Here is another article in the series looking at more points raised by Yisroel Blumenthal in his Supplement to Contra Brown. In our last article, we looked at and excerpt called "Revised Messiah from Critique of Volume 4" which can be found here: http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/revised-messiah-excerpt-from-critique-of-vol-4/.
With that out of the way, Shall we go?
"Brown puts down 6 points that the proponents of this objection (that the theology of the Messiah’s death was invented as a result of Jesus’ death) must believe – and Brown takes the pains to point out how ludicrous he considers each of these 6 points to be.
The first point that Brown brings out, is that those who present this objection must posit that there are no biblical prophecies that point to the “Messiah’s suffering”. Brown argues that this would contradict the objection that some people raise against Christianity which posits that the disciples reconstructed Jesus’ life to fit those prophecies.
The flaws in Brown’s argument are readily apparent. Brown himself admits that while Jesus was alive, the disciples did not find any prophecies in the Jewish Bible that speak of the Messiah’s suffering. Brown acknowledges that it was only after Jesus’ death that the disciples “discovered” these “prophecies”. This means that one could read the Jewish Bible without an “anti-Jesus” bias and still fail to see anything about a suffering Messiah. It is only when one reads the Bible with a “pro-post-crucifixion-Jesus” bias that he or she will “see” the concept of a suffering Messiah. After the disciples began reconstructing their concept of the Messiah, it is entirely reasonable to assume that the same imaginations that saw a suffering Messiah where there was none to be seen, also wished events into existence in order to fit their new theology."
And yet the concept of Mosiach Ben Yosef exists. While obviously not the same as Ben David, this particular Messiah DOES suffer in the Rabbinic context, however as far as I know, the opinion is not a widely held opinion, though I could be wrong. Who of the Rabbis came up with Mosiach Ben Yosef, one who dies in battle and is raised by Mosiach Ben David? People could only read the concept of two Messiahs according to Blumenthal's criteria through bias. There is a supposed conspiracy here that the apostles reconstructed their concept of the Messiah and thus created a new theology based on their imaginations. For what reason? I had mentioned earlier and this is a point to hammer home, why would they fabricate this concept of a suffering Messiah while being absolutely aware of Jesus being in the grave? One doesn't make a lie and be willing to die for it as if it is a truth.
"The second point that Brown makes in defense of Christianity is that the proponents of this objection (that the disciples invented the concept of the Messiah’s death out of thin air) would have to believe that Jesus never taught this foundational Christian doctrine. Brown considers this to be untenable because the gospels do record such teachings of Jesus.
Brown fails to consider the fact that all of the people that were with Jesus throughout his entire teaching career did not expect him to die. This tells us that Jesus did NOT teach about his suffering and death. He certainly didn’t teach it in an open and unambiguous way. After the disciples invented this myth and retrojected this concept into the mouth of Jesus, we are not surprised to find that the gospels report that Jesus taught this concept. But the disciple’s confusion at the time clearly indicates that Jesus did NOT teach his disciples about the supposed suffering of the Messiah."
Just because they didn't expect Jesus to die and were ignorant, that doesn't mean Jesus NEVER taught his vicarious atonement, nor does it explain their change in attitude after supposedly seeing Jesus. Blumenthal is arguing from silence. Why would the disciples retroject their concept of Messiah into Jesus' own lips and for what reason would they do it? Furthermore if the resurrection happened, then the apostles could understand the purpose and meaning of Jesus' death. Like I have said before, some of the disciples were speaking to Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but did not realise it until later on. If Jesus was on the road not merely a hallucination, this demonstrates that the disciples were not lying about their master's resurrection, but believed he had rose from the dead. Thus, this is not an invention placed into the mouth of Jesus.
On a side note, there are people who falsely have claimed that the concept of animals being killed as sacrifices was an invention and not what Moses had given to the people as part of the Torah. I am sure Blumenthal would not accept that and neither would I. But why does Blumenthal assume that the disciples invented the concept of a suffering Messiah in order to hold desperately to their failed Messiah? Again, A conspiracy hypothesis doesn't account for a change in their attitude AFTER the crucifixion.
"The third argument that Brown advances focuses on the last supper. Brown points out that if the disciples invented the concept of the Messiah’s death, this would then mean that the last supper never took place, and that Jesus never spoke of his blood being shed to inaugurate a new covenant. Brown sees this as an impossible proposition because of the fact that the followers of Jesus had been practicing this ritual since his death.
The question that we must ask here is: at what point in time did the disciples come to understand that the last supper was a “foreshadowing” of Jesus’ death? According to the Christian’s own gospels, the disciples were in a state of confusion even after the crucifixion. They did not understand how their beloved leader could die. If, as Brown argues, Jesus had clearly taught about his impending redemptive death, then why would the disciples despair? Why the confusion? It is clear that Jesus did not provide his disciples with any clear teaching about his impending death. It was only with the passing of time that his disciples came to reinterpret his death and his last supper in a manner that would allow them to maintain their belief in their beloved leader.
