A few weeks ago I came across an article online written by a Jewish Rabbi named Steve. His article was urging his fellow Jewish brothers not to convert to Christianity, and for those who already have, to re-think why they believe in Jesus. In his article he provided what he felt was evidence that Jesus was not the Messiah, by listing these prophecies he felt were never fullfilled by Jesus. I commented in his article, and hecommented back, and soon enough it became a debate. I’m not going to say I won… but he has yet to respond to my last post over 9 days ago… Maybe he gave up, or just stopped caring… Either way, I have copied the article and the following debate here: (or you can see it for yourself at http://www.bukisa.com/articles/319886_6-reasons-to-reject-the-new-testaments-inerrancy#ixzz15MdjgYOA)
Matthew 1:23 misquotes and misuses Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew states “they will call” whereas in Isaiah it states “she will call.” The prophecy in Isaiah was fulfilled because it was given to allay King Ahaz’s fears regarding two neighboring kings who were preparing to bring war against Jerusalem.
Matthew 2:14-15 misuses Hosea 11:1.
When viewed in context, Hosea 11:1-5 talks about the scattering of Israel with Assyria being their new king. It is NOT a Messianic prophecy.
Matthew 2:16-18 misquotes Jeremiah 31:15 (see verse 17).
Matthew seems to make the claim that verse in Jeremiah is referring to dead children. Apparently the author of Matthew forgets or completely ignores verse 17 where it states that the children “shall come back to their own country” proving that the prophecy is not referring to dead children, but the dispersion and gathering of Israel. Furthermore, the Jewish people (of Judah) are descended from Leah, not Rachel.
My Comment Back:
Here is a response to the six reasons you have listed to question the New Testament Manuscripts:
1. Misquoted/Misused Prophecies:
Matthew 1:23 vs. Isaiah 7:14; some translations may show that Isaiah 7:14 says “she” but the original masoretic text from the dead sea scrolls say “they.” As a Jew you would have to agree that the masoretic text from the dead sea scrolls are the oldest and most reliable old testament manuscripts in existence.
Matt 2:14-15 vs. Hosea 11:1; it’s not that Hosea 11:1 is prophesizing future fulfillment, but that Matthew 2:14-15 is looking towards the past at Hosea for drawing the analogy between Christ and Israel, a correspondence between an ideal son and the disobedient son (Israel).
You often suggest that the authors “forget” or “ignore” certain verses of the Old Testament but you must keep in mind these men (in this case Matthew) were Jews themselves, who’s knowledge of Jewish Scripture was probably more than our own. It is incredibly unlikely they would “forget” or “ignore” scripture.
Also, you’ve referenced three messianic prophecies to challenge the reliability of New Testament. What about the 300+ other messianic prophecies that clearly prophesize Jesus Christ? And what about Malachi 3:1, which says the Messiah will enter the temple. The temple is destoryed and lies in ruins today, ergo the Messiah would have had to have already come to earth. Jesus entered the temple three times… if you believe in you religion as a Jew you must believe in messianic prophecy, which says your Messiah has already come. I’ll have further commentary to add later, thank you for your time.
The interpretation of Hosea is strictly a Christian one and not by any means Jewish. We read the passage as the referring to something that has already happened (the Exodus). Additionally, the explanation you attempt to offer adds another son to the context. And surely if Jesus is being referred to by Hosea 11:1, then he must also be referred to in Hosea 11:2 which says that Jesus was offering sacrifices to Baal. I believe the most accurate interpretation would be that of when it says Israel, it means Israel, not the Messiah.
It has been addressed by me elsewhere that a new covenant will be made with all of the Israelites at the time that all of the Israelites are re-united into the land of Israel. The result of this new covenant will be much like what you may believe will occur at the second coming. There will be complete perfection. In this particular point about Jeremiah, I am not follow your proof texting arguments very well here. Rachel is not the ancestor of the Jewish people. Rachel’s descendants were Joseph and Benjamin. This is only three of the 12 tribes; Ephraim, Mannaseh, and Benjamin. There is a possibility that Naphtali and Dan could be included since these two were conceived by Rachel’s handmaiden. But in the list no such regathering of any of these tribes have occurred. I would advise reading the entire passage in sequence rather than pulling a couple of verses here and then saying all the other verses before that are going to be fulfilled later. If Jeremiah was really a prophet then the least we can do is give him the credit of having his chronology correct, right?
