Who do you say Jesus is?

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kaufmannphillips
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Re: Who do you say Jesus is?

Post by kaufmannphillips » Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:55 pm

Jason wrote:
For example, I see ancient written texts where God sets in place a system of sacrificial offerings where innocent animals are slaughtered for the sins of the multitude. Then I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals.

kaufmannphillips wrote:
Please identify the "prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals."

Jason wrote:
You know them. Isaiah 52 and 53. Psalm 22.
(a) Let's take Psalm 22 first. I have not located the portion where the sufferer is spoken of in sacrificial terms, nor even in terms parallel to the suffering of the "innocent animals" that were sacrificed. Would you point the verse(s) out for me?

(b) I will table Isaiah 52/53 until we have dealt with Psalm 22.
Jason wrote:
How about some Rabbinic traditions about these scriptures...
As I have written previously (link here), when it comes to the development of Christian atonement theory, there are relevant materials to be found even so early as the books of the Maccabees and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Be this as it may, it is not my position that every notion ever held by a Jewish person is correct. An idea that is fallacious when held by a Christian, is still fallacious when it is held by a Jew.
kaufmannphillips wrote:
I see ancient written texts where human sacrifice is rejected, and where one person is not to be put to death for the sin of another person. I see ancient written texts speaking of one G-d, with none other except him.

Jason wrote:
There are two objections here: 1) Human sacrifice is banned by God, 2) Christians believe there is more than one God.
As to the first argument, the fact that God bans his people from sacrificing humans is correct. But the atonement is not an exact parallel. John 3 says God sent Jesus because he loved the world, not because he needed appeasment. I don’t pretend to know how the suffering and death of Jesus accomplished victory over evil and sin, but I tend to think it was fundamentally a demonstration of love – an innocent man giving up his life for the guilty. In a courtroom setting, it hardly makes sense. That’s why I no longer use that particular argument. We don’t think it’s loving to kill an innocent person for a guilty person but what if the innocent person is you and you are willing (as in -- it was your idea) to lay down your life to save the guilty party becomes you love them? Maybe you jump in front of a bullet that’s headed toward someone you know if morally corrupt. That is not human sacrifice, it’s a demonstration of love. I think this example more closely parallels what happened in the atonement.
(a) You are welcome to embrace alternative atonement theory, if you wish, and you might even receive kudos from me for doing so. But your initial line of rhetoric played heavy on the matter of sacrifice: "For example, I see ancient written texts where God sets in place a system of sacrificial offerings where innocent animals are slaughtered for the sins of the multitude. Then I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals. Then I see a great tumult arising in the first century where a sect of Jews claim an innocent man, sent by God, died for the sins of the multitude. Shortly after, the animal system was abolished by foreign conquest and that tiny sect of Jews spread to Gentiles and then throughout the whole world, just as that innocent man had predicted. Now you may not find that compelling in the least but from where I sit, it's certainly something to ponder." You introduced ways that the Passion relates to the sacrificial system; I introduced a way that it does not relate to the system.

(b) It is also worth noting that the sacrificial system had been inaccessible before, during the Babylonian exile. How did Jews cope then?

(c) Let's play with your alternative idea a bit more. What is the "bullet," and who has fired it?
Jason wrote:
As to the second point about there being only one God – we are in full agreement. If you possess any nuance at all in your thinking you’ll see that it’s possible that we Christians don’t believe in many gods. In fact, you limit God by claiming he can’t be bigger than your box. If it’s possible that some aspect of God took on human flesh and became like us for a time then your critique is not fair.
If you possess nuance in your reading ;) , you might note that I wrote "I see ancient written texts speaking of one G-d, with none other except him [emphasis added]." The multi-personal Trinitarian G-d differs from what most people would usually imagine from a singular pronoun.

