Messianic Prophecies- The Case for Jesus (Part 4)

awaypoint-nativity-sceneEnjoy the Podcast

https://anchor.fm/skeptics-and-seekers/episodes/Episode-24-Messianic-Prophecies–The-Case-for-Jesus-Part-4-e2p83d

 

With Part 4 in our series on Messianic Prophecies and my “Jesus or Bust” circumstantial argument, we will focus on the timing of the Messiah’s mission- there are a few prophecies that speak of when the Messiah had to come, either to fulfill his mission in full or at least in part; the upper time-bound for this to occur came with the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D.!

Establishing the Argument- Jesus or Bust Part 4

Daniel 9

Daniel 9:24-27 is another famous Messianic prophecies in Scripture that Christians like to claim can prove the precise year the Messiah would come (funnily enough there are ways to get it to 30 A.D. or 33 A.D. depending on which date you prefer for Jesus’ crucifixion).  It says,

“Seventy aweeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to bfinish the transgression, to cmake an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and dprophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a edecree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until fMessiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with gplaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the hMessiah will be cut off and have inothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And jits end will come with a flood; even to the end kthere will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of labominations will come one who mmakes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who nmakes desolate.” (NASB).

Now, let me be clear, I have no interest in getting bogged down with intricate and complicated details about the prophecy that are ultimately irrelevant to my establishing the undeniable fact (or at least uncontroversial fact to avoid any false charges of my being too arrogant here) that the Messiah would have to come before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. and fulfill certain elements of his mission, either in full or in part (for example whether the text speaks of two anointed ones or Messiahs- I’m good either way).

Now, when was the prophecy supposed to begin (the terminus a quo of the prophecy)?  We have a total of 5 different options (see Brown Vol. 3 p.106-107), but what is undeniable is that the counting of the 490 year period begins with “the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (and by implication its destroyed Temple).  The prophecy very clearly speaks of certain things that will be accomplished (in full or in part) within that period of time which will culminate in the Messiah being cut off (meaning death in Hebrew idiom) and the destruction of the Second Temple thereby putting an end to sacrifice.  One interesting note is that there is an authoritative ancient Jewish tradition that all modern Orthodox Jews accept that says 40 years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. that the scarlet cloth hung in the Temple each year on Yom Kippur which would turn white if their saccrfice was accepted by God, all of a sudden stayed red meaning their sins were not forgiven according to this tradition.  Yet every single year for a period of 40 years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple it stayed red meaning their sins were not forgiven- interesting!  What event could have happened in and around 30 A.D. that would mean their sacrifices would be rejected by God?

Haggai 2

For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more hin a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 7 I will shake all the nations; and ithey will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9- NASB).

This prophecy tells us that the “glory” of the Second Temple will be greater than the former house (First Temple of Solomon), but this is not a reference to physical splendor but to the divine presence of the Shekinah which filled the Tabernacle and former Temple.  How could peace be appointed by God in the Second Temple.  Christians can easily explain this, the glory of the Second Temple was greater than the First, because God Himself entered the Temple in the form of God the Son (i.e. Jesus).  What other Jewish Messianic candidate from before the destruction of the Second Temple claimed to have fulfilled this prophecy in terms of God filling it with even greater glory than the First Temple’s glory which had the Shekinah (or divine presence within it and was notably missing in the 2nd Temple according to the Jewish people themselves- both ancient and modern Jews say this much about the 2nd Temple).

Well, I can only think of one; Jesus Christ as God Incarnate entered the Temple complex and thereby glorified it to a much greater degree than the former Temple!

Overall Conclusion- Messianic Prophecy Circumstantial Argument

In the end, when all is said and done, I still think that I have a ways to go in order to establish this argument as being a “G-Belief Authenticating Event”.  I hope you have enjoyed the series as I was trying to be bold enough to break the deadlock and break new ground on a new angle to approach the evidence from Messianic prophecies rather than studying from the tired and tested methods that have been employed by others in the past.  It’s always risky to try and think up something new for people to consider and as it must be admitted that several components or criteria for my argument from Jesus or bust in terms of it constituting a G-Belief Authenticating Event have simply had to be overlooked in this series due to the inherent limitations of blogs/Podcasts but I do believe I have established enough to show there is perhaps a foundational structure present in this type of nuanced argument using Messianic Prophecies as evidence, one by which others might invest some time to more fully flesh it out and dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.

I think what has been established here, is that there are certain things we can know about the Jewish Messiah and his mission based on the prophecies presented thus far in this series and that so far as we have seen based on David’s critiques, no other claimant who came on the scene before the destruction of the Second Temple can boast to having such “known unfalsified claims” in fulfilling them; thus it does seem like the circumstantial case that we do indeed have a situation where it is “Jesus or bust” with regard to the Jewish Messiah.

Messianic Qualifications Discussed in Parts #1-4 (As I see it)

1) CONFIRMED: A Jewish descendant in the line of King David (Micah 5:2).

2) CONFIRMED: Born of a young woman of marriageable age (possibly also a virgin) (Isaiah 7:14).

3) CONFIRMED: Their birth would serve either as a “momentous” (non-mundane yet natural) and/or “supernatural” sign for the House of David/Israel that God is with them (Immanuel = “God with us”) (Isaiah 7:14).

