What to do with an atoning/non atoning Jesus?

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  • This could go on forever, so I will probably say no more about it after this:

    Marcus Borg (whom I in many ways admire) is a Jesus Seminar scholar who dislikes atonement thinking and argues that in Mark 10:45 "ransom" means something else. He also argues that Paul was not into any kind of "payment" thinking, but I notice that he never mentions Paul's statement that "you were bought with a price" in his arguments.

    And does not 1 Peter indicate that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53 in that "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...and by his wounds you have been healed"?
  • This could go on forever, so I will probably say no more about it after this . . . .
    This is discussion. It's what happens on these boards.
    And does not 1 Peter indicate that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53 in that "he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...and by his wounds you have been healed"?
    I would say yes. I would also say that there are a variety of ways to read that that have nothing to do with retributive punishment a la PSA. Indeed, I'd say retributive punishment isn't there at all unless the reader assumes it must be there. I would also say "healed" is an odd choice of words if the rest of the passage is talking about PSA. PSA isn't about "healing," it's about substitutionary punishment.

  • Yes, this is discussion, but this could tediously go on and on. I rest on what I have said.
  • Offering for sin (Isaiah). Ransom (Jesus). Bought with a price (Paul).
  • Yes, this is discussion, but this could tediously go on and on. I rest on what I have said.
    Seems to me like actual discussion was just starting. Why do you think it’s tedious already, or on the way to tedious? If you think I’m wrong about something, please tell me why.

    Offering for sin (Isaiah). Ransom (Jesus). Bought with a price (Paul).
    Care to unpack that some? What do you mean?

  • Boy oh boy oh boy. On and on and on.

    The servant is punished, chastised, marred, despised, rejected, held of no account, wounded, crushed, bruised, oppressed, afflicted, led to the slaughter, cut off from the land of the living, poured out to death, stricken for transgressions, made an offering for sin, caused to bear iniquities/sin. Pretty strong discipline and instruction.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    @Martin54
    Careful, Martin, you'll have me falling in love with you!

    Let me just draw one little line of distinction, though not of total disagreement:

    I find myself flinching at being lumped in with all who come down extremely strongly on Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Having said that, however, I must admit this:
    Isaiah 53, which you and I are both convinced must have influenced Jesus, does mention "punishment" or"chastisement" being laid on the suffering servant (verse 5) .

    And if that influenced Jesus...

    Flinch not. I'm 65 on Wednesday, I feel 30 years older. I look it. And I'll never get there, not even close. I lump you not, nor myself. But PSA is OT and Jesus saw it in Himself. He couldn't wriggle out of it. Tho' He tried, God bless Him. It should enable us to reach out, include conservatives who see it as legal writ. Our position is postmodern, we must take the primitive text as meant. But not so. He drank the cup in faith. But it wasn't necessary for God to forgive us (for what?). It was necessary to get our attention.
  • Boy oh boy oh boy. On and on and on. . . .

    You said:
    I'm not sure how thoroughly Jesus' culture was into "full-blown PSA," as Nick Tamen puts it, but one would have to wonder how they and he understood Isaiah 53:5
    (Emphasis added.)

    It seems to me that one place to start with that question is the original language. Do you think I’ve got the meaning of mosar wrong?


  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    @Nick Tamen
    Thank you, Nick. I found that very helpful. Forgive me if I interpreted what you said more negatively than you meant it. For some reason, I did find myself feeling a bit disappointed by your response to my question for Ehrman.
    Glad you found it helpful.
    I did not grow up in a fundamentalist church so my experience was nothing like his. If anything, it was some radical liberals who upset me, at least a little bit. . . .
    Ah, well. It was just a guess. I thought I remembered you saying something about being told not to question, but it’s quite possible I misremembered.
    Martin54 wrote: »
    You and I are about the only ones here, if not the only ones here, who despite our liberalism, see Jesus fulfilling His culture's PSA expectations in faithful enculturated ignorance, despite and because of His divine nature.
    Well, that may be because I think, Martin, you’re the only one around here who thinks his culture had PSA (or at least full-blown PSA as currently understood) expectations to start with. :wink:

    Aye Nick, I'm a simple minded old ex-con: former conservative. It's what my jaundiced old eye sees and nobody can dissuade me.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    But PSA is OT and Jesus saw it in Himself.
    Where exactly do you see PSA in the OT?

