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Failed prophecies?

July 3, 2014

Prophecies are consistently appealed to in the Bible as evidence of its divine origin. Several passages claimed by skeptics and atheists as examples of failed prophecies are examined here. They fall into the following categories: passages which are not formal predictive prophecies in the manner claimed, passages which are misinterpreted by the critic, and passages which were fulfilled in contradiction to the critic’s claims.

Passages which are applied typologically

Several passages in the Old Testament which have  traditionally been understood as prophetic of Christ, are objected to by critics as inapplicable or unfulfilled.

  1. How can ‘When he sins, I will correct him with the rod of men and with wounds inflicted by human beings’ in 2 Samuel 7:14 apply to Christ, when Christ never sinned?
  1. How can the servant of Isaiah 49 refer to Christ, when the context indicates it speaks explicitly of Israel?

A traditional answer has been that these prophecies have ‘dual fulfillments’, that they were prophecies fulfilled in part by Solomon or Israel, and fulfilled in part later in the life of Christ. This is actually only half true. In reality the prophecies had direct and full application to their immediate referent, and are applied typologically to Christ. That is, they are formal predictive prophecies about Solomon and Israel respectively, but parts of them find echoes in the life of Christ, the ‘son of God’ in a greater sense than both Solomon and Israel. Their application to Christ is not a claim to direct fulfillment of a formal prediction, but an illustration that certain promises made by God in earlier times have a relevance to the greater work of Christ which they foreshadow.

Passages which are misinterpreted

Certain prophecies criticized as unfulfilled have actually been misinterpreted.

  1. How can God’s words  ‘I, the LORD, promise: “David will never lack a successor to occupy the throne over the nation of Israel’ in Jeremiah 33:17 be said to have been fulfilled, when the Davidic monarchy ended with the Babylonian captivity?

The answer is that this prophecy was conditional, as was made clear to Solomon before Jeremiah’s time.

1 Kings 9:

You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.

Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will not fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Solomon and his descendants failed to keep this covenant, and the Davidic monarchy consequently came to an end;[1] the New Testament writers identify Christ as its true successor.

  1. How can Jesus’ words ‘I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes’ in Matthew 10:23 and ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things take place’ in Matthew 24:34 be considered anything but failed prophecies, when he did not return before the apostles had finished preaching to the towns of Israel, or before the generation of his time had passed away?

These passages do not speak of the return of Christ, but of the end which would come with the destruction of Jerusalem in the war of 66-70 CE.[2] [3]

  1. In Mark 8:38 Jesus says ‘there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power’, and in Matthew 16:28 Jesus says ‘there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom’, Jesus failed to return before his disciples died, making these false prophecies.

These passages refer to thetransfiguration (a vision of Jesus ‘coming in his kingdom’), which is described in both gospels as occurring shortly after Jesus spoke these words. Early Christians almost universally understood these passages as a reference to the transfiguration.[4]

It should be noted that these words of Jesus were transmitted by the gospel writers decades after Jesus’ ministry and after the disciples had died, indicating that they them as fulfilled prophecy. If these predictions had been understood as Jesus saying he would return before the disciples died, they would have been more likely to omit them completely.

  1. In 1 Corinthians 7:31 Paul says ‘the present shape of this world is passing away’, indicating that he, like other New Testament writers, believed they would see the return of Christ in their lifetime, but it never happened.

These words are not written as formal predictive prophecy, and as much as Paul may have believed at one time that Christ would return while he was still alive,  it is clear he and other writers such as Peter gradually understood that this would not be the case. In fact both Paul and Peter prepare other Christians for a lengthy wait before Jesus’ return. In 2 Thessalonians Paul makes it clear that Christ’s return is not imminent, and that it will not happen before certain specific events have taken place.[5]

2 Thessalonians 2:

1 Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,

2 not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

Peter likewise prepares his readers for a lengthy wait, speaking of the ‘last days’ in the future, and warning believers they will be mocked for their patience at that time.

2 Peter 3:

3 Above all, understand this: In the last days blatant scoffers will come, being propelled by their own evil urges

4 and saying, “Where is his promised return? For ever since our ancestors died, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Passages which were fulfilled

Certain prophecies have actually been fulfilled, despite claims to the contrary.

  1. The prophecy of Isaiah 17 claims Damascus would be ‘a heap of ruins (verse 1), and that ‘Damascus will lose its kingdom’ (verse 23), but Damascus is a thriving city today.

This prophecy made by Isaiah some time around 740 BCE, was fulfilled when the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III destroyed Damascus, which was at that time not a mere city but a thriving Aramean kingdom.[6] Isaiah prophesied Damascus would be a ‘heap of ruins’, and Tiglath-pileser III’s own record of his conquest proves this is what happened, boasting of his extensive destruction of Damascus; ‘591 cities of the 16 districts of Damascus I destroyed like mounds of ruins after the Deluge’. [7] Isaiah’s prediction that ‘Damascus will lose its kingdom’ was fulfilled by Tiglath-pileser III’s annexation of Damascus and all its territories, and the deportation of  many of its inhabitants.[8] [9]

  1. The prophecy of Tyre’s destruction in Ezekiel 26 failed to come true, and Ezekiel’s own words in Ezekiel 29:18-19 (especially that Nebuchadnezzar II and his army ‘received no wages from Tyre for the work he carried out against it’ , verse 28), prove he knew the prophecy failed.

This criticism overlooks the fact that Ezekiel’s commentary in Ezekiel 29:18-19 is certainly in response to criticisms that his earlier prophecy was not completely successful; in other words, it proves at minimum that Ezekiel’s earlier prediction that Nebuchadnezzar II would attack Tyre was not only made before the event, but also came true. This is not a good start for a critic of prophetic fulfillment. Subsequent to Ezekiel’s successful prediction, his political enemies attempted to discredit him by claiming Nebuchadnezzar’s army had failed to  vindicate the prophecy.[10] Such claims were unwarranted, for ‘the siege was successful and Tyre did pass into Babylonian control’.[11]

Since Nebuchadnezzar II failed to destroy Tyre utterly, some commentators state that since Ezekiel’s original prophecy had predicted ‘many nations’ would be brought against Tyre (‘I will bring up many nations against you’, Ezekiel 26:3), of which Nebuchadnezzar II’s campaign was only the first. It is claimed that this is supported by the alternating statements of what ‘he’ (Nebuchadnezzar II), and ‘they’ (subsequent nations), would do to Tyre, especially Alexander the Great.

However, this view has been criticized as an improbable reading of the Hebrew text.[12] Instead it should be recognized that the first section of the prophecy (verses 1-6), is a self-contained unit predicting the coming of ‘many nations’ against Tyre, and thus not restricted to Nebuchadnezzar II (whose campaign is described from verses 7-13);[13] the complete destruction of the city as predicted by Ezekiel was fulfilled by Alexander.

