English: Illustrates Double Chiasm of the book of Daniel showing parallels of subject matter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For my SBL paper, I’m going to propose a Danielic structure underneath Mark’s gospel. No, not completely, but you’ll see. A lot of redaction critics see Daniel composes across time, mainly due to Daniel’s bilingual manuscript. 1, 8-12 are written in Hebrew and often thought to be later than the chapters (2-7) composed in Aramaic. Specifically, 7 is compases near Antiochus, or so John Collins would lead us to believe. But, then again, so is 9, right?
But, what if there is an underlying unity, where the bilingual aspect is a rhetorical device?
In researching the paper — I still have to submit my paper as a student — I wanted to draw from two sources. The first was William H. Shea’s chiastic structure of Daniel. The second was John C. Collins’ structure and reasoning of Daniel’s structure.
These has presented me two sets of problems. Let me redact that — 3. The first is that the paper is not about Daniel, but about Mark. The second, is Shea is an SDA scholar. I like his stuff, I do, but I am not sure how that would go over at SBL. Third, I like Collins, but like A. Collins, they are too redactionary to see any type of unity.
If there is a pivot and a recognizable chiastic structure, doesn’t this speak well to the overall unity of Daniel?
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” – Richard Mourdock, the GOP candidate for Senate (Indiana)
As deplorable as the statements by Mourdock are, it is not completely unbiblical. As a matter of fact, kidnapping and rape are in fact a biblical value used to create life from death. For a brutal example of this, we must turn to Judges 21. This chapter details the rescue from oblivion of the Tribe of Benjamin. In gruesome, misogynistic fashion, the Tribes of Israel discovered that by their oath of never allowing their daughters to marry the sons of Benjamin, they had killed the tribe. So, the next best thing was to discover who did not take the same oath. They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead, a town from the half-tribe of Manasseh, had not taken the same oath.
The assembled leaders decided that the next best thing to do was to slaughter the men along with all women who had previously engaged in sexual congress. Of the town, only four hundred women were found to be pure (virgins). They were given to the remnant of Benjamin, but two hundred Benjaminites remained without a woman. I like what the NET says here. “But there were not enough to go around (Judges 21.14).” So, the people decided to kidnap women who were going to worship the LORD at Shiloh. Granted, these were Jewish women so they should have fallen under the same oath. However, the excuse was made that the oath is not valid because these women were not voluntarily given. In other words, because the women were kidnapped and forced into marriage and sex, everyone was okay. No oaths were broken.
Let us examine, for a moment, the theological perimeters behind this. The Israelites realized that the oath taken to not allow the Benjaminites to intermarry would have eventually wiped them out of existence. They were a dead tribe of six hundred men. The only reasonable solution was to kill hundreds or thousands of innocents, taking the remaining virgins as booty (pardon the pun, please). This was not enough, so stil refusing to break the oath, the leaders of Israel allowed the remaining wifeless men to kidnap for marriage women from the other tribes who were going to celebrate the LORD. Theologically, Benjamin, once dead, was made alive again through sacrifice. Oaths were kept. Justice was done (to Benjamin, who got their cake and found time to eat it as well). This wasn’t just marriage. Marriage does not equal the ability to force your spouse into sexual congress at your whim. This was rape. The women of Shiloh were kidnaped and raped, under the guide of marriage.
A few things, now. First, “biblical values” are in fact nothing more than a misnomer. “Biblical values” are those values we choose to use against others in favor of ourselves. Second, if we are to take seriously the fundamentalist view of Scripture, then we must understand that the single man who has no prospects for a relationship is allowed to kidnap and rape a woman, as long as he marries her (Deuteronomy 22.28). Third, at no point in Judges 21 does God give permission to do such things. If you read Judges from start to finish, the mistreatment of women, the devaluation of women, the break down in society (tribal kinship, etc…) grows until murder, kidnapping, and rape are deemed more justifiable than breaking an oath. But, again, no where in chapter 21 is God found except in the distance, and only as an object to which vows were taken — God is increasingly distant from the Israelites the more holy they become. That sounds like the Religious Right today, doesn’t it?