  • Martin54 wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    @Nick Tamen
    Thank you, Nick. I found that very helpful. Forgive me if I interpreted what you said more negatively than you meant it. For some reason, I did find myself feeling a bit disappointed by your response to my question for Ehrman.
    Glad you found it helpful.
    I did not grow up in a fundamentalist church so my experience was nothing like his. If anything, it was some radical liberals who upset me, at least a little bit. . . .
    Ah, well. It was just a guess. I thought I remembered you saying something about being told not to question, but it’s quite possible I misremembered.
    Martin54 wrote: »
    You and I are about the only ones here, if not the only ones here, who despite our liberalism, see Jesus fulfilling His culture's PSA expectations in faithful enculturated ignorance, despite and because of His divine nature.
    Well, that may be because I think, Martin, you’re the only one around here who thinks his culture had PSA (or at least full-blown PSA as currently understood) expectations to start with. :wink:

    Aye Nick, I'm a simple minded old ex-con: former conservative. It's what my jaundiced old eye sees and nobody can dissuade me.
    Fair enough.

    Ignore my last question if you like; I cross-posted with you.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But PSA is OT and Jesus saw it in Himself.
    Where exactly do you see PSA in the OT?

    Isaiah 53:4-6, 10, 11

    Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes 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 [...] It was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin ... By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities."
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    @Nick Tamen
    Thank you, Nick. I found that very helpful. Forgive me if I interpreted what you said more negatively than you meant it. For some reason, I did find myself feeling a bit disappointed by your response to my question for Ehrman.
    Glad you found it helpful.
    I did not grow up in a fundamentalist church so my experience was nothing like his. If anything, it was some radical liberals who upset me, at least a little bit. . . .
    Ah, well. It was just a guess. I thought I remembered you saying something about being told not to question, but it’s quite possible I misremembered.
    Martin54 wrote: »
    You and I are about the only ones here, if not the only ones here, who despite our liberalism, see Jesus fulfilling His culture's PSA expectations in faithful enculturated ignorance, despite and because of His divine nature.
    Well, that may be because I think, Martin, you’re the only one around here who thinks his culture had PSA (or at least full-blown PSA as currently understood) expectations to start with. :wink:

    Aye Nick, I'm a simple minded old ex-con: former conservative. It's what my jaundiced old eye sees and nobody can dissuade me.
    Fair enough.

    Ignore my last question if you like; I cross-posted with you.

    No way Nick. One must answer according to faith. I don't accept any atonement theory. I do accept God's at-one-ment with us in Jesus of course.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited July 2019
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    But PSA is OT and Jesus saw it in Himself.
    Where exactly do you see PSA in the OT?
    Isaiah 53:4-6, 10, 11

    Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes 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 [...] It was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin ... By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities."
    Thanks!

    I'll readily agree that I see atonement—substitutionary atonement, even—as well as sacrifice for sin in that passage. I'd also agree Isaiah asserts that this is God's will at work.

    But I don't really see the "penal" part of PSA here—that is, that this was all because of God's righteous wrath at our sinfulness, which could only be satisfied by punishment from God. I'm not saying it can't be read into the text, but it's not explicitly there, I don't think. Isaiah doesn't say anything at all about God's wrath or anger.

    More than that, I think the text just might argue against the idea that God is taking his wrath out on Jesus. The beginning of that passage says "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions." (Emphasis added.) It seems to me that Isaiah is saying that we thought God was punishing the suffering servant and striking him down, when it is really us who is striking him down and afflicting him. I read Isaiah as perhaps saying that everything the servant suffers is a direct result of our actions and transgressions.

    Yes, we do have the later line about the Lord laying on him the iniquity of us all. But again, that seems different to me from saying the Lord laid on him the punishment for us all. I have said on various occasions that I tend to see sin more in terms of disease rather than wrongdoing. With that lens, Isaiah seems to be saying that the suffering servant took the disease on himself, so that he could be the cure for the disease.


    tl/dr? Yes, I agree that PSA can be read into that passage. But I don't think the text requires it; I think the text equally or perhaps better supports other readings.
  • According to the Jesus Seminar scholars, the authentic teachings of Jesus put all the emphasis on personal and societal responsibility, on social justice and concern for the poor. But that emphasis gets dulled, they feel, when Christians stress the doctrine of atonement, on personal salvation, on being ‘born again,’ being ‘saved by grace,’ and ‘by the blood of Jesus’ – all of that progressives find to be strange, off-putting, even ignorant and superstitious. Such formulations make it sound as if there is something that must be done to us or for us that we cannot do for ourselves, and liberals find no such emphasis as that in those teachings of Jesus which they most value.