The objection that the prophecy’s description of an attack against a mainland city (which Nebuchadnezzar attacked), and therefore does not describe the destruction of the island (which Alexander attacked), is misguided. [14] The prophecy uses the standard conquest language of the Ancient Near East; when Esarhaddon of Assyria attacked the island city he still described it in terms of a land battle, even to the point of describing trenches being dug (impossible in an island siege).[15]

  1. The prophecies against Egypt in Ezekiel 30 and Isaiah 19 failed to come true; Nebuchadnezzar did not invade and conquer Egypt as predicted.

First it should be noted that it is acknowledged even by modern critics that the prophecy was given before the event it describes took place.[16] Consequently, attempts to reduce the accuracy of the prediction by claiming it was insufficiently fulfilled are demonstrably motivated by the desire to avoid the fact that a successful prophecy actually happened. The best a critic can do in the face of the fact that the text contains a prophecy indisputably before the event to which it obviously refers, is to claim that the prophecy wasn’t fulfilled sufficiently to be considered accurate. This is not intellectually honest.

In fact, the prophecy was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar II’s war against Egypt in 586 BCE, recorded in a fragmentary Babylonian text.

‘. . . [in] the 37th year, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Bab[ylon] mar[ched against] Egypt (Mi-sir) to deliver a battle. [Ama]sis (text: [ . . . ]-a(?)-su)y of Egypt, [called up his a]rm[y] . . . [ . . . ]\u from the town Pufu-Iaman . . . distant regions which (are situated on islands) amidst the sea . . . many . . . which/who (are) in Egypt . . . [car]rying weapons, horses and [chariot]s . . . he called up to assist him and . . . did [ . . . ] in front of him . . . he put his trust. . . (only the first signs at the beginning and the end of the following 7 or 8 lines are legible).’[17]

The success of Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign is acknowledged by secular historians, on the basis of several lines of evidence.[18] Firstly, and rather ironically, some historians believe the prophecy of Ezekiel was written after the event, precisely because it is so accurate.

‘First of all, both Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied that he would do so; and since most of these “prophecies” were written in retrospect, or at least gained popular currency only after having been proved correct, we may be fairly certain that the prophesied invasion and defeat of Egypt actually took place.’[19]

Two other sources are the Biblical text describing Jewish refugees moved from Egypt to Babylon, and the record of Josephus indicating Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt.

‘Secondly, the biblical sources say that Nebuchadrezzar was able to remove the Jewish refugees in Egypt to Babylon. He could not of course have done so unless he had entered and subjugated the country. Thirdly, Josephus tells us that he conquered Egypt. We are informed that four years after the fall of Tyre, Nebuchadrezzar invaded the country and put its King Uaphris to death, installing a creature of his own upon the vacant throne.’[20]

Another source is the presence in Egypt of artifacts belonging to Nebuchadnezzar II, demonstrating he invaded and established himself there.

‘Fourthly, and most importantly, artifacts of Nebuchadrezzar have actually been discovered in Egypt. These are “three cylinders of terra-cotta bearing an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, an ordinary text referring to his constructions in Babylon … These were said to come from the Isthmus of Suez, and they apparently belong to some place where Nebuchadrezzar had ‘set up his throne’ and ‘spread his royal pavilion.’ As he only passed along the Syrian road, and Daphnae would be the only stopping place on that road in the region of the isthmus, all the inferences point to these having come from Defenneh, and being the memorials of establishment there.”’ [21]

This also fulfills the prophecy of Jeremiah 43:10 that Nebuchadnezzar would ‘pitch his royal tent’ in Tahpanhes in Egypt.[22] [23] The scholarly  conclusion from these sources is ‘There can be little doubt; Nebuchadrezzar entered and conquered Egypt.’ [24]

  1. Although Joshua 3:10 says God would ‘truly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusite’, 1 Kings 9:20 says ‘several non-Israelite peoples were left in the land after the conquest of Joshua’.

Joshua’s words are a repetition of the words of Moses, which made it clear that God’s driving out of the  inhabitants of Canaan was conditional on the Hebrews maintaining their obedience to God.

Deuteronomy 4:

1 Now, Israel, pay attention to the statutes and ordinances I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.

Deuteronomy 7:

12 If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the LORD your God will faithfully keep covenant with you as he promised your ancestors.

Deuteronomy 8:

1 You must keep carefully all these commandments I am giving you today so that you may live, increase in number, and go in and occupy the land that the LORD promised to your ancestors.

  1. The gospels describe Jesus predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but this is not an accurate prediction because the gospels were written after the event; even if they had been written before the event, such a war was obviously going to happen anyway, so it is not evidence of an accurate prophecy.

The first point to note about this objection (which can be found made by a range of atheists and skeptics), is that it is intellectually dishonest; it tries to argue that the prophecy isn’t true because it was written after the event, but also argues that even if it had been made before the event it still wouldn’t count as a fulfilled prophecy. Such an argument is not evidence based, and demonstrates that the person making the argument is not really interested in the facts.

The second point to note about this objection is that although the date of Mark’s gospel is still an open question in current scholarship, dates proposed typically fall between 65 and 75 CE.[25] In fact recently strong arguments have been made for a much earlier date. The secular scholar Mark Crossley argues for a date ‘before the late forties’,[26] at least 20 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and the secular scholar Maurice Crossley argues ‘a date c. 40 CE must be regarded as highly probable’.[27]

It is clear that many scholars (even non-religious scholars), are prepared to accept that Mark’s gospel (which contains a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple), was indeed written before the events it predicts. Rejecting this possibility out of hand is therefore intellectually dishonest, especially when no attempt is made to address the significant body of evidence indicating that Jesus’ prediction in Mark was indeed made before the event.

The third point to note is that there is no evidence at all to suggest that the possibility of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans was so probable that it would have appeared obvious to people in Jesus’ own day, or even 30 years later (63-65 CE). In fact construction on the Temple had already been carried out for nearly 50 years by the time of Jesus’ ministry (John 2:20), and it was not even completed until shortly before the Romans destroyed it.[28][29]

It is difficult to demonstrate that anyone seeing the ongoing construction of the Temple in Jesus’ day would have concluded that the Romans would destroy it over 30 years later. It is likewise difficult to demonstrate that anyone seeing the construction continuing in 63 CE would have concluded that the Romans would destroy both the Temple and the entire city in just a few more years.

The fact is that the explosive events which led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE were not predicted by anyone outside the gospels, and even Jesus’ own words make it clear he expects skepticism on the part of his audience. There is no evidence in any of the relevant Roman historical sources who wrote in detail about the events of the first century (such as Suetonius, Tacitus, and Appian), nor in Josephus (who was both a historian, and a general on the Jewish side of the war), that anyone was expecting such a war before it took place, still less the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. There is excellent evidence therefore that Jesus’ prophecy was made well before the events they predicted successfully, and it is indisputable that these events were not foreseen or expected by anyone else.