  1. POSSIBLE:  The Messiah would possibly be born in Bethlehem and/or at least be said to “come out of” Bethlehem- the latter interpretation is tantamount to saying he would be a descendant of David though, so not persuasive but yet possible if the former Christian understanding is correct) (Micah 5:2).
  2. POSSIBLE:  The Messiah would have his origins in the days of olam – meaning the days of “eternity”.  This hints at the Messiah’s possible divinity and/or pre-existence (prior to the birth of King David himself) (Micah 5:2).
  3. CONFIRMED:  The Messiah would establish a new covenant with Israel not like the covenant that He made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, instead this time He will put His law within them and write it on their hearts.  A covenant whereby He would forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more- (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
  4. CONFIRMED (PARTIALLY PENDING ASSESSMENT IN PART 3):  The Messiah would not just come for the people of Israel but would also be a “light to the Gentiles” and would bring about “salvation to the ends of the Earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
  5. CONFIRMED:  The Messiah would be “pierced” (i.e. slain perhaps via crucifixion), and the Jews will mourn over Him (implying a Resurrection) before He would come back to save Israel from its enemies (Zechariah 12:10).
  6. CONFIRMED: The Messiah (aka the Suffering Servant) would suffer and die for the iniquities of us all, make his grave with the wicked and be buried with the rich and then rise from the dead (Isaiah 52:13-53).  None of the counter falsification elements provided by David against this prophecy referring to Jesus have been convincingly argued on a balance of probabilities (imo).
  7. CONFIRMED:  The Messiah had to come and fulfill his mission (either in full or in part) before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D.; and as a possible bonus, God would also glorify this Temple in a greater way than the First Temple via His own divine presence in the form of God the Son (aka. the Messiah) entering its precincts (Daniel 9 & Haggai 2).

RECOMMENDED SOURCES

PRO- CHRISTIAN SIDE-  Michael L. Brown on Daniel 9 (2 30 min videos) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf1f10pPcao & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5efUqXI33w .  The greater glory in the 2nd Temple (Haggai 2 and Malachi 3) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?timecontinue=680&v=MwNklvcpK4U .

Plus an excellent 3-hour discussion on Messianic Prophecy from Dr. Michael L Brown with a Q&A from skeptical and other Christian experts like Sam Shamoun see here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAnY1ULEWc .

Also, for a list of all the Jewish objections to Jesus from his 5 volume book series on “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus”- ranging from General & Historical Objections, Theological Objection, Messianic Prophecy Objections to New Testament and Traditional Jewish objections- this link has video resources for every objection Jewish people have ever come up with against Jesus Christ and Christianity, see here = http://realmessiah.com/index.php/en/answers .

OR 13 MIN MARK = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0mOdiBISU & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hESNdHdYGbU .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY3yRdYt20o (THE PSALMS SO NOT DANIEL- BONUS???).

CONTRA-CHRISTIAN SIDE– See Rabbi Tovia Singer 1 hour audio on Daniel 9 = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjV4XSpUXWY .

Also short 10 minute video on Malachi 3 and Haggai 2 = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjV4XSpUXWY .

Appendix

Now, as some of you skeptics have complained about my displaying a certain boastfulness or lack of humility in presenting these prophecies- a charge that honestly baffles me given how careful I have been to qualify my case in the Podcasts, nonetheless to show my acknowledgement of the fact that interpreting Messianic prophesies is not a simple or uncomplicated matter in general, I wanted to provide Dr. Michael L. Brown’s presentation of 7 basic principles of Messianic prophetic interpretation that, while they may appear obvious or simple, have taken the better part of 2 decades to develop and therefore deserve to be considered and not dismissed by skeptics and Christians alike.

Prophetic Principles

  1. Messianic prophecies are never clearly identified as such in the Bible.
  2. The Messianic hope in Israel developed gradually (not fully formed in an immediately recognizable form as Jews believe in today).
  3. Most biblical prophecies in general are fulfilled gradually in this way as well.
  4. The prophets falsely saw the Messiah as coming on the immediate horizon of history (issue of prophetic telescoping).
  5. It is important to read Messianic prophecies (as with every prophecy in general) in light of its overall context.
  6. The Messiah’s role is two-fold- both a Priest and a King- ignoring one to focus on the other is always a mistake (as the Jews who focus exclusively on his Kingly function while ignoring the Priestly function altogether).
  7. The Messiah is the ideal representative of the Jewish people (i.e. the nation of Israel) and fulfills its purpose when it fails to do so.

With these basic principles combined, you will be able to properly wade through many of the varying interpretations offered by Jews and skeptics alike and see the truth behind the curtain- Jesus is our Messiah!

Other Messiahs (Skeptic’s View)

There are a number of questions we have to answer to utterly defeat Dale’s case. He has had most of four weeks to make it. So forgive me if I don’t cover every point, or even most of them. I will spend most of my efforts making my own case. much of my case will be fleshed out in the links and sources.

There is a lot of terribly boring reading. I don’t necessarily recommend it. But if you really care, dive in. I will try to make the case simple enough so that the reading is unnecessary. You can get there from common knowledge and logic. Here we go.

Timing is not an issue

Dale’s big finale is that this messiah must appear before the destruction of the temple. That means that the messiah could not be referring to someone from the future. But we know that there must be some future aspect to the messiah because the fulfillment of the prophecies have not come. So in effect, we are still waiting for the messiah.

The best Dale can say is that some messiah figure got things started at some point before the second temple. But he cannot rule out the idea that another messiah figure will come along and actually fulfill the rest of the prophecies.

The two messiah theory makes hash of Dale’s case. That is because Dale suggests that the messiah is Jesus or no one. But the two messiah theory requires there be someone besides Jesus. Even if Jesus is one of them, someone else would have to be the other. So Dale has to argue that the two messiah theory is completely wrong. And he can’t do it.