    Also, many liberals are deeply offended by the very idea that Jesus had to become a vicarious sacrifice, a substitute for us who died on the cross in our place because of our sins and for our forgiveness. They are quite turned off by that idea, the idea that Jesus had to take onto himself, or – even worse – the idea that God the Father placed on him all our sins and punished him so that we might be forgiven. That to them seems a strange belief, a strange notion – that God would not or could not forgive us our sins unless he punished Jesus. All such atonement doctrine they utterly reject, for it seems to them reprehensible, atrocious, even preposterous. And more especially so, they argue, when one remembers that the prophet Ezekiel once firmly insisted that no one would ever be made to suffer or die for anyone else’s sins, but only for his or her own. — "Yet Jesus was made to suffer and die for sins that were not his own?’ those liberals object. ‘How could a loving Father do such a thing? How could a just God allow a thing so very unjust?’”
  • What exactly are you responding to, @James Boswell II? It feels a bit as if you're just throwing random ideas out without drawing the dots to connect them to other things that have been said.
    According to the Jesus Seminar scholars, the authentic teachings of Jesus put all the emphasis on personal and societal responsibility, on social justice and concern for the poor. But that emphasis gets dulled, they feel, when Christians stress the doctrine of atonement, on personal salvation, on being ‘born again,’ being ‘saved by grace,’ and ‘by the blood of Jesus’ – all of that progressives find to be strange, off-putting, even ignorant and superstitious. . . . .
    Well, part of the problem here could be lack of precision about what is meant by "atonement." Paul says that "God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself," which seems to be to about as good a one sentence statement of "atonement" as I know of, and it says nothing about "personal salvation."

    And again,
    • Please stop with the broad brush on "many liberals" and "progressives," and
    • How about tell us what you think, not what Jesus Seminar scholars think.

  • I know a Unitarian pastor who goes much further than that. She argues that atonement thinking can actually be harmful, even dangerous, for the idea that suffering can somehow be good, can be redemptive, is a dangerous idea, she says. "Just look at those New Testament passages where Christian slaves are told to accept the authority of their masters, even when they treat them badly, and Christian wives are admonished always to be submissive to their husbands, no matter what. Any honest marriage counselor can tell horror stories about how Christian women have been derided and denounced for wanting relief and redress from abusive spouses, or severely condemned for wanting a divorce. And the idea that Christian slaves should meekly submit to the abuse of their masters is simply appalling."

    Not only that, but she feels that Jesus’ prohibition of divorce fed into the shameful suppression of women which has permeated much of Christian history – as did, she feels, his teachings about turning the other cheek, giving up one’s garment, going the second mile, and forgiving unlimitedly. The whole concept of suffering, self-denial, and self-sacrifice as an ideal, as a good thing – she thinks it’s impossible to calculate how much damage that has done down through the centuries. Damage to women and to the world, for it plays into concepts of a vengeful, violent, vindictive God, even a warlike God. It has led, she says, into male dominance and numerous dictatorships.

    And so she agrees with the Seminar scholars that the historical Jesus never spoke of atonement, but instead called everyone to an inclusive way of life that involves absolute egalitarianism, including total gender equality. And that, she thinks, is undermined by any emphasis on atonement thinking.”
  • But what do you think?
  • Jesus Seminar and liberal "christianity" simply project on Jesus the views of a modern days hipster. As if the people who wrote about Jesus in the first century couldn't understand a thing about his message, but they (modern days atheist whose only source about Jesus are the texts written by those first century christians who got it all wrong) could dig into the mind of a first century jewish carpenter. Nuts.
  • It's also informative to experience how strongly some liberals will object if anyone defends the historicity of the Gethsemane scene in Mark. I've even heard a Forum scholar publicly state that that scene is a total fabrication, a complete fiction, and when I asked why he thought that, he told me that no one really knows what Jesus prayed in the garden that night because, he said, "his disciples were too far away to hear what he was saying. And besides," he sneeringly added, "they were asleep."

