Why did the Jews of Paul’s day reject the Christian claims about Jesus being the promised messiah? The answer is simple..


To make sense of early Jewish outrage over claims concerning the messiahship of Jesus, we need to cut though many centuries of Christian thinking, mountains of subsequent theological speculation, and masses of Christian “common sense” about how Jesus came as the fulfillment of Scripture. Many Christians today have serious difficulty understanding how Jews in antiquity and throughout history, down till today, have rejected the claim that Jesus was the messiah. In this traditional Christian view it is very simple and clear-cut: the Jewish Scriptures themselves predicted the messiah the messiah would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, that he would be a great healer and teacher, and that he would suffer an excruciating death for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead. All that is in the Jews’ own Bible. Why can’t they see that? Can’t they read?

Throughout history, when Christians have pointed to “predictions of Jesus” in the Old Testament, Jews have denied the passages involve messianic prophecies. Christians have long maintained, for example, that the ancient prophet Isaiah was looking ahead to Jesus when he declared, centuries before the crucifixion: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his wounds we were healed” (Isaiah 53: 5-6). In response, Jewish readers have pointed out that Isaiah never indicates he is referring to a messiah figure. On the contrary he speaks of someone who has already suffered, and he does not call that one the messiah. More than that, earlier in his account he explicitly indicates who this “suffering servant of the Lord” is. It is the nation of Israel itself, which has suffered because of the sins of the people (see Isaiah 49:3).

In the days of Paul, among Jews who had expectations of what the messiah would be, there were never expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead. In fact, the expectations were quite the opposite.

The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World by Bart D. Ehrman pages 47-48



Categories: Bible, Christianity, Christology, Dr Bart Ehrman, History, Jesus, Jews, Tanakh

55 replies

  1. You don’t realize how you destroy Islam by posts like these.

    Since Islam accepts Jesus as the Messiah and virgin born – 2 big things that most Jews don’t accept.

    Islam got those ideas from NT principles.

    Tovia Singer sets you straight from using liberal anti-supernatural scholarship:

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    • I am not here to defend Islam.

      In the days of Paul, among Jews who had expectations of what the messiah would be, there were never expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead. In fact, the expectations were quite the opposite. See the Dead Sea Scrolls for example.

      The Christian idea was an unheard of, unprecedented, innovation.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Also, Tovia Singer admitted that Isaiah 11:1-11 is about the Messiah, even though the word “Messiah” is not used there.

      So, that argument against Isaiah 52-53 is demolished.

      Like

  2. And Jesus Himself said that He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-15 to 53:1-12.

    Mark 10:45

    Mark 8:31

    Mark 9:12

    And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt?

    Mark 9:31

    Mark 10:33-34

    Mark 14:24

    Mark 14:60-64

    Luke 24:25-27

    Luke 24:44-47

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    • Those are verses found in an anonymous late first century Christian text whose historical reliability is much contested by scholars.

      Let us see just how many Jews in the days of Paul had expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead:
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      ZERO.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No.
        Peter
        John
        Matthew
        Thomas – John 20:28
        Bartholomew
        James, son of Zebedee
        Simon the Zealot
        Philip
        Andrew

        and many others.

        Matthew 10:2-15; 28:16-20

        Acts 1:12-15 – 120 believers, including women, among first century Jews.

        Acts 2 – many Jews from other countries came and were added to their number – 2:41 – 3 thousand souls.

        and more and more Jews in the first century kept on becoming Christians / followers of Jesus the Messiah, even “a great many of the priests”

        Acts 6:7
        The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

        Even the Qur’an says the followers of Jesus were true believers, faithful, and eventually, the followers of Jesus became the dominant, manifest, above, superior ones.
        Surah 61:14
        Surah 3:55

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      • These are all figures from the Christian New Testament.

        Show me A SINGLE JEW in the days of Paul or from any time before in Jewish history who had expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead.

