Did History Channel’s “The Bible” get it wrong?

posted at 10:01 am on March 31, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

I’m one of those people who have been tuning in every week to watch The Bible on History Channel. And there are apparently plenty of “those people out there, since the series has been one of the highest rated shows in the network’s history, even beating out the prime time lineups of the major alphabet networks in some cases. I’ve found it both familiar and intriguing and the only complaints I’ve had about it were rather superficial, certainly not rising to the level of turning me off from watching. But how good of a job has Mark Burnett done in bringing the actual Bible to the small screen?

According to at least one Biblical scholar, it’s a pretty good show but it has problems.

Telling the story of The Bible is a tricky business, said biblical scholar Dr. Peter E. Enns, who teaches Biblical Studies at Pennsylvania’s Eastern University. But it was clear, he notes, that series creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had an agenda – and that every episode they told had one goal: To get to the climax of Jesus’s life and death.

“They were focusing on the final stage of the Bible story, which is Christ’s appearance,” he said. “It’s all a buildup to that. They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along.”

Dr. Enns has a few specific items from the show to critique, which I’d like to touch on below, but the above paragraph seems to be his overarching gripe with the series. In his view, the show rushed through centuries of history shaping events, treating them as little more than a special effects laden telling of Bible School tales, intent upon getting to the “meat of the story” dealing with Jesus Christ’s adult life.

In some ways you can sympathize with Burnett on that score, since there’s an awful lot to cover in a limited series of two hour shows, but members of the Jewish faith in particular might have felt that the Old Testament stories merited a bit more screen time. Looking deeper, as noted in some of the specific complaints, Dr. Enns seemed to pick up on a bit of extra “flavor” in the telling of some of the earlier tales, imposing parallels to the life of Jesus and making it seem as if they were all prelude to the big event.

Take, for example, his analysis of the story of Samson.

Samson is a “minor character in the Bible,” said Enns, but gets a lot of screen time in the series. Why? He’s a precursor to Christ, said Enns: He gave his life for the community, is unjustly treated, chained and blinded. “We’re seeing Jesus in preview form,” he said.

I’m not sure how much of a “minor character” Sampson is, given his role toward the end of the time that the Children of God were given unto the Philistines. (He was also one of the earliest examples of a guy who was hounded to distraction by his wife, leading to his eventual downfall, but that’s another story.) But he certainly did suffer at the end.

And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free. But he knew not that Jehovah was departed from him. And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house.

If Dr. Enns is complaining that Samson is being made out as too much of a prelude to Jesus, I suppose I’ll have to take him at his word, but I didn’t react that way when first seeing it.

Some of his other complaints were less based in scripture than in production values and decisions. He notes, as I did on Twitter during the show, that there were a pretty large number of white people with British accents, but it’s a TV show designed for an English speaking audience. And actors traditionally cross many demographic lines from their physical appearance if the portrayal is good. He also touches on the “Satan looks like Obama” complaint, but I certainly didn’t notice it when the show aired, so I pretty much discounted that one.

All in all, I can sympathize with some of Dr. Enn’s issues, but none of them have stopped me from enjoying the show. I plan on watching the conclusion of it tonight, so please don’t put any spoilers in the comments. ;-)

EDIT: (Jazz) Sorry… I didn’t spell Samson correctly.

Happy Easter.


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With all due respect, you Christians ought to spend a little time study the Jewish part of the Bible.

Alas, I regret this snark. I shouldn’t have included it in my comment.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Actually, aunursa, you’re more accurate than you know.

The biggest mistake the Gentile Christian church EVER did was to separate our understanding of the Scriptures from their Hebriac roots. It is a JEWISH faith. Jesus Himself said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews” John 4:22.

Paul, no Gentile himself, wrote, ” But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree,
do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.
You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. Romans 11: 17-20

The influx in recent years of Jewish believers into the Christian faith is enriching our understanding of the depths of the Scriptures. We Gentiles read over passages in the New Testament that make sense ONLY when read from an Hebraic perspective.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM

It’s ALL Jewish, aunursa

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

* SHRUG * …. I’ve enjoyed it and care very little with what the piss ants have to say

Aggie95 on March 31, 2013 at 2:59 PM

“They were focusing on the final stage of the Bible story, which is Christ’s appearance,” he said. “It’s all a buildup to that. They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along.”

Well, yeah, that’s kind of the point. All of the Old Testament era was the promise of the coming Messiah and how that prophecy was fulfilled with Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. It details mankind’s fall into sin, the promise of the savior, how the Lord raised up the Children of Israel, sent the prophets, how the Children of Israel rebelled against God, but all throughout, the promise of the coming Savior is interwoven into the prophecies and word of God. Kind of strange for a “biblical scholar” to have that kind of complaint relative to the series. As Christ said to Nicodemus, “You are a leader of the people and you do not understand these things?”

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 2:59 PM

As a Christian, the God of Israel is also my God. The only One who is, was, and ever shall be.

Liam on March 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

I know that He is your God. Christians worship the one true God.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM

It’s ALL Jewish, aunursa

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Well I suppose that depends on how you define “Jewish.”

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Well I suppose that depends on how you define “Jewish.”

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Listen, there’s nothing in the New Testament that isn’t somewhere in the Old. When the Jewish authors of the New Testament (all of them, with the exception of Luke, a Greek convert to Judaism) mentioned “The Scriptures”, they were talking about what we today call the Old Testament and what you call the Tanach and the Torah.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

There have been little things(the angel acting like a mutant ninja turtle in the Sodom and Gommorraha scene) but if the goal is to get more people to open their Bibles, it probably works. All I know is that He is risen and I know my Redeemer lives……..

crosshugger on March 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Listen, there’s nothing in the New Testament that isn’t somewhere in the Old.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I would put it this way…

There are passages in the Old Testament that Christians erroneously interpret as supporting Christian theology based on your practice of interpreting the OT based on the NT.

By contrast, I would understand passages from the NT based on the teachings of the OT.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

That is no doubt true in many cases, but what do we make of the early Christians (I mean the authors) who HAD no NT to plagiarize from.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Haven’t read either as I’m not into fiction :)

nonpartisan on March 31, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Liar. You say you don’t read what you consider fiction, yet you come here all the time.