    When I pointed out that according to Mark, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him deeper into the garden, asked them to sit and keep watch with him, and – as Mark specifically says – he went only ‘a little farther’ before he fell to the ground and began fervently praying that he might be spared the suffering he saw ahead of him.

    "And are we to assume," I asked that scholar, "that all three of those nearby disciples immediately and simultaneously fell asleep before they could get some sense of what Jesus in his agony was crying out?" At that point the Forum scholar ended the discussion.

    Now, although I'm increasingly finding that there are even some evangelicals, both in and outside academia, who flinch at traditional understandings of atonement doctrine, I still stand firmly by my conviction that Gethsemane happened. And as for the idea that any emphasis on atonement thinking undermines Jesus' call to radical discipleship, what could be more radically transformative than a humble messianic servant who calls on everyone to be like him and humbly, lovingly serve each other even to the point of death? What could be more radical than that?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    @Martin54
    Indeed, many scholars would argue that Isaiah 53 in it's original context was intended to reference the already accomplished suffering of a righteous portion of Israel. And if that is correct, and if Jesus understood Isaiah 53:5 to refer to him as the Messiah, that could/would be another "misunderstanding" on his part.

    Another example of his humanness? :neutral:

    Scholars eh? Bless them. Jesus couldn't not 'misunderstand', He believed He was Messiah. According to the Church. Taking the bet, He was. He was right, not a myth, not a legend, not deluded. He was the Son of God. How could He not see Himself in prophetic sacred scripture beyond merely identifying with literary tropes? It doesn't matter that the 'prophecy' isn't about Him, that His thinking wasn't modern, objective, analytical. He was right, regardless. Right to wrongly fulfil the prophecy.
  • You may enjoy this, @1986_overstaged, for much of it is directed against the Jesus Seminar.

    John P. Meier highly values The Criterion of Rejection and Execution which "directs our attention to the historical fact that Jesus met a violent end at the hands of Jewish and Roman officials and then asks us what historical words and deeds of Jesus can explain his trial and crucifixion as 'King of the Jews.' ...{And there] "scholars who favor a revolutionary Jesus do have a point. A tweedy poetaster who spent his time spinning out parables and Japanese koans, a literary aesthete who toyed with 1st-century deconstructionism, or a bland Jesus who simply told people to look at the lilies of the field--such a Jesus would threaten no one, just as the university professors who create him threaten no one. The historical Jesus did threaten, disturb, and infuriate people from interpretersof the Law, through the Jerusalem priestly aristocracy to the Roman prefect who finally tried and crucified him. ...A Jesus whose words and deeds would not alienate people, especially powerful people, is not the historical Jesus." --A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus 1991, p. 177.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    @Nick Tamen - tl/dr? Perish the thought brother. A perfect response. I will attempt to do it justice.
  • @Martin54
    Bless you, Martin, for you admit that Jesus, being human, had to "misunderstand" Isaiah 53, giving it a radically new interpretation other than its original, contextual historical meaning.

    He also surely thought the earth was flat and motionless, and for him the worldwide flood of Noah's time was as factual as dinosaurs are to us.

    So, bless your palpitating heart for saying,
    Martin54 wrote: »
    It doesn't matter that the 'prophecy' isn't about Him, that His thinking wasn't modern, objective, analytical. He was right, regardless. Right to wrongly fulfil the prophecy.

    :smiley: Wow. Just wow.
  • Martin, I trust the Hosts won't ban me for saying this, but you've just GOT to get and read my novel. You've just GOT to!
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Steady Jay Bee Two! We thrain (no such word... there is now) at least have goodwill. We'll work it out. I am far from the first in my take. Just first for me!
  • Not sure why you say we'll work it out, for I'm totally in accord with and even thrilled by your penultimate post.
    (I just think you'd find some portions of my novel as thrilling as I find that post.) :blush:
  • Or perhaps I should say, "you might find." :wink:
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »

    I think the text just might argue against the idea that God is taking his wrath out on Jesus. The beginning of that passage says "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions." (Emphasis added.) It seems to me that Isaiah is saying that we thought God was punishing the suffering servant and striking him down, when it is really us who is striking him down and afflicting him. I read Isaiah as perhaps saying that everything the servant suffers is a direct result of our actions and transgressions.