Another detail worthy of consideration in relation to this argument is the fact that Paul claims that the concept of the last supper had been revealed to him personally by the dead Jesus (1Corinthians 11:23). This would seem to indicate that until Paul had received this “revelation”, the last supper was not “properly” understood by the followers of Jesus. The Christian Scriptures tell us that it was Paul, and not Jesus, who gave “prophetic” significance to the ritual of the last supper."
Peter did react negatively in Matthew 16 when Jesus said he was going to die.
"21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”."
Jesus rebukes Peter for trying to say that Christ will not die at the hands of the priests. Also, even though Paul says he received a Revelation, this isn't to say the disciples did not have his understanding of the Lord's Supper as well or even before Paul. Whatever point the disciples understood the Lord's Supper's meaning, would not impact the NT severely and Jesus DOES speak of his blood in inaugurating the covenant through his blood at the Lord's Supper. For that matter, Even though Jesus did speak of his vicarious death, It isn't surprising that the disciples were in fear and terror after his death, Why wouldn't you be?
"The fourth argument that Brown presents as a refutation to this objection (that the concept of the death of the Messiah was a myth invented by the disciples after the death of Jesus) only serves to accentuate the lack of logical cohesion that permeates Brown’s arguments. Brown argues that if the objection is correct in its basic supposition that the disciples invented the theology of the suffering and death of the Messiah, then we would also have to accept the supposition that the resurrection never happened. That is like saying that if we are to accept the supposition that a specific person is guilty, we must be aware that we will also have to assume that he is not innocent.
The proponents of the argument that Jesus’ disciples concocted the concept of a suffering Messiah will certainly also believe that the resurrection never happened."
If the disciples didn't concoct the vicarious suffering of their Messiah, then Jesus would have taught it and after his death and resurrection, enlighten his apostles and "open their minds to understand the scriptures" as Luke 24:44 states.
"Brown explains to his readers why it is that he finds the belief that the resurrection never happened to be so preposterous. He claims that those who believe that the resurrection never happened will have to accept that: “the books of the New Testament… are 100 percent wrong 100 percent of the time about the most foundational element of their faith.
This argument is fallacious from several angles. First and most obviously is that those who reject Islam or Judaism have to live with the fact that they believe that the books of these two world religions are 100 percent wrong 100 percent of the time about the most foundational elements of their faith. This is no problem for people who do not attribute too much validity to the foundational texts of these religions to begin with. But Christianity claims to accept the Jewish Bible. The Jewish Bible teaches that the foundational event of the belief system; the Sinai revelation, taught the Jewish people that to attribute deity to any inhabitant of heaven or earth is a violation of our relationship with God. Christianity rejects this teaching. This means that Christians have to accept that the Jewish Bible is 100 percent wrong 100 percent of the time about the most foundational element of the faith. Christianity does this at the same time that it pays lip-service to its reverence of the Jewish Bible.
A second point that we ought to consider is the question: who says that the alleged resurrection of Jesus was the most foundational element of the faith of Jesus’ disciples? Let us remember, these disciples were totally devoted to faith in Jesus long before the crucifixion. They were not even expecting him to die and be resurrected. So how can the resurrection have been so foundational to their faith?"
The idea that Christianity rejects the Sinai Revelation is a lie. I have also written on the subject of the Sinai Revelation in the following articles:
I can assure you, I pay no lip-service to the TANAKH whatsoever. Christians who do not read the TANAKH will have trouble understanding certain issues in the NT.
The resurrection is crucial, if the resurrection never happened, my faith is in vain and I am practicality wasting my time responding to Blumenthal. The resurrection would also be a VINDICATION of Jesus, that he has the Father's stamp of approval. But again, Just because the disciples were ignorant of the Messiah's vicarious death, that doesn't entail that they couldn't understand and acknowledge it later.
"The fifth argument that Brown advances against the objection that proposes that the disciples made up the theology of the suffering of Messiah after the death of Jesus focuses on the disciples activities after the death of Jesus. Proponents of the objection, argues Brown, will have to accept that: “Within days, all the disciples, without breaking ranks, overcame the shock and trauma of their masters ignominious death; quickly came up with this fabricated account; developed a whole new theology to support it – although until that time they had never once entertained the idea…”
This argument is just as hollow as the previous arguments. For starters, the fact that Brown finds it incredulous that the disciples had: “until that time never once entertained the idea” utterly discredits him. Brown himself acknowledges, and the Christian Scriptures teach, that up until the crucifixion of Jesus the disciples had no clue about the supposed sacrificial death of the Messiah. This sentence has no honest place in Brown’s argument."
"Furthermore, how does Brown know that it only took days for the disciples to develop this theology together with the supporting mythology? The earliest dating for the Christian Scriptures places them decades after the death of Jesus. History is replete with the followers of failed movements coming up with new theologies and supporting mythical events to support them. A typical historical template would have the disciples sharing their inspired visions of their master, and with time these came to be interpreted as physical sightings. If there was some confusing physical event that the disciples seized upon in order to overcome their disappointment, this would have only accelerated the process. This could have been a report of a sighting or a report of an empty grave. Neither of these scenarios necessitates belief in an actual resurrection. It is common for people who suddenly lose a loved one to think they see him or her somewhere. The scenario of an empty grave is actually supported by the Christian Scriptures. According to the gospels, Jesus was buried hastily, close to nightfall, with few people attending the burial, and in a grave designated for another person. How difficult would it be to assume that the disciples were mistaken about the location of the grave? How difficult would it be to assume that the rightful owners of the grave removed Jesus’ body? In fact John presents this scenario as the first thought that came to Mary’s mind when she found an empty grave (John 20:2). Would the devoted followers of a charismatic leader need more “evidence” than that which any of these scenarios provide before believing a resurrection? History testifies that devoted followers of charismatic have a strong tendency to believe the most preposterous things about their leader provided that they support their devotion."