Just for the record, I don’t believe that the writers of the New Testament were Hebrew scholars at all. In fact, they admit it. They were fishermen and pretty low on the scholarship scale, therefore, I expect errors to be present in their writings which I have pointed out in this very incomplete list.
I believe the New Testament was written by disciples of a man. These disciples strongly believed Jesus to be the Messiah and refused to give in to the idea that he had truly died. It has been the case with many great Jewish teachers and I believe this is no exception. Recognizing the Messiah’s death with failed prophecies means the man was just another failed Messiah in a long line of many. One recent example would be the final Chabad Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, which many believe will return to fulfill all of the Messianic prophecies. This of course, is ridiculous.
I would like to know from where you are pulling the 300+ prophecies. The most accurate list I have found was about 60, but most were taken out of context or misapplied as is the case so often. Most of the sites advertising “365 Messianic Prophecies” just repeat the same verses over and over again with different meanings because they read the single verse multiple times but leave out the context.
As for your Malachi 3:1 point, are you aware that in Ezekiel 40-42 the temple will be rebuilt by the Messiah? Doesn’t it seem a bit strange that the Messiah would build the third temple but refuse to enter it since he had allegedly entered it 2,000 years ago? There is nothing to point to in Malachi that says that the Messiah has already come. I think it would be more reasonable to say that the Messiah will rebuild the Temple at a future time and enter it then, thus fulfilling both the prophecies. He will also regather all of the tribes of Israel to the land of Israel and there will be complete world peace.
I appreciate the time you’ve taken in looking into these scriptures and even though I disagree with you, I look forward to your future response(s). Peace.
Which lists a footnote © stating the Massoretic Text reflects the passage slightly differently.
In regards to your theory about the Virgin Birth being added later by Christians into the Book of Matthew, the Book of Luke also references the virgin birth as well. The references of a virgin birth were not made up, even skeptical Jews of the ancient testify to that. In a genealogy table dated from before A.D. 70, Jesus can be found listed as a “bastard of a wedded wife.” There are in fact many manuscripts of Jewish origin that reflect Mary being an adulteress, namely the Babylonian Talmud: o The Talmud referred to Jesus as Jeshu, and in some cases; Jeshu ben Pandera. o This was actually in mockery of the Greek speaking Christians that called Jesus, “Son of the Virgin,” which in Greek, virgin is Parthenos. So, as a play on words, the Jews called Jesus, Jeshu ben Pandera, or “Son of the Leopard.” o In another passage Mary was referred to as: “the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” o The reference to “princes and governors” is speaking of the royal lineage of Mary to King David, Solomon, etc. o The reference to “carpenters” is of course speaking of Joseph, who was a carpenter. o The reference to “harlot” was of course an insult to Mary, as a way to rationalize the “virgin birth.”
This is clear indication that even the Jews knew of Jesus’ origin, though they didn’t believe of it being a divine origin. It is clear, the story of the virgin birth was not just added in at a later time.
During this time in history if a woman was found to be an adulteress with child she would have had one of two things happen to her: 1) She would be stoned to death. 2) At the very least Joseph would divorce her. But neither of things happened… The bible says the Joseph was indeed going to divorce her, until an angel visited him to tell him the truth. And at that Joseph and Mary had to sneak away since no one else believed their story.
I can clearly see where you disagree with the literal meaning of those OT passages not directly referencing messianic prophecy, but being used as such in the NT. I hope those links I provided offered some insight as to the possible reasoning behind their usage as such. For sake of space, I won’t further divulge on that since it’d take about 15 more paragraphs 🙂
You are correct, some disciples were fisherman, tax collector’s ect, and their knowledge of the Canon can be questioned. But there was the Apostle Paul (Saul) who was for a fact well trained and versed in the Law which is clearly evident in his letters which make up almost all of the New Testament, especially in Hebrews in which he clearly indicates on many occasions that Jesus is the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Yes Jesus did die, but he resurrected, separating Him from other failed false Messiahs. Jesus’ life is in sharp contrast to that of the false Messiahs, and it is a positive demonstration of what we would expect the Messiah to do. Jesus worked many miracles of healing, bringing wholeness into people’s lives, forgiving sin and restoring relationships and Jesus carried out the Law of Moses as a devout Jew.
