What Makes a Good Prophecy (and Why Bible Prophecies Aren’t)

What makes a good prophecy?

Most of us are pretty skeptical of bad prophecies and can spot them easily—tabloid predictions by psychics such as Jeane Dixon or Sylvia Browne, for example. Not even many Christians are sucked into the end-of-the-world predictions by such “prophets” as Harold Camping. (There’s a great infographic of Christianity’s many end-of-the-world predictions here, and I write about Harold Camping’s ill-advised venture into prophecy in 2011 here and here.)

And now there’s the (new ’n improved!) prediction by Ronald Weinland that Jesus will return on May 19, 2013.

I’d like to propose some rules for good prophecies against which we can compare the gospel prophecies.

1. The prophecy must be startling, not mundane. “Barack Obama will be re-elected president” isn’t very startling. “Michelle Obama will be elected president” would be startling.

We regularly find big surprises in the news—earthquakes, wars, medical breakthroughs, and so on. These startling events are what make good prophecies.

2. The prophecy must be precise, not vague. “Expect exciting and surprising gold medals for the U.S. Olympic team!” is not precise. “A major earthquake will devastate Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010” is precise.

Nostradamus is another example of “prophecies” that were so vague that they can be imagined to mean lots of things. Similarly, the hundreds of supposed Bible prophecies are simply quote mining. You could also apply the identical process to War and Peace or The Collected Works of Shakespeare to find parallels to the gospel story, but so what?

3. The prophecy must be accurate. We should have high expectations for a divine divinator. Edgar Cayce could perhaps be excused if he was a little imperfect (that he showed no particular gift at all is damning, however), but prophecy from the omniscient Creator should be perfect.

4. The prophecy must predict, not retrodict. The writings of Nostradamus predict the London Great Fire of 1666 and the rise of Napoleon and Hitler … but of course these “predictions” were so unclear in his writings that the connection had to be inferred afterwards. This is also the failing of the Bible Code—the idea that the Hebrew Bible holds hidden acrostics of future events. And maybe it does—but the same logic could find these after-the-fact connections in any large book.

5. The prophecy can’t be self-fulfilling. The prediction that a bank will soon become insolvent may provoke its customers to remove all their money … and make the bank insolvent. The prediction that a store will soon go out of business may drive away customers. The prediction that Harry Potter would kill him drove Voldemort to try to kill the infant Harry first, but in so doing he inadvertently gave Harry some of the abilities that Harry used later to kill Voldemort.

6. The prophecy and the fulfillment must be verifiable. The prophecy and sometimes the fulfillment come from long ago, and we must be confident that they are accurate history.

7. The fulfillment must come after the prophecy. Kind of obvious, right? But some Old Testament prophecies fail on this point.

Isaiah 45:1 names Cyrus the Great of Persia as the anointed one (Messiah) who will end the Babylonian exile (587–538BCE) of the Israelites. That would be pretty impressive if it predicted the events, but this part of Isaiah (Deutero-Isaiah) was probably written during the time of Cyrus.

Or take Daniel. Daniel the man was taken to Babylon during the exile, but Daniel the book was written centuries later in roughly 165BCE. Its “prophecies” before that date are pretty good, but it fails afterwards. There’s even a term for this, vaticinia ex eventu (prophecy after the event).

8. The fulfillment must be honest. The author of the fulfillment can’t simply look in the back of the book, parrot the answers found there, and then declare victory. For example, that Mark records Jesus’s last words as exactly those words from Psalm 22 could be because it really happened that way, or that Jesus was deliberately quoting from the psalm as he died, or (my choice) Mark knew the psalm and put those words into his gospel.

I think that any of us would find this a fairly obvious list of the ways that predictions can fail. We’d spot these errors in a supermarket tabloid or in some other guy’s nutty religion.

But the Jesus prophecies are rejected by this skeptical net as well. Consider Matthew: this gospel says that Jesus was born of a virgin (1:18–25), was born in Bethlehem (2:1), and that he rode humbly on two donkeys (21:1–7). It says that Jesus predicted that he would rise, Jonah-like, after three days (12:40) and that the temple would fall (24:1–2). It says that he was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (26:15), that men gambling for his clothes (27:35), and it records his last words (27:46).

