Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jim Lippard's Infidels Paper on Messianic Prophecies

He doesn't think this argument has any credibility. James Price (not to be confused with Jesus Seminar member Robert Price), begs to differ.


unkle e said...

Let's give the Infidels full credit for publishing the views of their opponents alongside their own. Not many on either side do that.

Victor Reppert said...

Indeed, my first big paper on the AFR except for the Christian Scholar's Review paper I published in 1989 on Lewis-Anscombe came out on Infidels, and it was at the request of then-editor of Infidels, Jeffrey Lowder. Lowder also requested the paper on Hume on Miracles that I published there. The first two papers that I published on the AFR after that were papers two in Philo while Keith Parsons was the editor.

Edward T. Babinski said...

James D. Price ought to consult Christian apologist J.P. Holding at Tekton Apologetics, who attempted a similar defense of "biblical prophecies of the first coming of Christ," but later gave up, having to admit that all such explanations raised further problems and were unconvincing and were based more on pesher and midrashic interpretations of O.T. verses lifted out of context, than based on genuine prophecies of a sort that could convince others of their inspired nature.

J.P. Holding has read some of the latest Evangelical literature on the topic as well as older literature. He can probably fill Price in as to where the errors of attempts at firmly validating such prophecies lay.

I could myself rebutt Price. The Isa. prophecy is indeed about a child born in Ahaz's day and given to him as a sign. The context is obvious. And it merely says a virgin shall conceive, not that a virgin shall give birth, nothing miraculous there. Virgins conceive all the time. And the name means "God (is) with us," on our side, as was demonstrated in an attack on Jerusalem that the city survived, and it says right in that account of the attack, "God was with us."

Whether or not this was a true prophecy, or merely that many prophets were prophecying many different outcomes, but Isaiah is remembered and their predictions forgotten, in which case either Isaiah or some other prophet might have been declared a "true" prophet, I don't know. But it certainly doesn't apply to Jesus of Nazareth. Not in context.

And whether or not some Jews believed it was a messiahnic prophecy before Matthew pesherized it as one, also does not matter. In that case they all ignored the original context.

Matthew's virgin birth story appears like a creation, based partly on the story of the annunciation and birth of Samson, combined with later pesher interpretations of the "virgin shall conceive" verses in Isa.

Paul and Mark, the two sources preceding Matthew know nothing of a "virgin birth." Matthew is where it first appears, and he was notorious for filling in the blanks of Jesus' life with O.T. verses taken out of context around which he wove midrashic type stories about Jesus.

The emperor Augustus also had stories going round that he was born of a virgin. Many figures were so honored.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Prometheus books came out with a book about the effect of studying the so-called "prophecies of the messiah" in their original Jewish context, and how such a study affected one American theologian in particular. The theologian was George Bethune English (1787?-1828), who graduated from Harvard College in 1807, and received the highest academic award, the Bowdoin Prize for his dissertation, and was awarded a Masters in theology in 1811. During his theological studies at Harvard he began to doubt the truth of the Christian religion which he critiqued in a book titled

The Grounds of Christianity Examined (Boston, 1813) [FREE ONLINE]

English's book drew a great deal of attention at the time. On November 4, 1814, the Church of Christ in Cambridge excommunicated him for this work. He wrote a second book 'A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Cary,' as a result of criticism of his first work and the controversy that it provoked. At this time he also published replies to the Unitarian leader William Ellery Channing's (1780-1842) 'Two Sermons on Infidelity.' A colleague from Harvard, Edward Everett, published a rejoinder to English's book 'The Grounds of Christianity Examined,' to which English responded with his 1824 book 'Five Smooth Stones out of the Brook' [FREE ONLINE]

What would make a nineteenth-century Harvard Divinity School graduate turn his back on his deeply held religious beliefs and write an incisive attack on Christianity? An obscure sixteenth-century polemic called the Chizzuk Emunah, written by a scholar from a heretical Jewish group, forever changed George Bethune English's life. Formerly a Congregationalist minister, Bethune English had rejected challenges to his faith until he discovered Rabbi Isaac ben Abraham of Troki's book, which led him to write: 'Either the Old Testament contains a Revelation from God, or it does not.' From this he concluded that if the Old Testament were true, Christians were distorting the divine revelation. If it were false, then there could be no basis for their faith.The result of his newfound beliefs was "The Grounds of Christianity Examined," a widely circulated critique of Christianity addressed to an extremely religious America.

Aware of the hostile response that he could expect, Bethune English not only argued his case against Christianity, but also his right to argue his case. One reader commented that his work would 'pass like wild-fire through the country,' yet an accessible and informative version of Bethune English's groundbreaking critique has not been available until now.

Historian and philosopher Richard H. Popkin in his book,

Disputing Christianity: The 400-Year-Old Debate over Rabbi Isaac Ben Abraham of Troki's Classic Arguments [Prometheus Books, 2007]

provides a fascinating commentary that notes many points of historical interest and demonstrates the significance of Bethune English's analysis of the Chizzuk Emunah. For example, Voltaire on a visit to England in 1724 learned of the original Jewish work from an associate of the Reverend Anthony Collins, an English deist. The work was also used in debates about the merits of Christianity between Unitarian minister Joseph Priestly and Anglo-Jewish theologian David Levi. German scholars Hermann Samuel Reimarus and Ephraim Gotthold Lessing referred to the work in their early publications initiating the Higher Criticism movement examining the historical origins of Christianity. And the work also had an influence on Abraham Geiger, the founder of Reform Judaism; on David Deutsch, the defender of Orthodox Judaism; and on Evangelical Christian leader Hermann Strack of Berlin, whose use of excerpts from Rabbi Isaac's work can still be found in Evangelical Christian literature today.

Edward T. Babinski said...


Fiddler Zvi's Antimissionary Page (recommended, he's even had a discussion with someone from Tekton, J.P. Holding's website; and Zvi's article, "Does Isaiah Warn Against Christianity" raises questions concerning the way one can find almost anything in Scripture)

Jews for Judaism

Outreach Judaism: Judaism's Response to Christian Missionaries

Why don't the Jewish People recognize the New Testament?

Counter Missionary by Bendad

Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus$.asp

The Virtual Yeshiva presents an on-going series of live counter-missionary trainings developed by Prof. Uri Yosef every Monday at 8 PM EST in the Noah Chat interactive classroom

Faith Strengthened -- Refutations of Christianity’s Claims and Objections to Judaism

Messiah Truth Project Comprehensive scriptural examination)

Christianity Revealed -- Exposing the Fiction (Noahhide website consisting of former Evangelical Christians who concluded that Christianity was a false religion, and so they left Christianity in favor of the laws revealled to Noah for the salvation of humanity. They explain why at their site below.)

Their Hollow Inheritance (Excellent site that may require a small reader to view the site. The reader is small and automatically downloaded if you click yes.)

Answering Dr. Michael L. Brown's Objections to Judaism -- Rabbi Moshe Shulman responds to the errors in the works of Dr. Michael Brown

Judaism's Answer -- If you or a relative is involved in a Christian or Messianic group, or are confused by what missionaries say, contact Rabbi
Moshe Shulman for 1-on-1 discussion.