"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul's Defense Before Agrippa (26:1-32) INTRODUCTION 1. Following his arrest in Jerusalem, Paul had the opportunity to defend himself before... a. The Jewish mob - Ac 22:1-21 b. The Sanhedrin council - Ac 23:1-10 c. The Roman governor Felix and Drusilla - Ac 24:1-27 d. The Roman governor Festus - Ac 25:1-12 2. After being incarcerated in Caesarea for two years... a. Jewish leaders wanted Paul brought back in Jerusalem - Ac 25:1-3 b. But there was a plot to ambush Paul along the way - Ac 25:3 c. Rather than be returned to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar - Ac 25:9-11 [Festus was willing to grant Paul's appeal. Uncertain of charges to specify against Paul, Festus solicited King Agrippa's help (Ac 25:12-27). Once again, Paul was permitted to defend himself (Ac 26:1)...] I. THE DEFENSE A. PAUL'S GRATITUDE... 1. To be able to answer for himself before the king - Ac 26:2 2. Because the king was known for his expertise regarding Jewish matters - Ac 26:3 B. PAUL'S EARLY LIFE... 1. Brought up in Jerusalem (though born in Tarsus) - Ac 26:4; cf.Ac 22:3 2. Lived as a Pharisee, the strictest sect of Jewish religion - Ac 26:5 3. He was being judged for the hope of the resurrection, a promise made by God to the Jews which the king should not think incredible - Ac 26:6-8; cf. Ac 23:6 4. As a zealous Pharisee, he thought he should persecute Christians - Ac 26:9-11 a. Imprisoning them in Jerusalem b. Casting his own vote to put them to death c. Punishing them in the synagogues, forcing them to blaspheme d. Persecuting them to even foreign cities C. PAUL'S CALLING... 1. While journeying to Damascus, commissioned by the chief priests- Ac 26:12 2. Along the road, seeing a bright light shining about him and his fellow travelers - Ac 26:13 3. Falling to the ground, hearing a voice in Hebrew - Ac 26:14 a. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" b. "It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 4. Asking "Who are you, Lord?", Jesus identifies Himself - Ac 26:15 5. Jesus then tells Paul why He has appeared to him - Ac 26:16-18 a. To make him a minister b. A witness of things seen and things yet to be revealed c. To be delivered from Jews and Gentiles, while opening their eyes d. To turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God e. That they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those sanctified by faith in Him D. PAUL'S MINISTRY... 1. He was not disobedient to the heavenly vision - Ac 26:19 2. But declared to those in Damascus, Jerusalem, Judea, and to the Gentiles - Ac 26:20 a. That they should repent, turn to God b. And do works befitting repentance 3. For such reasons Jews seized him in the temple and tried to kill him - Ac 26:21 4. But with help from God, to that day Paul witnessed to both small and great - Ac 26:22 5. Saying only what the prophets and Moses said would come - Ac 26:22-23 a. That the Christ would suffer b. That He would be the first to rise from the dead c. That He would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles [At this point, Paul is interrupted by an outburst from the Roman governor Festus...] II. THE REACTION A. FROM FESTUS... 1. "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" - Ac 26:24 2. Paul's calm response - Ac 26:25-26 a. "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason." b. "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things." c. "For I am convinced that none of these things escape his attention." d. "Since this thing was not done in a corner." B. FROM AGRIPPA... 1. Paul: "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe" - Ac 26:27 2. Agrippa: "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." - Ac 26:28 3. Paul: "I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me today, might become almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains." - Ac 26:29 C. FROM EVERYONE... 1. At this point, Agrippa, Festus, Bernice, and others went aside to talk - Ac 26:30 2. Their conclusion: "This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains." - Ac 26:31 3. Agrippa: "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar." - Ac 26:32 CONCLUSION 1. The final two chapters of Acts (27-28) will cover Paul's eventful sea journey to Rome... 2. In the meantime, give serious consideration to whether we are experiencing the blessings of Paul's ministry in our own lives... "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." - Ac 26:18
An Inspiring Glimpse into the Text of the Dead Sea Scrolls
|by||Thomas Tarpley, B.S.|
Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we are able, with greater confidence, to believe in the Bible, knowing beyond any doubt that it is authentic. The significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in relation to biblical studies, can be separated into different areas. In this article, I would like to examine specifically the matter of the Old Testament text. As we study that text, we find that, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, witnesses of the Old Testament text and canon were confined mainly to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible.
For many years, scholars doubted that extremely ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament would ever be found. Sir Frederick Kenyon, in the 1948 printing of Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, stated: “There is indeed, no probability that we shall ever find manuscripts of the Hebrew text going back to a period before the formation of the text which we know as Masoretic. We can only arrive at an idea of it by a study of the earliest translations made from it.…” Ironically, as his book was being printed, evidence that would invalidate such statements was being uncovered (see Pfeiffer, 1969).
Until the year 1947, the earliest manuscripts we possessed dated back to only around the tenth century A.D. These manuscripts composed what is known as the Masoretic Text, which was put into a fixed form in approximately A.D. 500. In the year 1947, a significant-yet-unexpected event occurred that would help document the authenticity of our present-day Bible. This special event took place in the northwestern corner of the Dead Sea, at a place known as Qumran. In a cave at Qumran, a young Bedouin boy accidentally stumbled upon a treasure trove of clay jars containing several ancient manuscripts—a find that proved to be one of the greatest discoveries of all time. These manuscripts take us back 1,000 years earlier than the Masoretic Text, to the first century B.C. The manuscripts, which are part of the Qumran library, are known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are several lines of evidence that have put to rest the question of how old they are. This evidence was confirmed by paleography (the study and interpretations of ancient writings), orthography (the study of letters and their sequences in words), and archaeology.
Because these manuscripts have been proven to be so old, some initially questioned their quality (Geisler and Nix, 1986). Admittedly, there is indeed a scarcity of very ancient Hebrew manuscripts, due to the mere fact of how old and fragile, by necessity, they would be. Such documents would have to survive for two to three thousand years—a very long time considering the destructive nature of the elements (and man). Exactly how good, then, are the surviving manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The quality of the Old Testament manuscripts from Qumran is actually very good, because there are relatively few variants in the texts. After the Masoretes copied manuscripts, they destroyed the old copies. The documents from which the Masoretes copied were handed down from two ancient sources. The first was the work of a man called Rabbi Akiba. He was a leader in the movement of biblical interpretation who, toward the end of establishing an official text, was assisted by a man named Aquila. This process of establishing an official text was completed in Palestine between the years A.D. 132-135, which was fairly close to the time the Qumran texts were written (Pfeiffer, 1969). The second source was the work of the sopherim. The term sopherim, as used in the second and third centuries, referred to the rabbis. In studying early rabbinical writings, we can see a clear picture of their work. While studying the text of Scripture that had been passed on to them, they attempted to “set” the pronunciation of certain words, and remove what they deemed insignificant pieces of the text. In the margins of the Scriptures, they made notes, indicating changes they felt should be made, and they placed points above letters or words that they thought were unneeded. Scholars are not always in agreement with the rabbis’ judgments, but the traditions they represent are helpful in the study of textual problems.
The Jews possessed a great reverence for the Bible, and as a result, they laid down numerous exact specifications for the process of copying the Scriptures. These specifications related to the kinds of skin that were to be used, the types of ink, the size of columns, the spacing of words, and the fact that nothing could be written from memory. There also was a ritual that had to be performed before they could write the name of God. The lines, and even the letters, were counted methodically. If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was systematically destroyed. This scribal formalism accounts for the extreme care in copying the Scriptures (Geisler and Nix, 1986).
In accordance with scribal formalism, the extreme care for the Scriptures was carried over to the Masoretes. The work that is associated with Akiba and the sopherim was placed into its final form by the Masoretes, whose work was completed about the tenth century. They strove diligently to preserve the text that had been handed down to them. The traditional pronunciation was indicated by a system of vowels and accents. Hebrew (along with other Semitic languages) is written with a consonantal alphabet. Numerous precautions were taken by the Masoretes to ensure the purity of the text, including such things as counting the verses, the words, and even the letters of the books of the Old Testament. The Masoretes recorded how often the same word appeared at the beginning, middle, or end of a verse. They also recorded the middle verse, middle word, and middle letter of each book. The corrections suggested by the sopherim were carefully noted in the margins, but the integrity of the text itself remained basically unaltered. We today owe a great debt to the Masoretes for their strictness and care in safeguarding the text of God’s Word so carefully for so many centuries.
