Wednesday, June 28, 2017

[BTT025] Cut Passages 002

[BTT026] Cut Passages 001

Explicit Fulfillment, Ambiguous Prophecy
Matt 2:22-23 / Isaiah 11:1-2? Judges 13:1-5? Somewhere else?

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Isaiah 11:1-2

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch (נֵצֶר , netser) shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Judges 13:1-5?

Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Why was it Cut?

This verse does contain the word "plēroō," but it is not clear which Old Testament prophecy is being referenced. Theories abound on just what Matthew is referencing here. Some claim it is a reference to Isaiah 11:1 or Judges 13:5, although there are significant issues with these identifications. The Isaiah 11:1 theory is based on some fairly shaky etymology (netser is a pun on "Nazarene?") and Judges 13:5 clearly refers to the Nazarite vow, not to residence in Nazareth.

Others claim it is from one of the lost works of the Old Testament (the Book of Jasher, mentioned in Joshua 10:13; the Book of Shemaiah, mentioned in 2 Chronicles 9:29) or else an oral tradition passed down from one of the prophets. Obviously, it is impossible to prove this assertion - if a book is lost, that means we can't check it!

Whatever the true answer is, this ambiguity led to this passage being cut from the list. For what it's worth, I lean towards the theory that Matthew was referencing a prophecy now lost to us. While there is no clear evidence that the prophecy is from, say, the Book of Shemaiah, nothing in the Old Testament is a perfect fit.

There is precedent for extra-canonical quotations in other parts of Scripture. Jude and 2 Peter seem to reference the Book of Enoch, Hebrews may reference the Ascension of Isaiah, Jude may also reference the Assumption of Moses, and so on.

At any rate, while a prophecy is being fulfilled, we cannot say with absolute certainty what prophecy is being fulfilled. Since the whole point is to compare the original with the fulfillment, verses like this are unsuited to our present purpose.

There are also many passages where Jesus does this or that in fulfillment of prophecy without explicitly mentioning what specific prophecy is being fulfilled (see Mark 14:48-49 for a good example). While we should have no doubt that these are genuine fulfillments of prophecy, and we may even be able to determine which prophecy with a degree of certainty, these identifications remain ambiguous. As such, these verses were removed from the list.

Having looked at the passages which didn't make the cut, let's look at the ones that did.

Next: [BTT027] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

No comments:

Post a Comment