Christian Apologist Wrong About Prophecy & AronRa

I really enjoyed this video by Aron Ra, I particularly like where he was spot on about the Bible stories are just stories with no historical proof and how Biblical prophecies were way off the mark. Of course Aron was also correct about if the future can be predicted, then fates are fixed and we are all just following a script because we have no free will.

Then last week it has come to my attention that a Christian apologist, Pastor Mike Winger, made a 1:17:21 video response to Aron’s 15 minute video. Challenge accepted.

I’m going to skip all the pointless fluff of Winger’s video and dive straight into the meat of his counter arguments to Aron Ra. That being said, Mike Winger’s hour-long video only covered less than 6 minutes of Aron’s video. In that 6-minute coverage, there were several big points Aron Ra made that Mike Winger didn’t address — such as the Bible saying there was a global flood or the sun is not a star. The majority of Winger’s response focuses on Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22, shortly after his bit-by-bit commentary.

Since all of this focuses on discussing Biblical prophecy, I might as well point something out on how missionaries and apologists typically claim prophecies are fulfilled:

  1. Retrodiction. The “prophecy” can be written or modified after the events fulfilling it have already occurred.
  2. Vagueness. The prophecy can be worded in such a way that people can interpret any outcome as a fulfillment. Nostradomus’s prophecies are all of this type. Vagueness works particularly well when people are religiously motivated to believe the prophecies.
  3. Inevitability. The prophecy can predict something that is almost sure to happen, such as the collapse of a city. Since nothing lasts forever, the city is sure to fall someday. If it has not, it can be said that according to prophecy, it will.
  4. Denial. One can claim that the fulfilling events occurred even if they have not. Or, more commonly, one can forget that the prophecy was ever made.
  5. Self-fulfillment. A person can act deliberately to satisfy a known prophecy.

There are no prophecies in the Bible that cannot easily fit into one or more of these categories. When it comes to Jesus, almost every prophecy falls under category #5 in the form of the gospel authors deliberately took and copied stories from the Old Testament to create the life story of Jesus. This is not limited to just prophecies, virtually all details of Jesus life came from stories of the OT — some of which were based on mistranslations, such as Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 53. Remember that Christianity started as a Jewish Mystery Cult, so of course the creation of the central figure would be deeply influenced and molded by the mining of Old Testament passages.

5:17 – 8:27

Aron Ra: snakes don’t talk and donkey’s don’t talk.

Winger: this isn’t about all snakes, it’s about one snake, one time. And it was Satan speaking through the snake. And it was one donkey, one time. It was by a miracle of God that the donkey talked. And I admit this is a supernatural thing going on here.

So, Winger’s explanation of how does the impossible become possible…. magic. Yes, Winger is defending the Bible by declaring “magic made those animals talk.”

And people wonder why atheism is the fastest growing demographic in the United States.

Winger: on the topic of whales and fish… modern taxonomy is a new Westernize version of animal classification. So I looked up in the Dictionary of Biblical Languages Semantic Domains Hebrew, and it says “a class of animal that lives in a body of water.” The Greek word is “ketos” which means “any large fish or sea creature.”

So God is smart enough to tell the difference between the “cattle,” “beasts” and “creepy things” that walk on land (Genesis 1), but is too lazy he has to group all sea creatures together? If God can tell the difference between humans and apes (1 Kings 10:22); horses and camels; sheep and wolves; mammals and reptiles and insects; etc then how hard is it to point out / clarify “whales are not fish.” It’s easy to tell a hippo and a crocodile are not fishes, but whales are too complicated?

(Fun fact: camels didn’t exist around the time Jacob supposedly lived)

Winger: [in the topic of bats aren’t birds]… the Hebrew word is “op” which means “winged creature that can fly.” The word is also used for winged insects.

If this word is also used for insects as it is for birds, then the Abrahamic God is moronic.

Funny how these religions believe that God can bring forth ground breaking revelations on morality, spirituality, how to live your life, etc etc but can’t be bothered to tell the Hebrew and/or Greeks “you need a new word for bats.” Nope, can’t be bothered.

14:16

Winger: [Rituals and spells won’t purify or cure anything]… but nothing in the Bible says that rituals were supposed to cure anything. The Bible never made this claim in the first place. Instead, the purpose of rituals is that they are done after a person is cured. Ex. when a leper is cured, a ritual is then taken place to declare themselves “clean” to get out of quarantine.

Numbers 5:11-31 has a ritual to cleanse the female body of a bastard child conceived via adultery.

Bible does have rituals for cleansing and “purifying.”

What about prayer? That is a social ritual, and people use it all the time because their convinced it will cure anything.

Winger: finally, on looking on stripped sticks and cows conceiving… the passage Gen 30 doesn’t say a cow looking at a stripped stick won’t cause it to conceive. The Bible is just re-telling a tale, there are theories out there on why this helped but the Bible doesn’t say whether it helped or didn’t. The whole point of this passage was God tipping the odds in Jacob’s favor so Jacob could win a bet.

So the Bible is retelling a fictional tale? Wow, a fictional tale telling a fictional tale. Sorry sports fans, looks like whoever told you that God will tip the scales in your favor was just sharing a tale of fiction.