Another line of evidence that supports the innate quality of the Qumran manuscripts is the duplication of passages within the Masoretic text itself. Several psalms occur more than once; much of Isaiah 36-39 is also found in 2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 2:2-4 is parallel to Micah 4:1-3; Jeremiah 52 is a repeat of 2 Kings 25; and large parts of Chronicles are found in Samuel and Kings. When examined, these passages not only show textual agreement but, in many cases, there is word-for-word identity (see Geisler and Nix, 1986).
The nature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is crucial to the establishment and confirmation of the true text. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls contain countless fragments of every book in the Old Testament except for Esther, there are plenty of samples with which to make comparisons to the Masoretic Text. But why would we need to compare the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masoretic Text? What would such a comparison reveal? The purpose in making such a comparison is to determine if the Dead Sea Scrolls are similar to the Masoretic Text, and if so, in what ways. The evidence of these comparisons actually ends up providing an overwhelming confirmation of the fidelity of the Masoretic Text. Millar Burrows, writing in his book, The Dead Sea Scrolls, concluded: “It is a matter of wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition’ ” (1955, p. 304).
Other scholars have noted that the differences between the standard text of A.D. 900 and the text from 100 B.C. are extremely minor. Gleason Archer, in his work, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, observed that two copies of Isaiah from cave 1 of Qumran “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling” (1974, p. 44). Further studies have supported the conclusion that the Dead Sea Scrolls are very similar to the Masoretic Text, which leads us to conclude that today’s Hebrew text faithfully represents the original as was written by the authors of the Old Testament.
There are other lines of evidence that I will not have the space to discuss in this brief article, such as support from archeology, the close parallel between the LXX and the Masoretic Text, and the agreement of the Qumran manuscripts with the Samaritan Pentateuch. As a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars now have access to ancient Hebrew manuscripts that are 1,000 years older than the Masoretic Text manuscripts, which has enabled scholars to confirm the incredible accuracy of the Hebrew Text. In fact, a comparison of the standard Hebrew texts with that of the Dead Sea scrolls has revealed that the two are virtually identical. The variations (about 5%) occurred only in minor spelling differences and minute copyists’ mistakes. Thus, as Rene Paché noted: “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning” (1971, p. 191).
By way of conclusion, we may observe that all the thousands of Hebrew manuscripts (in whole or in part), with their confirmation by the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch, as well as the numerous cross references from without and within the text, give overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament text. Therefore, it is safe to conclude, as did Sir Frederick Kenyon, that “the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (1948, p. 55).
REFERENCESAlexander, David and Pat Alexander, eds. (1973), Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing).
Archer, Gleason (1974), Survey of Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Burrows, Millar (1958), The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Kenyon, Frederick (1948), Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper).
Paché, Rene (1971), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pfeiffer, Charles F. (1969), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Where Was God in Newtown, Connecticut?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 are, in every sense of the word, tragic. A gunman named Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children, six adults, himself and his mother in one of the most deadly school shootings in U.S. history. As is always the case when tragedies like this occur, various people and groups use the events to propel their agendas. In the past several decades, the atheistic community has used occurrences like this as “evidence” that a loving God does not exist. These atheistic writers and speakers contend that if there is a loving God, He would never allow a person to shoot 20 innocent children in cold blood. If there is a loving God, they claim, He would stop such a brutal killing. Since He did not stop it, either He does not have the power to stop it, or He is not a loving God who cares for innocent children. Either way, they suggest, the concept of a loving, all-powerful God such as the one portrayed in the Bible cannot exist in the face of such senseless brutality. “If there is a loving God, where was He on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut?” they demand. What can the Christian say in response to such reasoning?
Evil Did Occur—Which Proves Atheism Cannot be RightIt is a fact that the actions of the gunman were evil. He should not have killed 27 people and himself. Virtually every person who hears an account of his actions rightly understands that what he did was horribly wrong and evil. Yet, in a world without God, there is no way to contend that what he did was evil. Atheist Frederick Nietzsche understood this perfectly. He wrote: “We believe that severity, violence, slavery, danger in the street and in the heart, secrecy, stoicism, tempter’s art and devilry of ever kind—that everything wicked, terrible, tyrannical, predatory, and serpentine in man, serves as well for the elevation of the human species as its opposite” (2007, p. 35). You see, if humans are merely the product of mindless, random, naturalistic processes over millions of years, then how can any person claim to know that Adam Lanza did something evil. From where would the concept of evil originate if nature were all there is or was?
Charles Darwin was fully aware of the implications of atheism and godlessness. He wrote: “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts with are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones (1958, p. 94). Thus, if there really is no God, then Adam Lanza was simply following the instincts and impulses that seemed the strongest to him. If other products of natural processes (humans) do not like what he did, they cannot say it was evil, or wrong, all they would be able to say is that they do not have those same instincts or impulses. And yet, the truth of the matter is, something evil, wicked, and wrong did occur. If that is true, there must be a God.
In a very famous statement, C.S. Lewis captured this thought perfectly when he wrote:
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust...? Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple (Lewis, 1952, pp. 45-46, italics in orig.)If something that was, in fact, evil, took place in Newtown on December 14, 2012, then there must be a God.
But What About the Children?Once we establish the fact that the existence of evil does not militate against God’s existence, but actually establishes it, there is still the emotional question of how God could allow innocent children to die. In fact, it is often the case that atheists will attempt to draw attention away from the rational side of the discussion and argue from pure emotion. “How could a loving God let innocent children die?” they insist. Their contention is that God has, in some way, wronged the innocent children. Their allegation fails, however, when we understand the true nature of what has happened.
The Bible repeatedly stresses the idea that physical death is not complete loss, and can actually be beneficial to the one who dies. The Bible explains that every person has a soul that will live forever, long after physical life on this Earth is over (Matthew 25:46). The Bible consistently states the fact that the immortal soul of each individual is of much more value than that individual’s physical life on this Earth. Jesus Christ said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Although the skeptic might object, and claim that an answer from the Bible is not acceptable, such an objection falls flat for one primary reason: the skeptic used the Bible to formulate his own argument. Where is it written that God is love? In the Bible, in such passages as 1 John 4:8. Where do we learn that God is all-powerful? Once again, that information comes directly from the Bible, read Genesis 17:1. Where, then, should we look for an answer to this alleged moral dilemma? The answer should be: the Bible. If the alleged problem is formulated from biblical testimony, then the Bible should be given the opportunity to explain itself. As long as the skeptic uses the Bible to formulate the problem, we certainly can use the Bible to solve the problem. One primary facet of the biblical solution is that every human has an immortal soul that is of inestimable value.
With the value of the soul in mind, let us examine several verses that prove that physical death is not necessarily evil. In a letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote from prison to encourage the Christians in the city of Philippi. His letter was filled with hope and encouragement, but it was also tinted with some very pertinent comments about the way Paul and God view death. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul wrote: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (emp. added).Paul, a faithful Christian, said that death was a welcome visitor. In fact, Paul said that the end of his physical life on this Earth would be “far better” than its continuation. For Paul, as well as for any faithful Christian, the cessation of physical life is not loss, but gain. Such would apply to innocent children as well, since they are in a safe condition and go to paradise when they die (see Butt, 2003).
Other verses in the Bible show that the loss of physical life is not inherently evil. The prophet Isaiah concisely summarized the situation when he was inspired to write: “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness” (57:1-2, emp. added). Isaiah recognized that people would view the death of the righteous incorrectly. He plainly stated that this incorrect view of death was due to the fact that most people do not think about the fact that when a righteous or innocent person dies, that person is “taken away from evil,” and enters “into peace.”
