Sunday, May 12, 2019

Assessing the Craig/Shapiro dialogue

Orthodox Jewish culture warrior Ben Shapiro recently interviewed William Lane Craig:


Craig is pushing 70. Looks great for his age, and remains mentally sharp. Although the entire interview is worth viewing, I think the reason most of us tune in is to see their exchange about the messiahship of Jesus, so I'll focus on that. 

One brief point: Craig mentions the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin in Mk 15. He notes the reference to Dan 7. There is, however, a combined reference to Dan 7 and Ps 110. Now let's shift to the heart of the exchange: 

Shapiro: In the Gospels, Jesus's vision of himself is completely different from the prior vision of what the Jewish messiah is, and is actually outside the scope of how Jews described the messiah or really have ever described the messiah. The messiah in Judaism has always been a political figure who is destined to do certain things–restoring the kingdom of Israel, maintaining control of that kingdom, bringing more Jews back to Israel…but the idea of messiah as the embodiment of God is something foreign to Jewish religious philosophy, going all the way back to the beginning. So even the idea that the Sanhedrin would be questioning him in those terms and would get from that that what he means is "I am God"–which would a much more punishable offense, actual blasphemy–is an oddity. 

Craig: I think you're absolutely right in saying that Jesus's understanding of the messiah was radically different from the prevailing cultural understanding of the messiah among the chief priests and the common people, and he didn't meet their expectations. Indeed, that's what helped to get him crucified…Why should we believe Jesus's reinterpretation of the messiah rather than the one that the chief priests and the people held? And I think the answer to that is his resurrection from the dead. 

I don't think that's a good answer to Shapiro's challenge:

i) How do we determine "the prior vision of what the Jewish messiah is?" That can't be determined by Rabbinic Judaism inasmuch as Rabbinic Judaism isn't prior to Jesus, but developed in conscious reaction and opposition to Christianity. So the view of the messiah in Rabbic Judaism is, in some measure, reactionary and anachronistic. 

ii) In asserting that the Jewish messiah has always been a political figure, there's the danger of circular methodology. Are you beginning with the OT? Are you basing your concept of messiah on prophetic passages about a future figure who will do certain things? Or do you begin with a preconceived notion of messiahship, and use that as an a priori criterion to differentiate messianic passages from non-messianic passages? Christians/messianic Jews think the OT contains more messianic prophecies than Rabbinic Jews. Who do Rabbinic Jews think these allegedly non-messianic passages are referring to? 

iii) Did Second Temple Judaism have a monolithic conception of the messiah? Jacob Neuser talks about Judaisms (plural). 

iv) Are 1C chief priests good representatives of Jewish theology? From what I've read, the 1C chief priests, and Sadducees generally, were puppets of the Roman occupation force. They were chosen, not for their orthodoxy, but for their loyalty to their Roman overlords. So even if Jesus didn't conform to their conception of the messiah, what makes their conception the standard of comparison?  

v) And even that may be too idealistic. The trial of Jesus was just a pretext to get a public nuisance out of the way. They weren't operating from religious or theological motives. 

vi) There's a practical tension in Judaism. On the one hand, for a creature to claim to be Yahweh is the epitome of blasphemy. 

On the other hand, in OT narratives, Yahweh sometimes appears to people in a form that's phenomenologically indistinguishable from a human male. Although a theophanic angelophany is different from a divine Incarnation, my point is that in both cases, there's no empirically detectable difference between a man and God appearing in humanoid form. How could the Sandhedrin tell that Jesus isn't the Angel of the Lord? 

My point is that it's not automatically blasphemous in Judaism for someone who, to all appearances, seems to be human or merely human, to claim to be Yahweh. So that presents a certain conundrum when assessing whether the claim is true or blasphemously false. 

vii) One differential factor is whether the claimant not only says things only God is supposed to say, but also performs miracles. That at least shows a supernatural element is in play. 

viii) Craig seems unaware of the two-Yahwehs tradition in Second Temple Judaism. That's been documented by scholars like Alan Segal and Michael Heiser. 