GO ALL BLACKS!

19:14 – 20:57

Winger: Aron says the Bible is wrong about everything on science… oh yeah! Well, Job accurately talks about the water cycle.

I think Winger gets Job mixed up with Ecclesiastes. In Job 38:22 it says that snow and hail are kept in storehouses.

On the other hand, Ecclesiastes 1:7 does not describe the water cycle. It merely says that water returns to the source of streams; it does not say how All it says is that water comes from the rivers to the seas, and then “unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” How? How is that transition happen? No answer. Apologists try to fill in the gap with asserting “the Bible meant to say rain.” Sorry, projecting your wishes and excuses unto Scripture doesn’t change the fact that the Scriptures doesn’t contain all the answers. It was once believed that the water returned underground, so the authors may have been saying the water underground is pushed back up to the lakes — similar to how geysers work in Iran and Turkey. I recall a story of a miracle (can’t remember if it’s Judaism, Christianity or Islam) where a woman is in the dessert, and she’s dying of thirst. After she prays to God, God opens up the ground and fresh water pours out from underground. Perhaps that’ how ancient people believe the water from the sea returns to the lakes and streams: from underground.

Even if Ecclesiastes got the water cycle right, Genesis 2:5-6 contradicts the water cycle.

The Hebrews, as Genesis and the Scriptures reveal, believed the Earth had a firmament, in which God would let the rain pour through the windows of the firmament.

Aron Ra: 1

Winger: 0

Winger: And the Bible says the universe had a beginning. “It began to exist, God created it. It didn’t exist and then it did exist. And this has been confirmed.”

Winger tries to weasel in a unscientific claim into a scientific fact. Yes the Bible says the universe had a beginning, but this ignores the Bibles claim of how it began. As Winger said, “God created it.” And THAT right there is where the Bible states a claim that is not found anywhere in science.

A God who is responsible for the complex structure of the world, especially living things, fails to agree with empirical fact that this structure can be understood to arise from simple natural processes and shows none of the expected signs of design. Indeed, the universe looks as it should look in the absence of design. A God who miraculously and supernaturally created the universe fails to agree with the empirical fact that no violations of physical law were required to produce the universe, its laws, or its existence rather than nonexistence. It also fails to agree with established theories, based on empirical facts, which indicate that the universe began with maximum entropy and so bears no imprint of a creator.

Aron Ra: 2

Winger: 0

Winger: to make the bold claim that the Bible doesn’t contain one single scientific fact is wrong to the point of folly.

Says the guy who just cited 2 pieces of Scripture that science has proven wrong.

Aron Ra remains the one in the right.

12:50

[Aron talks about Isaiah 53 being about Israel, not Jesus and how Jesus failed all the requirements to be the Messiah]

Winger: the idea that Isaiah 53 is about Israel is new, made in response to modern Christian evangelism. Not a single ancient Rabbi thought Isaiah 53 was about Israel. Instead, a majority of them thought that Isaiah 53 was about the Messiah. Origen in the 2nd century is the first guy who recorded someone saying Isaiah 53 may not be about the Messiah, and Origen’s source was not a Rabbinical authority.

The idea that Isaiah 53 is about Israel is new????? On what planet?

Winger accuses Aron of “not doing his research”… pot, meet kettle. Rabbis have considered many sources for on the meaning on Isaiah 53 as Israel. Winger cites Origen, a solid source that disproves the idea that Isaiah 53 is a modern idea. Winger dismisses Origen’s source as a “non Rabbinical authority”… look again!

“Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies; to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions 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.” – Origen

Origen says his wise Jewish colleagues told him this. That’s a Rabbinical authority, as reported by a hostile witness who should not wish that it be true but reported it anyway.

Isaiah 53 is not the only example where Scriptures have referred to Israel in an indirect fashion that caused debate between Rabbis. There is a good example in the Talmud of a debate between Rabbis on the meaning of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel: half said it was a metaphor for Israel; half said it was a real historical event and they knew people who claimed to be descended from the mass of risen dead. I don’t recall where in the Talmud though. (Source: Talmud 92a, top 2 paragraphs)

27:23

[Winger goes down the list provided by Aron]

  1. He must be Jewish.
  2. He must be a member of the tribe of Judah and direct male descendant of David and Solomon.
  3. He must gather the Jewish people out of exile and back to Israel.
  4. He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
  5. He must bring world peace.
  6. He must influence the entire world to acknowledge and serve one G-d.

Winger: #1 – Do you really think that Jesus was not Jewish?? I can’t formulate a response to that, so moving on…

Aron Ra said, “From the mainstream Jewish perspective, Jesus doesn’t qualify as the Messiah because he failed to do any of the Messiah was prophesied to do.”

Aron Ra here isn’t saying he personally doesn’t think Jesus was Jewish, he is sharing the mainstream Jewish perspective. However, Aron Ra made a slight linguistic error here. Aron Ra permits that Jesus (if he existed) was Jewish and mainstream Jewish perspective does permit that Jesus was Jewish… however mainstream Judaism rejects Jesus as the Messiah because Jesus failed to meet the criteria of being the Messiah — exactly proving Aron Ra’s key point.