The psalmist wrote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Death is not inherently evil. In fact, the Bible indicates that death can be great gain in which a righteous person is taken away from evil and allowed to enter peace and rest. God looks upon the death of His faithful followers as precious. Skeptics who charge God with wickedness because He has allowed the physical lives of innocent babies to be ended are in error. They refuse to recognize the reality of the immortal soul. Instead of the death of innocent children being an evil thing, it is often a blessing for that child to be taken away from a life of hardship and evil influence at the hands of a sinful society, and ushered into a paradise of peace and rest. In order for a skeptic to legitimately charge God with cruelty, the skeptic must prove that there is no immortal soul, and that physical life is the only reality—neither of which the skeptic can do. Failure to acknowledge the reality of the soul and the spiritual realm will always result in a distorted view of the nature of God. “The righteous perishes…while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.”
What Should We Do?Our hearts are breaking for those in Newtown who have suffered such tragic loss. No words can adequately describe such emotional pain. But instead of allowing the skeptical community to use the evil actions of Adam Lanza to push people into the despair of atheism and unbelief, we should use this opportunity to encourage those in Newtown, and worldwide, to seek their God and Creator in times of trouble. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinthian: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). What can atheism tell the survivors?—that nothing evil was really done, and that their precious children have simply ceased to exist. Oh, how desperate. But what can Christianity offer those who mourn? We can acknowledge that evil was done, that innocent children were killed, but that their immortal souls are in paradise with their Creator. And that God offers all who will obey Him the opportunity to live forever. Thus, parents can be reunited with their children when the fleeting years of this brief earthly life are past. God, the God of all comfort, is the only One who can offer any hope or consolation in such a tragedy.
REFERENCESButt, Kyle (2003), “Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1201.
Darwin, Charles (1958), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, ed. Nora Barlow (New York: W.W. Norton).
Lewis, C.S. (1952), Mere Christianity (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Nietzsche, Friedrich (2007), Beyond Good and Evil, http://books.google.com/books?id=BAz7fkKhu30C&dq=%22We+believe+that+severity,+violence%22&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0.
Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
Q.The Bible speaks of things reproducing “after their kind.” What does the biblical word “kind” indicate?
Today, most creationists take the view that variation and speciation can occur only within created kinds. These kinds appeared for the first time in the creation week, and have since colonized the Earth. For land-dwelling animals, modern representatives would have to be the descendants of the kinds carried on the ark (Genesis 6:17; 8:17-19).
However, there is no consensus on the biological definition of kind, or the criteria for grouping animals within a kind. Some creationists equate the term with a particular taxonomic level higher than species, such as genus or family. Most, however, avoid such comparisons altogether. Byron Nelson wrote:
The “kinds” of Genesis refer not to the “systematic” species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the creator set (1967, p. 4).In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31).
The differences of opinion, and the apparent flexibility in the idea, have given anticreationists cause for criticism. Joel Cracraft complained:
The “created kind” is the unit of creation event just as the species is the unit of evolutionary change. Consequently, if the concept of “created kind” cannot be defined so that it can be used to interpret and investigate nature, then it is of little or no importance for the growth of knowledge (1983, p. 169).However, the same sort of criticisms leveled at kinds also can be turned on the species concept, which is neither well defined nor objective. First, the widely held biological species concept “holds that a species is a population of organisms that can at least potentially breed with one another but that do not breed with other populations” (Rennie, 1991). Unfortunately, two populations may not breed because they are isolated geographically. This may lead to taxonomic splitting, by which taxonomists give two different names to populations that could interbreed if given the chance. Practically speaking, very few species undergo extensive cross-breeding experiments before classification to test their reproductive isolation. Hybridization is another problem. Two seemingly distinct plant species may cross to produce fertile hybrids.
The potential for taxonomic splitting is especially acute in the fossil record, where it is impossible to apply the biological species concept. Instead, paleontologists tend to define species on their morphology alone. However, the soft parts of an organism rarely are preserved, and the identification must rest almost entirely on hard parts (e.g., bones, teeth, etc.). Any evolutionary relationships drawn from such studies are necessarily limited (Major, 1991).
Second, the species idea often takes on a definite evolutionary connotation. As we have already seen, Cracraft claims that the species is “the unit of evolutionary change” (1983, p. 169). He wants to replace the biological species concept with his own phylogenetic species concept, mainly because he is not satisfied with any definition that ignores alleged evolutionary relationships. Cracraft’s concept defines a species as “the smallest recognizable cluster of individuals that share a common pattern of ancestry” (Rennie, 1991).
The created kind concept can hold its own against these definitions. It proposes that a kind will consist of populations that can interbreed, while still allowing room for variation. If implemented systematically, the concept would reveal barriers or discontinuities between created kinds. “In order to make this evidence of creation available,” Kurt Wise has suggested, “there is a serious need for creation biologists to create, adopt, and employ a reproducible method of flagging identifiable phyletic discontinuities” (1990, 2:354). Creationists, like Wise, are continuing their work on kinds. In the meantime we face a taxonomic system encumbered with evolutionary presuppositions.
Major, Trevor (1991), “Problems in the Interpretation of Variation Within the Fossil Record,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 28:52-53, September.
Marsh, Frank L. (1976), Variation and Fixity in Nature (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press).
Nelson, Byron (1967), After Its Kind (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Rennie, John (1991), “Are Species Specious?,” Scientific American, 265:26, November.
Wise, Kurt P. (1990), “Baraminology: A Young-Earth Creation Biosystematic Method,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, July 30-August 4, 1990, ed. Robert E. Walsh (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship), pp. 345-360.
The Predicted Messiah
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
In hindsight, a good mystery fits together perfectly, like the various pieces of an intricate puzzle that need but one final piece to link the parts that form the completed magnificent panorama. Until that final piece is added, the mystery is virtually impossible to grasp in its entirety. In fact, while the mystery is developing, the inquisitor’s greatest challenge is to assess correctly which pieces of information or evidence are of significance and which are the banal elements that add nothing of consequence to the story. Is it important that Mr. Brown forgot his hat at the train station? Does it matter that the water faucet in the kitchen suddenly is not working properly? Inevitably, the astute inquisitor accurately pinpoints those elements in the story that are of great import. The less astute inaccurately labels ordinary events as important, or fails to understand fully events that were of major consequence.
Such is the case when approaching the study of the predicted Messiah, or, as it were, when solving the mystery of the Messiah. Anyone familiar with New Testament writings is quite familiar with the term “mystery” as it is applied to God’s plan for the redemption of the human race through the predicted Messiah. Paul wrote concerning this mystery: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7). In his letter to the Colossians, he stated: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints” (1:25-26). Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians contains similar comments: “[I]f indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery...which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:3,5).
The New Testament writers identified for us several characteristics of this Messianic mystery: (1) The mystery revolves around the prophesied Messiah and the redemption of mankind; (2) The mystery is one that has been hidden in various ways from all generations of people prior to the time of the New Testament; (3) The various tenets of the mystery are divinely revealed and made known only through divine communication; (4) During the times of the New Testament writers, God revealed the final piece of the mystery to the New Testament writers themselves.
The intention of this discussion is to trace out the various divinely revealed tenets of the Messianic mystery. Upon completion of that task, we must then determine if, in truth, the New Testament writers did possess the final, completing piece of that mystery. We have dealt in other places with the traces of a Savior originating from various sources outside the biblical writings (see Butt and Thompson, 2001). Therefore, since the Hebrew Scriptures are renowned for being the most complete repository of Messianic predictions available, we will focus our attention upon them.
OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES
Second, the remainder of the Old Testament, from Genesis 12-Malachi, focuses primarily on the descendants of Abraham. Note that the narratives and terms often used to describe these descendants are none too flattering. They are called stubborn, stiff-necked, sinful, rebellious, and a host of adjectives equally as caustic (see Deuteronomy 9:7; Ezekiel 2:3-10; Hosea 4:16). And yet, these descendants of Abraham are the ones responsible for preserving the very Scriptures that repeatedly rebuked them for their idolatrous backsliding from God. Remember, too, that they could have altered and preserved these writings in a more flattering form. From archaeological finds we have learned that other nations surrounding ancient Israel often chose to embellish their history, intentionally excluding derogatory remarks or events concerning themselves.
Why did the Israelites preserve the writings as they did? The answer to this is actually twofold. First, they believed the particular writings that they preserved to be inspired by God, a belief that can be proven beyond doubt (see Thompson, 2001). But secondly, each of the 39 books contains a calculated revelation describing some aspect of the coming Messiah, who, according to these Scriptures, is not only destined to save the nation of Israel, but the entire world. In fact, the reader cannot progress far into the Old Testament writings before he is inundated with descriptions of, and predictions concerning, the coming Messiah.
