Sunday, May 5, 2013

First-Century Jews Were Wrong About Yeshua...But Was Their Definition of Blasphemy Wrong?

"The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"  (Luke 5:21) 
Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds," (John 8:58-59)
To those who reject Yeshua's divinity, let me break this down a bit for you with some questions:

(1) Do you agree with the first-century Jewish belief that G-d alone can forgive sins?

(2) Do you agree with the first-century Jewish belief that the Name belongs only to the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov?

To encourage anti-Trinitarians to present their views, let me say that I won't engage you.  I'll just listen. I'm genuinely curious how you can get around passages like these.

Gene, I hope you'll chime in...but I understand if you have to sit this one out.

10 comments:

  1. "Gene, I hope you'll chime in...but I understand if you have to sit this one out."

    Peter, and if I didn't chime in, would it have meant that I was hiding something or was so in love some supposed "falsehood" that I did not want to face up to it?

    "(1) Do you agree with the first-century Jewish belief that G-d alone can forgive sins?"

    First of all, that was not the first-century Jewish belief. This is because, as most of us know, there are different types of sins. There are sins that man can forgive another man. There are sins that only G-d can forgive (and some of those sins required priestly mediation). And there are apparently a few sins that even G-d will not forgive.

    Secondly, Jesus never uttered the words "I forgive you yours sins". Instead, he always said "Your sins are forgiven", clearly showing that he did nothing by himself, but only forgave sins through HaShem, reflecting his own words in John 5:19:

    "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself"

    In his role as the Priest of G-d and perfect representative of the Almighty, Yeshua was exercising the G-d-given authority entrusted to him.

    Even if some of the people around Yeshua thought that he was blaspheming by telling people their sins were forgiven, they were nowhere to be found at his trial, even though all sorts of accusers were brought in. We are left with no record of any accusation of some supposed unauthorized forgiveness of sins having been brought forth as evidence. This in itself is quite remarkable.

    The only accusation they were left with was that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah (in the form of a question!), to which he answered: "You say that I am". Quite unjustly, this was enough for the the sham court to declare him blasphemous. (I find no record where merely claiming to be the Messiah or even the son of G-d was blasphemous).

    "(2) Do you agree with the first-century Jewish belief that the Name belongs only to the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov?"

    Yes. I don't think that this has ever changed in any century.

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  2. Gene,

    Thanks for sharing your interpretations with us. I do have one follow-up question: For point #2, since you agree that only G-d can claim the Name, how do you reconcile the fact that Yeshua applied the Name to Himself?

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    1. Again, not engaging you. Just wanted you to flesh out your interpretation of John 8:58-59.

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    2. "how do you reconcile the fact that Yeshua applied the Name to Himself?"

      There's no reason to believe that the Greek "ego eimi" attributed to Yeshua somehow identical or equivalent to the Hebrew Name of G-d in the Bible, especially in the light of the fact that the first century Jews would not even dare to pronounce the Name of G-d (as the NT itself attests in never using it).

      The same "ego eimi" was used by the blind man nine verses later referring to himself.

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    3. And so, if it was harmless, why, in your opinion, did the Jews want to stone him as soon as He had said this? It says "At this, they picked up stones to stone him."

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    4. Because as Messiah, whom G-d has chosen (Luke 9:35) even before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20), Yeshua claimed to have primacy even over Abraham.

      Pesiqta Rabbati (ca.845)on Isa. 61,10:
      "The world-fathers (patriarchs) will one day in the month of Nisan arise and say to (the Messiah): 'Ephraim, our righteous Anointed, although we are your grandparents, yet you are greater than we, for you have borne the sins of our children, as it says: 'But surely he has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him and through his wounds we are healed'(Isa.53,4-5)."

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  3. "...since you agree that only G-d can claim the Name, how do you reconcile the fact that Yeshua applied the Name to Himself?"

    Where does this idea come from that only the Almighty Father is known by the Name YHVH? It's not from the Scriptures:

    EPHESIANS 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (NKJV)

    JOHN 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (ESV)

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    1. Bryan,

      Show me where those verses employ the Tetragrammaton? I can't seem to find it there in the Greek... : )

      Look, Bryan, no disrespect. I like you. I consider you a brother. You are, however, making a mistake here. Be careful with your inferences.

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  4. OK Peter, assuming my inference is incorrect, what is your understanding of Ephesians 3:14-15?

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    1. I think it fits nicely with the doctrine of the Trinity. I see no problem whatsoever.

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