        Like

      • Also Kenny, in addition to Paul’s simple request, can you also show A SINGLE JEW from any time before Jesus time in Jewish history who had expectations that the same messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God as you postulate please? Thanks Mate 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • In other words Kenny, please show A SINGLE JEW prior to NT times who professed the most important commandment of ALL – “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and a Jew also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM” – who had expectations that that He the Lord God is comprised of three distinct divine persons – which includes the messiah – all collectively formed His One divine being? 🙂

        Like

      • Simple Kenny – Any Christology that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities other than Him the God of Jesus is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re clueless Kenny, the dubious foreign false innovation of a Jewish messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be killed and raised from the dead are ‘revelatory experiences’ conjectured by misguided polytheist NT authors – whom adhered to a sect/branch of Christology unknown to Jesus – whom postulated their own eisegesis of interpreting the OT scriptures beyond it’s scope in such a way as to introduce their own presuppositions, agendas or biases about a mythical dying messiah god sharing the same essence of divinity with YHWH to form one God , just as the NT authors ( ex: John, Hebrews, Paul, etc) & Fathers of the Church inadvertently did by exaggeratedly applying the personified wisdom & Logos/Memra literature/theology to misconstrue and (Mis) interpret the historical prophet and messiah Jesus after he left this world.

    Kenny your beliefs about a dying messiah man god who shares the same essence of divinity with YHWH to form one God are erroneous innovations all based on flimsy unbiblical ‘post easter’ conjectures developed by a sect of professed followers that adhered to an erroneous Christology about Jesus that was a clear breach of Jewish Biblical Monotheism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kenny your false trinitarian Christology is in total contradiction to what Jesus the Jew would have adhered to in his day as the most important commandment of All of his God’s commands … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and Jesus also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

      Any Christology that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities other than Him the God of Jesus is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism

      Jesus the Messiah and Prophet worshipped and prayed to his God alone as he was commanded to do

      “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” Luke 6:12

      “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone” Matthew 14:23

      “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” Luke 5:16

      Kenny, be like Jesus and ‘worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

      Liked by 1 person

    • The NT is a Jewish book.

      33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

      Mark 10:33-34

      And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

      Luke 24:25-27

      Psalm 2:1-12 – The king of David is both Messiah and the son of God and worthy to be worshiped – kiss the Son and worship him last he become angry and you parish in the way.

      Mark 14:60-64- The Jewish leader ship a high priest they all asked Jesus if he was the Messiah the son of God there question shows they knew the Messiah of the old testament would be the son of God.

      Mark 10:45
      The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

      Jesus shows here and Mark 10:45 that he calls himself the servant which points to Isaiah 52 and 53 that he was the suffering servant the Messiah

      Isaiah 52:13-15
      Isaiah 53:1-12
      Psalm 22

      Like

      • Let’s try again Kenny lol….

        1. Show me A SINGLE JEW in the days of Paul or from any time before in Jewish history who had expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead?

        2. Also Kenny, in addition to Paul’s simple request, can you also show A SINGLE JEW prior to NT times who professed the most important commandment of ALL – “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and a Jew who also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM” – had expectations that the same messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God?

        Thanks Kenny 🙂

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      • Dr. Michael Brown lists 9 Jewish commentators that understood Isaiah 53 as about the Messiah.

        Just to name a few:
        1. Targum Jonathan
        2. The Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b
        3. Ruth Rabbah
        4. Midrash Tanchumah
        5. Rambam (Maimonides) in his letter to Yemen
        6. Rabbi Moshe Alshech

        Pages 62-64
        “The Gospel according to Isaiah 53”

        Isaiah 53:1 points to the unbelief of many of the Jews of the first century and beyond and also of your unbelief the stubborn unbeliever of Muslims.

        But some Jews did believe that Jesus is the Messiah the son of God and he is the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and Abraham a covenant through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 12:3; & 22:17 to 18; 49:10

        The thing you guys keep ignoring is the fact that some Jews did indeed believe in Jesus the Messiah Jesus himself said that he was the Messiah and the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 and Jesus is disciples and many other followers who were Jewish believed the Old Testament prophesied of the Jewish Messiah from the son of David who would be born of the virgin which Isaiah 7:14 clearly Prophesied.

        Obviously when the Jews of the first century believed in the Messiah that is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures in the Old Testament then they became what was known later as Christians; followers of the Christ , followers of the Messiah

        Therefore all your arguments are demolished and nuked.

        What is your stubbornness of your wicked heart that makes you not believe just as Isaiah 53:1 and Jesus said.

        Who has believed our report?

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      • Wrong Kenny! the dubious, false innovation of a Jewish messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be killed and raised from the dead emerged from supposed ‘revelatory experiences’ conjectured by misguided polytheist NT authors & Church Fathers – whom adhered to a sect/branch of Christology unknown to Jesus – whom postulated their own eisegesis of interpreting the OT scriptures beyond it’s scope that prepared the erroneous foundations for these false doctrines about a mythical dying messiah god sharing the same essence of divinity with YHWH to form one God.