There is also the aspect that Jesus came as the first messiah, and will reprise his messianic role at a later date since he rose from the dead. But every other dead messiah candidate could also rise from the dead and reprise their role and fulfill the rest of the prophecies. So again, there is nothing specific to Jesus with regard to these claims.

While I utterly reject Dale’s timing argument for reasons I don’t have time to get into, I will limit my search for other messiahs to roughly the timeframe Dale provides. My job is still trivially easy. I can give you at least one is is said to have risen from the dead.

Jewish acceptance of messiah candidates

Dale would have you believe that only Christians rightly dividing scripture are qualified to say who is or is not a Jewish messiah. What the Christian rejects is the right of the Jew to say who meets the criteria, or even what that criteria happens to be.

I do not pretend that i can determine who the messiah has to be because I am not a Jewish rabbi. And I am far from an expert on Jewish prophecy. There are many aspects in play. And I am the master of none of them. Here is some of what I mean:

  1. I do not know ancient Hebrew. And even knowing ancient Hebrew would not make me an expert of Hebrew prophetic literature.
  2. I am not an expert of Hebrew apocalyptic imagery.
  3. I am not an expert of Hebrew numerology.
  4. I am not an expert in Hebrew orthodoxy.
  5. I am not an expert in Hebrew hermeneutics.

Let’s take a look at that last one for a moment. It is almost certain that ancient Jews interpreted their scriptures by different rules than modern Christians. One of the ways Christians interpret Jewish scripture is to suggest that all of the writings on a subject have to be considered rather than just one or two.

We tend to make a list of every messianic passage, and list all of the attributes associated with the messaging. Then we look for one person that fulfills the entire list. I am pretty sure that is not how most Jews did the job. They might look at one prophecy. And if a person meets that criteria, they can be a messianic candidate.

The Christian also assumes that all prophets were on the same page and describing the same thing at all times. The Jew would not necessarily have made that assumption. As a reader of biblical literature, I certainly don’t. There is no reason to believe that Isaiah and Daniel had the same idea of who and what the messiah was supposed to be. So there is no reason to conflate their visions to create one person.

The Christian also makes the assumption that the messiah is one person. But the Jew does not. They might say there have been many messiahs over the years, with more to come. So ancient Jews had many reasons why they wouldn’t have accepted Jesus, but would have accepted many others as messiah. So we must take into consideration who the Jews considered as messianic candidates.

One more point before continuing: We assume we know what was actually messianic prophecy. A thing is not a messianic prophecy just because some Christians say it is. Jews include a lot of passages they call messianic that Christians do not. So even identifying what is or is not messianic prophecy is far from a done deal. Moving on…

Simon of Peraea and Judah

https://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Religion/689744-1051562-yiwuw8/index.html

Simon was a slave of herod that took the crown after Herod’s death and gained many followers. Judah was also named a messiah. I only mention him because he taught much of the same message as Jesus before Jesus.

The interesting bit about Simon is that he was said to have risen from the dead after three days. This claim has been disputed. But the idea of a savior rising after three days was not original to Jesus. Simon had many followers who were crucified after they failed to overthrow Rome. This is the typical fate of all failed messiahs.

Simon bar Kokhba

While there is much written about bar Kokhba, the more interesting character might well be Rabbi Akiva: bar Kokhba’s John the Baptist. Akiva was known for many things. But he is perhaps best known as the father of modern rabbinic Judaism.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/rabbi-akiba/

He cannot be passed over or hand-waived away as some kook with little knowledge of real Judaism, or what messianic expectations were all about. He did not see Jesus as a candidate. But he did see bar Kokhba as the messiah. The fact that he turned out to be wrong was irrelevant. The only point I need make is that bar Kokhba was candidate enough to convince people who knew the law the best.

It is not my intention to argue who the messiah was, or is, or may be in the future. I am simply arguing that credible, authoritative Jewish leaders near the time of Jesus found a number of candidates that met the Jewish criteria.

This is an important point: The Christian criteria fo the Jewish messiah is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the criteria that was relevant for Jews awaiting a messiah. From their perspective and understanding of Hebrew scriptures, Jesus didn’t qualify. And other people did. That is a problem Christians have to wrestle with if they want to claim that the only person who could be the messiah is one of the few people the Jews disqualified at that time.

Expanding the Timeline

The following video is the only thing you need to watch if you want to get your mind around just how complicated this issue is. This is rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism. It is a 2 hour adventure through the 70 weeks passage in Daniel from the perspective of a Jewish Rabbi who is actually a Jew. If you don’t have a lot of time, skip to 1:40.00 and watch the last 13 minutes.

Not only does the video explain why Jesus cannot be the messiah, but why the messiah has to come after the destruction of the temple and not before. I have deep-dived into all of this, hopefully for the last time. And I have no intention of attempting to explicate the 70 weeks anymore than I would waste time trying to decipher any part of Revelation. Daniel 9 is of the same caliber as the fever dreams of Revelation. And you should not waste your time on it either.

What I can say is that Rabbi Skobac makes a lot of sense. Having talked to Dale behind the scenes about this, Dale assures me that Skobac is just wrong. Great! I declare Dale wrong. That gets us nowhere. Remember, I’m not trying to prove any particular theory. It serves me to have lots of competing theories where everyone declares everyone else wrong.