Dusty on March 31, 2013 at 3:15 PM

There were whites around but not in most of these stories. I don’t know why they keep putting people in roles that don’t look like Mideastern folks.

I don’t know how Jesus looked except for the Shroud of Turin, nobody else does either.

A Bible section said Satan was light, at least I was told that.

IlikedAUH2O on March 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

They take a celebrity approach to The Bible, and highlight the figures people know and present them in ways that make it seem that when you get to Jesus, you’ll feel that this was how it was meant to be all along

What do you say to ignorance like this? And someone once paid this man good money to study the Bible? lol, happy Easter Dr. Enns – hopefully you’ll reread what you’ve written and discover the perfect summation of Christianity in its unwittingly beautiful brevity.

abobo on March 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

By contrast, I would understand passages from the NT based on the teachings of the OT.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

So, you would see a possible symbiosis, then?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM

With all due respect, you Christians ought to spend a little time study the Jewish part of the Bible.

Passover begins on the 15th of the month of Nissan, which means that every Passover begins on a full moon. If Jesus died on the day of- or the day after a Passover seder, then the moon would have been full.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I didn’t take it as snarky. I took it as you knew what you were talking about. Thank you. It also answers the question why Easter follows the lunar year.

CW20 on March 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM

It’s all a buildup to that.

Yes, Dr. Enns, yes it is. Go have a peep.

abobo on March 31, 2013 at 3:17 PM

There are passages in the Old Testament that Christians erroneously interpret as supporting Christian theology based on your practice of interpreting the OT based on the NT.

By contrast, I would understand passages from the NT based on the teachings of the OT.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM

So are you still anticipating the coming of the promised Messiah? If so, what criteria will you use to verify that person is the Messiah?

I don’t ask this in snark, I ask because when evaluating the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, one must ask why the statements by Christ himself and his disciples regarding where the scriptures were fulfilled do not meet the criteria for the one promised at the fall, the one who would crush the head of the serpent (the devil) but whose heel would be bruised in doing so.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

That is no doubt true in many cases, but what do we make of the early Christians (I mean the authors) who HAD no NT to plagiarize from.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Alas, I don’t understand your question. Please rephrase.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:19 PM

We Gentiles read over passages in the New Testament that make sense ONLY when read from an Hebraic perspective.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Absolutely. You have got to know the Old Testament to thoroughly understand and appreciate the New Testament.

I am very into the Old Testament. It is so important. He is the same God.. and He is continually pursuing Israel. The promises from the Old Testament.. the miracles.. are so relevant to today.

That is what people have to understand. He is the same God. The Testaments change… but God has not changed.
So maybe I am being picky but I don’t really think I am. We are warned in the Bible about changing even “one word.” Now I realize there are all these different translations. But what the series has done is different. They have not just skimmed over… they have changed words, meanings and intentions. Yet, in other ways and at other times they do some things well. It’s sorta random.

For instance… there’s a scene where Samuel stops by for a visit with David. David is looking over a scale model of the temple he wants to build. David then says something like “I want to build my temple.” Samuel then corrects him sternly and says “That’s God’s temple.. not yours David. Remember that” or something. We view David’s face and his expression reveals he’s obviously angry for a moment.

Nothing like this in the Bible occurred. They didn’t just insert something that has no consequence, like.. showing David asking for a cup of water and a grapefruit where there is no scripture saying that… they made up a sequence that made David seem evil. Like he wanted to build a temple for himself or something. And there is nothing like that in the Bible. So why do it? People thought about this. They took time to write the script. They acted out the scene and yet it’s nowhere in the Bible. Why? If you are trying to skim over history then why waste precious time making it up?

So… there is more going on here than just skipping over details. They are adding things in small ways… yet significant… that are not even there.

JellyToast on March 31, 2013 at 3:22 PM

A Bible section said Satan was light, at least I was told that.

IlikedAUH2O on March 31, 2013 at 3:16 PM

That section of scripture says that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light”, meaning that he poses as a messenger of the good news while really bringing false doctrine and soul-destroying actions. People wouldn’t listen to him if he appeared as he really is or his falsehoods with their actual consequences.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:22 PM

So are you still anticipating the coming of the promised Messiah? If so, what criteria will you use to verify that person is the Messiah?

I don’t ask this in snark, I ask because when evaluating the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, one must ask why the statements by Christ himself and his disciples regarding where the scriptures were fulfilled do not meet the criteria for the one promised at the fall, the one who would crush the head of the serpent (the devil) but whose heel would be bruised in doing so.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Christians and Jews generally agree on many of the messianic passages. Christians also consider many passages to be messianic that we Jews do not.

According to Jewish theology, when the Messiah is revealed, there will be world peace, the entire world will come to know God, the Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and all of the dead will be resurrected. The identity of the specific person who will be the Messiah is not as central to we Jews as it is to you Christians.

In other words, “WHO is the Messiah?” is a typical question that Christians ask (typically of Jews.) But the Jewish form of that question would be “WHEN is the Messiah?”

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:24 PM

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:19 PM

What I mean is that, no doubt, many Gentile Christians, over the years, would engage in reading INTO the New Testament writings things that would support their contention that it was derived from the Old Testament, but the authors of the New Testament were writing “from scratch” as it were, and so, either deliberately misconstrued what they were writing OR they were honestly setting down what they saw, and experienced.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:24 PM

the authors of the New Testament were writing “from scratch” as it were, and so, either deliberately misconstrued what they were writing OR they were honestly setting down what they saw, and experienced.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:24 PM

That assumes that the writers of the New Testament were present at the times and places of the events about which they wrote. I don’t hold that assumption. I don’t, for example, assume that the author of Luke was present at the birth of Jesus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Absolutely. You have got to know the Old Testament to thoroughly understand and appreciate the New Testament.