        Simple Kenny – Any Christology that emerged after Jesus left this world that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities, other than the one God who Jesus the Messiah and Prophet worshipped alone is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism.

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      • All of your rebuttals are false and dubious and is stubborn unbelief in wickedness. Kufr

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      • Kenny the stubbornness of your wicked heart filled with polytheism makes you not comprehend anything and you have actually demolished and nuked yourself by producing commentaries POST NT times lol

        Now, pay attention kenny … Let’s try again lol…. 🙂

        1. Show me A SINGLE JEW in the days >BEFORE< NT times in Jewish history who had expectations that the Jewish messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead?

        2. Also Kenny, in addition to Paul’s simple request, can you also show A SINGLE JEW BEFORE NT times who professed the most important commandment of ALL – “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and a Jew who also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM” – had expectations that the same messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God?

        All of your feeble irrelevant misinformation are false and dubious and is stubborn unbelief in wickedness you trinitarian polytheist

        Liked by 1 person

      • Poor Kenny. His polytheism is smashed to smithereens 😂

        Like

      • Any Christology that emerged after Jesus left this world that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities, other than the one God who Jesus the Messiah and Prophet worshipped alone is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism.

        You Kenny are a trinitarian polytheist that adheres to a form of Christology that that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism.

        Repent Kenny and be like Jesus (P) who declared … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY ’” and Jesus also affirms the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

        Jesus the Messiah and Prophet worshipped and prayed to his God alone:

        “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” Luke 6:12

        “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone” Matthew 14:23

        “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” Luke 5:16

        Like

  4. There are very clear and obvious reasons why any well-read Jew with a lick of common sense would outright reject the New Testament picture of Jesus not only as Messiah but even as a Prophet!

    https://primaquran.com/2020/09/14/flawed-reasoning-faulty-logic-cop-outs-why-jews-dont-accept-jesus-as-messiah/

    Like

    • Jesus himself pronounced judgment on the leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders that rejected him as Messiah.

      Matthew chapters 23 and 24

      Especially 23:36 to 24:1-3

      Jesus said all these woes and judgments are coming upon that generation at that time and then God brought the Romans to destroy the temple in 70 A.D. which fulfill Jesus his prophecy in Matthew 23 and 24.

      This is massive historical proof that Christianity is true and that there were Jews that believed the proper interpretation of Isaiah 53 and other passages and God brought judgment on those that rejected the proper interpretation.

      Matthew 21:33-46

      Especially verse 43 Jesus said therefore I am taking the kingdom of God away from you and verse 45; The Pharisees understood that Jesus was talking about them

      Like

      • Come on Kenny show A SINGLE JEW prior to NT times who professed the most important commandment of ALL – “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and a Jew who also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM” – had expectations that the same Jewish messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God? lolol 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t be stubborn Kenny and accept the truth that Jewish Biblical History/monotheism does not biblical support the false, foreign notion about the expectation of a dying deity messiah who will suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead, neither about the expectation that the same messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God.

        It was only through the misguided polytheist NT authors and Church fathers – whom adhered to a sect/branch of Christology unknown to Jesus that evolved after he left this world – whom postulated their own dubious eisegesis of interpreting the OT scriptures beyond it’s scope in such a way as to introduce their own presuppositions, agendas or biases about a mythical dying messiah god sharing the same essence of divinity with YHWH to form one God unheard of before NT Times 😊

        Let this truth penetrate your heart Kenny – Any Christology that emerged after Jesus left this world that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities, other than the one God, who Jesus the Messiah and Prophet worshipped alone is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t be stubborn Omar and turn to Christ, Al Masih, and all that the NT teaches about Him.

        He is The Way, the Truth, and The Life.

        John 14:6

        You cannot know God (Allah), the Father, the Creator, without coming through Christ, The eternal Son, the eternal Word – کلمه الله من ازل
        who became a man for our salvation.
        John 1:1
        John 1:14
        Philippians 2:5-8

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      • Don’t be stubborn Kenny abandon your polytheism and follow the way of Christ, Al Masih who declares … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY ’” and Jesus the Prophet of God also affirms the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

        Kenny worship God alone and be saved , just as Jesus the Messiah and Prophet showed the truth and the way by worshipping and praying to his God alone.

