Miracles and Biblical Infallability

Ruby Gray

Member
For Josephus, this is a well known fact, referring in this case to Titus Flavius Vespasianus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vespasian#Great_Jewish_Revolt_(66–69)

Josephus (as well as Tacitus), reporting on the conclusion of the Jewish war, reported a prophecy that around the time when Jerusalem and the Second Temple would be taken, a man from their own nation, viz. the Messiah, would become governor “of the habitable earth”. Josephus interpreted the prophecy to denote Vespasian and his appointment as emperor in Judea.source: Josephus, War of the Jews 6.5.4
This passage does not specifically refer to "The Messiah".

WARS OF THE JEWS BOOK 6:5
4.
Now if any one consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonia, had made their temple four-square, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, that
“then should their city be taken, as well as their holy house, when once their temple should become four-square.”
But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how,
"about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth."
The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination.
Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea.
However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand.
But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.

This is a jumbly misrepresentation of the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy, which is no credit to Josephus, who should have known better.

Dan 9:24
"70 weeks are decreed about your people
and your holy city,
to finish the transgression,
to put an end to sin,
and to atone for iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal both vision and prophet,
and to anoint a most holy place.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand that
from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem
to the coming of an anointed one {Mashiach / Messiah}, a prince,
there shall be 7 weeks.
Then for 62 weeks it shall be built again
with squares and moat,
but in a troubled time.
Dan 9:26 And after the 62 weeks,
an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.

And the people of the prince who is to come
shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Its end shall come with a flood,
and to the end there shall be war.
Desolations are decreed.
Dan 9:27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many
for one week,
and for half of the week
he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations
shall come one who makes desolate,
until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."

These verses have been the subject of much study and speculation.
They refer to a combined period of 483 years (7 + 62 = 69 'weeks' of years) to elapse between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile, and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
The final 7 year period (1 'week' of years) is relegated into the future, after continuous "war and desolations to the end".
After this 7 years, the new Temple {Most Holy Place} will be anointed.
Details of this still-future event are found in the final chapters of Ezekiel.
This will usher in the MIllennium, when everything will be "restored".

The first 7 Weeks (49 years) relates to the Temple and City rebuilding program, which can be shown to have occurred relative to the kings of the Medo-Persian empire who are mentioned in scripture.
The last dated mention of Nehemiah coincides with this 49th year.

The "squares" referred to here is the grid of streets of the city Jerusalem, which were established during this period of rebuilding.

Josephus' reference to the "city becoming foursquare" because of the demolition of the Tower of Antonia shortly before the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, is an anachronistic false interpretation by the hardheaded Jews who were being divinely judged for their earlier refusal to accept their Messiah who appeared on cue as predicted in this prophecy.

The Jews are still seeking their Messiah today, even though this prophecy is proof that they are many centuries too late.
"After the 62 Weeks, Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing."
That refers to the crucifixion. Their Messiah has come and gone long ago already.

The "prince who is to come" refers to the Antichrist, who will appear after a protracted era of wars and desolations following the 70 AD destruction (verse 26). His appearance is a still-future event.
The "people of the prince who is to come" are the Romans who destroyed the city and the sanctuary in 70 AD.

The Antichrist will "make a strong covenant with many for one week " which these days is reckoned to be a 7-year peace treaty between the reformed nation of Israel, and many other nations.
The prophecy that he will "put an end to sacrifice and offering" presupposes that the Temple will have been rebuilt and its ordinances reinstated before he appears.

That he will terminate the sacrificial worship at the temple "for half of the week" signifies that Antichrist will break his covenant after 3 1/2 years.

"On the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate" is a reprise of the coming of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, "god manifest", who infamously sacrificed a pig in the Temple and proclaimed himself to be God. He terminated the Temple sacrifices for 3 years before being defeated by the Maccabees. He is the type of the coming Antichrist. The chronology of Antiochus Epiphanes exactly matches the prophetic periods given for the future Antichrist, when calculated according to the lunar calendar.

Hebrew prophecy employs "midrash," which has to do with typical and antitypical fulfilments. There is often more than one fulfilment with the earlier historical fulfilment foreshadowing the ultimate future fulfilment.