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and stories about him spread all through the area.15 He began to teach in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 Jesus traveled to Nazareth, where he had grown up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as he always did, and stood up to read. 17 The book of Isaiah the prophet was given to him. He opened the book and found the place where this is written: 18 “The Lord has put his Spirit in me, because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to tell the captives they are free and to tell the blind that they can see again. — Isaiah 61:1 God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly — Isaiah 58:6 19 and to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.” — Isaiah 61:2
20 Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the assistant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue was watching Jesus closely. 21 He began to say to them, “While you heard these words just now, they were coming true!”
22 All the people spoke well of Jesus and were amazed at the words of grace he spoke. They asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
23 Jesus said to them, “I know that you will tell me the old saying: ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ You want to say, ‘We heard about the things you did in Capernaum. Do those things here in your own town!’ “24 Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. 25 But I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel during the time of Elijah. It did not rain in Israel for three and one-half years, and there was no food anywhere in the whole country.26 But Elijah was sent to none of those widows, only to a widow in Zarephath, a town in Sidon. 27 And there were many with skin diseases living in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha. But none of them were healed, only Naaman, who was from the country of Syria.”
28 When all the people in the synagogue heard these things, they became very angry.29 They got up, forced Jesus out of town, and took him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built. They planned to throw him off the edge,30but Jesus walked (Slipped) through the crowd and went on his way.
All the people were amazed at the words of grace.. no, not that Jesus was a great speaker, but that He was talking about Grace, and most importantly, not grace for Israel, but for everyone, as he goes on to point out how Elijah was sent to a non-Israelite woman, and Elisha was healed an enemy general. This would be a bit like someone (claiming to be a prophet) standing up in America and saying that God was going to save Al Queda.
It would be shocking, and outrageous. God’s grace is for everyone, and He, the Messiah (these words about the Messiah are fulfilled before you today, he says), has not been sent to save Israel – the healthy do not need a doctor – but to save the Gentiles.
So they try to kill him. Ironically, Jesus did not test God to save him when the accuser tested him a little before, and now, miraculously, Jesus slips away through the crowd. “On his way” generally means, in Luke, some form of divine direction or leading, “a path set out before one by God” – so to speak.
The ancient prophet Isaiah predicted the coming of a servant of the Lord, a deliverer for the nations, with graphic detail about the servant’s appearance and mortal suffering. Join Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Dr. Michael Brown, Dr. Walter Kaiser, and Dr. Darrell Bock as they engage in a captivating discussion to unlock the mysteries of one of the most fascinating passages of Scripture, Isaiah 53. You’ll gain insights from the Jewish and Christian perspectives as you examine the interpretations and implications. Discover and explore the clues that help to reveal the mystery of this passage of Scripture.
Here’s the thing… I do not necessarily believe Jesus referred to himself as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53; however, I do believe his biographers/theologizers understood him to act as a final fulfillment of that role. Does this mean that Isaiah 53 is about Jesus? No, but Jesus is about Isaiah 53. Anyway, I still encourage you to get the book and tackle this issue yourself.
Isn’t that the point of this academic theology? That we take, eat, break, and drink?
So, we are homeschooling our children for a few weeks during the move and vacation, etc… Today’s assignment (yesterday was to read about religion in Rome) is to read both Creation stories (Genesis 1-2.4 and 2.5-3), detailing five differences, followed by two sentences describing what the differences mean to the them.
The fact is, is that my third and fifth grader will have a better theological grasp of the stories by the end of today than Young Earth Creationists.
Why? Because by comparing the details of the story, we will explore what the different authors wanted to say about Creation(s), and how they see it as applying to them (theology). Yes, there are wrong answers. For instance, if they come back and say that they are the same, just one is expanded, not only will they be grounded, I will deny them their college education, and quite possibly break their toys. Seriously, if they, I will explain to them that if they have any respect at all for Scripture, they will see the differences and appreciate them for what the original authors and redactor is trying to tell us about the way they see God, Creation, Humanity, and the relationships exiting between those realities.
I am not opposed to reading books such as this one. It is more difficult for those who are more academically inclined than they are evangelically inclined, but if we separate the Church from the Academy, both will perish. Bock’s book is a collection of essays by those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and more, that Jesus is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. Most, if not all, come from a more evangelical approach to Scripture than I am used to (Isaiah was written by one author, prophecies are about future events), but where this remains controversial for some, the scholarship rarely fails to satisfy.