        “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” Luke 6:12

        “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone” Matthew 14:23

        “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” Luke 5:16

        Abandon your false triune idol god that has deceived you into committing polytheism by worshipping 3 distinct personal gods Kenny

        God Almighty’ in the bible is not identified as a divine substance or an essence that is shared within persons, ‘God’ is not a WHAT , ‘God’ in the bible is a WHO, throughout history of Jewish Monotheism, HE ‘God Almighty’ is identified as a Personal Deity, Who possesses HIS One unique Divine Being that identifies HIM as One Divine Person

        May God Almighty save you from polytheism and turn you to follow the way and truth and example of Jesus the servant who worshipped his God Alone

        “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but HIM”,

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      • Jesus said:
        I and the Father are one,
        John 10:30

        If you have seen me you have seen the father
        John 14

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      • Jesus said:
        I and the Father are one,
        John 10:30

        One in will and purpose. You will find similar sayings uttered by sufi saints.

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      • “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”. John 14:9

        Thomas said to Jesus: “My Lord and My God”
        John 20:28

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      • Kenny Jesus said: “I and the Father are one, John 10:30”

        You falsely presume claiming 10:30 denotes Jesus and the father here share the same divine Homoousion, essence of being..lol.. your false trinitarian eisegesis of the verse only exists in your mind Kenny, not in this verse as J. H. Bernard and many other reputable NT scholars have exposed your misguidance as clearly illustrated in this discussion

        https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/08/13/i-and-the-father-are-one-said-jesus-in-johns-gospel-what-did-he-mean/#comments

        J. H. Bernard affirms in his publication – A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John page 366

        “A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel…, and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate identity of ousia [Greek for ‘substance,’ ‘essence’], is to introduce thoughts that were not present to the theologians of the first century.”

        https://books.google.com.au/books?redir_esc=y&id=dJ08AAAAYAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=A+unity+of+fellows

        John 10:30 does not biblically substantiate trinitarian ‘monotheism’ that The One God, HE is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS One divine Being? Lol… until you biblically substantiate that HE The One God is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS one being, i.e trinitarian ‘oneness’ you will forever be a polytheist worships 3 distinct separate personal gods Kenny.

        Don’t be stubborn Kenny abandon your polytheism and follow the way of Christ, Al Masih who declares … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him ONLY ’” and Jesus the Prophet of God also affirms the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

        Kenny worship God alone and be saved , just as Jesus the Messiah and Prophet showed the truth and the way by worshipping and praying to his God alone.

        Like

      • Christianity has never been polytheistic. Trinitarianism is the true Monotheism.

        Your repeating the same things does nothing.

        “My sheep hear My voice . . .

        “no one is able to snatch them out of my hand”
        and
        “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand”
        I and the Father are one.

        “A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son . . . ”
        Yes, this is true as is and shows that both the Father and the Son work together to protect the sheep from falling away – “no one can snatch them out of our hands” – 2 persons

        but the Jews that rejected Al Masih, also at the time, say this as blasphemy – verse 31-33

        30 I and the Father are [a]one.”

        31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

        This shows the claim of Jesus also points to His Deity and Divine nature.

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      • Wrong Kenny, repeating your same irrational arguments with no biblical support that have been refuted over and over again does nothing for you except continually to expose yourself as a misguided polytheist wondering in a maze or error and confusion

        Trinitarianism is absolute polytheism, when measured against Biblical Jewish Monotheism

        Kenny “I and the Father are [a]one.” … “This shows the claim of Jesus also points to His Deity and Divine nature”

        Wrong Kenny, the Jews did not understand Jn 10:30 to denote Jesus was claiming to be one with his God in sharing the one and same divine Homoousion, essence of being as you falsely presume when applying your erroneous trinitarian eisegesis of the verse lol.. Reputable NT Scholars have exposed your false trinitarian eisegesis of the bible, just like your friend

        John Calvin, a Trinitarian, states in his commentary:

        “[Jesus] therefore testifies that his affairs are so closely united to those of the Father, that the Father’s assistance will never be withheld from himself and his sheep. The ancients made a wrong use of this passage to prove that Christ is of the same essence with the Father. For Christ does not argue about the unity of substance, but about the agreement which he has with the Father, so that whatever is done by Christ will be confirmed by the power of his Father.” – John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John.