I only need to pose a possible, plausible theory that offers a different timeline opening up the possibility that the messiah Dale is looking for can be still in the future. This is in line with past and current Jewish thinking, and in keeping with Jewish scripture when rightly divided (at least from a Jewish perspective).

For Dale’s unique take to be correct, he must prove that all other theories are wrong. Needless to say, he cannot do that. We could devote the entire resources of this blog debating Jewish prophecy and religious relics like the shroud until the messiah comes, or returns. And we still would not make any headway.

This is my last word on the matter. We are officially closing the kook files.

And that is the view from the skeptic.

David Johnson

Resources

I have many more sources. But this is one of those occasions when I just don’t want you to waste you time on them. None of them prove anything. None of them represent the final authority. They just add to the endless noise of scholars wasting their lives debating things that cannot be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. I am don’e with soothsayers and crystal balls for a while.

 

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37 thoughts on “Messianic Prophecies- The Case for Jesus (Part 4)

  1. Just a clarification- the Resurrection is part of the book end as well- hence why the absence of explicit mention in Mark requires an explanation (which it has been discussed by Christian scholars). But the baptism is the starting book end.

    There were a couple other areas where I said things wrong here, but not essentially important stuff and so too lazy to correct them, just know I am aware of them.

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  2. Excited for the proposed format changes. It’ll be nice to take a break from the shroud, as well as do more “bottle” episodes that don’t drag on for multiple weeks. The multi-part ones make critique/pushback difficult as the scope each week is too narrow and inevitably, the answers become “we haven’t gotten to that yet”.

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    1. “I plan on doing a series on the coherence of Theism in the near future for example”

      That sounds like a fairly big undertaking. Is there a specific theism you are going to focus on? Or just theism in general?

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      1. Sounds cool. Once you get done with the coherence of theism, are you going to try doing the accuracy of theism?

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        1. Cool. So step 1 will be making your case for the coherence of theism, step 2 will be giving one (or more) of the arguments, and then step 3 will be showing the accuracy of the claims being made in the coherency and argument parts? You might want to start off step 0 with the tools you will be using to verify the coherence and accuracy claims.

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          1. Well I see step 2 and 3 as being one and the same actually- since I will present the argument and try to justify it (if that is what you mean by showing the accuracy of them). Understand though, you already know Step 0 for me for some premises will be based on modal intuitions/properly basic beliefs as to what is logically possible or not- so already know from our convo that you will not be persuaded by this “tool” for gaining knowledge.

            But yeah, I can try to think of some other objective way to argue for the possibility of God, but I doubt I will be able to come up with something there as its like asking me to prove that the logical law of non-contradiction is true objectively- ultimately I think the strongest “tool” we have is our properly basic beliefs to know its true and given the nature of that kind of evidence either you accept this type of evidence or you don’t.

            Here is one thing I never thought to try with you, why don’t I turn the tables and ask you;

            1. Do you accept that there are things that possibly exist but don’t actually exist in reality (say a unicorn or whatever else you want)?

            2. What objective tools would you use to prove the logical possibility of a unicorn?

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            1. “Well I see step 2 and 3 as being one and the same actually- since I will present the argument and try to justify it (if that is what you mean by showing the accuracy of them).”

              What I mean by it is what everyone means by it, except apologists it seems. I mean demonstrating that the claims you are making are in fact how reality works.

              So no, what I mean by it does not make 2 and 3 the same. They are distinctly different. 2 is the claim. 3 is demonstrating that 2 is how reality actually works.

              “Understand though, you already know Step 0 for me for some premises will be based on modal intuitions/properly basic beliefs as to what is logically possible or not- so already know from our convo that you will not be persuaded by this “tool” for gaining knowledge.”

              Sure, because you have never demonstrated that the modal intuitions are a reliable means to distinguish fact from fiction.

              As far as I can tell from what Plantinga says, these “properly basic beliefs” are nothing more than statements that have been made up and that the person really really wants to believe is true but are unable to justify them in any way.

              His whole argument for this idea is, ‘if god exists’. Without being able to tell if god exists, he doesn’t have any real foundation for any of his claims.

              “…ultimately I think the strongest “tool” we have is our properly basic beliefs to know its true and given the nature of that kind of evidence either you accept this type of evidence or you don’t.”

              Ok. Your opinion is that properly basic beliefs reliably tell you want is true about the universe. Can you demonstrate this is actually true, is a fact of how reality works? Or is it forever trapped into the realm of your opinion?

              If it is just your opinion, then you will never be able to achieve step 3 (showing that the claims you are making are accurate)

              “1. Do you accept that there are things that possibly exist but don’t actually exist in reality (say a unicorn or whatever else you want)?”

              I don’t think it is possible for a unicorn to exist because magic doesn’t exist. But it is possible that other types of animals could exist as long as they obey the laws of physics.

              If they don’t obey the laws of physics then they can’t logically be possible.

              “2. What objective tools would you use to prove the logical possibility of a unicorn?”

              You would first have to demonstrate that magic was real. Without that you can’t say it is possible for unicorns to exist since if magic doesn’t exist, then it is logically impossible for unicorns to exist.

              As to the tools required to demonstrate that magic exists? No clue. No one has been able to provide a coherent idea of magic such that it could be actually tested. So I guess the first thing you would need is a coherent idea of what magic is and a methodology to test it.

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              1. OK I get that you object to the notion of supernatural as though this is some kind of seperate category of event on an ontological basis- its not but this gets into how we define “supernatural” and I want to avoid that.

