Friday, July 21, 2017

[BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Previous: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Fulfillment

With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

Original
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Comparison

This is our sole plēroō passage in Mark, and that's not the only way he's completely different from Matthew. Not only is the quote word-for-word accurate, it works perfectly well in the context of Isaiah's Suffering Servant prophecy.

I mean, Isaiah does not say "And He was crucified among two thieves, one of whom will repent and one of whom will not," but it's an accurate quote and a fairly clear fulfillment.

One wonders why Matthew isn't more like this, but the point is clear: literal, one-time fulfillments of explicit prophecies where the author cares about the exact wording of the source text are the minority so far.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy



Next: [BTT036] Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

[BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

Previous: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Fulfillment

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Original

For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Comparison

Finally, at the end of Matthew, we a have a quotation of prophecy that actually lines up with the original. Both texts read exactly the same, except for the verb tense of "divided." Even looking at the wider context, things look pretty good. Surely a "congregation of the wicked" enclosed Jesus; surely they pierced His hands and feet. This is the sort of correspondence between original and fulfillment that we like to see!

There is one slight issue. There is no indication in Psalm 22 that this passage is a prophecy. Rather, it appears to be taken directly from the life of David, describing his metaphorical torments at the hands of his enemies. Of course, Matthew being Matthew, the only prophecy he can quote correctly isn't from a book of prophecy, but from a song.

While Matthew is clearly saying that this Psalm should be considered prophetic, we should also recognize that there is no indication in the original context. Are all Psalms prophetic? Matthew indicates that at least some of them were.

At any rate, this seems as good a point as any to add a new point:


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy

Otherwise, Matthew is completely off base and the New Testament is suspect.

Next: [BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Monday, July 17, 2017

[BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Previous: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Fulfillment

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
 Original

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him,” says the Lord; “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed”’?”
And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison.
“Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”’

Comparison

This passage may be the apex of Matthew's radical re-interpretation. He claims that Jeremiah is talking about someone buying a field with 30 pieces of silver, which they received as the price of a man's life. But that's completely at odds with the original context and the original text.

The passage in Jeremiah starts with the king of Judah complaining about Jeremiah prophesying that Babylon will defeat Judah. Jeremiah responds that he made a real estate deal (bought a field with silver). Why? Because even after Babylon inevitably curb-stomps Judah, there is still hope in the future. The children of God might be going away for a while, but they'll be coming back.

That's all well and good, but it bears no relation to what Matthew is talking about:

1). There is no mention in Jeremiah that the field is a potter's field.
2). The price paid for the field is seventeen shekels of silver, not thirty pieces of silver.[1]
3). There is no indication in Jeremiah that seventeen shekels is anything other than the worth of the field - it is not mentioned as "the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced."
Again, we are faced with two possibilities: first, that Matthew had access to a version of Jeremiah that we do not; second, Matthew is doing whatever he wants with text. Matthew also cares nothing about the original context, or that the prophecy has already been fulfilled by the return of the Jews to Israel under Cyrus. He just does not give one iota of a crap about the principles we moderns use to interpret Scripture.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy
Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy
Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy
Next: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

[1]Arguably, the thirty pieces of silver could possibly weigh seventeen shekels. Even if this is the case, the prophecy specifies a weight of silver, not a number of coins.

Friday, July 14, 2017

[BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Previous [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4



Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Fulfillment

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Original


The burden of the word of the Lord
Against the land of Hadrach,
And Damascus its resting place
(For the eyes of men
And all the tribes of Israel
Are on the Lord);
Also against Hamath, which borders on it,
And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
For Tyre built herself a tower,
Heaped up silver like the dust,
And gold like the mire of the streets.
Behold, the Lord will cast her out;
He will destroy her power in the sea,
And she will be devoured by fire.
Ashkelon shall see it and fear;
Gaza also shall be very sorrowful;
And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation.
The king shall perish from Gaza,
And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
“A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod,
And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
I will take away the blood from his mouth,
And the abominations from between his teeth.
But he who remains, even he shall be for our God,
And shall be like a leader in Judah,
And Ekron like a Jebusite.
I will camp around My house
Because of the army,
Because of him who passes by and him who returns.
No more shall an oppressor pass through them,
For now I have seen with My eyes.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Comparison

Again, Matthew loves to paraphrase (or else has a version of Isaiah we don't). Compare:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
With:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is actually pretty close by Matthew's standards – he's just added some extra rejoicing. So far we've seen him delete material ("And afterward more heavily oppressed her" from #4), add material ("Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem" from this one) and change things entirely ("And in His name Gentiles will trust" from #6)

But we've already covered Matthew's citation errors. Let's talk about context.

The larger context of Zechariah 9 is that God is going to utterly destroy Tyre, the Philistines, and all the others on His laundry list of enemies. God will dwell among His people, and the Messiah will come as a King of Peace who rules the world and destroys all weapons of war.

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey certainly seems to fulfill part of this prophecy. But again, looking at the larger context of the original complicates Matthew's interpretation. I don't know if Israel's military still uses horses, but they definitely don't have peace there, let alone "to the Ends of the Earth."

It's going to take all of our Points to explain this. This prophecy must have multiple fulfillments (the destruction of Tyre, Jesus riding on a donkey, the future end of war), or else it completely falls apart. The original context of Tyre is completely misleading in Matthew's interpretation. Past, Present, and Future must be compressed if Isaiah and Matthew are to be compatible. And clearly, Matthew is completely willing to play with the exact words of Scripture.

In fact, we're upgrading Point Four from provisional status. It's now a full-fledged point:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy


Next: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

[BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Previous: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6


Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4


Fulfillment

Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

"Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

Original

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Comparison

Matthew's interpretation here seems to be fairly reasonable. Jesus tells the crowd to keep things quiet - "He will not cry out...nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." Seems simple enough.

Unsurprisingly, Matthew once again quotes from a version of Isaiah that conflicts with the Hebrew. He ends the quote with:

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”
Whereas Isaiah ends it with:
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

This is getting to be a thing, isn’t it? Matthew loves to play it fast and loose with the exact wording of Isaiah.

