What to do with an atoning/non atoning Jesus?

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  • I'll get back to my good old regular somewhat provocative self when I have more time.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    No commercial breaks...
  • Regarding whether Isaiah 53 influenced Jesus, the Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine has written:

    "...the Evangelists drew upon biblical precedents, especially the Psalms (22 and 69), along with echoes Amos 8:9, Zechariah 9-14, and Wisdom 2, to recount Jesus' suffering and death. Also influencing the gospel writers and, quite likely, Jesus himself, were Isaiah's Suffering Servant songs, particularly Isaiah 53. Ben Witherington translates ... both the Hebrew and the Septuagintal renditions of this chapter, and the distinctions are substantial. For example, Witherington notes that whereas the Greek focuses on the "sufferer being justified as a righteous person," the Hebrew speaks of "him making many righteous"; the Gospels, as opposed to Acts 8, draw primarily upon the Hebrew rather than the Greek, and thus the case that Jesus himself spoke in Isaianic terms becomes stronger. Finally, as Witherington observes, "The historical likelihood that Jesus spoke of shedding his blood in the place of many seems high..." (p. 37).

    --From The Historical Jesus In Context, edited by Amy-Jill Levine, Dale C, Allison, Jr., and John Dominic Crossan (2006. p.37).

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    The painful elaboration of the obvious strikes again.
  • The good news is that the arc of interpretation and exegesis, once much united on that obvious, is beginning again to curve toward it. At least, so it seems to me.

    I mean, when even a conservative Jewish scholar can see and extol its likelihood... I
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    And your point is what?
  • My point is that when even a conservative Jewish scholar like Levine (who if anyone can be disinterestedly objective about the matter, she should be able to be) -- if even she can see that it is "quite likely" that the historical "Jesus himself" was "particularly" influenced by Isaiah 53, that raises questions as to why so many Christian scholars object to that very idea and try so frantically to deny it.

    Tell me if you can, anyone.
  • @Barnabas62
    I would especially appreciate hearing your take on that.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    My point is that when even a conservative Jewish scholar like Levine (who if anyone can be disinterestedly objective about the matter, she should be able to be) -- if even she can see that it is "quite likely" that the historical "Jesus himself" was "particularly" influenced by Isaiah 53, that raises questions as to why so many Christian scholars object to that very idea and try so frantically to deny it.

    Tell me if you can, anyone.

    There is no milage, no reputation to be made.
  • I had a really fine time yesterday with the United Methodist class who met to discuss my ideas. They were positive, appreciative, and asked some really good questions. We have two more sessions scheduled in which we will deal in greater depth with whether Jesus was into apocalyptic eschatological thinking, but even more whether he himself was into some form of atonement thinking. The excitement and interest in the class is palpable, I'm glad to say. :smiley:
  • I have been asked on this blog why I think that Isaiah 53 lies behind Mark's Gethsemane scene, in which Jesus expresses a willingness to die for some good purpose.

    I have already given one answer in the form of a question, as follows:

    In Mark 10:45, it becomes clear that Jesus expects to give his life "as a ransom for many," and at the supper on the last night of his life he says that the final cup of wine which he gives his disciples to drink is "my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many" (14:24) [Matthew 26:28 adds: "for the forgiveness of sins"].

    The Question: Where, in all of the Hebrew scriptures, is there a passage which indicates that someone, not an animal but a human being, is depicted as giving his life to bring about forgiveness for others?

    Answer: I know of no place except Isaiah 53:10, where the servant is made "a sin offering."
    I can find no other TaNaKh scripture where a person gives up his life to enable forgiveness for others.

    More to come.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Why?
  • Why not?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Nobody's interested in what we all already know.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    You and I know that according to the Church, starting with Paul, Jesus clothed Himself in every TaNaKh metaphor: Passover lamb and all other blood, burnt, grain, peace, sin, trespass offerings, sacrifices; curse, suffering servant. After the C1st this obvious, multiply valid, faithful ignorance of Jesus was initially denied, ignored, rationalized away. Then 'restored' wrongly in the West as if it were required by God, a baton taken up by conservative Protestants. Everyone else continues to deny it. Except for you and me.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Incarnation = Atonement.