    A different slant:
    The beginning of that passage says "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted [for his sins]. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all [...] Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him with pain; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin ... he shall prolong his days. By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities...he poured out himself to death...yet he bore the sin of many...."
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited July 2019
    Nick Tamen wrote: »

    I think the text just might argue against the idea that God is taking his wrath out on Jesus. The beginning of that passage says "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions." (Emphasis added.) It seems to me that Isaiah is saying that we thought God was punishing the suffering servant and striking him down, when it is really us who is striking him down and afflicting him. I read Isaiah as perhaps saying that everything the servant suffers is a direct result of our actions and transgressions.
    A different slant . . . .
    Perhaps I’m missing something (always a possibility), but that slant doesn’t seem too different at all from mine. I don’t really see your slant as indicating in some way the “penal” aspect of PSA—that Jesus taking on the punishment for sins was necessary because atonement was not possible unless God’s righteous anger and justice was satisfied through punishment. Are you suggesting it does indicate that?

    Or perhaps a better question is exactly what do you mean when you use the word “atonement”?
  • "We considered him to have been stricken/punished by God [for his OWN sin] but he was wounded/punished for OUR sins."

    To me, the bracketed and capitalized part seems to be the only logical understanding for what precedes "But..."
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited July 2019
    Ah, my bad. I somehow missed the bracketed parts when I read earlier.

    Yes, I suppose one could read it that way, though to me that doesn’t seem the most logical way to read it, much less the only logical way. I take the “but” to counter “struck down by God, and afflicted.” In other words, it makes more sense to me to read it as “we thought he was struck down by God, but it was our transgressions that caused his wounds.” But again, I agree it could be read as you read it.

    But that doesn’t answer the question I asked you: Even if read as you read it, are you suggesting that indicates the “penal” aspect of PSA as it is generally now understood and taught—that Jesus taking on the punishment for sins was necessary because atonement was not possible unless God’s righteous anger and justice was satisfied through punishment.

    And you haven’t answered my earlier question either: Do you think I’ve got the meaning of the Hebrew musar* wrong?

    BTW, the Greek of the Septuagint (which, as I understand it, would have been the version of Scripture most familiar to Jesus and the disciples) appears to translate the Hebrew musar in Isaiah 53:5 (which as we’ve said English Bibles tend to translate “punishment” or “chastisement”) with παιδεία (paideia). Paideia means training or discipline (as of children), instruction or correction.


    * Sorry. I seem to have picked up a misspelling, but I hope I have it right now.
  • No, the Septuagint would not have been the version most familiar to Jesus and the earliest disciples. In the synagogues of Judea and Galilee, the Scriptures were read in Hebrew and then translated orally into Aramaic, the spoken language of the people.

    I will later comment more specifically on the deeper mystery of how I think Jesus understood his death, but it seems to me you overlook the fact that Jesus in Gethsemane was up against something extremely difficult for him, something deeply disturbing to him -- perhaps even something he now feels is not "fair" as he struggles with it repeatedly for an hour or more.

    Father, you can do anything. (All things are possible for you.) You could find some other way to accomplish your purpose, your will, and bring in your Kingdom, and I wish you would! I wish you would not require me to drink this terrible cup. I beg you, I beg you, I beg you, take it from me. Take it from me! And yet...and yet, not my will but yours be done. Not what I want, but what you want.

    And he struggled and struggled with that while his three most trusted disciples kept falling asleep. And when the armed crowd came to get him, he said, "Why did you not take me earlier, when I was teaching in the Temple? Why now, under cover of darkness, as if I were a robber ? Nevertheless, let the Scriptures be fulfilled."

    I don't know or care all that much whether or not Jesus was "hung up" on something we moderns choose to call PSA. But he sure was "hung up" on something.
  • OR I don't know or care all that much whether or not Jesus felt "up against" something we moderns choose to call PSA. But he sure felt "up against" something.
  • No, the Septuagint would not have been the version most familiar to Jesus and the earliest disciples.
    Many sources I have read disagree with that, noting among other things that the Gospels tend to quote/draw on the Septuagint as much or more than the Hebrew Bible.

