The Instigator
michaellofton
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
MrJosh
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

Jesus is the Messiah who was prophecied in the Old Testament.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
MrJosh
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,060 times Debate No: 67620
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (22)
Votes (2)

 

michaellofton

Pro

The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem according to (Micah 5:2)
The Messiah would suffer for the sins of Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
The Messiah would present himself by riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
The Messiah would come before the destruction of the second Temple (Malachi 3:1).
MrJosh

Con

I would like to thank PRO for setting up this debate. I don't usually debate topics like this, but I figured I'd give it a go.

PRO's Claims

PRO has made numerous claims so far in this debate. By my count, they are:

1. Jesus is the messiah who was prophesied in the Old Testament.
2. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
3. Jesus suffered for the sins of Israel.
4. Jesus presented himself by riding a donkey.
5. Jesus came before the destruction of the second temple.

I would like to point out that even though the first claim is the main purpose of the debate, the other four, along with numerous other prophesies in the Old Testament, must be demonstrated to have been fulfilled, as the first claim necessarily rests upon them.

I will defer to PRO so he can provide evidence for his claims.
Debate Round No. 1
michaellofton

Pro

Thank you Mr. Josh for allowing me to demonstrates that Jesus is the Messiah. I suppose I should have done that with round one but I'm still learning how the format works since I am new to this forum. I apologize I didn't address that earlier.

To prove that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied in the Old Testament, I offer the following:

The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem according to Micah 5:2 which states:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

This was fulfilled in Matthew 2:1, which states:

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem."

The Messiah would suffer for the sins of Israel as Isaiah 52:13-53:12 says:

"Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall seei and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."

Notice that in the above quotation, it isn't referring to the suffering servant as an entire nation (such as Israel), but refers to the suffering servant as an individual upon whom the iniquity of the entire people was laid upon and was stricken for the sins of his people, which Jesus clearly fulfills in the crucifixion. It even says he will be cut off from the land of the living, but then says God will prolong his days, which is clearly a reference to the resurrection of Jesus found in Luke 24. This entire prophecy was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus, which is found in Matthew 27:32-55.


The Messiah would present himself by riding on a donkey in Zechariah 9:9, which says:

"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

This was fulfilled in Matthew 21:1-11, which says:

"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find a donkey tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon a donkey, and a colt the foal of a donkey .And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,And brought the donkey, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee."

The Messiah would come before the destruction of the second Temple is prophesied in Malachi 3:1 which says:

"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty."

This was fulfilled in Jesus who is the Lord that often came to his temple, (see Matthew 21:12). It should also be noted that the temple prophecied about in the days of Malachi's prophecy was the second temple, which was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. For this reason, the Messiah would have had to have come before its destruction.

Thus Jesus, fulfills the requirements expected of the Messiah, as prophecied in the Old Testament.
MrJosh

Con

I would like to thank PRO for his arguments this round. No problem about not making your arguments in the first round. Some people do, some don’t; it’s often little more than personal preference. However, in this particular debate, I couldn’t really argue against your case before you made it, so here we are. I hope this will be an informative and enjoyable exchange. I am first going to address PRO’s main argument, and then I will give some examples that show that the Jesus character in the New Testament could not be the messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

The Main Point

I would like to begin by stating that I accept that all of the alleged prophesies PRO cites; I will not argue that they are too vague or otherwise not applicable. For the purposes of this debate, we will assume that they are actually prophesying about the expected messiah. I see that PRO is using the New Testament book of Matthew almost exclusively to demonstrate the fulfillment of these prophesies. (There is one reference to the 24th chapter of Luke, but PRO states “the entire prophecy was fulfilled…in Matthew.”) I am going to discuss one of PRO’s alleged fulfillments directly, and then take on the veracity of the writings attributed to Matthew.

Born in Bethlehem?

PRO has made the claim that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem. To support this, he cites the Book of Matthew which states that, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea” [1]. However, how do we know this is true? There is debate among scholars and religious leaders as to where Jesus was born. Archaeologists have excavated Bethlehem and failed to find any evidence that it was a functioning town during the first century [2][3][4]. There is evidence of material dated as recently as the sixth century BC, as well as a great deal from the sixth century AD, but nothing at all from the first century [3]. In fact, the Pope Emeritus Benedict the XVI has written that it is unclear whether Jesus was born in Nazareth, Bethlehem in Judea or Bethlehem in Galilee [5]. So, if the town didn’t exist when Jesus was allegedly born, how could he have been born there?

The Veracity of Matthew

Most of PRO’s argument rests upon the account recorded in the New Testament book of Matthew. This writing is known to have been written approximately between the years of 80 and 90 [6][7], by an anonymous author [8][9]. It is also known to be largely a forgery from the Gospel of Mark [9][10]. So, we have an unknown individual, writing about events that allegedly took place before the writer was even born, and it is known that much of the writing was borrowed from at least one other source. This makes everything written in the Gospel of Matthew hearsay [11], which is not generally admissible in a court of law [12], nor in any real discussion of facts. Unless PRO can corroborate the hearsay in presented in the book of Matthew, with extra-biblical evidence, it can all be dismissed.

