Is Jesus the Promised Jewish Messiah
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I would like to thank Swagnarok for agreeing to debate this with me.
Is Jesus the Promised Jewish Messiah?
1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
10. Con must waive in R1 and Pro must waive in R5.
11. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss
R1. Con waives; Pro's Case
R2. Con's Case; Pro generic Rebuttal
R3. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal
R4. Con generic Rebuttal; Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary
R5. Con generic Rebuttal and Summary; Pro waives
In this round, I hope to show several things: (1) that the Christian concept of the messiah is contrary to the Jewish scriptures; (2) that Jesus did not meet the requirements to be the messiah; and (3) that one can find atonement without Jesus
The word Messiah
The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word moshiach, which means anointed. The Hebrew Bible uses the word moshiach on many occasions that refers to kings, priests, and prophets. For example, David calls Saul HaShem’s moshiach:
Shmuel Aleph 26:9: “But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed (moshiach) and be guiltless?”
Exodus 30:22-38 gives the procedure of anointment and how the anointing oil is to be made. Jesus was not anointed with that oil and thus cannot said to be a messiah.
The Messianic Criteria
In order for a person to be the messiah they must be a a Jewish male from the tribe of Judah and a descendant of David through Solomon (Jeremiah 33:17-22; 2 Samuel 7:12-16). This presents a huge issue. First, Christians claim that Jesus was born of a virgin (more on that later). This disqualifies Jesus because the tribal status passes from male to male. Since Jesus did not have a biological father, he therefore did not have a tribal affiliation and thus cannot be the messiah. Second, the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke contradict each other! Matthew’s genealogy goes from David through Solomon (Matthew 1:6-7) whereas Luke says Jesus came from David through Nathan (Luke 3:31).
The Messiah’s Job
The Messiah will do several things: (1) bring the Jews back to Israel [Isaiah 11:12; Ezekiel 37:14]; (2) bring peace fo the Earth [Isaiah 11; Micah 4:3]; (3) rebuild the temple in Jerusalem [Ezekiel 37 through the end of the book]; (4) the entire Earth will know God [Isaiah 66:23].
Jesus did not fulfill a single one of these roles and thus cannot be the messiah. Furthermore, Christians counter by arguing that Jesus will fulfill these during the second coming. But there is not one verse in all of scripture that says there will be two comings of the messiah. He will get the job done the first time.
Why we Need a Messiah
The Jewish and Christian understanding of what the messiah is are worlds apart. Christians believe that Jesus is the perfect and final sacrifice and that he came to fulfill the Torah and make it obsolete. This is far from the truth! We need a king messiah, to live in Israel, to have the Temple rebuilt so that we can perform the mitzvot that are only applicable in Israel and when there is a Temple.
Sin, sacrifice, and atonement
Christians believe that we are so sinful that we need Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in order to find forgiveness. The Jewish response is simple. First human sacrifices can never be accepted, second sacrifices were never required for atonement, and finally no one can die for the sins of another.
Since we have no temple in order to be forgiven is to do teshuva, repentance. In fact even when there was a temple standing teshuva was required! A sacrifice without teshuva is invalid! Hashem promised us that we will always be able to go back to Hashem. In Deuteronomy Moshe prophecies about the exile:
"Hashem will scatter you among the other races and few of you will be left among the nations where Hashem will send you; and there you will serve gods that are man's handiwork - wood and stone - which cannot see or hear and which do not eat or breathe. But from that place you will seek out Hashem your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him out with all your heart and all your being... in the later times, when you are in distress because of all these things that will have happened to you, then you will return to Hashem your God and you will start listening to His Voice, because Hashem your God is a compassionate God - He will not abandon you and He will not destroy you, because He will never forget your ancestors' covenant that He swore with them..." (D'varim 4:27-31).
When the first temple was built Shlomo HaMelech said this:
"If they sin against You - for there is no man who never sins - and You become angry with them and give them over to an enemy and their captors carry them off captive to an enemy country, far or near... and they take the matter to heart in the country to which they will have been carried off captive and they repent and beg You in their captors' country and say 'We sinned, we acted crookedly, and we were wicked' and they return to You with all their heart and all their being in the country of their enemies who captured them, praying to You towards their own land that You gave to their ancestors—then, in Heaven, the foundation of Your abode, You will hear their prayer and their begging and you will do right by them: You will forgive Your nation for what they sinned against You and for the rebellious ways in which they rebelled against You, and You will arouse their captors' compassion for them so that they will treat them mercifully - because they are Your nation and Your inheritance whom You took out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting crucible! So may Your eyes be open to Your servant's begging and to Your nation Yisraél's begging, and may You listen to them whenever they call out to You..." (M'lachim Alef 8:46-52).
