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Theological question on Prophecy

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by padre31, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    I've studied the Scriptures and it occurs to me prophecy can be viewed in two ways:

    -Some have been fullfilled, and only pertained to Israel/Judah/Jerusalem
    -Some have not come to pass

    What is the proper way to view this?
     
  2. MrClean

    MrClean Inglourious Basterd Club Member

    IMO, Thomas Jefferson summed it quite nicely when he said: "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
     
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  3. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Thank you for that insightful sharing of someone else's words, very thought provoking and revealing of one's own theological thoughts on the OP.
     
  4. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    View it as prediction of things that will happen before the end of time. Don't expect to see any of it in your lifetime.
     
  5. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Well, what happens is some clergymen (in the broadest sense of the term) will refer to a prophecy, and say it is applicable, when a plain reading of the text shows it came to pass in that era.

    Curious what the test is for happened/had not happened
     
  6. MrClean

    MrClean Inglourious Basterd Club Member

    I know you aren't one to be sarcastic, but for some reason your response sounded that way on this occasion.
     
  7. cdz12250

    cdz12250 Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Thing is, that's a matter of opinion sometimes. The prophecy of the Messiah is a good example. According to you and me, that prophecy has been fulfilled. Our friend the Rabbi would differ.
     
  8. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Well, that causes no conundrum as even Christian prophecy teaches Christ will re-appear if the Rabbi would still have doubts that would clear the whole thing up.

    I'm thinking of things such as Jerusalem and Matthew and the "awful horror" for example, or the Temple being rebuilt etc.
     
  9. Nice quote, only problem is it was never said by Jefferson

    A group of atheists called Backyard Skeptics is planning to unveil a billboard at 1545 Newport Blvd., Wednesday afternoon with a quote from Thomas Jefferson bashing Christianity.

    The quote reads, “I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature. It is founded on fables and mythology.”

    There’s one problem: There’s no evidence Jefferson ever said it. The Jefferson Library Collection at Monticello lists it on a page of spurious Jefferson quotes.

    Bruce Gleason, whose group paid for this and other recent atheism billboards that have gone up in O.C. in recent months, said Wednesday he wasn’t sure about the origin of the quote.

    He agreed that Monticello was an authoritative source.

    “You’re absolutely right,” he said. “I should have done the research before I put my billboard up.”

    The quote on the billboard is an abridged version of a quote that first appeared in a 1906 book called “Six Historic Americans,” by John E. Remsburg, who attributed it to a “Letter to Dr. Woods.”

    It reads: “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.”

    The Jefferson Library knows of no letter to a Dr. Woods ever written by Jefferson, or of any appearance of the phrase anywhere in his writings.

    For some misguided reason, atheists have latched on to Thomas Jefferson as a poster boy for their faith.
     
  10. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Guys, I'm a staunch Atheist, but this thread is not about Atheism. Its about a matter of faith someone has about their religion.

    It has nothing to do with our non beliefs. Let's leave this alone. People are allowed to have whatever faith they want.
     
  11. However since you are so interested in Jefferson, here is an ACTUAL quote from him:

    The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

    The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.

    I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.

    I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ
     
  12. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    It all depends on the particular context of the prophecy. Each text has to be taken in its historical and literary context.

    There are a number of features of OT prophecies (of course a "prophet" is not technically one who tells the future - as commonly understood in our culture. The word "prophet" is from "nabhi" - which essentially meant "spokesman" or "mouthpiece" - as Aaron was to Moses). Just a few general observations:

    1) prophecies often had a dual fulfillment: Isaiah might speak about an event that would have a "literal" fulfillment (e.g., Jerusalem being defeated and destroyed by the Babylonians; or the Babylonians being judged by God through the Medes, cf. Isa. 13). Yet, there might also, even within particular prophecies, be a dual fulfillment for Israel (a physical and spiritual one). Perhaps the best illustration of this are prophecies about the restoration from Babylon (e.g., Isa. 40) yet these also look forward to a spiritual restoration in the Messiah (which came in the NT) and ultimately have, perhaps, a triple fulfillment (Isaiah 60 may serve in this way) of looking forward to the New Heavens and New Earth.


