argue Jesus’ entire ministry, miracles & existence are literary devices used to spread Christian beliefs. Gnostics (rather their beliefs as described by non gnostic polemics) weren’t arguing for the inexistence of Jesus. Their entire argument (an argument they didn’t appear to have argued consistently) was to insist Jesus, having came already, hadn’t come bodily. Remember from 1 John 4: 2 “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,”
Gnostic beliefs argued that Jesus came (albeit not in the flesh). Manipulating arguments against certain degrees of bodily incarnation into supposed arguments about non-existence isn’t appropriate. Gnostic believers weren’t Jesus mythers and Jesus mythers aren’t gnostic.
Unfortunately the beliefs of thoroughly esoteric groups such as the gnostics aren’t available. Even your own example had to be drawn from an enemy polemic composed for the express purpose of discrediting their faith. Using hostile sources in an attempt at discovering the original views of any particular group isn’t comfortable scholarship. Albeit everything that’s made it to us discredits these theories and the equivocation whereby they’ve been framed.
Wouldn’t your own argument, an argument from silence to do with competing versions of Josephus’ quote, become totally useless just as long as people have gnostic beliefs as their focus. Against heresies explained appearances of the miraculous accompanied Jesus’ ministry according to the gnostic perspective:
But the father without birth and without name, perceiving that they would be destroyed, sent his own first-begotten Nous (he it is who is called Christ) to bestow deliverance on them that believe in him, from the power of those who made the world. He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and wrought miracles.
How would Christians quoting from Josephus upend gnostic views which already presupposed a very real Jesus having transfigured into various forms (real honest to goodness forms). How does the argument function. Not only would your argument be an exercise in psychology upon people who’ve expired around nineteen hundred years ago, and not only would your argument be from silence, it’s also grounded in using a polemical source as if it were a faithful interpretation of the original view (in addition to being ineffective if articulated accurately).
Writing “Aha, gnostics! Josephus wrote about Jesus!” wouldn’t have dislodged or even gone so far as to discomfort their views, as they already believed that Jesus had transfigured in various forms (as explained in the material you’ve already shared):
Wherefore he [Jesus] did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them.
Believing not only that Jesus exists, but that he transfigured himself into Simon (and/or “recieved” Simon) is a far cry from Jesus deniers. Conflating and equivocating can’t make their deeply esoteric views into something they clearly aren’t. In short, to deny the mode is not to deny the reality.
Do nonexistent persons “appear”, “stand by”, “laugh” and be “transfigured” into others? Obviously they don’t. The polemical work Against heresies continued not by shedding greater light but by the sword of lopping off a few gnostic heads (owing to their own internal inconsistencies):
Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world; so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world.
The writer ends by describing an actual gnostic argument, and where various writers have cherry picked to bolster their own mythistist status:
Salvation belongs to the soul alone [there’s no salvation of the body], for the body is by nature subject to corruption.
That’s gnostic argument if ever it’s survived! An argument against human bodies and materialism as evil shouldn’t be framed as denying Jesus (that’s dishonest). Nonetheless against heresies itself shares how esoteric and fluid supposed gnostic viewpoints really were:
They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.
Now, when you shared “Paul acknowledges” your perspective, due to which you’re upon “firm ground”, firm in what sense of the word? Since you have already accused Paul and other early New Testament writers of being “mythmakers.” Myth makers aren’t reliable. Again you’re sharing “Irenaeus says the gnostics are but one group denying jesus, existence”, however because you have confused debate over mode as denial of reality (in addition to the mystery groups not being specified in the above polemic) you’re arguing from zero. Zero ancient groups and zero ancient sources have questioned Jesus’ existence.
As ever I’ve enjoyed writing and interacting with this material. Looking forward to a reply.
OSC: Briefly closing (as I’ve found some free time for our fruitful discussion), Irenaeus explained how gnostics had to be refuted not for denying that Jesus exists, but for denying the form of God, His substance (which is an attack upon both the plan of salvation & Jesus Christ as God). This is where the real debate can be found if anywhere:
Thus, then, have all these men been exposed, who bring in impious doctrines regarding our Maker and Framer, who also formed this world, and above whom there is no other God; and those have been overthrown by their own arguments who teach falsehoods regarding the substance of our Lord, and the dispensation which He fulfilled for the sake of His own creature man.
― Tyrone Cormack