JellyToast on March 31, 2013 at 3:22 PM

It’s even more than that, Jelly, we have to know how to READ it like a 1st century Hebrew. We read the Bible like Greek Aristotelians, everything is linear, but the Hebrew Scriptures were written from a different perspective. They employed what is called Midrash, which is difficult to explain, but it has to do with metaphors, symbols, patterns, and such.

Jesus was a rabbi and He spoke and taught as a 1st century Jewish rabbi would have. That’s part of why He spoke in parables and why He asked Nicodemus why he didn’t understand His figure of the New Birth in John 3.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I don’t, for example, assume that the author of Luke was present at the birth of Jesus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Luke doesn’t claim to have been there.

[1] Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us,
[2] just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
[3] it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent The-oph’ilus,
[4] that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.

But John DOES

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:30 PM

But John DOES

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Not at the Birth, but at the experience.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:31 PM

So… there is more going on here than just skipping over details. They are adding things in small ways… yet significant… that are not even there.

JellyToast on March 31, 2013 at 3:22 PM

We watched the first episode and some parts of subsequent episodes and had the same impression as you — there was a preponderance of emphasis on the military exploits and some definite errors. The same thing could be said of some of the earlier cinematic works like “The Ten Commandments”. It’s been so long I can’t cite specific examples, but do remember the discussions when that movie was shown (on TV, I’m not old enough to remember when it first came out).

Not going to defend those deviations, but would say that if the kernel of the work contains enough meat of the Word, it can still be fruitful.

The part cited about David and Samuel sounds particularly non-scriptural since David is stated as having willingly accepted God’s word through Samuel that David was not to build the temple because he was a warrior and had shed much blood, but that his son would build it. David is then documented to have spent significant time and effort getting the materials and plans ready so that his son could build the temple quickly after assuming the throne.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I wish they would do a series on The Book of the Way (Tao Te Ching).

A bit more abstract, but equally profound.

profitsbeard on March 31, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I don’t hold that assumption.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

The question is: do you rule out that possibility?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Luke doesn’t claim to have been there.

[2] just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Then his narrative was at best based on second-hand accounts.

If you accept a priori that the entire New Testament is divinely inspired, then it shouldn’t matter. But for those of us who don’t…

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:37 PM

According to Jewish theology, when the Messiah is revealed, there will be world peace, the entire world will come to know God, the Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and all of the dead will be resurrected. The identity of the specific person who will be the Messiah is not as central to we Jews as it is to you Christians.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:24 PM

What you are describing is the Judgment, the end of all things and the re-establishment of the un-corrupted world after the existing world passes away due to the fall into sin.

Based upon what you have stated, I’m assuming you do not interpret the writings of Isaiah in which he speaks of “a man of sorrows, yet we esteemed him not, … though he was wounded for our transgressions …” as a prophecy of the messiah? Those passages, when contrasted with the description of the crucifixion would lead one to believe that Isaiah was an eyewitness rather than living in the centuries before that event.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:38 PM

The question is: do you rule out that possibility?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Not initially, not prior to my reading each book.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Then his narrative was at best based on second-hand accounts.

Yes, absolutely. There’s a problem with that, why?

If you accept a priori that the entire New Testament is divinely inspired, then it shouldn’t matter. But for those of us who don’t…

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:37 PM

No. No. One doesn’t accept the conclusion before examining the evidence. But at the same time, one doesn’t rule OUT the conclusion BEFORE examining the evidence.

At least not in the world I inhabit.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Not initially, not prior to my reading each book.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Excellent. An Israelite indeed in whom is no guile?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Then his narrative was at best based on second-hand accounts.

Keep in mind that one of those accounts probably came from Jesus’s mother who Luke most likely had met and interviewed.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I’m assuming you do not interpret the writings of Isaiah in which he speaks of “a man of sorrows, yet we esteemed him not, … though he was wounded for our transgressions …” as a prophecy of the messiah? Those passages, when contrasted with the description of the crucifixion would lead one to believe that Isaiah was an eyewitness rather than living in the centuries before that event.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:38 PM

You are referring to Isaiah 52:13-53:12. We can get into specific details. Some verses seem as if they could be applied to the passion of Jesus and other verses seem as if they could not apply to Jesus.

But I’m curious: As a Christian would you say that Isaiah 53 is the clearest description from 700 years earlier of the Messiah’s role as one who will be sacrificed and later return from the dead?
(CAVEAT: I am trying to box you into a corner)

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Haven’t read either as I’m not into fiction :)

partisan on March 31, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Surprising, coming from one of the best fiction writers we have here at Hot Gas!

Sorry to bust your balloon, but ponder this: science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power, and motion. Any Physics student is taught this.

Genesis 1:1 & 1:2, specially translated for your Low-IQ, Democrat-Schooled Mind:

“In the beginning [time] God created [power] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter] . . . And the Spirit of God moved [motion] upon the face of the waters.”

Just curious, Kid: what time do the triple moons rise on your world?

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Yes, absolutely. There’s a problem with that, why?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Second-hand testimony is less reliable than first-hand testimony. In a court of law, second-hand testimony is usually rejected as heresay.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:47 PM

That assumes that the writers of the New Testament were present at the times and places of the events about which they wrote. I don’t hold that assumption. I don’t, for example, assume that the author of Luke was present at the birth of Jesus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Bible scholars think Luke spent time with Mary, mother of Jesus, after Christ ascended to gather his information for the lead up to and birth of Christ. However, when you look back, Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament and even possibly Job, and he wasn’t present for the majority of Genesis. God-inspired, God-breathed is how Timothy describes all of Scripture.

FastTalker on March 31, 2013 at 3:48 PM

If you accept a priori that the entire New Testament is divinely inspired, then it shouldn’t matter. But for those of us who don’t…

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:37 PM

If you don’t accept that, then there is not much else to discuss. No one has ever been “argued into faith”. One hears the word because someone has proclaimed it as one sowing seeds, it is then the Spirit that makes the seed grow. If the message is rejected, the messenger can do nothing further. The New Testament makes the claim that it and the Old Testament are divinely inspired, from First Peter: “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

In the whole context: ” For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:49 PM

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:47 PM

True that, but we’re not IN a court of law, and the evidence we are examining is met to PERSUADE, not CONVICT.