    The incarnation is the atonement.
  • Another statement ultimately placed in the form of a question:

    In Mark 10:45 Jesus says that "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many."

    In Mark 14: 24, Jesus at his last supper in Jerusalem says that the cup of wine he gives his twelve disciples is "my blood of the covenant which is poured our for many."

    Then in the following Gethsemane scene (14:32-50), Jesus prays in great agony, saying that his Father can do anything ("all things are possible for you"), which would seem to mean that his Father could find some way of fulfilling his purpose without Jesus having to die -- and Jesus even asks the Father to do exactly that: "Take this cup [of suffering and death] from me."

    And yet, because Jesus is convinced that his suffering and death is his Father's will, he says, "Yet not what I will, but what you will" (14:36).

    Why was the Markan Jesus so very convinced it was the Father's "will" that he die , and thereby fulfill "what is written," i.e., "the Scriptures" (14:21; 14:49b)?

    Another way to present the question:

    Where, in all the Hebrew scriptures, would Jesus have found any scripture specifically telling him that it is God's "will" that one human being die for the sake of "many" others?

    Other than Isaiah 53:10-12, I can think of none.
  • Still with the lecture.
  • @mousethief
    Well now, mousethief, it could be seen rather as an open invitation to refute it, if you can.

    Can you? Can @Nick Tamen? Can @Doone

    Can anyone else who has sought to present a dissenting view (or"lecture")?
  • There's no point in attempting to answer you. You refuse to read "walls of text." :lol:
  • @mousethief
    Well now, mousethief, it could be seen rather as an open invitation to refute it, if you can.

    Can you? Can @Nick Tamen? Can @Doone

    Can anyone else who has sought to present a dissenting view (or"lecture")?
    {Sigh}

    As I've said before, I don't see much to be gained by continuing to try to discuss things with someone who wants to lecture us—or invites refutation of his points—rather than to engage in reciprocal discussion, and who seems to have a one-track mind on something my interest in is limited.

    If you had come back from shore leave and shown some sign of engaging with others differently from the way you'd do up to that point, I might feel differently. But you didn't, so I don't.
  • Another statement ultimately placed in the form of a question:

    In Mark 10:45 Jesus says that "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many."

    In Mark 14: 24, Jesus at his last supper in Jerusalem says that the cup of wine he gives his twelve disciples is "my blood of the covenant which is poured our for many."

    Then in the following Gethsemane scene (14:32-50), Jesus prays in great agony, saying that his Father can do anything ("all things are possible for you"), which would seem to mean that his Father could find some way of fulfilling his purpose without Jesus having to die -- and Jesus even asks the Father to do exactly that: "Take this cup [of suffering and death] from me."

    And yet, because Jesus is convinced that his suffering and death is his Father's will, he says, "Yet not what I will, but what you will" (14:36).

    Why was the Markan Jesus so very convinced it was the Father's "will" that he die , and thereby fulfill "what is written," i.e., "the Scriptures" (14:21; 14:49b)?

    Another way to present the question:

    Where, in all the Hebrew scriptures, would Jesus have found any scripture specifically telling him that it is God's "will" that one human being die for the sake of "many" others?

    Other than Isaiah 53:10-12, I can think of none.

    Why do you ask?
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    What @Nick Tamen said goes for me as well I’m afraid.
  • Another statement in the form of a question:

    After agonizingly accepting his death as God's will, Jesus did not resist those who came to arrest him. He was then taken for examination and accusation before the Temple authorities. The next morning he was taken before the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate and further accused. In both cases, although many charges were hurled against Jesus, he surprised both the high priest and Pilate by the way he remained silent before his accusers (Mark 14:60-61; 15:3-5).