Conclusion

Skeptical claims that Bible prophecies have not been fulfilled should be taken seriously; it is a fact that some Bible prophecies are impossible to verify due to a lack of available information, even if there is no evidence proving they did not come to pass. However, when such criticisms are made it is important to identify whether or not the arguments made are evidence based, demonstrate a knowledge of and engagement with the relevant scholarly literature, and are intellectually honest.

In particular, such arguments must prove that they have interpreted the prophecy as it was originally intended, and must provide substantial objections to the relevant counter-arguments by scholars who make the case that the prophecy was in fact fulfilled. In turn, defenses of these prophecies must exercise intellectual honesty in acknowledging problems where they genuinely exist, and must cite, discuss, and be supported by the relevant scholarly literature, in order to be credible.

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[1] ‘But perhaps the promise to the house of David is not all that unilaterally unconditional, and perhaps the dynastic oracle here is firmly set in the Sinaitic covenant (Eslinger 1994). We can agree with Brueggemann (1990: 259) when he says, “While the covenantal ‘if’ is silenced in this theology, it has not been nullified.” This is particularly true when the Lord speaks of David’s son: “When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings” (v. 14b).’, Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Historical Books (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 317–318.

[2]Now that we have seen that the reference is to the destruction of the temple, which did as a matter of fact take place some 40 years later while many of Jesus’ contemporaries must have been still alive, all such contrived renderings may be laid to rest. This verse refers to the same time-scale as 16:28 (which was also concerned with the fulfillment of Dan 7:13–14): “some of those standing here will certainly not taste death before …” (cf. also 10:23, with the same Daniel reference: “you will not go through all the towns of Israel before …”).’, R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007), 930.

[3]34 The πάντα ταῦτα, “all these things,” of this verse can include no more than the same phrase in the preceding verse and thus cannot include the coming of the Son of Man (so too Blomberg). The phrase refers not only to general marks of the interim period such as tribulation, distress, pseudo-messiahs, and false prophets but specifically, and dramatically, to the desecration of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. vv 15–22). As in the other imminence sayings (cf. 16:28; 10:23; 23:36), all of which like the present logion are prefaced by the emphatic ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, “truly I tell you,” formula, the main point is that the fall of Jerusalem was to be experienced by that generation (pace Kidder), those listening there and then to the teaching of Jesus (ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, “this generation,” is used consistently in the Gospel to refer to Jesus’ contemporaries; cf. 11:16; 12:41–42, 45; 23:36).’ Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28 (vol. 33B; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 715.

[4]‘The most widespread interpretation in the Eastern and Western church related the saying to the transfiguration whereby then “some” referred to Peter, James, and John.’, Ulrich Luz, Matthew: a Commentary (ed. Helmut Koester; Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 386; Luz disagrees with this interpretation, but acknowledges it was the most common in the early church.

[5] ‘Mearns (“Development”) also takes the reference to be to 1 Thessalonians, but argues that Paul had changed his mind about the suddenness of the Day of the Lord since writing that letter and is now correcting perfectly reasonable inferences that the readers might have drawn from it.’, F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians (vol. 45; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 164.

[6] ‘The Assyrian invaded northern Israel (2 K. 15:29) and then besieged and destroyed Damascus as an Aramean kingdom in 732, killing Rezin (2 K. 16:9). Assyrian records tell of 591 towns of the “16 districts of Aram” destroyed “like mounds left by a flood” (ARAB, I § 777).’, M. F. Unger, “Damascus,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 854.

[7] ‘12′ […] orchards without number I cut down; I did not leave a single one. 13′ … the town of …]hadara, the home of the dynasty of Rezin of Damascus, 14′ [the pl]ace where he was born, I surrounded and captured. 800 people with their possessions 15′ their cattle (and) their sheep I took as spoil. 750 captives from the cities of Kuruṣṣa 16′ (and) Sama, 550 captives from Metuna I took, 591 cities 17′ of the 16 districts of Damascus I destroyed like mounds of ruins after the Deluge.’, Lester L. Grabbe, “The Kingdom of Israel from Omri to the Fall of Samaria: If We Only Had the Bible …,” in Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty (ed. Lester L. Grabbe; London: T&T Clark, 2007), 79.

[8] ‘Finally, the Assyrians had had enough of the rebellious behaviour of Damascus, the last Aramaean stronghold in Hatti. Damascus and its cities were conquered and turned into Assyrian provinces (Tadmor 1994: 79–81). A part of the population was deported (Grayson 1991/2000: 77–8; Dion 1997: 215–16; Sader 1987: 250–1; Weippert 1987: 99).’, Hans M. Barstad, “Can Prophetic Texts Be Dated? Amos 1–2 as an Example,” in Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty (ed. Lester L. Grabbe; London: T&T Clark, 2007), 33.

[9] ‘At the close of the Syro-Ephraimitic War, Tiglath-pileser took several actions that form the background of this text. He killed Rezin, destroyed Damascus, and annexed all territory controlled by Damascus into the Assyrian provincial system.‘, Brad E. Kelle, “What’s in a Name? Neo-Assyrian Designations for the Northern Kingdom and Their Implications for Israelite History and Biblical Interpretation,” ed. Gail R. O’Day, Journal of Biblical Literature 121 (2002): 639., Gail R. O’Day, ed., Journal of Biblical Literature 121 (2002): 659.

[10] ‘The objective reason for the oracle is supplied in v 18. However, the more immediate agenda is implied by v 21ab: Ezekiel was being criticized by his Jewish contemporaries for the lack of precise fulfillment of his oracles against Tyre.’. Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20–48 (vol. 29; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 109.

[11] ‘It was to some extent a carping criticism: the siege was successful and Tyre did pass into Babylonian control. In a list of royal hostages at Nebuchadnezzar’s court, to be dated about 570 B.C., the king of Tyre has the initial place (ANET 308a; Katzenstein, History of Tyre 326). About 564 B.C. Baal, Ethbaal’s successor as king of Tyre, was replaced by a Babylonian High Commissioner (Katzenstein, History 332–33; cf. Unger, ZAW 44 [1926] 314–17). Any prophet might have been glad to chalk it up as a vindication of his or her prediction, despite Nebuchadnezzar’s non-destruction of Tyre.’, ibid., p. 109.