The reasons why Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah are rock solid. For example, do Jews break the 1st Commandment and proclaim themselves God?

No.

Numbers 23:19 — God cannot be a mortal.

I couldn’t resist

Do you really think that Jesus was not Jewish?

That question presumes there was a Jesus. I don’t think Jesus was ever a real person (there are too many plausible reasons how the Jesus character came to be. One example could be Paul and the disciples believed that Jesus was not a historical person but a celestial being like an archangel). In the strictly fictional sense, Jesus the character was Jewish, though such details are quite meaningless in the real world. Hercules was a Greek pagan, but what does that matter considering the fact that Hercules is just a myth.

Winger: #2 – does the Bible not have 2 different genealogies that trace Jesus back to David and Solomon? Yes it does! How could you say that Jesus didn’t fulfill this prophecy?

How can we say that? Because it’s fact.

In Judaism, direct lineage is only passed down from father to son (Numbers 1:1-18). And Matthew 1:18-20 admits that Jesus did not have a birth father. That alone blows away any fulfillment of this prophecy. Even if we let this slide and try to trace Jesus’ lineage through Mary, that’s a dead end too because Mary is from the line of Aaron.

Winger: #3 – I don’t know which prophecy that Aron is referring to, but Jesus will do this and bring the Jewish people back to Israel when Jesus returns.

Typical AND this is an admission that Jesus FAILED to fulfill the Messianic criteria.

Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 30:3, 32:37; Ezekiel 11:17, 36:24.

The Messiah is meant to reign as King of Israel and bring all the Jews will all return to Israel from their long exile. But this never happened and Jesus never reigned as King of Israel.

Winger: There were lots of ancient Jews to recognize that the Messiah is not supposed to fulfill every requirement all at once.

False AND this is an admission that Jesus FAILED to fulfill the Messianic criteria and prophecy.

The Scriptures does not have any installment plan where the Messiah comes, fails in his mission, and then returns thousands of years later to finally succeed.

Winger: #4 – the rebuilding of the Temple was not a prophecy. The Temple was whole back when this was written, so why would they expect a Messiah to come along and rebuild something that was already built? The prophecy was the Messiah had to come to the Temple, not rebuild it.

False.

Isaiah 2:2-3, 56:6-7, 60:7, 66:20; Ezekiel 37:26-27; Malachi 3:4; Zechariah 14:20-21; Jeremiah 33:18 and Micah 4:1 paint a clear picture. Daniel 9 was written after the Babylonians invaded Israel and destroyed the Temple. Daniel was in Babylon during this time, which means when this prophecy was written, it predicted the rebuilding of the Temple.

Winger: #5 – the prophecy isn’t about bringing world peace, it’s about him ruling the world at his Second Coming.

False. The prophecies were about world peace (Micah 4:1-4; Hosea 2:20; Isaiah 2:1-4, 60:18). Yet since the time of Jesus, wars have continued to unfold, some of which committed by Christians in Jesus’ name. Nothing in these prophecies say that the Messiah will achieve this on his second round, he is supposed to achieve this before his death. So the apologists claim that “Jesus will fulfill this prophecy when he returns” is an admission that Jesus failed as the Messiah.

Winger: #6 – Jesus has fulfilled the prophecy “He must influence the entire world to acknowledge and serve one G-d.” [Winger uses examples of people in Ireland and South America worshiping Jesus, implying people all over the world praise God cuz of Jesus]

The prophecies were not about some or most people around the world worshiping God, it was about ALL people worldwide will join the faith and worship God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Zechariah 3:9, 8:23, 14:9,16; Isaiah 45: 23, 66:23; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 38:23; Psalm 86:9; Zephaniah 3:9)

And at the rate the world is going, hardly anyone is going to be praising Jesus. It’s a race between the world praising Allah and Mohammad instead of Jesus, or not praising any God and prophet at all. Jesus will join the graveyard of Gods like Apollo and Anubis.

31:43

[Aron talking about Isaiah 53 about Jesus]

Winger: [on Jesus being “crushed”] Jesus was crushed in probably 2 different ways. “Crushed” could mean humiliated or humbled. It could mean physically broken. So yes, Jesus was “crushed” in the sense he was beaten and humiliated.

This presumes that this verse is talking about Jesus, however this is a falsehood. The subject matter of Isaiah 53 is about Israel, not Jesus. Let’s nip this in the bud now:

Determining the Speaker

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” -Isaiah 53:1

The first step in understanding any written work is understanding who is speaking and what is the subject of their writing. Isaiah 53 begins with a reference to an unidentified group, denoted by the question, “who has believed our message”. Undoubtedly, this is a hint at the speaker of the passage, and so before we go any further, we need to determine who is “our”. This can only be uncovered by looking back at the preceding chapter, Isaiah 52.

The beginning twelve verses of Isaiah 52 are encouragement to the nation of Israel, telling them not to lose hope, but to trust in God. Israel is described as “taken away for nothing” by the Assyrians, who mock them and blaspheme their god continuously (52:4-5). The author assures his audience that God will redeem Jerusalem and he will “lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations” (52:10). In the last three verses, Isaiah 52:13-15, the tone changes to focus on a servant who will be “raised and lifted up and exalted highly”. Verse 15 informs us that this servant will cause the Gentile kings to shut their mouths, “[f]or what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand”.