Shapiro: One of the counterclaims is that the Gospels are written significantly after Jesus lives. The earliest Gospel is written 70 CE, somewhere 40 years after Jesus is crucified…especially when you're talking about events 2000 year ago.

i) Craig responds with his minimal facts trope.

ii) It's arguable that Mark's Gospel was written as earlier as the 40s (see John Wenham). It's arguable that Acts was written before Paul's execution. If so, then Luke's Gospel may be dated to the late 50s (give or take). Matthew's Gospel could be written in the 50s or 60s. I happen to think the epilogue to John (Jn 21) is best explained by the death of Peter. So I date John's Gospel to the 60s.

iii) But the key issue is whether the Gospels are based on living memory. 

iv) Shapiro's skepticism about the Gospels is inconsistent with his belief as an Orthodox Jew that the OT is a reliable record of events which transpired thousands of years ago. If the 2000 year gap is a problem for the Gospels, there's a much greater gap regarding OT history. 

In the same general connection, Shapiro mentions some disciples of the late Rabbi Schneerson. Although he died 20 years ago, some of them believe he's still alive. But that's a very loose comparison:

Is his tomb empty? Are there apparitions of Rabbi Schneerson? Even if there were, does he have conversations with the living? Can he be touched? Does he consume food? 

25 comments:

  1. For Wenham, are you referring to "Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem"? He doesn't seem to have any commentaries.

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    1. That's his full-blown argument, but there's also: http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/did-peter-go-to-rome-in-ad-42

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    2. I had problems with the link, but it's also at:

      https://legacy.tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/Library/TynBull_1972_23_04_Wenham_PeterInRome.pdf

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    3. Excellent argumentation!

      Shall I summarize:

      Mark wrote his Gospel based on what Peter taught while in Rome. But traditionally, Peter only went to Rome in 60sAD - but this would make it AFTER Luke wrote Acts in the late 50sAD, and even further after Luke's Gospel which uses a lot of Mark's material.

      But there are clues that Peter actually established the (Jewish) church in Rome around 42AD:

      Acts 12:17 says Peter went to 'another place' after James was killed and he was going to killed too. This could be Rome which is far from Herod Agrippa's reach, the name unmentioned due to political/legal sensitivities.

      Paul mentions in Romans 15:20-24 that he will only make a passing visit to them, as he doesn't want to build on another man's foundation.

      Acts 18:1-3 & 1 Corinthians 1-4 together give the picture that many believers were expelled from Rome so went to Corinth, and formed a pro-Cephas group there.

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  2. I too am curious about the dating and the best resources for that.

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    1. The best place to focus in the context of dating issues is Luke's writings. Not only do we have unusually good evidence for when Luke wrote, but the dating of his documents has implications for the dating of others. Most scholars think Luke used Mark as a source, and that view is commonly held by modern skeptics. So, dating Luke early has the implication of an early date for Mark by the standards of most scholars and most skeptics. I'd also argue that the similarities among the Synoptics (reflected in the fact that they're grouped together in that category) are best explained if they were written closer rather than further apart in time. Regarding the dating of Luke, see here and the posts linked within it. And see here regarding the implications of the opening of Luke's gospel.

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    2. Just to tack onto Jason's good points:

      NT scholars Doug Moo and Don Carson argue for dating Luke in the 60s in their An Introduction to the NT (2nd ed.):

      The date of Luke’s gospel is closely intertwined with the dates of Mark and Acts. Luke must have been written a bit later than Mark if, as we have argued in chapter 2, Luke used Mark as a primary source for his gospel. And Luke must, of course, be earlier than Acts, since Acts presupposes the existence of Luke (see Acts 1:1)...We will consider first some of the reasons to date Luke in the 60s.

      1. Acts makes no mention of several key events from the period 65–70 that we might have expected it to mention: the Neronian persecution, the deaths of Peter and Paul, and the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. No event later than 62 is mentioned.

      2. Luke spends much of the last part of Acts describing Paul’s arrest, trials, and journey to Rome. We would have expected him to have completed the story by telling us what happened to Paul in the end. But he ends Acts with Paul imprisoned in Rome. This may point to the date at which Luke published Acts (about A.D. 62).

      3. Luke tells us how the prophecy of Agabus about a world-wide famine was fulfilled (Acts 11:28); we might have expected him all the more to show how Jesus’ prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) took place. The inference is that it had not yet taken place.

      4. The most probable reading of the Pastoral Epistles is that Paul was released from his Roman custody described at the end of Acts and returned to the Eastern Mediterranean for further ministry—including ministry in Ephesus. But in Acts 20:25, 38 Paul claims that he would not see the Ephesians again. If the later visit to Ephesus had taken place, we might have expected Luke to have reflected the fact in some way.

