Monday, February 3, 2014

Missionary Types and Shadows: Types and Shadows fly in the face of how Biblical prophecy works,

Missionary Types and Shadows

Missionaries rely heavily on very non-literal readings of the Hebrew Bible. They call these types and foreshadows. Jewish Scripture, we are told, points to Jesus even when the text is plainly not discussing Jesus. Is this missionary claim at all justified?

This missionary method is not surprising, as the plain meaning of Scripture (pshat) does not support the missionary agenda. Even missionaries concede prophecy fulfillment is generally not based on pshat:

Don't fall into the mistake of assuming that every time a New Testament writer cites an Old Testament text and applies it to Jesus (even if a "fulfillment" formula is followed), it must have been a direct/literal prediction coupled with a direct/literal fulfillment. In most cases by far, the New Testament takes a broader approach to the subject of messianic prophecy (e.g., typology, thematic parallels, corporate solidarity, historical correspondences/analogies, etc.). (broken link removed. S.)

The Biblical Approach to Prophecy

The missionary approach to prophecy is alien to the Biblical view. When Jewish Scripture identifies prophecy as fulfilled, we see a direct one-to-one correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment. We present an example of Biblical prophecy to show how it works:
"Joshua caused [the people] to swear at that time saying, 'Cursed before G-d is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho. With his firstborn son he will lay its foundations, and with his youngest he will set up its gates' (Joshua 6:26)."
We read of the fulfillment:
"In his days, Hiel the Beth-elite built Jericho; with Abiriam, his firstborn, he laid its foundations; and with Segub, his youngest, he set up its doors, according to the word of G-d He spoke through Joshua son of Nun (I Kings 16:34)."
We see that Biblical prophecy is directly predictive, the opposite of the missionary method.

Examples Where Jesus Does Not Fulfill the Pshat (plain meaning) of Scripture
a. Matthew 2:15 claims that when Jesus left Egypt he fulfilled Out of Egypt I called My son (Hosea 11:1). The beginning of that verse reads, When Israel was a child I loved him and Hosea calls Israel, not Jesus, G-ds son. Hosea is not making a prediction about anyone but remembering Israels exodus long ago.

Hosea continues to teach us that this son of G-d is not so righteous after all. They sacrificed to the Baalim, and burnt incense to graven images (11:2). Is Jesus a personification of idol worship?
Missionaries do a cut-and-paste job since their types and shadows ignore pshat (plain meaning).
b. Immanuel is clearly born in King Ahazs time, centuries before Jesus. Isaiah predicts to King Ahaz that a young woman will give birth to Immanuel (7:14). Isaiah tells Ahaz, Before the child shall know to reject evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread [Rezin and Pekah- see 7:1-2] shall be forsaken (7:16). The downfall of these two kings quickly took place (II Kings 15:29-30, 16:9).

Missionaries honest enough to admit the timing of Immanuel's birth nevertheless insist it is a foreshadowing of another Immanuel, namely Jesus. (Missionaries do not dare say the first Immanuel was born of a virgin, but we will not let ourselves be disturbed by such facts right now)
c. Zechariah 11:12-13 reads, Then I said to them, If you think it good, pay me my wages; if not, dont. So they weighed out my wages, thirty shekels of silver. G-d said to me, Cast it to the treasurer of the Temple, which I have divested of them. Missionaries claim this foreshadows Judas betrayal of Jesus for thirty shekels (Matthew 26:15) as Judas threw the money into the Temple (27:5)

Zechariah never says the transaction predicts a future event. Pshat indicates no prophecy to be fulfilled.

d. With this interpretive license, we should not be surprised when missionaries actually admit that the New Testament misquotes Biblical verses. Psalms 40:7 reads, Sacrifice and meal offering you do not desire, ears You have opened for me. The New Testament misquotes it as a BODY you have prepared for me (Hebrews 10:5).  (broken link removed. S.)
There is no real difficulty here since the writer of Hebrews views Psalms 40:7 as typologically referring to Christ rather than as a literal or direct messianic prophecy.

Supposedly, Psalms proves that Jesus fulfills Psalms 40 and that crucifixion atones for mankind. The pshat suggests otherwise: obedience, listening to G-d is greater than sacrifice, similar to "I desire kindness, not sacrifice, and knowledge of G-d more than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6)."