Unfulfilled Prophesies

Of course, let us not forget that there are numerous prophesies in the Old Testament that Jesus did not fulfill, demonstrating that he was not the messiah. I will list only a few:

  • The messiah must be a descendant of King David. Since Jewish descent is determined patrilinearly [13][14], and Jesus is claimed to not have an earthly father, he cannot be a descendant of David, and therefore, cannot be the messiah.
  • When the messiah comes, there will be universal knowledge of God [15][16]. This is clearly not the case [17][18][19].
  • When the messiah is ruling, he will gather all the Israelites back to Israel [20][21]. This has obviously not happened [22][23].

Since Jesus did not fulfill all of the prophesies regarding the expected messiah, he was clearly not the messiah.

Wrapping Up

I have demonstrated not only that there is not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but also that the Gospel of Matthew is not a reliable source. Therefore, PRO has not yet demonstrated any of his claims. Also, I have provided three examples of prophesies Jesus did not fulfill, demonstrating that he is not the messiah mentioned in the Old Testament. I look forward to PRO’s comments in the following round.

Sources:

[1] http://biblehub.com...
[2] http://archive.archaeology.org...
[3] http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com...
[4] http://www.cogwriter.com...
[5] http://newsfeed.time.com...
[6] Aune, D. E. (2010). The Blackwell companion to the new testament. DeKalb, IL: John Wiley & Sons, p. 290.
[7] http://www.bc.edu...
[8] http://www.facingthechallenge.org...
[9] http://www.npr.org...
[10] http://web1.calbaptist.edu...
[11] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[12] http://www.law.cornell.edu...
[13] http://www.jewsforjudaism.ca...
[14] http://biblehub.com...
[15] http://biblehub.com...
[16] http://biblehub.com...
[17] http://atheists.org...
[18] http://www.atheist-experience.com...
[19] http://www.debate.org...
[20] http://biblehub.com...
[21] http://biblehub.com...
[22] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[23] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org...

Debate Round No. 2
michaellofton

Pro

Thank you for your response. I really appreciate it did not contain any of the common rhetoric and emotionalism we find among some debates. To be candid, I was hoping this was going to be more from a Jewish Vs. Christian context, but this is fine. If I would have known along what lines we were going to have debated I would have probably phrased the resolution differently, such as, "are the NT Gospels reliable", but that is okay because your objections are still relevant to my claim.

Bethlehem

You ask: "how do we know this is true" in regards to what Matthew says about being born in Bethlehem. The underlying premise is that Matthew itself is not an historically reliable source to determine what happened in history. I do not accept this premise, and believe we have to prove that it is unreliable. Otherwise, if we assume every historical document we read is unreliable historically, this would result in a form of radical skepticism, one in which one would be forced to conclude that we cannot know whether anything is historically accurate, unless we were present. I think ultimately your question is an epistemological one, but for now we will approach it from an historical-critical approach.

You appeal to archeology as saying Bethlehem was not a functioning town during the first century. The Archaeological Study Bible indicates on p. 1487 that Bethlehem was a small village around the time of Christ's birth. So, yes, it was small in population, but I don't see that disproving that Jesus was born there. After all, the number of people in a village has no bearing on whether someone was born in a cave in Bethlehem or not (a cave which the second century Church Father, Justin martyr, identified in his own time, ibid, p. 1668)

As far as Pope Benedict XVI on Bethlehem. I've read his book on the infancy gospels and have not come across the quote you referenced in Time magazine, and Time does not include a source. However, I did find in his book where he explicitly affirms Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Pope Benedict says "Significant exponents of modern exegesis take the view that when Matthew and Luke say Jesus was born in Bethlehem, they are making a theological statement, not an historical one...I do not see how a basis for this theory can be gleaned from the actual sources...If we abide by the sources, it is clear that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth" (The Infancy Narratives, p. 65-66). This leads me to believe either the Time magazine quote is inaccurate, or it is taking him out of context. If I am given a source for this quote in Time Magazine, I'll take a look at it but I couldn't find it after an Internet key word search.

Veracity of Matthew

I did not intend to rely on Matthew alone, to the exclusion of the other Gospels, but we can deal with the veracity of Matthew. I question your sources as far as the dating of Matthew, but even if the Greek version of Matthew is this late (I've read scholars who say 70 A.D. for the Greek version), it doesn't detract from the fact that the Aramaic/Hebrew version of Matthew was written around 50 A.D. and was the first Gospel written according to early Patristic sources (such as Papias in 130 A.D.). As far as the author, I have no problem saying that the editor who translated the work into Greek had some involvement in additions to the Gospel, additions which would have been based on people who were contemporaries of Christ and were still alive. I believe if there are such additions, the Holy Spirit inspired them as well, so that they do not detract from the inspiration of the Gospel of Matthew.