But as for "fairness" - if it is acceptable for you to "see" and "ponder" things that might not be "compelling" in an airtight way, then it should be acceptable for me to do likewise. You look at the interruption of sacrifice and consider it remarkable in a historical perspective; I look at the innovation of divine multi-personality and consider it remarkable in a historical perspective.
kaufmannphillips wrote:
When God required that animals be sacrificed for the sins of his people, what was he showing us there? When the prophets spoke about Messiah, to whom were they referring? Israel? The writer himself? A future king? Do you reject all but a small portion of the Hebrew Scriptures? If so, why do you do so?
(a) It is not necessary for G-d to have been "showing us" anything. For one thing, not everything is necessarily about us; the sacrificial system may have been a function of people's ritual needs at the time, in their cultural context.

For another thing, G-d did not necessarily design the terms of the covenant. The covenant does not hold because G-d designed it; it holds because man has committed, unto G-d, that he will keep its terms.

(b) Different prophets may have had different objects in mind at different times. As you may know, "messiah" simply means "anointed." Three different offices are described in the Tanakh as involving an anointing ritual - prophet, priest, and king. And we need not necessarily limit the ritual to those offices, nor even to a human person as the object of the ritual, since a non-living thing could also be anointed.

(c) The latter questions, we discussed back on page 6 of this thread.

Thank you for your time and perseverance, Jason.
========================
"The more something is repeated, the more it becomes an unexamined truth...." (Nicholas Thompson)
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Jason
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Re: Who do you say Jesus is?

Post by Jason » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:27 pm

Let's take Psalm 22 first. I have not located the portion where the sufferer is spoken of in sacrificial terms, nor even in terms parallel to the suffering of the "innocent animals" that were sacrificed. Would you point the verse(s) out for me?
Why did you want to start with Pslam 22 and not Isaiah 52? Just wondering.

Verse 14: "I am poured out like water"
This seems to coincide with Numbers 28:7 where the priest is commanded to pour out a drink offering for the sacrificial lambs being slaughtered. It could also be a reference to the blood under the alter which was also commanded to be poured out. There are other ways this might relate to sacrificial ordinances too and is written by David, a man not unfamiliar with the sacrificial system. It could be seen as a poetic description of general suffering as well but the wording makes me wonder.

But taken as a whole, Psalm 22 speaks of an innocent servent who suffers greatly and, after verse 19, seemingly brings about the restoration of the people due to what was inflicted on him. Are you looking for a more lucid example? If so, we might want to delve into Isaiah. However, I find Psalm 22 very compelling for not only the reason stated above but also because it seems to shed light on how the servent met his end:

Verse 16: "They pierced my hands my hands and my feet"
This was not a common form of punishment in David's time, nor in 250 b.c. when the Septuagent also recorded these words. It does, however, describe how Romans executed folks in the time of Jesus of Nazareth.
Be this as it may, it is not my position that every notion ever held by a Jewish person is correct. An idea that is fallacious when held by a Christian, is still fallacious when it is held by a Jew.
That is not the point, sir. The fact that non-Christian Jews also see these parallels is worth noting.
(a) You are welcome to embrace alternative atonement theory, if you wish, and you might even receive kudos from me for doing so. But your initial line of rhetoric played heavy on the matter of sacrifice: "For example, I see ancient written texts where God sets in place a system of sacrificial offerings where innocent animals are slaughtered for the sins of the multitude. Then I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals. Then I see a great tumult arising in the first century where a sect of Jews claim an innocent man, sent by God, died for the sins of the multitude. Shortly after, the animal system was abolished by foreign conquest and that tiny sect of Jews spread to Gentiles and then throughout the whole world, just as that innocent man had predicted. Now you may not find that compelling in the least but from where I sit, it's certainly something to ponder." You introduced ways that the Passion relates to the sacrificial system; I introduced a way that it does not relate to the system.
Honestly, I'm still working through my view of the atonement and haven't settled on any one idea. However, I'd say there was a sacrificial element that loosely resembles the courtroom analogy. But John 3 says the death of Christ was the result of the love God has for the world. I think these two ideas work together very well but I find the judicial analogy less helpful.
(b) It is also worth noting that the sacrificial system had been inaccessible before, during the Babylonian exile. How did Jews cope then?
The sacrificial system didn't save the Jews while it existed so it didn't un-save them when it was inaccessible. It was meant to point toward a later fulfillment. Babylon was 70 years, then they went back to the system. After 70 AD it was halted completely. I believe that's because it's fulfillment had come.
(c) Let's play with your alternative idea a bit more. What is the "bullet," and who has fired it?
If you want to flesh out my analogy then I'll play along. The bullet is death and the one who fired it is justice. Justice meant for the bullet to hit the guilty party but you (we'll call you 'Grace') stepped in and took the hit, resulting in your death. Maybe Justice only has one bullet? In this scenerio, Grace saved a guilty party because of love. It's a strongly romantic (in the platonic sense) notion and, if true, is truly a remarkable thing to behold.