WERE THE JEWS LOOKING FOR A MESSIAH?
I am aware also that in recent times many intelligent Jews, backed by rationalistic, so-called Christians...deny that there is hope of a Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, and assert that the prophecies on which Christians ground such a belief contain only “vague anticipations and general hopes, but no definite predictions of a personal Messiah,” and that consequently the alleged agreement of the gospel history with prophecy is imaginary (2000, p. 16).In his statements that refute the “non-Messianic” view of Old Testament Scripture, Baron wrote: “Even Maimonides, the great antagonist of Christianity, composed that article of the Jewish creed which unto the present day is repeated daily by every true Jew: ‘I believe with a perfect faith that the Messiah will come, and although His coming be delayed, I will await His daily appearance’ ” (p. 18). He commented further: “Aben Ezra, Rashi, Kimchi, Abarbanel, and almost every other respectable and authoritative Jewish commentator, although not recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, are yet unanimous that a personal Messiah is taught in the Old Testament Scriptures” (pp. 19-20). Baron also noted that only an “insignificant minority of the Jews” had dared to suggest that the Old Testament lacks definitive predictions of a personal Messiah. He then eloquently stated: [W]ith joy we behold the nation [Jews—KB], as such, still clinging to the anchor which has been the mainstay of their national existence for so many ages—the hope of a personal Messiah, which is the essence of the Old Testament Scriptures” (2000, p. 20).
In his volume, The Messiah in the Old Testament: In Light of Rabbinical Writings, Risto Santala wrote: “If we study the Bible and the Rabbinic literature carefully, we cannot fail to be surprised at the abundance of Messianic interpretation in the earliest works known to us.... [T]he Talmud states unequivocally: ‘All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah’ ” (1992, p. 22).
In regard to specific Old Testament prophecies, a plethora of rabbinical commentary verifies that the nation of Israel certainly had in view a coming Messiah. Concerning Genesis 49:10, the noted author Aaron Kligerman wrote: “The rabbis of old, though not agreeing with each other as to the meaning of the root Shiloh, were almost unanimous in applying the term to the Messiah” (1957, pp. 19-20). Immediately after this statement, Kligerman listed the Targum Onkelos, Targum Jerusalem, and the Peshito all as referring to Genesis 49:10 as a Messianic prophecy pointing toward an individual, personal Messiah (p. 20). With reference to Genesis 49:10, David Baron wrote:
With regard to this prophecy, the first thing I want to point out is that all antiquity agrees in interpreting it of a personal Messiah. This is the view of the LXX Version [Septuagint—KB]; the Targumim of Onkelos, Yonathan, and Jerusalem; the Talmud; the Sohar; the ancient book of “Bereshith Rabba;” and among modern Jewish commentators, even Rashi, who says, “Until Shiloh come, that is King Messiah, Whose is the kingdom” (2000, p. 258, emp. added).Concerning the book of Isaiah and the predictive, Messianic prophecy contained within it, Santala stated: “The Messianic nature of the book of Isaiah is so clear that the oldest Jewish sources, the Targum, Midrash and Talmud, speak of the Messiah in connection with 62 separate verses” (1992, pp. 164-165). Santala then, in a footnote, proceeded to list several of those verses, including Isaiah 4:2, 9:5, 10:27, 11:1, 11:6, 14:29, 16:1, 28:5, 42:1, 43:10, 52:13, and 60:1 (p. 165).
The prophet Jeremiah contains material that has long been recognized as Messianic in nature. Concerning Jeremiah 23:5-6, David Baron wrote: “There is scarcely any contrary opinion among ancient and modern Jews but that this is a Messianic prophecy” (2000, p. 78).
In truth, statements that verify that the ancient Israelite nation recognized certain passages in the Old Testament as Messianic are legion. Regardless of what a person believes about the identity of the Messiah, it cannot be gainsaid that the nation of Israel, through the influence of the Old Testament writers, has been waiting for His coming.
Into this scene of shame and sin, God brought judgment upon all parties involved. Death would be the consequence of this sinful action, as well as increased pain in childbirth for the woman and increased hardship and toil for the man. Yet in the midst of God’s curse upon the serpent, He included a ray of glorious hope for humanity. To the serpent he said: “And I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). This brief statement made by God to the serpent concerning the Seed of woman is often referred to as the protevangelium. J.A. Huffman commented on the passage:
Here the prophecy of a deliverer is unmistakably uttered. Even a temporary bruise, that of the heel, suggesting the apparent, momentary defeat of the deliverer is predicted: but, at the same time, the deliverer’s ultimate and final triumph is prophesied, in his bruising of the serpent’s head, which means a fatal blow (1956, p. 38).The Jewish scholar, Aaron Kligerman, noted that three things stand out in this first prediction of the Messiah, “namely that the Deliverer must be—(A) of the seed of woman and (B) That He is to be temporarily hindered and (C) Finally victorious (1957, p. 13, italics in orig.). Kligerman further noted that the ancient rabbinical opinions found in the Palestinian Targum testify “that in Genesis 3:15 there is promised a healing of the bite in the heel from the serpent, which is to take place ‘at the end of the days, in the days of King Messiah’ ” (p. 14). [NOTE: The Targums “are interpretive renderings of the books of Hebrew Scriptures...into Aramaic” (Metzger, 1993). Such versions were needed when the major populations of the Jews no longer spoke Hebrew as their primary language. Metzger further explains that the oral Targum began as a simple paraphrase of the text, “but eventually it became more elaborate and incorporated explanatory details.” John Stenning, in his detailed article on the Targum, explained that oral Targum was introduced several years prior to the first century A.D. in connection with “the custom of reading sections from the Law at the weekly services in the synagogues” (1911).]
Of the protevangelium, Charles A. Briggs, in his classic work, Messianic Prophecy, noted:
Thus we have in this fundamental prophecy explicitly a struggling, suffering, but finally victorious human race, and implicitly a struggling, suffering and finally victorious son of woman, a second Adam, the head of the race.... The protevangelium is a faithful miniature of the entire history of humanity, a struggling seed ever battling for ultimate victory.... [U]ntil it is realized in the sublime victories of redemption” (1988 reprint, p. 77).Briggs went on to comment that the protevangelium “is the only Messianic prophecy which has been preserved from the revelations made by God to the antediluvian world” (p. 77).
Here, then, is the seminal prophecy made to pave the way for all others that would deal with the coming of the great Deliverer of mankind. Several qualities of this coming Deliverer are readily apparent. First, He will come in human form as the seed of woman. Second, He will defeat the effects of sin brought about by the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world. Third, He will be hindered in His redemptive activity by the serpent, Satan, who will inflict upon Him a minor wound. Fourth, He will ultimately overcome the wound of Satan and finally triumph. In this first prediction of the Messiah, we catch an underlying theme of a suffering, victorious redeemer—a theme that will be fleshed out in the remaining pages of the Old Testament.
THE SEED OF ABRAHAM
Such narrowing of the Messianic scope can be seen in God’s promise to the patriarch, Abraham. In Genesis 12, the Bible records the fact that God specifically chose Abraham from among all the peoples of the world (Genesis 12:1-3). Through Abraham, God promised that all the nations of the world would be blessed, and that Abraham’s descendants would multiply as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky. As Huffman noted, “It was to Abraham, the son of Terah, a descendant of Shem, that God gave a peculiar promise, one which could not be omitted in any serious effort to trace the Messianic hope” (1956, p. 41). For many years, this promise of progeny remained unfulfilled due to the fact that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren. In order to “help” God fulfill His promise, Abraham and Sarah devised a plan by which Abraham could have a child. Sarah sent her handmaid, Hagar, to serve as a surrogate wife to Abraham. As a result of this union, Hagar conceived and gave birth to a child named Ishmael.