                Just curious- unicorns can be totally natural beings- horses that have one horn on their head- is that logically possible in your opinion (certainly we know animals can have and do have horns and that horse-like animals exist) so is there anything logically contradictory/impossible about putting these two “ordinary natural” things together on one being called a unicorn???

                If this is possible, then I would ask how do you know this when no such being actually exists in reality? What if someone said no horse-like animals are necessarily allergic to horns and thus could never grown them and hence a “natural unicorn” is logically impossible-we know such a claim is ridiculous (I hope), but how??? I suggest that our modal faculties are what provide us with knowledge that making such a supposition as a mere possibility is how we obtain that type of knowledge and this is what is needed to establish this argument’s first premise.

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                1. “If this is possible, then I would ask how do you know this when no such being actually exists in reality?”

                  Genetics. We understand how genetics work and the laws of physics.

                  We didn’t discover genetics and how it works through someone’s modal intuitions.

                  For example. We know a spider the size of a horse isn’t possible because we understand structural engineering, the biology of how a spider breaths and how physics works.

                  And yet smaller spiders exist and your modal intuitions are probably telling you that a horse sized spider is possible.

                  “What if someone said no horse-like animals are necessarily allergic to horns and thus could never grown them and hence a “natural unicorn” is logically impossible-we know such a claim is ridiculous (I hope), but how???”

                  Genetics. Testing horse like animals to see if they are in fact allergic to horns. This is basic scientific inquiry. If you want to know an answer you set up a test and see if the reality matches the claim.

                  “I suggest that our modal faculties are what provide us with knowledge that making such a supposition as a mere possibility is how we obtain that type of knowledge and this is what is needed to establish this argument’s first premise.”

                  You suggest it. Or in other words it is your opinion. Ok. Now, can you demonstrate that your suggestion is how reality actually works?

                  What do your modal intuitions say about a Wunderpus and whether it is allergic to a tasseled wobbegon?

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                2. As a follow up. What does your modal intuition say about a pegasus? A winged horse. According to your modal intuition, is a ‘natural’ pegasus possible?

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                3. I know that Darren is dealing with this handily. But I just wanted to lend my voice to the thread.

                  Your unicorn example is a demonstration of the problem with your epistemology. First, we don’t know that it is logically possible. We can imagine it. We can intuit such a scenario. But reality is not always intuitive. A lot of things seem intuitive to the unlearned mind.

                  The fact that we can make coherent-sounding arguments does not mean those arguments are aligned with the harsh mistress of reality. A coherent-sounding argument does nothing to advance the rationality of theism. For that, you need demonstrations of reality.

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                  1. “I find nothing logically incoherent about Pegasus for example…”

                    And here is the crux of the problem. The fact that you don’t find anything logically incoherent about a Pegasus does not mean it is coherent.

                    The fact is, it is logically incoherent. It is not coherent with biology or physics.

                    And it doesn’t matter that you can conceive of a Pegasus and don’t find it logically incoherent, it still isn’t possible that it actually exists in the real world.

                    “…but as to a Wunderpus- I don’t even know what it is and so I would need more details about it just as I would a married bachelor if I had no understanding of what those words meant.”

                    A Wunderpus is a species of Octopus. You should read up on it. It is a fascinating creature.

                    But you make a really good point. In order to determine if something is logically coherent, you have to understand what the words mean in enough detail to understand what is supposed to be described. I think if you really think about it, you will find that god isn’t defined well enough to understand if the concept is coherent or not. Nor is spirit, the supernatural, or any of the other buzzwords normally used.

                    “I don’t have to demonstrate anything about reality here when talking mere logical possibility- ”

                    Step 3 isn’t about mere logical possibilities. Step 3 is demonstrating that the claims are accurate.

                    “That said, even if I conceded that our modal faculties are not perfect, they are nevertheless generally reliable as is proven by their successful use day in and day out and that is all I need to establish the argument on a balance of probabilities-…”

                    The problem is that you claim a balance of probabilities. But you never demonstrate that your claims about the balance of probabilities are accurate.

                    “….the fact that we sometime hallucinate or see illusions doesn’t mean that our sense of sight is not generally reliable and therefore useful in coming to knowledge.”

                    Sure, but we can demonstrate the times when our site isn’t going to be reliable, and when it is. You have yet to do so for your modal faculties.

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                    1. “As to Pegasus, yes but there are possible worlds where different laws of nature can exist- certainly modern cosmology confirms this much and so a Pegasus could exist in those worlds.”

                      Which is completely irrelevant since if those other worlds do exist, it still doesn’t make it possible for the Pegasus to exist in this universe.

                      “Anyways, OK I think I got an idea from your comment on the general reliability, maybe there is something i can do here based on showing several examples where they are shown to be reliable.”

                      You should also provide examples of when they are shown to be unreliable and what methodology you use to determine when the modal intuitions are being reliable and when they aren’t. It is something we can do with sight, it should also be something we can do with modal intuitions.

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    2. There’s nothing wrong with a series per se, I would just encourage you guys not too spend a lot of time in the weeds by drawing out topics. Also, Have more interaction/debate and less joint press conference style discussions where you alternate monologues.

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  3. At some point you guys are going to have to do a show that describes the objective measure on the probabilities you are using to say that the balance of probabilities goes one way or the other. Especially when magic is involved.

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    1. I’m with you on that. When I used the phrase on the podcast, I was referring to the most likely meaning the writer had in mind. But of course, there is no way to know for sure.