One of the six ways humans “know” anything has to do with reliable testimony. It’s a legitimate part of epistemology.
If the source can be proven to be reliable, we may take what they say as reliable.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Keep in mind that one of those accounts probably came from Jesus’s mother who Luke most likely had met and interviewed.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Not only is it a second-hand account — we don’t get to hear and consider the truthfulness of the eyewitness, but we must assume it based on Luke’s acceptance of her testimony — which makes it hearsay … but it’s entirely speculation that the author of Luke even met and interviewed Jesus’ mother.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament and even possibly Job, and he wasn’t present for the majority of Genesis. God-inspired, God-breathed is how Timothy describes all of Scripture.

FastTalker on March 31, 2013 at 3:48 PM

The traditional Jewish belief is that God dictated the Torah to Moses. And Moses was present during most of the events in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Moses didn’t interview or base Genesis on the stories or testimonies of others.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:54 PM

True that, but we’re not IN a court of law, and the evidence we are examining is met to PERSUADE, not CONVICT.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 3:51 PM

I’m curious if you have read Evidence That Demands a Verdict or The Case for Christ.

These Christian theologians argue in the form of courts of law and claim that they can prove that the evidence can be shown to, in a matter of speaking, “convict” Jesus of being the Messiah.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Not only is it a second-hand account — we don’t get to hear and consider the truthfulness of the eyewitness, but we must assume it based on Luke’s acceptance of her testimony — which makes it hearsay … but it’s entirely speculation that the author of Luke even met and interviewed Jesus’ mother.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Don’t narrow the interview down to just Luke’s Gospel. We’re talking about an extensive written record that can be examined by an honest skeptic from many different vantage points and through many different authors and their claims. If you want to make your objection based on the idea, valid though tenuous, that Luke MIGHT NOT have met and known Jesus’s mother (highly doubtful) well,then here’s where you’ll stay.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:00 PM

But I’m curious: As a Christian would you say that Isaiah 53 is the clearest description from 700 years earlier of the Messiah’s role as one who will be sacrificed and later return from the dead?
(CAVEAT: I am trying to box you into a corner)

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:45 PM

It is one of the descriptions from before Christ. There are multiple others, some in the Psalms, others in the promises to Abraham and throughout the Old Testament. Not sure why you think that would be boxing anyone into a corner. The description is Isaiah is one of the clearest descriptions of the way in which the Messiah would die and the purpose for which he would be put to death, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. …. and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ” The reference in the Isaiah account to the resurrection is more oblique, the emphasis of that passage is the sacrifice made by the promised one for the sins of the world, “all we like sheep have gone astray”. There is reference to the victory however:
“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,[j]
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,[k]
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 4:01 PM

So yeah, on a scale of 1-10 I give the series a disappointing 5.

JetBoy on March 31, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Yes, I was disappointed, too. The production value was very low.

I was surprised that they left out the story of Elizabeth.

I watched Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth again. It’s still as beautiful as I remembered it.

Gelsomina on March 31, 2013 at 4:02 PM

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Yes, I’ve read and own both of those books.

Well, the approach these books take is a valid one but it’s academic.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Haven’t read either as I’m not into fiction :)

partisan on March 31, 2013 at 10:48 AM

.
Surprising, coming from one of the best fiction writers we have here at Hot Gas!

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2013 at 3:46 PM

.
Damn ……. you beat me to it.

listens2glenn on March 31, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Don’t narrow the interview down to just Luke’s Gospel. We’re talking about an extensive written record that can be examined by an honest skeptic from many different vantage points and through many different authors and their claims.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:00 PM

My understanding is that the only New Testament authors who discuss the unique circumstances around Jesus’ birth are Matthew and Luke. Therefore their reliability and the reliability of any witnesses that they used, is of paramount relevance. I don’t see evidence that the author of Matthew claimed to have interviewed Mary.

As I said, if you a priori assume that the New Testament is divinely inspired, then that shouldn’t matter. You assume it to be true. Logically there’s nothing wrong with that.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Well, we are off to some friends for Easter dinner, Happy Easter to all.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 4:09 PM

As I said, if you a priori assume that the New Testament is divinely inspired, then that shouldn’t matter. You assume it to be true. Logically there’s nothing wrong with that.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Yes, but when speaking with an honest skeptic, I don’t assume that they believe its divinely inspired.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Therefore their reliability and the reliability of any witnesses that they used, is of paramount relevance.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Agreed.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:12 PM

The description is Isaiah is one of the clearest descriptions of the way in which the Messiah would die and the purpose for which he would be put to death,

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Because that interpretation is entirely at odds with the reaction of Jesus’ followers, as described in the Gospels, when he told them that he was going to suffer and die and be resurrected.

Bear in mind that they (especially Peter) are said to have recognized that their leader was the promised Messiah. Yet when he explained to them about these events, that supposedly were in fulfillment of the centuries old prophecies of Isaiah 53 (and, according to Christian theologians, Psalm 22 and Daniel 9,) their reaction was of shock and disbelief — the exact opposite of what would have been their reaction if the passages were considered messianic BEFORE his death. After his death, the disciples are in dispair.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM

As I said, if you a priori assume that the New Testament is divinely inspired, then that shouldn’t matter. You assume it to be true. Logically there’s nothing wrong with that.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Keep in mind that the writers of these accounts were writing to people who they understood DID NOT THINK they were divinely inspired.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Yes, but when speaking with an honest skeptic, I don’t assume that they believe its divinely inspired.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:09 PM

In which case, if one claims, without any evidence, that the Gospel author interviewed a certain eyewitness, one can at least understand why a skeptic might be … skeptical.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:18 PM

— the exact opposite of what would have been their reaction if the passages were considered messianic BEFORE his death. After his death, the disciples are in dispair.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM

and YET, they included that admission in their writings.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

In which case, if one claims, without any evidence, that the Gospel author interviewed a certain eyewitness, one can at least understand why a skeptic might be … skeptical.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:18 PM

ONE never claimed that Luke interviewed Mary.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:20 PM

and YET, they included that admission in their writings.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

You get my point?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Yet when he explained to them about these events, that supposedly were in fulfillment of the centuries old prophecies of Isaiah 53 (and, according to Christian theologians, Psalm 22 and Daniel 9,) their reaction was of shock and disbelief — the exact opposite of what would have been their reaction if the passages were considered messianic BEFORE his death. After his death, the disciples are in dispair.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Pretty much the way I expect simple fishermen and common folk to act. The fact the apostles admit their inconsistencies and human failings makes their witness more persuasive.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:27 PM

and YET, they included that admission in their writings.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

But it doesn’t make any sense.