Ezekiel 33 also states the following:
“Now you, son of man, say to the house of Israel; So have you spoken, saying: For our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and because of them we are melting away, so how can we live? Say to them: As I live, says the Hashem/God, I do not wish for the death of the wicked, but for the wicked to repent of his way so that he may live. Repent, repent of your evil ways, for why should you die, O house of Israel! And you, son of man, say to the members of your people: The righteousness of the righteous will not save him on the day of his transgression, and the wickedness of the wicked-he will not stumble upon it on the day of his repentance of his wickedness, and a righteous man cannot live with it on the day of his sinning. When I say of the righteous that he will surely live, and he relied on his righteousness and committed injustice, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered, and for the injustices which he committed he shall die. And when I say of the wicked man, "You shall surely die," and he repents of his sin and performs justice and righteousness,The wicked man will return the pledge, he will repay the theft; in the statutes of life he walked, not to commit injustice-he will surely live, he will not die. All his sins that he sinned will not be remembered for him: he performed justice and righteousness; he will surely live. When a righteous man repents of his righteousness and commits injustice, he will die because of them. And when a wicked man repents of his wickedness and performs justice and righteousness, he shall live because of them.”
Here we are presented with two people: A wicked man who repents and becomes righteous and a righteous man who repents and becomes wicked. God forgives the wicked man and forgets his sins.
Ezekiel 18:20 says that the person who sins will die. No person is able to die for the sins of another.
There is not a single verse in all of the Hebrew Bible that says faith in the messiah alone is the only method of atonement. Not one!
Jesus cannot be the Messiah. He failed to have the basic qualifications of the messiah and failed to do even one of the Messianic prophecies.
As a Jew, I believe with perfect and complete faith that the messiah will one day come. Even though he tarries, I will await his coming every day.
Re: Pro’’s intro
I want to address pro’s argument that Jesus allegedly filled over 300 messianic prophecies. So what? I proved in the last round that there are many others that are left unfulfilled, an issue that pro conceded. If there’s one prophecy unfulfilled then he cannot be the messiah.
But let’s take a look at some of these “prophecies.” All of these prophecies that he fulfilled are either: (1) based on a mistranslation; (2) taken out of context; (3) don’t even exist; or (4) are not prophecies at all!
Matthew 1 cites Isaiah 7:14 as being a prophecy of being born of a virgin. The problem? Isaiah 7:14 does not say the child will be born of a virgin. The Hebrew text says:
הִנֵּ֣ה הָעַלְמָ֗ה הָרָה֙ וְיֹלֶ֣דֶת בֵּ֔ן וְקָרָ֥את שְׁמ֖וֹ עִמָּ֥נוּ אֵֽל׃
Behold! The young woman is with child and is going to give birth to a son. She will call his name Immanuel.
הָעַלְמָ֗ה (Ha’Almah) means The Young Woman, not a virgin, as Matthew wants us to believe.
If you look at the context of Isaiah 7 it is clear that this is nothing about the Messiah. Rather the Immanuel child is a prophetic name in reference to a war that is taking place at that time and place. It is a sign to Ahav and the House of David that the kingdoms you dread will be taken out shortly.
Let’s look at one more. Matthew 2:21-23 states:
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.
Problem? There’s no such prophecy anywhere in T’nach that says the Messiah will be from Nazareth or will be called a Nazarene.
Psalm 1:8 “But his [the righteous] desire is in the Torah of Hashem, and in His Torah he mediates day and night.”
Psalm 19:8: “The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is faithful, making the simple one wise.
Psalm 119:1 “Praiseworthy are those whose way is perfect, who walks with the Torah of Hashem.”
Proverbs 3:18 “[the Torah] is a tree of life…”
The Torah further gives a litmus test to seeing who is and who is not a true prophet.