So the Roman episode around 70 AD is but one in a series of fulfilments prophesied, but by no means the last.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
That answer presupposes that the only way the darkness could have happened is due to the rotation (or not) of the earth.
Syncellus, quoting Africanus, says that Thallus thought the darkness was an eclipse. If in fact Thallus was an eyewitness, surely he could tell the difference between an eclipse and a forest fire. It's the New Testament that tells us the darkness lasted for three hours. It's not clear whether Thallus made any connection between his eclipse and Jesus's death, or whether Africanus made this conjecture. And, Syncellus is pointing out that the Gospel story couldn't possibly have been about an eclipse such as Thallus described. And furthermore, there's no good reason to believe that Thallus was writing before the 2nd century, anyhow. So what we have here is just a big confused muddle, and not an independent confirmation of the New Testament narrative. Richard Carrier dissects this at: https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html

Yes, there are natural explanations for a period of darkness. But, what about this, from Matthew 27:52-53, immediately after the three hour period of darkness: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." How is this possible -- that rocks and graves open up, and the dead bodies come to life, and go making appearances in Jerusalem?

I would counter that you do indeed believe in miracles, Jerry.
No, I don't believe in miracles. As amazing as our universe might be, I feel confident that solar eclipses don't last three hours, and that dead bodies don't emerge from their graves.

To believe that in the beginning there was nothing, which exploded for no reason,
This is not exactly what the big bang theory says. According to the Gospel of the Big Bang: In the Beginning, there was a very heavy particle, which exploded for the very good reason that it was unstable. Before that first moment, the Gospel text gives no clue what happened, why or how.

I'm not an expert on cosmology, but I've noticed that the big bang theory does have reputable critics, and that religious people like it because they see it as a proof of God. I wonder if Claude Badley has any thoughts about this? It seems to be a worthy topic for debate.

that life spontaneously self-generated from inanimate chemistry
No, but that inanimate chemicals, driven by an energy source, have a long-term propensity to self-organize into increasingly complex systems.

that moral values and love and "goodness" have any value since they originated from cold hard matter
There you go again, making presumptions about the limitations of cold hard matter.

I agree of course that the plethora of mostly recently-formed and mutually exclusive religions all claiming biblical mandates for their existence, is diagnostic of the counterfeit nature of at least all minus one of them.
You're neglecting all the uncountable thousands of mutually exclusive ancient and modern religions that claim other mandates: from holy texts written in a multitude of languages, and from the inspirations of a multitude of men and women claiming knowledge of God or Gods of many names.

All completely wrong and "counterfeit", except one?? At my local Unitarian Universalist church, they say all these religions are equally true. But they don't take any of them as Gospel.

This passage does not specifically refer to "The Messiah". ... This is a jumbly misrepresentation of the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy, which is no credit to Josephus, who should have known better.
If Josephus is not referring to the Jewish tradition of Messianic prophecies, then what else is he talking about?

In addition to Daniel, there are similar prophecies at Numbers 24:17 and Genesis 49:10. And, the world-conquerer view of the Messiah was extensively developed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Josephus says that the expectation of this warrior Messiah was the cause of the Jewish rebellion.

FWIW, I would conjecture that Josephus did not mangle a quote from Daniel, but that he was precisely quoting a text that's now lost. But if so, it doesn't matter, because it's clearly a prophecy drawn from the same tradition.

This site:

https://www.learnreligions.com/prophecies-of-jesus-fulfilled-700159

gives a list of 44 Old Testament messianic prophecies. The site claims that Jesus fulfills all of them, and says this is evidence that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. I'd say the explanation is that the New Testament authors knew all the prophecies. And when they wrote the story of their fictional Jesus, they were careful to check off all the boxes.
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
Our sincere apologies to the memory of Immanuel Velikovsky for this massive thread digression.
That answer presupposes that the only way the darkness could have happened is due to the rotation (or not) of the earth.
Of course similar events have occurred, such as the Dark Day in New England on 19 May 1780, when extensive total darkness descended over a widespread area of New England for about 12 hours, caused by forest fire smoke, fog and clouds which attentuated the sunlight. This was thought at that time to be a divine sign of the impending end of the world. The SDA church epecially still refers to this event as a proof of scripture prophecy fulfilled, even though nothing came of it. It remains part of their convoluted false theology. Yes, humans do have good imaginations.
But surely you believe the SDA (and JW) is indeed scripturally correct about the proper observance of the Sabbath? Or, are you yet another 'modern' crypto Sun worshiper thanks to Constantine the Great. Do you also celebrate the Christ Mass on the day that the Sun (aka Christos) is reborn annually, after spending 3 days dormant at the sol-stice?

