Did the Old Testament predict Jesus’ birth? A nice, new, learned, short book tells you

I recently received a copy of Steve Moyise’s most recent book, Was the Birth of Jesus According to Scripture? I’ve read a few of Moyise’s other books (like here and here), and I always learn something from him. He also has a knack of getting to the point but saying it gracefully. (Moyise is professor of New Testament at the university of Chichester, UK.)

This books is short–about 100 pages–and well worth reading simply for that reason alone. Too many scholars use too many words to say the same thing over and over again, never quite getting to the point, choosing rather to circle around the issues with endless qualifications and hiding behind long footnotes, etc.

We need more good short books like this one that communicates ideas to the masses, isn’t afraid to say “I’m not really sure, but here’s what I think,” and basically isn’t trying to impress anyone. Just a seasoned scholar throwing some stuff out there. I think that’s great.

Moyise is not aiming his book at solving scholarly dilemmas or answering outright the question posed in the title. He wants to give his readers a sense of what the pertinent questions are and to bring some clarity to a complex and controversial issue. He reminds his readers throughout that competent scholars can be found on many sides of any one issue.

Still, it seems to me that Moyise leans clearly toward the “no” end of the spectrum in answering the question posed by the book’s title–or perhaps put better, “no, but….” or “yes, sort of, as long as we remember….”

Jesus’ birth as “fulfilling” the Old Testament can have legitimate traction, but only when “fulfillment” is defined not as a prediction come true, but as an appropriation of Israel’s story to explain the deeper significance of Jesus–at least that’s where I see Moyise coming down.

Moyise hits 5 issues that, as he explains it, move from the less controversial to the more controversial. Here are the chapter titles with a glimpse at Moyise’s conclusion for each.

1. Preceded by a Forerunner, i.e., was John the Baptist predicted in the OT? “We cannot speak of Scripture ‘predicting’ a forerunner for Jesus but John’s preparatory role is at least a plausible interpretation/application of texts like Mal 3:1, 4:5-6, and Isa 40:3″ (p. 24).

2. Son of David. Citing Crosson and Borg’s The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Birth, “Jesus is not the fulfillment of miraculously specific predictions. Rather, he is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in a much more comprehensive sense…. He is their crystallization, their expression in an embodied life. He decisively reveals and incarnates the passion of God as disclosed in the Law and the Prophets–the promise and hope for a very different world from the world of Pharaoh and Caesar, the world of domination and empire.” (p. 44).

3. Bethlehem and Nazareth, i.e., do Jesus’ birthplace and hometown fulfill OT predictions? Though the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke “contain a considerable amount of ‘poetic license’  (like a world-wide census and a moving star that can indicate a particular house),” Bethlehem and Nazarene likely were Jesus’ birthplace and hometown historically. Still, the “Bethlehem promise was not well known and the Nazareth promise, if it can be called that, is extremely obscure” (p. 59), and so are not fulfillments of specific predictions.

4. Egypt and Ramah, i.e., are Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 and Jeremiah 31:15 “the result of hindsight” or are they “features in the original text that can be regarded as ‘foreshadowing’”? (p. 76). These connections are not generated by the OT but but forged by Matthew. Their value is in their “potential for illuminating the significance of [Matthew's] Jesus” (p. 77).

5. Born of a Virgin, i.e., does Isaiah 7:14 predict Jesus’ birth from a virgin, and is “virgin birth” even what Matthew and Luke are saying? This was the most complex section, I feel, and the one where Moyise seemed least willing to land–even given the book’s vibe of not providing answers but giving interested readers general guidance; a lot of “one the one hand, on the other hand.” I take this as a reflection of the controversial nature of this issue. Most of the chapter was taken up with–appropriately–complicating the issue by looking more closely at what Isaiah, Matthew, and Luke were actually saying for their time and context. Moyise leaves open whether virginal conception is what Matthew and Luke are talking about.

If I had to pick a main theme in this book it would be the need to be very flexible in what ancient authors of the NT meant by “fulfillment” as you go through these issues. They didn’t mean “OT predicts X and then X happens with Jesus.”