[12] ‘However, the proposed distinction between the “many nations” of verse 3 and Nebuchadnezzar’s army seems overly subtle, in light of the reference to Nebuchadnezzar as “king of kings” (v. 7) and the multiethnic nature of his army. Nebuchadnezzar is the focal point of verses 7–11, but the actions described are those of an army. The subject of the plural forms in verse 12 is most naturally understood as the collective “army” (Heb. ‘am) of verse 7, which in turn can be seen as comprised of the “many nations” mentioned in verse 3 (see also the reference to “nations” in v. 5).’, Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Handbook on the Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 268.

[13]Tyre’s fall appears in the first two prophecies, the second picking up phrases from the first and adding further details, and the remaining two prophecies describe the bewailing and then the entombment of the fallen one.’, Ronald M. Hals, Ezekiel (vol. 19; The Forms of the Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 188.

[14]Taking the standard siege imagery too literally, some scholars have concluded that the passage must come out of a setting different from Nebuchadrezzar’s time, seeing in vv. 9–11 a battle song about Alexander’s conquest of Tyre, or supposing that the actual reference of the passage was to a conquest of “old Tyre” on the adjacent mainland. (See the references in Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, 37.) The proper recognition of the typicality of the imagery involved renders such literalistic hypotheses unnecessary.’, Ronald M. Hals, Ezekiel (vol. 19; The Forms of the Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 189.

[15] ‘The infiltration of characteristics typical of a description of a mainland siege into the description of the siege of the island city of Tyre can already be observed in the Assyrian royal inscriptions, when Esarhaddon there reports of the construction of trenches (ḫalṣē) against Tyre.’, Walther Zimmerli, Frank Moore Cross, and Klaus Baltzer, Ezekiel: a Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979–), 37; a footnote adds ‘This also disposes of Wiener’s theory that this passage deals solely with the conquest of the mainland city of old Tyre’.

[16] ‘The prophecy against Egypt does not seem to have come to pass in every detail either, but the book was probably completed and its authority established by the time this became clear.’, Thomas Renz, The Rhetorical Function of the Book of Ezekiel (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 98.

[17] J. B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts (3rd ed. with supplement. Princeton: Princeton UP, rev. 1969), 308.

[18] ‘That Nebuchadrezzar actually conquered Egypt is suggested by a number of very powerful pieces of evidence’, Emmet John Sweeney, The Ramessides, Medes, and Persians, Ages In Alignment Series, volume 4 (Algora Publishing, 2008), 153; ‘Nebuchadrezzar’ is the more accurate transliteration of the name ‘Nebuchadnezzar’.

[19] Ibid., p. 153.

[20] Ibid., p. 153.

[21] Ibid., p. 153.

[22] Jeremiah 43: 8 At Tahpanhes the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. 9 “Take some large stones and bury them in the mortar of the clay pavement at the entrance of Pharaoh’s residence here in Tahpanhes. Do it while the people of Judah present there are watching. 10 Then tell them, ‘The LORD God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will bring my servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will set his throne over these stones which I have buried. He will pitch his royal tent over them.

[23] ‘In short, the prophecy of Jeremiah that the king of Babylon would spread his royal pavilion at the entrance of the pharaoh’s house in Tahpanheth (Daphnae) was fulfilled.’, ibid., p. 153.

[24] Ibid., p. 153.

[25] ‘While scholars differ over the precise year, a date between 65 and 75 CE is accepted by a wide variety of scholars of very different ideological persuasions.’, James G. Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (vol. 266; Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series; London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 1.

[26] ‘This now becomes an argument of powerful collective weight for Mark to have been written before the late forties and if this is combined with the analysis of Mark 13 in Chapter 2 it is unlikely that it was written no earlier than the mid to late thirties.’, ibid., p. 208.

[27] Maurice Casey, Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel (vol. 102;  Society for New Testament Studies; Cambridge University Press, 1998), 260.

[28] ‘According to Josephus,17 the Herodian temple was begun in 20/19 BCE; it was completed shortly before the war with Rome.18 If this scene may be used to date the events,19 it would have taken place on Passover of the year 28.’, Ernst Haenchen, Robert Walter Funk, and Ulrich Busse, John: a Commentary on the Gospel of John (Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 184.

[29] ‘Work was still going on at his [Herod’s] death, and for that matter, for long after. The Temple was not completed until A.D. 63.’, Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 176.

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9 comments

  1. I would think that Matthew committed the common error of taking a verse out of context. He said Mary’s birth to Jesus was predicted by Isaiah. In context, Isaiah 7:14 makes the birth of the boy a sign to Ahaz, nothing in the context expresses or implies that the sign would take place 700 years after Ahaz died, and if Isaiah had intended that the woman with child was part of the ‘sign’, he would have used the Hebrew word bethula that specifically means a woman whose hymen is intact, he did not, it is “alma”. For these reasons, Isaiah 7:14 is typological fulfillment at best and thus worthless for apologetics purposes.

    I just started a blog where I have posted articles debunking protestant fundamentalist beliefs.

    https://porphyryredux.wordpress.com/
    Good day.


    • As I have explained, Matthew did not take this passage of context. He followed standard interpretive principles of the Second Temple Period. As I have also already said, Matthew’s use of this passage was typological so it is not to be used for apologetic purposes. I don’t think you read what I wrote. My blog does not post Protestant Fundamentalist beliefs, it debunks them.


      • You nowhere explain anything about Isaiah 7:14 in your comments that I was responding to. And following standard interpretive principles common to the Second Temple Period no more justifies those principles, than in saying one is following standard Mormon interpretative principles justifies Mormon interpretive principles. Pesher took stuff out of context, period. The fact that it was popular doesn’t justify it at all. You cannot justify distorting a passage of scripture merely by showing that a bunch of people used to do that. Further, its nice that you admit the obvious, that Isaiah 7:14 is worthless for apologetics purposes, but that doesn’t mean you have discerned Matthew’s intent correctly. If there is no apologetic purpose to showing prophecy fulfillment of a typological nature, then what exactly is accomplished by saying Jesus’ birth had various parallels to what Isaiah said? I think Matthew was attempting to show literal fulfillment, and the single solitary reason apologists relegate this to “typological” is because they know that the immediate context of Isaiah 7:14 proves Matthew’s interpretation false.


      • Again, it’s clear you are not reading what I write. This is nothing to do with justifying Second Temple Period interpretive principles. It’s about understanding what Matthew’s intention was. You claim his intention was to show literal fulfillment, but you provide no evidence for this whatsoever. In contrast, I have pointed out that his usage matches a standard Second Temple Period exegetical strategy of interpreting passages typologically. This typological usage was not dreamed up by modern day Christian apologists, it was typical of Second Temple Period Jewish literature. That being the case, the burden of evidence is on you to prove that Matthew was doing something completely different.

        The reason why you don’t understand what is accomplished by saying Jesus’ birth had parallels with what Isaiah said, is because you don’t know enough about the subject on which you’re trying to write. When you’ve demonstrated some familiarity with Second Temple Period exegetical literature in general, and typological exegesis in particular, then you can comment. Take care to cite the relevant scholarly literature.