After Jesus’ death His disciples scattered, because they thought just what you stated; that Jesus wasn’t the real Messiah. Yet continued on with their discipleship after Jesus appeared to them multiple times and the tomb was found empty. We know they didn’t steal the body because the tomb was empty the morning after the Sabbath, the disciples would not break the Sabbath to steal Jesus. The Romans did not steal the body because they had judged and sentenced a criminal, in which moving the body would under mind the Roman authority. The Jews did not want the body moved obviously because they needed to ensure that the prophesy was not fulfilled.
If the disciples stole the body then why would they spend the rest of their lives dedicated and tortured for something they knew was not true? Especially if their was no money or fame to be gained.
I pulled the 300+ prophecies from Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” Volume II, which I highly recommend reading if you have not already. And in regards to Malachi 3:1, I believe this prophecy this pertains to the 2nd temple, not the future third temple mentioned in Ezekiel 40-42. The Messiah would arrive before the destruction of the Second Temple: see Daniel 9:24-27 .
I appreciate you taking the time to discuss, argue, debate this with me. Even if we both stick to our guns and cannot convince each other of the other’s belief, I feel these discussions are good for our own faith, and we can learn from each other in some ways I suppose. I look forward to your responses. Thank you, Matthew.
Steve’s 2nd Response:
On your point about Paul, the Christian apostle, firstly, there is some question as to whether he really did write the Book of Hebrews. And even if he was a great teacher of the law, he certainly didn’t have much integrity for following it since he did pen 1st Corinthians 9:20-22; Romans 3:7; and Philippians 1:18.
You state, “After Jesus’ death His disciples scattered, because they thought just what you stated; that Jesus wasn’t the real Messiah.” Unless I’ve misunderstood you, I think you might want to revisit the book of Acts because it instructs all of the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until Pentecost occurs (Acts 1:4). Of course I would be hesitant to trust Acts because it states that Jesus hung around for 40 days, yet in each of the gospels, Jesus leaves for heaven very quickly after he is raised. I would see these as conflicting accounts and problematic for any kind of possible future personal conversion.
And whether the records we have on the Gospel of the Hebrews is accurate or not (and you make a good point, incidentally), it doesn’t shake the fact that the passages relating to an alleged virgin birth in the Hebrew scriptures are still plainly taken out of context. The pronouncement of a young woman with child was addressed to King Ahaz (see Isaiah 7:10 & 11). So even if we were to go off of the masoteric text here, then it still does not address the question of why would a passage given only to King Ahaz suddenly apply to Jesus? Where is the wiggle room for the passage to have a double meaning? Virgin births have been a part of Judaism. Quite the contrary, they have only been popular among the Pagans. In light of this, I see the misuse of these interpretations as a way to recruit non-Jews to a message with Jewish undertones in order that the movement would continue to exist. It may have also been a response to reach out to Hellenistic Jews who were probably alienated by the Maccabean Jews (the ones who refused to assimilate with Greek society).
Additionally, it is only in the later gospels that we see any kind of a birth story. In fact, you brought up the virgin story being also present in Luke. Yet there is no record of any such record of birth made in the earliest gospel of Mark. The fact that the two birth stories in Matthew and Luke contradict one another caters to my suspicions of its actual reality. Since the story is in two of the gospels and they each contradict one another, are either of them really all that trustworthy? While Matthew has Jesus being named Immanuel, the angel Gabriel contradicts this by instructing Mary to name her son “Jesus” or “Yeshua” (see Luke 1:30-33). Both Immanuel and Yeshua are very Hebrew names so it wouldn’t make sense to have two names since at the time it was customary for some to do this, but only to blend in with the culture. For example, my Greek name is Steven but my Hebrew name is Melekh.