        Kenny your false trinitarian polytheism is in total contradiction to what Jesus the Jew adhered to in his day as the most important commandment of All given by his God … “it is written and FOREVER REMAINS written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY ’” and Jesus also affirmed the Lord Thy God “is One and there is no other but HIM”

        Any Christology that invokes worship to any other person, object or deities other than Him the God of Jesus is polytheism that contradicts Jewish Biblical Monotheism

        Again, none of those verses in John biblically substantiate trinitarian ‘monotheism’ that The One God, HE is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS One divine Being? Lol… until you biblically substantiate that HE The One God is comprised of 3 distinct persons that form HIS one being, i.e trinitarian ‘oneness’ you will forever be a polytheist worships 3 distinct separate personal gods.

        Like

      • But the Jews in the context said Jesus was committing blasphemy, making Himself equal with God – John 10:31-33 – so it shows that it points to His Deity also – that He has the same nature as the Father – homo-ousias.

        This is first century Jewish writings, as the others are, Luke is the only non-Jew. Face it, you have no argument at all. You lost.

        But only God can open your eyes.
        2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “if perhaps God will grant repentance and you come to the knowledge of the truth and escape the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

        You are a slave to sin and darkness.

        The Lord has to shine the light into your hearts and make you come alive.
        2 Cor. 4:4-6
        Ephesians 2:1-5 – slaves of sin and Satan until God gives grace and makes one alive.

        Like

      • This is for you Kenny – 🙂

        The following two articles subjects the Fourth Servant Song to a critical. in-depth analysis in which the Jewish interpretation of “Isaiah 53” is measured against a combination of the teachings of the Hebrew Bible and the historical record. The analysis employs a well-known and widely used methodology from the domain of research and discovery, the Scientific Method, which has been adapted and applied to the entire process of validation. In a subsequent essay, the Christian interpretation will be subjected to a similar process.

        1st article: http://thejewishhome.org/counter/Isa53JP.pdf

        Hypothesis: Israel is the servant in the Fourth Servant Song

        Conclusion: The servant in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song is (the righteous
        remnant of) Israel.

        2nd article: http://thejewishhome.org/counter/Isa53CP.pdf

        New Hypothesis: The Messiah is the servant in “Isaiah 53”

        Conclusion: The Christian interpretation of “Isaiah 53” is false, since neither the Messiah nor Jesus can be identified as the entity being referred to as “My servant”.

        Overall research summary

        Final Conclusion for Parts I & II: The Jewish interpretation of Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song (“Isaiah 53”) that Israel is the identity of the entity being referred to as “My servant” is correct.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Greetings to all

    Regarding Isaiah 53, Ken rightly noted that the Babylonian Talmud (specifically the gemara at Sanhedrin 98B) treats that text as referring to the Messiah. I think that’s a significant point, as that is a pretty early source within the Rabbinic corpora (if one rejects it, it will raise the question: what ancient sources do you turn to for Rabbinic interpretations of Isaiah 53?).

    How Rabbinic Jews approach Isaiah 53 and other relevant texts in the TaNa”Kh can be more complex than popular polemics let on. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to share here something the brilliant orthodox Jewish scholar rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet wrote (in a review of book on the subject of controversies within orthodox Judaism regarding the parameters of Messianic belief):

      «In truth, of course, the Jewish faith is defined by its own tradition and not by its differences from Christianity. Polemical debates, regardless of its participants, are neither definitive nor authoritative. The Talmudic rabbis engaged in such debates as well. Oftentimes they conceded that they rebuffed their opponents with “straw” or “broken reeds,” i.e., that their responses were no more than polemical tactics and not their true positions.

      A typical example would be the Jewish responses about “the suffering servant” of Isaiah 53. The polemicists follow the majority opinion of mediaeval Jewish exegetes that it speaks of the Jewish people, as opposed to the Christian claim that it speaks of the messiah. This view is found also among some Talmudic rabbis. It does not negate, however, the validity of the pervasive Talmudic-Midrashic-Zoharic interpretation that the subject of that chapter is indeed Mashiach.»

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Dennis!
      Excellent verification.
      Thanks for speaking up.

      Like

    • It is great to have you comment on posts again Denis. I look forward to future articles too.

      That said, your comments are somewhat off topic (though interesting).

      As Omar put it:

      Show me A SINGLE JEW in the days >BEFORE< NT times in Jewish history who had expectations that the Jewish messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead?

      The gemara of The Babylonian Talmud were written about 500 AD many centuries after the period we are discussing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Greetings Paul.