Jesus after the resurrection spoke to his disciples in Luke 24:44 and opened their minds as mentioned before. One would be hard-pressed to assume the disciples were mistaken about the location of the grave but how does Blumenthal know that they could be mistaken about the tomb's location? Furthermore, Why after lending a tomb to someone would you decide to remove the body without the person's friends and families knowledge and permission to do so? For that matter, Guards were stationed at the tomb to prevent anyone from getting near it to take the body. The dating of the Christian scriptures isn't a problem to be honest, since know Christian claims the Gospels were written in Christ's day
Even IF the disciples thought they saw Jesus just because "It is common for people who suddenly lose a loved one to think they see him or her somewhere.", this would not prove they fabricated a story to lie and deceive wilfully. If this point in bold by Blumenthal is correct, they were merely subject to their own delusions and were not out to deceive people. Also, Considering Jesus made appearances to 500 individuals, you have to account for how so many people could see him in 12 instances. Hallucinations will not do, because that would only serve the point that he was dead, but even in the Gospel of John in the same chapter that Blumenthal quotes, Jesus requests Thomas to put his finger in his side to demonstrate that he was alive and well.
"24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”"
A hallucination cannot be touched, that is quite clear, so obviously Jesus would of been standing in front of Thomas himself.
"Finally, how does Brown know that there was no “breaking of ranks”? Matthew reports that there was an element of doubt about the resurrection in the mind of some of the disciples. How can Brown be confident that these disciples did not break rank with those who believed the resurrection in a literal sense?
The sixth and last argument presented by Brown points out that the proponents of the objection (that the disciples invented the suffering Messiah concept) would have to believe that: “On top of all this, they not only created the myth of a second coming but then misunderstood the myth they created, wrongly believing it would happen in their lifetime when, in fact they were fully aware that they made the whole thing up.
Brown finishes his argument with: “If you believe this, I have an exclusive contract for you on the Brooklyn Bridge…”
Brown is in the process of trying to sell his readers the equivalent to a contract on the BrooklynBridge, and he yet accuses his critics of trying to sell the BrooklynBridge!
The disciples understood that Jesus will return in their lifetime based on words that Jesus spoke before the crucifixion. As it is with most Messianic pretenders, Jesus promised his following that they will merit to witness the age of Israel’s glory. Before the crucifixion, this was understood by Jesus’ followers to mean that he will soon assume the position of Israel’s Messiah. After the crucifixion, his disciples reinterpreted his message to mean that he will return from the dead to assume what they considered his rightful position. Is this chain of events so preposterous? It is the common template followed by the disappointed devotees of almost every failed Messiah."
Jesus actually said he would come again with his angels in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and 14. Blumenthal has no evidence that the disciples "reinterpreted" what Jesus said, he only has conjecture.
"Matthew 24:26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[b]
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[c] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[d] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[e] is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
"Mark 13:21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24 “But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[c]
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it[d] is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
In one of my recent papers, barry umansky commented on the word Generation in which he said:
"Matthew 24 is quite consistent with Matthew 16:28-28 “Truly I tell YOU some who are standing HERE will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Any attempt to rationalize genea to some future generation or to the nation of Jews is just that- a poor rationalization. His followers expected something immanent in their lifetimes."
and Blumenthal also said the following:
"Before the crucifixion, this was understood by Jesus’ followers to mean that he will soon assume the position of Israel’s Messiah. After the crucifixion, his disciples reinterpreted his message to mean that he will return from the dead to assume what they considered his rightful position."
The onus of proof is on Blumenthal to show that the disciples reinterpreted the message. If they did, they would not be willing to go through with their deaths. While they may of not understood Christ will come twice until after the resurrection, that doesn't mean they wouldn't of understood it later. I know I am reminding the audience of this point but this is worth consideration.
A quick note on barry's comment is again:
"One way generation can be understood is referring to a particular race of people, namely the Jews. Jesus also goes on to say that no man knows the day or the hour in the same context.
"36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
Jesus obviously didn't mean that he would return in the apostles lifetime."
barry did dismiss what was said about the word generation in his comment and his claim of "Any attempt to rationalize genea to some future generation or to the nation of Jews is just that- a poor rationalization." doesn't address the issue.
This article on the subject of the word Generation will be of use to one on this issue: http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/faq/generation.shtml
I hope that this article and the previous one has been of help to you and I thank you for taking the time to read.
Addendum, here is a video Nakdimon did on the resurrection of Jesus. This is part 4 of his Isaiah 53 series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI_bI1Vkgg4