Unless … we DON’T assume that Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9 and Psalm 22 all point to the death of the Messiah. If we DON’T make that assumption, then the reactions of the disciples to the death of Jesus makes perfect sense.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:29 PM

I’d like to add a commentary on the postings on this thread. If you first look at the name of the poster before reading his/her comments, then think about their typical political comments, then guess what the tenor of their comment may be in this thread, then read the comment, you will find that your initial guess of what they may have writen is pretty darn accurate.

In other words, some of you prove the old axiom, “Once an asshole, always an asshole.”

NoNails on March 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Pretty much the way I expect simple fishermen and common folk to act. The fact the apostles admit their inconsistencies and human failings makes their witness more persuasive.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Peter explicitly identified Jesus as the Messiah. Are you suggesting that Peter didn’t read the Bible, didn’t know the messianic prophecies, and was therefore unqualified to determine whether his leader was the Messiah?

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

If we DON’T make that assumption, then the reactions of the disciples to the death of Jesus makes perfect sense.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:29 PM

I don’t see that one leads to the other in any way.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Peter explicitly identified Jesus as the Messiah. Are you suggesting that Peter didn’t read the Bible, didn’t know the messianic prophecies, and was therefore unqualified to determine whether his leader was the Messiah?
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Wow, you mean simple human people who are scared to death don’t always act rationally and think things through in a time of crises? Sounds like he was like every other human I ever met. He also denied Jesus three times, despite his admission of Christ’s identity. A weak human subject to fear who admitted his failings. Perfectly believable. Moreso than the alternative.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:36 PM

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:29 PM

First, what about tommyboy’s point that it lends credence to the authors’ credibility? Why would they write such a thing if they’re trying to establish some new belief system?

Second, what does it do to your thesis that the accounts of the NT are somehow a plagiarism of the OT? and

Third, why wouldn’t the disciples NOT equate the passages in Isaiah, etc. as signifying the death of the Messaih? YOU don’t, and you’re a Jew. Do you think a 1st century Jew, prior to the Day of Pentecost, had anything nearing the familiarization that we Westerners have today concerning the NT? That’s a bit of a projection, wouldn’t you say?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I don’t see that one leads to the other in any way.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:33 PM

If Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, and Psalm 22 were not understood as prophecies of a suffering Messiah, if the Messiah was NOT expected to die, but rather was expected merely to fulfill the prophecies I mentioned earlier (rebuilding the Temple, world peace, etc), then the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ death makes perfect sense. Since they would not have expected that his death atoned for their sins … nor that he would return to life, for those two days they would have considered the finality of his death to reveal that he was NOT the Messiah.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The part cited about David and Samuel sounds particularly non-scriptural since David is stated as having willingly accepted God’s word through Samuel that David was not to build the temple because he was a warrior and had shed much blood, but that his son would build it. David is then documented to have spent significant time and effort getting the materials and plans ready so that his son could build the temple quickly after assuming the throne.

AZfederalist on March 31, 2013 at 3:31 PM

If I remember right, in that episode, Samuel does tell David his son would build the temple. But that little sequence of David seemingly wanting to build a temple to himself.. that was just dumb.

Another example would be when Samuel anointed David. Now I can see if they just skipped it due to time.. they could have simply gone and had the narrator state “Samuel eventually anointed David as the new King” or whatever… and just show David being anointed. But they didn’t. They showed Samuel sorta wondering around the desert and stumbling upon David out with his sheep and anointing him. Nothing remotely like that happened at all. Skipping over again, a key picture of God’s heart. When God corrects Samuel while Samuel is checking over Jessee’s sons. God tells Samuel

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

The amount of time it took to show the false picture.. they could have as easily shown the accurate picture while also showing a key quality of God’s heart. But they don’t just skip it.. they alter it. Which I don’t fully understand.

They spend great time and detail on Abraham offering up his son as a sacrifice(which I believe his son was an adult.. not a 9 year old.. which also meant this was a test of faith for Isaac as well).. but completely alter segments that show, what most would consider, a more loving, gentle side of God.

JellyToast on March 31, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Since they would not have expected that his death atoned for their sins … nor that he would return to life, for those two days they would have considered the finality of his death to reveal that he was NOT the Messiah.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Yeah, that’s pretty consistent with the record.

and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
Then one of them, named Cle’opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.
Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”

Luke 24: 14-24

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM

But how good of a job has Mark Burnett done in bringing the actual Bible to the small screen?

I still can’t get over the fact that Samson was an overweight black guy with dreadlocks.

I’ll take Victor Mature in the 1949 version every day of the week and twice on Easter Sunday.

BuckeyeSam on March 31, 2013 at 4:47 PM

If Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, and Psalm 22 were not understood as prophecies of a suffering Messiah, if the Messiah was NOT expected to die, but rather was expected merely to fulfill the prophecies I mentioned earlier (rebuilding the Temple, world peace, etc), then the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ death makes perfect sense. Since they would not have expected that his death atoned for their sins … nor that he would return to life, for those two days they would have considered the finality of his death to reveal that he was NOT the Messiah.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The Apostles were not sitting around doing a complete theological survey at the time of Christ’s death. They were scared to death. The Gospels tell us that after his resurrection Jesus spent significant time instructing the apostles on the theological significance of his identity, mission and death. I wouldn’t expect the apostles, simple common fishermen, to act like theological supermen under very trying circumstances. The night before he died Jesus was still admonishing his Apostles for failing to understand who he was.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:51 PM

First, what about tommyboy’s point that it lends credence to the authors’ credibility? Why would they write such a thing if they’re trying to establish some new belief system?