Missionaries assume without textual basis that Psalms 40 is a prediction, and (contrary to pshat) posit the superiority of a particular sacrifice above all else. Since the altered version in Hebrews 10:5 allegedly gives the true sense of Psalms, it supposedly does not matter that Psalms 40:7 never mentions a body.
e. Missionaries press even further, claiming that Jesus fulfilled Biblical verses that do not exist! Matthew 2:23 quotes (if that is the right word) He shall be called a Nazarene. There is no such verse in the Hebrew Bible! Missionaries say this is no problem. Since Isaiah refers to Messiah figuratively as a netzer [shoot] (11:1), Jesus fulfilled the invented words he shall be called Nazarene by going to Nazareth. In fact the city of Nazareth is never mentioned in Jewish Scriptures.
In these and other cases, missionaries claim it does not matter whether Jesus fulfilled the pshat of Jewish Scripture. He fulfilled these prophecies anyway.

Unverified and Unverifiable Interpretations

How does one test the validity of types and shadows? Missionaries cherish them because THERE IS NO STANDARD OF VERIFICATION. How can they determine whether Scripture ever intended types and shadows, and which verses are intended as such and which are not? Given the countless type and shadow meanings one can read into a text, how can they know which meaning is meant? Claims that are not testable are worthless.

Missionaries fail to address other legitimate possibilities. What if Hosea is speaking only of Israel as G-ds son? Suppose Isaiah is speaking of one Immanuel, as pshat indicates. Perhaps Zechariah's acceptance of thirty shekels does not predict any other thirty-shekel transaction. Nothing indicates that types and shadows are absolute truth. Yet missionaries say they are solid enough to dogmatically identify Messiah and send the unconvinced to hell!

Circular Reasoning of Missionaries 

Missionaries would respond that their types and shadows are valid because Jesus and his disciples taught them.

Here we arrive at the circular reasoning of missionaries. The types and shadows are true because they come from Jesus. But how do we establish the credibility of Jesus? Easy- he fulfilled so many types and shadows!

Missionary Double Standard

The perceptive reader will notice the double standard by which missionaries operate. Do they apply the same poetic license in interpreting the New Testament as they do to the Hebrew Bible? Not at all! They take the New Testament very seriously. Anyone claiming to find types and shadows in the New Testament is labeled a Mormon, Moonie, etc. (Certainly missionaries reject Charles Mansons claim that the New Testament hints to the Beatles)

In recent years, however, missionaries have accused Judaism of practicing a double standard. They refer to Midrash- Rabbinic homiletic, which supplement the pshat of Scripture. Missionaries ask why they must be held accountable to the pshat given the existence of Jewish Midrash.

According to Moshe Yosef Koniuchowsky, Hebrew-Christian, counter-missionaries are guilty by refusing to make allowance, and give the New Testament writers the same liberty and literary freedom in using Scripture to portray truth as they do the writers and authors of the Tanach [Hebrew Bible] (Messianic Believers First Response Handbook, p. 7).

As we shall see, Midrash and missionary prooftexting are not at all comparable.

There are at least five critical differences between Jewish Midrash and missionary types and shadows.

a. Midrash is used for Midrash- homiletic meanings. Missionaries use types and shadows to establish pshat (plain meaning).

There is no such thing as a Midrashic fulfillment of a prophecy.
What is a Midrash? According to Moses Mielziner in Introduction to the Talmud, Where the Midrash does not concern legal enactments and provisions, but merely inquires into the meaning and significance of the laws or where it only uses the words of Scripture as a vehicle to convey a moral teaching or a religious instruction and consolation, it is called Midrash Agadah Interpretation of the Agadah, homiletical interpretation. (Emphasis mine)
Nachmanides, in a thirteenth-century disputation with the Church said,
"We have a third book called Midrash, meaning sermons. It is just as if the bishop would rise and deliver a sermon, and one of the listeners whom the sermon pleased recorded it (Disputation at Barcelona, p. 7)."
In a sermon, the speaker can relate a verse to person X without person X being the actual subject of the verse. The same is true for Midrash.

This is why the Talmud relates the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 with Moses, even though Isaiah is speaking of a future event. Likewise the Rabbis homiletically link Isaiah 53 with the Messiah. Neither is meant literally. In general Midrash is not meant to be taken literally (Maimonides: Introduction to Mishnah Commentary).