Are these the records of fulfilled prophecy? Maybe all these claims in Matthew actually did happen, but if so, we have no grounds for saying so. Because they fail these tests (primarily #8), we must reject these claims of fulfilled prophecy. The non-supernatural explanation is far more plausible.

In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated
is a refusal to be educated
— Margaret Halsey

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  • Maxximiliann

    Consider, if you will, the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ:

    Historical fact (1): After being impaled on a stake, Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea.

    Historical fact (2): On the third day following his death, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his female disciples.

    Historical fact (3): Different individuals and groups, on multiple occasions and under various circumstances, personally witnessed the resurrected Christ. This testimony even includes that of enemies and detractors of Christ.

    Historical fact (4): His first disciples beleived Christ had been resurrected from the dead despite having every predisposition to the contrary.

    As I’ve shared before, no naturalistic hypothesis explains these four historical facts better than the obvious: That God did in fact resurrect Christ.

    Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

    1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

    2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

    3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

    4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

    5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

    6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection solution.

    • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

      Those aren’t historic “facts.” None of them are corroborated in any extrabiblical evidence from the same time as the events were reported. They are at best reported facts, according to the bible, and every one of them is highly contestable.

      You’re only “evidence” for these “facts’ is the bible. It’s totally circular. “The bible proves the bible.” Go figure.

      • Maxximiliann

        Now you’re just playing the buffoon (although …). Argumentum per veneficium fontem. Sorry, try again.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Argumentum assertio. Prove that the points you made are indeed facts.

        • Maxximiliann

          Since when are multiple corroborating eyewitness accounts not facts?

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Because eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. And you have to prove first that the gospel writers were eyewitnesses, as this is not an established fact. So that onus is on you too. Have fun providing evidence for that.

          ….I’m getting a revelation…….I predict your response will involve coped and pasted material……maybe I’m a prophet?

        • Maxximiliann

          What about CORROBORATING eyewitness testimony? Is that also wholly unreliable?

          (Sorry for the all caps there but it seems you need a new prescription.)

        • Kevin D. Gibson Jr.

          Are people fallible? Could the corroborating eye witness accounts be fallible? If so, then these aren’t facts. Also why would a all knowing god send his son (savior of man) to a time period where documenting historical facts were flawed and weak. Why would he send his son during a time where the majority of people were uneducated? Why not send his son back during 1700′s, 1800′s, 1900′s? At a better place in time where we at least have cameras, a better, easier way of documenting history?

          You know why, cus that shit most likely didnt happen

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “If you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation.
          Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”

          – Judas in Jesus Christ, Superstar

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’re confusing a story with history.

      • Maxximiliann

        Argumentum assertio. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Prove your claim. Prove that an independently substantiated historical claim by a multiplicity of eyewitnesses is just “a story”, i.e., myth.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          no naturalistic hypothesis explains these four historical facts better than [my supernatural interpretation]

          And I just reduced this argument to ash by noting that it could be a story. Like Merlin. Like Gilgamesh.

          Y’know, it’s weird that you don’t want to take on the burden of proving that God exists. It’s almost like it’s a burden to you.

        • Maxximiliann

          Could be? Could be?! You’ve got to do better than that friend. To prove your mythicism is true you need to prove that Christianity is nothing more than a transgenerational, global conspiracy theory that’s been going on for a little over two thousand years.

          Wait!!

          Wait!!

          Before you get started, lemme go make some popcorn … h eh ehh hehee :D

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          To prove your mythicism is true you need to prove that Christianity is nothing more than a transgenerational, global conspiracy theory that’s been going on for a little over two thousand years

          Absurd. All that would be needed to show is that the writers of the gospels and Paul’s writings were not based on an actual person. Once the myth got started, just like in every other religion, like Mormonism and Islam, it is perpetuated by faith.

          The burden of proof is on you to show using extrabiblical evidence that the gospels are true. Here’s a start, what evidence exists that Arimathea existed at all?

        • Maxximiliann

          Why? So you can then say, “New York City is a real city but that doesn’t mean Spider-Man is real”?

          C’mon buddy. Did you honestly think I was gonna walk into that?