      I am starting a series on the bible, and why no one should take it seriously. It will be every other week for a while, not all in a row. I think some of your question will be satisfied. Thank you so much for listening.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Will you be sticking to the canonical bible or will you include things like the Gospel of Peter where it has a dancing cross? Sure the canonical bible has a talking donkey, but that isn’t nearly as cool as a talking cross.

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        1. I like the talking cross a lot. But I think debunking one bible is quite enough. 🙂

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          1. Lol, which one? They are all different. Some of them even have a different number of books included and I the Catholic bible includes the apocrypha.

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  4. I was interested to observe that neither of you ever seemed to allude to majority view of a 2nd century BCE authorship of Daniel 9 (often called the Maccabean Thesis). I understand that the question of authorship is not particularly relevant to Dale’s argument, but it actually does play a role because it shows that the ‘destruction’ of the temple in 9:26 was actually a past event from the author’s perspective, which means it should not be understood as a permanent and complete destruction (it might even be more appropriately translated as ‘corrupt’ in the context of Antiochus IV).

    David – I think you’re missing out on some fairly interesting history and scholarship by discounting Daniel as a fever dream that isn’t worth our time. I put quite a bit of time into understanding it, if you’re interested.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Travis, this is wonderful and even if David has no interest in looking at your take on Daniel, I certainly will avail myself of it 🙂

      As to the Maccabean Thesis- I am aware of it of course and actually partially agree with it actually. That said, I think there are good arguments that can allow us to say that Daniel must have been written partially in the time the Bible says it was, but was then edited/adapted to fit the time of Antiochus/Maccabees. I did half expect David to mention it and was prepared to respond if he brought it up, I also prepared to cover how Jesus fulfilled the stuff in verse 24 as well since Jews typically take issue on that front but it wasn’t brought up.

      Obviously, there is just so much one can address in a show and so I’m sure David chose to focus on the arguments he felt were most forceful and I guess the Maccabean Thesis wasn’t one of them.

      Again thanks for chiming in and for your write-up source as well- most appreciated 🙂

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      1. So why do you think that chapter 9 is not about Antiochus IV, despite the parallels with other chapters that are?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OK. I guess this just boils down to a suggestion that ‘bust’ is the better reading here. Which leads me to ask – are there any messianic prophecies for which you think ‘bust’ is the better option?

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          1. Do you think it is possible for Jesus to be falsified with regard to messianic prophecy from within a framework that accepts typology, double-fulfillment, telescoping, future fulfillment, etc…,? If so, how?

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            1. Dale,
              I don’t think I followed everything you were trying to say in your response, so I’m going to just try and clarify my question. First, note that I’m following your lead in using the language of falsification, where your “Jesus or bust” argument has been using it suggest that only Jesus has not been falsified to meet all the criteria.

              One possible issue with this approach is that the criteria are cherry-picked to avoid falsification. On several occasions objections have been raised which suggest that Jesus does not actually fulfill the prophecy in question when the full context and other data are taken into account (not to mention the many other messianic \ eschatological prophecies which have not been evaluated). My concern is that the prophetic devices which are often employed to respond to those objections work much like Sagan’s garage-dwelling dragon. So when I asked you how Jesus’ candidacy could be falsified, I’m essentially looking for an example of a prophecy (even if you invent it) for which Jesus’ candidacy could not be maintained by employing one of the prophetic devices. My suspicion is that a prophecy which cannot be reconciled through the use of prophetic devices will have to look very different from the biblical prophecies (i.e., it would have to be very specific). This would cast doubt on the proposal that other messianic candidates are actually falsified, and would imply that the methodology as a whole is not informative.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. the more unclear it is, the wider the net of potential rivals for Jesus we would expect to find, so the way I see it this issue only serves to strengthen my circumstantial argument not weaken it- does that make sense?

                Sorry, I’m not sure I follow. Are you saying that because we lack claims that other messianic candidates fulfilled these particular prophetic criteria by using the aforementioned prophetic devices, we should believe that these particular criteria are not prone to being abused in this way and so are appropriate criteria for falsification?

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                1. It is certainly true that the Jesus tradition offers vastly more opportunity for claims of messianic prophecy fulfillment than any other. However, it is equally true that this is driven by the fact that the tradition was heavily invested in messianism (they effectively made it part of his name), managed to produce multiple writings toward that end, and – perhaps most importantly – was able to persist by introducing innovative solutions to the problems of death and the lack of a political power. Were it not for the belief in the resurrection and parousia (i.e., if Jesus had only been understood as an atoning sacrifice) then we almost certainly wouldn’t be talking about him today.

                  So from this perspective, the thing that is extraordinary is not the relative extent of Christian messianic fulfillment claims, it’s the fact that the movement was able to sustain such unusual messianic claims. By far, the dominant messianic theme is that of a political ruler who raises the nation of Israel to prominence on the backs of its prior oppressors. What’s extraordinary is that Christianity was able to successfully promote a messianic candidate who obviously didn’t do this.

                  And that brings me back to the point I was trying to make. When I raised the issue of cherry-picking and use of prophetic devices, I’m talking about the fact that the prophecies are being both selected and dissected in such a way as to find the bits and pieces that can be mapped to Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, while everything else is pushed off to the parousia, or reinterpreted as some kind of metaphor, foreshadowing, double-fulfillment, etc…. Any attempt to show that the argument is actually just “bust” rather than “Jesus or bust” is met with these prophetic devices to keep Jesus in the mix. So it may very well be that Jesus is the candidate for whom it is easiest to build an “or bust” argument when these kinds of tactics are allowed, but the methods therein are highly dubious. When we adopt the authors perspective, and recognize the future hope that they are expressing in relation to their time and circumstances, the message shines through on its own. David kept making calls for allowing the Jews speak for the text, but I don’t think he went far enough. The Jews are still holding out hope for a messiah. Instead, we need to allow the authors to speak for themselves, and when we do that with the benefit of our historical hindsight, the result is just “bust”.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. OK, I respect your opinion if you think the bust option is the better one, obviously I and many others disagree with that assessment.