Rabbi Moshe Shulman explains in What is a Midrash? :

In Sotah 14a, Isaiah 53 is interpreted as referring to Moses. The ancient Jewish view and that which appears continually in the words of the commentators (as we will discuss later) are that the Servant is Israel who is called Servant throughout Isaiah. Clearly Isaiah when he was prophesying was talking of someone in the future and not Moses who had been in the past, so the question is what lessons are the Rabbis trying to teach by relating Moses to this chapter, and why specifically to this chapter. We all know that Moses was the greatest of the prophets and was known as the 'servant of G-d'. Sotah is showing us that many of the great qualities that Moses had, are likewise there in the Servant, Israel. So, for example, where the servant of Isaiah prays for sinners, so Moses prayed for those who were guilty of the sin of the golden calf, and effected their atonement. By so doing the Midrash allows us to look at the greatness of Moses, and his work

The first is that many times verses that deal with categories of people are used to apply to individuals. It's pretty much like the concept of set inclusion. Something is a member of the set, and then it has all the properties that the set has Since the Jewish understanding is that Isaiah is about Israel (and specifically the righteous of Israel), any individual of exceptional personality could be compared to some of the verses there with valid results.
To better understand the nature of Midrash, let us look at an actual Midrash:
From the beginning of the words creation, the Holy One foresaw the deeds of the righteous and wicked. This is like what is written, For G-d knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall become lost (Psalms 1:6). AND THE LAND WAS CHAOS AND VOID- these are the deeds of the wicked-G-D SAID LET THERE BE LIGHT- these are the deeds of the righteous. But I would not know which of them G-d desires- the deeds of the righteous or of the wicked. But when it is written, G-D SAW THE LIGHT THAT IT WAS GOOD [I conclude] He desires the deeds of the righteous and not the deeds of the wicked (Genesis Rabbah 2:5).
This passage is neither historical nor predictive. Obviously it does not mean human actions took place in the beginning of creation. It is not a prophecy to be fulfilled. The Midrash is teaching a moral lesson: human action is analogous (not identical) to light and darkness, but goodness is  G-ds purpose in creation

Missionaries try to have their cake and eat it too. They use non-pshat methods to get pshat results. They do not merely say that Jesus is homiletic-ally connected to Immanuel; they claim he is Immanuel, period. They do not simply relate Jesus homiletic-ally to the Passover Lamb; they maintain he is actually the fulfillment of this legal datum.

b. Midrash reveals deeper meaning of an existing religion. New Testament needs types and shadows to claim its religion even exists.

Judaism does not rely on Midrash to establish there is such a thing as Judaism. Its not as if Judaism took a scripture of someones religion and then demonstrated through Midrash that Judaism alone is the true successor to that religion. Were that the case, dismissal of Judaism would be entirely justified.

From the Written Law the practices and essential beliefs of Judaism are known. While the details of Biblical commandments are absent, there is no doubt for which commandments a Jew is responsible. As for beliefs, Maimonides' famous formulation of the Thirteen Fundamentals of Judaism is all based on Scriptural verses he cites.

c. Jewish Midrash supplements pshat. Types and shadows replace pshat.

Basic Jewish doctrines, found in pshat of Scripture, are denied by missionaries. These include: the binding character of the commandments, their ongoing validity, practice of the commandments brings righteousness and salvation, commandments can be kept, G-d is not a man, G-d is immutable, the exclusive chosenness of the Jewish people, the Messiah inherits Davids throne solely through paternal birth line, etc.

The Rabbis have a rule that Scripture does not depart from the plain meaning (Shabbat 63a). Midrashic interpretation reveals deeper meanings but does not reject pshat. By contrast, types and shadows are employed to deny basic Biblical doctrines.

d. Jewish Midrash is rooted in an oral transmission from Sinai. The New Testament does not even claim to be rooted in an unbroken tradition going back to the revelation of the Torah.

Judaism posits that that two Torahs were revealed at Mt. Sinai: Written Law and Oral Law. The existence of the Oral Law is evident from the Written Law itself. It is clear from Scripture that (1) G-d is just and (2) G-d wants the Law to be obeyed. Yet we find that the Written Law simply does not tell us what to do. The commandments are stated in vague generalities, without the numerous details found in every respectable legal system.

Leviticus 23:40 commands taking the fruit of the tree of splendor (pri etz hadar) on the Feast of Tabernacles. Pri etz hadar is a botanically meaningless statement even to Hebrew-speaking scientists. There is no clue which species is mentioned without a clarifying Oral Law.

The Passover holiday begins on the fifteenth day of the first month (Leviticus 23:6). To identify this day requires knowing when is the first day of that month, which the Written Law does not say.

Exodus 12:15 bids us to eat matza on seven days of Passover, while Deuteronomy 16:8 says to eat it for six days. Only the Oral Law can reconcile the contradiction.

It is prohibited to leave ones "place" on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29). Does this mean ones house, property, neighborhood, city or state? Only the Oral Law tells us.