      5. The Pauline Epistles were evidently treasured in the early church, but they are ignored in Acts. The later we put Acts, the more difficult it is to account for this.

      6. It is questioned whether a Christian writer would give as friendly a picture of Rome as we find in Luke-Acts after the Neronian persecution.

      Not all these points, of course, are equally strong. But their cumulative weight is enough to give a date in the 60s considerable plausibility. Especially important is the lack of mention in either Luke or Acts of the fall of Jerusalem. So cataclysmic an event in the history of the Jewish people is unlikely to have gone completely unmentioned in books that focus so much on the nature and theological continuity of Israel and the people of God. Along with many other scholars, therefore, we prefer to date Luke in the 60s.

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    3. Moreover, Leon Morris argues for dating Luke in the 60s in his commentary The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary. Same with I. Howard Marshall in The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Same with Darrell Bock in his commentary on Luke.

      Of course, as Steve mentioned above, John Wenham argues for dating Luke in the late 50s (57–59 AD) in Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the article Vaughn cites.

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  3. It's not as though the argument for Jesus' Messiahship depends only on defining Messiahship differently than post-Christian Judaism has. Rather, Jesus also meets many of the traditional Jewish expectations for who the Messiah would be (Davidic ancestry, the Bethlehem birthplace, the performance of miracles, major influence on the Gentile world, etc.). Something that's striking is how strong the evidence is for Jesus' fulfillment of such characteristics. Raymond Brown, who wasn't a conservative, referred to Jesus' Davidic ancestry as something accepted by a majority of scholars (The Birth Of The Messiah [New York, New York: Doubleday, 1999], 505). His performance of miracles was widely acknowledged by Christianity's earliest enemies, as reflected in the gospels, Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho, Origen's Against Celsus, etc. And there's widespread acceptance of Jesus as a healer and exorcist of some sort in modern scholarship, including among many non-conservatives. Jesus' influence on the Gentile world is so evident that nobody denies it as far as I know. We have good evidence for the more controversial aspects of Jesus' Messiahship, as we've demonstrated many times on this blog. See our material on Messianic prophecy, for example. But we also have a lot of evidence for Jesus' Messiahship by standards commonly accepted by Jews.

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  4. I also watched Shapiro's interview with Craig. I'd add:

    1. I think Craig should have pointed out the "tractates" that Shapiro mentions tracing all the way back to "the beginning" are from the Talmud, and much of the Talmud was intentionally and deliberately composed and organized in direct reaction to Jesus as the Messiah. That is, the Jewish leadership at the Council of Yavneh who organized the Talmud wished to discredit the idea that Jesus is the Messiah.

    2. Arguably Second Temple Judaism not only didn't have a monolithic conception of the Messiah, but Second Temple Judaism likewise didn't have a monolithic conception of monotheism vis-à-vis the Messiah. For example, Richard Bauckham provides an overview of the academic debate in his lecture "Understanding Early Jewish Monotheism" in his book God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Here is an excerpt and here is another excerpt.

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    1. Also, Craig briefly alluded to 1 Cor 15, but I wish he had better spelled it out. I think Craig is referring to #2 in here.

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    2. Vern Poythress' book Theophany might be relevant. Poythress provides a free pdf of the book on his website.

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    3. Thanks Dude for the info on this!

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  5. I think Craig needed to deal with more OT prophecies regarding the Messiah. However, watching a number of his "Defenders" Sunday school classes that Craig leads, he seems to be hesitant to deal with OT prophecies predicting Christ as the Messiah. I suspect because he's sensitive to the charge that the NT misquotes and misapplies OT passages in defense/proof of Jesus' Messiahship, and he doesn't want to get tangled up with such intricacies of interpretation. Instead he wants to focus on his expertise, viz. the evidences for the historical Jesus and what we can theologically conclude from them.

    I really like the way Steve and Jason attempt to show that the NT doesn't misquote/misapply OT prophecies [often citing other NT scholars]. But I also think that there's some truth to what some Messianic Jews say about how the NT uses the Jewish hermeneutical approach of Pardes/PaRDeS when interpreting the OT and applying it to Jesus. Messianic Jew Arnold Fruchtenbaum goes into this in his 3rd lecture in his series on The Jewish Life of Christ. It seems to me that appealing to the PaRDeS method can immediately disarm charges of misquotation/misapplication by skeptics and other objectors (e.g. Jewish, Muslim etc.). As well as opening up space for a dialogue as to why some of them actually ARE literally fulfilled in Jesus' life (as our Evangelical scholars have attempted to demonstrate in their works. Some of which I'll list below in another comment).