          Shock me, say something orphic!

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          I love the fact that you admit that there is no extrabiblical evidence so cleverly without saying it. Christian apologetics sure is sophisticated.

        • Maxximiliann

          You do know that the Bible is a compilation of 66 works originally transcribed in three languages by 40 amanuensis over the span of some one thousand six hundred years, right?

          You realize, then, why your contumely is so very anserine.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Golly. I have no idea what you say. That must mean … you win!!

        • Maxximiliann

          Where did I lose you? I’d be more than happy to explicate further :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nope. “Could be,” and I win.

          Your claim is so fantastic, so incredible, that you have the burden of proof. I show an alternate explanation (and that the gospels are just stories like a thousand others from history is pretty darn plausible), and I win.

          Did the popcorn make that more palatable?

        • Maxximiliann

          Cancel the parade. You’ve yet to prove your outlandish conspiracy theory.

          And my buttery popcorn does taste great! Thanks for asking :)

  • Jerry

    1. The prophecy must be startling, not mundane
    Subjective… but okay. Temple Destruction (70 AD). – considered a modern marvel at the time thanks to Herod the Great. Check.

    2. The prophecy must be precise, not vague.
    Event will occur at least 70 “weeks” after initial event with an anointed one getting killed beforehand. Check.

    3. The prophecy must be accurate.
    Daniel 9 – Check.

    4. The prophecy must predict, not retrodict.
    Dead Sea Scrolls – CARBON DATING of oldest manuscript of Daniel is 125 BC. Check.

    5. The prophecy can’t be self-fulfilling.
    Temple Destruction is not self-fulfilling. Check.

    6. The prophecy and the fulfillment must be verifiable.
    Temple Destruction is fully viable and historically accurate – Check.

    7. The fulfillment must come after the prophecy.
    Temple Destruction – 70AD – Commemorated by Romans – 82 AD with Arch of Titus – Check.

    8. The fulfillment must be honest.
    Temple Destruction – Check.

    ***** Supporting Links *******:
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple
    2. http://jesus-messiah.com/prophecy/septuagint.html
    http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/weeks.htm
    4. http://www.harvardhouse.com/Gabriel-to-Daniel_Einstein_Method.htm
    6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arch_of_Titus

    For more prophecies using EXACTLY this criteria, please go here:
    http://www.harvardhouse.com/Gabriel-to-Daniel_1.htm

    Sidenote – Sextus Julius Africanus, a 3rd century scholar not only discusses the 70 Weeks Prophecy, but he also mentions historical references to the earthquake and the darkness seen during Jesus’ death. Africanus quotes Thallus and Phlegon, two independent historians who mention a solar eclipse occurring during the time of Jesus’ death. Africanus states that this is IMPOSSIBLE because the passover meal is based on a lunar cycle and thus the moon would have been diametrically opposite of the sun. Africanus argues through ancient texts that a darkness just like the Bible stated was recorded by a secular historian erroneously as a solar eclipse. He argues this is evidence for the darkness stated in the Bible.

    Sources:

    http://www.neverthirsty.org/pp/historical-secular-quotes-about-jesus/darkness-at-full-moon.html
    http://www.mb-soft.com/believe/txua/africanu.htm

    On the Circumstances Connected with Our Saviour’s Passion and His Life-Giving Resurrection. 1. As to His works severally, and His cures effected upon body and soul, and the mysteries of His doctrine, and the resurrection from the dead, these have been most authoritatively set forth by His disciples and apostles before us. On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour fails on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. [1103] Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth–manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer. And calculation makes out that the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel, is completed at this time.

    (The next three paragraphs are all calculations based on the lunar calendar – you can view them in the link provided.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I appreciate a numbered list to show that you’ve considered all the points. Let’s take a look.

      1. Temple Destruction (70 AD)

      How is this startling? There’d been tension here with outside powers since forever. A prediction that things would get tense enough that the Temple would be destroyed is not startling.

      2. The prophecy must be precise, not vague. Event will occur at least 70 “weeks” after stated event. Check.

      Baby Jesus cries when you misquote the Bible. It doesn’t say “at least 70 weeks.” Go to the corner until you’ve actually read Daniel and can tell us what it really says.