The book is the child of a campaign created by Christians and Jews believing in Christ to teach the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53. A conference was held in 2009, with a summer 2010 campaign devoted to Isaiah 53 Explained, a traditional print media campaign including booklets, newspaper ads, and one on one communication. The book follows that. It is Evangelical, evangelistic, and apologetic in focus. One important point is that the essayists make an effort to discover the Jewish interpretation of the passage, even if they disagree with it. It is divided into three parts. Part I includes Christian and Jewish interpretations. Part II places Isaiah 53 in biblical theology, examining the chapter first in Isaiah and then in the New Testament. The final two chapters in Part II deal with the role of salvation in Isaiah 53 – how salvation is accomplished, and if that method is in line with the view of substitutionary atonement. Part III is evangelistic. It aims to convert the postmoderns, the Jews, and the Mainlines, it appears. The appendix includes two sermons to show the reader how to preach Isaiah 53.
While this book is unashamedly Evangelical, it could have helped itself by first defining some of the key terms, such as prophecy. The concept of prophecy is, understandably, one that causes controversy. Depending on where the reader falls on the spectrum, prophecy is either an explanation of a past event or the forecasting of a future action, albeit rather unclearly. Yes, all of the essayists, and even this reviewer, agree that Isaiah 53 does include the clearest prophecy of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures, but the issue here then becomes what is prophecy. To the credit, and this is important to Christians, Evangelical and Mainline alike, the Jewish interpretation is examined almost independent of the Christian interpretation. I say almost because it is still examined alongside the Christian interpretation. Instead of simply pointing to Jesus and saying “See,” the essayists get into the underbelly of Isaiah 53. They examine the context, the various uses of “Servant of the Lord,” and the Hebrew terminology. They also examine what the great Rabbis of the past ages have said. Some of them lean to a Christian interpretation, while some do not. This should be appreciated. The only unpalatable part of the book, however, is the evangelistic message to the Jews. Not to the Evangelicals but to Jews and the Mainlines. The book is essentially valuable because of the Jewish interpretations and the Christian interpretations given without polemical pogroms, but it may turn off some readers due to the evangelistic nature of the book.
Let me recommend this book, but with a few caveats. First, the scholarship if terrific. The essayists include Darrell Bock and Craig A. Evans. Other names like Averbeck, Chisholm, Feinberg, Wilkins, and Sunukjian appear as well. These are well known and trustworthy scholars providing what their students have come to expect, solid and competent scholarship. Second, the Evangelical side of some of the authors do make an appearance, especially when discussion the historical critical approach to Isaiah. Third, the evangelistic aim of the book will be disconcerting to some; however, all academic, theological, or mundane pursuits aim to convert. That is the human nature of conversation. When God told the human species to go and rule, to have dominion, this was the first order of conversion. Simply put, do not be offended if you read Christians attempting to convert Jews to Jesus. Do not be offended if Jews use this same work to convert Christians to Jews. The scholarship is itself converting, in one way or other.
The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 presents the redemptive work of the Messiah to the Jewish community, exploring issues of atonement and redemption in light of Isaiah chapter 53. It is clear that Jesus fulfills the specifications of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This book has many potential uses in its presentation of the gospel for Jewish people. Pastors who study it will find unparalleled help in preparing Bible studies and sermons, so that their listeners will become better equipped to tell Jewish people about Jesus. It will be beneficial as supplemental reading for classes on Isaiah, the Prophets, and Jewish evangelism. And believers will be trained to share Isaiah 53 with Jewish friends and family. Contributors include: • David L. Allen • Richard E. Averbeck • Darrell L. Bock • Michael L. Brown • Robert B. Chisholm Jr. • Craig A. Evans • John S. Feinberg • Mitch Glaser • Walter C. Kaiser Jr. • Donald R. Sunukjian
That’s an impressive list of contributors.
As Christians, we have to learn to use the Old Testament rightly. I’m not too terribly sure about some of the aims of the book, but I look forward to reading it nevertheless.
Thanks to Kregel for this and the person behind the blog review program – whomever that may be
Oddly enough, my Sunday School class will be engaging Isaiah (53) this week. Should be fun.