Anyway, this is a readable book. It will open up new paths of thinking about Jesus’ birth narratives, and will likely ruin any future church children’s Christmas play you’ll ever see again, not to mention Linus’ speech in A Charlie Brown Christmas. 

My interest in this book is in understanding more of how the Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke, that is–Mark and John don’t bother with a birth narrative) were presenting Jesus to their audiences. What were they actually trying to say, and how did they mold the OT to help them say it?

  • http://restoringpangea.com/ Nathan Smith

    My OT professor used to say that Jesus is the not fulfillment of those prophecies (2% of all prophetic texts), but the “fulfiller.” Agent vs End. I’ve always liked that description and it’s less than 100 pages.

    • Eric Kunkel

      I agree with Fulfiller. But the Gospels seem to have Him making overt truth claims to BOTH Agent and End. And He seemed to consciously “be about his Father’s business” actively participating both in his Agency, working towards a particular telos, or End.

      That is, the stories are told with Him making bold truth claims about His teleological words and works.

      • http://restoringpangea.com/ Nathan Smith

        I think you make a good point about his claims regarding himself, but as far as being an end – not to sound crass, but I would suggest that Jesus was an ends to a means more than an end.

        I base this on 1 Corinthians 15:21-28

        21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[c] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

        The other passages that might suggest otherwise would be Colossian 1:15-20 and John 1, but at least in both passages, there is a direct connection between what the 2nd person of the Trinity does and for whom he does it for – providing a sense of ultimacy that moves beyond Jesus to his Father. Since 1 Corinthians 15 provides the Telos of this whole project, it would seem that fulfillment ultimately ends in the Father as the End of these prophecies rather than the Son – that is if we’re looking for one member of the Trinity to take that kind of credit vs the entire Trinity.

        • Eric Kunkel

          Mabye I was too wordy. Sometimes an icon speaks a thousand words.

          Eric

          • http://restoringpangea.com/ Nathan Smith

            touche – but the sweep of Restoration still ends with the Father, not just Christ. I do hope that it doesn’t seem like I’m removing Christ from his rightful place – only that I’m incorporating him within the life of the Trinity. Things Jesus claimed about himself were to catch up with where God the Father already was in the minds of the people who were choosing to follow him. People had to see him as incorporated with Yahweh thereby requiring him to make the bold statements he did. (I’m sure I’m committing some heresy here). If any member of the Trinity is to be pre-eminent over the rest, it has to be the Father, but no one has to be necessarily or eternally, just episodically.

            But I would still stick with Colossians 1:15 segueing into 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 and I hope I’m not pulling a Wayne Grudem by quoting all these verses.

            “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation…

            For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

            I couldn’t find a picture to say all that but appreciate the dialogue.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Thanks for the head’s up! My thoughts are along the lines you describe from the book. I plan to get it right away.

  • James

    I’ve always questioned claims of fulfilled prophecy as proof of biblical inspiration. What are the chances that many specific prophecies could come true in one person, we were asked? Well, none, we were reassured. Best to allow the Gospel writers tell the story of Jesus the way they choose.

  • http://www.priceofdiscernment.com/ David Marshall

    The more I’ve tried looking at where the writers in the NT got their points from the OT, the more I realize that there were a lot of liberties taken; it’s not like they read the scriptures “literally” in the sense that most of us do. This book looks interesting enough, especially since it’s only a hundred or so pages.

  • Erric

    Pete,

    You finish with “What were they actually trying to say, and how did they mold the OT to help them say it?” Which is a great question.

    But it seems to me it cannot be cleaved apart from what God was trying to do, theopneustically.

    So, yes. It is OK to put away childish things, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas. We can bracket for a second whether Father Crosson and the Jesus Seminar’s use of beads is better than the use of a Linus’s Blanket vis a vis mature, coherent truth claims.

    But we do not need to give up on inspiration or bifurcate questions, like your “what were they trying to say …?”, supra, from “What was God trying to do, with Israel?”

    I agree with you about the Land.

    But when we get to the end of Matthew, now the Land expands from Jerusalem, to all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the Earth. In the story in between are many wonderous acts, often with Jesus Himself, or (or Jesus Godself) saying, that “the Scripture is fulfilled”, in the there and then, in His doing and saying.

