The Jews and Elijah.

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by AnglicanAgnostic, Mar 31, 2023.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I'm actually not familiar with the DSS firsthand, so I'm not sure there's much more I can contribute here, other than to point out that mere quotation of a passage isn't an indication that the one doing the quoting believes the passage is prophecy. However, those passages do refer to the rule of God on earth, so Jesus' paraphrased quotation of them to John would have been equivalent to saying "the rule of God on earth is beginning with me" - which fits nicely with the apocalyptic understanding of Jesus' ministry in mainstream NT scholarship - and John would have understood this quite well. The account is perfectly credible as it stands, even without reference to the DSS, enlightening though that may be.
     
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  2. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Moderator Staff Member

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    https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/the-ever-deepening-mystery-of-the-dead-sea-scrolls

    Jesus’ reply to the imprisoned John the Baptist (Matt 11:2–6; Luke 7:18–23) is seen by some as not messianic. When asked, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matt 11:3), Jesus answers in what appears to some as a vague manner, using words from Isaiah 61:

    “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Matt 11:46).​

    4Q521 says this:

    For the heavens and the earth will listen to his Messiah…For he will honor the devout upon the throne of eternal royalty, freeing prisoners, giving sight to the blind, straightening out the twisted…and the Lord will perform marvelous acts…for he will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim good news to the meek, give lavishly to the needy, lead the exiled, and enrich the hungry.​

    Comparing these two texts, you can easily see by why John asked the question about Jesus’ messiahship, and why Jesus replied the way he did. It was assumed that when the Messiah arrived, according to 4Q521, “prisoners would be set free.” The righteous John, at this time languishing in Herod’s fortress at Machaerus, is wondering why Jesus hasn’t sprung him from prison. Jesus replies to John by noting that his marvelous works indeed match up with the deeds of the expected Messiah, in line with the teaching of Isaiah 61 and 4Q521.

    For Jesus to be any more explicit than this would arouse the attention of the secular authorities, prior to the completion of his messianic mission. However, attentive Jews would have understood Jesus’ claims. In a culturally relevant way, Jesus is inviting his fellow Hebrews to consider the evidence of his ministry and draw their own conclusions.​
     
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  3. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    The object of the exercise in mentioning document 4Q521 was not to debate the merits it may give to Jesus' messiah claims, but to add weight to the theory that Jesus and John knew each other well before the Baptism event. How would Jesus know that John knew about 4Q521 unless they knew each other?

    I must say I'm dissapointed with the Elijah explanations. If Elijah is to return some time in the future then Jesus tends to fail the "thief in the night" test, according to Rexlion 5 things must happen before Jesus returns, the equivalent of the thief upsetting a pile of rubbish tins.

    If John the Baptist is in some way Elijah as CRfromQld suggests then Elijah fails the " "He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents" test. He still hasn't suggested a solution to this conundrum.

    The Bible has ambivalent ideas as to whether John the Baptist is Elijah. John denies being Elijah (John1:21) but was John mistaken? God knows.

    The Bible suggests or hints that John is Elijah in Matt 11:13&14 Jesus says "For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come".
    This statement to me has the implied "and if you are not willing to accept it then John is not Elijah". It's like me saying "I am telling you the U.K. is the greatest country in the world and if you are willing to accept this then for you this is a true statement".

    Now let's move on to Matt:11-13 which says

    "Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist."

    Now Christians what does "Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him" mean?
    And, when the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. The Bible doesn't say if the disciples understood correctly or not.

    Some Christians claim that John was a "type" of Elijah (look up Biblical typology) and this is sufficient to explain John fulfilling Elijah's functions. As Luke 1:17 says
    " And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

    This going forth in the power and spirit of Elijah is to some is sufficient to say that John fulfills Elijah's role. To which I reply why couldn't the real Elijah return as he did a few months later at the transfiguration. How hard can it be? And where was the heart turning requirement.

    The argument that John came in the power and spirit of Elijah reminds me of a cd my wife bought at a flee market called

    "I can't believe it's not ABBA SINGING THEIR GREATEST HITS." I was struck by the cover practically saying it was sung with the power and spirit of Abba. Despite the power and glory she felt she had been conned.
     
  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    To my mind, Jesus' first advent was the equivalent of bells, trumpets, and sirens. Yet the vast majority of humanity remained (and remains) in slumber.

    Jesus said, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:31).

    When the end-time events occur in fulfillment of prophecy, the multitudes will either miss their significance entirely or, at best, dismiss the occurrences as coincidental happenstance. The human mind has an enormous capacity to 'explain away' things that do not fit with the person's desired or comforting worldview.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2023
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I recognize that I am not all-knowing; there are limits on my knowledge. I do not need to understand the exact meaning or implication of every thing in scripture. I know that my Savior came, gave His mortal life for my sake, rose from the dead, ascended to the Father, and will return; that is enough for me to accept the parts I'm hazy on. I accept it all on faith.

    When you stand before God on the day of judgment, will you tell Him, "There were some things in the Bible that didn't make sense to me, and no one could explain those things to my satisfaction, so I chose to not believe in you"--?
     
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    This is so absolutely true. The true litmus test for salvation for every individual on the personal scale is not their belief in The Bible or anything written in it. It is in their belief in the character and work and achievement of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God. Jn. 14:1, Jn17:20-21.
    .
     