      • I don’t see the point of debating the matter further with you. When you say Matthew showed typological fulfillment that is not profitable for apologetics, you moot any attempt to delve further into second temple exegetical practice. And technically, you never refuted my criticism that this interpretive method did indeed take OT texts out of context. You think all the apologists that view Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 as literal fulfillment, are wrong. You people cannot even agree what biblical evidence counts in apologetics and what doesn’t, yet you expect unbelievers to be bowled over with Christian apologetics arguments?

        How about we agree to discuss the evidence for Jesus rising from the dead? After all, you presumably agree with Paul in 1st Cor. 15 that Jesus must be risen from the dead if Christianity is to have significance. I’d appreciate a link any apologetics work you have done concerning the resurrection of jesus.


      • What just happened is you stumbled across my blog thinking you had found yet another easy target. Unfortunately you found someone who wasn’t using the same Fundamentalist arguments you’re used to debunking, and who knew a lot more about the subject than you do. Let that be a lesson. This interpretive method does not take Old Testament texts out of context, because it does not deny the application and meaning of the text in its original context. If you knew anything about Second Temple Period typology, you would know this. The way typology works is to say ‘Event A, which happened in the past and was spoken about in this way, is similar to event B, which is happening now, for the same or similar reasons’. This does not take the original text out of context, because it never says the original text is talking about event B instead of event A. In fact it never says the original text is talking about event B at all.

        Of course all the apologists viewing Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 as literal fulfillment are wrong. They know as much about Second Temple Period exegetical literature as you do; which is to say, virtually nothing. I don’t care about what apologists do and don’t agree on, I’m interested in the scholarly consensus of professional academics. They do agree on what evidence counts in apologetics and what doesn’t. If you had done any study of this, you would know. I expect you are an ex-Christian from some typically ignorant Fundamentalist sect which never exposed you to the scientific method and peer reviewed scholarly literature.

        Having been comprehensively defeated on this topic, I see you now want to change subjects to something you think will be a lot easier for you. I am sorry to disappoint you. I have not written an apologetic defense of the resurrection of Jesus, since it is not an empirically testable event.


      • What just happened is you stumbled across my blog thinking you had found yet another easy target. Unfortunately you found someone who wasn’t using the same Fundamentalist arguments you’re used to debunking, and who knew a lot more about the subject than you do. Let that be a lesson.
        ———Your degradation into internet-based psychoanalysis is rather unbecoming of somebody pretending to be an academically superior Christian.

        This interpretive method does not take Old Testament texts out of context, because it does not deny the application and meaning of the text in its original context. If you knew anything about Second Temple Period typology, you would know this. The way typology works is to say ‘Event A, which happened in the past and was spoken about in this way, is similar to event B, which is happening now, for the same or similar reasons’. This does not take the original text out of context, because it never says the original text is talking about event B instead of event A. In fact it never says the original text is talking about event B at all.
        ——–All you are doing is pontificating on what the case is and arbitrarily dismissing scholars who disagree with you, such as Matthew Black, who describes pesher as involving “forced and abnormal” construction of the biblical text. Matthew Black describes pesher as a form of exegesis whose
        ‘chief characteristics are its assumptions (a) that scripture has a veiled eschatological meaning; (b) that this cryptic meaning may be ascertained, if necessary, by a forced and even abnormal construction of the biblical text, e.g. by combining texts, by interpreting textual variants, even by rearranging letters; and (c) that the meaning so obtained can then be applied to present events or circumstances in which it is fulfilled.’
        Black “Christological Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament,” 1971, p. 1.
        Trinity Journal. 1998 (electronic edition.). Deerfield, IL: Trinity Seminary.

        Scholars are less agreed on pesher than you let on:

        2. Longenecker (Biblical Exegesis) and E. E. Ellis (Paul’s Use of the Old Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957]; id., “Biblical Interpretation in the New Testament Church,” in Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity [ed. M. J. Mulder; CRINT 2.1; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988] 691–725) are among the leading proponents of the view that NT exegesis is to be explained in terms of Qumran pesher and rabbinic midrash. Others would argue that the parallels are much less significant than the differences. Many of the adduced examples of rabbinic exegetical techniques in particular, may be adequately explained as reflecting general logical principles and not unique to rabbinic midrash (M. Silva, “Old Testament in Paul,” in Dictionary of Paul and his Letters [ed. G. F. Hawthorne and R. P. Martin; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1993] 637; R. B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989] 13). More problematic is the potential for anachronism in the use of the later rabbinic material as evidence for first-century exegetical practice (Hays, Echoes, 11). Silva therefore concludes that “its evidential value is only indirect, and thus its function is largely limited to illustrative, not probative, uses” (Silva, “Old Testament in Paul,” 638).
        Trinity Journal. 1998 (electronic edition.). Deerfield, IL: Trinity Seminary.

        Of course all the apologists viewing Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 as literal fulfillment are wrong. They know as much about Second Temple Period exegetical literature as you do; which is to say, virtually nothing.
        —-Your condescension is unbecoming a Christian professing higher biblical education. I suggest you forget the scholars and concentrate on “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, (2Ti 2:25 NAS)”. And no, the context does not indicate that advice is limited to Christians teaching Christians.

        I don’t care about what apologists do and don’t agree on, I’m interested in the scholarly consensus of professional academics.
        ——–Wow, you don’t care about unity in the body of Christ? Are you just an atheist pretending to be a Christian or what?

        They do agree on what evidence counts in apologetics and what doesn’t.
        ——-That is absurd, there are plenty of fundies who qualify as professional academics, who disagree with the scholarly majority on what counts as evidence. Licona lost his job at a Christian institution because he didn’t think the zombie resurrection of Matthew 27:52 was literal history, remember? The late Gleason Archer had the reputation for correcting the lexicons and yet held to classic bible inerrancy. You overstate the case, or else you arbitrarily exclude degreed fundies from your circle of scholars who agree on what constitutes evidence.

        If you had done any study of this, you would know. I expect you are an ex-Christian from some typically ignorant Fundamentalist sect which never exposed you to the scientific method and peer reviewed scholarly literature.
        ——–My background is totally irrelevant to whether my arguments and responses to you are correct. Attempting internet-based psychoanalysis is unbecoming a Christian professing membership in the club of the bible scholar elite.

        Having been comprehensively defeated on this topic, I see you now want to change subjects to something you think will be a lot easier for you.
        ——–comprehensively defeated? Like i said, your alleged years of rigorous training in bible scholarship apparently never enabled you to conduct the kind of inquiry that any 5 year old can do.