There are two possibilities here. First, that Matthew is paraphrasing the end of the passage. Looking at Isaiah 41, we see that "the coastlands" could be an image for the Gentile nations - "the ends of the earth." It's reasonable for Matthew to try and make the point of the original clear, even if it conflicts with our modern sense of how Scripture should be handled. How many of you would be okay with the following translation?

"For Jesus so loved human beings that He came to Earth as a literally incarnate human being who was also fully God, so believe in Him."
-John 3:16
In fairness to Matthew, I've read some modern translations that were on that level.

The second possibility is that Matthew is quoting from a version of Isaiah now lost to us. This seems unlikely, and even if it were true, is unprovable until we find a version that matches up.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Provisional Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

If the exact wording matters, Matthew is in trouble (as is the New Testament).

Next: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Monday, July 10, 2017

[BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Previous: [BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Fulfillment

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

Original

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Comparison
Here we have another example of Matthew quoting from a different version of Isaiah.

Compare:

“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
With:
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;"
Why do English versions of the Bible translate the two passages differently? We may be tempted to say they don't match because Matthew is quoting from the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) instead of the Hebrew original. Unfortunately, the Greek of Matthew doesn't match the Septuagint of Isaiah. So what gives?

Maybe Matthew used a Greek translation other than the Septuagint – perhaps this is his own personal Greek translation. This would explain why some of the other "quotations" don't match up (see #4 for another example).
But regardless, the simplest interpretation may be that Matthew doesn't care that much about the exact wording. He clearly cannot view the Septuagint as perfect, or else he would have used it. He also cannot view translations as invalid, or else he would have quoted the Hebrew original. The only possible explanation is that he viewed translations as valid but not authoritative. The Septuagint was not perfect, but it was perfectly usable.

I'm going to add a provisional point to our list:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Provisional Point Four: The original text matters more than translations (but translations are fine to use)


Again, this is reflected in how the New Testament is written. Translations were, apparently, good enough for the Holy Spirit.

Next: [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Friday, July 7, 2017

[BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Previous: [BTT0028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Fulfillment

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”


Original

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Comparison
This is a difficult one, and not only because Matthew seems to be quoting from a different version of Isaiah (note discrepancies between the verse in Isaiah and their quotation in Matthew).

The first thing we have to understand is that the triumph announcement of the coming Messiah - who will be both "a Child" born to Israel and the "Mighty God," comes directly after Isaiah 8's prophecy of the Assyrian invasion. This is what the "darkness" and "shadow of death" refer to.

If we look at the immediate context of Matthew, he appears to be saying that Isaiah was prophesying that the Messiah would spend some time in trans-Jordan area. That would be silly, because Isaiah is clearly saying that the Messiah will emerge to rule in truth, justice, etc. This seems double silly because Jesus was born long after Assyria existed. How could Jesus be the light of hope against an empire that no longer existed?

However, things start to make more sense when we take into account the idea that Past, Present, Future do not matter in prophecy. Assyria has been out of the picture for centuries, but the people of Zebulun and Naphtali are still under a different military occupation: Rome. We might even further spiritualize things and say that the true darkness is the darkness of sin and death.

The point is, both the original context and the fulfillment context can be misleading if you take them over-literally. Unless we keep in mind the idea that Past, Present, and Future get mushed together in prophecy, they become unintelligible.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

[BTT028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Previous:  [BTT027] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Fulfillment

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Original

Thus says the Lord:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
Thus says the Lord:
“Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.

Comparison

Jeremiah speaks of "Rachel weeping for her children" to refer to the destruction of Israel, whose children were led away into captivity by Assyria. But the Lord stops Rachel's tears, saying that her children will be returned from captivity.

Matthew speaks about King Herod murdering every male child two years old or younger. Unfortunately, it does not look like these children will be coming back any time soon.

Again, the fulfillment defies the original. It is clear that the first half of this prophecy was already fulfilled by the Assyrian conquest and the second half by the return of the Israelites under Cyrus.

If anything, the New Testament seems to indicate that we should ignore the original context of these passages.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Revised Point Two: The original context may be misleading in prophecy

Sticking too closely to the original context leaves no room for Herod's butchery, since the original context is about a people who will return.

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT0029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Monday, July 3, 2017

[BTT027] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

Previous: [BTT026] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17


Fulfillment

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Original

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.
“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them."

Comparison

These two passages have perhaps less to do with each other than the last example. The passage from Hosea clearly refers to the nation of Israel - unless we are going to accept that Jesus sacrificed to the Baals and burned incense to carved images.

At this point, I think we have to acknowledge something: when the apostles interpreted Old Testament prophecies, they did not give the slightest crap about the original context. Hosea was talking about something that had already happened, not something in the future. Israel was called out of Egypt in the past tense.

Matthew’s interpretation is that when Hosea spoke about a sinful, false-god worshipping Israel who came out of Egypt in the past, he was actually talking about the Perfect Son of God who would come out of Egypt in the future.

If this is true, it means that prophecy views past and future as much the same thing. "Out of Egypt I called my Son," refers simultaneously to the past and to the future.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Point Two: The original context doesn't matter in prophecy
Or else Hosea said Jesus sacrificed to false gods.

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy
Or else Matthew was incorrect to attribute the fulfillment of this prophecy to Jesus.


Next: [BTT028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Friday, June 30, 2017

[BTT026] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

Previous: [BTT025] Cut Passages 002

1. Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

Fulfillment:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Original:
Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field, and say to him: ‘Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel”— thus says the Lord God:
“It shall not stand,
Nor shall it come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
And the head of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken,
So that it will not be a people.
The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
And the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son.
If you will not believe,
Surely you shall not be established.”’”
Moreover the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”
Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”
Comparison

Right off the bat, we are hit with an extremely difficult prophecy. The relationship between the original prophecy in Isaiah and its fulfillment in Matthew is anything but clear.

Let's get the obvious objection out of the way. Matthew is quoting from the Greek Septuagint instead of the original Hebrew. In the Hebrew original, "virgin is "`almah" (עַלְמָה ), which can mean "young woman" in addition to "unmarried female virgin of marriageable age" - something which opponents of the Virgin Birth love to point out.