  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I would respectfully counter this by noting that just because a future event is warned about repeatedly on the basis of accumulating evidence doesn’t mean that large numbers of people won’t be completely surprised by it when it finally does happen. We see this sort of behavior all the time in a number of different contexts. I would also venture to suggest that recognizing this fact of human nature is key to fully grasping the essence of the Gospel itself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2023
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  8. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    I asked "Now Christians what does "Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him" mean?

    and
    See Alister Mcgrath is right; non believers can ask the hard questions and notice the strangeness believers take for granted.

    Now I accept that Rexlion's statement is entirely valid. But his statement could equally be used by; Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Arians, homosexuals and proponents of woman ordination. Would Rexlion be happy with a gay or W.O supporter saying I don't need to understand the verses you quote to me as I know my Saviour has saved me?

    If he does want to understand Matt 17:12 I suggest he looks at a few commentaries. From the random sample of one that I did his theory my be wrong.
    Well yes I would say ""There were some things in the Bible that didn't make sense to me, and no one could explain those things to my satisfaction, so I chose to not believe in you"

    I'm reminded what Bertrand Russell (a non believer) said when asked what would he say to God when he met him, said (something like) "I would ask why he made it so hard to know him and understand him".
    I accept this is true to a large extent, my contention is that people don't have to factor in the fact that Jesus' return is imminent and can live their lives with this in mind.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2023
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Actually I would be very happy with them! :D Because their statement would show that, no matter what tangential misunderstandings or differences of opinion might exist between us, they have gotten the most important thing right! They say they're trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior? Wonderful! We're brothers and sisters in the Lord.

    Gaining an understanding of what Jesus meant by those words of His in Matt. 17:12 is a side issue, and an extremely minor one at that.
     
  10. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    As are some verses from Corinthians to W.O. supporters.

    Let me again quote from Alister McGrath, possibly the most famous living Theologian, and Anglican priest.

    "An outside observer is more likely to ask hard questions, to make critical judgments, and to notice the strangeness of things which those inside the Christian faith take as self evident.

    Don't forget Matt 17:12 is probably included in the "jot and tittle" pronouncement.
     
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Between Malachi writing this and the people of Jesus' time believing it there had been a considerable shift in thought concerning what it might actually mean in terms of a precursor to the reign of the Jewish Messiah on earth.

    Clearly the Jews were expecting a physical appearance of the prophet Elijah, possibly in like manner to the way in which he had left earth, quite literally in a fiery chariot. According to Jesus, this expectation was probably unreasonable and he said so, in so many words, when he hinted that John the baptist could have been Elijah, if they wanted to believe it.

    There were many ways in which the people's expectations of the dawn of the Messianic age were completely wrong. The most obvious one, according to Jesus himself, was the fact that both he and John would be killed by the very same people who had concocted these unreasonable expectations through their concrete, literal fundamentalist interpretations of the scriptures. Their expectations were wrong, not because it had not happened yet, or would not happen, but because they hadn't noticed it or wouldn't notice it, because they were looking for entirely the wrong things, concerning entirely the imaginary kind of person they had concocted by their own unreasonable scriptural literalist expectations.

    There is a lesson to be learned here I think.
    .
     
  12. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    Well what was Malachi 4:5&6 all about? I assume, very possibly wrongly, that you think it was the word of God (I appreciate that to say otherwise is a sin here). Perhaps you would like to give us what I suspect is your "Rudolf Bultmann" like interpretation of these verses.
     
  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Verse 4 (Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel).

    This verse is often placed after verses 5-6 and may well have done so in the original, but there are good reasons to believe the whole of chapter 4 is an editorial addition to the orginal text.

    In Malachi 4:4 (Heb 3:22) the reader is confronted with a text critical problem. In some manuscripts of the Septuagint (LXX) Malachi 4:4 (Heb 3:22) is transposed to follow after Malachi 4:5-6 (Heb 3:23-24). This means that the last pericope of the book starts by mentioning the prophet Elijah and concludes with the reference to the Torah of Moses. The motivation for this change is said to soften the harsh way in which the Old Testament will come to an end, predicting a ban on the land with a more positive one of an admonition to adhere to the Torah of Moses. Scholarly opinion is divided on whether or not to accept the rendering of the Septuagint or to retain the text as it is. There is much to be said for the sequence of verses according to the Septuagint. The mentioning of a coming Day of the Lord in Malachi 4:5 (Heb 3:23) neatly fits in with the theme of the Day of the Lord in the previous unit. The Day of the Lord announced in the previous unit (Ml 3:13-4:3; Heb 3:13-21) will now be preceded by the coming of Elijah, probably resulting from the delay in the fulfillment of the prophecy on the coming Day of the Lord. Malachi 4:6 (Heb 3:24) will then serve as the climax of not only the book but also of the Corpus Propheticum as a whole, with the reference to the Torah of Moses.

    Malachi had long been regarded as the final contribution of the minor 12 prophets and came to be regarded as a fitting finish to the Jewish Bible.

    Moses was representative of The Law itself and Elijah was an obvious candidate as representative of the entire series of prophets, since he had, according to scripture never died on earth but was taken up into heaven alive. He caught the imagination of the Jews so this could be an editorial note offering an expansion of 3:1.
    .
     
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  14. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. I was not aware of the text critical background in this case. This was most enlightening. :thumbsup:
     
  15. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info Tiffy. I'll try and get my head around it when I feel there is enough space in it.:)

    Just one thing. I thought it was Chron2 that was the last book in the Hebrew Bible.
     
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    That’s correct.