    And thus we are Landed and can un-bracket the blankets and beads, in the here and now.

    Eric

  • Patrick

    Isn’t the NT word in Greek relating Jesus and the OT = “fulfilled and filled full”?

    What the author seems to posit is what the NT authors did, they did appropriate OT texts to Christ thereby enhancing the meaning of the originals. Isaiah 7:14 is a perfect example.

    Did God have a good reason for keeping some things obscure in the OT text that only the reality of a resurrected Christ could fully illuminate? I think so, had it been as clear as some posit, there is simply no way the enemies of God would have wanted Jesus crucified at the hands of pagans and that had to happen.

    The NT narrative makes it clear the satan was well read in the OT text, so it seems to me if we accept the satan as a real divine creature super opponent of Christ’s, then it’s good to know God wasn’t giving away important inside stuff to him.

  • mark

    Six years ago the Jesuit scholar, Joseph Fitzmyer–not just a seasoned scholar but a world class scholar (and that’s no knock on Moyise)–wrote The One Who Is to Come, the fruit of a lifetime of scholarship. Here’s an excerpt from the books description:

    “The One Who Is To Come” begins with a linguistic discussion of the term messiah, then demonstrates the gradual emergence of the idea of a future, dynasty-continuing David, before finally examining the “anointed one” language in the latest biblical text, “Daniel 9″. It also examines the use of the term in the Septuagint and extrabiblical Jewish writings, as well as the New Testament, Targums, and the Mishnah. Fitzmyer’s masterful study presents a novel, biblical thesis that will appeal to scholars, students, and all who wish to investigate the complex history of messianism.

    I haven’t read Moyise’s book, although I may. I reviewed a review of Fitzmyer’s book. The reviewer–Gary Anderson, a Professor of OT at Notre Dame–was antagonistic toward Fitzmyer’s but was compelled to acknowledge the soundness of Fitzmyer’s scholarship. As Anderson admitted:

    The problem is one of historical anachronism: What beliefs can we determine that people held, before the birth of Jesus, about the coming messiah—when the coming of Jesus and the rise of Christianity so transformed all those beliefs? It is a very old methodological principle that the historian must learn again and again: What comes after does not always follow from what came before.

    And so for the Christian claim that Jesus was the suffering messiah, long expected in the Sacred Scriptures. After the rise of the early Church and its claims to fulfill the hopes of the Jewish people, it was simply presumed that the coming of Jesus could easily be plugged into a pre-existent Jewish matrix. Modern biblical scholarship has seriously challenged that presumption. The idea of a suffering messiah is difficult to trace in the Hebrew Scriptures, and even the notion that a single, royal messianic figure was expected is not easy to locate.

    And so Anderson adopts a different tack:

    Fitzmyer is certainly right to assert that these texts may not have been meant messianically when the eighth-century prophet wrote them down, but were they still heard in a non-messianic way in the second or first centuries before the advent of Christ?

    This leads to a problem that my review summarizes thus–issues which are my main concern and to which the remainder of my review is devoted:

    If we accept that Anderson (and Enns, as we have seen) is correct and that 8th century B.C. Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 9, while not understood messianically when written, came to be understood in a messianic sense the better part of a millennium later in the time of Jesus, we are nevertheless faced with a problematic understanding of scriptural inspiration and of revelation. Assuming that Anderson considers such Old Testament passages to be the product of Divine inspiration we are confronted with the following situation: God inspired Isaiah to author a passage which–as determined by the standards of scholarship that Anderson himself accepts–was not understood in a messianic sense. Many centuries later God inspired Jews (or so we must assume) to give Isaiah 9 a messianic reading–a reading that appears to be a clear misunderstanding of the passage’s originally intended meaning. And then Christians came to believe that Jesus fulfilled this misunderstanding of Isaiah, thus proving–what, exactly?

  • mark

    A reminder–this is a post that Pete did about a month ago and seems very relevant to the current discussion: Here’s Something about the Bible of the First Christians I Bet Many of You Didn’t Know (you’re welcome). It’s a review of this book: When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible.