In Genesis 17, God renewed His covenant with Abraham and instructed Abraham to institute circumcision as a sign of the covenant. In Genesis 17:19, God informed Abraham that Sarah would have a son named Isaac. In an interesting conversation with God, Abraham petitioned God to let Ishmael be the son of promise and the heir of the covenant that God made. Yet God insisted that Ishmael was not the son of promise and that the promise of all nations being blessed through Abraham’s descendants would not pass through Ishmael, but would be fulfilled only through Isaac. God said: “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year” (Genesis 17:21). James Smith, in writing about God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham, noted that this promise “has Messianic implications. Both the Church Fathers and Jewish Rabbis so interpreted it” (1993, p. 47). Aaron Kligerman concurred when he wrote about God’s promise to Abraham: “This is more than the promise of ‘The Hope of a Prosperous Era.’ It is a promise of the coming of a ‘Personal Messiah’ ” (1957, pp. 17-18). At this point in human history, then, the Messianic implications fall to the descendants of Isaac. It is important not to miss the significance of the Messianic hope through Abraham and Isaac. The scope of the Messiah has been narrowed from all other peoples and nations of the world, to a single nomadic family. And yet, not just to Abraham’s family in its entirety, but to only one of Abraham’s sons—Isaac.
But the picture becomes even clearer with the birth of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Because of abnormalities with her pregnancy, Rebekah went to inquire of the Lord about her situation. To answer her questions, the Lord said: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Concerning this passage, Briggs noted: “This prediction breaks up the seed of Isaac into two nations, assigns the headship with the blessing to Jacob, and makes Edom subject to him” (1988, p. 90). The fact that the promised Messiah would come through Jacob’s descendants becomes increasingly clear throughout the Genesis narrative that tells the stories of Jacob and Esau. God confirmed the promise to Jacob in Genesis 28:14, when He said to the patriarch: “Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (emp. added). The picture of the Messiah continues to become increasingly focused: The seed of woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of Isaac, the seed of Jacob.
A SUFFERING SERVANT AND REIGNING KING
Concerning this separation of the Messiah into two different individuals, John Ankerberg and his colleagues John Weldon and Walter Kaiser wrote:
[T]hey (early Jewish rabbis—KB) could not reconcile the statements that so clearly spoke of a suffering and dying Messiah with those verses in other passages that spoke of a triumphant and victorious Messiah. What is important to note is that they did recognize that both pictures somehow applied to the Messiah. But they assumed it was impossible to reconcile both views in one person. Rather than seeing one Messiah in two different roles, they saw two Messiahs—the suffering and dying Messiah, called “Messiah ben Joseph,” and the victorious conquering Messiah, called “Messiah ben David” (1989, pp. 57-58).Jewish rabbi Robert M. Cohen stated:
The rabbis saw that scripture portrayed two different pictures of King Messiah. One would conquer and reign and bring Israel back to the land by world peace and bring the fullness of obedience to the Torah. They called him Messiah ben David. The other picture is of a servant who would die and bear Israel’s sin that they refer to as the “leprous one” based on Isaiah 53 (Cohen, n.d.; also see Parsons, 2003-2006).It is evident, from the rabbinical view of two Messiahs, that the themes of suffering and regal authority were so vividly portrayed in Old Testament Messianic prophecy that both themes demanded fulfillment. To suggest two Messiah’s provided such a fulfillment. However, the dual Messianic idea failed to comprehend the actual nature of Messianic prophecy, and missed a primary facet of the Messianic personality: that the Messiah would be both a suffering Servant and a majestic King. As Huffman rightly observed: “The theme of Messianism is composed of two inseparable strands or threads—the scarlet and the golden, or the suffering and the reigning, or the priestly and the royal” (1956, p. 7). To misunderstand or miss either of these two interwoven threads would be to miss the Messiah completely.
Genesis 49:10—ShilohThe Lord kept His promise to Jacob and multiplied his descendants exceedingly. His twelve sons and their wives and children escorted him to Egypt to live in the land of Goshen at the behest of Joseph, who had been elevated in Egypt as the Pharaoh’s chief advisor. As Jacob neared the end of his rather long life (over 130 years, Genesis 47:9), he gathered his sons around his death bed, and stated: “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days” (Genesis 49:1). Following this introductory statement, Jacob proceeded to address each of his sons and bestow blessings (or in some cases, curses) on his descendants.
In the midst of his final speech, in his blessing on Judah, Jacob stated: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:10). The Messianic nature of this statement has long been recognized and discussed in ancient Jewish circles. As previously stated, David Baron wrote: “With regard to this prophecy, the first thing I want to point out is that all antiquity agrees in interpreting it of a personal Messiah. This is the view of the LXX. Version; the Targumim of Onkelos, Yonathan, and Jerusalem; the Talmud; the Sohar; the ancient book of ‘Bereshith Rabba;’ and among modern Jewish commentators, even Rashi, who says, ‘Until Shiloh come, that is King Messiah, Whose is the kingdom’ ” (2000, p. 258, emp. added). Aaron Kligerman added: “The rabbis of old, though not agreeing with each other as to the meaning of the root Shiloh, were almost unanimous in applying the term to the Messiah” (1957, p. 19-20). Santala, in his discussion of several of the oldest Jewish documents available, wrote:
Targum Onqulos says of Judah’s scepter that it will not depart “until the Messiah comes, he who has the power to reign.” Targum Jonathan puts it that the verse refers to “the age of the Messiah-King, the King who will come as the youngest of his children.” Targum Yerushalmi speaks of the ‘time’ when “the Messiah-King will come” (1992, p. 50, italics in orig.).Much commentary and debate surrounds the “Shiloh” prophecy found in Genesis 49:10. It is often viewed as an indication of the time that the Messiah should arrive on the scene. As can be deduced from Kligerman’s quote, the actual origin and exact meaning of the word Shiloh are disputed in many scholarly circles. Yet, despite the controversy in reference to this prophecy, the one aspect of it that stands out is the central idea that this is a Messianic Prophecy. As such, it narrows the identity of the Messiah even further to a descendant, not just of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to the house of Judah.
The Son of DavidOf all the monarchs that possessed the throne of Israel, none is as storied as King David. From his youth he proved himself to be a courageous, valiant warrior who trusted in the Lord. He was described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He wrote many of the Psalms, and ushered in a united kingdom that paved the way for the majestic reign of his son, Solomon.
David’s relationship to the Messiah is a rather interesting one. First, Jewish antiquity recognized the fact that Messiah would be the Son of David. Santala commented: “Tradition ascribes 73 of the 150 psalms to King David. In the Rabbinic literature the Messiah is constantly referred to as the ‘Son of David.’ For this reason, everywhere the future blessing of the house of David is described, the Sages saw Messianic material” (1992, p. 109, italics in orig.).
Such Messianic sentiments in regard to David find their seminal origin in the promise made by God to David through the prophet Nathan. In 2 Samuel 7, the text narrates the events that lead to this promise. David had become a great king and his reign had spread far and wide. Due to his love for the Lord, he wanted to show honor to God by building a glorious temple in which the Ark of the Covenant could be housed. He mentioned his idea to the prophet Nathan, who immediately encouraged the building plans. But soon after Nathan had told David to do all that was in his heart, God conveyed to Nathan that He did not want David to build a temple. Instead, God would commission David’s son, Solomon, to construct the magnificent edifice. Yet, in God’s message to David, He promised: “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
In later Psalms, the promise of David’s descendant reigning over an eternal Kingdom is expanded and given more substance. Psalm 89 contains several Messianic aspects, not the least of which is the following statement: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My Servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’ ” (vss. 3-4). Psalm 132 contains a very similar statement: “The Lord has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: ‘I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.”
Along with the various inspired psalmists, other Old Testament writers noted the Messianic lineage through David and his throne. One of the most memorable of all Messianic predictions from the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6-7, mentioned the Messianic reign upon the throne of David:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.Yet, along with the fact that the Messiah was to be of the seed of David and reign on His throne, at least one Psalm places David in a subservient position to this majestic Messianic ruler. Psalm 110 opens with the statement: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’ ” (Psalm 110:1). In regard to Psalm 110, Briggs noted: “The 110th Psalm is in the form of an utterance from Jahveh respecting the son of David. It is therefore a prediction that unfolds the prediction of Nathan” (1988, p. 132). Walter Kaiser, in his discussion of Psalm 110, wrote: “While the external evidence that this psalm is Messianic is large, the internal evidence is just as overwhelming” (1995, p. 94). In reference to the Messiah mentioned in the first verse, Kaiser stated: “That unnamed Lord is a royal person, for he was invited to ‘sit at [God the Father’s] right hand....’ If the God of the universe invited this other Sovereign to take such a distinguished seat alongside himself, then we may be sure he was no one less than the promised Messiah, invited to participate in the divine government of the world” (p. 94).