        I have not written an apologetic defense of the resurrection of Jesus, since it is not an empirically testable event.
        ———Then you must think the few fundies with higher degrees in biblically related fields who argue against resurrection skeptics, fundies like Licona, WL Craig, etc, are willfully stupid? I am willing to debate you on any philosophical, empirical or biblical subject you wish. Fair? And I didn’t bother googling your name until just now. I see you wrote a book “Living on the Edge” that basically allows you to vent against fundamentalism. Now I understand why you find internet-based psychoanalysis so irresistible.


      • 1. Like most people who bandy the word around, you clearly don’t know what psychoanalysis is. When I point out that you targeted this blog with your anti-Fundamentalist rhetoric, only to discover it doesn’t use Fundamentalist arguments, debunks Fundamentalist claims, and is managed by someone who knows more than you about the subject on which you commented, that is not psychoanalysis. Those are simple facts.

        2. No, I am not arbitrarily dismissing scholars who disagree with me. I am talking about typology, you are talking about pesher (typology is a hermeneutic used in pesher exegesis, but they are not synonymous). Please go and learn the difference. Your quotation of Black is evidence of your lack of research skills. Firstly Black’s comment was made over 40 years ago. Secondly it is about pesher, not about typology. Thirdly Black’s comments in that article represent a view of pesher which has been out of date for decades. One of the reasons why Black was so dismissive of pesher was that he believed it was a modern invention of 20th century scholars to harmonize New Testament exegesis with the Old Testament source. He was completely wrong about this, and Aune has commented that Black’s view “is a critique that should itself best be forgotten”; David Edward Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 350. Black’s definition of pesher is grossly out of date and is not followed by modern scholarship. If you were familiar with this subject you would have known this, and you would not have quoted Black in the first place.

        3. I never said anything about the level of scholarly agreement on pesher, so your comment on this matter is irrelevant (please start reading what I write).

        4. I am being gentle. I’m not attacking you or being remotely abusive. You say “I don’t mind a bit of cussing and sarcasm as long as you argue your points as opposed to just baselessly insisting that I failed to prove my point”, but I haven’t even used “cussing and sarcasm”. It seems you’re just upset that I know more than you do.

        5. No I never said I don’t care about unity in the body of Christ. Saying I don’t care what apologists do, I’m interested in the scholarly consensus of professional academics, does not mean ‘I don’t care about unity in the body of Christ’, nor does it mean ‘no professional academics are apologists’. This was a straw man argument from you indicating you are having problems addressing the issue under discussion. Additionally, I have never professed higher biblical education, so you are once again failing to read what I write and simply making things up. I have professed greater knowledge than you on this subject, which is indisputable.

        6. I never said your background was relevant to whether or not your arguments and responses are correct, so that’s another straw man. You really aren’t very good at this. Your repetition of the false charge of psychoanalysis confirms once again that you don’t know what the word means. When I observe your targeting of Protestant Fundamentalists, your use of Christian jargon (which you clearly haven’t yet let go), and your ownership of the Logos library system, it is rational to conclude that you are an ex-Fundamentalist Christian with a crusade against Fundamentalists (I note you have not even attempted to deny this). This is not psychoanalysis; indeed, it says absolutely nothing about you psychologically.

        7. You speak of my ‘alleged years of rigorous training in bible scholarship’. I have never made any claim to training in Bible scholarship, still less ‘years of rigorous training’. You are simply making things up. Dishonesty of this kind is not tolerated on this blog.

        8. No I don’t think the likes of Licona and Craig are willfully stupid, because they are not treating the resurrection as an empirically testable event. They are treating it as an empirically possible event, and assessing the empirical evidence for it. That is valid. I am not sure you understand what ’empirically testable’ means. Certain claims made in support of the resurrection as a historical event, are empirically testable because they are based on empirical evidence which can be tested. The event itself is not empirically testable; you cannot conduct an experiment (hypothesis, predictions, test, data collection, analysis, conclusion) which tests whether or not Jesus was resurrected. You can evaluate the empirical evidence for his resurrection and assess the probability of the resurrection as a historical event.

        9. If you have found my book you will understand why I have no interest in debating someone whose idea of research is a quick word search of their Logos library system, and a copy/paste of a quotation of a book written over 40 years ago, without any understanding of the topic at hand or any assessment of the value of the source quoted.


      • 1. Like most people who bandy the word around, you clearly don’t know what psychoanalysis is. When I point out that you targeted this blog with your anti-Fundamentalist rhetoric, only to discover it doesn’t use Fundamentalist arguments, debunks Fundamentalist claims, and is managed by someone who knows more than you about the subject on which you commented, that is not psychoanalysis. Those are simple facts.
        ———First, false distinction, facts and psychoanalysis are not necessarily different, yet you act as if your citation of alleged facts about me means you didn’t do psychoanalysis. Second, like most intellectual snobs, you direct those who oppose you to wikipedia to show that they misunderstood something. Wikipedia is a publicly edited encyclopedia that is the last place anybody professing your level of research capabilities should be directing other people to. the appropriate primer for discovering what psychoanalysis entails can be found at more scholarly links like. http://www.apsa.org/About_Psychoanalysis.aspx#What Your concern to get behind my argument and try to make statements about my personal history based on statements I make having nothing to do with my personal history shows you find it necessary to bring my personal history into what should be a purely academic discussion.

        2. No, I am not arbitrarily dismissing scholars who disagree with me. I am talking about typology, you are talking about pesher (typology is a hermeneutic used in pesher exegesis, but they are not synonymous). Please go and learn the difference.
        ——–Before you tell me to learn the difference, go back and read our exchanges, I never said typology and pesher were synonymous. I simply made the claim that pesher was a first century method of exegesis that scholars have said involves taking the OT out of context. I never discussed how pesher does or doesn’t relate to typology. Hence you engage in a distraction argument. My view on pesher, that is, taking the OT out of context to make it fit situations in the first century, is held by modern scholars:

        “Thus, the element of reapplication is key to the identification of pesher. In the NT the Jewish scriptures were seen to be fulfilled in new ways and reapplied to a new context – the Early Church Community – because of Jesus.” (R. Timothy Mclay, ‘Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research’, 2003 Erdmans, p. 34. ‘fulfilled in new ways’ cannot accomplish anything short of taking the OT out of context.

        Your quotation of Black is evidence of your lack of research skills.
        —–And your directing me to a publicly edited source for information on psychoanalysis is evidence of your lack of research skills, given there are plenty of scholarly and medical websites that explain what it is. You are trying to gain information about my personal background from comments I make that have nothing to do with my personal background, and there is no other word to describe such reaching except psychoanalysis. Not to mention it smears your pretense of scholarly acumen just like your sholastically unnecessary comments about how much smarter you are in this area than me. What else are you gonna say. That shirt would look better on you than me?