As to the Gospel of Matthew being a forgery of Mark, neither of the sources you quoted say this. There are some who believe Matthew came from Mark and a third source known as Q, though there is absolutely no evidence that a Q source ever existed, whereas, there is ample evidence a Hebrew/Aramaic version of Matthew was written as the first Gospel. As to whether Matthew came from Mark, some believe this because there are parts of Matthew that read exactly like Mark, but it stands to reason Mark could have used the earlier Aramaic text as a source and thus Mark would have been later than Matthew. So, there isn't any hard evidence Matthew copied Mark. Since it hasn't been proven that Matthew came after Mark, I would say the many Patristic claims that Matthew was written first is more reliable (this is one of the reasons why some scholars believe Matthew was written first and the Q hypothesis is bunk, see the Archaeological Study Bible, p. 1685).

This all demonstrates that your claim that "we have an unknown individual, writing about events that allegedly took place before the writer was even born, and it is known that much of the writing was borrowed from at least one other source. This makes everything written in the Gospel of Matthew hearsay" is unfounded.

Unfulfilled Prophecies

Though Jesus did not have an earthly father, and given that some Jews determine Jewish descent through the father, he was still of the seed of David because he was the adopted son of Joseph, a direct descendant of David. Thus, he could legally lay claim to the throne of David.

You quoted from Ezekiel 38:23 and said that it was prophesied that there will be universal knowledge of God when the Messiah came. Actually, it says "So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD." So, some translations say "many" not "universal" or "all nations". I did find a translation that says "all" but it was a dynamic equivalency, while the formal equivalencies say "many". This is definitely the case today, most nations have a knowledge of the God of the Bible. But even assuming it means "universal knowledge", who is to say this prophecy had to be fulfilled in His first coming? It could legitimately be fulfilled during his second coming, so this argument is not only unsound, it does not logically follow.

As far your claim based on Deut 30:3 that the Messiah is ruling, he will gather all the Israelites back to Israel, we should not that it nowhere says this is indicative of the time of the Messiah. It says "then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you." Nothing in the context I read demonstrates it is talking about the Messiah, but even if it was, it does not logically follow it is referencing the first coming. Additionally, this passage can be understood as a typological reference to the Church, which is the New Israel and is made up of people form every nation. You also reference one of my most favorite Scriptures, Jeremiah 31:33 which says "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." This verse is in the context of the Messiah, but it doesn't require that it be fulfilled entirely in the first coming. It is possible to understand this as beginning with the first coming and being consummated with the second coming. Thus, an appeal to this verse also does not logically follow.

In conclusion

The testimony of the earliest Christians was that Matthew was written first, and scholars say around 50 A.D. in its Aramaic form. Thus, we have no reason to believe Matthew is unreliable, and to assume it is not a reliable witness, without hard evidence to back this up, results in a form of radical skepticism, where one cannot reasonably know anything historically. For these reasons, Matthew is suitable for proving that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament and my use of it to prove Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies listed in my opening statement, still stands.
MrJosh

Con

I would like to thank PRO for his comments. I would also like to echo PRO’s appreciation regarding the reasoned nature of this discourse. I did think, based on the comments section, that you were looking for a Jewish perspective, but as no one was taking the debate, I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring. Onto the arguments!

Bethlehem

I would like to start with your point about Bethlehem being a “small village” at the time of Jesus’ birth. I could find no evidence to support your claim, and I unfortunately do not have an Archaeological Study Bible to reference. I did look to see if there was an online version I could consult, to no avail. On this matter, however, I would question the source. The Archaeological Study Bible is published by Zondervan, a publishing company that claims to be a “world leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications.” They also boast to have been providing “transformational Christian experiences” for more than 80 years [1]. They clearly have a profit motive to support the Christian mythos. With that background, I have to question their objectivity.

Pope Emeritus

PRO has claimed to have personal knowledge of the book written by the former pope. Unfortunately, I cannot verify either point, not having the book at my fingertips. I included this point simply because I found it interesting; my argument does not hinge on it. Since PRO has read the book, I will concede the point.

The Veracity of Matthew

Here, PRO has made many points regarding the authorship and conditions around which it was written. Unfortunately, PRO has not offered any evidence for his claims. However, even if he is right, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that there is no external verification.

