On "All Prophets Were False!"
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We are told of Thomas Paine: he is "but one of the honest, objective Bible scholars who have pointed out that the so-called Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament were an extreme misunderstanding." For an answer to this charge, see here; but Paine a "Bible scholar"? This was a man who dismissed serious study, telling us that a Grecian milkmaid would understand ancient Greek better than any of us could.

  • We are told that some of the prophecies "were written after the fact!" Not that a shred of proof exists for this -- honest Skeptics (like Tim Callahan, who may be the only one out there) admit that this is an assertion beyond proof, and that both sides maintain their views by loyalty. Our critic cites the likely existence of oral tradition prior to the writing out of material, and then posits whatever psychological phenomena are needed to suppose that the Jews added some touches during the writing process: i.e., "to show the hand of God in all the events that befell them and to offer a guilt-laden superstitious explanation for them. Actually, though, the only explanation was that the ancient Hebrews were relatively small and weak, and were surrounded by more powerful neighbors who acted typically for the time and place."

    God was invented for revenge? It's always easy, of course, to make such postulations; I may as well argue for our own Skeptic's psychological dependence on some object. Does he deny it? Of course; he would, because denial is one of the symptoms of the disorder. Are there no such objects in his house? He rents them and returns them every morning. He wears a disguise so no one will recognize him. Isn't this a sound theory to explain his behavior?

  • On Babylon, see here.
  • On Egypt, in Is. 19:4, our critic opts for saying that predicting Egypt will fall is "like predicting that Tampa Bay will miss the playoffs next season." Rather ironic that since 1995, that in itself has become a less than an easy prediction, especially in light of the Super Bowl. But a prophecy does not have to be spectacular to be valid -- only correct.
  • "Next Isaiah denounced Idumea ( chapter 34). Predicting the dissolving of the mountains in blood ( v:3) was a blatantly absurd hyperbole, and prophesying that it would become a wasteland that none would ever pass through ( v:19) has been contradicted by historical reality." Calling ancient hyperbole "blatantly absurd" is like calling barrio poetry "intensely boring." It is a subjective judgment call and has no place here. Our critic, here and in later entries, could stand some information on ancient literary practice. (For some more on this, see our work on the Olivet Discourse.)
  • On Is. 7:14, see here; see also here.
  • On Jeremiah, see here. Our critic says: "In 34:22, Jeremiah said that the cities of Judah would be a desolation without an inhabitant, which was hardly the case. After Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, only some of the Jews were taken captive to Babylon, and Gedaliah was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be "governor over the cities of Judah" ( 40:1-5). Jeremiah was allowed to 'dwell with him [Gedaliah] among the people that were left in the land'( v:6)." Our critic needs to read a bit further to Jer. 43-44.
  • We are told: "If all this weren't bad enough, in Lamentations 4:22, Jeremiah stated that God would no more send his people into captivity. Obviously, he was not prophet enough to foresee the final Diaspora at the hands of the Romans (something the Gospels were able to hint at, after the fact) or the concentration camps in our own century."

    The terminology here involves no future prediction; it states that God will no longer "no more carry thee into captivity," the words "carry" and "captivity" both being the same Hebrew word galah. It says, "I will no longer captive thee into captivity," i.e., I will bring it to an end. The word "more" is yacaph, meaning continuation. It refers to the then-present Exile, and has nothing to do with future events.

  • We are told: "Ezekiel, the maniac prophet, blew it when he predicted the restoration of Sodom and Samaria to their former status (16:55)."

    How so? Samaria, representing the Kingdom of Israel, was restored; it was a mutant people (Israelites and pagans, making the Samaritans), but it did come back. Sodom, representing the original Canaanites, continued living in the mixed bloodlines of Palestine as well.

    For Edom, see here. For Tyre, see here. For Egypt, see here. Study of ancient literature in this regard will help one understand the veracity of hyperbolic excess in apocalyptic prediction (as in Ezek. 33) and how Jesus fulfilled the David prophecies of Ezek. 34 and 37.

  • On the matter of Jesus' prophecies of his return, see here.

    -JPH