                    Of course. But note that I’m also rejecting the reduction down to two valid options. I’m suggesting that the criteria themselves are contrived toward that end.

                    I didn’t use any messianic typologies in my argument and I didn’t really employ many prophetic literary devices in establishing my minimal list, if anything I only used them in defensive mode when David tried to falsify Jesus as a candidate.

                    Yes. That’s where the issue lies. The contention is that the criteria are cherry-picked and when we bring in the rest of the context to “falsify” the claim, these devices are deployed to circumvent the difficulties that are raised. It’s much more parsimonious to just let the authors speak for their time and circumstances.

                    Why is it all the others seem to be able to be lumped into the general category of miracle-worker or political revolutionary type Messiah who is known for trying to re-establish the Old Covenant instead of bringing in a New Covenant like Jesus did.

                    OK. Let’s use this as a case study. You’re focusing on Jeremiah 31:31-34. Yes, this proclamation of a new covenant sits within an eschatological context, but that same context is dominated by claims about the contemporaneous restoration of Israel, rescue from exile, defeat of foreign enemies; including statements that the messianic king will rule over the oppressors (v9), and that the city will never again be destroyed (v40). The fixation on the new covenant is a Christian-centric approach to the text. Nobody else was ever focused on that because it’s a small part in the broader messianic theme of restoration. Then a little further down there’s 33:19-21, where the eternal status of the old covenant is reaffirmed. I know there are Christian answers and explanations for all these things, but it looks like a convoluted mess compared to just accepting that the author was proclaiming a hope of imminent restoration in the midst of a national crisis, and that hope was not realized.

                    Liked by 1 person

          2. Dale, I find this answer curious. You were asked if you think any of the messianic prophecies could be bust. You replied that you believe in them all given that you are a Christian.

            Surely you must realize that not all Christians believe that all of the prophecies are true. They are not inerrantists, and therefore are not bound to believe everything in the prophetic writings.

            Are you suggesting that “real” Christians have to believe all the prophecies? Or is it just your particularity that drives you to believe in all of the prophecies?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. He’s given the game away with this answer. It either reveals circular reasoning or demonstrates that his perspective on the entire topic is better suited to his weekly Bible study than a skeptics and seekers series.

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              1. Firstly, I have not “scolded” you and don’t intend to here either. You really have to drop this personal mindset you’ve developed around me, it’s creepy.

                Secondly, Travis didn’t ask you anything “from a Christian perspective”, he just asked you a question.

                Thirdly, I reject the construct that people should believe or disbelief things based on labels they ascribe to themselves. I don’t believe things about the world because I am an atheist, that’s backwards. I call myself an atheist because of the beliefs I have formed in looking at the world.

                Lastly, using your status as Christian as a reason for believing something is an unjustified silver bullet. The Christian God is supposedly tri-omni so you could use this “reason” to justify any belief. I believe that a moving truck jumped over a building with Elvis Presley riding shotgun because I am a Christian and I am warranted in this belief. It’s shorthand for, you can’t question anything about my beliefs because….God. It’s a discussion brick wall.

                So, I am continuing to compile evidence that you aren’t here for reasoned discussion with those you disagree with. You’re a preacher. You call those who don’t accept your multi-week sermons as “foolish skeptics” who are lazy and don’t put the effort in. Interesting marketing strategy you have there.

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  5. I SKIM LISTEN to some of the Skeptics and Seekers podcasts now, I’m always searching for a good dogwalk listen. So I may have caught a hint of what’s to come. Are you both going to stop debating Zeus’ lightning bolts and Toast now and finally focus on what matters?

    Chrisitianity is a highly immoral belief system. Are you two going to address that now? I’ll be Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing back now and then to check. xoxo

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    1. I think you will be happy with the next few shows where I bring the topic.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. David,

    Firstly, I would like to respond to some of your objections in previous parts on messianic prophecy.

    Dale’s first argument was based on Micah 5:2 re: the momentous birth (virgin birth) of the Messiah. I would like to supplement his argument with the following points:

    1. The Septuagint was written at a time (200BC) when there was no prejudice re: virgin Birth. Translators used the Greek word which can only mean ‘virgin.’ Also the definite article is used, “the” virgin, indicating a specific woman was chosen. Mary was from David’s line, so she fulfilled the prophecy.
    2. The writer of gMatt, a Hebrew, was clear that the birth of Jesus was a virgin Birth.
    3. Early Christians were Jews who knew Hebrew; there was no controversy over this fact until hundreds of years later.
    4. Is. 7:14 says, “ a sign” which signifies a ‘miraculous’ sign. It would be no miracle for an ordinary woman to give birth to a son.

    With respect to Jeremiah 31 and the mention of a new covenant in Dale’s argument in part 2, you asked where Jesus had claimed to establish a new covenant. In fact, Luke 21 describes the scene of the Last Supper where Jesus raised the cup of wine and declared to his disciples, “This is the new covenant in my blood.”