Makes one fond for the good ol days when the Mother Church jealously retained the sole authority to interpret the scriptures, which it also prevented the 'vulgar' hoi polloi from access to reading them via various ploys. Or, at least that's what they want us to believe.

For what good is any church if it can't ensure its dark prophecies are fulfilled? There is no reason for a salvic new age, past present, or future, if the respective omega tribulation does not precipitate the fresh dawn. Just as if an enemy does not manifest of its own volition, one must then create such, then is not any true church (by your own definition), as divine representative on Earth, compelled to complete the necessary dialectic foil to achieve the divine synthesis prophesied? If not via your true church, then via the direct intercession of your god and his appointed (controlled opposition) agent, Satan.
I would counter that you do indeed believe in miracles, Jerry. To believe that in the beginning there was nothing, which exploded for no reason, and that life spontaneously self-generated from inanimate chemistry, and that moral values and love and "goodness" have any value since they originated from cold hard matter the same as anarchy, hatred and cruelty, and that physical laws inexorably and repeatably govern the characteristics and behaviour of all the random atomic particles of this universe, which came about without rational thought or design or input of energy, and that knowledge is real, or that a single cell (which has the irreducible complexity of the city of New York) could "evolve" through multitudes of intermediate forms into a human being ... and of course I could go on and on ... that takes a strong belief in the miraculous. But ultimately pointless.
Speaking for myself, as an agnostic, I can only say that your god is yet another human creation, in the ongoing human (priestly) project of The Evolution of God, where hopefully the next logical progression IMO is that of there being no more juvenile concepts such as a god(s). This leaving endless exploration into the nature of existence.

"Yes, humans do have good imaginations."

Speaking of which, you have yet to tell us what you'll be spending an eternity doing with yourself and God in Paradise. I mean besides singing hymns constantly. Seriously.
So I will continue to post the results of my own studies, taking the bible at face value, and see where this leads.
Please state as a preamble to each post, when doing so, that you are neither a Postflavian nor a scriptural Christian -- as is universally the case with the latter. Especially today as true Christians would never bathe post-baptism. Bathing is but one 'modern' liberal, carnal indulgence that negates the baptism rite. This is why until recent (liberal) times all Christians stank to High Heaven, refusing to bath themselves, even kings and queens. Yes, this cleanliness is an Islamic 'perversion' into the True Faith of stinky flesh mortification. (Marcilla, wherever she is, would be so proud of me.)

Also, it would be nice if you would admit that your dependence upon apostate pagans (and Josephus), who were necessarily of elite status themselves, as proof of your gospel verities, might indeed be flawed if the context of their use of the term Christian (or Chrestian, or Nazar..., or ...) might have a significantly different flavor than you would like to profitably take advantage of. And that if you are stubbornly wrong (and you are) then the profit is not your ... or ours.

In any case, such earnest study shows a lack of faith, does it not? Why not just accept the Word of Gourd as it is, and stop this liberal egocentric need to confirm your superstitious and circular biases to us?
I agree of course that the plethora of mostly recently-formed and mutually exclusive religions all claiming biblical mandates for their existence, is diagnostic of the counterfeit nature of at least all minus one of them.
I like that you included "at least", leaving the logical possibility for 'zero' of them. They are all either imperfect interpretations of ultimate reality, and/or corrupt interpretations of same. They all attempt variously to justify why humans must struggle and suffer in the material plane, and in the infantile, cynically derivative case of Christianity, that one will be rewarded mightily for servile and stinky submission till Christ gets off his lazy ass and rewards the faithful suffering servile. Then they all that is currently mundane and banal with be turned into an eternity of endless pleasure, yet eternally ignorant.

