The Religious A priori
The Anti-Missionaries would have us believe that everyone of the Quotations on the first page, "Jesus Christ:King Messiah" is merely figurative becaue they all come from Midrash, and that they are suspect because they derive form sources such as Driver and Nebaurer (even though they never really say what's wrong with Driver and Nebarauer other than the fact that they are quoted by Jews from Jesus).
chronology of the sources.
by Glenn Miller
From his website "The Christian Think Tank"
(Miller actually does have an advanced degree in Theology and Bibical studies form Dallas Theoloigcal Seminary) Here he goes through a basic summary of the sources in which we mind all the extra-Bilical references to Messiah among Jewish believers up to two centuries after Jesus of Nazerath. In other words all of the early souces that would reflect ideas floating around in Jesus' day and bit beyond it.
Glenn Miller's Chr. Think Tanks
1. Prior to the period 200 BCE - 200 CE, we have the biblical materials. Do we have any reason to believe that THEY were understood messianically BEFORE we get to the FIRST sources we discuss above?Actually, yes. We have two pieces of data on how they were interpreted BEFORE our period: (1) the translations (LXX, Samaritan?, and those used at Quman) and (2) any Rabbinical traditions that reach back that far. The LXX data we adduced above indicated messianic understanding of key verses (e.g. Num 24) that had far-reaching effects on even Palestinian understandings, and the massive amount of references to the Messiah in the Targums (67 passages) and the massive number of OT passages interpreted messianically in the rabbinical literature (at least 400!) are STRONG indications that messianic interpretation/understandings were not NEW to the 3rd century BCE!
2. In the period 200 BCE to Jesus, we see the production of the documents of Qumran (Dual messiahs), I Enoch (pre-existent super-human messiah), Hellenistic Sibyl 3 (earthly, typological king), and Palestinian Psalms of Solomon (earthly Davidic king.) At this stage, Star and Scepter (Gen 49, Num 24) images are heavily used, as is the 'Son of Man' image ( Dan 7). The rich-textured and robust messianism of the rabbinic understandings of the OT (as evidenced in the early strata of the Targums and Rabbinical writings) show up FULLY DEVELOPED in the earliest Jewish literature of the period!
3. In the period 0-150 CE, we get Hellenistic Philo (universal king), Palestinian 2 Esdras (pre-existent, super-human), Hellenistic Sibyl 5 (transcendent king from heaven), Josephus' documentation of many messianic leaders (both kings and prophets--but typically national earthly kings), and Palestinian 2 Baruch (pre-existent, universal ruler). Again we have a very wide range of expectation and a rather vigorous acceptance of this variety by the people.
4. After this (i.e. 150 CE), we get the codification of the rabbinical materials and targums--without the slightest downplaying of the messianic themes! (And this in spite of the Roman war!).
[Now, let me briefly add that IF we factor in ANY of the data from the NT, it will do NOTHING MORE than simply confirm what we already have found! In other words, a messianic context for the words and mission of Jesus are BY FAR AND AWAY NOT a 'Christian construct'!! Indeed, that a group of 1st century Jews could go out in mid 1st century CE and proclaim some galilean peasant to be the Messiah WITHOUT there ALREADY being a "vibrant" context for that, and HAVE ANY SUCCESS AT ALL is absurd! (In other words, they would not have gotten very far if they had had to spend all their time answering the "Huh? what's a 'messiah'?" question! History would have looked QUITE different under that scenario!]
So Let's start with quotes that are neither from Midrash, nor from D and N.
Quotations depicting Messiah as suffering or commenting on Isaiah 53 which are not from Midrash and not from Driver and Nebaurer.
Note: They make the same argument about the Targums, but though they are figurative, Edersheim states explicitly and gives examples of Targums being used to teach (21, 94). They are not as figurative as the Midrashism. Let's also add to the Criteria not to use any quotations from the Zohar as that is figurative and highly Mystical.
* Is 9.6 (Heb): For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. WITH the LXX version: For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger/Angel of the Great Council. (cf. the Targum: "the Angel of the Face"!)