I don’t understand what you are asking.

Second, what does it do to your thesis that the accounts of the NT are somehow a plagiarism of the OT? and

I did not say nor suggest that the NT plagiarizes the OT. What I said was that Christians interpret the OT based on the NT, while I, a Jew, intreprets the NT based on the OT. The NT is not a plagiarism because the authors explicitly cite the Hebrew prophets.

Third, why wouldn’t the disciples NOT equate the passages in Isaiah, etc. as signifying the death of the Messaih? YOU don’t, and you’re a Jew. Do you think a 1st century Jew, prior to the Day of Pentecost, had anything nearing the familiarization that we Westerners have today concerning the NT? That’s a bit of a projection, wouldn’t you say?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 4:38 PM

The issue is not the 1st century Jew’s familiarity with the NT, but his familiarity with the OT. Christian theologians insist that these passages are the most clear-cut and obvious prophecies that cleary teach that the Messiah will die to atone for the sins of the world, and then be resurrected. My point is that they were NOT considered to be prophecies of such BEFORE Jesus was said to have come back to life. Either they are prophecies or they aren’t. A passage don’t become a prophecy only after the fact … otherwise Nostradamus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM

The Apostles were not sitting around doing a complete theological survey at the time of Christ’s death. They were scared to death. The Gospels tell us that after his resurrection Jesus spent significant time instructing the apostles on the theological significance of his identity, mission and death. I wouldn’t expect the apostles, simple common fishermen, to act like theological supermen under very trying circumstances. The night before he died Jesus was still admonishing his Apostles for failing to understand who he was.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Well, which IS it? Were the disciples knowledgeable of the Hebrew Bible and theology … or not? If they were ignorant of the Scriptures, then on what basis were they able (or qualified) to determine that Jesus was the Messiah, a role that was exclusive to their Bible?

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

What I said was that Christians interpret the OT based on the NT, while I, a Jew, intreprets the NT based on the OT.

Christians interpret both the NT and OT based on each other. One cannot fully understand either except in light of the other.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

I still can’t get over the fact that Samson was an overweight black guy with dreadlocks.

I’ll take Victor Mature in the 1949 version every day of the week and twice on Easter Sunday.

BuckeyeSam on March 31, 2013 at 4:47 PM

The thing about Samson…Hollywood typically make him look strong. But if he was this giant of a man… then people wouldn’t have been amazed at his strength.. or what secret he had. Well.. you would be amazed at his strength.. but you wouldn’t have wondered about how. It would be obvious… he’s a giant with big muscles.

I don’t think there is any physical description of Samson in the Bible. He may have had muscles… he may have been small. But his strength was something incredible and people wondered what his secret was. So I tend to think he didn’t have muscles.

It’s one thing if you saw some giant of a man with big arms killing a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, as much as that in itself would be incredible… it would still be quite another if some skinny runt did it.

JellyToast on March 31, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Telling the story of The Bible is a tricky business, said biblical scholar Dr. Peter E. Enns, who teaches Biblical Studies at Pennsylvania’s Eastern University. But it was clear, he notes, that series creators Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had an agenda – and that every episode they told had one goal: To get to the climax of Jesus’s life and death.

Say I have this exact, same, quibble about any book that is turned into a movie/tv series as well!

Dune, for example, hasn’t really had justice done to it by what I’ve seen to date… you just can’t go out leaving entire scenes and sections that are important to the overall story development, but this happens time and again.

The Sentinel actually had A.C. Clarke on-hand to do the adaptation to what would become 2001, and yet when he novelizes the thing there are differences between what is seen and what he describes.

LoTR leaves out so much you can only say its a highly edited, synopsized version of the books that leaves out a whole lot of material.

And, even worse, is that every production team, every person that comes in to re-do the screenplay, everyone has an AGENDA! Plus there are these little things known as ‘time constraints’ and ‘limited budget’, plus not driving those making it bankrupt in the doing. Yeah I gots complaints with with adaptations of novels (and even short-stories which, I’ll agree with Pournelle, are better suited to movie format) so I end up having to critique what comes out and only after THAT do I do the comparison because, fair is fair, these people got the presentation up and out there. Every single presentation, no matter WHO does it has this problem and it is not unique to The Bible nor is it even original to their production team. In fact this has been going on with every movie and series based on written material since the entire industry STARTED.

Beyond that I take this more as a theological production, or one aimed at the moral decisions being made, than a historical production, which means that the team is looking for the moral stories and willing to sacrifice some material to get that out. I think a bang-up historical production could be made as well, but another production team willing to narrow its focus and concentrate on a very few parts would be necessary and there would still be material left out as they weren’t putting the moral or theological questions front and center.

If you want to gripe hard enough there is an answer in this day and age: do your own production and then suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism that misses the point of your production. In the real modern world that actually costs just a sliver of a fraction of a H-Wood big-style bonanza and while it may be missing some SFX, you can concentrate on character and storyline. And then figure out who to market it to. And how to market it. And see if you can even break even on the production.

Criticize if you must but just how often do such pieces of entertainment come along? If you want to see more of it, support first, up-front, and criticize after so that pointers on how to do a better job can be put out there for others to grab ahold-of and run with them if they are worthwhile. I like this production of The Bible, even when it condenses where I wouldn’t, inserts stuff that isn’t explicitly stated, and shifts some understandings around: its generally a good workman-like job and done with heart and feeling which is more than I can say about a lot of junk that I don’t bother to watch because that is missing completely. I’m more than willing to accept it for what it is in the hopes that more comes out that will be done a bit better or with different insights and not just slapped together junk-Left trash thrown in our faces and blithely called ‘entertainment’. There is room enough to do entire series for each and every book of The Bible.

Doing the entire thing in a few weeks worth of 2-hour episodes? Amazing! Much applause for doing such a good job with so much material!

