Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Difficulty Of Fulfilling The Predictions Relevant To Jesus' Death

I've written posts over the years about some of the problems with claiming that Jesus' life lined up with Daniel's Seventy Weeks prophecy by normal means, without anything supernatural involved. For example, the passage involves the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which was done by the Romans, not by Jesus and the early Christians. You can read my previous posts for more about such issues, like here. What I want to focus on in this post is expanding on a point that I think I've only addressed more briefly in the past.

Notice that if Jesus was merely human and wanted to get himself crucified by the Romans to fulfill both Daniel 9:26 and Psalm 22, for example, he would only have partial control of the situation. You can provoke people to kill you by natural means. There wouldn't have to be anything supernatural involved. But you wouldn't have control over how other people would respond to the provocation, and there would be multiple contexts simultaneously in which you'd lack relevant control. You might get a response of mockery or pity, for example, rather than the relevant type of anger. You might get anger, but not enough of it to lead to your execution. Or you might get killed the wrong way. Too soon. Too late. In too humiliating a manner. The gospels illustrate that point. They refer to multiple occasions in which people attempted to do something like throw Jesus over a cliff or stone him. You don't even have to go to a Christian source, like the gospels. Look at what Josephus tells us about how one of Jesus' own siblings was put to death. Jesus could have met the same kind of death as his brother, James, and at the wrong time.

Jesus' fulfilling Psalm 22, Isaiah 50, and Daniel 9, for example, required the Romans, not fellow Christians, to do a series of things the right way. We need to keep in mind that this isn't just a matter of whether Jesus could by natural means try to get people to kill him. The situation is much more complicated than that. If he was merely human, he only had partial control over his fulfillment of the relevant prophecies. The degree to which the fulfillment depended on non-Christian sources was large and evidentially highly significant.

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