    The question:
    Where, in all the Hebrew scriptures does one who is about to die for the sake of others stay silent and offer no defense?

    Other than Isaiah 53:7, I can think of none.

    Was Jesus consciously fulfilling that scripture by remaining silent?

    I think so.
  • @Lamb Chopped
    My last several entries have hardly been "walls of text," but fairly succinct statements of my position.

    @Doone
    As I remember it, I was disappointed that you signed off, because I thought you were making some good points.

    @Nick Tamen
    As for you, Nick Tamen, you seem to have thought you could easily refute my view on "punishment/chastisement" in Isaiah 53:5 by citing the Septuagint translation of it, which scholars agree is as an exceedingly poor translation.* You also referred in general to various terms regarding animal sacrifice in the Hebrew scriptures, but when I asked you specifically if you knew of any Hebrew text other than Isaiah 53 where a human being dies for the sake of others, you abruptly picked up your marbles and went home.
    ________
    *See Witherington in my July 27 post.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    James Boswell 11

    On holiday until 5 August. Later ....
  • O good grief. I removed my self from this “discussion” because it is a waste of time. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. It happens all the time, and I am typically willing to consider that I may be wrong. I certainly try to be that way.

    I gave up because you will not engage with others except to lecture and test. You show very little desire to consider what others think. You invite the thoughts of others, but when others offer their thoughts, you respond with some version either of “very good, you got it right,” or “no, no, you're wrong.”

    Please don’t mistake my attempts to step away from this thread as taking my marbles and going home in some kind of huff. Through the two threads you’ve started, many shipmates have tried to tell you how your posts are coming across and you have, for the most part, ignored all of that. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise when people give up and leave.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Another statement in the form of a question:

    After agonizingly accepting his death as God's will, Jesus did not resist those who came to arrest him. He was then taken for examination and accusation before the Temple authorities. The next morning he was taken before the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate and further accused. In both cases, although many charges were hurled against Jesus, he surprised both the high priest and Pilate by the way he remained silent before his accusers (Mark 14:60-61; 15:3-5).

    The question:
    Where, in all the Hebrew scriptures does one who is about to die for the sake of others stay silent and offer no defense?

    Other than Isaiah 53:7, I can think of none.

    Was Jesus consciously fulfilling that scripture by remaining silent?

    I think so.

    Why do you ask the first question?
  • It's August, so the Hs & As are not the only ones on holiday...

    Frankly, I'm amazed at the patience of those of you named on this thread - I became infra dig some time ago (TBTG), so I've escaped, but it must feel a bit like being stalked, or harassed, by being singled out.
    :angry:
  • @mousethief
    Well now, mousethief, it could be seen rather as an open invitation to refute it, if you can.

    That's not really how conversations between equals work.

  • @Nick Tamen
    Am I supposed to pretend I agree with a position of yours that I do not agree with? No more would I expect you to do that for a position of mine that you do not agree with.

    Adults engage in vigorous debate as equals.

    I laid out a position of mine, namely that I am convinced that Jesus must have been influenced by Isaiah 53 in coming to his conclusion, repeatedly stated in Mark and the other synoptics, that he was going to have to die. (And by the way, I am not saying it was necessarily the only thing that influenced him; I do, however, think it had a primary influence on him.)

    You disagreed and proceeded rather vigorously to state your own position, yet I did not accuse you of lecturing or of narrow-mindedness. I simply countered by asking what I considered and still consider to be a very pertinent question, followed more recently by two more questions that I also consider to be pertinent.

    To say that you have now lost interest strikes me, to be quite honest, as rather disingenuous. Was your interest strong only as long as you felt you had gained an upper hand in the discussion?
  • @mousethief
    It is exactly how conversations, discussions, and debates between equals work.
  • @Barnabas62
    I really value your opinion, post vacation.
    Please note that although I may state opinions firmly, I really am open to any opposing opinion, which I fully anticipate you are capable of giving..
  • @Martin54
    I don't know why you continue to question me about my questions. They are somewhat rhetorical, though honest and, if answered affirmatively, each of them is intended to suggest that the historical Jesus was indeed influenced by Isaiah 53.