As to your other point as to whether the disciples stole the body, I have no real opinion of what happened and it’s not really my place to say whether it did happen or not. However, I do want to address the idea of persecution being proof that Jesus really did rise from the dead with a claim that another group have used. If you are a member of the evangelical movement (and I’m assuming you are, but I’d be more than happy if you could correct me if I am wrong on this), then you probably believe that Latter-day Saints (or Mormons) are not Christian and teach heretical doctrines. Yet, their prophet and founder, Joseph Smith Jr., was killed for his teachings and beliefs. Joseph Smith also witnessed the tar and feathering of many of his disciples and even was tarred and feathered himself. Now, since I don’t believe you are a member of that church, I would ask how is it that you can justify that Jesus is the Messiah based on the persecutions endured by the founders of Christianity when other churches that teach doctrines contrary to New Testament theology also look to the persecutions and sometimes deaths of their founders as proof that “they were telling the truth.” I think it would be a mistake to look to the fact that people died for their beliefs as proof of its reality since others have died for their beliefs like Felix Alfarth, Martin Faust, or Wilhelm Wolf, and their reality turned out to not be so great.
Lastly, I’d like to address Daniel 9:24-27 since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such a passage justify Jesus being the Messiah. I distrust taking the book as a literal account of any sort. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=34&letter=D
In addition, the book of Daniel makes a dating error in its very first verse when it states that King Nebuchadnezzar was besieging Jerusalem in King Jehoiakim’s third year. However, Jeremiah 25:1 states that King Nebuchadnezzar’s first year was King Jehoiakim’s fourth year. With this inconsistent dating, I’d be hesitant in putting any kind of a 100% guarantee that it was Daniel who wrote the book and that it was 100% proof that its accuracy with future dates was correct. How can we trust a book giving future dates as completely accurate when it couldn’t even get its past dates correct?
My 3rd Comment (final):
Hello again Steve, sorry for my delayed response. I’m employed full time and go to school full time, so my schedule is incredibly busy.
Yes, of course, anti-Semitism we can both agree is barbaric and inexcusable. The teachings of Jesus condemn such actions and behavior. Any anti-Semitism stemming from these interpretations is unfortunate. But I would expect Jews, who did not believe in Jesus being the Messiah, to write such things in an effort to explain the events in His life. Non-Jewish skeptics of Jesus make similar claims today, and it is to be expected. I can’t blame them for trying rationalize the story of Jesus in an anti-supernatural way (as I myself did in the past).
The link you provided says there is no link between the usage of Balaam and Jesus, that Balaam is not a code word for Jesus. Yet the Jewish Encyclopedia says “the pseudonym “Balaam,” given to Jesus in Sanh. 106b and Giṭ. 57a. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=161&letter=B&search=balaam#ixzz14WCmbmV6
Perhaps I misunderstood why you listed these three verses as evidence of Paul not living by the Jewish Law, but I believe they are in reference to his evangelism methods.
1st Corinthians 9:20-22: Paul is referencing his relationship to Jews living under the Law and gentiles living apart from the Law in present tense AFTER he found Christ. Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior frees you from living by the Law. This verse is referencing his evangelistic practices of establishing common ground with the different people he encountered on his journeys.
Romans 3:7: I believe you’re using this verse out of context. Paul is stating an example of what not to do. See the next verse (3:8).
Philippians 1:18: Again here, step back and look at verses 15-18 and you’ll see what he is discussing. That there are those who preach God for personal gain or jealousy, and though they are wrong for doing so, they’re still preaching the Word of God. Paul is saying that regardless of the motivation behind preaching the Word of God, he rejoices anytime the Word of God is being preached.
As far as the disciples scattering, perhaps I should have chosen a different word, I was not suggesting they all split up and escaped into foreign cities or countries. I was suggesting that they were incredibly discouraged and in hiding, for their teacher that they thought to be the Son of God had been killed. Peter himself denied even knowing Jesus while he was being persecuted. And after the women reported seeing Jesus alive again they did not believe them. I could argue the difference of Acts 1:4 stating Jesus was with them for 40 days, and the gospel accounts in that the gospel accounts do not give a time frame of His appearance and do not state that after He ascended to heaven He would never show up again, or that the ascension was His last appearance. Jesus appeared many times after that, He even appeared to Paul years later as stated in Acts. The book of Mark even states that after He ascended the Lord was still with the disciples (Mark 16:20).
In regards to Isaiah 7, this prophecy falls into the same situation described in the other prophecies we originally got on topic about. I see your argument and understand it completely, the literal interpretations of the prophecy do not appear at first to be messianic in nature. Again, the argument for these prophecies are that they may be looking to the time of the Messiah as a whole (prophetic foreshortening), in which the inauguration of the Lord’s kingdom and its culmination are described as one picture seen from a great distance. The actual fulfillment, its timing (what relates to the first coming of Christ, what relates to His second coming) and nature (is it literal or figurative), can be fully understood only as it comes to pass and with the help of inspired interpretations provided by the Lord and His apostles.
