Re: Prophecy

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Posted by Dawud on April 02, 2101 at 04:14:12:

In Reply to: Prophecy posted by Nick Stone on April 01, 2101 at 19:07:57:

The first thing you have to remember about "the current view held by historians" about Jesus is that there's more than one. (View, that is, not Jesi!) The skeptical wing is inclined to doubt everything except the stuff the gospel-writers obviously didn't make up, because they found it embarrassing. This approach does not leave very much in the way of biographical information, beyond the bare assertion (also doubted by a few) that Jesus existed, received baptism from John, was a religious teacher of some kind, and was executed by the Romans.

According to this minimalist view, the Bible certainly cannot tell us when he was born, since the two birth narratives (Matthew and Luke) are full of apparently legendary elements and also contain what seem to be historical mistakes. (Which is natural assuming they were written a generation after Jesus's death, amidst huge social upheavals, by people who weren't even trying to write what we would recognize as history anyway.) We also don't know his age at death, by the way--the number 33 is often thrown about, but it is based on medieval Christian tradition. As for the conservative and fundamentalist wings of Christian scholarship, they too generally acknowledge that lacking sufficiently precise biblical information, they are unable to pinpoint Jesus's exact year of birth. I've heard people try to tie astrological or astronomical information to the story of the magi, but this sort of thing should be regarded as wildly speculative.

Followers of the skeptical/minimalist approach, and indeed most middle-of-the-road approaches (under Jewish influence), are also inclined to doubt that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. According to this way of thinking, such prophecies were originally composed with other contexts altogether in mind, but illegitimately co-opted by Christian writers, who used strained interpretations to make them seem to refer to Jesus. Certainly the "weeks of years" type of calculations based on the book of Daniel, and made famous by the 19th century Adventist movement, would not be taken seriously by even many conservative scholars, let alone moderates and liberals. If I may say so, it has all the credibility of pyramid prophecy.

Most of the Baha'i appeals to Christian scripture as prophecies fulfilled by the Baha'i religion, are interpretations which (how shall I put this?) have little to recommend them other than the spiritual authority of the interpreter--which is absolute for Baha'is and nil for outsiders. (Does the Book of Revelation *really* refer to events in the Ottoman Empire?) More generally, the Baha'i emphasis on millenarian themes within Christianity would be regarded by most Christians as a distortion of Christian emphases. The Adventists and their like are *not* typical of Christianity, though of course it is conceivable that (as Baha'is might say) the mainstream of Christianity has missed the spiritual boat, and it is the Baha'is whose interpretation is more faithful to Jesus.

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