- One who claims to have been sent from God and advocates idolatry;
- One who attempts to abrogate the Torah; or
- If a prophet’s words are not fulfilled.
Second Christianity states that the Torah is no longer binding. Jesus even commanded a person to violate Shabbat! John 5 states:
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
Jesus also made several prophecies that were unfulfilled. Jesus claimed that he will be coming back and people who are standing there will see him return! Mark 9:1 states “And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."
Jesus disciples and apostles clearly believed that Jesus will return in their lifetime. The New Testament repeatedly says that Jesus is coming soon and that it is the last hour. That’s strike 3! We all know what happens after the 3rd strike!
Re 2. The exclusivity of the Jewish Religion is immoral
It’s important to note that Hashem wants to have a relationship with all of mankind, not just the Jewish people. The Jewish people were given the job of the priestly nation. Their job is to be a light unto the nations and bring the nations closer to Hashem. The Temple is called a house of prayer for all nations.
God made a covenant with the nations as well. We know from the Book of Jonah that God sent a Jewish prophet to a gentile city to repent because he wants them to observe the Noahide laws and act morally.
There are 7 laws that apply to all mankind. These laws are:
- Do not murder.
- Do not steal.
- Do not worship false gods.
- Do not be sexually immoral.
- Do not eat a limb removed from a live animal.
- Do not curse God.
- Set up courts and bring offenders to justice.
If a gentile wants to become a Jew, then he must convert. The conversion process can be long and difficult. One must learn the mitzvoth and how to observe them. They also are taught Jewish philosophy and theology. Once they are ready to convert, they appear before the beith din who will determine if they are ready. For a male they must get circumcised and then go to the mikveh. For a woman all she has to do is go to the mikveh.
There are certain people who are forbidden to convert. Those are the Amalekites and the Moabite men. Is God going to cast them into hell because they got unlucky to be born to those nations? Of course not! They just need to follow the Noahide laws and they will be considered righteous.
The Talmud states (Bava Kamma 38) that a gentile who keeps the Noahide laws is on a spiritual level like the high priest!
Re 3. Historical Evidence against a yet-to-come Messiah
The prophets warned us that there will be an exile coming but promises us that we will eventually return to our land.
Unfortunately during the time of the second temple there was a lot of strife and discord amongst the Jewish people. The Sadducees who ran the Temple were in bed with the Romans and were highly corrupt. The Sadducees were also heretics who rejected the Oral Torah and rejected the concept of a messiah or the resurrection of the dead.
The Talmud states that the temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred and lashon
Hara amongst the Jewish people.
Israel’s birth in 1948 is just the start of the redemption. Eventually there will be a Messiah who will come to rebuild the temple and finish gathering the exiles. Israel is the first flowering of our redemption.
May the righteous moshaich come speedily and in our days.
As it turns out, my opponent has made a slight error. In his Round 3 argument, he said that (and I quote):
This is not entirely wrong, of course. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. You see, my opponent informed me privately that the source for this translation was the Masoretic Text. This version of the OT, the most favored among Jews today, was created sometime from the 7th to 10th centuries AD.
Unfortunately, this means that, at earliest, the Masoretic version of the Book of Isaiah first appeared more than 1000 years after the life of the prophet Isaiah (and, of course, well after the life of Christ).
There exists a considerably earlier version than this, the Septuagint (often abbreviated as “LXX”), which was written for the benefit of Hellenic (Greek-speaking, and probably among other things) Jews. The Septuagint was completed sometime in the 2nd century B.C. Though not necessarily the oldest extant version of the OT (re: the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Septuagint’s greater age should certainly grant it more credibility than the Masoretic text, since the former was written significantly closer to the time of the original source material than the latter.
This is what the Septuagint reads for Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.”
Unfortunately, I was unable to find exactly what the Greek word for the “virgin” part was used. However, my opponent has informed me that the word was “parthenas”. Wiktionary defines “Parsenos” (from which such is derived) as: “1. young, unmarried woman; maiden 2. Virgin” (along with less relevant definitions which will not be included).
So per the Septuagint she who would conceive would be either an unmarried woman or a virgin; given that there was no pathway for a never-before-married woman to get pregnant and for that to be right in YHWH’s eyes, the clear implication is that the pregnant woman would be a virgin. Plus, it kind of goes without saying that any unmarried woman is physically capable of going and having sexual relations out of wedlock and then getting pregnant (barring medical conditions making such impossible for her), so there’d be no miracle in her getting pregnant unless she was still a virgin.
