(a) Let's take Psalm 22 first. I have not located the portion where the sufferer is spoken of in sacrificial terms, nor even in terms parallel to the suffering of the "innocent animals" that were sacrificed. Would you point the verse(s) out for me?Jason wrote:
For example, I see ancient written texts where God sets in place a system of sacrificial offerings where innocent animals are slaughtered for the sins of the multitude. Then I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals.
Please identify the "prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals."
You know them. Isaiah 52 and 53. Psalm 22.
(b) I will table Isaiah 52/53 until we have dealt with Psalm 22.
As I have written previously (link here), when it comes to the development of Christian atonement theory, there are relevant materials to be found even so early as the books of the Maccabees and the Dead Sea Scrolls.Jason wrote:
How about some Rabbinic traditions about these scriptures...
Be this as it may, it is not my position that every notion ever held by a Jewish person is correct. An idea that is fallacious when held by a Christian, is still fallacious when it is held by a Jew.
(a) You are welcome to embrace alternative atonement theory, if you wish, and you might even receive kudos from me for doing so. But your initial line of rhetoric played heavy on the matter of sacrifice: "For example, I see ancient written texts where God sets in place a system of sacrificial offerings where innocent animals are slaughtered for the sins of the multitude. Then I see the prophets speaking of a Messiah who would suffer in similar ways to those innocent animals. Then I see a great tumult arising in the first century where a sect of Jews claim an innocent man, sent by God, died for the sins of the multitude. Shortly after, the animal system was abolished by foreign conquest and that tiny sect of Jews spread to Gentiles and then throughout the whole world, just as that innocent man had predicted. Now you may not find that compelling in the least but from where I sit, it's certainly something to ponder." You introduced ways that the Passion relates to the sacrificial system; I introduced a way that it does not relate to the system.kaufmannphillips wrote:
I see ancient written texts where human sacrifice is rejected, and where one person is not to be put to death for the sin of another person. I see ancient written texts speaking of one G-d, with none other except him.
There are two objections here: 1) Human sacrifice is banned by God, 2) Christians believe there is more than one God.
As to the first argument, the fact that God bans his people from sacrificing humans is correct. But the atonement is not an exact parallel. John 3 says God sent Jesus because he loved the world, not because he needed appeasment. I don’t pretend to know how the suffering and death of Jesus accomplished victory over evil and sin, but I tend to think it was fundamentally a demonstration of love – an innocent man giving up his life for the guilty. In a courtroom setting, it hardly makes sense. That’s why I no longer use that particular argument. We don’t think it’s loving to kill an innocent person for a guilty person but what if the innocent person is you and you are willing (as in -- it was your idea) to lay down your life to save the guilty party becomes you love them? Maybe you jump in front of a bullet that’s headed toward someone you know if morally corrupt. That is not human sacrifice, it’s a demonstration of love. I think this example more closely parallels what happened in the atonement.
(b) It is also worth noting that the sacrificial system had been inaccessible before, during the Babylonian exile. How did Jews cope then?
(c) Let's play with your alternative idea a bit more. What is the "bullet," and who has fired it?
If you possess nuance in your reading , you might note that I wrote "I see ancient written texts speaking of one G-d, with none other except him [emphasis added]." The multi-personal Trinitarian G-d differs from what most people would usually imagine from a singular pronoun.Jason wrote:
As to the second point about there being only one God – we are in full agreement. If you possess any nuance at all in your thinking you’ll see that it’s possible that we Christians don’t believe in many gods. In fact, you limit God by claiming he can’t be bigger than your box. If it’s possible that some aspect of God took on human flesh and became like us for a time then your critique is not fair.
But as for "fairness" - if it is acceptable for you to "see" and "ponder" things that might not be "compelling" in an airtight way, then it should be acceptable for me to do likewise. You look at the interruption of sacrifice and consider it remarkable in a historical perspective; I look at the innovation of divine multi-personality and consider it remarkable in a historical perspective.
(a) It is not necessary for G-d to have been "showing us" anything. For one thing, not everything is necessarily about us; the sacrificial system may have been a function of people's ritual needs at the time, in their cultural context.kaufmannphillips wrote:
When God required that animals be sacrificed for the sins of his people, what was he showing us there? When the prophets spoke about Messiah, to whom were they referring? Israel? The writer himself? A future king? Do you reject all but a small portion of the Hebrew Scriptures? If so, why do you do so?
For another thing, G-d did not necessarily design the terms of the covenant. The covenant does not hold because G-d designed it; it holds because man has committed, unto G-d, that he will keep its terms.
(b) Different prophets may have had different objects in mind at different times. As you may know, "messiah" simply means "anointed." Three different offices are described in the Tanakh as involving an anointing ritual - prophet, priest, and king. And we need not necessarily limit the ritual to those offices, nor even to a human person as the object of the ritual, since a non-living thing could also be anointed.
(c) The latter questions, we discussed back on page 6 of this thread.
Thank you for your time and perseverance, Jason.