However there is no passage in the Old Testament in which 'almah is used in reference to an unmarried non-virgin, or even a married virgin. If anything, taking the Hebrew usage of 'almah into account makes the status of Mary even more appropriate - she was an unmarried female virgin of marriageable age when she conceived, fulfilling every single thing implied by the word 'almah.[1]

The issue is the original context of the Sign. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but a sign of what? The issue on the table in Isaiah 7 is not the coming of the Messiah, but an alliance between Ephraim and Syria. Ahaz is not worried about salvation from sin, but salvation from a military invasion.

Isaiah's prophecy specifically says that within 65 years, Ephraim will be utterly destroyed, to the points that it will "not be a people." More importantly in terms of the sign, both Ephraim (Israel) and Syria will lose their kings - the kings plotting against Judah - before the promised Child is old enough to "refuse the evil and choose the good."[2]

This makes Matthew's interpretation of the prophecy problematic. If the Child is Jesus, the sign has come a bit late. While "Rezin…and the son of Remaliah" were most definitely off of their thrones before Jesus' birth, Ahaz was also long dead. How could the birth of Christ be a sign of political change in the days of Ahaz?

This seems to point to the idea that Isaiah is talking about two Childs (that's grammatically incorrect, but work with me here). The first Child was born in the time of Ahaz, the second Child was Jesus. The first Child was born as a sign to Ahaz and as a prefigurement of Jesus, who fulfilled the prophecy in its entirety.

But the matter is far from settled. As we have seen, the passage seems to indicate a Virgin Conception. If the passage can be interpreted as also allowing a non-Virgin Conception - i.e., a woman who at the moment of the prophecy was an 'almah got married and conceived in the usual way - then that means that the prophecy did not require a Virgin Birth. That would mean that either there is no Old Testament requirement for a Virgin Birth (making Matthew's citation of the passage incorrect) or that Ahaz could rightly call Isaiah a liar.

Alternatively, we could argue that the first Child was also the product of a Virgin Conception. If anything, this is even more problematic since it would imply the birth of Jesus was not unique. As far as we know from Scripture, only the Holy Spirit can cause a Virgin to conceive apart from the usual way. So was Jesus born twice?

Lastly, Isaiah says that the child's name will be "Immanuel," which, as Matthew reminds us, means "God with us." However, Gabriel instructs Mary to name the child "Jesus," or "savior."

So, looking at Isaiah, we would expect the following things:
1). An 'almah will conceive a child as a sign to Ahaz.
2). The child of the 'almah will be named "Immanuel," "God with us."
3). Before the child is old enough to choose the good instead of evil, Israel and Assyria will both lose their kings, who are plotting an alliance against Judah.
Looking at Matthew, we would expect the following things:
1). An 'almah will conceive a Child while still an 'almah hundreds of years after the death of Ahaz.
2). The Child of the 'almah will be named "Jesus," "Savior."
3). The Child will save His people from their sins.
To reconcile these two passages, we have the following options:
1). There were two Childs (Immanuel and Jesus), who both fulfilled the prophecy.
2). There were two Childs (Immanuel and Jesus), both of which fulfilled part of the prophecy.
3). There was one Child (Jesus), who provided a very poor sign to poor Ahaz.
Option two seems the most likely. For both Childs to fulfill the entirety of the prophecy, both Childs would have to be Virgin-born, both as signs to Ahaz. The more likely scenario is that a child named "Immanuel" was born as a sign to Ahaz, fulfilling that part of the prophecy and a child named "Jesus" was born to an 'almah hundreds of years later.

This is not a perfect explanation, but it provides us with a starting point. There are many themes here we will see repeated through the Plēroō Passages.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

If not, this pairing of prophecy and fulfillment makes no sense whatsoever.


Next: [BTT026] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

[1]See Gen. 24:23 and Sng. 6:8 for passages where 'almah refers to unmarried virgins.

[2]Of course, this will not prevent Assyria from invading and conquering Judah. Look, it's a complicated passage.

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?
Fulfillment

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.”
 Original?:

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

[BTT024] Cut Passages 001

1. Specific Old Testament Prophecy, Ambiguous Fulfillment

Matt 2:1 -6 / Micah 5:1-4

Fulfillment?:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Original:

Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us;
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek. 
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” 
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
Why was it cut?

The short version is that this verse does not contain the word "plēroō." The long version is that while Matthew does seem to indicate that the chief priests and scribes were correct when they applied the passage in Micah to the birthplace of the Messiah, he does not state it explicitly.

There are many verses that use phrases such as "thus it is written" or "he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah" (see Matthew 3:1-3). In most cases, it is fairly clear that Old Testament prophecy is being fulfilled. However, we must avoid all ambiguity. Unless the author explicitly states that a fulfillment has occurred, there remains a possibility that the author is simply referencing the Old Testament.

That said, I do want to discuss this passage in particular. It is telling that the chief priests and scribes were able to intellectually deduce that the Messiah's birthplace would be Bethlehem, which was indeed the birthplace of Jesus. Apparently these chief priests and scribes were able to get this one correct.

Even if the chief priests and scribes got pretty much everything else about the Christ wrong - He came to die for sinners, not to wipe out the Romans - they got this one thing right. This should give us both hope and humility. Hope, because if even the chief priests and scribes were capable of understanding prophecy by studying Scripture, then it stands to reason that we can as well. Humility, because even if they got one detail right, they misunderstood the most essential things about the Christ. Worst of all, most of them did not recognize Him when He came.

Let us "surpass the Pharisees" in this as well. It is good to study prophecy; it is better to recognize Jesus as who He says He is. No man can claim to understand prophecy while denying the widow and orphan justice, while oppressing the poor, while living in open defiance of the will of God. Those who understand prophecy understand that Jesus will return as "a thief in the night" - and woe to the ones not ready.

[BTT025] Cut Passages 002

Friday, June 23, 2017

[BTT023] How Does the Bible Interpret Prophecy?

[BT023] Doing A Better Job

When we look at the Scriptures, we see two ways in which the meaning of a prophecy is revealed:

1). Prophecies which have their meanings revealed almost immediately afterwards.

In other words, the prophet Abrabimilechaham has a dream or vision, he can’t understand it, and God reveals the meaning of the dream within the same chapter.

A good example of this is in Daniel 2, where Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In that case, Nebuchadnezzar has a prophetic dream, and Daniel provides the interpretation almost immediately after. There can be no doubt of what God was trying to tell Nebuchadnezzar, because the interpretation follows in the text immediately.