In Isaiah 53:1, the “our” is the Gentile kings who are made to see and understand the deliverance of Israel in Isaiah 52:15. The narrative is continued by the author as he speaks from the perspective of the kings and nations who marvel at how God redeems Israel from the midst of great suffering. The depiction of the woeful shock and regret of the Gentiles at the power of the Israelite god is not limited to this passage, but also appears in Zechariah 8:23, for example.

“In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'” -Zechariah 8:23

Determining the Subject

We have determined the speaker of Isaiah 53 as the Gentile kings/nations, but we still must determine the subject of the passage to gain a full and comprehensive understanding. Isaiah 53:2 begins to describe the subject.

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” -Isaiah 53:2-3

Isaiah 53 is one of four passages in the book of Isaiah known as ‘servant songs’. The first song is found in Isaiah 42:1-7, the second in 49:1-6, the third in 50:4-9, and the fourth is chapter 53. Throughout the four songs, the servant is foretold to suffer in the cause of God, who will at last vindicate him after some time. Technically, the fourth song should also include Isaiah 52:13-15, where the servant is actually introduced (also, Isaiah did not have chapter divisions until approximately 400 years ago).

Obviously, Christians believe the servant of Isaiah 53 is Jesus Christ, but there are numerous problems with this interpretation. Most troublesome is the fact that the servant is specifically named in more than a few passages in Isaiah.

“But you, O Israel, my servant…” -Isaiah 41:8

“But now listen, O Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen…” -Isa. 44:1

“Remember these things, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I have made you, you are my servant…” -Isa. 44:21

“For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen…” -Isa. 45:4

“He said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor’.” -Isa. 49:3

Additionally, Isaiah 52 sets the stage for chapter 53 in ways that further point to Israel being the servant. Chapter 52 describes the subjugation of Israel to the Gentiles (specifically Assyria) and tells of how Israel is made to suffer mockery and abuse at the hands of its captors. In 52:5, God mourns that his “people have been taken away for nothing”. Isaiah 53:8 tells us that under “oppression and judgment [the servant] was taken away” and verse 9 claims that, “he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth”. Not only do both chapters speak of the subject being taken away, but they also indicate that it was due to no real offense that the subject was taken, illustrating innocence. The question of “to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed” (53:1) may implicate Israel as the servant too, since it is declared that, for Jerusalem, God will “lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations” (52:10). Thus it seems very likely indeed that Isaiah 53 is a continuation of the narrative from chapter 52, from the perspective of the Gentile nations.

But Why Not Jesus?

I have discussed much of this evidence with Christians who have tried to use Isaiah 53 in defense of their faith, and often times it has ultimately come down to the question of, “why can’t Jesus fit?” Maybe it does refer to Israel, but maybe it still refers to Jesus as well. There are verses in Isaiah 53 that speak of how the servant was “pierced for our transgressions” and how God “laid on him the iniquity of us all”. Even more puzzling are the mentions of how the servant was “cut off from the land of the living” and “assigned a grave with the wicked”. Are these references characteristic of the nation of Israel?

As a matter of fact, they are. In Ezekiel 37:11-14 we read of a vision wherein the house of Israel is compared to dry bones and described specifically as “cut off”. Verses 12-14 speak metaphorically of the “graves” of Israel too, and how God will open them to deliver his people. The references to the bearing of iniquity and punishment for transgressions can easily be understood when approached from the appropriate perspective of the Gentile kings from Isaiah 52:15. Throughout Isaiah 53, these kings and nations frequently remark on how badly they treated Israel, although Israel had done nothing to provoke them. The Gentiles then lament that Israel suffered at their hands, for their sins. We also find that Gentile nations had previously laid blame for their conquest of Israel on Israel itself, as Jeremiah 50:7 mentions that the enemies of Israel said, “We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their true pasture…”

While Israel fits the bill of Isaiah 53 with no problem, applying Jesus to the passage results in some pretty interesting theological difficulties. First of all, when Isaiah 53:5 states that, “he was crushed for our iniquities”, when exactly was Jesus ever crushed? If any of Jesus’ body was literally crushed so that his bones were broken, it would disqualify him from another so-called prophecy beloved by Christians – Psalm 34:20. Secondly, Isaiah 53:7 stresses twice that the servant kept quiet during persecution, and although Jesus does stay silent at most of his trial in Matthew, Mark and Luke, he definitely speaks up in the gospel of John, conversing both with the high priest and with Pilate.

“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days…” -Isaiah 53:10

If the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 is Jesus, how can verse ten apply to him? Jesus had no offspring, and his days were certainly not prolonged, as tradition has long stated that Christ died around the age of 30. Unless one simply ignores this problem or interprets verse ten as heavy on metaphor – which is not supported by the text – there is a real and insurmountable issue here. Another one is found with Isaiah 53:11, which says that, “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many”. Even if you accept the footnote in NIV bibles that suggests an alternate translation of “by knowledge of him…”, this verse is still troublesome. Is it knowledge of Jesus that saves us, according to Christianity, or is it faith?