That being out of the way, my opponent did of course point out that the virgin birth described here was apparently a physical event that happened in King Ahaz’s day, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
However, in Christianity and in the Gospels there is the idea that events in the Old Testament foreshadowed events that either happened in the New Testament or are prophesied in the New Testament to happen.
Here’s one example: in John 3:14, Jesus said that “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
What he was referring to, of course, was the incident recounted in the Book of Number in which the Israelites, bitten by poisonous serpents and dying because of their disobedience to God, could only be saved by gazing upon a bronze serpent erected by Moses.
We know why the bronze serpent was set up in that day and age, because the text that recounts the story tells us why. However, God also had the future in mind: the future coming of Christ, who would be lifted up onto a cross so that those who placed their faith in Him could be saved from the poisonous effects of their own sins.
Here’s another example: in Matthew 24 Jesus said that “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
The Book of Genesis tells us why God flooded the earth, why Noah was to build an ark. It had a clear purpose intended for that time. However, God also had in mind the future, in which He stood ready to damn a planet for its sins. In this future, salvation from the “deluge” of hellfire could only come through Jesus, who was the spiritual ark in this analogy.
My opponent is being a bit disingenuous, in my opinion, in assuming that the writers of the Gospels had to rely upon mistranslations to come up with the “Jesus story”. They were Jews, and of course they knew that the Immanuel prophecy was from Isaiah addressing Ahaz about events taking place in that day and age. And naturally, the writers of the Gospels would have known that their Jewish (original) audience would know this as well. They all had the OT in some form, of course, as the Jews were an extremely well learned peoples in that time (and today but I digress). They obviously regarded the passage in Isaiah it as foreshadowing, instead of trying to pass this off as something Isaiah randomly said without any context besides the coming of Christ.
When Jesus was born of a virgin, it was similar to the virgin birth in Isaiah’s day: it was a sign that God was present, that He had something to say for his people to hear. In this case, what God had to say is recorded as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before I continue, I would like to address these major discrepancies between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. It would appear that the early medieval Jewish leaders, surrounded by a newly triumphant Christendom which often persecuted them and tried to get them to convert, recognized the need, for the good of the Jewish faith (as recognized by them as being independent of Christianity), to alter certain Biblical passages so that they seemed less likely to support the Messianic nature of Jesus, so as to prevent their peoples from coming across such on paper and being tempted to convert to the faith of the Gentiles around them.
For this reason, I would consider any argument deriving from the Masoretic Text claiming that the Christians mistranslated the Hebrew Bible to be automatically suspect on its face. It could be argued by a non-Messianic Jew that Christians draw bad conclusions from the OT, but that’s about the extent of it IMO.
Alright, moving on…
God is perfect. So what God has spoken is also perfect. Seems logical. However, what God has spoken is not always the end in itself. The Mitzvot were sufficient for the purpose that they served.
The purpose of the Law of Moses was twofold: First, to give a glimpse of God’s glory, and of the standard that He required of man. Second, to make it clear that God’s law could not be followed. This latter point was struck in by the fact that the Israelites were near-consistently unfaithful for the 1000 or so years that they had the Law of Moses prior to the Babylonian captivity.
However, there’s more to it than that. For example, in Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said: “You have heard it said, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’. But I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart.”
That is to say, holiness is not just about what you say and do, but also about what you think. By this definition of holiness and sin, everybody has sinned at some point or another, because nobody can live a full life without thinking something naughty. It just doesn’t happen. Ever.
You get glimpses of this idea in the Old Testament. Passages that suggest lusting after a woman is bad. However, you will not get this from the Mitzvot. To my knowledge, nowhere does the Law of Moses say “Thou shalt not lust”. Perhaps the closest it comes to that is “Thou shalt not covet”, but that primarily seems to concern material possessions.
It is a perfect law, perhaps, but not all-encompassing. You cannot get the entirety of your worldview from such. The mere fact that Jews derive from other materials, such as Psalms and Isaiah, to derive moral principles is proof of that.
