Sunday 9 August 2015

Defense of Paul of Tarsus: Response to a Muslim: Looking at objection 46.

I decided to set a different page for objection 46 and here it is

I had this article and two others left alone for sometime, but I have decided to release this one right now. Let's take a look at the objection in question.


"As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed")
Rom. 9:33

Paul misquoted Isa. 28:16

"Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste".

Isaiah says nothing about "on him" or "being ashamed."
Isaiah says God will lay a precious corner stone, a sure foundation, not a stumbling stone or rock of offence.
True, Isa. 8:14 ("And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel....") speaks of a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, but it is speaking of God himself. Paul deceptively combined two unrelated verses and altered the text in the process."
it is possible that Paul is using a rabbinic hermeneutic called Gezera Shava, which is defined as
"Gezera shava – analogy by common term or similarity in phrase.
Argument from analogy. When the Torah uses a similar (usually uncommon) term or phrase in two places, it demonstrates a connection, such that information about one case may be applied to the analogue. The usual formula used is “here it is said…there it is said; As here…so there.” 

Sometimes Gezera shava is rendered as “Ke yotzei bo mimakom ac'her” - "like it says elsewhere" – indicating that the explanation of a word in the text of interest is clarified by use of same word in an unrelated text.

In arguments using gezera shava we find a similar law in a verse containing a similar phrase to one in our verse and argue that the same principles apply though the general context may differ. Such analogy enables us to assume that the lessons we have learned in one instance may apply in many different instances. 

However, such conclusions do not in general afford certainty but only a degree of probability." (

Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal of Your Pharisee Friend in "The School of Matthew" states the following about Gezera Shava and what it's application actually is:
"On page 114 Shapira attributes the usage of “gezera shava” to Metzudat Tziyon. This demonstrates Shapira’s complete lack of familiarity with either the term “gezera shava” or the Metzudat Tziyon or both. The Metzudat Tziyon is a commentary on Scripture on the most basic level. The comments of the Metzudat Tziyon are limited to the direct meaning of words. Metzudat Tziyon often supports his rendition of a given word by quoting another passage in Scripture in which this same word or a grammatical derivative of this word is used. But this has nothing to do with rabbinical “gezera shava” which points to similar words, not to determine their literal meaning, but to create a conceptual connection between the two passages. The commentary of Metzudat Tziyon never engages in this style of Scriptural analysis. It seems that this simple piece of knowledge, one that school-children are familiar with, is beyond the grasp of Itzhak Shapira."

Sam Shamoun of Answering Islam has mentioned the following with respect to this practice in his response to MENJ, albeit on a different passage but the principle is the same. Shamoun's quotation of John C. Fention is in italics:
"Had MENJ's author simply done some historical investigation he would have found that Mark committed no error whatsoever. The ones making a gross blunder are Helms and the Muslim author copying his argument. It was a common practice amongst the Jews to take two separate biblical citations and attribute them to a single author, especially when the references touched on similar themes or ideas, even though the quotes didn't all come from that particular author.

A common method of interpretation used by the Jews was gezera shewa, an exegetical practice where passages that used identical words or phrases were used to explain one another.

Liberal NT scholar, John C. Fenton, while commenting on Matthew 2:5-6 where the inspired author combines Micah 5:2 with 2 Samuel 5:2, noted:

The prophecy is from Mic. 5.2, but it is not given in the LXX translation, nor is it an exact rendering of the Hebrew text, 2 Sam 5.2 MAY have been combined with the Micah prophecy; combining of similar Old Testament passages WAS A REGULAR FEATURE OF RABBINIC STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES. (Fenton, Saint Matthew - The Penguin New Testament Commentaries, Penguin Books, 1963, p. 46; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Hence, Mark was being very accurate and thoroughly consistent with common Jewish practices at that time. There is therefore no correction made by Matthew and Luke to Mark, since Mark didn't need to be corrected." (

Rabbi Eli Cohen in his review of The Return of the Kosher Pig states the following regarding the misuse of Gezera Shawa:
"Another rabbinic convention which Shapira completely mangles is the gezerah shava principle.  A gezerah shava is an exegetic rule with restricted application.  This rule is usually applied when two Scriptural verses contain similar words.  If one verse is clear and the second is unclear, the verse with greater clarity is used to clarify the ambiguity that exists in the other verse.Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, a world-renowned Talmudic scholar, warns about the potential exploitation of the gezerah shava rule.  “This important exegetic rule may prove dangerous if employed indiscriminately, since many words appear in different sentences and any desired conclusion may be obtained.”"

So it is clear one must exercise caution when using this rabbinical rule, as this may lead to some pretty wacky conclusions.

Answering Judaism

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