    You and I may consider that to be obvious, but believe me, it is probably a minority opinion among most historical Jesus scholars, including the following six excellent historical Jesus scholars, all of whom I hold in high regard. Four of them reject it.

    E. P. Sanders, Paula Fredriksen, Bart Ehrman, Reza Aslan, Dale C. Allison, John P. Meier.
  • @Bishops Finger
    Can you contribute anything of actual value to the discussion?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    If a question is rhetorical, then it is not a genuine question, simply a preparation for what the ‘questioner’ has already decided to say.
  • Quite true. It is a polemical device, and that should be quite obvious to all.
  • i. e. "statement in the form of a question."
  • @mousethief
    It is exactly how conversations, discussions, and debates between equals work.

    No. In a conversation between equals one person does not deliver a 1600 word screed and challenge his mates to disprove it.
  • @mousethief
    No screeds in sight. Do you have anything of value to contribute?
  • I laid out a position of mine, namely that I am convinced that Jesus must have been influenced by Isaiah 53 in coming to his conclusion, repeatedly stated in Mark and the other synoptics, that he was going to have to die. (And by the way, I am not saying it was necessarily the only thing that influenced him; I do, however, think it had a primary influence on him.)

    You disagreed . . . .
    Nope. I never disagreed that Jesus believed he had to die, or that that belief on his part was influenced by Isaiah 53. I would never disagree with that because I don’t disagree. Bog standard, orthodox understanding, it seems to me. I’m not aware of anyone who denies it except some historical Jesus scholars.

    The specific point I made was made in the context of a discussion of whether Jesus believed in penal substitutionary atonement (as posited by Martin54), which, to use Wikipedia’s definition, is the theory “that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished (penalized) in the place of sinners (substitution), thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive the sins.” (Some would phrase the punishment as necessary to satisfy the anger or wrath of God.) While I readily agree that Jesus, drawing on Isaiah 53 and other OT passages, believed he had to die in order to achieve God’s reconciliation of the world to Godself, I do not necessarily agree that PSA explains the reason he thought he had to do that.

    My disagreement was with the idea that Isaiah 53 compels an exclusive understanding that Jesus was punished on our behalf, and I explained that disagreement was based in part on the meaning of the Hebrew word usually translated (in Isaiah 53, but not necessarily elsewhere in English Bibles) as “punishment” or “chastisement.” You disagreed with my approach on that, which is fine, but without, I’d note, ever actually addressing what the word musar means in Hebrew.

    Regardless, when you asked:
    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 answered:
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    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.
    I also said, a few posts later:
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I'll readily agree that I see atonement—substitutionary atonement, even—as well as sacrifice for sin in [Isaiah 53]. 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.

    So, I have never disagreed that Jesus believed he had to die, or that his belief was based in part on Isaiah 53. I think I’ve been pretty clear about that. I only disagreed on the point of whether the original (Hebrew) text of Isaiah 53 really supports a reading that Jesus believed that death was necessary because he had to bear all punishment for sin in order to satisfy God’s demand for justice or wrath.

    You’re taking umbrage with what you think I’ve said, not with what I’ve actually said.
    To say that you have now lost interest strikes me, to be quite honest, as rather disingenuous. Was your interest strong only as long as you felt you had gained an upper hand in the discussion?
    Again, nope. My interest remained as long as I thought there was some hope you might actually engage with others as equals (as you’ve put it). As I said earlier, I don’t mind at all being disagreed with or being proven wrong if I am wrong, which I have been and will be again.

    And to be clear, I never lost interest in the topic. I lost interest in wasting time trying to discuss the topic with you when you seem to have no interest at all in stepping outside your narrow frame of reference. You’ve only demonstrated over and over that you don’t really want to engage.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Thank you for clarifying. Now that you have clarified, I can better appreciate what you really are saying.