The Christian, then, has good reason to assume that perfect conformity to the Mitzvot does not necessarily equate to perfect or even reasonable conformity to the universal standard of justice. It is then, by definition, inadequate. Neither Jesus nor his disciples tried to lay down an exact framework for how to abide by such a universal standard. Rather, they just gave some examples in some instances, because a book covering every possible contingency would fill the page length of a hundred Bibles in itself. And, frankly, we should have a spirit of discernment to tell whenever something is not right .
2. Exclusive Faith
To prove that Judaism supports the idea of Noahide Gentiles being righteous before God my opponent cited something from the Talmud called “Bava Kamma”. This is not in the Old Testament and is of dubious credibility.
Even if the righteous gentile doctrine is true, however, the Jew-Gentile distinction is still unjust: it assumes that God only expects certain people to live up to a certain standard of holiness, and that everyone else does not have to. Likewise, it assumes that Jews will reap the reward for this obedience whereas gentiles will get no such reward. The Jews clearly are unable to opt out of the responsibilities of being Jewish, as doing so brings only the wrath of God upon them.
At this point, we must ask two questions: First, why must only one group suffer the inconveniences of the law? Second, why must only one group be eligible to receive a reward? The dividing line is who your parents were, who your grandparents were, etc. Gentiles might be technically eligible to join (provided you live in a time and place where there are Jews in your midst, who you know about and are able to contact, and face the barrier of being circumcised as an adult), but Jews are not allowed to leave. It is simply unfair, and as such it cannot be the permanent status quo but rather a temporary situation with some divine purpose behind it.
3. Historical Evidence
There was indeed a prophesied exile: in 586 BC, whenever King Nebuchadnezzar invaded the southern kingdom of Judah and took its people into captivity.
But then they came back. They returned to Israel. After that, another captivity was not prophesied.
My opponent says that the Jews were exiled once more for hatred and evil speech (bigotry of attitude and behavior against Gentiles, I’m assuming). However, one would think that under those circumstances God would send a prophet to warn against that, as He had in the past prior to punishing the Jews with exile. Even just one guy to sound the warning bells, but to our knowledge, nonesuch existed, with the possible exception of Jesus.
- The Messianic Requirement
In my opening round I pointed out that Jesus failed to have the basic messianic requirements. The genealogies of Jesus are hopelessly contradictory and because Jesus was born of a virgin he doesn’t have a paternal claim to the throne of David. These genealogies contradict not only each other but contradict the lineage in the Tenakh.
Pro’s solution doesn’t actually solve anything! He flat out ignores this and his response is quite weak.
First it isn’t a matter of convention that the lineage was traced through the father, it’s the law! Let’s say that a Levite marries a woman from the tribe of Judah. What tribe will their children belong to? They belong to the tribe of Levi.
Let’s say that a Levite adopts a child from the tribe of Judah, are they now a Levite and will they be able to perform the service of the Levi’im? No!
2. The Messiah’s Role
Pro also drops this issue entirely! There isn’t a single verse in the Tenakh (old testament) that says a messiah will come twice. The idea that “the messiah will get it done eventually” simply doesn’t work. There are a certain group of Chabad Hasidim that say that their Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, is the Moshaich (even though he’s dead). By Pro’s logic, one can easily just claim the Rebbe is the moshiach (which, of course, he is not).
Please extend across the board.
Pro fails to attack the substance of the argument. Every king was anointed by the anointing oils. The moshiach too must be anointed as well otherwise he cannot be the moshiach. I find this one phrase quote quite telling:
Were Jesus (or anyone else, for that matter) anointed by, say, the high priest of His day, then He likely would have been recognized by the Jewish people as the Messiah. They would have followed Him to the grave, as the Romans would have surely retaliated with the full arm of their military might in one of the bloodiest exchanges the Mediterranean world had seen in decades, if not centuries. Under the conventional framework, Jesus would have either proven Himself by prevailing militarily and establishing a lasting, independent Jewish state or shown Himself to be a fraud by losing to the Roman army.
Indeed! That’s exactly how we would have recognized who the Messiah was! But no one, not a single major Rabbi even endorsed Jesus! This is the entire functionality of what the Messiah will do and what his role is!
4. Sin and Atonement
The Tenakh repeatedly calls people righteous. Proverbs 24:16 states: “For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.” Righteous does not mean sinless.
Pro’s understanding that Psalm 14 means that there isn’t anyone who is righteous is refuted by the 5th verse:
There they were in great fear, for God is in the generation of a righteous man.