Psalm 110 adds an interesting aspect to the character and position of the Messiah. Not only would the Messiah be born from the seed of David and reign on the throne of David, He also would be exalted to a position far above David, to such an extent that David called him “Lord” in Psalm 110. David’s statements in this Psalm not only speak to the pre-existence of the Messiah before David, but also to the pre-eminence that the Messiah would assume.
With these details, the portrait of the Messiah becomes increasingly sharp. He was to come from the seed of woman and crush the power of Satan. He was to be of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and now David. He would rule on the throne of David, yet He existed before David and was so preeminent that David called Him Lord. And there would be no end of His glorious, majestic kingdom.
THE SUFFERING SERVANT
Isaiah 52:13-53:12The passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 stands as a somber reminder of the horrendous suffering that the Messiah would endure. The text mentions that He would be highly exalted and extolled (52:13). And yet His appearance would be marred more than any man (52:14). He would not be physically attractive (53:2), and He would be despised and rejected by men, familiar with sorrows and grief (53:4). He would be perfect and without sin (53:9), and yet He would be beaten, suffer, and die for the sins of the Lord’s people (53:5-6,11). This suffering Servant would be killed among the wicked, but buried among the rich (53:8-9). Yet, in spite of His death (or even because of it), He would be numbered among the great and divide the spoil with the strong (53:12).
Needless to say, this picture of the Messiah seems to stand in stark contrast to the glorious King on David’s throne. As has been mentioned, this contrast has caused some to concoct two Messiahs to accommodate the prophecies. Still others have attempted to discount Messianic prophecies such as Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Some have suggested that this passage of Scripture is not Messianic in nature, but that the servant under discussion represents the collective nation of Israel. Along these lines, David Baron noted: “Modern Jews, in common with a number of rationalistic so-called Christians, are trying hard these days to weaken the Messianic application of this remarkable prophecy” (2000, p. 225). James Smith stated:
The Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 was acknowledged by Jewish authorities until the Middle Ages. Almost all Christian leaders until the beginning of the nineteenth century saw in this passage a clear picture of the suffering, death and resurrection of the Messiah. Jews and some Christian scholars now hold primarily to the collective view of the Servant: The Servant is Israel as a whole, or the remnant. The traditional view, however, has much to commend it (1993, p. 307).That the ancient Jewish community, and the bulk of scholars for the last 2,000 years, have recognized Isaiah 53 as a prophecy concerning a personal, individual Messiah cannot be questioned. Baron correctly commented regarding this sentiment:
That until recent times this prophecy has been almost universally received by Jews as referring to Messiah is evident from Targum Yonathan, who introduces Messiah by name in chapter lii 13, from the Talmud (“Sanhedrin,” fol. 98, b); and from Zohar, a book which the Jews as a rule do not mention without the epithet “holy...” (2000, p. 226).The recent view that Isaiah 53 refers to the nation of Israel not only garners little (if any) support from ancient Jewish commentators, it collapses under the scrutiny of critical examination. The foremost objection to the view that Israel collectively is the Servant in Isaiah 53 is the fact that the Servant is described as perfect and sinless (53:9), not deserving the punishment that He willingly accepts for the sins of God’s people. No one remotely familiar with the nation of Israel as portrayed in the Old Testament would dare suggest that they were sinless. From their first few steps out of Egypt and into freedom they began to provoke God and bring judgment upon themselves. On numerous occasions the Old Testament depicts the Israelites’ sin of such a rebellious nature that God executes thousands of them. One fundamental aspect of an atoning sacrifice in Old Testament literature was its condition of spotless perfection. No nation of mere mortal men, including the ancient Israelite nation, could suffice as an atoning sacrifice for sins, as the Servant does in Isaiah 53. Nor could a sinful nation make another group of people “righteous” as the Lord’s Servant would. Furthermore, the Servant of the Lord is depicted as being stricken for “transgressions of my people.” If the Servant was collectively depicted as the nation of Israel, then who would be the Lord’s people in 53:8? [NOTE: For a more complete refutation of Israel as the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53, see Baron, 2000, pp. 225-251.]
Indeed, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the fact that Isaiah 53 stands as one of the most poignant portrayals in all of the Old Testament of an individual, suffering Messiah. As Smith correctly noted: “The Servant of the Lord here is portrayed in a strongly individualistic way. It takes rich imagination or strong prejudice to see the Servant here as a symbol for Israel, the remnant, the prophets, or any other group” (p. 1993, 307). Kaiser similarly commented: “Undoubtedly, this is the summit of OT prophetic literature. Few passages can rival it for clarity on the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah (1995, p. 178).
VARIOUS SPECIFIC MESSIANIC PROPHECIES
Space prohibits a listing of all of these prophecies, but a representative sampling is appropriate. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9) for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). The Lord’s Ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). During His suffering, His clothes would be distributed to those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18). His attackers would pierce Him (Zechariah 12:10). Even though His physical suffering would be severe, His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20). And in spite of His death, His physical body would not experience decay (Psalm 16:10). This small sampling of specific prophetic details is only a fraction of the many Old Testament prophecies that exist. The prophecies were specifically designed to be an efficient mechanism by which the Jewish community could recognize the Messiah when He arrived.
WHO IS THE MESSIAH?
The New Testament narratives depicting the death of Jesus Christ verify that Jesus was betrayed by His friend and sold for exactly 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 24:14-16). At His death His bones were not broken, soldiers cast lots for His garments, and His side was pierced with a spear (John 19:33-37 and Matthew 27:35). During His suffering, He was numbered with the transgressors as Isaiah 53 predicted by being crucified between two thieves, and at His death He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man as was also foretold (Matthew 27:57). This type of verification could continue for many pages. The life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as depicted in the New Testament documents, was designed to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament.
Due to this overwhelming congruence of the life of Jesus Christ with the predictive Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament, some have suggested that Jesus was an imposter who was able, by masterful manipulation, to so artificially organize His life as to make it look like He was the Messiah. Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be impossible to coordinate events so that He could ensure that He was buried in the tomb of a rich man or crucified among thieves. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies.
Others have objected to Jesus as the Messiah based on the idea that the New Testament documents are not reliable, and were artificially concocted to describe things that Jesus never really did. This objection also falls flat in light of the actual evidence. It cannot be denied that the New Testament has proven itself to be the most reliable book in ancient history. When it records people, places, and events that are checkable using archaeological means, those people, places, and events invariably prove to be factual and historic (see Butt, 2004). Again, the abundant evidence verifies that the New Testament is accurate and factual. Many of the Messianic prophecies documented in the New Testament do not describe anything inherently miraculous. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb. Nor was there anything miraculous about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, or being betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver. These events are, if not ordinary, at least very plausible, everyday events that theoretically could have happened to anybody. And yet, due to the fact that such everyday events had been predicted about the Messiah hundreds of years before the arrival of Jesus, the fulfillment of the events becomes one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church used fulfilled Messianic prophecy as one of its foundational pillars of proof and evangelistic tools.
APPEALING TO PROPHECY
The Writers of the Gospel Accounts Applied Messianic Prophecy to Jesus Christ
The Gospel writers repeatedly peppered their narratives of the life and actions of Jesus Christ with allusions, quotes, and Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, which they applied to Jesus. Mathew 1 includes the Messianic prophecy taken from Isaiah 7:14 in which a virgin is predicted to bear a son. Matthew applies this virgin-birth prophesy to the birth of Jesus Christ. In chapter 2, Matthew references Micah 5:2, in which the birth city of the Messiah is named, again applying the prophecy to Jesus. In Matthew 3, the Bible writer notes that John the Baptizer was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in 40:3, indicating that John was the forerunner of the Messiah which, again, is Jesus Christ. Matthew 4:15-16 references another Messianic prophecy that discusses the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, again applying the prophecy to Jesus Christ. Looking, then, at the first four chapters of the book of Matthew, one is forcefully struck with the fact that one of the Bible writer’s primary apologetic tools used to confirm that Jesus was (and is) the Messiah was a fervent appeal to Messianic prophecy as fulfilled in the life and actions of Jesus. Furthermore, Matthew’s pattern of applying Old Testament, Messianic prophecy to Jesus continues throughout the remainder of his account.