This links the child of Isaiah 9 to the Messiah in pre-Christian understanding, which is linked to the Messiah through Rabbis Edersheim quotes.
Prior to the period 200 BCE - 200 CE, we have the biblical materials. Do we have any reason to believe that THEY were understood messianically BEFORE we get to the FIRST sources we discuss above?
Actually, yes. We have two pieces of data on how they were interpreted BEFORE our period: (1) the translations (LXX, Samaritan?, and those used at Quman) and (2) any Rabbinical traditions that reach back that far. The LXX data we adduced above indicated messianic understanding of key verses (e.g. Num 24) that had far-reaching effects on even Palestinian understandings, and the massive amount of references to the Messiah in the Targums (67 passages) and the massive number of OT passages interpreted messianically in the rabbinical literature (at least 400!) are STRONG indications that messianic interpretation/understandings were not NEW to the 3rd century BCE!
We can start with the Book of Daniel, since it is really psudepigrapha, and represents the first in apocyltic genre, (Cornfled, and Notes to New Oxford Anotated Bible). Thus it clearly reflects the Messianich concerns of the era. In Chapter 9 Daneil.
(Daniel 9:25) "Know therefore that from he going forth of the word to restore and rebuild Jersusalem to the coming of an Anointed one [litterally Messiah] a prince, there shall be seven weeks, than for 62 weeks it shall be built again with squars and moat, but in a troubaled time, but after the 62 weeks the anointed one shall be cut off and have nothing; the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and sanctuary, it's end shall come with a flood. And in the end there shall be war."
[The prince whose people destroy the city is Antiochus--the Anointed one could be Cyrus, Zerubabel, or a host of other people--but the basic notion of a suffering Messiah with an initial defeat seems to have existed]
Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah 9
[John Allegro, The Dead Sea scrolls, Pelican, 1956] Allegro was the only member of the original translation team who was neither Christain nor Jew, but claimed "nutrality." However, he was criticized by other members of the team as being anti-Chrsitian and skeptical]
[the most ancient source--pre Christian]
"In one of their hyms the sect pictures itself as a pregant woman suffering the pangs of parturition as she gives birth to her 'firstborn' who is described in terms reminiscent of the Child of Isaish 9:6, the 'Wonderful Counsellor.' Most scholars agree that the passage retains its biblical Messianic significance, in which case it appears that the Sect believed that out of its suffering of atonement for 'the land' would come the Anointed One or Christ."(161).
DSS Testament of Levi-- 2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I/
2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II
Messianic Hopes in the
Florentino Garcia Martinez
Florentino Garcia Martinez is professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he heads the Qumran Institute. This chapter is reprinted from The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Florentino Garcia Martinez and Julio Trebolle Barrera (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995).
"In spite of that, the general lines of the text are clear enough to assure us that in Qumran interpretation, Jacob's blessing of Judah was seen as a promise of the restoration of the davidic monarchy and of the perpetuity of his royal office. And since the future representative of the dynasty is identified not only as the shoot of David, but also explicitly as the "true anointed," there remains no doubt about the "messianic" tone of the text. Unfortunately, the details which the text provides about this "Messiah" are not many."
"... However, a recently published text enables us to glimpse an independent development of the hope in the coming of the "priestly Messiah" as an agent of salvation at the end of times."
"It is an Aramaic text, one of the copies of the Testament of Levi, recently published by E. Puech,32 which contains interesting parallels to chapter 19 of the Greek Testament of Levi included in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs. From what can be deduced from the remains preserved, the protagonist of the work (probably the patriarch Levi, although it cannot be completely excluded that it is Jacob speaking to Levi) speaks to his descendants in a series of exhortations. He also relates to them some of the visions which have been revealed to him. In one of them, he tells them of the coming of a mysterious person. Although the text is hopelessly fragmentary it is of special interest since it seems to evoke the figure of a "priestly Messiah." This "Messiah" is described with the features of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, as J. Starcky indicated in his first description of the manuscript.33 The two longest and most important fragments of this new text can be translated as follows:
2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I
1 [. . .] the sons of the generation [. . .] 2 [. . .] his wisdom. And he will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of 3 his people. His word is like the word of the heavens, and his teaching, according to the will of God. His eternal sun will shine 4 and his fire will burn in all the ends of the earth; above the darkness his sun will shine. Then, darkness will vanish 5 from the earth, and gloom from the globe. They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of 6 lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him. His generation will change the evil, 7 and [. . .] established in deceit and in violence. The people will go astray in his days and they will be bewildered (DSST, 270).