It is obvious to any objective reader that one cannot know how to perform the Biblical commandments based on Written Law alone. G-d must have given an Oral Law to Moses to explain what the Written Law means. It follows that Moses would transmit this Oral Law to his disciples, who then taught it to future generations of Sages.

These Sages have taught us that Oral Torah encompasses both Halacha (law) and also Midrash. Midrash is also given at Sinai (Yerushalmi Peah 2:6). If there is an Oral Torah, only in the hands of Jewish Sages, why not believe those responsible for transmitting it that Oral Torah contains Midrash too?

This does not mean that every Midrashic statement was said verbatim at Sinai. It does mean that midrashic concepts and methodology are essentially Sinaitic.

The charge that the Sages basically falsified the Oral Torah is incoherent. An unwritten tradition by definition is only known from the Sages who transmit it. No outsider can claim to know the Oral Law better than those who teach it in the first place.

e. The Rabbis of Midrash have Biblical credibility. Deuteronomy 17 requires obeying them in matters of law. If G-d trusts them, we can too. Nothing in Jewish Scripture tells us to trust the New Testament writers.

If a matter for judgment is too difficult for you, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict, between plague and plague, even matters of controversy in your gates; you shall go up the place that the L-rd your G-d shall choose. You shall come to the priests, the Levites and to the judge that shall be in those days. You shall ask and they will tell you the word of judgment. You shall do according to the word that they will tell you, from the place that G-d will choose, and keep the law according to what they teach you. According to the Torah that they teach you and according to the judgment that they say to you, you must do. Do not turn aside from the word that they tell you, neither right nor left. And the man that does willfully, not listening to the priest standing to serve L-rd your, G-d or to the judge; that man shall die, and you shall remove the evil from your midst (Deut. 17:8-12).

This passage clearly establishes that the Jewish judiciary has authority in matters of Jewish law. The place that G-d shall choose means, throughout the Bible, the Sanctuary site. The judiciary that sat there is the Sanhedrin.

Midrash is not from a separate group with separate ideas. The masters of Midrash are the same Talmudic Rabbis who themselves were members of the divinely ordained judiciary known as the Sanhedrin, together with their students. We are obligated to follow this judiciary. There is no good reason not to believe these same Rabbis when they present Midrash as valid and authentic.

Establishing Jesus Credentials

We would like to ask those who preach types and shadows: how could Jesus credential have been established in the first place? The New Testament had not been written yet during early first century. Jews did not then know missionary types and shadows. Their only basis to judge was the plain words of the Hebrew Bible. Assuming the missionary viewpoint, how could those Jews have possibly known what to look for? How can the credibility of a would-be messiah depend on types and shadows? Yet Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as demanding peoples obedience early in his career!

Didnt Jesus Fulfill Pshat Also?

Missionaries may also deny their dependence on types and shadows by pointing to certain Biblical prophecies that they claim were fulfilled by Jesus according to pshat. Space does not permit a discussion of the mistranslations; misquotations and out-of context readings missionaries use to make such claims. No one has ever shown this writer one prophecy that Jesus clearly and literally fulfilled.

One point is in order, however. It would be disingenuous of missionaries to make such an argument! The missionary enterprise does not generally make distinctions between pshat and non-pshat fulfillments. Websites and missionaries on the beat, that claim Jesus fulfilled 100, 200, even 300 prophecies present an undifferentiated package. Were they to scale down their list to alleged pshat fulfillment, it would be an embarrassingly small list. We quote again from Church in Focus:
In most cases by far, the New Testament takes a broader approach to the subject of messianic prophecy (e.g., typology, thematic parallels, corporate solidarity, historical correspondences/analogies, etc.) (emphasis mine).
We appreciate Church In Focus advising fellow missionaries to practice greater honesty: Evangelicals must seek to reform their messianic apologetics with a greater appreciation for the different ways in which the New Testament cites the Old and with a tad less sensationalism in how Jesus' messiahship is presented to unbelieving Jews (e.g., such tract titles as "300 Prophecies Fulfilled in One Day!" or "70 Prophecies Fulfilled at the Cross!").

We are not optimistic that their advice will be heeded. Missionaries must inflate their own claims by conflating pshat with non-pshat.

Summary: Missionaries rely on types and shadows because they know pshat does not justify their beliefs. Types and shadows fly in the face of how Biblical prophecy works, and actually contravenes the meaning of Scripture. The New Testament writers present unverifiable homiletics. These men have no Scriptural basis for their authority and credibility as Biblical interpreters. Analogies to Jewish Midrash have no validity. Missionaries cannot afford to dispense with types and shadows because they aim to promote a false messiah.