Lifting Isaiah 53 from the surrounding context and viewing it in a vacuum may help Christian apologists easily project Jesus onto the passage, but it is a total butchery of the text and creates far more problems than it pretends to solve. However, there’s still more to be said on the Christian distortion of Isaiah 53.

No Messiah Here

Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew scripture are typically marked with references to a king, the root or branch of Jesse, and associations with King David (Jeremiah 23:5, Isaiah 11:1-5). The passages also speak in a future tense, with terms of finality, such as “in the last days” (Isaiah 2:2, Hosea 3:4-5). If Isaiah 53 is about Jesus, whom Christians consider the Jewish messiah, why are there no indications of messianic prophecy in the chapter? There is mention of a shoot and a root in verse two, but the connection is never made to Jesse or to David. Even more intriguing is the fact that most of Isaiah 53 is in past tense.

Christians may read chapter 53 of Isaiah and note similarities to Jesus, without noticing how it ‘prophesies’ the servant in past tense. To modern believers, Jesus is in the past, but for the author of Isaiah 53, Jesus would have been a few hundred years into the future. What sort of prophecy uses past tense to predict a future event? Not all of Isaiah 53 is in the past though. The first nine verses describe the servant in past tense, and then verses 10-12 shift the tense to the future, speaking of how God will reward and deliver his servant. This is an important detail, because then Isaiah 53:1-9 are NOT prophecy – they simply set the stage for the prophecy in the last three verses of the chapter. Once again, this gives good support to the interpretation that Israel is the servant, as Isaiah 52 encourages Israel to have hope and chapter 53 then predicts their redemption.

It is also worth noting how vague the comments in Isaiah 53 actually are. There is only reference to suffering, not specifically to crucifixion. Nothing is said about Nazareth, Bethlehem, a virgin woman, or any of the identifiable characteristics of Jesus Christ in the bible. Isaiah 53:10 states that God made “[the servant’s] life a guilt offering” too, which is not an offering of atonement like a sin offering, but is the sacrifice made for restitution or compensation, such as when a person would steal, take a false oath, or extort another individual. This seems to fit nicely with the view that Israel, though innocent, was taken captive by the Gentiles, who mocked and abused God’s chosen. Thus to make Israel a guilt offering for the transgressions of the Gentiles would be far more appropriate than Jesus being a guilt offering that somehow redeems the sins of all mankind.

Still Unconvinced

Isaiah 53 is such a beloved passage by Christians that it will be rare indeed to ever persuade them of its true meaning. Even if presented with all this evidence and more, they will continue to believe the chapter is a prophecy of Jesus Christ that happens to interrupt the discussion of Israel’s fall and redemption in the surrounding context. Why? Because they have convinced themselves that their holy book is truly miraculous in nature, and Isaiah 53 is justification of that belief for them. Like much of Christianity, the prophetic interpretation of Isaiah 53 is maintained at its core, by faith, not evidence.

But what is truly gained from dogmatically believing the chapter prophesied the coming of Christ? If Israel is recognized as the subject of Isaiah 53 instead of Jesus, no major or minor tenets of Christianity are undermined. Those who cling to the passage as ‘proof’ of their faith are merely preferring to delude themselves in favor of possessing some sense of comfortable (but nonetheless false) certitude. Isaiah 53 is not about Jesus, it’s about Israel, and all the faith in the world won’t change the fact that this is what’s supported by the text. And so another alleged prophecy fails to be anything but wishful thinking on the part of its followers.

Winger: [on Kings shutting their mouths] what this phrase means is covering your mouth in an act of shock. What Isaiah 52 means is Kings were shocked by hearing about him.

False. The end of Isaiah 52 is about the final and complete redemption of the Jews, to such a big degree they stun neighboring nations who bear witness, contradicting everything Israel’s gentile neighbors had ever previously anticipated, heard, or considered (52:15). “Who would have believed our report?” the kings will ask with their mouths wide open in amazement (53:1). The curtain of blindness is finally lifted when the “holy Arm of the Lord before the eyes of all the nations, all the ends of the earth will witness the salvation of His people” (52:10).

The unanticipated vindication of the Jews in the End of Days, however, will raise nagging, introspective questions for Israel’s neighbors: How then can we explain the Jews’ long-enduring suffering at our own hands? After all, the age-old reasons we contrived to explain away Israel’s agony are clearly no longer valid. Who is to blame for Israel’s miserable existence in exile? In short, why did the servant of God seem to suffer without measure or cause?

Therefore, Isaiah 53:8 concludes with their stunning confession, “for the transgressions of my people [the gentile nations] they [the Jews]were stricken.” The fact that the servant is spoken of in the third person, plural לָמוֹ (lamo) illustrates beyond doubt that the servant is a nation rather than a single individual.

Winger: [on God beating X] Isaiah 53 is about we the people thinking Jesus is struck down by God, but in reality he is struck down because we did something wrong. The next verses says “but he was pierced for our transgressions” to indicate that the focus of the previous presumption was incorrect.

Christian renderings of the Hebrew text attempt to convey the message that the servant vicariously took upon himself the sins of the people, and this caused him, and not them, to suffer the consequences. This conclusion is arrived at by a distortion of the text. A correct rendering of the text reveals that the nations of the world come to the realization that the servant’s (Israel) suffering stemmed from their actions and sinfulness toward him.  (The singular used here for a plural collective community.) 