      What does it say that you’ve got to buoy up God’s infallible Word because it’s not really all that infallible?

      3. The prophecy must be accurate. Daniel 9 – Check.

      Daniel was written around 170 BCE, and it’s laughably wrong in its predictions of just the few years in its future. I’ve written several posts about Daniel; take a look.

      4. The prophecy must predict, not retrodict. – Dead Sea Scrolls – CARBON DATING of oldest manuscript of Daniel is 125 BC. Check.

      I don’t know what you’re referring to. Dating Daniel to around 170 BCE explains the facts quite easily.

      7. The fulfillment must come after the prophecy. Temple Destruction – 70AD

      Gospels written after 70. Fail.

      Sextus Julius Africanus, a 3rd century scholar not only discusses the 70 Weeks Prophecy, but he also mentions historical references to the earthquake and the darkness seen during Jesus’ death. Africanus quotes Thallus and Phlegon, two independent historians who mention a solar eclipse occurring during the time of Jesus’ death.

      I have this on my list to study up on, but I haven’t done so yet. If I recall, this is a weak chain of evidence. If there had been these events, we should see records from the contemporary historians, not some dude centuries later.

      • Jerry

        C’mon man. You’ve got to take a serious look. Let me repost the link.
        http://www.harvardhouse.com/Gabriel-to-Daniel_1.htm

        This goes over all of the prophecies that fit your requirements.

        But let me iterate through the points again….

        1. Temple Destruction (70 AD)

        Herod the Great was known for his marvels of architecture. This temple was HUGE and extravagant. I would consider its destruction more remarkable than an earthquake (like you mentioned). That’s like predicting the destruction of an Egyptian pyramid.

        Here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4lTT908uY0

        Here’s a scale model of it: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Second_Temple.jpg/1280px-Second_Temple.jpg

        2. Accuracy

        It’s pretty accurate for the first 490 years, predicting Jesus death…. but it doesn’t mention the timeframe between Jesus death and the Temple destruction.

        The implication of this is that the atonement of iniquity MUST happen before a temple destruction. Now that the temple is destroyed, Israel must rebuild it before this prophecy can be “valid” if you could even justify “weeks” as eras of years. The temple destruction has serious implications for the Jewish Messiah coming. He either already arrived, or, the temple has to be rebuilt in which the Messiah will go through the East gate.

        I’m going on a tangent. I would like to throw in some circumstantial evidence from the Jewish Talmud as well.

        http://www3.telus.net/public/kstam/en/temple/details/evidence.htm

        In the centuries following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (70 CE), the Jewish people began writing two versions of Jewish thought, religious history and commentary. One was written in Palestine and became known as the Jerusalem Talmud. The other was written in Babylon and was known as the Babylonian Talmud.

        We read in the Jerusalem Talmud:

        “Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open” (Jacob Neusner, The Yerushalmi, p.156-157). [the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE]

        A similar passage in the Babylonian Talmud states:

        “Our rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot ['For the Lord'] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves” (Soncino version, Yoma 39b).

        What are these passages talking about? Since both Talmuds recount the same information, this indicates the knowledge of these events was accepted by the widespread Jewish community.

        This is the same holy book that states Jesus was the bastard son of a Roman soldier. It’s odd to then learn that the Jewish rituals “did not work or return favorable signs” for 40 years prior to the destruction. Hmm… what happened ~40 years earlier?? Oh… Jesus was crucified.

        So… if you want accuracy as far as Jesus is concerned, then yes, you have it, but for the temple destruction, Daniel 9 doesn’t mention when it will occur, only that it will occur after the death of the Messiah

        http://biblehub.com/daniel/9-26.htm (so you can compare verses)

        26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its[a] end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.

        4. Predict, not retrodict

        Prediction is carbon dated to 125BC
        “and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. Roman legions under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and burnt the Temple to the ground. The “wailing wall” is not the temple btw…. it’s one of the supports Herod used to expand the temple. (refer to video)

        7. Gospels written after 70. Fail

        I didn’t mention the Gospels. This is Daniel.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But let me iterate through the points again….

          Why are they any more compelling the second time around?