    But regardless . . .
    I will later comment more specifically on the deeper mystery of how I think Jesus understood his death, but it seems to me you overlook the fact that Jesus in Gethsemane was up against something extremely difficult for him, something deeply disturbing to him -- perhaps even something he now feels is not "fair" as he struggles with it repeatedly for an hour or more.
    I’m not overlooking anything, because I’m talking about Isaiah 53:5, not about Mark’s scene in Gethsemane.

    You asked the question of how Jesus and his culture might have understood Isaiah 53:5, and you asked that question in the specific context of discussion on whether Jesus believed in PSA or where PSA can be found in the OT. It was you who said Isaiah 53 might have influenced Jesus in this regard.

    And you again have ignored the two questions I asked you, both of which bear directly on your question:
    • Do you think I’ve got the meaning of the Hebrew musar wrong?
    • Do you see the “penal” aspect of PSA as it is generally now understood and taught—that Jesus taking on the punishment for sins was necessary because atonement was not possible unless God’s righteous anger and justice was satisfied through punishment—in Isaiah 53:5?

  • I will repeat, and add this, though I'm drawing from memory that may be faulty.

    Jesus and the original circle of the twelve would hardly have used the Septuagint. In most synagogues of Galilee and Judea where the earliest disciples grew up, the Torah was read in Hebrew one line at a time and translated orally into Aramaic; the other Scriptures, the Prophets and so on, were read three lines at a time and translated orally into Aramaic. That was not the case only in the metropolitan areas such as Jerusalem where there were enough Hellenistic Greek speaking Jews to justify or require use of the Septuagint. And that would probably hold true for some Hellenistic Jews in Syrian Antioch.

    The Septuagint was used primarily among Greek speaking Jews in the Western Disaspora, especially in Egypt where it originated, and in other areas where Greek speaking Jews needed it.

    I believe that sometimes Paul exhibits influence from it, and sometimes seems to have relied on the Hebrew..
  • And again you ignored the two questions I have asked.
  • I am working on them.
  • Jesus and the original circle of the twelve would hardly have used the Septuagint. . . .
    I believe that sometimes Paul exhibits influence from it, and sometimes seems to have relied on the Hebrew..
    FWIW (and this is truly a tangent), Matthew 1:23 appears to quote or rely on Septuagint. The Hebrew of Isaiah does not use the Hebrew word for "virgin," but the Septuagint does use the Greek for "virgin."

  • FWIW?
    Well, it's worth very little. Surely you don't actually think the apostle Matthew (one of the twelve) wrote Matthew in it's present form, do you? That gospel was written in Greek around 75-85 and may have been intended for a Greek speaking community such as that at Antioch.
  • ...its present form
  • FWIW?
    Well, it's worth very little. Surely you don't actually think the apostle Matthew (one of the twelve) wrote Matthew in it's present form, do you? That gospel was written in Greek around 75-85 and may have been intended for a Greek speaking community such as that at Antioch.
    Sigh.

    No, I don't think Matthew actually wrote the Gospel attributed to him. I'm simply saying I have read numerous sources and scholars over the years who disagree with your opinion on this. And since you said Paul sometimes shows influences from it, it seemed worth pointing out that the Gospels do as well.

    I don't know who is right about this, and frankly I don't care all that much right now, so please do not feel like you need to school me on it further. My point simply was this: I have suggested that the Hebrew word (musar) typically translated into English as "punishment" or "chastisement" carries a somewhat specific shade of meaning in Hebrew—"correction" or "discipline," or punishment with the goal of teaching rather than of penalizing. Regardless of whether Jesus and the disciples were familiar with the Septuagint, the Septuagint translates the Hebrew musar with a Greek word (paideia) that has a similar meaning of "correction" or "discipline," indicating that the translators understood musar to mean something other than punishment as penalty for wrongdoing. It seems noteworthy to me that the two versions of the Hebrew Scripture extant at the time of Jesus use a word in Isaiah 53:5 that carries a connotation slightly different from standard reading of the English translations of Isaiah 53:5.

  • NICK TAMEN: "Do you think I’ve got the meaning of the Hebrew musar wrong?"