.... The priestly character of this figure is indicated expressly by his atoning character: "And he will atone for all the children of his generation...."
The agreement of the person thus described with the "Messiah-priest" described in chapter 18 of the Greek Testament of Levi is surprising.34 At least it shows us that the presence of this priestly figure in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs should not simply be ascribed to interpolations or Christian influence. Rather, it is a development which exists already within Judaism. This text also shows us that the portrayal of this "Messiah-priest" with the features of the "Suffering Servant" of Deutero-Isaiah is not an innovation of purely Christian origin either, but the result of previous developments. Our text stresses that although he would be sent "to all the sons of his people," the opposition to this figure, "light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6) would be great: "They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him" (compare Isaiah 50:6&endash;8; 53:2&endash;10). What is more, according to the editor, it cannot be excluded that the Aramaic text even contained the idea of the violent death of this "Messiah-priest." In other words, this opposition would reach its ultimate outcome as in Isaiah 53. His argument comes from the other fairly extensive fragment of the work, in which possible allusions to a violent death by crucifixion are found. However, to me this interpretation seems problematic. The fragment in question can be translated as follows:
2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II
2 Do not mourn for him [. . .] and do not [. . .] 3 And God will notice the failings [. . .] the uncovered failings [. . .] 4 Examine, ask and know what the dove has asked; do not punish one weakened because of exhaustion and from being uncertain a[ll . . .] 5 do not bring the nail near him. And you will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers you will make a tested foundation rise. 6 You will see it and rejoice in eternal light. And you will not be of the enemy. Blank 7 Blank (DSST, 270).
... Whatever might be the possible allusion to the death of the expected "Messiah-priest," the identification of this figure with the "Servant" of Isaiah seems confirmed by the parallels indicated in fragment 9. In any case, the idea that the eventual death of the "Messiah-priest" could have an atoning role, as Christian tradition attributes to the death of the "Servant," is excluded from our text since the atonement he achieves (frag. 9 II 2) remains in the perspective of the cult.
As far as I know, this is the only text which in the preserved sections deals with the priestly "Messiah" alone. However, many other texts refer to this figure when speaking of a two-fold messianism. This is the two-headed messianism in which we are presented with the "davidic or royal Messiah" and the "levitical or priestly Messiah" together. They are called the "Messiahs of Israel and of Aaron" respectively."
[Martinez urges scholarly caution as the scrolls are very fragmentary, there is no guarontee they do not contiain references to other Messianich figures as well, and the notion of a curcifiction for the presitly Messiah is doubtful for several reasons, pertaining to the nture of the text--but his overall opinion seems to be that the concept of a Preistly Messiah on the order of the suffering servant is vindicated]
Qumran text, 4Q521
Hebrew Scholars Michael Wise and James Tabor wrote an article that appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review (Nov./Dec. 1992) analyzing 4Q521:
"Our Qumran text, 4Q521, is, astonishingly, quite close to this Christian concept of the Messiah. Our text speaks not only of a single Messianic figure.but it also describes him in extremely exalted terms, quite like the Christian view of Jesus as a cosmic agent. That there was, in fact, an expectation of a single Messianic figure at Qumran is really not so surprising. A reexamination of the Qumran literature on this subject leads one to question the two Messiah theory. As a matter of fact, only once in any Dead Sea Scroll text is the idea of two Messiahs stated unambiguously.
"There is no doubt that the Qumran community had faith in the ultimate victory of such a Messiah over all evil. However, a closer reading of these texts reveals an additional theme, equally dominant-that of an initial, though temporary, triumph of wicked over righteousness. That is, there was the belief among the Qumran community that the Messiah would suffer initial defeat, but that he would ultimately triumph in the end of days."
The Religious A priori