        Firstly Black’s comment was made over 40 years ago.
        ——–Apostle Paul commented on the meaning of OT texts about 2000 years ago, but age of commentary doesn’t bother you in the least, or did you forget? So quit acting like age alone is some daunting warning that the source is unreliable.

        Secondly it is about pesher, not about typology.
        —-IU never attempted to use it to document anything about typology, rather you falsely accuse me of seeing the two as synonymous when my responses to you neither expressed nor implied any such thing. My accusation that Matthew was engaging in pesher and taking Isaiah 7:14 out of context was accurate, whether typology can also explain some of Matthew’s application or not. I never said typology takes OT texts out of context. So quit giving the false impression that I missed the difference between pesher and typology, I didn’t.

        Thirdly Black’s comments in that article represent a view of pesher which has been out of date for decades.
        ——You already said it was 40 years old, so repeating what you said after “first”, doesn’t qualify to give you a “thirdly”.

        One of the reasons why Black was so dismissive of pesher was that he believed it was a modern invention of 20th century scholars to harmonize New Testament exegesis with the Old Testament source. He was completely wrong about this, and Aune has commented that Black’s view “is a critique that should itself best be forgotten”; David Edward Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 350. Black’s definition of pesher is grossly out of date and is not followed by modern scholarship.
        ———-But on the same page of your source, Aune’s basis for his critique of Black is a citation a 1979 work of George J. Brooke. Is this the part where you pretend to believe 35 year old scholarship of Brooke is ‘modern’, while scholarship of merely 5 years older in Black is “out dated”? You appear to have been hoodwinked by the 2003 publication date of the Westminister Dictionary you quote to believe that there is a 2003 consensus against Black’s view. Since I try to avoid psychoanalysis, I will resist the urge to draw a conclusion about how this apparent hoodwinking reflects on your research abilities.
        For now, J.G. Campbell in his “Exegetical Texts”, 2004, pp. 36-37, criticizes Brooke’s view, so your statement that Black is not followed by “modern scholarship” is false. I don’t seek to prove Black right or show any scholarly consensus, only to refute the false impression you left that a 2003 book using a 1979 quotation was representative of scholarly consensus against Black, it is not. And if you weren’t using Aune’s quote of Brooke to show scholarly consensus, then all you were doing was the pointless academic exercise of showing that you found a scholar who agrees with you.

        If you were familiar with this subject you would have known this, and you would not have quoted Black in the first place.
        ——Given the data I supply above, another option is that I disagree with you that Black’s 40-year old scholarship is outdated. Apparently it is you that needs help noticing what modern scholarship says about Pesher, so here’s another quotation that supports my view and Black’s against yours, namely, that pesher involved the interpreter claiming to see things in the OT text that the original author did not know about, a further support of my view that pesher involved taking things out of context regardless of how it relates to “typology’: “There is also a charismatic element to pesher exegesis, in that the interpreter knows things contained in Scripture that the original author did not (citing bible texts). Craig A. Evans, ‘Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible’, Baker Book House, 2005, p. 383. In case you can’t resist the fallacy of overcoming this rebuttal by attacking the author, Evans is an evangelical scholar, http://www.craigaevans.com/

        3. I never said anything about the level of scholarly agreement on pesher, so your comment on this matter is irrelevant (please start reading what I write).
        ——-Then you need to read more carefully what I write, as I never accused you of making statements about scholarly consensus on pesher.

        4. I am being gentle. I’m not attacking you or being remotely abusive.
        —-But you don’t need to attack me or be remotely abusive to justify the criticism that you aren’t being gentle. Paul tells you to be ‘gentle’ to those who are in opposition to you (2nd Tim. 2:25), but in context, the gentleness meant “must not be quarrelsome” (v. 24). Here is a list of phrases you use that indicate you are being quarrelsome, and the bible forbids you from being quarrelsome even if some quarrelsome thing you say is technically accurate:

        –The reason why you don’t understand what is accomplished by saying Jesus’ birth had parallels with what Isaiah said, is because you don’t know enough about the subject on which you’re trying to write.
        –Unfortunately you found someone who wasn’t using the same Fundamentalist arguments you’re used to debunking, and who knew a lot more about the subject than you do. Let that be a lesson.
        –If you knew anything about Second Temple Period typology
        –They know as much about Second Temple Period exegetical literature as you do; which is to say, virtually nothing.
        –If you had done any study of this, you would know.
        –I expect you are an ex-Christian from some typically ignorant Fundamentalist sect which never exposed you to the scientific method and peer reviewed scholarly literature.
        –Like most people who bandy the word around, you clearly don’t know what psychoanalysis is.
        –and is managed by someone who knows more than you about the subject on which you commented,
        –(typology is a hermeneutic used in pesher exegesis, but they are not synonymous). Please go and learn the difference.
        –Your quotation of Black is evidence of your lack of research skills.
        –If you were familiar with this subject you would have known this,
        –It seems you’re just upset that I know more than you do.
        –This was a straw man argument from you indicating you are having problems addressing the issue under discussion.
        –I have professed greater knowledge than you on this subject, which is indisputable.
        –You really aren’t very good at this.
        –If you have found my book you will understand why I have no interest in debating someone whose idea of research is a quick word search of their Logos library system, and a copy/paste of a quotation of a book written over 40 years ago, without any understanding of the topic at hand or any assessment of the value of the source quoted.

        And you aren’t being quarrelsome? Yeah sure, you are every bit as “gentle” as a schoolyard bully. You are the first person in history who thinks condescension (i.e., ‘Your quotation of Black is evidence of your lack of research skills.’, when my ability to research or lack thereof has nothing to do with whether my arguments are correct or not) constitutes “gentle.” Why do you persist in pontificating about my personal history, when my personal history has nothing to do with whether my arguments are correct?

        You say “I don’t mind a bit of cussing and sarcasm as long as you argue your points as opposed to just baselessly insisting that I failed to prove my point”, but I haven’t even used “cussing and sarcasm”. It seems you’re just upset that I know more than you do.
        ——–Again with the condescension. You don’t need to be condescending to argue your point against me. Please learn how to do so. Otherwise, your raging defensiveness will be interpreted as worry that somebody came along and launched you out of your comfort zone. You will not find much scholarly peer-reviewed literature showing two scholars bickering the way you do. They make their points and are courteous, and your courtesy disappeared after your second post.

        5. No I never said I don’t care about unity in the body of Christ. Saying I don’t care what apologists do, I’m interested in the scholarly consensus of professional academics, does not mean ‘I don’t care about unity in the body of Christ’, nor does it mean ‘no professional academics are apologists’. This was a straw man argument from you indicating you are having problems addressing the issue under discussion.
        ——-But there are plenty of apologists whose salvation you’d have no reason to doubt, who make claims that you think mislead others. If you think other Christians don’t mislead others, then there is indeed division in the body of Christ by reason of mistaken apologists, therefore when you say you don’t care about what apologists do, you are indeed saying you don’t care about that particular division in the body of Christ.