Psalm 14 that Pro cites is talking about Nebuchanezzar and his men. Rashi comments:
The fool said in his heart, etc.: David recited two psalms in this Book, in one manner [with almost identical wording]: the first one concerning Nebuchadnezzar and the second one (ch. 53) concerning Titus. In this one, he prophesied concerning Nebuchadnezzar, who was destined to enter the Temple and to destroy it, with not one [man] of all his armies protesting against him.
“There is no God”: and “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.”
Human sacrifices have always been an abomination to God and always will be.
5. The need for a Moshiach
Pro drops this point. Extend across the board.
I have said much about the Mitzvot and about the universal standard of justice (that is, the morality that God practices and demands of humans). I have little more to say about these this round, not because I concede anything but rather because at this point I fear that I’d have very little to say on the matter that was original. I’d simply end up repeating myself, as I have already. Instead, I’ll address my opponent’s R4 arguments and perhaps raise one or two new ones of my own (which should not be too problematic, as my opponent will have opportunity to respond to such whereas vise-versa would not be the case).
In regards to the lineage of Jesus, my opponent brought up a hypothetical example of a Levite marrying a non-Levite woman who already had children, so as to show that paternal lineage by adoption is nonexistent in the Bible.
I should point out that there were high expectations on the Levites, on how they should behave and on the skill sets that they should possess. If, say, for instance, upon marriage a Levite became father to a 13 year old who was his new wife’s son, it would be unreasonable to expect that this person would be qualified in any way, shape, or form to serve as a priest. Such a person could quite possible make a mockery of the profession if allowed.
There is no clear cut-off point as to when a child would be too old that he was set in ways contrary to the hardcore standards of the Levites, which is probably why that prohibition existed in the first place.
The Levites were set apart presumably because they sided with Moses against the idolaters in Exodus 32. However, the practical reason was so that there was a distinctive class of people who would be raised into having the qualifications to serve as priests. It also helped prevent just anybody from serving in that capacity, to maintain a level of order and decorum to the practice.
But as for that Levite, if his wife had a six month old son at the time of marriage then I do not see why he could not be raised as a proper Levite.
Jesus, of course, being without sin or blemish, was perfectly qualified to serve as the Messiah.
Per my opponent, some supporters of a man named Menachem Mendel Schneerson have claimed that he was the messiah. Per my opponent, this man’s claims to being the Messiah (or the claims of his followers pertaining to the man possessing such a status) are as valid as those of Jesus.
I will admit, a lot of people have come along claiming to be the Messiah.
So what set Jesus apart from just any claimant? It is the track record of the movement that He founded. Let me explain:
Starting c. the 1980s-1990s, there was a great increase in public awareness about pedophiles and child molesters, leading to things like the Amber Alert system. It is acceptable in our culture now to say things like “These people are a waste of our tax dollars. Let them get raped like their victims and then put a bullet through their skulls.” Indeed, there is a near-universal consensus in the Western World and the US that child molesters are literal trash. We question their right to exist in a way that would not be acceptable for virtually any other group, even Satanists and Neo-Nazis.
So imagine that there was no common law in America, and the government was allowed to start murdering pedophiles in extremely gruesome and sadistic ways, on live television so that their humiliation and dehumanization was maximized. Imagine that this became a routine affair that began around the time of the 1990s and continued for the next 280 years afterwards.
Imagine that at the end of this 280 year period pedophilia was legalized, and then finally within a few decades most people were convinced that not only was pedophilia okay but that in fact it was your moral duty to go around boning little kids left and right.
The above sounds completely absurd, right? Well, that’s pretty much the story of Christianity. From its onset, Christianity was regarded as a fringe movement. The Romans believed that the Christians practiced cannibalism (based on a misinterpretation of the text establishing the Eucharist) and possibly even incest. They were blamed for the Great Fire of Rome (along with, I imagine, other things).
They regarded Christianity as such an abomination as to be totally contrary to human decency, and its adherents less than human, as many people regard pedophilia today.