  • Alice C. Linsley

    The Seed of Genesis 3:15 was to be born of the “Woman” of Abraham’s ancestral line. His people believed that a woman of their Horite ruler-priest lines would be overshadowed by God (whose emblem was the Sun) and conceive the Seed. Jesus claimed to be the Seed when He foretold his death: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
    But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) We recall that the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be “overshadowed” and conceive. Messianic expectation originates with Abraham’s Nilo-Saharan ancestors. http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2013/07/why-cows-were-sacred-in-ancient-world.html

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    I find it interesting that the author thinks it likely that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I might buy the book just to see why.

  • ctrace

    Again, no sense that the word of God is God breathed. God’s self-revelation. If one has to toss out the inspiration of the Bible, the unity of the Bible, and perhaps even superanaturalism either by degree or wholesale to be a scholar of the Bible these days, why not be a scholar of the Homeric epics. Those are great poems.

    • mark

      Agreed–the Homeric poems are great, in their own way. However, the writings of Israelite religion ultimately penetrate more deeply into the mystery of historical existence than do the writings of any other pre-Christian writings.

      • mark

        And then, Jesus of Nazareth, who rose from the dead, was born into Israel, not Greece, China, India, Egypt, or anywhere else. The developments of Israelite religion are brought to fullest development through the self revelation of God in Jesus and the Church. An objective examination, IMO, shows that Christian faith offers the deepest insights into existence and is derived through the historical reality of Jesus who is risen.

      • beau_quilter

        I would argue that the pre-Christian writings of Lao Tzu have more of depth to offer on the mysteries of historical existence than the Old or New Testament. But evaluations like this are inherently subjective.

        • mark

          Feel free to make the argument. My argument to the contrary begins with the fact that the Israelite development of creative monotheism, brought to fulfillment by the revelation of God in Jesus as Trinity, offers far more theoretical explanatory power than any other religious ideas in history–with the added existential benefit of historical truth. Both Stanley Jaki and Rodney Stark (The Victory of Reason) maintain that these are the ideas that lie behind the unprecedented developments of Western culture–to which the glories of the traditional civilizations pale in comparison. This isn’t subjective. It’s historical fact. Further, the doctrine of the Trinity is behind the Western concept of being human, transforming not only the Israelite but the Greek and Roman conceptions as well–and it remains transformative in the modern world as well, even as its Christian origins are denied.

          • beau_quilter

            This is called mistaking the worship of Western culture with the worship of God.

          • mark

            whatever.

          • beau_quilter

            Stark’s book cannot be construed as “fact”:

            “The Victory of Reason is the worst book by a social scientist that I have ever read. Stark’s methodology has nothing to do with history, or the logic of comparative analysis, or the rigorous testing of hypotheses. Instead he simply makes claims, the more outrageous the better, and dismisses all evidence that runs contrary to his claims as unimportant, and treats anyone with a point of view different from his own as stupid and contemptible, and reduces causation in human affairs to one thing and one thing only. How in the world, I kept asking myself as I read this book, could someone spend so much of his life trying to understand something as important as religion and come away so childish?”

            Sociologist Alan Wolfe

          • mark

            Alan Wolfe said that? Wow–knock me down with a feather!

          • beau_quilter

            You haven’t really read much on this topic, beyond Stark, have you? Wolfe’s assessment of Stark is that of the consensus of social scientists and historians.

            But less about Stark and more about your comment: you have declared as “fact” that which is, at best, the speculative opinion of a few.

          • mark

            “the consensus of social scientists and historians”–OMG!

          • beau_quilter

            I don’t see exactly what reason you have to be incredulous. You presented the case of a sociologist of religion as “fact”. You may not be aware that, In the social sciences and history, the case of other scholars and the consensus of scholars is important – not definitive, of course, but certainly important. There are many perspectives in the social sciences. “Facts” might describe small certainties of history, but scholars would not use that word to describe a single sweeping value judgement.