    Craig should have also said that many (if maybe not all) of the Jewish Messianic expectations he and his fellow Jews have will still be fulfilled according to Christian understanding and timing. In some cases their fulfillment is in a grander and expanded scale. For example, the land promises may be fulfilled (as I believe) to includes the entire globe. Also, there's delay in some of the fulfillment because there's incremental progress, and in other cases they are to be ultimately fulfilled at the return of Jesus. Just how much is literally fulfilled and when is of course tied up with whether you're a Postmillennialist (as I lean toward), Amillennialist, Premillennialist; whether you believe (or to what degree you believe) the Church replaces or is the fulfillment of Israel or (at least) Remnant Israel; whether you're a futurist, preterist (as I lean toward), historicist or idealist (etc.). Steve has also made the great point that Judaism too needs to make room for the conversion of the Gentiles sometime after the coming of the Messiah but before the Day of Judgment.

    The parables of the Mustard Seed and of the Leaven/Yeast in Matt. 13:31-33 fit well with a gradual postmillennial eschatology. Similarly, Nebuchadnezzar's Dream does as well.

    Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.- Dan. 2:35

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    1. The stone that destroys the other kingdoms starts out relatively "small", yet eventually grows and becomes a great mountain that (gradually) fills the whole earth/land. Mountains of course often represent kingdoms in the Bible. Zion itself being prophesied to one day be lifted up above the hills (Isa. 2:2ff.). There are also the prophecies of the Messiah's rejection and the lack of recognition by His own people (Isa. 53:2-3; Ps. 118:22; as well as Joseph a type of the Messiah who was misidentified by his brothers as a pagan ruler/savior). The Messiah, being a corner stone (Ps. 118:22) of the spiritual temple implies a connection with the rest of the temple and therefore His congregation/church being involved in the expansion of mountain of the Lord filling the earth. Which would be consistent with delay, progress, development and the passage of time. These type of things can can be appealed to when dealing with Jews who expect a Messiah whose coming will be undeniable. Their objection often phrased in the following way, "How do I know my Jewish Messiah hasn't come? By looking out the window or reading the daily newspaper and seeing that there is no world peace nor is there security for my Jewish people". But there are also many other OT prophecies about how the Messianic Era will not only effect an outward/external governmental, political and legal revolution, but also an inward/internal moral and religious transformation in the hearts of men (Mal. 4:5-6; Jer. 31:31ff. Ezek. 11:14-19ff.; 36:22, etc.).

      Ben said:
      //...but the idea of messiah as the embodiment of God is something foreign to Jewish religious philosophy, going all the way back to the beginning.//

      I agree with Steve when he says: "Craig seems unaware of the two-Yahwehs tradition in Second Temple Judaism. That's been documented by scholars like Alan Segal and Michael Heiser. ". From what I've read of Dr. Michael Brown's 5 volume Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus and various interviews, Dr. Brown might also be ignorant of these things. Though, Dr. Brown does know of how the Aramaic Targumim seem at times to personify the Word of YHVH.

      See this interesting webpage here on that topic:
      Word of the Lord in the Targums

      Craig also seems to be unaware (or unconvinced) of how the OT Angel/Malak of YHVH strongly suggests the teaching of preincarnate Christophanies. See for example Anthony Rogers articles on the topic HERE and his debate on the topic HERE. I also have my own blog dedicated to the topic of the doctrine of the Trinity.

      In other contexts Craig does cite continuing miracles in Jesus' name as indicative of and lending credence to the truth of Christianity. Though, in this context it might have been wise not to offer that evidence up front. I do think Christians of all theological backgrounds (even cessationists) need to start praying more frequently for signs and wonders to provide secondary (not primary) confirmatory evidence for Christianity.

      Steve wrote:
      //I happen to think the prologue to John is best explained by the death of Peter. So I date John's Gospel to the 60s.//

      I think Steve meant to type epilogue. With some scholars I suspect the epilogue functions like an appendix that was added sometime after the book was originally written and/or published. So, the majority of the book might have been written earlier. Though, I'm even open to the possibility of the virtually opposite position that Revelation might have been written prior to 70 AD and GJohn written in the 90s.