2). Prophecies which do not have their meaning revealed until much later.

In other words, the prophet Enochathan has a dream or vision, writes it down, and it is not until hundreds or thousands of years later that the meaning is revealed.

An example of this is Jeremiah 31:31-34, where Jeremiah prophecies of a day in which God will write His law on the hearts of His people, which Hebrews 10:15-18 says is fulfilled in Jesus. There's a fairly significant gap between these two, so there were hundreds of years where it was not fully understood.

Now naturally, the first type of prophecy takes care of itself. There’s no need to interpret a prophecy that comes with its own interpretation! It’s the second type that we’re concerned with.

For that reason, we’re going to focus on a very, very specific type of prophecy: Old Testament prophecies that are explicitly quoted as being "fulfilled" in the New Testament. This is to filter out literary allusions and references to the Old Testament, leaving only indisputable fulfillments of prophecy.

These limitations were chosen because the New Testament authors were interpreting prophecies from a book – the Torah. This closely resembles our situation today. We are not interpreting new dreams and prophecies received from God directly, but prophecies that have been written down and passed through the ages. We want to see how New Testament authors dealt with this same situation.

Additionally, since we believe that both the Old and New Testament are the inspired word of God, we can have full assurance that when the New Testament says 'this was in fulfillment of prophecy,' this interpretation is correct.

In order to do this, we will limit our study to New Testament passages that use the Greek verb plēroō (πληρόω, "to fulfill") in conjunction with a direct quotation of Old Testament prophecy. Plēroō can also be used in the sense of "fulfilling" or "filling" other things – Jesus fulfilling the requirements of the law, Christians being filled with love/grace/the Holy Spirit. Since we are only interested in prophecy at the moment, we will not look at verses that use plēroō in these other senses.

Additionally, we will not be looking at isolated verses, but the passages in which they appear. This is necessary to understand precisely what actions and events are fulfilling the prophecy in question. We will also look at the Old Testament prophecy in its original context and compare how the New Testament fulfillment compares.

By my count, there are 17 passages in which a specific Old Testament prophecy is explicitly fulfilled (plēroō) in the New Testament. Before looking at these passages, we will look at some examples of passages that were rejected to better explain why we are looking at these 17 passages in particular.

[BTT024] Cut Passages 001

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

[BTT022] Doing a Better Job

Previous: [BTT021] Nothing New Under the Sun

It’s not that Christians get everything wrong when it comes to prophecy. We do a pretty good job with prophecies that have already come to pass. That "born of a Virgin" stuff? Yeah, we got it. "Bruised for our transgressions"? Okay, figured it out. But stuff that hasn't happened yet? We have a pretty terrible track record.

There are many reasons for this, one of which is that it’s easier to understand in hindsight things that have already happened compared to understanding things that have not yet happened. That’s a problem in many fields other than Bible prophecy.

Have you ever played around with day trading? It’s not easy to pick which stocks are going to do well and which ones are going to drop. Economists have very elaborate, convincing models for explaining financial history, but the moment you ask them to pick future winners, the models stop working.

Or take history – it’s easy to look back into history and say, “of course that’s why Rome became a great imperial power” or “Of course the Nazis were bad.” It’s not so easy to predict who the next President will be or who we should choose as allies.

This difficulty is natural in secular disciplines. No one expects a historian to predict the future. But when you’re making claims about future events like prophecy, it’s kind of important to get them right. Otherwise, we punch ourselves in the face – publicly and embarrassingly.

So the question becomes, how do we do a better job?

The good news is, we already know what a bad job looks like – it’s the scattershot, schizophrenic model-less model of the TV preacher and the street corner messiah.

You know what we're talking about. It's the advanced calculus needed to equate "Adolph Hitler" or “Barack Obama” with "666." It’s seeing Armageddon in ever border skirmish and the Bowl Judgments in every hurricane. It’s the desperate desire for any sign of the end that leads well-meaning Christians to match random Bible verses random current events.

But is this the only method of interpreting prophecy available to us? Are Christians forever doomed to arranged marriages between random Jerusalem and Reuters? I'm going to argue that the answer is "no." And we're going to find a different way of doing things by looking at the Bible itself.

This is the question we are going to ask: How did the authors of the New Testament interpret prophecies from the Old Testament?

Next: [BT023] How Does the Bible Interpret Prophecy?

Monday, June 19, 2017

[BTT021] Nothing New Under the Sun

Previous: [BTT020] All Things Made New

Part V: Towards a Model of Prophecy


Nothing New Under the Sun

You’ve probably seen this scene – a bully grabs a smaller child, twists his arm, and starts punching him with his own hand. What does the bully yell out? “Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself!”

Of course, the smaller child isn’t hitting himself, though he is being struck with his own hand. The bully is forcing him to. It’s an old joke, as old as it is cruel. Maybe Cain did it to Abel – “stop murdering yourself!”

If you saw this happening in front of you, you’d probably break it up, right? Any decent human would pull them apart. But if you pulled the bully and bullied apart, and the bullied child just kept punching themselves in the face, what would you think then?

The bullied punches himself for one year. Four five years. For ten years, thirty years – he’s not a child anymore, but he keeps hitting himself. One hundred years, two thousand years. There’s something wrong with this kid, and not just the fact that he’s apparently immortal.

It’s ridiculous to punch yourself in the face for two seconds, let alone two thousand years. And yet, this is what many Christians do when it comes to New Testament prophecy. No one is forcing us to get prophecy desperately and terribly wrong, harming our testimony in the eyes of the world, and yet we love to do it to ourselves.

I’m sure you already know some examples of this, or at least, I’m sure you can think of some. How many times was the world definitely certainly without a doubt supposed to end within your lifetime? How many “prophecy experts” had definite conclusive biblical proof that the Anti-Christ was living among us?

Unless you’re a newly formed zygote, you can probably think of a few. Within the last decade, we’ve had Ronald Weinland, Jack Van Impe, and Mark Biltz all fail publicly and spectacularly to predict the date of the Second Coming. Go back a few decades and you have books like 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 and 1994? (proposed subtitle: No).