I was just watching a video of the 'evil' Alan Watts talking about the 'evil' Aldous Huxley, where Watts was discoursing (as background context) on various religions, that an astute Buddhist student will eventually inquire of his teacher: "And so what if I desire to get rid of my desires?" As Watts explains, there is no escaping the material realities, no matter how much one ponders or pontificates on this or that scripture. One has to live in the here and now, as Brahman alternately metaphorically breaths itself [sic] into and out of real existence. No doubt to and from the quantum foam.
The bible does define its own doctrinal standards by which churches are to be judged.
The exhortation to judge "them" by their fruits, refers to false prophets, which suggests individuals.
For the last ~2,000 years, since Christ Titus, what has been the fruits of Christianty, oh good Roman? What exactly has the efforts of this Christ wrought on Earth, but the constant militant expansion of the corporation empire of the Elect (elite) or the intervening stasis of feudal bondage as wrought by your Joseph in collusion with his Pharaoh?
It is part of a global trend that we are warned about.
Luke 18:8 "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith in the earth?"
Since if you surely believe that Jesus Christ surrendered his right (or privilege) to rule on Earth, as in the scriptures, to Satan, then should you be complaining or exultant? Oh ... I forgot, you have yet another pharisaic workaround to avoid inconvenient implications.
 
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Ruby Gray

Member
If Josephus is not referring to the Jewish tradition of Messianic prophecies, then what else is he talking about?

In addition to Daniel, there are similar prophecies at Numbers 24:17 and Genesis 49:10. And, the world-conquerer view of the Messiah was extensively developed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Josephus says that the expectation of this warrior Messiah was the cause of the Jewish rebellion. FWIW, I would conjecture that Josephus did not mangle a quote from Daniel, but that he was precisely quoting a text that's now lost.

If Josephus is not referring to the Jewish tradition of Messianic prophecies, then what else is he talking about?
He is not 'referring to it' in the sense that he does not 'reference it'. The words 'Messiah' and 'anointed' do not appear in this text.
However "mashiach" is specified in Daniel 9:25.
I do believe that Josephus' context was, vaguely, the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy.
This vagueness may be due to copying errors.
Reaching for a possible exact quote from a now-lost scripture seems too contrived and unnecessary

The English translations of Daniel 9:25 give several interpretations of the Hebrew "r'chob v'charuts" which was to be rebuilt. "Street / square / broad place" and "wall / moat". This seems to be what the Jews and Josephus (so typically) misinterpreted as "When the city becomes foursquare". They ignored the entirety of the prophecy with its specific identifying time component, and picked out a word or phrase which they could superstitiously apply to explain their own situation.

This of course is a favoured ploy in all false religions. As with manifestations of spaghetti monsters in clouds, so the texts of scripture can be perceived and misappropriated according to the reader's predilections, when taken out of context. Hence the proliferation of denominations and heretics.

I used to know an impassioned Unitarian who lived near Seattle. His beliefs were at considerable variance from yours Jerry, but then he wasn't Universalist at all. He was Sabbatarian though. With Pentecostal overtones. An interesting mix. We disagreed heartily on some issues but agreed wholeheartedly on many others. The common denominator was that, each in our own fallible understanding, and seeing as in a glass darkly, we both accept the bible as the inspired Word of a miraculous God.
 

Ruby Gray

Member
Our sincere apologies to the memory of Immanuel Velikovsky for this massive thread digression.
Indeed. But he started it. And I guess he is beyond caring now, although I think he would have had some interesting contributions to make, had he been able.

But surely you believe the SDA (and JW) is indeed scripturally correct about the proper observance of the Sabbath?
Not in the least!
The rigidly-held SDA Sabbatarian doctrine is diametrically opposed to the JW teaching.
JWism is not Sabbatarian at all, whereas no SDA can be saved unless he is slavishly observing the Sabbath when Christ returns.
So those SDAs I met in the supermarket on Saturday are really dicing with their eternal futures.