    JAMES: Yes, I think you are wrong on musar. I would think that you could see that Jesus in
    Gethsemane was struggling against something stronger than what you interpret that word as meaning.
    __________

    NICK TAMEN: "Do you see the “penal” aspect of PSA as it is generally now understood and taught—that Jesus taking on the punishment for sins was necessary because atonement was not possible unless God’s righteous anger and justice was satisfied through punishment—in Isaiah 53:5?"

    JAMES: Did I not earlier clearly say that I'm not sure how thoroughly Jesus' culture or Jesus himself were into "full-blown PSA," as you accuse Martin of claiming --

    BUT I also said, "one would have to wonder how they and he understood Isaiah 53:5."

    You are asking me to take a dogmatic position on something that we all find difficult -- and apparently Jesus himself did! He wanted "the hour to pass from him," he wanted to be allowed NOT to have to drink the dreadful cup he saw before him, and that cup would seem to be all that is described in Isaiah 53, including that he would soon be so mistreated, wounded, stricken, crushed, struck down -- so marred and so disfigured that he would hardly appear human!

    Let me quote the Jesus scholar, the historian Dale Allison here, for I am in thorough agreement with him [italics are added]:

    "Jesus' decision to die, whenever made and whatever the motivation and whatever his precise interpretation, left a vivid impression [in the gospel traditions and] is probably the best-attested fact about his last days. At some point, he determined to assent to his miserable end, accepting it as the will of God." And yet, Allison cautions, that historical conclusion "hardly constitutes a theory of the atonement" Constructing Jesus (pp. 433, 462).

    You, NICK TAMEN, keep hounding me for some "full blown" theory of atonement, and I am not comfortable with that.

    I will, however, eventually say more fully what I think, but do it in my own time and way.

    For now, I will simply say that that yes, it seems to me that in Gethsemane Jesus was reacting in horror to the dreadful cup of undeserved treatment that he believed was coming to him.
  • Thank you for you answers, @James Boswell II.
    NICK TAMEN: "Do you think I’ve got the meaning of the Hebrew musar wrong?"

    JAMES: Yes, I think you are wrong on musar. I would think that you could see that Jesus in
    Gethsemane was struggling against something stronger than what you interpret that word as meaning.
    How does Jesus's struggle in Gethsemane have any bearing on the meaning of musar? There is nothing in the text of Matthew, Mark or Luke's account of Jesus's struggle in Gethesemane (which I agree with you was very real) that makes any reference to Isaiah 53:5. You are reading that into the text, making the assumption that Isaiah 53 is in Jesus's mind and is the basis for what he's saying.

    Now, you and I may both think it is reasonable to assume that Jesus's comments are made with Isaiah 53 in mind. But it's not in the text. It is an assumption we bring to the text.

    And regardless, it seems irrelevant to the meaning of a word. The question was the meaning of a specific Hebrew word. Normally, we answer questions about the meaning of a word by looking at dictionaries, and by looking at how it is used in a variety of contexts. I'm more than happy to be corrected by someone who knows more about Hebrew than I do (which wouldn't take much knowledge of Hebrew), but it seems to me from what study I have done that musar does indeed mean "correction" or "discipline," and is indeed translated that way more often in Scripture than it is translated "punishment." It seems to me that has to matter for something.

    Besides, I see no reason at all that on one hand musar could not have the meaning I suggested, and that on the other hand Jesus could have been thinking of Isaiah 53 in Gethsemane and could have been agonizing as the Gospels say he was. There's nothing mutually exclusive there.


    As for the rest of your answer (on PSA), I agree totally with you (and Allison) about Jesus' agony in Gethsemane. I have not been trying to get you to take a dogmatic position at all, nor have I been hounding you for a full-blown atonement theory—at least, I have not been intending to. If I have come across that way, I apologize.

    What I have been trying to do is to explore how you're getting where you're getting, and to parse the distinction between what the text—in this case Isaiah 53—actually says and the assumptions we bring to our reading of the text.

    If we're talking about how Jesus and his culture might have understood Isaiah 53, then it seems like we should look at Isaiah 53 in the language(s) they would have known it in, and we should disregard the assumptions we bring to Isaiah 53 based on two millennia of Christian theology and Christian reading of it. But it seems to me that you're doing neither of these two things.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Although there have been quite a few scholars who have strongly contended that Isaiah 53 had nothing to do with Jesus' thinking, there have been numerous scholars who have felt that it did -- Joachim Jeremias, Martin Hengel, Frank Church and others.