    2) It is also helpful to see that the prophets in the OT often did not have good "depth" perception in the way their prophecies were fulfilled. A diagram helps. Moving right to left into the future with two events, A, B:

    Prophet ---------------------------A-----------------------------------------------------B

    From the prophets perspective, as they write, they may write event A and B in the same context. They may see B just behind A (sort of like a human who knows nothing of the distances of the sun and moon - in viewing an eclipse might think they are very close to one another as the moon crosses over part of the sun). But, in reality, event B may be much further in the future.

    3) The NT writers also employed a use in their day known as Midrash, as they looked back at Hebrew Scriptures and saw a fulfillment that the grammatical-historical context did not address. THey did so, importantly, as they re-read the Hebrew Scriptures through the lens of Christ - after his death, burial, and resurrection. The Resurrection changed how they saw the whole story of Scripture. Prior to this, the Scriptures (our OT) did not have a completion. There was still a longing for Israel. They were still technically in "exile" (under Roman domination) awaiting their redemption (cf. Lk. 24:21 and see also N.T. Wright's The New Testament and the People of God).

    But, when the early disciples and gospel writers (I believe under the guidance of the Holy Spirit - but that's a different subject) saw Jesus as the Messiah, risen from the dead, they also saw him as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures - the "true" Israel, the true descendant of Abraham, who fulfilled all.

    So, they took many texts and saw in them a new way of reading these in light of Jesus. Reading the OT through the risen Jesus as a "lens" they saw texts come alive that connected to him: so Matthew in Mt. 1-4 has Jesus as a "New" and "True" Israel: he goes down to Egypt; comes up out; has a "Red Sea Crossing" (In the baptism of John) he was tempted in the wilderness, not for 40 years but 40 days, and endured the identical kind of temptations as Israel; etc. So, Matthew took a text (Hosea 11:1-3) that applied to Israel as a "son" who drifted away from the LORD (YHWH) and applied it to Jesus (Mt. 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I have called my son").

    4) Language and literary genre is a major factor here. In the Enlightenment era we tend to read things at face value, with a literalness; or we privilege a literal reading. This has impacted interpretation of texts that were not likely intended as such. Such is the case of many of the poetic statements in the prophets.

    - Example 1 - Isaiah 19:1 speaks of YHWH coming in judgment on Egypt "riding on a cloud." It's not to be taken literally. Doesn't mean there was not going to be a judgment on Egypt (as there was) but God didn't come into the space-time continuum in some physical sense, ride on a cloud, and judge them. He used other nations. This statement was rather a metaphor for the swiftness of judgment. The same metaphor is used by Jesus in discussing judgment on Jerusalem in Mt. 24 (cf. Mk. 13, Lk. 21) when he says, "until you see the Son of Man coming in the clouds." I don't think contextually this relates to the final coming but a judgment on Jerusalem (which would be in the form of the Roman empire).

    - Example 2 - same things for the book of Revelation - which has to be read within it's literary genre and historical contexts. It is in the genre of apocalyptic literature (more common in that time); often using dramatic physical imagery to describe a spiritual or even other physical reality.
     
  13. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Jefferson had an inherent bias against the possibility of miracles (in line with Hume), which also begged the question because it assumed away at first what had to be proven.

    But, there is a significant distinction between Christianity and other world religions and it rests in the historical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus and testimony of the witnesses to that resurrection. One can choose not to accept this testimony, of course. But, there are many strong arguments for this: 1) The gospel accounts are intended as historical. Luke, for example, is written in the same form and approach as other ancient historical biography. His writings demonstrate a his book as historically situated in the first century and great accuracy of people and events. He was intending to write history, not a story (cf. Luke 1:1-4, 2:1-3, 3:1-2).

    And, the historical reliability of these texts is significant. They indicate that a number of men and women gave their lives in testifying that they saw Jesus alive after dying on the cross. Not that they heard he was but that they saw themselves.

    (I'd encourage anyone either skeptical or believer to read Oxford & St. Andrews Scholar N.T. Wright's Christian Origins Trilogy - big books! - but esp. The NT People of God; and for a lighter read, Tim Keller's very irenic Reason for God).
     
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  14. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Ah, however the Apocalypse was also a cypher meant to convey a message to the Churches and Congregations around the region in a way they'd understand but the illiterate Roman soldiers would not.

    For example the "666" stuff, with the Hebraic usage of numbers to mean words, it actually means "Caesar Neron" ie, the current Roman Emperor of the time who was persecuting Christians. Much of what was written was aimed at specific things of that time.