And this is far from a recent development in Christendom. The world was supposed to end in 1972, 1935, 1901, 1891, 1861, 1844, 1700, 1673, 1533, 1370, 1260, 1000, 793, and 500. And that’s the short list.

But Christians have been getting the words of Jesus wrong all the back from the beginning, even in the Bible itself. Check out this exchange from the gospel of John:

Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
-John 21:21-23

There were so many people who thought John would live until the Second Coming in the early church that John had to write in a note about how that wasn’t true in the Bible itself. This means that stupid theories about the Second Coming are older than the New Testament. In fact, given the timing of this conversation, it’s entirely possible Christians were formulating bad theories about the Second Coming before they were called “Christians” (see Acts 11:26).


Next: [BTT022] Doing a Better Job

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Distributed Thoughtware: Southern Baptists vs. The Alt-Right

On The Anti-Gospel Of Alt-Right White Supremacy

I'm not going to dive into the text of the Southern Baptist Convention's recent resolution against the Alt-Right/White Supremacy, but if you want to read it for yourself, the link's up there.

Here's my summary:

1). We are not racists.
2). Boy, we sure are not racists.
3). Okay, so we were racists for a while there, but we have a lot of black friends.
4). But boy, White Supremacists and Alt-Righters sure are racists.
5). Boy, are they ever racists.
6). That's bad.
7). But not us.
8). We are not racists.

Note the bait-and-switch in the resolution, though. The title leads with "Alt-Right" with "White Supremacy" being a subset of the Alt-Right. But the resolution itself mentions the "Alt-Right" specifically only twice and "White Supremacy" five times and "Racism" eleven times."

In other words, the title claims this is a resolution on the Alt-Right, but the text is mostly about racism and White Supremacy.

It's a resolution on racism being bad that claims to be a resolution on the Alt-Right. Why? Because the point of the resolution is to paint the entirety of the Alt-Right as goose-stepping 1488ers. Why? So that the Alt-Right might be driven forth from the SBC without trial or (God forbid!) a chance for Alt-Righters to explain their positions.

There's a hilarity in the resolutions listing of all the previous resolutions (1995, 2014, 2016) that have already made their stance on race abundantly clear. The only reason for the 2017 resolution is to attack the Alt-Right, an amorphous entity that they do not even attempt to describe (other than as White Supremacists).

I mentioned in an old post (okay, two or three posts) that church splits were coming. I was probably incorrect in assigning too much emphasis to Trump's performance as a variable. I also was incorrect in assuming the push for division would come from below. It's coming from above, and this is the first major manifestation of it.

How many SBC members voted for Trump? How many identify with the Alt-Right (in its Alt-Light form in particular)? I'd be willing to bet the answer to the first question is "close to, but less than 80%" (reflecting the percentage of White Evangelicals who voted for Trump). The second is harder to say, but low enough that the SBC felt comfortable enough to attack the Alt-Right, but not comfortable enough to go after Trump directly.

Two last comments:

1). I'm sure that the SBC can now look forward to waves of hardened atheists embracing faith in Christ and flocking to their churches now that the SBC has bravely proclaimed that they are quadruple not racists.

2). I will be truly shocked if this ends here. Remember, as Alinsky told us, victory is the worst thing that can happen to these people since their power comes from conflict.

[Update]

Also of interest: the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America, one of the groups that split off from the PCUSA when they went crazy with ordaining lesbian abortion doctors)  is taking steps towards opening ministry roles for women. As usual, it's being pushed from the top. God have mercy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The State of the Blog (06/09/17)

You may have noticed that I'm not particularly feeling it lately.

Now that the Rules for Radicals series has finished, I'm going to post a series on Bible Prophecy. There may be some occasional Archetypes Vs. Women stuff. But it was the culture wars stuff that was drawing most of you to this blog, and that's something I've lost my appetite for (at least, for writing about). I think it's right to be upfront about that.

-The Rev

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Rev Reads It For You: The Way Ahead in 1971 (Rules for Radicals)

As we reach the end of Saul Alinsky's 1971 work, we also reach his take on the future. So the fun here lies in seeing how 2017 stacks up with 1971.
"With rare exceptions, our activists and radicals are products of and rebels against our middle-class society."
This was largely true through the mid 2000s, but with the falling out of the Middle Class, it would be more accurate in our times to say "products of and those denied our middle-class society." Those who were raised in the middle class but are unable to achieve that life-style. There's also a fine layer of upper-class shitlibs on top and a crust of lower-class rioters at the bottom.
"...it is useless self-indulgence for an activist to put his past behind him. Instead, he should realize the priceless value of his middle-class experience...Instead of the infantile dramatics of rejection, he will now begin to dissect and examine that way of life as he never has before. He will know that a "square" is no longer to be dismissed as such—instead, his own approach must be "square" enough to get the action started."
I'm torn on this one. There's definitely still an attitude of "infantile dramatics," but that itself has become part of the middle-class experience. It is dramatics for attention-grabbing rather than rejection of middle-class values. What values are really left with the middle-class anyway?

"Turning back to the middle class as an organizer, he will find that everything now has a different meaning and purpose. He learns to view actions outside of the experience of people as serving only to confuse and antagonize them others. He will view with strategic sensitivity the nature of middle-class behavior with its hangups over rudeness or aggressive, insulting, profane actions. All this and more must be grasped and used to radicalize parts of the middle class."
If anything, effectively communicating with the middle class requires skillful manipulation of rudeness, aggression, insults, and profanity. You want just enough to seem urbane but not so much as to seem uneducated.

We'll continue with the White working class after the jump.


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rev Reads It For You: Lock, Stock, and Proxies (Rules for Radicals)

In this chapter, Alinsky tackles two subjects: first, thinking on your feet; second, using stock shares to put pressure on corporations. This will be a shorter post than usual, as will be the next and final.

Why? Two reasons. First, because thinking on your feet is something that can't be fully taught in a logical manner because at a certain point, you're going to have to go beyond logic. So there's a limit to what you can say on the subject! Second, because proxies are simply one example of many different forms of improvosational tactics one can employ. The point isn't "buy stock to push your social agenda," the point is "have your eyes open for holes to exploit."

