10 years without christianity – part 5
Hesediah: So as we approach Passover or Pesach, David Dryden, the person I’m interviewing today, gets steps closer to marking 10 full years of having left christianity. We’re continuing our interview with him to mark that time and to get a drift of where he is coming from. After having just summarized to me what messiah really is and already seeing holes in the claims of Jesus, we get to the massive claim of christians that there are hundreds of prophecies in their “old testament” that points to Jesus. And what was your approach to this?
David: Just to reiterate this, I took the following standpoint: if I was living in the times of Jesus, having no new testament, but only going by his life – we can include his death and resurrection claims – would a normal contextual reading of the Jewish Bible (christians call it the “old testament”) lead me to the conclusion that Jesus was the promised anointed king to come, descended from the line of David?
There are lists of more than 300 messianic prophecies on the internet, which also list how they are supposed to have been fulfilled by Jesus. So I went through each one, looking at them in the natural context and grammar, looking at the original language as much as possible, and sometimes I compared the claimed prophecies with a modern copy of the ancient Greek translation called the Septuagint in its Greek and a translation of it.
Hesediah: And what did you find?
David: Well, there is one more step to this that I should mention.
Hesediah: And that is?
David: All this is still gonna be full of confusion if I don’t define what exactly a messianic prophecy is. And it was by defining this that I found that that there is a significant difference between what a messianic prophecy actually is and what the person who made up this list of supposedly fulfilled prophecies actually did.
A prophecy, in this context, is a prediction made by a prophet concerning a time in that prophet’s future. “messianic” means something that relates to the messiah. As you’ll remember from our last interview, when defined by the Hebrew Bible, a messiah, or moshiach, is a person anointed with a special oil for one of two specific offices: either the person is a descendant of Aaron and is the High Priest, which doesn’t apply in this case; or the person is a reigning king of Israel descended biologically through the father’s line from King David and King Solomon. The clear prophecies about this figure always appears as a king, not an Aaronic High priest, so the kingly office is applicable to what we are talking about here.
So a messianic prophecy is a prediction made by a prophet concerning a time in that prophet’s future regarding a specific promised king descended from King David who would rule Israel and do great things in his time. A messianic prophecy can also be about what will happen during the times of this king.
Now it must be understood that what we see in the Jewish Bible is only political kings, like David and Solomon, who had ruling political power over their country, over Israel. We aren’t talking about spiritual or heavenly rulerships or invisible ones. We are going by what can be clearly seen in the Jewish Bible, not just what we believe or want.
Hesediah: But you do know already that this isn’t what christians believe about Jesus, don’t you? They say his kingdom was spiritual, it was heavenly.
David: That’s the thing though: I wasn’t looking for what christians believe. I was looking for what the Jewish Bible clearly teaches. If we go by something that is invisible or not clear, any pretender can take the crown by saying that their kingdom is invisible, but invisible kingdoms can’t be used as evidence because we don’t see anything. Again, this can be seen as a problem with the belief in Jesus as messiah, but as christians were claiming over 300 prophecies, if he could fulfil 299 but we couldn’t see his kingship, maybe there would be a little, a small leeway into the belief because he still would have fulfilled so many, I could see that the problem may just be my interpretation.
Hesediah: OK, so what happens with the 300 prophecies? Why didn’t the weight of that number bring you to the conclusion that Jesus was the messiah? I mean it’s a big number.
David: Firstly, it must be noted that that number is significantly inflated. Them saying that there are 300 messianic prophecies doesn’t mean that there are 300 separate passages in the Jewish Bible that are messianic. I found that many times the creators of this list of prophecies would get 4 or 5 prophecies from a few verses, or 10 prophecies from a single chapter. Take for instance, a person would think that Isaiah 53 for christians would be just one prophecy. But it’s not. In the list I worked from, they got 43, and I repeat FORTY-THREE messianic prophecies from that single passage! Sometimes they would get 5 “prophecies” from a single verse in that chapter. They get 5 messianic prophecies from Genesis 49:10 alone. This tells you their method. It is literally to make the number sound as big as possible. Also it is not really 300 messianic prophecies, but rather 300 claims they can derive from passages they see as messianic prophecies. If they can get more than one claim from a single verse, they’ll do so.