This also tries to hide the reason why Jesus was arrested. *allegedly*

Jesus’ execution (which has no historical evidence ever happening) was a method reserved for rebels, which is evidence that according to the Gospels the Romans considered him a seditionist. The Gospels portray Jesus as a apocalyptic revolutionary, even John 18:37 says Jesus proclaimed himself born with the purpose to become a King. As both the Jews and Romans knew, the Messiah was meant to become King of Israel. This new King would challenge the Roman authority. In summary, Jesus did not suffer because of the iniquity of others, but because he challenged Roman sovereignty over Judea.

Winger: [on Jesus having offspring] Aron says that Isaiah 53 is about Israel…but now he says this passage is about Israel having descendants??

[on the prolonging of life and spoils] the passage is referring to life being prolonged after the death at the blood sacrifice. The “prolonging” is about the Resurrection. After his Resurrection, he says to his followers that they will reign with him. That is the spoils. The spoils is the theology that is Christianity.

According to Church teachings, Jesus died when he was approximately 30 years old, less than half the expected life span of an ordinary man (Psalm 90:10). Also, the Hebrew word [rz (zerah), which appears in Isaiah 53:10 – it is the blessing bestowed on the servant – means “seed.” This Hebrew word can only refer to biological offspring when used in connection with a person’s children, never metaphoric children, such as disciples. Obviously, both the blessing of a home filled with children and long life were not fulfilled in Jesus’ lifetime.

The apologists argument that “prolonged life” means a Resurrection-to-eternal-life has big problems. To begin with, the Hebrew words in this verse (ya’arich yamim), meaning “long life” or a “prolonged life,” do not mean or refer to an eternal life which has no end, but rather a lengthening of days which eventually come to an end. These Hebrew words are therefore never applied in the Jewish Scriptures to anyone who is to live forever. In Tanach, therefore, God is never said to have long life. In fact, the words ya’arich yamim appear in a number of places throughout Jewish Scriptures, including Deuteronomy 17:20, Deuteronomy 25:15, Proverbs 28:16, and Ecclesiastes 8:13. In each and every verse where this phrase appears, these words refer to an extended mortal life, not an eternal one. When the Jewish Scriptures speak of an eternal resurrected life, as in Daniel 12:2, the Hebrew words לְחַיֵּי עוֹלָם (l’chayai olam) are used.

Food for thought: how can God be promised long life? Even if apologists argue that this blessing in Isaiah 53:10 is referring to that time after Jesus’ supposed Resurrection, how can God promise Himself, or give Himself anything for that matter? Moreover, how can God be promised longevity when He is eternal? How can God bestow the blessing of long life upon a messiah, who the Church insists, exists for eternity? Such a blessing would be absurd. Furthermore, why is God talking to Himself?

45:43

[On Psalm 22]

Winger: there were ancient Jews that did believe that was a messianic prophecy.

Psalm 22 is one of the many examples of the gospel authors mined from the Old Testament to create the savor of their Mystery Cult. The earliest detailed accounts of the Crucifixion come from the canonical gospels, who all copied from Mark. The author of the Gospel of Mark had to determine how their savior died, and the mistranslation of Psalm 22 gave Mark the framework (along with bits from Homer’s Iliad 22 and 24, see Denis MacDonald Homeric Epics p. 184-185, 154-61, 135-47, and 40-45). Keep in mind, this is  myth, not memory. Mark never witnessed anything, he only mined through the Old Testament to form a collective story from myriad of numerous passages. (See G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), pp. 235-37; and Darrell Bock, ‘The Function of Scripture in Mark 15:1-39’, in Biblical interpretation in Early Christian Gospels. Vol. 1. The Gospel of Mark (ed. Thomas R. Hatina; New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006), pp. 8-17. Notably, while Mark borrows the last words of Jesus from Ps. 22:1, Luke changed the last words of Jesus by borrowing from Ps. 30:5 instead (which in the lxx is identical to what Jesus says in Luke 23:46 but for the tense of the verb and its address to ‘father’).

Paul’s only references the Crucifixion, and his only source for the Crucifixion is “the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Paul never met Jesus or witnessed anything Jesus supposedly did on Earth, so Paul had to fill in the gaps the same way Mark did: by finding hidden messages in the Old Testament and formulate a narrative from mined passages. Again, this is myth, not memory.

Winger: [on dogs] the Scriptures often use animals to describe people. This verse does not literally mean Jesus would be surrounded by dogs.

This song is the lament of a man who feels surrounded by enemies and abandoned by God. Certainly that sounds appropriately Jesus-like, but does any of the rest of the song? Such as when he complains: “Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me…” (22: 12)

Hear what else the psalmist has to say: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me. I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you… From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.” (22: 20-22, 25)

Following his rescue from perils like the strong bulls of Bashan, the sword, the power of the dog, the mouth of the lion and the horns of the wild oxen, the singer makes good on his vow to go to the Temple to sing praises to the Lord before his brothers and sisters in the congregation for his deliverance, which constitutes a third of the song (verses 22-31). But this happy ending didn’t stop cherry-picking Christian writers like Mark from repeatedly quote-mining the 22nd Psalm for proof texts of their suffering messiah.