"The greatest barrier to communication between myself and would be organizers arises when I try to get across the concept that tactics are not the product of careful cold reason, that they do not follow a table of organization or plan of attack...the tactic itself comes out of the free flow of action and reaction, and requires on the part of the organizer an easy acceptance of apparent disorganization."
Cold reason is wonderful when you have time to plan and prepare and tweak, but it's mostly useless in the heat of battle. Having a manual of Accepted Tactics that you learn by rote and perform by rote is a great way to get your robot ass killed. Think of it in video game terms - no matter how powerful the boss, once you observe and understand their attack patterns, they're basically dead. When you can't think intuitively, you become the boss monster with the flashing red weakness.

So remember, if Alinsky could teach any one thing to your enemies, it is the value of coming up with tactics on the fly.

We continue after the jump.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[AVW016] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part Two

Previous: [AVW015] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part One

“NOOOOOOOO!”
-Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back

The Narrative Role

Sora and Anti Form Sora
The Shadow is one of the most common video game archetypes (really, one of the most common in all human storytelling), but it usually does not function as a game mechanic. Usually, the Shadow functions on the levels of character and narrative.

It is so very common. Either the villain is a dark reflection of the hero (Batman and the Joker) or else a relative of the hero (Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader), or else some sort of literal manifestation of dark energy created from the hero's heart (Sora and Heartless Sora, Anti Form Sora, Roxas, and like eleven other characters).

There are plenty of fine examples of female Heroine/Shadow pairs in stories. Ripley and the Xenomorph Queen ("Get away from her, you BITCH!"). Samus Aran vs Mother Brain. The chaste protagonist vs. the sexually aggressive antagonist in pretty much every romance novel/movie/etc. ever (a good gaming example is in Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure). We can expand this list with a few pairs covered in this series already; Inanna vs. Ereshkigal, Paghat vs. Anat, Psyche vs. Venus.

Again, this usage of the archetype is so common that detailed analysis is really not necessary, but a few words are perhaps in order for specifically female Shadows.

First, a Shadow for a female Protagonist works best when the Shadow is also female. The psychological mirroring is less effective when the villain is the opposite gender. It's a case of making the Other too "Other" to function as an appropriate foil. That's not to say that a male antagonist can never work, only that a female Shadow is the most directly accessible setup.

The inner Male aspect of women is more effectively used as the Animus, which is a more positive aspect of the inner Other. This is perhaps why bald faced anti-patriarchy morality fables are so rarely good story-telling (in addition to the usual problems of "party line" fiction).

Second, note that some of the best conflicts with the female Shadow center around sexuality. Ripley and the Queen conflict over their children. Cornet and Marjoly in Rhapsody conflict over the affections of Prince Ferdinand. Psyche and Venus clash over Cupid; husband to the first and son of the second. The Whore/Madonna Complex (or the Lilith/Eve Complex) is not just psychologically compelling to men!

Third, note that there are plenty of conflicts that do not directly center around sexuality. Inanna and Ereshkigal mainly clash over authority and power. Paghat seeks revenge against Anat for her brother's murder. Samus fights Mother Brain for survival. And while a clever sort might find sexual symbolism in these stories as well, it functions on a level more implied than explicit (and really, you can stretch sexual symbolism into anything).

To sum up, on the narrative level, you want your female protagonist's Shadow to be female as well. Otherwise there is less of a sense that they are confronting themselves and growing as a character. The lack of a strong female villain is one of the major weaknesses of the new Star Wars franchise, along with Rei's lack of shortcomings to overcome - and these issues are not unrelated! Without an appropriate, easily accessible foil, the Heronie's inner struggle is harder to grasp.

Not very subtle, but effective as fuck.
We continue with Game Mechanics after the jump.



Monday, May 15, 2017

[AVW015] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part One

Previous: [AVW014] Rethinking the Heronie (The Persona)

"I defy you! I hold myself against you! What I choose to be, you cannot change. I will not be what you think me—what you say I am!"

George MacDonald, Lilith, a romance

The Story in a Nutshell

Lilith comes to us from the weird word of Jewish and pre-Jewish Mesopotamian demonology. There are hundreds of individual variations of her story, so we'll look at one generalized version.

When God made Man in the Garden of Eden, He also made a woman from the same dirt. This was the first woman, for as Genesis 1:27 says, "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." This initial act of creation, however, was not the creation of Eve - she is formed from Adam's rib in chapter 2.

There was another woman before Eve, a first woman named Lilith who was made from the dust of the earth, just as Adam was. She was an equal creation to Adam, and thus chafed under his authority.

"For why," said she, "Should I be subject to this man, who was made from the same dirt as I?" And so, refusing to lie with Adam or bear him children, she instead fled from the Garden of Eden.

Unlike Eve, who sinned and yet may be "saved through childbearing," Lilith chose to lie with the Serpent and became the mother of a race of monsters. She herself became a demoness, reigning over such evils as abortion, miscarriage, cradle death, sorcery, and witchcraft. It is even said that she rapes men at night in their sleep, using their seed to conceive more demons.

The word "Lilith" does actually appear in Isaiah 34:11 as part of a prophecy of the destruction of Edom:
"But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it,
Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
And He shall stretch out over it
The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness."
The Hebrew term translated as "owl" is in fact "Lilith," a name thought to derive from various Mesopotamian demons. It's actually kind of fun to look at the various terms Bible translators have used for Lilith, ranging from "night monster" to "vampires" to "night creature." The Latin Vulgate uses the term "lamia," a similar female monster that drinks blood and has the tail of a snake, and the Septuagint uses "onocentaur," a half-man half-donkey monster.

In modern times, Lilith has become something of a Feminist icon, standing as a symbol of sexual promiscuity and resistance to male authority. The baby-murdering and Satan-fucking are presumably a plus as well.

Join us for more after the jump.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Rev Reads It For You: The Thirteen Rules of Power Tactics

I decided not to let three months go by between posts this time, which must surely be a shock.Today we're talking about the meat and bones of tactics.

"Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves."
Smarmy pulpitizing on the immorality of it all aside, this statement betrays something of a flaw in Alinskism: what do you do when your side has become the Haves? When you have won over, say, the majority of the education system, government bureaucracy, and massive influence everywhere else? A legitimate question, and you'll see how these tactics start to break down.
"First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power.
Second the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does.
Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place."
We can similar tactics nowadays with sockpuppet accounts (concealing small numbers) and trolls (stink up the place).