The Romans went after Christianity with extreme prejudice: the graphic martyrdom stories have survived to this day. Of the 12 Apostles (not counting Judas, who betrayed Jesus, and including Matthias, who was not originally one of the 12 Disciples) only one, John of Patmos, avoided martyrdom and managed to live to an old age. The early Christians were stoned, burned alive, torn apart by wild animals in amphitheaters, hacked to death by gladiators, boiled in oil, frozen to death, etc. In fact, the persecution got worse over time before coming to a close: its climax was the Great Persecution (under emperor Diocletian), which took place just a few years shy of the Edict of Toleration under emperor Constantine.
Now, I should add that there’ve been plenty of religions that survived extreme persecution. For example, the Mandaeans in Iraq, the small remaining community of Zoroastrians in the Middle East, and of course the Jews. In each of these cases, there were survivors who went on to have children who passed on the faith.
In the case of Christianity, however, it not only survived but continued to spread. During this period of persecution, Christianity spread by means of conversion. That is, there were actually large numbers of people who found the religion appealing enough to brave hardship and possible death.
Christianity survived, spread, and ultimately took over the Roman Empire, albeit with the help of coercive means after 314 AD. It was something without precedent in history.
The Christian world was blessed by God, and they managed to more or less take over the world by the early 20th century, allowing for Christian missionaries to spread the gospel to every part of the planet.
As of October 2017, the full Bible has been translated in 670 languages, and the New Testament in 1,521 languages (per Wikipedia). Considering that the vast majority of the world’s population speak a small handful of languages, all for which there exist some sort of Bible translation, that’s not so bad at all.
The Christian world then went on, a couple of decades ago, to invent the internet, and allowed for access to such to be spread to most of the world. Now much of the world’s population is able to go online and read the Bible in their own language for themselves, for free.
The God of the Old Testament has been made known to the world by the Christians, whereas the Jews never did squat to spread that knowledge outside of their own communities, even though per the Judaism knowledge of such is necessary to be saved, even if Jewishness is not.
Alright, so, moving on…
My opponent talks about the fact that Jesus was not anointed by the Jewish religious leadership. While it should be noted that at least one fairly prominent pharisee, Nicodemus, was sympathetic to Jesus’s cause (though it seems Nicodemus was too afraid to openly endorse Him or whatnot), the NT makes it clear that the Jewish religious establishment of that day was insufferably corrupt, and if anything it would have been spiritually degrading for Jesus to accept anointment from them if offered. After all, all the people in the OT who were anointed received such at the hands of a righteous person. He was anointed by a woman who was penitent for her sins, and thus more righteous than the pharisees, and thus much more qualified to provide such for the messiah.
As I said before, if the purpose of the Messiah was to secure the political independence of Israel then the Jews do not need a Messiah, as they established the modern state of Israel without one. If the purpose of the Messiah is to rebuild the Temple (of which already existed in the time of Jesus), there’s almost nothing stopping Israel from doing so right now so the Messiah would, per this understanding, be relegated to the role of the metaphorical “guy who does the honors”.
My opponent points out that the OT makes mention to some people being righteous. In Genesis 15:6 it says that “And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him as righteousness.” This was in the context of God’s promise to Abraham that he would be given many descendants.
However, that was part of a general principle: those who place their faith in God shall be saved and counted righteous. This was explained later in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 11:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation…By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
The righteous man is he who God counts righteous, not he who is actually righteous by his works.
I believe I already explained in previous rounds why under normal circumstances human sacrifices are abominable to God, but why the sacrifice of Jesus was holy and acceptable.
Before I conclude my arguments here, I would like to petition the reader who would vote on this debate not to award against me the point for sources. Though I’ve provided nothing in terms of links, I’ve cited plenty of sources which just a little bit of added effort should be enough to conjure up. Namely, I used the online Jewish website “Chabad” for OT passages and an online English version of the Septuagint for Isaiah 7:14. So please make that one a tie.
And with that, I am done. Thank you Con for this excellent debate and I’ll be looking forward to your final round of arguments.
21From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” 23But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”…
I remember that once in a discussion with some whom the Jews regard as learned I used these prophecies [Isaiah 52:13-53:8]. At this the Jew said that these prophecies referred to the whole people as though of a single individual, since they were scattered in the dispersion and smitten, that as a result of the scattering of the Jews among the other nations many might become proselytes. In this way he explained the text: “Thy form shall be inglorious among men“; and “those to whom he was not proclaimed shall see him“; “being a man in calamity.”