          • beau_quilter

            “Stark’s errors are rampant and across-the-board. They span the fields of history and, above all, philosophy. Indeed, as will be shown, Stark’s claims are historically false and philosophically impossible”

            Dr. Andrew Bernstein

    • TJ

      In this case I don’t agree. I think it’s actually very fair to suggest that when the apostles talk about Jesus “fulfilling” the OT they don’t necessarily mean that the OT predicted X and X happened in the way we normally think. I tend to think of the incarnation fulfilling the OT much more in the sense of the culmination of a pattern of creation – fall – redemption that the fulfillment of a specific prophesy. The OT continually points to the need for a redeemer and the hope of a redeemer. Jesus then comes as that redeemer to “fulfill” the OT. Now when it comes to whether the Matthew and Luke really meant he was born of a virgin, that’s another story.

  • pete dayton

    Could it be that God foresaw how many Jews (Orthodox and not) would come to a saving relationship with Christ through meditating on Christ fulfilling the OT prophecies such as Isaiah 52:12-53? I know several such Messianic Jews, as well as scholars, i.e.Michael Brown.

  • mark

    ctrace wrote yesterday:

    If one has to toss out the inspiration of the Bible, the unity of the Bible, and perhaps even superanaturalism either by degree or wholesale to be a scholar of the Bible these days, why not be a scholar of the Homeric epics.

    Ross Douthat has an article in the NYT today, Return of the Jesus Wars, re Reza Aslan’s book. Douthat suggests that for a better perspective we should try

    recent book[s] like the classicist Sarah Ruden’s “Paul Among the People” or the theologian David Bentley Hart’s “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies.”

    The book description offers a succinct explanation as to why, although being an Homeric scholar is a worthy occupation, being a scholar of Christianity is even more worthy:

    In this provocative book one of the most brilliant scholars of religion today dismantles distorted religious “histories” offered up by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and other contemporary critics of religion and advocates of atheism. David Bentley Hart provides a bold correction of the New Atheists’s misrepresentations of the Christian past, countering their polemics with a brilliant account of Christianity and its message of human charity as the most revolutionary movement in all of Western history.

    Hart outlines how Christianity transformed the ancient world in ways we may have forgotten: bringing liberation from fatalism, conferring great dignity on human beings, subverting the cruelest aspects of pagan society, and elevating charity above all virtues. He then argues that what we term the “Age of Reason” was in fact the beginning of the eclipse of reason’s authority as a cultural value. Hart closes the book in the present, delineating the ominous consequences of the decline of Christendom in a culture that is built upon its moral and spiritual values.

    The transformative effect of the Christian vision of Man is ample reason to study “the Bible,” but I recommend that we study not just the book but the revelation of God in “this man Jesus.” The book remains a book, but in history we see how faith in Jesus has transformed our world, and what loss of faith means.

    • ctrace

      I was obviously being ironic with the Homeric epics reference. Though I do see a consistent and sophisticated higher visual language communicating inner development in the Homeric epics, as well as ‘through a glass darkly’ Christian elements in them, they obviously can’t save you which is a rather big thing.

      Christianity doesn’t even begin until you know you’re a sinner and are, in fact, dead in sin, and that you need a remedy for that. (And that there is a ‘terror of the situation’ involved…)

      • mark

        Nothing at all wrong with a bit of irony, and certainly the “‘through a glass darkly’ Christian elements” are also to be found in the scriptures of essentially every culture–Chesterton is eloquent on that score in both Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. And there’s a reason for that. All those scriptures/mythologies reflect the common human experience that Mircea Eliade calls (in The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History) “archaic ontology.” Naturally, part of that common experience is the experience of human imperfection, i.e., sinfulness.

        My contention, however, is that when the attempt is made to articulate the “‘through a glass darkly’ Christian elements” of the common “archaic ontology” into systematic explanations of reality through “philosophy” and “religion”–as has occurred in most traditional cultures–the results, compared to those of Christian faith, are, at best, intellectual and spiritual dead ends and sometimes human catastrophes. It is, I maintain, essential to an understanding of God’s revelation in Jesus to place that revelation within the overall context of human spiritual and intellectual history. With Chesterton, I contend that that revelation is the culmination not merely of the history of Israel or of the Israelite writings but is the fulfillment of human nature as we see it throughout history. I believe this perspective offers the solution to the conundrums that Pete wrestles with under such headings as “Inspiration,” and so forth.