        Additionally, I have never professed higher biblical education, so you are once again failing to read what I write and simply making things up. I have professed greater knowledge than you on this subject, which is indisputable.
        —–How did you obtain a double-masters in Classics without writing any papers on the bible? Diploma mill? Or maybe the bible is no longer regarded as a classic in college courses on “classics”?

        6. I never said your background was relevant to whether or not your arguments and responses are correct, so that’s another straw man.
        —–You don’t need to say my background was relevant to my arguments being correct or incorrect, all you need do is bring up my background in a context where the my background doesn’t relate to the correctness of incorrectness of my argument, for this criticism of you to be justified. You constantly refer in a demeaning way to my personal history, and since there is no need for you to know that information to tell whether or not I am right or wrong, your choice to pontificate about my personal history justifies the criticism you seek to dodge. Stop the irrelevant personal attacks and I’ll stop that criticism, fair?

        You really aren’t very good at this. Your repetition of the false charge of psychoanalysis confirms once again that you don’t know what the word means.
        —–But that is only on the strength of your original view that you didn’t engage in psychoanalysis. As I pointed out, yes you did: You attempt to draw conclusions about my personal history from arguments I make that say nothing about that subject, and there is no other word to describe such desperate irrelevant trifling except psychoanalysis.

        When I observe your targeting of Protestant Fundamentalists, your use of Christian jargon (which you clearly haven’t yet let go),
        —-there you go again, based statements about my personal history on the way I talk. Again, no other word but psychoanalysis, and once again, my personal history is irrelevant.

        and your ownership of the Logos library system, it is rational to conclude that you are an ex-Fundamentalist Christian with a crusade against Fundamentalists (I note you have not even attempted to deny this).
        ——Straw man, the issue is not whether you are rationally justified to draw those conclusions about me, the issue is why you find it necessary to label me in the first place, when my arguments do not depend on my personal history. You are unscholarly to bring into the debate any refernce to my personal history that I never admitted to and which never contributes to helping you refute my specific arguments.

        This is not psychoanalysis; indeed, it says absolutely nothing about you psychologically.
        ——Calling me an ex-Fundamentalist Christian with a crusade against Fundamentalism is an attempt to say much about my psychological status, since fundamentalists and ex-fundamentalists with crusade on the mind are very distict sub-groups of people. Once again, you are unscholarly for raising issues of my personal history to cover your inability to refute me. If you feel you are able to refute me without talking about my personal history, then stop drawing conclusions about my personal history. Or argue that this request is unfair and you should be allowed to exchange scholasticism with school yard bullyism.

        7. You speak of my ‘alleged years of rigorous training in bible scholarship’. I have never made any claim to training in Bible scholarship, still less ‘years of rigorous training’. You are simply making things up. Dishonesty of this kind is not tolerated on this blog.
        ——-Then maybe you shouldn’t be posting to your own blog, because you have a double-major in Classics, at least that’s a claim you make elsewhere on the internet, and nobody will believe you got that far without doing scholarly level research on the bible. But I’m willing to let the issue go since it is a personal observation of mine and given that it doesn’t help me refute you, I guess I best abide by the morale I impose on you, and quit making the debate personal. Amen? Be careful, that’s a trick question.

        8. No I don’t think the likes of Licona and Craig are willfully stupid, because they are not treating the resurrection as an empirically testable event. They are treating it as an empirically possible event, and assessing the empirical evidence for it. That is valid.
        ———But you said “I have not written an apologetic defense of the resurrection of Jesus, since it is not an empirically testable event.” If your comments justifying Licona and Craig are true, then your inability to empirically test Jesus rising from the dead does not suffice to justify your failure to write an apologetic defense for it. According to you, it doesn’t need to be empirically testable to justify defending it on historical grounds. IF that be the case, please come up with another excuse for your failure to write an apologetic defense of the one Christian claim that apostle Paul said was the one upon which Christianity rises or falls, the resurrection of Jesus. If other apologists can validly do that, why haven’t you?

        I am not sure you understand what ‘empirically testable’ means.
        ——-Wow, you didn’t say “obviously you don’t understand what empirically testable’ means”….thank you for maturing in Christ as a result of my reminding you to be gentle under 2nd Timothy 2:24-25. God works in mysterious ways.

        Certain claims made in support of the resurrection as a historical event, are empirically testable because they are based on empirical evidence which can be tested. The event itself is not empirically testable; you cannot conduct an experiment (hypothesis, predictions, test, data collection, analysis, conclusion) which tests whether or not Jesus was resurrected.
        —-And our inability to test the act itself was your sole previously cited excuse for ducking and dodging my debate challenge, when, as now appears, you know perfectly well the resurrection claim can be defended on historical grounds. Did you seriously think my debate challenged as a challenge for you to empirically test the ACT of Jesus rising from the dead?! I obviously meant that I would oppose in debate your claim that the NT assertions of Jesus rising from the dead are more likely true than false.

        You can evaluate the empirical evidence for his resurrection and assess the probability of the resurrection as a historical event.
        ——-Then why haven’t you ever written an apologetic defense of the resurrection, now that you know that the act itself need not be empirically testable, in order to justify writing an apologetic defense for it?

        9. If you have found my book you will understand why I have no interest in debating someone whose idea of research is a quick word search of their Logos library system,
        ——–Well my idea of research is to read the same page you quoted me and finding that the scholarship behind your attempted rebuttal is a measly 5 years younger than the scholarship I quoted. Like I said, you’ll likely trifle that scholarship from 40 years ago is ‘out dated’, while scholarship from 35 years ago is “modern”.

        and a copy/paste of a quotation of a book written over 40 years ago, without any understanding of the topic at hand or any assessment of the value of the source quoted.
        ——-There you go again, you use condescension and quarrelsome demeanor and relying on it like people rely on air. You obviously need to be reminded that being quarrelsome is not necessary to scholarly arguments, however it proves useful if you are writing for a quasi-fundie audience who, like you, thinks some scholarly point is proved via condescension. It may sound condescending for me to say this, but I find it hard to believe you find it necessary to draw my personal history into this debate and talk about it in a quarrelsome way. My view is you are not that stupid, and therefore, you use condescension even when you know it is improper and has little chance of doing anything more than causing the debate to cease before a real check of your claimed knowledge can be done via debate.

        Now that you reveal you approve of other apologists defending the NT CLAIMS that Jesus rose from the dead, I reissue my challenge to you: I will debate you on the subject of whether the NT claims about Jesus rising from the dead are more likely true or more likely false. You apparently approve of Licona and Craig doing such debates…NOW what’s your excuse?



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