As far as their being pagan virgin birth influences in the gospel accounts, I would have to disagree that they influenced the gospels under the assumption the virgin conception is not a genuine story. For example, in Greek Mythology, the Ophic story of Dionysos, Zeus came to Persephone in the form of a serpent, and impregnated her. This would also conclude in the maiden no longer being a virgin. But with the story of Mary we find an unwed virgin woman who is given a child via the Holy Spirit. The story involves no intercourse, and the mother in question has never been married or with a man and is therefore a virgin.
In almost every other religion in the ancient world we see mythical characters and gods that are extremely sexually active. Yet, with the story of Jesus, we find absolutely zero reference to sexual activity in regards to the conception of Christ. Despite what we may call a virgin conception today, there was no world or pagan religions that boast a true virginal conception from which first-century Jewish-Christians could be presented to copy from.
Not to be left out is the story of the pregnancy itself. In other ancient religions and myths, we see extremely odd and fantastic attributes to the pregnancy, or no reference to the pregnancy period at all. But in Mary’s pregnancy we see a normal human nine month pregnancy and birth. In fact the only thing about Mary’s pregnancy that is unusual is the conception itself. Mary’s pregnancy bears hardly any resemblance to other pagan religions of the ancient.
You mention that Mark does not contain any reference of the Birth. You are correct in that is does not, but just because it does not reference the birth does not mean it did not occur. There are, in fact, many stories and teachings that appear in Luke, John and Matthew that are not in the shorter book of Mark. Doesn’t mean those things never happened, it just means Mark didn’t write about them.
As far as the birth story of Luke not matching Matthew, they do have different details in them, but they are not in contradiction with one another. It’s again, two different authors writing their own individual scripture. Which, if you ask me, testifies to the genuine creation of the gospels. If they were all made up they would have identical stories and details, rendering the authors guilty of collusion. I looked at both Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:30-33 as you said, and both passages reflect the angel telling Mary to name the child Jesus. So there is no contradiction there.
You are correct in your assumption of me being and evangelical Christian. I differentiate the persecution of Jesus’ disciples from those of Mormons for the following reasons: Joseph Smith made serious mistakes in his life that lead to his followers abandoning him at different times during their westward expansion, most notably when he bankrupted an entire town, everyone abandoned him except for a handful of devout followers. Those that abandoned never returned to him. All thru out Mormon history we see massive fall out of believers. We do not see that with the early Christians written in the New Testament. Yes, Mormons were persecuted, but hardly to the degree that early Christians were persecuted. Tar and feathering is a long way from those disciples that were tortured and crucified themselves. When Christ died the disciples were scared, discouraged, and doubtful, it was all over for them. Then Christ reappears to them and then they’re bold and confident again. If Jesus did not resurrect and appear to them, if that body still lay in that grave that Sunday and every subsequent day since, for the remainder of that year, then they would know it was over, that Christ wasn’t the Messiah, and would therefore not be tortured and killed for something they knew was not true. Whereas, after Joseph Smith died, the Mormons immediately came together and formed a militia to protect themselves from any further aggression to their people, and they continued to move west into frontier lands that had little to not settlement. That’s the difference to me: Christians who saw the resurrected Christ themselves, who went to certain torture and death for preaching Christ. Versus the Mormons who moved out west and defended themselves with a militia to end further persecution after Joseph Smith died.
In response to Daniel not being an accurate book for dating; history has shown that King Nebuchadnezzar attacked King Jeohiakim on three separate occasions (605, 597, and 587 B.C.). There is no contradiction between Daniel, who says this happened in the third year of Jehoiakim, and Jeremiah 25:1 and 46:2, which says it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Daniel reckoned a king’s years after the Babylonian method: the first year of a king’s reign begins at the start of the calendar year after he takes the throne. Jeremiah uses the Jewish method. Having spent most of his life in Babylon, it is only natural that Daniel should use a Babylonian form of chronology. It is evident that Daniel’s past dates were recorded correctly, so I don’t have trouble in believing his future predicted dates.
Thank you again for your thoughts and position on these matters.