Mark’s gospel account, although not as replete with such prophecies, nevertheless includes appeals to Messianic prophecy and applies those prophecies to Jesus. Mark chapter 1 begins with quotations from Malachi 3 and Isaiah 40 that predict the forerunner of the Messiah. Mark applied these passages to John the Baptizer as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, during the crucifixion account as recorded in Mark, the Bible writer noted that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, and then he commented, “So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors’ ” (15:28). In addition, Mark included instances in which Jesus applied Messianic prophecy to Himself.
As with Matthew and Mark, Luke and John also included numerous Messianic prophecies and appeal to them as proof of the deity of Jesus Christ. Luke chapter three cites the prophecy from Isaiah 40 concerning the Messianic forerunner and applies it to John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Christ. John does the same in 1:23. During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, John records that Jesus rode into the city sitting on a donkey. John then commented on the situation by saying: “as it is written: Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His reference was a clear appeal to the Messianic nature of this prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9. Again, in John 12:37-38, the Bible writer refers to a Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53:1, and applies its fulfillment to the ministry of Jesus. During the crucifixion of Christ, John records that the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing. John then references Psalm 22:18 as a Messianic prophecy: “They divided My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
Only a few of the many Messianic prophetic references in the gospel accounts have been documented here. Yet, even with this small sampling, the reader is struck with the clear conclusion that the gospel writers appealed to Old Testament, Messianic prophecy as proof of the deity of Christ.
Jesus’ Appeal to Prophecy as it Applied to HimOn multiply occasions, Jesus directed His listeners to certain Messianic Old Testament scriptures, and applied those scriptures to Himself. Luke records an incident in the life of Jesus in which He visited a synagogue on the Sabbath in His hometown of Nazareth. While in attendance there, Jesus read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2, and commented to those in attendance that the particular Scripture He had just read was fulfilled in their hearing.
During His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus addressed those who had come to arrest Him, asking them why they did not apprehend Him while He was with them daily teaching in the temple. He then stated: “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mark 14:49). His statement implied that this deed they were doing was a fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures as they related to His Messianic role.
Again, in Luke 24, the resurrected Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. They treated Him as a stranger, because they did not recognize Him. Upon striking up a conversation with Jesus, they began to discuss the events of Christ’s death and burial in Jerusalem only a few days earlier. After the disciples related the events of the women at the empty tomb, Jesus began to speak to them with these words: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24:25-26). The verse following Jesus’ statement explains: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
A few verses later, in the same chapter, Jesus appeared to several more of His disciples and applied the Old Testament prophecies to His activities again: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). Such statements made by Jesus show that one of the main lines of evidence that He used to establish His identity as the Messiah was the application of Old Testament Messianic prophecy to Himself.
Messianic Prophecy Applied to Jesus in the Book of ActsThe recorded writings and sermons of the apostles after the ascension of Jesus are replete with appeals to Messianic prophecy as proof of the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ. In the first recorded gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter explained to those in Jerusalem that the resurrection of Christ was a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy uttered by David in Psalm 16:8-11 (in which the Lord would not allow His Holy One to see corruption). In Act 3, Peter addressed another multitude of those dwelling in Jerusalem. In his sermon, he stated: “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (vs. 18). In that same sermon, Peter referred his audience back to Deuteronomy 18, in which Moses had foretold the coming of a prophet like himself, which Peter applied to Jesus (as did Stephen in his sermon in Acts 7:37). In the next chapter, Peter is arrested and allowed to speak to the high priest and his family. In Peter’s statements to these leaders, he again referred back to the Old Testament, quoted Psalm 118:22 about the stone that was rejected by the builders, and applied the prophecy to Jesus.
In one of the most memorable conversion accounts, Philip the evangelist is called to meet with an Ethiopian treasurer on the road to Gaza. As Philip approached, the Eunuch was reading a passage from Isaiah 53. Upon their meeting, the Eunuch asked Philip about the prophecy, wondering whether the prophet was speaking of himself or someone else. From that text, the Bible says that Philip preached Jesus to the Eunuch, applying the passage from Isaiah as a Messianic prophecy with its fulfillment in the person of Christ (Acts 8:26-40). In another memorable conversion account, Peter visited the house of Cornelius and preached the Gospel to him and all his household. Included in Peter’s message was the following statement concerning Jesus: “To Him all the prophets witness, that through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43, emp. added).
As one continues through the book of Acts, it becomes evident that Paul often appealed to prophecy as evidence of Christ’s deity. In Acts 13, while preaching to those in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, he commented that those responsible for killing Jesus did so because they did not know “the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath” (Acts 13:27). In the same verse he concluded that because of their ignorance of the prophetic message, the murderers of Christ actually fulfilled the prophecies concerning Jesus in their abuse of Him. Paul further quoted from Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 55:3, and Psalm 16:10, noting these Old Testament passages as Messianic prophecy and applying them to Jesus Christ. In a separate sermon, delivered much later, Paul stood before King Agrippa and told him that Jesus is the Christ. In his oratory to Agrippa, Paul acknowledged that the king was “expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews” (Acts 26:3). Paul further noted that in his teachings concerning Jesus as the Messiah, he was saying to Agrippa “no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come” (26:22). In his concluding remarks, Paul said to the king, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Agrippa responded to Paul with these words: “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28).
Examples of Messianic prophecy applied to Jesus by the early propagators of Christianity as recorded in the book of Acts could easily be multiplied further. These few instances suffice to establish the fact that, throughout the book of Acts, predictive prophecy as it applied to Jesus as the Messiah stood as one of the foundational pillars upon which Christianity was based and spread.
Messianic Prophecy Applied to Jesus in the EpistlesWithout providing an exhaustive study of every instance of Old Testament prophecy applied to Jesus in the epistles, this brief section will provide enough examples to establish the fact that the epistles, in similar fashion to the other books of the New Testament, rely heavily upon Messianic prophecy to establish the deity of Jesus Christ.
The book of Romans begins with a section discussing the Gospel of God, “which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh...” (1:2-3). In the book of Galatians, Paul refers back to the promise made to Abraham, that through the seed of the patriarch all nations would be blessed. Paul then applies that promise to Jesus, stating that Jesus is the Seed of Abraham through whom the world would receive the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:15-18). The writer of the book of Hebrews opens his book discussing the merits of Christ, applying many Old Testament passages such as Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1 to Jesus. In Hebrews 5, the writer argues the case that Jesus is a priest after the order or Melchizedek as prophesied in Psalm 110:4. He repeats these sentiments in 7:17 and 7:21.
The epistles of 1 and 2 Peter contain numerous examples of such prophetic application to Jesus. One of the most potent passages along these lines in found in 1 Peter 1:10-12, in which Peter wrote:
Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.In 1 Peter 2:6, the apostle applies Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 to Christ, describing Him as the chief cornerstone rejected by the builders. Again in 1 Peter 2:22, the apostle applies Isaiah 53:9 to Jesus, referring to the fact that the Messiah would be sinless as was Jesus.
It becomes readily obvious, then, that the New Testament writers and apostles frequently referred to Old Testament, Messianic prophecy and applied the fulfillment of such prophecies to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is impossible to deny that one of the main lines of reasoning upon which the Christian faith was founded from its inception is the idea that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that looked forward to a coming Messiah.
In Acts 8:26-40, Philip the evangelist approached the Ethiopian who was riding in a chariot reading the Old Testament Scriptures. As Philip approached, he heard the man reading a section from Isaiah 53 in which the sufferings of the Messiah are depicted. Upon entering into a conversation with Philip, the man asked Philip, “[O]f whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Immediately after this question, the Bible says that Philip “opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). In truth, Jesus is the sum total of every Old Testament, Messianic prophecy ever uttered. From any single one of those ancient Scriptures, the honest, informed individual could open his or her mouth and preach Jesus, the Messiah.