    Please notice my two longest posts on July 10. There I tried to express something of my own somewhat tortured and indistinct understanding of how I think Jesus may have understood the necessity of his death. Notice too that my own attempted understanding skirts around the issue of any kind of the strictest Penal Substitutionary emphasis. As for the meaning of musar, although it can mean "discipline," and even "instruction," all Jewish Bible translations of Isaiah 53:10 that I have seen render the word "chastisement" (i. e., punishment).

    But again, as I made clear in my two longer posts (which are really one post), I struggle with that.

    And why shouldn't I, and why shouldn't we? After all, Jesus in Gethsemane himself struggled with some aspect of his own understanding of why he must die.

    Perhaps you and I are not as far apart as you and I thought.
  • Error. Correction:
    Jewish Bible translations of Isaiah 53:5
  • @mousethief
    No screeds in sight. Do you have anything of value to contribute?

    The screedist is incapable of seeing his screed as a screed. I understand. Bless you.
  • @Nick Tamen
    Thank you for clarifying. Now that you have clarified, I can better appreciate what you really are saying.
    The thing is, I think I have been pretty clear all along. Pretty much everything I said in my most recent post I’ve said before, as indicated by what I quoted.
    Perhaps you and I are not as far apart as you and I thought.
    ”As you and I thought”? I never thought we were far apart—at least not on the question of Jesus’s belief that he had to die and on his connecting that to Isaiah 53. What I thought is that you were so busy composing your lesson-for-today posts, telling us what scholars say and posing questions for us to answer that you weren’t bothering to really read and understand what I was saying.

  • Perhaps if you yourself had read me more carefully you would have seen that I am not as much "into" PSA as you thought?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I realise I'm coming into the discussion rather late, so I apologise if my comments have already been covered.

    Jesus, himself, discussed why he would be killed in the parable of the Tenants of the Vineyard (Luke 20: 9-19). Clearly, his death was not required by the owner (God) but inevitable given the disposition of the tenants. Jesus sees his treatment as a continuation of the persecution of the prophets, which was reflected in the early preaching in Acts, including that of Stephen at his trial, whose own martyrdom continued the tradition. Thus, whatever construction is placed on Isaiah 53 it needs to take such observations into account, especially as they include the teaching of Christ himself. If the issue is the atonement then I tend towards the proposition of Martin54 that the "incarnation was the atonement."


  • There's no point in attempting to answer you. You refuse to read "walls of text." :lol:
    @Lamb Chopped
    My last several entries have hardly been "walls of text," but fairly succinct statements of my position.

    A "wall of text" is how you yourself described the answer you followed me around the boards begging me for--and then refused to read. I'm not being had that way twice.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Perhaps if you yourself had read me more carefully you would have seen that I am not as much "into" PSA as you thought?
    Please find a post where I said you’re “into” PSA. I’d be surprised if you found such a post, because I didn’t have that impression.

    Martin54 said (in a response to you):
    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.
    I responded:
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    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:
    I’ll grant that “you’re,” which can be singular or plural, may not have been as clear as it could have been, and I apologize if it wasn’t clear. But by “you” I meant Martin54, not Martin54 and you (as indicated by naming Martin and by the singular “one” and “who thinks”).

    You then responded:
    Here, Martin, I will both attack and defend you. 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
    And that—Martin54’s claim and particularly your statement that “one would have to wonder how they and he understood Isaiah 53:5”—set the context for my exploration of the Hebrew used in Isaiah 53:5 (and the Greek used to translate it in the Septuagint) and for my further posts on the subject.

    Kwesi wrote: »
    If the issue is the atonement then I tend towards the proposition of Martin54 that the "incarnation was the atonement."
    I find myself tending more and more to the Orthodox understanding (assuming I understand it properly) that the the atonement is in the whole of the Incarnation, life and ministry, passion and crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
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