...continued from "We have found him"
It was the function of Israel and of individual Israelites to project the values of God into the society of men. From the many there arose one, the ideal Israelite Jesus of Nazareth.
He was seen by his supporters as possessing qualities and values which in Old Testament times had been connected with Moses, David, the nation Israel, the Kingdom of Judah, the Egyptian bondage, and the Babylonian captivity.
Essentially, Jesus of Nazareth was a composite of values expressed in Old Testament texts, which were not “prophecies” in the accepted sense but expectations and suggestions. This is made quite clear in the opening chapters of Matthew.
The ideals of Jesus were the exact reverse of what had been commonly expected. The Establishment based its opposition to him on its interpretation of specific Old Testament texts, and emphasised words rather than the value concepts which underlay the words.
It was such opposition that brought the retort from Jesus:
“You search the scriptures and think that in them you have eternal life …” (John 5:39)
As we have seen in "We have found him," some Messianic expectations were that:
- he would be an Israelite of the tribe of Judah;
- he would be descended from King David of the tribe of Judah and entitled by birth to sit on David’s earthly throne;
- he would be a deliverer like the prophet Moses who would save the Israelites from their enemies;
- he would usher in the Kingdom of God on earth;
- he would restore the fortunes of Israel;
- he would gather into one the scattered tribes of Israel;
- he would cause Israel to have dominion over non-Israelite nations;
- he would cleanse the world by fire.
The New Testament claims that points 5-8 were fulfilled by Jesus in a most unexpected way:
- He restored the fortunes of Israel because he restored the nation’s moral integrity;
- The tribes of Israel, though scattered, were reunited in obedience to a common moral principle set by Jesus;
- Because of the supremacy of its moral principles, Israel now had moral dominion over the non-Israelites;
- But this moral principle was like a fire, the fire of the Day of the Lord of prophecy, which burned the stubble of false values and false standards.
Should you wish to become acquainted with some of the paradoxes of messianic prophecy, there are two excellent but hard-to-find sources: Joseph Klausner’s The Messianic Idea in Israel and the article in A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture entitled The New Testament teaching on the Second Coming.
Better stilll, work out the matter for yourself by tracing the “prophecies” cited in the New Testament back to their Old Testament setting. This throws up the pattern in which Jesus, the unexpected messiah, fulfilled those “prophecies.”
It is now necessary to take a closer look at points 1-4 above as they showcase the ludicrous nature of church doctrine.
The final act in the Divine Comedy has begun.