The 13 rules alluded to in the title of the post are after the break.


Monday, May 1, 2017

The Rev Reads it For You: I Get the Power (Rules for Radicals)

Alright, there's been enough wasted time. Let's jump right the hell back into Rules for Radicals with In The Beginning, a chapter on getting power.

"IN THE BEGINNING the incoming organizer must establish his identity or, putting it another way, get his license to operate. He must have a reason for being there— a reason acceptable to the people."
This is solid advice, and it needs to be said that formal credentials ("I have a Bachelor's in Community Organization!") gets you nowhere and fast. This isn't about proving your credentials, but demonstrating (take a moment to really mull over that word, demonstrating) your value.

The rest is after the jump, and I'mma warn you right now, this is a long one.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Beauty and the Bestial: LeFou and Gay Representation

I saw the live-action Beauty and the Beast on opening night, and my first comment was, "Disney better bless their stars that Malaysia banned this film, or else the gays would tear it apart."

I'd summarize the list of homosexual grievances against this film, but Cracked has already done a good job of documenting it:



Oh, the indignity, the stereotypes! Effeminate gays! Closeted gays! Shall wonders never cease! Perhaps now that Malaysia has caved and the film will air uncensored, the gay community will be able to tear into the Beast. That Cracked dare criticize a former gay martyr to Gay Free Speech publicly is a sign in that direction.

"We have always loved Beauty and the Beast. We have always been at war with Beauty and the Beast. LeFou is a gay icon. LeFou is a gay minstrel. When the homophobes hate a thing, we love it. When they love a thing (or even treat it indifferently), we hate it."

Oppression is strength. No, truly, their only strength is the claim that they are oppressed. And if the Malaysians will not oppress them, then Disney will. An oppressor will always be found, because if there is no oppression, there is no Feed.

It is the disruption of proper societal functioning that releases the energy these vampires feed on. That's literally the whole point of the chapter of Rules for Radicals I have been lingering on for, like, two months.

We will not reach peak Oppression Narrative until the Narrative no longer sells, until no one cares. The gays you will always have with you, but the Grievance Industry is something else. Until there is no fortune in protest, the greedy will stir up contention at every minor point.

Culture wars aside, Beauty and the Beast was pretty good! I prefer the animated original, but the update is well done. Solid cast, great visual effects, and top notch singing. This is one of the least gay pieces of media I've seen in years - less gay than Harry Potter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Declassified: As Above, So Below

Good morning, Ruineers! We're coming back to the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual for more tips and tricks on destroying your life and ruining your company.

Today's Tip: As Above, So Below

The chain of command, when properly used, can be just that - a chain of links choking the life out of an organization (or else keeping it shackled in place). But whether you're the top man on the totem pole or a simple squaw, it's your job to tug that chain around the company's neck and pull, pull pull!

Let's start with paperwork - memos and documents can be your worst enemy when they're out spreading information, but with a little skill you can use them to prevent 90% of work from being done on time.

First, demand every request, no matter how simple, be put down into writing before you'll do it. Have people fill out forms for every job they ask you to do - to make sure they have "used proper channels." Refuse to move forward until a mountain of paperwork is completed and approved by three different departments. The more the merrier!

Now that you have a mountain of information, it's time to find something wrong with it. Look for unclear language (or at least, language you can pretend to misunderstand) and write long letters and emails asking for precise clarification.

Why? Because you must never turn in a job on time, whether it's turning in a proposal, shipping an order to a customer or purchasing raw materials from a supplier. Give other people as little time to respond to your demands as possible and then blame them when it all goes South.

And remember, this isn't just about your job. If some busybody needs information from you to do their job, it's time to stall. First, ignore their request. When they remind you, pretend you lost the request (better yet, really lose it). Next, demand more information on why they need this "sensitive information."

For you boys on the factory floor, insist that you need the most expensive, high-quality materials to do simple jobs and warn of dire consequences if the wrong material is used. This gives you an excuse to delay ordering materials! Once a product is finished, insist that it's not perfect enough for your organization's high standards - even the smallest imperfection can be used to delay shipping a finished product.

Now let's talk a little about training and staffing. Even Joe Blow on the street knows better than to train new employees well - after all, they may be competiting with you for a job some day! But have you thought about actively mistraining them? Try giving them contradictory demands - for example "Quality is the most important thing" and "Meeting our schedule is the most important thing." With a little luck, they'll start ignoring big mistakes while shutting the line down for minor ones!

Speaking of which, an untrained, unskilled employee is the perfect choice for important jobs. How else are they supposed to build experience? Heck, make sure that the least competent, most unpleasant people are promoted first.

With these simple tips, line meant to move information from one person to another can instead strangle the organization to the ground. But remember, unlike every other job in the company, killing all forward momentum is your responsibility!

That's all for now, Ruineers. Remember, a noose is only as strong as the knotted, tangled rope at the top!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Declassified: Just Keep Talking

Good morning, Ruineers!

Today we're talking about talking, and talking about talking about talking. And as always, today's talking points about talking about talking come from the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Now we're talkin'!

Today's Tip: Just Keep Talking

Any good time-waster loves a good meeting, particularly when there's important work to be done. But these wonderful get-togethers are often marred by the presence of people who want to make decisions.

Yes, it's a sad fact that in every meeting, there's going to be one or two good-idea nogoodniks. These slick customers pretend to sit quietly and stay out of your way at first, but they're really coiled snakes, listening to peoples' complaints and formulating plans to fix problems. Jeepers!

By using the following tools, you can frustrate these quiet menaces and tangle up every office interaction, every time. It's hard to keep a good man down, but with these strategies, you can prevent them from getting anything done.

Time is money, and it's up to you to use up as much of both as possible. Every moment that your jaw isn't flapping is time that a good idea may rear its ugly head. Tell stories from your personal life to illustrate "points," whether or not the point is relevant. Voice your concerns about how people not present might feel about the situation. List, at length, every possible option and then why none of them will work.

If someone turns the discussion back on topic, bring up unrelated issues. If the group starts making headway on that new topic, get them "back on track" by switching back to the original topic. By changing the topic as frequently as possible and dragging in as many issues as possible, you'll replace forward progress with horizontal complaining.