        I touched on the timeframes somewhat in my first comment (noting that if one rejects the Talmud’s relevance, it begs the question of what sources one turns to for ancient understandings of Isaiah). But I’ll elaborate a bit here: to my knowledge, there are no pre-common era commentaries on Isaiah 53 (hence the question: what sources does one propose we consult). If it turns out that there are no sources to turn to, then it begs the question of how anyone can make a confident claim about how Jews did or did not interpret the text.

        Regarding the dating of the Talmud, the final redaction may indeed be as late as (or even later than) you proposed, but the traditions recorded therein are presumably older. Nonetheless, we are left with this question: how do we explain both the New Testament and the Talmud interpreting Isaiah 53 as referring to the Messiah? I would be reluctant to simply wave my hand and accuse the Talmudic sages of copying from the New Testament***. I would propose that it seems neither improbable nor implausible that this tradition of interpreting Isaiah 53 in such a way existed among certain Jews before the penning of either corpus.

        ***Side note: recalling my entry for this blog on An Often Overlooked Detail in an Apparent Talmudic Polemic Against Jesus, I do not rule out the possibility of some ancient Rabbinic authorities having had some sort of erstwhile connection to Jesus. Perhaps another blog entry in this regard would be timely…

        Liked by 1 person

      • “how do we explain both the New Testament and the Talmud interpreting Isaiah 53 as referring to the Messiah?”

        Easily: the 5th century AD (and later) discussions of the sages we read about in the Talmud took place in a context where Jews were heavily influenced by Christian interpretations of the Bible.

        Today, scholars of all stripes (Christian, Jewish, atheist etc) read Isaiah using the historical critical method (HCM) with impressive results. The HCM suggests Isaiah 53 refers to the people of Israel, this being how the passage would very likely have been understood by Jews in the Second Temple Period. I know of no contemporary scholar who practices the HCM who concludes Isaiah 53 suggests the death and resurrection of the messiah. Do you?

        You write:

        ‘to my knowledge, there are no pre-common era commentaries on Isaiah 53 (hence the question: what sources does one propose we consult). If it turns out that there are no sources to turn to, then it begs the question of how anyone can make a confident claim about how Jews did or did not interpret the text.’

        This is not quite true. We know from the very detailed history of Judaism and the Jewish people written by Josephus in the first century what Jewish expectations were concerning the messiah. His discussion of the Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees and others gives us a good idea what Jews thought before the rise of Christianity. There were never expectations that the messiah would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead. The expectations were quite the opposite.

        I refer you to the scholarly discussion Isaiah 52.13-53.12: The servant, in The Jewish Study Bible which utilises the HCM. It explains why the passage is very unlikely to identify the servant as the messiah and notes that “medieval rabbinic commentators devoted considerable attention to refuting this interpretation.” (page 872)

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      • A brief summary about ‘Who is God’s Suffering Servant? by Rabbi Tovia Singer provides some helpful insights into the Rabbinic Interpretation of Isaiah 53

        https://outreachjudaism.org/gods-suffering-servant-isaiah-53/

        “The broad consensus among Jewish, and even some Christian commentators, that the “servant” in Isaiah 52-53 refers to the nation of Israel is understandable. Isaiah 53, which is the fourth of four renowned Servant Songs, is umbilically connected to its preceding chapters. The “servant” in each of the three previous Servant Songs is plainly and repeatedly identified as the nation of Israel.”

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      • Greetings Paul and Omar

        Permit me to share some quick thoughts, as I am a bit tied up with work.

        Regarding the question of timeframes, while I can appreciate the sentiment regarding the later redaction of the Talmud, I would nonetheless consider it one of our earliest available sources on this topic (i.e. the question of how ancient Jews understood Isaiah 53). So, with that in mind, I would ask: what do you gentleman feel is the earliest source to record Jews explicitly interpreting the chapter as referring to the nation of Israel? Do you have access to a commentary on specifically Isaiah 53 which is earlier than the Talmud?

        On a somewhat related note, while I can certainly appreciate and respect modern scholarly interpretations (e.g. that of Bart Ehrman or the Jewish Study Bible), I fear that, in the context of this discussion, we may have unwittingly shifted gears here, insofar that the original question was regarding ancient Jewish interpretations (i.e. if the Talmud is too late for the original request, might not sources from the 20th and 21st centuries likewise be too late for said request?).