The 4th commandment on which the SDA church bases its existence, is of course the sign, the seal, of the Lord's covenant with the nation of Israel, never instituted prior to the Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 31:13,16,17
13 "You are to speak to THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL and say,
'Above all YOU shall keep my Sabbaths,
for this is a sign between ME and YOU
THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS,
that YOU may know that I, the LORD,
sanctify YOU.
16 'Therefore THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL shall keep the Sabbath,
observing the Sabbath throughout THEIR GENERATIONS,
as a covenant forever.
17 It is a sign forever between ME
and THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'

This Sabbath was exclusively given to an ethnic nation, passed on by natural physical heredity, and never required of any other people, unless they chose to join Israel with the physical identifier of circumcision required.

So SDAs are quite wrong. Although they refer to themselves as "spiritual Israel", they are not.
In requiring rigid sabbathkeeping for salvation, they break the 9th commandment which says,
"You shall not bear false witness".

Or, are you yet another 'modern' crypto Sun worshiper thanks to Constantine the Great. Do you also celebrate the Christ Mass on the day that the Sun (aka Christos) is reborn annually, after spending 3 days dormant at the sol-stice?
I have no truck with Constantine. Nor with she whom you fondly term 'the Mother Church".
No, I do not indulge in the pagan rites "christianised" by the Whore of Babylon, namely "christmas" and "easter".

Makes one fond for the good ol days when the Mother Church jealously retained the sole authority to interpret the scriptures, which it also prevented the 'vulgar' hoi polloi from access to reading them via various ploys. Or, at least that's what they want us to believe.
Doesn't make me the least bit fond.
She is no mother to me.
She was only organised into anything that could today be recognisable as the Roman catholic church, several centuries after the cross.
For the first centuries, Rome was fully occupied in throwing the true followers of Jesus to the lions, burning them alive, etc. Millions of them.
Yet, it was observed, all Rome's efforts could not extinguish the faith of those who preferred to die for their belief in Jesus as the Son of God.
It was said of them, and of the way the church increased greatly despite this wholesale slaughter of Christians,
"Their blood was like seed in the ground".

The Whore of Babylon took over the mantle of civil Rome, and continued to persecute and torture the humble believers, such as in the Spanish Inquisition, and other genocidal episodes conducted in the name of this abomination.
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
By popular demand, this thread has been forked from the Velikovsky discussion. The earlier thread is at this link:

https://postflaviana.org/community/index.php?threads/ages-in-chaos-conclusions-summary.1544/

I used to know an impassioned Unitarian who lived near Seattle. His beliefs were at considerable variance from yours Jerry, but then he wasn't Universalist at all. He was Sabbatarian though. With Pentecostal overtones. An interesting mix. We disagreed heartily on some issues but agreed wholeheartedly on many others. The common denominator was that, each in our own fallible understanding, and seeing as in a glass darkly, we both accept the bible as the inspired Word of a miraculous God.
Gotta love the UU's: it's OK to believe just about anything, as long as you're tolerant of everyone else. Most believe in "God" but some don't.

I am able to believe simultaneously in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and also the Invisible Pink Unicorn. There is no contradiction, inasmuch as they both share the ineffable attribute of non-existence.

So do I believe in "God" too? It's a matter of interpretation. And as every UU would certainly agree, the Bible and the Koran and the Baghavad-Gita are all inspired Words, but what they're trying to say is subject to debate.

For the first centuries, Rome was fully occupied in throwing the true followers of Jesus to the lions, burning them alive, etc. Millions of them.
Here is our Postflavian version of this story. We say that across the Mediterranean of the 1st and 2nd centuries, many individuals of all races and creeds had converted to Judaism. And as such, they were well aware of radical Jewish messianic beliefs, and they were tempted to rebel against Rome. There were also many would-be Messianic leaders, and they had many more potentially rebellious followers. This revolutionary hotbed flared into open rebellion from time to time.

These rebellious Jews and all their Messiahs were thrown to the lions, crucified, burned alive, etc, as you say. Except perhaps Izates (aka Abgar Manu V?) who may have been a "controlled opposition" Messiah, if you follow Ralph Ellis.

Meanwhile, the Romans clearly understood that these rebels were not the same as the followers of an emperor worship sect known as "Chrestianity".
 
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