Baron, David (2000 reprint), Rays of Messiah’s Glory (Jerusalem, Israel: Kern Ahvah Meshihit).
Briggs, Charles A. (1988 reprint), Messianic Prophecy: The Prediction of the Fulfillment of Redemption through the Messiah (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson).
Butt, Kyle (2004), “Archaeology and the New Testament,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2591.
Butt, Kyle and Bert Thompson (2001), “Jesus Christ—Unique Savior or Average Fraud?”, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/156.
Cohen, Robert M. (no date), “Why I Know Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah,” [On-line], URL: http://www.imja.com/Atonem.html.
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Huffman, J.A. (1956), The Messianic Hope in Both Testaments (Butler, Indiana: Higley Press).
Kaiser, Walter (1995), The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Kligerman, Aaron (1957), Old Testament Messianic Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Metzger, Bruce (1993), “The Jewish Targums,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 150 (January 93), pp. 35ff., [On-line], URL: http://www.bible-researcher.com/aramaic4.html.
Parsons, John (2003-2006), “Hebrew Names of God: The Mashiach as Revealed in the Tanakh,” [On-line], URL: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Messiah/messiah.html.
Santala, Risto (1992), The Messiah in the Old Testament: In the Light of Rabbinical Writings, trans. William Kinnaird (Jerusalem, Israel: Keren Ahvah Meshihit).
Smith, James (1993), What the Bible Teaches about the Promised Messiah (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).
Stenning, John F. (1911), “Targum,” Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition [On-line], URL: http://www.bible-researcher.com/aramaic3.html.
Thompson, Bert (2001), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), second edition.
Legends of the Flood
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Anthropologists who study legends and folktales from different geographical locations and cultures consistently have reported one particular group of legends that is common to practically every civilization. Legends have surfaced in hundreds of cultures throughout the world that tell of a huge, catastrophic flood that destroyed most of mankind, and that was survived by only a few individuals and animals. Although most historians who have studied this matter estimate that these legends number into the 200s, according to evolutionary geologist Robert Schoch, “Noah is but one tale in a worldwide collection of at least 500 flood myths, which are the most widespread of all ancient myths and therefore can be considered among the oldest” (2003, p. 249, emp. added). Schoch went on to observe:
Narratives of a massive inundation are found all over the world.... Stories of a great deluge are found on every inhabited continent and among a great many different language and culture groups (pp. 103,249).Over a century ago, the famous Canadian geologist, Sir William Dawson, wrote about how the record of the Flood
is preserved in some of the oldest historical documents of several distinct races of men, and is indirectly corroborated by the whole tenor of the early history of most of the civilized races (1895, pp. 4ff.).Legends have been reported from nations such as China, Babylon, Mexico, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Persia, India, Norway, Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Romania, etc.—composing a list that could go on for many pages (see Perloff, 1999, p. 167). Although the vast number of such legends is surprising, the similarity between much of their content is equally amazing. James Perloff noted:
In 95 percent of the more than two hundred flood legends, the flood was worldwide; in 88 percent, a certain family was favored; in 70 percent, survival was by means of a boat; in 67 percent, animals were also saved; in 66 percent, the flood was due to the wickedness of man; in 66 percent, the survivors had been forewarned; in 57 percent, they ended up on a mountain; in 35 percent, birds were sent out from the boat; and in 9 percent, exactly eight people were spared (p. 168).
AMERICAN INDIAN LEGENDS
In the ancient land we now refer to as Mexico, one tribe of Indians, known as the Toltecs, told of a great flood. In their legend, a deluge destroyed the “first world” 1,716 years after it was created. Only a few people escaped this worldwide flood, and did so in a “toptlipetlocali” (a word that means “closed chest”). After these few people exited the closed chest, they wandered about the Earth, and found a place where they built a “zacuali” (a high tower) in case another flood came upon the Earth. At the time of the “zacuali,” the Toltecs’ languages were confused and they separated to different parts of the Earth.
Another ancient tribe of Mexico told the story of a man named Tezpi who escaped the deluge in a boat that was filled with animals. Similar to Noah, who sent out a raven (a scavenger bird) that never returned, and a dove that came back with an olive leaf, “Tezpi released a vulture, which stayed away, gorging on cadavers. Then he let a hummingbird go, and it returned to him bearing a twig” (Schoch, p. 104).
ANCIENT GREEK MYTHOLOGY
CHINESE AND ASIAN LEGENDS
ANCIENT BABYLONIAN MYTHOLOGY
What is the significance of the various flood legends? The answer seems obvious: (a) we have well over 200 flood legends that tell of a great flood (and possibly more than 500—Schoch, p. 249); (b) many of the legends come from different ages and civilizations that could not possibly have copied any of the similar legends; (c) the legends were recorded long before any missionaries arrived to relate to them the Genesis account of Noah; and (d) almost all civilizations have some sort of flood legend. The conclusion to be drawn from such facts is that in the distant past, there was a colossal flood that forever affected the history of all civilizations.
Those living soon after the Flood did not have the book of Genesis to read to their descendants. (Genesis was not written until several hundred years after the Flood.) The account of the Flood was passed from one generation to the next. Many parents and grandparents told their children and grandchildren about the huge ark, the wonderful animals, and the devastating Flood, long before the Genesis record ever existed. Over the years, the details of the story were altered, but many of the actual details remained the same. Alfred Rehwinkel wrote:
Traditions similar to this record are found among nearly all the nations and tribes of the human race. And this is as one would expect it to be. If that awful world catastrophe, as described in the Bible, actually happened, the existence of the Flood traditions among the widely separated and primitive people is just what is to be expected. It is only natural that the memory of such an event was rehearsed in the ears of the children of the survivors again and again, and possibly made the basis of some religious observances (1951, pp. 127-128).Harold W. Clark, in his volume, Fossils, Flood and Fire, commented:
Preserved in the myths and legends of almost every people on the face of the globe is the memory of the great catastrophe. While myths may not have any scientific value, yet they are significant in indicating the fact that an impression was left in the minds of the races of mankind that could not be erased (1968, p. 45).After the “trappings” are stripped away from the kernel of truth in the various stories, there is almost complete agreement among practically all flood accounts: (a) a universal destruction by water of the human race and all other living things occurred; (b) an ark, or boat, was provided as the means of escape for some; and (c) a seed of mankind was provided to perpetuate humanity. As Furman Kearley once observed: “These traditions agree in too many vital points not to have originated from the same factual event” (1979, p. 11). In volume three of his multi-volume set, The Native Races of the Pacific Slope—Mythology, H.H. Bancroft wrote: “There never was a myth without a meaning; ...there is not one of these stories, no matter how silly or absurd, which was not founded on fact” (1883).
Among the noted scholars of days gone by who have studied these matters in detail are such men as James G. Frazer (Folklore in the Old Testament) and William Wundt (Elements of Folk Psychology). Wundt, who did his utmost to find some kind of reasonable case for independent origins of the various flood sagas (and who had no great love for the biblical evidence), was forced to admit:
Of the combination of all these elements into a whole (the destruction of the earth by water, the rescue of a single man and seed of animals by means of a boat, etc.), however, we may say without hesitation, it could not have arisen twice independently (1916, p. 392, parenthetical comment in orig.).Or, as Dawson concluded more than a century ago:
[W]e know now that the Deluge of Noah is not mere myth or fancy of primitive man or solely a doctrine of the Hebrew Scriptures. ...[N]o historical event, ancient or modern, can be more firmly established as matter of fact than this (1895, pp. 4ff.).
Clark, Harold W. (1968), Fossils, Flood and Fire (Escondido, CA: Outdoor Pictures).
Dawson, John William (1895), The Historical Deluge in Relation to Scientific Discovery (Chicago, IL: Revell).
Kearley, F. Furman (1979), “The Significance of the Genesis Flood,” Sound Doctrine, March/April.
Perloff, James (1999), Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism (Arlington, MA: Refuge Books).
Rehwinkel, Alfred M. (1951), The Flood (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).
Roth, Ariel (1988), Origins: Linking Science and Scripture (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing).
Schoch, Robert M. (2003), Voyages of the Pyramid Builders (New York: Jeremy P. Parcher/Putnam).
Wundt, William (1916), Elements of Folk Psychology, trans. Edward L. Schaub (New York: Macmillan).