          I would consider its destruction more remarkable than an earthquake (like you mentioned).

          I already addressed this. This is not startling. If you saw a “prophecy” of a temple being destroyed in another guy’s religion, you’d find it no more compelling than I do.

          2. It’s pretty accurate for the first 490 years, predicting Jesus death…. but it doesn’t mention the timeframe between Jesus death and the Temple destruction.

          I’ve analyzed Daniel in 3 posts. Check them out. If you’re just going to insist on the fundamentalist reading of Daniel, then I’m not sure we’ll make much progress.

          The implication of this is that the atonement of iniquity MUST happen before a temple destruction.

          Since the temple is destroyed, the atonement must’ve already happened? Is that your point?

          This is the same holy book that states Jesus was the bastard son of a Roman soldier.

          Since that’s wrong, I guess that “holy” book is not much of a reference.

          It’s odd to then learn that the Jewish rituals “did not work or return favorable signs” for 40 years prior to the destruction. Hmm… what happened ~40 years earlier?? Oh… Jesus was crucified.

          Notice how low you’ve stooped. You don’t have “Oh, yeah. Jesus was raised from the dead. Everyone knew about it.” So instead you’re reading ancient books until you find something vaguely supportive. Again, you’d laugh at someone in another religion doing the same thing.

          And again I ask: is this the best God can do? He wants to have a clear prophecy in his holy book, and he can do no better than this?

          Daniel 9 doesn’t mention when it will occur, only that it will occur after the death of the Messiah

          Daniel was written around 170 BCE. It explains things nicely when seen from that standpoint. And it’s all summarized in those posts.

          Prediction is carbon dated to 125BC

          So you’ve got Daniel to 125 BCE. And …?

          7. Gospels written after 70. Fail

          I didn’t mention the Gospels. This is Daniel.

          Daniel is referring to the years immediately after its authorship.

        • Jerry

          Lol… let me give you the dimensions for the temple complex just so you can appreciate this size….

          Archaeological investigation reveals that the outer wall of Herod’s Temple itself was an irregular quadrangle: south wall = 280 m.; west wall = 485 m.; north wall = 315 m.; east wall 460 m. The total circumference of the temenos or sacred precincts, was 1,540 m., and the total area = c. 144,000 sq. m.(M. ben-Dov, In the Shadow of the Temple, 77).

          or… 1,550,003.1 sq. ft.

          White House: 55,000 sq ft.

          http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/ntintro/jerusaltempl4.htm#T22
          http://www.whitehousehistory.org/history/white-house-facts-trivia/facts-white-house-dimensions.html

          You don’t think that’s impressive?

          I’ve analyzed Daniel for 3 posts

          Were you aware of this?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_years_%28Jewish_calendar%29

          You can’t use the Jewish interpretation because they’re missing 150 years from their timeline… also their calendar was lunar based. It just makes things… complicated.

          Also, if Daniel was already fulfilled with the Maccabees then why did the Essenes in Qumran and the Jews mentioned in the Talmud still speak of a coming Messiah? The Jews were very much expectant of one during the first century.

          In other words, the Jewish math for the 70 weeks does not work with secular data. It does, however, work when calculated for Jesus.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, the temple was impressive. Not what we’re talking about.

          You can’t use the Jewish interpretation because they’re missing 150 years from their timeline

          I use the Christian dating. But you’d know that since you’ve read my posts on Daniel, right?

          also their calendar was lunar based.

          Sort of. Not relevant. They had a correction to keep it in phase with the solar year.

          Also, if Daniel was already fulfilled with the Maccabees then why did the Essenes in Qumran and the Jews mentioned in the Talmud still speak of a coming Messiah?

          Pesher. They gave themselves license to reinterpret.

          In other words, the Jewish math for the 70 weeks does not work with secular data.

          Respond to the posts on Daniel. I think it was quite thorough. I’m not going to repeat it all here.

        • Jerry

          I was talking about a link in one of your articles. It’s very in-depth and it discusses the Jewish interpretation of Daniel 9.

          I found awesome movie on youtube, though.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CtdGm556gM

        • adam

          And I found this on google, though.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t see how this responds to the points I was making in my posts. Daniel was written around 165 BCE.

