A judicious critique of the argument from prophecy, showing how biblical prophecies were manipulated by the Gospel authors and Church Fathers in order to show Jesus as their fulfillment.
Trade Information: LPOD
Available as: Paperback (eBook edition available soon)
Specifications: 229x153mm, 424pp
Published: January 2017
It's obvious that Jesus fulfilled prophecies about the promised Messiah – or so the gospels make it seem. But the real story is more complex, and more compelling. In hindsight, we can see that Jesus had help fulfilling prophecy. The gospel writers skillfully manipulated prophecies – carefully lifting them out of context, creatively reinterpreting them, even rewriting them – to match what Jesus would do in fulfilling them. The evangelists also used the prophecies themselves to shape the very stories that show their fulfillment. Helping Jesus Fulfill Prophecy describes in detail how Christian authors "helped" Jesus fulfill prophecy. Studies of Greek oracles, the Dead Sea Scrolls, translations of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek and Aramaic, and the writings of Josephus explore the interpretive techniques that paved the way for the New Testament's manipulation of prophecy. The author analyses how the belief that Jesus fulfilled prophecy became an argument to justify a new notion: the view that Christians had replaced Jews as God's chosen people. The aggressive anti-Judaism of patristic theologians is analysed in chapters on Justin Martyr and Augustine, who embedded it into the argument from prophecy. The book concludes with an ethical argument for why Christians should retire the argument from prophecy.
Passionately argued and morally lucid, Helping Jesus Fulfill Prophecytraces the apologetic, political, and polemical uses of the idea of prophecy and fulfillment from the scriptures of ancient Israel to the web pages of the modern American megachurches, and issues a fervent appeal for an ethical, reasoned, biblical interpretation. This is a thoughtful must-read for anyone concerned with the moral compass of contemporary Christianity.
Abbreviations and Short Titles
IntroductionPart 1: Prophecy, Prediction, and Fulfillment in Israel
Appendix 1: Muhammad in the Bible?
Appendix 2: Adam and Edom
Translations of Ancient Sources
Ancient Texts Quoted
Preface » (PDF, 65 KB)
Introduction » (PDF, 107 KB)
Chapter 1: Prophecy and Prediction in Ancient Israel » (PDF, 92 KB)
Chapter 11: The Fulfillment of Prophecy in the Gospel of John » (PDF, 174 KB)
Robert J. Miller is Rosenberger Professor of Religious Studies and Christian Thought at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics (1999) and Born Divine (2003), and he is the editor of The Complete Gospels (4th ed, 2010).
"The fulfillment of prophecy has never been given its proper due by the critical scholar. Miller corrects that deficit with this compelling treatment of the claims of early (and modern) Christians about how Jesus fulfilled ancient Jewish prophecies. ... It is a meticulous, clear-eyed study that finally says what needed to be said."
Stephen J. Patterson, George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies, Willamette University