As to the last part of your post, I don't find anything that warrants comment as I can't discern any questions or challenges therein. We'll have our hands full with Pslam 22, Isiah 52/53, the sacrificial system and our cute little analogy.

Blessings, sir.

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kaufmannphillips
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Re: Who do you say Jesus is?

Post by kaufmannphillips » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:23 am

Hi, Jason,

Thank you for your response.
Jason wrote:
Why did you want to start with Pslam 22 and not Isaiah 52? Just wondering.
Once Psalm 22 is dispensed with, then the only evidence you have introduced is Isaiah. At that juncture, your statement that "I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals" is plainly overreaching. One prophet doth not "the prophets" make.

I seek here to challenge both your outlook and your rhetoric. "The prophets" as a holistic group do not take the stand you attribute to them.
Jason wrote:
Verse 14: "I am poured out like water"
This seems to coincide with Numbers 28:7 where the priest is commanded to pour out a drink offering for the sacrificial lambs being slaughtered. It could also be a reference to the blood under the alter which was also commanded to be poured out. There are other ways this might relate to sacrificial ordinances too and is written by David, a man not unfamiliar with the sacrificial system. It could be seen as a poetic description of general suffering as well but the wording makes me wonder.
(a) The drink offering you refer to is not water; look at the verse in Numbers that you have cited.

(b) There are passages in the Pentateuch that refer to blood being poured out like water (viz., Deuteronomy 12:16 & 24; 15:23). But as one can see by looking at their context, they are not sacrificial killings - and quite pointedly so. In the first case, the issue is allowance for non-sacred butchering in local settings, standing in contrast to local sacrifice; in the second case, the issue is what to do with an animal that is blemished and unfit for sacrifice. In both cases, ritually clean and ritually unclean persons alike may eat of the animal, underscoring its lack of holy significance. Likewise, pouring out the animal's blood upon the ground, like mere water, connotes that the blood is not ritually special and not competitive with the activity that is reserved in Deuteronomy to the one priestly sanctuary.

(c) The psalmist's lament in verse 14 is about affliction at the hands of his foes - enemies being a stock theme amongst the psalms (q.v., Psalms 6, 17, 56). To construe the text in a sacrificial sense is utter eisegesis.

The plain and natural reading of the psalm is as a lament of its own time period, just like others in its genre that we find in the psalms. The text itself offers no hint that its lament is prophetic about a future event.
Jason wrote:
But taken as a whole, Psalm 22 speaks of an innocent servent who suffers greatly and, after verse 19, seemingly brings about the restoration of the people due to what was inflicted on him.
The ending of the psalm is typical material within its genre - the speaker lobbies for his relief from suffering by articulating an incentive for G-d to do so (q.v., Psalms 35, 51). In this case, once delivered, the sufferer will publicly display the efficacy of G-d as a deliverer, and people will see and worship him.

One should be careful to read the psalm in light of the cultural context and genre of its own time, before presuming to identify it with an ill-fitting theological construct from centuries hence.
Jason wrote:
I find Psalm 22 very compelling for not only the reason stated above but also because it seems to shed light on how the servent met his end:

Verse 16: "They pierced my hands my hands and my feet"
This was not a common form of punishment in David's time, nor in 250 b.c. when the Septuagent also recorded these words. It does, however, describe how Romans executed folks in the time of Jesus of Nazareth.
(a) As you may be aware, there is a textual issue here. Most Hebrew manuscripts do not feature the "pierced" verb in this verse. But the majority text here is obscure in meaning, to the point that many would consider there to have been corruption in the transmission of the text. The "pierced" verb is one attempt at mending the text, and it has support from minority textual sources. However, it is not certain whether these minority sources are preserving an earlier, uncorrupted form of the text, or whether they merely attempted to mend the text in the same way. And it is possible that the majority text, though obscure to later readers, would have fit an idiom or an allusion in its original context.