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    2. Some of the works I recommend in defense of Jesus' Messiahship include:

      Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus (5 volumes) by Michael L. Brown

      The Real Kosher Jesus by Michael L. Brown

      Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern

      Messianic Judaism: A Modern Movement with an Ancient Past by David H. Stern

      Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel's King by Herbert Bateman IV, Gordon Johnston and Darrell Bock

      The Messiah in the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser

      Messianic Christology by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

      Footsteps of the Messiah by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

      Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question by Michael F. Bird

      The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? by Michael Rydelnik

      Behold Your King: Prophetic Proofs that Jesus is the Messiah by William Webster

      Return of the Kosher Pig by Itzhak Shapira

      The Scepter and the Star by John Collins

      The Gospel According to Isaiah 53: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology by Darrell Bock (editor) and Mitch Glaser (editor)

      All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer

      The Prophecies of the Old Testament Respecting the Messiah by John Gill (written in the 18th century)

      The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim (written in the 19th century)

      Messiah in Both Testaments by Fred John Meldau (introductory material on the subject)

      Christology of the Old Testament by E.W. Hengstenberg (written in the 18th century)

      Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

      Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament Christopher J. H. Wright

      A Zeal For God Not According to Knowledge: A Refutation of Judaism's Arguments Against Christianity, 2nd Edition by Eric V. Snow

      Christ in All the Scriptures by A.M. Hodgkin

      [Recommended by our Triablogger Steve Hays]

      The Servant King: The Bible's portrait of the Messiah by T. D. Alexander and Alec Motyer

      Look to the Rock: An Old Testament Background to Our Understanding of Christ by Alec Motyer

      The Christ of the Prophets by O. Palmer Robertson

      The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? (NAC Studies in Bible & Theology) by Michael Rydelnik

      The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation by John H. Sailhamer

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    3. typo correction: I mean to put a question mark in the following parenthesis.

      //The stone that destroys the other kingdoms starts out relatively "small", yet eventually grows and becomes a great mountain that (gradually[?]) fills the whole earth/land.//

      Because it's not absolutely clear that the growth of the stone is gradual. It might be instantaneous. But why then the need for it to grow? Why not just have the full grown mountain land on the image of Nebuchadnezzar? That would better imply a dramatic and virtually instantaneous change in world affairs at the coming of the Messiah.

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    4. If Dr. Brown is aware of Alan Segal's work on the Two Powers, I wish he would bring that out more in his apologetic since it's such a powerful admission on the part of a Jewish scholar. I discovered the following quote from Dr. Brown. He's noted that Dr. Benjamin Sommer, a professor in Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary (that’s right, the Jewish Theological Seminary)wrote in his book The Bodies of God:

      //“Some Jews regard Christianity’s claim to be a monotheistic religion with grave suspicion, both because of the doctrine of the trinity (how can three equal one?) and because of Christianity’s core belief that God took bodily form. . . . No Jew sensitive to Judaism’s own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit and a heavenly manifestation, for that model, we have seen, is a perfectly Jewish one. A religion whose scripture contains the fluidity traditions [referring to God appearing in bodily form in the Tanakh], whose teachings emphasize the multiplicity of the shekhinah, and whose thinkers speak of the sephirot does not differ in its theological essentials from a religion that adores the triune God.”//
      End Quote

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    5. Finally, I wish more Christians would be aware of an insight that struck me like a lightning bolt when I first heard it from Dr. Michael Heiser years ago. I think it goes a LONG WAY in answering the Jewish objection that Jews do not and must not believe that the Messiah is God in the flesh.

      Heiser has pointed out (in his various YouTube videos) that the Baal cult was a troublesome pain in the neck for Jews even up until the time of the Roman Empire. Baal worship was widespread and the main theological rival to Judaism among Semites. Baal was widely known to be the deity who rides the clouds. Well, in their attempt to do theological warfare with the Baal cult and in order to assert that the God of Israel (YHVH) was the true and ultimate Deity, the Jews started referring to their God as the (true) "Cloud Rider". The OT refers to a Cloud Rider 6 times, and in 5 of those times it is clearly applied to Almighty God, YHVH/Yehovah/Yahweh.