But let’s be honest, this only drops the number down from over 300 hundred to less than 200, maybe 150. But that is still a hefty about of messianic prophecies.
But that last phrase is one significant problem with this christian claim, the use of the words “messianic prophecies”. Remember how I defined it just now. The problem is that a significant number of these messianic prophecies aren’t even messianic!!! What do I mean? I mean the text itself mentions absolutely nothing about a messiah and/or it is not even a prediction! It could be a text describing something that happened in history or it could be just a law, but the creator of this list of “messianic” prophecies will include it as if it’s a prophecy.
David: Fo’ shizzle! [Translation: For sure, man] For the creator of these lists of messianic prophecies and people who use it, what they call “messianic prophecies” can include texts that are neither messianic or prophecies.
Hesediah: Can you give an example of one?
David: Sure. One of the first prophecies they use is Genesis 5:24. Here’s what it says with a bit of context.
(21) And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methushelah. (22) And Enoch walked with God after he had begotten Methushelah three hundred years; and begat sons and daughters. (23) And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years. (24) And Enoch walked with God, and he was no more; for God had taken him. (Genesis 5:21-24)
As you can see, this is not a prediction. This is a historical narrative about what happened to Enoch as part of a genealogical list of people who lived before the times of Noah, a number of generations after the first man, Adam. There is nothing in the text itself that says that it refers to any king, any may anointed with special oil to rule Israel. This was even before Israel even existed. This verse is not messianic. It’s not a prophecy/prediction. It is totally bereft of any messiah concept. Yet you look on the list of “messianic prophecies” and you will find this verse in their lists. If you don’t believe me, here are some webpages that use it, at least for now (these websites tend to move or become defunct).
There are other passages that are used that may be predictions, but aren’t messianic according to the text. For example, the very first prophecy used by so many christians: Genesis 3:15.
And I [God] will put enmity between you [the snake] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; they/he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise their/his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Now despite the differences in translations between “seed” and “offspring,” between “he” and “they”, it is the context that shows you that “messiah” can’t be drawn from this text. For example, in this chapter there are only four characters involved: God, the man, the woman, and the snake. There is no “messiah” in the text. There is no “satan” in the text. There is nothing in this text speaking of rulership, being anointed with special oil, Israel, kingship. There is nothing that says that this will happen in the last days. The context is very natural, speaking of snakes, women having pain in child birth, man having to work a lot more, weeds and thistles, and humans dying. But there is not one part of the text that clearly mentions a messiah figure, not even one aspect of his role or the times he will live in.
Look, I know christians tend to begin allegorizing things and saying “but this has deep spiritual meaning.” But that’s not what I was looking for. I was looking for clear text that points to the Hebrew Bible’s definition of an anointed one, either a king or priest. Genesis 3:15 has nothing of that in it. If I were looking to use the text of the Jewish Bible as my foundation before I went looking for messiahs, this verse would not be any sort of starting point to look for such a person.
It should be added that Genesis 3:15 is not a prophecy but a punishment that would have immediate effect at the time of Adam and Eve, not millenia afterwards.
The important thing to remember is that a significant portion of the “messianic prophecies” the missionary claims is like these examples I gave just now, either not a prediction at all, or has no mention of anything messianic.
Hesediah: But how can this happen? Why would they make such a list if this is true? And what about the prophecies that do point to messiah? There must still be some, right? Wouldn’t it still take a lot to fulfil those? … And unfortunately we’ll have to get the answers to such in our next installment.
Thanks for your time. Hopefully we’ll see you again the next time we continue this interview.
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