Then again, if one is going to attempt to mend the majority text, there are other options besides the one involving the "pierced" verb. By one means or another, one might arrive at the verb "bound" instead, as is found in ancient translations by Symmachus, Theodotion, and Aquila.

(b) Beyond this - when looking at the variant verb that is rendered "pierced" by some parties, it is almost universally indicative of "digging" in both the Hebrew and the Septuagintal Greek (as in digging a well, a pit, or a tomb). Even if we were to consider this verb to be the proper reading for the text, the construal of "piercing" is not to be taken for granted. One could construe it as laceration; the ISV renders it as "gouged."

Or then again, in light of poetic flexibility in syntax and in parallel with other syntactical forms in the psalm, one might construe the stub of the verse as indicating that the psalmist's hands and feet have dug - perhaps attempting to claw out a hiding place or a way of escape, and/or digging his own grave.

(c) Finally, even if one were to construe the verse so that the psalmist's hands and feet were "pierced" - it is presumptuous to correlate the piercing with punishment, when the psalm is about affliction. Although I am not aware of an exact parallel in the psalm's context, the Ancient Near East was a violent place. The Philistines are said to have gouged Samson's eyes out; the Assyrians are portrayed as piercing their captives' faces and leading them thereby, and at least one Assyrian commander claimed to have cut off captives' hands; David's men are said to have lopped off the hands and feet of two assassins (albeit post mortem, apparently; q.v., 2 Samuel 4:12). This sort of harm might have been generic violence or even conventional in some way.

On multiple levels, then, your "pierc[ing]" reference is less than "compelling."
kaufmannphillips wrote:
Be this as it may, it is not my position that every notion ever held by a Jewish person is correct. An idea that is fallacious when held by a Christian, is still fallacious when it is held by a Jew.

Jason wrote:
That is not the point, sir. The fact that non-Christian Jews also see these parallels is worth noting.
Shall I note, then, Christian scholars who see OT passages my way?
kaufmannphillips wrote:
It is also worth noting that the sacrificial system had been inaccessible before, during the Babylonian exile. How did Jews cope then?

Jason wrote:
The sacrificial system didn't save the Jews while it existed so it didn't un-save them when it was inaccessible. It was meant to point toward a later fulfillment. Babylon was 70 years, then they went back to the system. After 70 AD it was halted completely. I believe that's because it's fulfillment had come.
My adjustment: the sacrificial system did not necessarily salvage Jews while it was practiced, and it does not necessarily fail to salvage Jews while it is not practiced. It was fulfilled and unfulfilled while it was practiced, and it is fulfilled and unfulfilled while it is not practiced.
kaufmannphillips wrote:
Let's play with your alternative idea a bit more. What is the "bullet," and who has fired it?

Jason wrote:
If you want to flesh out my analogy then I'll play along. The bullet is death and the one who fired it is justice. Justice meant for the bullet to hit the guilty party but you (we'll call you 'Grace') stepped in and took the hit, resulting in your death. Maybe Justice only has one bullet? In this scenerio, Grace saved a guilty party because of love. It's a strongly romantic (in the platonic sense) notion and, if true, is truly a remarkable thing to behold.
(a) What, in your view, is "Justice"?

(b) In the divine circumstance, how does Justice not hit what it means to hit; and how does it not have as many bullets as it wishes?

(c) What, in your view, is "Grace"?

(d) What, in your view, is "guilt[iness]"?

Thank you for your time and your thought - Emmet
========================
"The more something is repeated, the more it becomes an unexamined truth...." (Nicholas Thompson)
========================

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