    I also question the usage of a duality in prophecy fulfillment, for example Niniveh's destruction does not mean one simply takes out a brush and says "as was predicted to happen to Niniveh also happened in such a such a place". That would border on Charlatanism.
     
  15. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Certainly - the "hidden/unveiling" was a part of apocalyptic literature and it was written to the seven churches of Asia (there actually was more persecution about Roman emperor worship in Asia than there was in what we would call Italy these days - they were obsessed with emperor worship).

    See especially, S.R.F. Price's Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor

    But, when it comes to numbering, the "666" is more a function of symbolism than a "code" - 6 being a number that falls one short of perfection. It's reference to "number coding" as "neron caesar" is questionable to several scholars (as such "coding" is less a function of apocalyptic than it is of our bringing our modern ingenuity into it).

    "666" is more likely (given how Hebrew numerology worked) the idea of a "triple" falling short of "7" (a number of perfection - the number of God - and sevens are all over Revelation) - that is, it is human and not a power that matched God - no matter how great that power would be. Indeed, Rome is in view and the Caesar - but also the Satanic power behind that. It is a symbol for the power marshaled against the Christians and a sign to them that the power would be defeated.

    A couple of books connected to this that I'd highly recommend:

    G.K. Beale's massive tome The Book Of Revelation

    And, Richard Bauckham's exceptional The Theology of the Book of Revelation.

    Bauckham's work on numerology (in general in Scripture and in Revelation in particular) is especially useful and important.
     
  16. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Beg to differ Da'Fins, Hebraic (Gematria)of that day used numbers in replacement of letters or to spell names.

    Which is why the phrase "..let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number"

    IE, a number referring to a human, Caesar Neron.

    Interestingly, if the book was written in 100 AD, Nero was long gone by then, however if written closer to the destruction of Jerusalem it would have been right around that era.

    I write this b/c there is a whole group of Christians who literally hiss and cross themselves whenever "666" is mentioned, and it could very well refer to things already come to pass.
     
  17. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    On the duality - what I'm referring to wouldn't work that way (the Nineveh example); but duality is undeniable. It's all about context. And, it wouldn't be just arbitrarily picking it out and saying, "this has a yet future fulfillment in X" which has no control over exegesis - or in that situation it would be "eisegesis" (that would be a problem, indeed). Dual fulfillment would be regulated by the Scriptures themselves (as NT writers pointed to such). A couple of examples -

    Isaiah 40. Israel, living in the agony of the Babylonian exile, would have read this as applying to them (and there was a sense that it did - as the context of Isa 40-44 indicates). It is a promise to Israel in exile of their return from captivity (which came about in stages - see Ezra-Nehemiah). But this also speaking of a new exodus (spiritual) as NT writers indicated. So, for example, Luke, in describing the ministry of John the Baptist quotes from Isa. 40:3-5, in Luke 3:2-6.

    Another illustration is Psalm 22 which David writes poetically of himself but then prophetically of the Messiah - see Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34.

    This goes back to the use of Midrash by the NT authors - so they saw prophetic statements not only in their historico-grammatico context, but also, as part of a unified body Scripture, they saw statements through the lens of Christ as having a "dual" fulfillment in him.

    An excellent journal article I'd highly recommend is this one linked, by Martin Pickup:

    NEW TESTAMENT INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: THE THEOLOGICAL RATIONALE OF MIDRASHIC EXEGESIS
     
  18. Da 'Fins

    Da 'Fins Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Have you read Beale's or Bauckham's books? They are scholars at the very top of the field. Gematria was not that widespread and in Apocalyptic literature, it was the theological symbolism within numerology that was prominent: 7 represented perfection, completeness; 6 was falling short; 12 was completeness with respect to God's people; 40 was a complete generation; 10 wholeness. 3 & 4 represented deity (trinity) and the world/earth (e.g., the "four corners" of the world; or four directions) and elements of 7.
     
  19. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Late on this, but I'm in the middle (well, close to the end) of Tom Wright's second book now, Jesus and the Victory of God. The New Testament and the People of God was fantastic (it takes some wading to get thru the first 50-100 pages, but once you make it thru that, everything's golden), and I'm really looking forward to The Resurrection of the Son of God. Love his history and scholarship... can't imagine the time it's taken him to compile these works.

    I second the notion that they're awesome for skeptic and believer alike.
     
  20. Clemsonpanther

    Clemsonpanther New Member

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