Once a meeting is finished, make sure to hunt down the person in charge of writing the minutes. Pick out a sentence (picking at random is just fine) and argue over the precise wording. I'm sure you'll have a fine reason why "decided" is better than "chose"!

Speaking of minutes, you might think at first that they're a dangerous enemy - after all, they provide a record of what was decided.

First of all, you're the schmuck who let something get decided! Don't worry though, even the most vigilant meeting manager sometimes lets a decision slip through. Your goody-two-shoes boss might demand a decision be made, and you may have to oblige him. It's a sad fact of life that some problems require action - action committees, that is!

Start an action committee and pack this "small group" with as many people as possible, whether or not they care about the situation. Remember, nothing of importance ever got decided by a group of more than five people. After all, you're "just being reasonable" and "want to have all the facts" rather than "making a hasty decision."

Second, even if a stray decision gets through, minutes are the perfect tool to roll the clock back. Simply keep a copy of the minutes and bring up any issue that got decided all over again in the next meeting. The frustration of backwards movement is even worse than simply staying in place - it's a great way to keep the organization (and your coworkers) in their place.

There's no situation that can't be made worse with more talking, from preventing a decision, to dragging out the decision-making process, to reversing old decisions. Remember - the work can't start happening until the mouths stop flappening.

That's all for today, Ruineers! It's time to go back to finding ways to avoid work on your own now.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Declassified: Maintenance Tomorrow

Good morning, Ruineers!

Today we'll be talking about the exciting World of Tomorrow - doing it tomorrow! As always, this Sci-Fi future stuff comes from the cutting-edge OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Today's Tip: Maintenance Tomorrow

It's said that Haste makes waste, but Mr. Haste sure could learn a lot from Negligence. Old Haste does good work most of the time, but there's still one mistake he'll make every time: he'll do today jobs that should be done tomorrow.

There's nothing wrong with Mr. Haste when he's ignoring safety procedures or turning a blind eye to shoddy work, but when it comes to maintenance work, it's time to slow down, Hot Shot!

Is one of your tools making an odd sound? Don't fix it now, put it off till tomorrow. Maybe it's a harmless sound, but if it's a serious problem, it can be made twice as bad by ignoring it. Now that's using your head! This goes double for cars, trucks, and expensive household appliances. Don't get hasty and fix that leaking dishwasher right away - let it leak a little longer and do some real water damage to the walls and floor.

Keep your tools nice and dull too - there's nothing worse than a sharp punch or file for turning out shoddy work. And don't forget to put off calibration checks on instruments - billions of dollars go unwasted every year due to properly calibrated tools. Even a small difference in torque can ruin thousands of dollars of product - now that's what I call "pitching in!"

With just a little extra time spent waiting, those routine repairs can become major headaches. And hey - if tomorrow is good, next week is even better!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Declassified: Clean Little, Clean Later

Good morning, Ruineers!

Welcome to today's lesson on being the waste you want to see in the world, courtesy of our friendly spooks at the OSS.

Today's Tip: Clean Little, Clean Later

Ruineers, I'll be the first to admit it's not easy to live surrounded by filth all the time. But it also wasn't easy to put a man on the Moon or to punch that Hitler fella all the way back to Berlin. So put down that sponge and pick up that remote, soldier; you've got a duty to your Uncle Sam.

Let's come together to pour those cleaning material down the drain (better yet, dump them in your yard), put that vacuum cleaner back in the closet, and find the strength to balance that stack of plates in the sink just a little bit higher.

And this doesn't just go for the house, soldier, it goes for you! Wear that dirty shirt again tomorrow. Throw those underpants on the floor instead of in the washing machine. And don't neglect to neglect your personal hygiene either: the road to Health is paved with soap and toothpaste.

This is important in the home, but it's even more important at work. Factories are filled with expensive equipment that can be damaged or even destroyed by the humble metal shaving or spec of sawdust. And what's the point in leaving the lids off chemicals if there's no dirt getting kicked into the air? So leave that broom on the rack, Jack! Today's cleaning can prevent tomorrow's product failure or even stop a costly line stoppage.

You office workers don't have as many opportunities to stop the line with poor cleaning habits, but you can still lead the way with attitude. "Pitch in" by making the cleaning staff's job twice as hard. Eat at your desk - really get those crumbs into the keyboard. Put that coffee cup as close to the edge as possible, or even on top of an expensive computer. Leave trash laying around instead of picking up after yourself. Cultivate the attitude that cleaning is for the "little people"; dirty work is for suckers. Trust me, those little people will pick up on it quick!

That's all for today, Ruineers. You've done well today - make sure to reward yourself by Cleaning Later!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Declassified: Keep That Trash Around

Good morning Ruineers!

We're back today with more tips for ruining your personal life, career, and the lives of everyone around you with hints and yips from the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Today's Tip: Keep That Trash Around

Hey! What are you doing, taking that trash out to the bin? Those receipts could be laying on your floor or shoved into corners! That burger wrapper could be tossed into the back seat of your car! That used tissue could be jammed in a jacket pocket! Use your head, dummy !

When you throw paper rubbish in the trash, you're removing a perfectly good fire hazard. Without a nice pile of paper and cardboard to chow down on, Mr. Fire is going to be in for a hungry evening. Let's "pitch in" and give him something to snack on.

And don't forget - random trash strewn around your living area will also make it harder to find things you actually want. That's a double-whammy opportunity you're letting go to the waste bin!

This goes for food scraps too. Leave your food scraps rotting in the sink (or at least in an inside trash can) for as long as possible. The odor will offend human guests, but you'll have plenty of flies, roaches, and rats to keep you company. And speaking of the sink, that's a great place to keep those dishes piled up. Tell yourself you're just going to let them soak a little and walk away. There's nothing easier than forgetting a job you don't want to do!

And remember, this works in the office and the factory too. Pile those fire hazards high, leave dirty dishes in shared sinks, and rotting food in refrigerators too. Without your contribution, an important workplace conflict opportunity will just slip on by!

Above all, remember the Rev's golden rule: it's not hoarding if you're definitely going to use it later.

That's all for today, Ruineers!