The protagonist of Psalm 22, which inspired so much of Mark’s story, does get a rescue at the last minute (Ps. 22: 22-24), which has made some scholars wonder if there was originally a happy ending for Jesus as well. The “Swoon” theory (that Jesus was taken down while he was only mostly dead), has been a recurring trope throughout Christian history. Ahmadiyya Muslims still believe that Jesus survived the cross this way.

Winger: [on mistranslations of lions and piercing of feet and hands] this whole “mistranslation” debate falls on one letter in one word from “pierced” or “like a lion.” Even if this was meant to read “hands and feet bitten by a lion” how is this any different than your hands and feet being pierced by a large nail?

The Hebrew word “כָּאֲרִי” does not mean pierced but plainly means “like a lion.” The end of Psalm 22:17, therefore, properly reads “like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.” Had King David wished to write the word “pierced,” he would never have used the Hebrew word kaari. Instead, he would have written either daqar or ratza, which are common Hebrew words in the Jewish Scriptures. These common words mean to “stab” or “pierce.” The word kaari can be found in many other places in the Jewish scriptures and they correctly translated כָּאֲרִי “like a lion” in all places in Christian Bibles where this word appears with the exception of Psalm 22—the Church’s cherished “Crucifixion Psalm.” For example, the identical word kaari is also found in Isaiah 38:13. In the immediate context of this verse King Hezekiah is singing a song for deliverance from his grave illness.In the midst of his supplication he exclaims in Hebrew “שִׁוִּ֤יתִי עַד־בֹּ֙קֶר֙ כָּֽאֲרִ֔י” Notice that the last word in this phrase (moving from right to left) is the same Hebrew word kaari that appears in Psalm 22:17. In this Isaiah text, however, the King James Version correctly translates these words “I reckoned till morning that, as a lion…” As mentioned above, Psalm 22:17 is the only place in all of the Jewish Scriptures that any Christian Bible translates kaari as “pierced.”

A cursory reading of the entire 22nd Psalm reveals the extent to which this verse was subjected to reckless tampering. Throughout this chapter, the Psalmist routinely uses an animal motif to describe his enemies. The Psalmist’s poignant references to the “dog” and “lion” are, therefore, common metaphors employed by the Psalmist. In fact, David repeatedly makes reference to the “dog” and “lion” both before and after Psalm 22:17. For the author (claiming to be King David), these menacing beasts symbolize his bitter foes who continuously sought to destroy him. So when King David writes “lions at my feet,” he doesn’t mean that lions are mauling his feet, he means his enemies are closing in, but they never get him (He manages to be recused at the end of Psalm 22 and safely goes to sing at the Temple.) There is no hands and feet being injured in any way, just a metaphorical “my enemies are closing in” reference.

So Winger asking “whats the difference between being mauled by lions teeth and being pierced by a nail?” assumes there are limbs being injured in this Psalm — but that never happens. There’s no injury, and even the lion itself is metaphorical. Ergo, the entirety of Psalm 22 used by Mark as a “prophecy” is nothing more than a mistranslation Mark used to mine to create a fictional story of a Crucifixion.

Winger: 3 sources tell us that this phrase means “pierced” and not “like a lion.” Some of the Messianic texts. So does the Septuagint, which is older than the Messianic texts and was translated in Greek. And the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest source, copy of Psalm 22 says “bore through” or “pierced.”

Fundamentalists have always claimed that the latter part of Psalm 22:16 “They pierced my hands and my feet” (which we shall designate as Psalm 22:16b) is a direct prophecy of the crucifixion; with the “piercing” referring to the nails going through Jesus’ hands and feet. Although this is not the reading found in the Hebrew Masoretic text, support is claimed from the readings found in a Dead Sea Scroll fragment and in ancient versions of the Bible such as the Septuagint and the Vulgate.

This claim is false, for a few reasons:

The Hebrew Text Behind the King James Version
Despite the claims of its accurate rendition of the original text, the Hebrew equivalent for “they pierced” was not found in the manuscripts available to the translators of the King James Version. Indeed the word rendered in those manuscripts means “like a lion”.

Use of Psalm 22:16b by the Early Christians
No early Christian writer, including the evangelists and Paul, until the time of Justin around the middle of the second century CE, made any explicit reference to the word “piercing” in Psalm 22:16b in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus although there were ample opportunities to do so.

A consideration of the various internal evidence favors “like a lion” as the correct rendering of the word found in Psalm 22:16b.

We can conclude with certainty that there is no reference to the crucifixion in Psalm 22:16b and with some probability that the correct reading there remains “like a lion”.

Septuagint

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the contention that the Greek translation of 72 rabbis supports the use of the word “pierced” in Psalm 22:17, this explanation is completely without merit. It is universally conceded, and beyond doubt that the rabbis who created the original Septuagint only translated the Five Books of Moses, and nothing more. This undisputed point is well attested to by the Letter of Aristeas, the Talmud (Tractate Megillah, 9a), Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Sec 3. For Josephus’ detailed description of events surrounding the original authorship of the Septuagint, see Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, XII, ii, 1-4), and numerous other critical sources. In other words, these ancient 72 rabbis did not translate the Book of Psalms. This apologists argument rests entirely on a fabrication.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
The evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, is ambiguous at best. The word found there, kaaru, has no known meaning and may actually be meaningless.