        Regarding the question of whether the Talmudic passage treating the text as Messianic in scope was due to Christian influence, I continue to think that is the less probable option. The reason why is because it could be argued that quite early into Christian history, Christians had “weaponized” the idea of a Messianic reading of Isaiah 53 as an argument for Jesus’ Messiaship. In other words, the fact that Christians were trying to use the notion of Isaiah 53 as Messianic reference in their favor, it seems unlikely that Jesus-rejecting Jews would embrace that idea after such arguments were already being employed by Christians. Therefore, I think it is more probable that the tradition of interpreting Isaiah 53 as Messianic in scope existed among some Jews before Christians were embracing the reading as an argument in their favor.

        ***

        Now, at risk of diverging from the question of how ancient Jews understood the text, I noticed specifically Isaiah 49:3 has been appealed to a couple times (once in the blog entry and once in the comments section), so I figured it deserved a comment.

        I would ask that we look at Isaiah 49:3-6, and consider this question: is the servant in verse 5, or the servant in verse 6, the same servant as the servant in verse 3? The reason why this is an important question is because if it is the case that even the servant in verse 49:5 is not the same servant as the one mentioned in 49:3, then we should be wary of letting 49:3 set the tone for the entirety of the next four chapters. Or, to put this another way, if the servant in 49:5-6 can be a subset within the “servant” in 49:3, then later texts (like the 53rd chapter) can likewise mention a part or ‘subset’ within that larger group.

        With that in mind, regarding the question of whether the subject of Isaiah 53 is the same servant as that in Isaiah 49:3 or a subset thereof, I think a very important question is: what is the ᶜam (the nation, the group of people) mentioned in Isaiah 53:8? The verse seems to distinguish the subject from that nation, thus raising the question: is the subject a subset/part of that group?

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      • A great Jewish resource that critically examines and refutes Christian apologetics regarding the Christian misinterpretation of Isaiah 53

        http://www.judaismsanswer.com/

        Rabbinic Commentaries on Isaiah 53 after Rashi

        Rabbi Moshe Al Sheich on Isaiah 53

        Rashi and Isaiah 53

        Isaiah 53 in the Talmud and Major Midrashim

        Analysis of Isaiah 53 Part 1: Introduction to Isaiah 53

        Analysis of Isaiah 53 Part 2: God’s View

        Analysis of Isaiah 53 Part 3: Nation’s View

        Analysis of Isaiah 53 Part 4: Answers to Some Objections

        Analysis of Isaiah 53: A Biblical Explanation

        The Suffering of the Righteous

        The Suffering of Moshiach ben Dovid

        What is Midrash 2 – Rashi’s View

        Josephus and Jesus

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      • “In this paper we shall examine the sources in the Talmud and the Midrashim where Isaiah 53 is quoted. We will look at the major Rabbinic works with Midrashic teachings that are most often referred to by the later Rabbis in their works. These are the ones that have the widest acceptance, familiarity and authority with Orthodox Jews. They include: Midrash Rabbah, Sifrei, Tanchuma, Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu and Midrash Tehillim” – http://www.judaismsanswer.com/Isaiah53TalmudMidrash.htm

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Nope it isn’t Kenny. Many centuries after Jesus left this world did these writings express their evolving traditions passed down for centuries after 🙂

    Even Church Father Origen acknowledged in his day that the consensus of the Jews regarding Isaiah 53 was viewed as the nation of Israel identified as the Servant of the Lord that “bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations.”

    The fact of the matter is, taking into consideration the historical/literary context of Isaiah 40- 55, it is explicitly clear that the Servant of the Lord is identified as Israel. The singular view of Israel is not an individual but a group comprising of all God’s people.

    From a historical/literary perspective of Isaiah 40-53, there is no dubious idea of an individual messiah who would suffer for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead with the expectations also that the same messiah would share the same essence of divinity with YHWH along with the Holy Spirit to form one God.

    Read Rabbi Tovia Singer article ‘Who is God’s Suffering Servant? and learn Kenny 🙂

    https://outreachjudaism.org/gods-suffering-servant-isaiah-53/

    Like

  7. This may be of interest:

    Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12: ‘One of the most difficult and contested passages in the Bible’ ~ the Jewish Study Bible

    https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/09/15/isaiah-52-13-53-12-one-of-the-most-difficult-and-contested-passages-in-the-bible-the-jewish-study-bible/

    Like

  8. Paul.

    Where do you think there are messianic prophesies are in the Hebrew Bible?

    Do you think they apply to Jesus?

    Like

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