    Then in part 3, there was your contention that Isaiah 53 is speaking about a righteous remnant in Israel. But I don’t think that interpretation is valid because, for one thing, that interpretation has only been espoused since the 1800’s. It’s a recent interpretation in which they have been saying that these words will be spoken by Gentiles, who in the last days will stand corrected and brokenhearted before the suffering nation that has borne their hatred and sins. They say that this entire passage is a last-days confession of a Gentile world, admitting that its proud and mindless anti-semitism has been the cause of Israel’s pain.

    But it is difficult to see this chapter, especially its closing words, as describing a last- days glorification of Israel. What we find instead is a description of a humble Deliverer and Sin-bearer who, after being made a “guilt offering” (vv.4-8,10), sees the result of His atoning work and is satisfied.

    Further with respect to Isaiah 53, you said that Jesus didn’t fit the picture of one was despised and rejected because during his ministry, he had quite a significant following. But I would submit that it wasn’t so much what the common people thought about him. It was what the Sanhedrin determined that counted because the Sanhedrin represented all the Jewish people. It was the Sanhedrin that declared Jesus to be a blasphemer, worthy of death, so, yes indeed, Jesus was despised and rejected.

    Now in part 4, you said that the writer of the gMark didn’t know anything about Jesus’ momentous birth. I don’t think one should draw that conclusion without considering other possibilities for why the birth of Jesus is not included in the narrative. One consideration is to bear in mind who the intended audience was for this particular gospel. Scholars think it was written in Rome because of some ‘Latinisms’ it contains, so the intended readership could well have included Gentile believers, as well as Jewish believers.

    If this be the case, then that would explain why the author didn’t see the need to include the genealogy and birth narrative of a Jewish rabbi. Romans wouldn’t have been interested in such, but they would have wanted to know about his qualifications, that is, what did he *do* that set him apart from other ordinary guys. What made him unique and worthy of worship?

    Finally, you said that Jews didn’t interpret their Scriptures in the way that Christians have done in terms of messianic prophecy. But Dale did name some highly esteemed Jews such as Rashi who had similar interpretations.

    Michael Brown points out in his online lecture that in the first century, there was belief in two Messianic figures. For example, the Dead Sea scrolls referred to Messiah of Aaron and Messiah of Israel. Another text, the Testament of the 12 Patriarchs (which includes the Testament of Levi) speaks of a priestly Messiah. Priestly duties were to deal with sin, make atonement, offer up sacrifices, and intercede for the nation.

    As an aside,Traditional Judaism has lost sight of the priestly Messiah and in so doing has lost sight of why he had to first suffer and die before returning at the end of the age.

    Brown further explains that there were different Messianic images in the Talmud. In Daniel 7, the Messiah (Son of Man) is to come in clouds of glory. But Zechariah 9 says Messiah will come riding on a donkey. So will Messiah come on the clouds of heaven or riding on a donkey? It can’t be the same person at the same time.

    The Talmudic answer is, ‘If we’re worthy, he’ll come on the clouds of heaven; if we’re unworthy, he’ll come on a donkey.’ But the text doesn’t say, If…then (or). The text says, *both* will happen. The conclusion must be that the same person will come at two different times — first lowly, then highly exalted.

    Brown explains that orthodox rabbis say these things (re: the coming of Messiah) were supposed to happen but didn’t because of the sins of the Jewish people. He adds that the rabbis should consider that maybe they *did* happen but because of their sins, they missed him! I agree with Brown when he says that either it happened and God kept his word, but Israel missed it, or it didn’t happen and we should throw out the Bible!

    Brown states that this shouldn’t really be a surprise. Hasn’t Israel rejected prophets before? She certainly has. Recall Jeremiah who said he couldn’t prophesy because Israel kills the prophets that go to her.

    I believe that’s the gist of Dale’s final argument — Jesus or bust! He might already have provided a link to Brown’s lecture:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, delighted you stopped in for a chat. I am going to have to beg off from responding to most of your comment because I have given messianic prophecy more time and energy than I think it deserves for reasons that I have outlined already. I just don’t have it in me to take it another round.

      But I will respond to your last point about the Jews being sinful. I find this to be the most disturbing of the Christian arguments. The Jews killed all the prophets! The Jews killed god! The Jews cried may his blood be upon us! The Jews were too blind and sinful to recognize the messiah!

      I am not calling you an antisemite. But I do believe you are falling prey to a particularly antisemitic line of argumentation. And though I do not believe in the concept of sin, I take exception to the idea that the Jews were somehow more sinful than any other people. They missed the messiah because of their sins. But the Christians were, what? Less sinful?

      I understand that many of these types of accusations of sinfulness come from some Jews. But I believe that the self-loathing of some should not become the basis of another’s prejudice. Religion tends to breed self-loathing. We are all sinful and worthy of enslavement and a bad death. Christians take a step further. We are all worthy of eternity in hell. So of course it is no surprise that some would blame themselves for missing the savior.

      But the other possibility is still in play. The prophecies were wishful thinking. And there is not now, and never was a savior.

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    2. Dale,
      I sure appreciate all your hard work on this series on messianic prophecy. I’ve been copying the links you’ve provided into a document for my future reference (it’s bound to come up again sometime/somewhere).

      There are a couple that don’t work for some reason. Would you be able to post these two again for me?
      – YouTube re: greater glory in the second temple (Haggai 2 and Malachi 3)
      – Tovia Singer 1 hour audio on Daniel 9

      Thanks Dale.
      Great job!
      Joyce

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Haven’t seen a blog posted for the last AAAA show so, well done, and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the hosts, listeners and commenters!

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