Ancient Versions

  1. Before looking at the readings of the ancient versions, it is important to know some preliminary background information about them first.
  2. A careful analysis of the readings given in the ancient versions does not support “they pierced” as the correct translation. Indeed the analysis shows that there were two extant readings in the Hebrew text, one being kaari (like a lion) and the other kaaru. The latter word does not exist in the Hebrew language. The very fact that translators did not translate the latter word consistently showed that even by that time, the meaning of that word was no longer known.

3 comments

  • Nick

    I am gritting my teeth as I do this but I would argue that there is a potential flaw in one of the arguments.
    As far as I know and of course this could be more Christian horsehit but to be recongnised as someones father in Jewish culture a person does not have to be of their blood. If they are adopted in to that family thery become part of the geneology so in that context Joseph was Jesus father. I could be wring about this but to me personaly this idea of non-blood lineage souns credible.

    Please dont get upset.

    1. I enjoy undermining religion. I hate it with a passion.
    2. It is an argument built on a premise.
    3. My understanding could be wrong. It did come from Christians after all.

    I am not trying to undermine you. Even Darwin made some minor errors. If your arguments were a forset fire then my correction (if it is one) is a bucket of water. If that. Out of principle I think the truth of the matter counts. If truth was a person (or a God lol) then I would swear allegaince to that.

    As you cant hear the way I talk I need to be very careful this is not to be seen as an attack. However if an opologist read it he would take that mole hill and turn it into an enormous mountain.

  • Rabbit 12

    Wait didn’t this Christian Apologist post make a part 2 video of this?

    Also what is this Religious Nut trying to achieve?

  • Daniel Ray

    Hello sir.

    A friend asked me to take a look at this article. I will be in discussion with two other believers along with Aron and two other skeptics Rex Burks and Owen Younger, about Isaiah 53 and other aspects of Aron’s video you have posted here.

    You make an effort to show how Psalm 22 is not related to Christ’s suffering. You say it sounds Jesus-like (it does!) but then object by citing the references to bulls, dogs and lions. You attempt to make the point that David is metaphorically using these references about his enemies and that no physical piercing of his hands or feet ever really happened ergo this is not really about Jesus.

    That David was or was not injured is not crucial for considering whether or not this Psalm speaks of Christ.

    David’s use of metaphor of animals-as-enemies attests to Jesus’s literal suffering. There is no reason why it cannot. He was surrounded by His enemies but forgave them and died for them. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That, I believe was uttered on behalf of not only those present who were like lions, at His hands and feet, but for us as well.

    The suffering of God’s people throughout the OT ultimately point to Christ in one way or another. Daniel, for example, in the den of lions, or Daniel’s friends in the furnace with “one like the son of the gods” as Nebuchadnezzar exclaims. Job too is surrounded by his “friends” who end up acting more like his enemies by opening their mouths against him and wearying him out with their words.

    1 Peter 5 describes Satan “like a lion” – identical to the meaning/use of the “like-a-lion” phrase in Psalm 22. My guess is Peter was likely referring to this very psalm when he wrote, “The devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”

    Jesus faced the devil and his temptations in Matthew 4. The devil is the one who will “bruise” Christ’s “heel” per Genesis 3. Mike’s analogy is perfectly legitimate. Like a lion, indeed. Jesus was hounded, pierced, bruised, crushed by one.

    Also, Satan is described as a fallen cherub (Ezekiel 28:13-19). No human being save for Adam and Eve was in Eden with God or on the holy mountain of God. A cherub is described in Ezekiel 1 and 10 as having four faces (eagle, ox, man and lion). As in Psalm 22 referring both to David and to Christ, there is a double referent in Ezekiel 28, one to the king of Tyre and one to Satan who influenced or perhaps even possessed the king. The kingdom of Tyre was later thrown down for all the world to see, through Nebuchadnezzar’s 13-year siege and Alexander’s conquests two centuries later – God reminding Satan that his defeat is certain as well.

    There is enough agreement about the Septuagint’s accuracy. It is not a stretch to use the word “pierced” and “like a lion”. For the later Greek translators of Psalm 22, they likely understood the general connotations of the word/phrase. Lions’ claws and teeth have tremendous piercing power. When a lion is at one’s hands and feet, what is the danger? That the beast is likely going to tear you to shreds. Whether or not David is actually physically pierced/injured in any way by the enemies at his hands and feet, however, does not detract from Christ’s physical sufferings being metaphorically/prophetically uttered in David’s distresses. They are uncannily similar, whether David was pierced or not. After all, the Messiah does come from the Davidic line.

    Psalm 22 still stands out as one of the best OT connections to Jesus’s sufferings, however one may translate the Hebrew word in question.

    Our video will be featured on Jim Hall’s “Atheist Edge” YouTube channel in the coming weeks, probably in four parts as a series. Hope you’ll be able to view them.

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