One of the biggest absurdities ever claimed by Christians is that many of the prophecies made in the Old Testament refer not to events that were expected to occur within a few years, but to events that might occur hundreds or even thousands of years from the time of the prophecy, including references to Jesus that were only realized as such after the fact. One example of this is the claim that the prophet Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be born of a virgin and would be God incarnate. But in fact, he did no such thing.
[Christian apologist Josh] McDowell zeroes in on the virgin birth of Jesus, but digresses immediately into the mine field of “fulfilled prophecy.” He shows himself as heedless of the original context of biblical prophecies as his colleague in charlatanry Hal Lindsey (you know you’re dealing with real scholarship when your authorities go by names like “Josh” and “Hal”). He can unblinkingly cite Genesis 3:15, an etiological myth for why humans hate snakes, as a prediction of the defeat of Satan by Jesus! This medieval eisegesis makes utter gibberish of the context, but that’s okay with Josh. Context means nothing to a proof-texter. It simply does not occur to McDowell that no one living in pre-Christian times could have possibly understood any of the texts he blithely cites as predictions of the Messiah’s birth. These interpretations arose only after the fact, once Christians began to proof-text them as square pegs jammed into the round holes of Christian dogma. In other words, they sound like predictions of Jesus only once you read them through Christian lenses. Thus they have no evidential value in the endeavor to prove someone should adopt the Christian standpoint. It only seems to work once you’ve done so, and even then it is only an optical illusion.
“A clearer prophecy occurs in Isaiah 7:14 which states that ‘… a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel’ (KJV). This is very specific in that the reference is to a virgin. This most logically, refers to the woman in Genesis 3:15.” Does it? One only need do what McDowell apparently has never done and open Isaiah 7:14 itself, which, as ought to be obvious even to the veriest fool, concerns itself with the birth of a child contemporary with Isaiah himself, as his birth will herald the imminent downfall of the Israelite-Syrian alliance against Judah. At this point McDowell’s argument is simply moronic, unworthy of a pimply adolescent Hi-BA member. It appears to be good enough for McDowell that Matthew cites Isaiah 7:14 as a prediction of Jesus’ virgin birth, only he ignores the implication of Matthew 13:51-52 that Matthew understood all such prophecies as allegorical double fulfillments, something inconsistent with McDowell’s inherited Protestant literalism, so he just ignores the context and pretends Isaiah was an ancient Jeanne Dixon.
Parenthetically, it is this sort of idiocy that explains why up to now scholars have not given McDowell’s tripe the time of day, for fear of appearing to dignify it with a response. My fellow contributors to The Jury Is In and I, however, feel that something ought to be done for the sake of the weaker brethren who do not know better and whom McDowell is causing to stumble into misinformation and delusion.
Ouch! Shall we look at the original scriptures then, to find their real context?
Isaiah 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 7:2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. 7:3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; 7:4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 7:5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 7:6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7:7 Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. 7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 7:10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 7:11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 7:13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
No reference to a Messiah living several centuries in the future here! The note next to verse 14 says:
The King James Version mistranslates the Hebrew word “almah”, which means “young woman” as “virgin”. (The Hebrew word, “bethulah”, means “virgin”.) In addition, the young woman referred to in this verse was living at the time of the prophecy. And Jesus, of course, was called Jesus — and is not called Emmanuel in any verse in the New Testament.
Then in the very next chapter of the book of Isaiah, we read:
Isaiah 8:1 Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz. And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 8:3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. 8:4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
So it’s quite obvious now that Isaiah was referring only to his own son, NOT to someone who would be born centuries from now to a virgin. Isaiah’s wife was not a virgin! The word “virgin” was falsely used in the Greek Scriptures (the New Testament) at Matthew 1:23 to apply the prophecy to Jesus, but it was not in the original Hebrew Scriptures. By the way, this debunks the notion that the writer of Matthew’s Gospel was a Jew writing for other Jews, since any actual Jew who knew the original context of Isaiah’s prophecy would have known Matthew was writing outright fraud. This matter would also explain why the Roman Catholic Church was so reluctant for centuries to allow the Bible to be translated from the Latin Vulgate to modern languages. People would have eventually realized the problem with scriptures like Matthew’s gospel and rejected Christianity as a result. And that’s what has happened, pathological liars like Josh McDowell notwithstanding.
No wonder most Jews refuse to become Christians!