More, please!

ajacksonian on March 31, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Well, which IS it? Were the disciples knowledgeable of the Hebrew Bible and theology … or not? If they were ignorant of the Scriptures, then on what basis were they able (or qualified) to determine that Jesus was the Messiah, a role that was exclusive to their Bible?
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

First off, Peter’s acknowledgement of Christ’s identity as messiah didn’t come from his study of scripture or his expertise in OT theology. Jesus said it was a divine revelation from God and that Peter didn’t have the capacity to come to that conclusion on his own. While the Apostles were certainly conversant with and exposed to the Hebrew scriptures they didn’t have bibles at home to study and were fishermen not rabbis. Further, they were dependent on teachers who Jesus revealed weren’t all that strong on theology themselves.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Christians interpret both the NT and OT based on each other. One cannot fully understand either except in light of the other.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 4:56 PM

No. You ASSUME that the OT points to Jesus and the NT. You ASSUME that certain OT passages are prophecies that are fulfilled in the NT. You ASSUME that a particular NT passage that interprets an OT passage must be a correct interpretation.

In other words, you interpret the OT based on the NT.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Not only is it a second-hand account — we don’t get to hear and consider the truthfulness of the eyewitness, but we must assume it based on Luke’s acceptance of her testimony — which makes it hearsay

The most convincing theory on the order of the writing of the gospels has Matthew (an apostle and eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus) writing first in Jerusalem in the 40s, with Jews as his primary audience.

Luke, who was an associate of Paul in his travels throughout Asia Minor and Greece (and who seems to have been personally acquainted with Mary, the mother of Jesus, given the Lukan infancy narrative’s emphasis on Mary as opposed to the Matthean emphasis on Joseph), wrote in Greek with a primarily gentile audience in mind. He seems to have used Matthew as his major source, but with some important variation, especially in the infancy narrative, probably due to his consultation of other eyewitnesses to those events.

To corroborate Luke’s account, Paul requested that Peter, another eyewitness, who was in Rome at the time, give public testimony to its truthfulness. Peter was already familiar with Matthew, recently acquainted with Luke, and speaking extemporaneously, partly from his own memory. Mark, an associate of Peter’s in Rome, made written copies of Peter’s testimony at the request of some Roman soldiers. This would explain why Mark is the shortest and seemingly most anecdotal of the synoptic gospels, and why it has so much in common with Matthew (from which Peter had been preaching), and to a lesser extent Luke (whose validity Peter was verifying).

… but it’s entirely speculation that the author of Luke even met and interviewed Jesus’ mother.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 3:52 PM

As I said before, personal familiarity with Mary would explain the emphasis on Mary, her genealogy, her relatives, her actions, etc., in the first few chapters of Luke (whereas as Matthew focuses on Joseph, his genealogy, his actions, etc.).

It’s long been a tradition of the Church that Mary relocated to Ephesus following Jesus’s death and the persecution of the early Christians in Jerusalem. Luke, who was originally from Antioch, is supposedly buried in Ephesus. During their time living in the same city, Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Luke (an associate of Paul) would likely have become well acquainted.

steebo77 on March 31, 2013 at 5:10 PM

No. You ASSUME that the OT points to Jesus and the NT. You ASSUME that certain OT passages are prophecies that are fulfilled in the NT. You ASSUME that a particular NT passage that interprets an OT passage must be a correct interpretation.
In other words, you interpret the OT based on the NT.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Just as I interpret the NT based on the OT. There’s a reason virtually every bible has thousands of OT cross references in the margin of the NT text. And the assumptions you mention are as certain and fixed as the laws of motion. Truth is truth. The entire Bible is about Jesus.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Christian theologians insist that these passages are the most clear-cut and obvious prophecies that cleary teach that the Messiah will die to atone for the sins of the world, and then be resurrected. My point is that they were NOT considered to be prophecies of such BEFORE Jesus was said to have come back to life. Either they are prophecies or they aren’t. A passage don’t become a prophecy only after the fact … otherwise Nostradamus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM

While we’re getting far afield from what I wanted to address, let me answer this:

That’s the nature of Hebraic prophecy and it illustrates what I was trying to say to another poster, Jelly Toast, in that Hebraic writings, and in particular, Hebraic PROPHECY, is not like what we in the West have come to expect of “prophecy”.

We, in the West, think linearly, Aristotelian, wherein a prophecy has a specific fulfillment and then that’s the end of it, hence your citing Nostradamus. But in Jewish BIBLICAL prophecy, prophecy is PATTERN, repetitive pattern, leading up to a FINAL fulfillment. For you, for example, the Book of Daniel is probably fulfilled but to us, it is a precursor and a means of seeing the patterns necessary to unlocking the Book of Revelation since we can see the patterns of the historic fulfillment and extrapolate to the final spiritual fulfillment.

Moreover, much of Hebraic prophecy is not even understood AS prophecy UNTIL it is fulfilled.

For example, in John 2:17, it says, ” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” Now, if you go to that passage where it comes from, Psalms 69:9, there is no way ANYONE, even a Rabbi, could have told you that that would be about Jesus cleansing the temple. No context, nothing. It just is.

Read ANY of the prophecies of Jesus’s statements on the cross and tell me how ANYONE, unless divinely inspired, could have told you BEFOREHAND, that they were announcements of what the Messiah was going to declare while dying.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 5:16 PM

First off, Peter’s acknowledgement of Christ’s identity as messiah didn’t come from his study of scripture or his expertise in OT theology. Jesus said it was a divine revelation from God and that Peter didn’t have the capacity to come to that conclusion on his own. While the Apostles were certainly conversant with and exposed to the Hebrew scriptures they didn’t have bibles at home to study and were fishermen not rabbis. Further, they were dependent on teachers who Jesus revealed weren’t all that strong on theology themselves.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Now I’m even more confused. So Peter was given a divine revelation that Jesus was the Messiah. But he doesn’t know what “the Messiah” means, doesn’t understand the role of the Messiah, doesn’t know what will happen to the Messiah. And when Jesus tells Peter that he is going to die for sin and be resurrected, Peter — who KNOWS that he doesn’t know the role of the Messiah — doesn’t ASK Jesus whether that is the role of the Messiah, but simply assumes that Jesus is mistaken? That makes even less sense to me.