    It will be interesting to see what position John P. Meier takes in his final much anticipated volume of A Marginal Jews.

    I will even grant you, however, that even the excellent scholar Dale C. Allison in that, for all that he said above he does not come down as strongly on the Gethsemane scene as I would, though he does stress it, as I indicated earlier. Nor does he adduce Isaiah 53 as strongly as I would have thought he would, though he does adduce it (see p. 414, including note 98: "The Synoptic passion narratives implicitly equate Jesus with Isaiah's suffering servant"). Allison then lists, among others, the phrases blood poured out for many, silence before accusers, slapping, spitting, amazement of Gentile ruler, association with criminals in death, fate shared with transgressors, scourging-- all of which and more are found both in the gospels and in Isaiah 53.

    Let me just say that I soon will tell you more fully what my own thoughts are. They probably will not satisfy you, and you probably will continue to want me to put things the way you are requesting me to put them -- and I think that my novel perhaps makes a better case for why I am convinced that Jesus was influenced by Isaiah 53 than I can make here.

    But I will tell you.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Let me just say that I soon will tell you more fully what my own thoughts are. They probably will not satisfy you, and you probably will continue to want me to put things the way you are requesting me to put them -- and I think that my novel perhaps makes a better case for why I am convinced that Jesus was influenced by Isaiah 53 than I can make here.
    I'm not asking you to put things any particular way. All I've been asking is about is what you see in the language of the text itself. Really, that's all.

    As for soon sharing what your thoughts are, I've lost count how many times you've thrown that teaser out—along, of course, with another plug for your book—in the almost 300 posts you've posted since you joined 18 days ago. I've about reached the point of not caring anymore; I may even be past that point already.

  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    @Martin54
    @Nick Tamen
    @Doone

    I am disappointed you continue to take such a contentious attitude toward just about everything that I say. Far some reason in my walking woundedness I find it encouraging that although a number of very good historical scholars sincerely do not think Jesus expected to have to die, there are some really excellent historical scholars who do not agree with that, and they are speaking up today. That may not mean anything to you, but for some reason it means something to me.

    Firstly, apologies for not responding earlier to this post, real life has got in the way of being able to make a considered response until now. I’m also sorry that my posts seemed contentious to you, but I was honestly trying to understand your points. I do admit, though, to ending up frustrated with your long posts that, to me, didn’t seem to really engage in actual discussion and that seemed, again to me, to be rather patronising. I accept that this was not your intention. Having now caught up with reading the thread through, however, I have decided it best to leave it at this point.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Sorry that you feel that way. See what I say to Doone.
  • @Doone
    I am sincerely sorry that you feel that way, for I really did get the feeling that you in particular were honestly trying to understand my points. I guess I do have some real problems with communicating, with thinking I have answered questions when I have not, as least in the opinion of the persons asking, for even with regard to Martin there were times when I genuinely thought that I had answered him, and yet he indicated I had not..

    When I told Nick Tamen that I soon will tell more fully what my own thoughts are, and answer as well as I can, I did not mean that to be "teasing," but rather to assure any interested person/s that after all this long time, I really twill soon try to lay out as well as I can what I think about this matter.

    Life got in the way for me too, for although I spent long swaths of time yesterday composing what I wrote, today I have been busy with two lengthy meetings and a doctor's appointment. I have not had time to get to it, and I have no energy for it now.

    I think I will be able to get to it tomorrow, and will try to state my thinking as directly, simply, and briefly as I can. Whether that will answer every question I doubt, since I seem to be especially inept at doing that, but also because I have unanswered questions of my own.

    But I will do the best that I can do, trying to make as clear as I can how I myself feel about "atonement" or whatever it might be called. I will give my opinion, right or wrong, as to how Jesus himself may have regarded his death, the reason and the necessity of it.

    And I think it is beautiful.

  • @Nick Tamen
    Meanwhile, before tomorrow, I thought of one quick question to ask you.
    Do you think Paul thought that Jesus was fulfilling Isaiah 53?
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