        On the the other hand,

        Christianity doesn’t even begin until you know you’re a sinner and are, in fact, dead in sin, and that you need a remedy for that. (And that there is a ‘terror of the situation’ involved…)

        I had been under the impression that “Christianity” began, and still begins, with Jesus of Nazareth and that “you’re a sinner and are, in fact, dead in sin” was not a central part of his proclamation of God’s reign. Of course I understand that, in Jesus, Man is offered salvation from the sins that are (humanly speaking) inevitable, given his nature as a limited and therefore imperfect being. But you will search the Israelite and Christian scriptures in vain for the Augustinian doctrine of Original Sin, etc., so beloved of Protestant ideology. That approach, to me, smacks of Manichaeism.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “Bethlehem was the likely place of Jesus’s birth”
    Hmmm, I’m not sure how one can make that statement, given the license the author concedes Matthew and Luke employ and that there is no mention of Jesus’s Bethlehem birth in any other early Christian sources.

    I think the Virgin Birth stories can be better appreciated and their meaning illuminated when they are no longer treated as straight historic accounts. Brown’s Birth of the Messiah is a good place to start.

  • Norman

    Let me provide a NT perspective from Acts 8 on how to interpret the OT scriptures as they understood it prophetically concerning the Christ. There is no question that we received Christianity from those who interpreted the OT differently than the literalist reader of any age. That includes those who think these interpreters were playing fast and loose with the OT scriptures. Problem is that perhaps we don’t know how yet to read Jewish prophetic literature as robustly as we might need to. Perhaps it’s a lost art form. The NT writers apparently believed the OT writers were veiling their message to be interpreted only for those who “had eyes to see and ears to hear”. When Jesus arrived upon the scene they were already looking for the messiah to come in their day, and so with the resurrection they finally had their eyes and ears fully opened might be the way they would put it.

    Acts 8: This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. … Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the
    passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

    “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”

    The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

  • Mark

    I’m sorry, but maybe I’m misunderstanding. Are we saying the Virginal conception (“Born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary”) is a just a “controversial issue” that scholars disagree about? Or that Isaiah didn’t really predict it in the traditional sense? I would agree that Isaiah didn’t really predict in the traditional sense. The verse was probably ORIGINALLY about something else. But how many scholars these days OTHER than those in the Jesus seminar, who this guy quotes favorably, see the virgin birth and as possibly “not intended” by the authors? At least Pannenberg, who doesn’t believe in it was honest enough to say that it was simply a mythological development. I’m assuming Dunn believes something similar.

    N.T. Wright argues, somewhat brilliantly, though still wrongheaded (IMHO) that Matthew misquoted and misunderstood the verse in Isaiah and made a mistake BUT only because the virginal conception occurred and he was scanning the scriptures to make sense of it.

    Pete, I know you’ve expressed your distaste for defending things, but does this go for statements in the Nicene Creed as well?

    I think the section on the Virgin Birth in “Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism” is excellent, and I was hoping you might take a similar apologetic stance.

    Maybe I just need more clarification.

  • steve

    YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

    Jesus said you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. What did He mean by that statement?

    John 3:1-3……3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly , I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”(NKJV)

    Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he had to be born the first time in order to enter the kingdom of God. He said you must be born again!

    Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he had to exist in order to enter the kingdom of God. Every person alive, exists, how could that be a requirement to enter the kingdom of God? Jesus said he had to be born again.

    Being born of water (amniotic fluid) by natural birth is being born the first time, it is not being born again.

    John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

    Jesus said you must born of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Remember in John 3:3 Jesus said “You must be born again.” Water can mean nothing but water baptism (immersion). Water and the Spirit are both qualifications in order to be born again.

    John 3:5 Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. (Contemporary English Version)

    John 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

    John 3:5 Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth. This new birth is by waterand by the Spirit. No person can enter God’s kingdom if he has not been born that way. (Worldwide English New Testament)

    WATER BAPTISM IS A REQUIREMENT TO BE BORN AGAIN.

    (SEE: Acts 2:38, WATER BAPTISM AND THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT….YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN! )

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve -finnell.blogspot.com


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