Who among the pre-crucifixion Jews was aware of the messianic prophecies and the role that the Messiah was supposed to assume?

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Isaiah 44.6 “This is what the Lord says – … I am the First and the Last; apart from me there is no God.”

Revelation 1.17 “When I saw him [Jesus] I fell at his feet as thogh dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I WAS DEAD and behold I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys of death & Hades.”

John 10.22-39. Especially vv. 30-33. “Jesus said ‘I & the Father are one’. Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these’, replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, CLAIM TO BE GOD’.”

Matthew 26.63 ff. “The High Priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the SON OF GOD.’ ‘YES, IT IS AS YOU SAY,’ Jesus replied… Then the High Priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy’… ‘He is worthy of death.’”

I really really like Jesus. Happy Easter.

Liam1304 on March 31, 2013 at 5:21 PM

And the assumptions you mention are as certain and fixed as the laws of motion. Truth is truth. The entire Bible is about Jesus.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM

That is circular reasoning. You ASSUME that the entire Bible is about Jesus. You cannot conceive of the possibility that the Hebrew Bible is NOT entirely about Jesus.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Moreover, much of Hebraic prophecy is not even understood AS prophecy UNTIL it is fulfilled.

For example, in John 2:17, it says, ” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” Now, if you go to that passage where it comes from, Psalms 69:9, there is no way ANYONE, even a Rabbi, could have told you that that would be about Jesus cleansing the temple. No context, nothing. It just is.

Read ANY of the prophecies of Jesus’s statements on the cross and tell me how ANYONE, unless divinely inspired, could have told you BEFOREHAND, that they were announcements of what the Messiah was going to declare while dying.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Well then, that’s a fundamental difference between Christianity and Judaism. Jews believe that a prophecy is a prophecy from the time it is spoken or written. A fundamental purpose of a prophecy is to provide advance knowledge. If it’s not a prophecy until fulfillment, then it was never a prophecy in the first place.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Anyone wishing to continue a discussion of Christian-Jewish theological issues is welcome to email me at

aunursa (at) comcast (dot) net.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Well then, that’s a fundamental difference between Christianity and Judaism. Jews believe that a prophecy is a prophecy from the time it is spoken or written. A fundamental purpose of a prophecy is to provide advance knowledge. If it’s not a prophecy until fulfillment, then it was never a prophecy in the first place.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Most of the Old Testament prophecies which Christians believe relate to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ might more accurately be described as foreshadowing, anticipating, or paralleling, rather than explicitly foretelling (i.e., providing advance knowledge of future events).

steebo77 on March 31, 2013 at 5:41 PM

That is circular reasoning. You ASSUME that the entire Bible is about Jesus. You cannot conceive of the possibility that the Hebrew Bible is NOT entirely about Jesus.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Spiritual discernment leaves no alternative.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Spiritual discernment leaves no alternative.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:43 PM

As I said, circular reasoning.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:50 PM

As I said, circular reasoning.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:50 PM

We have specific historical events fulfilling prophecy to the smallest detail. How else is prophecy fulfilled? Jesus is every bit as much a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the Persian emperor Cyrus was.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:56 PM

If it’s not a prophecy until fulfillment, then it was never a prophecy in the first place.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

And AFTER fulfillment? What then? Does it just end? Does it just die and that’s the end of it? It becomes passe?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 5:57 PM

We have specific historical events fulfilling prophecy to the smallest detail. How else is prophecy fulfilled? Jesus is every bit as much a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as the Persian emperor Cyrus was.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 5:56 PM

You’re changing the subject. Do you want to focus on whether Isaiah 53 is about Jesus? Or whether, as you had just suggested, the entire Bible points to Jesus?

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:02 PM

And AFTER fulfillment? What then? Does it just end? Does it just die and that’s the end of it? It becomes passe?

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 5:57 PM

I don’t understand your question. Prophecy is fulfilled, that’s the primary function of prophecy.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:06 PM

You’re changing the subject. Do you want to focus on whether Isaiah 53 is about Jesus? Or whether, as you had just suggested, the entire Bible points to Jesus?
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Both. One uses examples to prove an assertion. From the protoevangelium to the prophecies of Malachi the evidence is overwhelming.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 6:07 PM

A prophecy that you can’t see until AFTER its fulfillment would be like a stop sign that you can’t see until AFTER you’ve passed the intersection. It doesn’t make any sense.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Both. One uses examples to prove an assertion. From the protoevangelium to the prophecies of Malachi the evidence is overwhelming.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 6:07 PM

The evidence is overwhelming that many Christians INTERPRET the entire OT as pointing to Jesus. The evidence that their interpretations are CORRECT is much less so.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:10 PM

. A fundamental purpose of a prophecy is to provide advance knowledge. If it’s not a prophecy until fulfillment, then it was never a prophecy in the first place.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 5:26 PM

I don’t understand your question. Prophecy is fulfilled, that’s the primary function of prophecy.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:06 PM

THAT is the product of 20 centuries of Western Aristotelian thinking. What the Scholastics did to the New Testament, Philo of Alexandria did to the Old Testament. In Western thinking prohecy has a fulfillment and then that’s IT. It’s over and done with. Hence, your citing Nostradamus, rather than, say, Isaiah.

In Hebraic, that is MOSAIC writings, prophecy’s other function is to reveal PATTERN. Because in Hebraic prophecy, fulfillment can occur multiple times leading to one ULTIMATE fulfillment.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 6:12 PM

The evidence is overwhelming that many Christians INTERPRET the entire OT as pointing to Jesus. The evidence that their interpretations are CORRECT is much less so.
aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:10 PM

The evidence is irrefutable. But for many, having eyes they cannot see and having ears they cannot hear.

tommyboy on March 31, 2013 at 6:13 PM

A prophecy that you can’t see until AFTER its fulfillment would be like a stop sign that you can’t see until AFTER you’ve passed the intersection. It doesn’t make any sense.

aunursa on March 31, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Of course not, IF prophecy’s ONLY function was a one time event.

Cleombrotus on March 31, 2013 at 6:14 PM

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