PRO thinks that the text of Matthew should be accepted as reliable until it is demonstrated otherwise. Unfortunately, this is just not how things work. It is understood that evidence is required to choose between two competing views [2]. However, in the absence of evidence, should we believe claims until they are disproven, or should we withhold belief? If we believe a proposition simply because it has not been disproven, as PRO suggests, we are committing an Argument from Ignorance Fallacy [3]. Therefore, if we are going to come to any justified conclusions about reality, we are better served by withholding belief until evidence is provided. I would like to add that I am not claiming that the account in Matthew is false, I am stating that we have no reason to accept it as true.

Unfulfilled Prophesies

I offered examples of three unfulfilled prophesies, all of which PRO challenges. I will address them in order:

Descent from David

PRO claims that Jesus fulfills this prophesy by being the adopted son of Joseph and therefore having a legal claim to the throne of David. However, Psalms 132:11 says that the messiah will be “of the fruit of thy [David’s] body” [4]. It does not say “legal heir,” or “someone living in the house of,” it is clearly talking about physical, genetic descendants.

Universal Knowledge & the Gathering of Israel

PRO’s rejection of these two prophesies rely on different interpretations. PRO interprets the passages I cited in different ways, changing their meanings. I admit that I am no scholar of holy books; as an atheist, I have only a passing interest. I will simply note two points:

1. PRO has not offered any reasoning or evidence as to why his interpretation should be accepted over mine.
2. My interpretations are supported by the Jewish community [5][6], by the people who are most familiar with the language and culture in the time and place where many of the books were written.

Wrapping Up

PRO has questioned my evidence that Bethlehem didn’t exist during the alleged birth of Jesus, but he has not provided any good reason to think otherwise. He has also claimed, by fiat, that we should believe the accounts in Matthew until they are disproven. I have demonstrated why that is the incorrect way to evaluate claims. PRO has questioned my examples of unfulfilled prophesies. In the first case, I demonstrated the veracity of my claim with scripture. In the other two, which were subject to interpretation, I showed how the Jewish community supports my position; PRO has offered no good reason to accept his interpretation. On the whole, PRO has not met the burden of proof for his claim that “Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied in the Old Testament.”

Sources:

[1] http://www.harpercollinschristian.com...
[2] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[3] http://philosophy.lander.edu...
[4] https://www.biblegateway.com...
[5] http://www.jewsforjudaism.ca...
[6] http://www.aish.com...

Debate Round No. 3
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by gomergcc 2 years ago
gomergcc
most of the time I think a debate is a tie it is because both sides equally stink. This debate to be both side did equally well in all the voting categories.
Posted by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
No worries, I didn't think you had any such intent, and as I mentioned, I am in favor of continuing the conversation.
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Post is now down.
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Actually I'll just remove the post on my site until the voting period is over and then I'll repost it. Will that work Mr josh?
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Good point Mr. Josh. That was not my intention. However you are welcome to reply to what I wrote and I'll post it on the blog to be fair.
Posted by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
I would like to request that anyone who is interested in voting on this debate please read the debate and vote BEFORE going to PRO's blog and reading it. I don't think PRO intended it to be so, but it is the equivalent of giving him an extra round to make his case. While I am in favor of continuing the discussion, I feel the link should not have been posted until after the voting has ended.
Posted by Vajrasattva-LeRoy 2 years ago
Vajrasattva-LeRoy
@Pro/ Michaellofton:
If you really believe that everybody who tells the truth has "issues" ,
you're really nuts.
........................................................
STOP CALLING ME JESUS !!!
THAT WASN"T MY NAME !!!
Posted by michaellofton 2 years ago
michaellofton
Here are my concluding thoughts on the debate:

http://consolamini.org...
Posted by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
Thanks Michael. I'll be interested to see your thoughts.

@gomergcc
If you think that aspect of the debate we essentially even, ignore it and consider the other areas of the debate.
Posted by gomergcc 2 years ago
gomergcc
How do you vote on to well rounded arguments for the Christian and the Jewish views on this?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by NoMagic 2 years ago
NoMagic
michaelloftonMrJoshTied
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Reasons for voting decision: How does Pro (know) that Mathew wasn't written in order to fulfill O.T. prophecy in order to claim Jesus was the Messiah described? Pro never demonstrates that Mathew is an accurate description of events that really took place. Good debate on both sides. Con simply has the stronger position and better arguments.
Vote Placed by Splenic_Warrior 2 years ago
Splenic_Warrior
michaelloftonMrJoshTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate basically boiled down to a poorly constructed argument. Pro set the debate up in such a way that he owned the full burden of proof, and Con chose not to take any on his own. As it stands, Pro was not able to demonstrate that Matthew is accurate. Therefore, he has not met his burden. Also, Con showed how Jesus could not have been in the line of David. Con's other two counter-prophesies boiled down to interpretation, and since Pro had the burden of proof, he loses by not satisfying it. Finally, Con's points were well sourced, while Pro argued mostly from books which are not easily accessible. To be fair, Con did cite one obscure book as well, but the point was also backed up by a .edu, so even if we throw the book out, the point stands.