        • Jerry
        • adam

          Just some more unacceptable evidence….

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is this like a card game where you can get out of a predicament by playing the Sort-of-a-Miracle card? Or perhaps this is just misdirection like in a magic show?

          Stay on topic, please.

        • Greg G.

          The Jews were not one sect. Josephus describes the major ones. IIRC the Hasmodeans were not even accepted by most Jews. They provided a short time of Judean independence but there would be a reason to reject them as the Messiah sect once Rome took over. One can only pretend to be the Messiah while things are looking good.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and/or you have a lot of confidence in your bodyguards/hostages/etc.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “is this the best God can do? He wants to have a clear prophecy in his holy book, ”

          that’s an ill-founded assumption of what He wants, though. if any Message were clear then we wouldn’t have/need any Exceptional Prophetty Types to wax visionary and wow kings and stuff.

      • Jerry

        I would also like to add a direct quote from your article above for point 1.

        We regularly find big surprises in the news—earthquakes, wars, medical breakthroughs, and so on. These startling events are what make good prophecies.

        Titus surrounding Jerusalem with his legions doesn’t fit this description?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Besieging cities is remarkable? You could respond that it doesn’t happen every day, which is true, but is this the best God can do?

        • Dys

          Also, there’s a serious problem with the timeline if Jerry’s buying into the Daniel 9 prophecy and relating it to the destruction of Herod’s temple…

          “adherents of the classical Christian theory must interpret verses 26 and 27 as references to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The problem here is that the fall of Jerusalem lies thirty-seven years outside of the seventy-weeks scheme. Since “desolations are decreed,” the Romans under General Titus, “the people of the prince who is to come,” were to “destroy the city and the sanctuary” of Jerusalem in 70 AD, long after the seventieth week is over, to punish the Jews for their murder of their Messiah. This is an awkward and arbitrary leap.”

          But yeah…prophesying that a temple would be demolished, especially after it had already been destroyed once before in an area that was constantly being attacked and conquered by various factions is hardly indicative of magical foresight.

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/chris_sandoval/daniel.html#traditional

        • Jerry

          You can reconcile this with the Talmud. Please view my other post with Bob. For ~40 years before the temple destruction, the Jews noticed strange phenomena in the temple.

          http://www3.telus.net/public/kstam/en/temple/details/evidence.htm

        • Dys

          Resorting to further miracle claims and arguments from incredulity and ignorance, which your offered article does in abundance, doesn’t help your case in the slightest.

        • Jerry

          I’m just using the criterion of embarrassment. The Jews for some reason felt that they had to include a prior 40 year episode for the Temple even though they state Jesus was a bastard child. When you look at the failed rituals, and when you look at the temple veil being torn, the symbolism still points to Jesus as the Messiah.

        • Dys

          the symbolism still points to Jesus as the Messiah.

          I’m impressed that Christians feel perfectly comfortable telling Jews that they’re not interpreting their own books properly. I think it’s fairly obvious (unless one dips into some rather severe semantic vaguery) that Jesus doesn’t match the requirements for the messiah in the OT. Christianity has taken those shortcomings and tried to metaphorize them to make it match, but it’s a cob job at best.

          And the story they invented to get Mary and Joseph into Bethlehem is incredibly obvious.

        • adam

          No, the symbolism does NOT point to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, that is WHY they dont recognize Jesus as such.

        • Jerry
        • Dys

          I’m constantly amazed at people’s ability to mistakenly accept that correlation is causation.

        • adam

          speaking of which….

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Modern medicine saves a boy’s life.

          And … ?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Strange phenomena? That pointed the Jews to the truth of the Christian story?

          Then why didn’t they become Christians?

        • Jerry

          Why did they kill them? The Jews obviously didn’t make the connection. On the one hand they say Jesus was a bastard child, on the other hand, they say their rituals for forgiveness come back negative.

        • adam

          The REAL problem is that YOUR Jesus didnt fullfil Jewish prophecy, so ‘christians’ reworked the ‘prophecies’ to fit YOUR Jesus….

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That was a major source for me. Very thorough.

          My post on Daniel is here.


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