      However, the 6th time it's applied to the "Son of Man" in Daniel 7. And "son of man" had different meanings, but one of the main ones previously was to refer to a human being as a human being (often with emphasis on his mortality, frailty and subordination to God). Well in the Daniel 7 passage you have a person who is on the one hand described as "human" [being "one like a son of man"], yet on the other hand described as a "cloud rider". So, evidently, we have here a second divine figure in addition to the "Ancient of Days" who is also human-like. If this is a messianic passage (and its reminiscent of Ps. 110:1), then we have here the theological seeds of a Messiah who is a God-Man (meaning in some sense both God and a human).

      One can also add to that the arguments for the divine status of the Angel of YHVH in whom the Name of YHVH resides (Exo. 23:20-21) who is also plausibly the preincarnate Messiah (Mal. 3:1). Similar things could be said about the Word of the LORD/YHVH, and the Arm of the LORD/YHVH.

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  6. Dr Michael Brown has said before on air that sure, he'd debate Ben Shapiro... But Shapiro probably doesn't have the interest, preferring instead to focus on issues that unite Christians and Jews against secular liberalism.

    But since Shapiro has straight out asked William Lane Craig about Jesus' messianic credentials, I've dropped a Tweet to Dr Brown encouraging him to get onto Shapiro's show... Can y'all drop him a message too?

    No one is better suited for speaking to followers of Judaism about the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua!

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  7. Since we're on the subject of whether OT Jews can believe in a multipersonal God who takes human form, allow me to tout as usual:

    Our God is Triune (including the work of Anthony Rogers) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI2fscM_U8E or https://www.amazon.com/Our-God-Triune-Biblical-Theology/dp/0692422919

    The Preeminence of Christ (especially Part Two, do drop a donation if you find it helpful!) - https://www.projectone28.com/books or https://www.amazon.com/Preeminence-Christ-Part-Two-AM-ebook/dp/B074CTX65N


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  8. Shapiro is likely unaware of Bauckham and Hurtado's works re: the nature of the early Jewish conceptions of Jesus and the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the gospels. The question deserves to be asked, if Jesus' divinity was so utterly different than what Jews thought at the time why did it have such an immediate effect on early Jewish believers? Also, I'm very surprised Craig fell for the equivocation that rabbinic Judaism and Second Temple Judaism was equivalent in its consideration of the topic of the Messiah. Shapiro needs better interlocutors like James White, Jeff Durbin, or Sye Ten Bruggencate to take him to task. A conversation between Shapiro and NT Wright might also be fruitful.

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    1. Hm, I'm not so sure about James White, Jeff Durbin, or Sye Ten Bruggencate. I don't take them very seriously. And I don't get the impression Shapiro would take the latter two very seriously either.

      I think White would be the best of the three since (1) White is working on a PhD (accredited) in NT biblical studies, (2) White can be a good communicator, and (3) White has plenty of experience in apologetics. I've always regarded White primarily as a counter-cult apologist (e.g. Mormonism, Catholicism, Islam). That could include modern Judaism, but I don't know how well studied White is in Judaism. I kind of seem to remember White once debated a Jewish rabbi (e.g. Tovia Singer?), but I might be thinking of someone else. However, White is weak in philosophical issues. So I'd say White is the best of the three, but I don't know if that's necessarily saying a lot.

      My impression is Shapiro's knowledge about and experience with Christianity is primarily vis-a-vis Catholicism. If so, no surprise, since that's likely the case for most Ashkenazi Jews - though American Jews in certain pockets of the nation may have the benefit of knowing more about conservative evangelicals than (say) European Jews. Anyway, I think Shapiro had a good exchange with Ed Feser on his show in no small part (it seems to me) because Shapiro knew where Feser was coming from (e.g. natural law, Aristotle, similar to the great rambam Maimonides). However, it seemed to me Shapiro couldn't quite figure out Craig's approach. As a result, it seemed to me, Shapiro's discussion with Craig wasn't as facile as his conversation with Feser. I'm not suggesting that's necessarily a bad thing at all. Just different. All in all, Craig still communicated several important truths, so that's a win.

      In any case, to my knowledge, Shapiro has only recently begun dialoguing with conservative evangelicals on his show (e.g. his recent interview with Stephen Meyer was really good though they didn't discuss Jesus as the Messiah, Alley Stuckey is a Christian and a Calvinist, I think, but I didn't watch their interview). I hope Shapiro invites more conservative evangelicals onto his show. It'd be good for him and it'd be good for us in terms of getting the truth out to more people via his show.

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