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Messages - lapwing

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There is a positive aspect to this story. God wanted mankind to fill the earth whereas mankind had turned inward on themselves. God turned them back to the path of blessing by scattering them over the earth. Hebrew "name" is similar to Shem: the surrounding genealogies. I'm not convinced one can carry over the principles of this account and apply it to things like the UN or English being a common language today. Rather we should seek to understand its meaning in its immediate context.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Is the Old Testament of the Bible True?
« on: February 20, 2014, 12:54:40 PM »
Quote from: Jabberwock
the complete prophecy in 7
Although prophecies, such as Isaiah, consist of a series of oracles, they are not all unconnected (atomic) as you seem to be implying here.

Jews interpret 7 as I have written above. As for 9 the interpretations differ, but there is no indication that it is in any way related to they boy from 7.

From on Is 9:5 "For unto us a child is born"
For a child has been born to us: Although Ahaz is wicked, his son who was born to him many years ago [nine years prior to his assuming the throne] to be our king in his stead, shall be a righteous man, and the authority of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His yoke shall be on his shoulder, for he shall engage in the Torah and observe the commandments, and he shall bend his shoulder to bear the burden of the Holy One, blessed be He

Ahaz is the king who needs a "sign" in chapter 7 so this Jewish commentary does connect chapters 7 and 9.

edit: This quote summarises the arguments:


 "Behold, the virgin/almah shall conceive and bear a Son and His name shall be called Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Non-believers are quick to assert that almah means "young woman" here -- to discredit the prophecy that Mashiach was "born of a virgin." However it seems obvious that in biblical times a young unmarried Jewish woman was assumed to be a virgin. The sign of Mashiach's birth was a miracle -- a virgin birth -- a child without an earthly father. Young married women giving birth would hardly be a sign -- it would be commonplace.

In Song of Solomon 1:31 and 6:8, Rashi makes almah mean "virgin." That fits. Yet in Isaiah 7:14, Rashi tries to say almah means young woman without virginity being implied. That is quite contrary to how he interpreted the same word in Song of Solomon. Further Rashi acknowledged that other scholars of his day did understand almah in Isaiah 7:14 to mean "virgin."

Does almah mean virgin or not? Let's look elsewhere in scripture. Almah is first found in Genesis 24:43, "behold, I stand by the fountain of water; and let it come to pass, that the virgin/almah that cometh forth to draw, to whom I shall say: Give me, I pray thee, a little water from thy pitcher to drink;" . Rabbis agree Rebecca's virginity was understood here. In Exodus 2:8 "And Pharaoh's daughter said to her: 'Go.' And the maiden almah went and called the child's mother" (maiden meaning Miriam -- Moshe's sister -- still a child herself). Rabbis agree this one can mean virgin too.

Probably one of the strongest argument for almah meaning "virgin" is that when the 70 rabbis translated the Septuagint (around 2nd century BCE) they translated almah as parthenos ("virgin" in Greek). There were perfectly good Greek words for young woman, but note, the rabbis chose the word for "virgin. So if modern Judaism wants to debunk almah by saying it can't mean virgin, we see this is newer thinking (not even popularized yet in Rashi's day) and that previously almah was understood to mean "virgin" -- even in Isaiah 7:14.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Is the Old Testament of the Bible True?
« on: February 20, 2014, 11:42:52 AM »
Also, the assertion of "mistranslation" is shaky at best. The usage of halmah in the OT indicates either young girl (used of Moses' older sister Miriam when Moses was a baby) or young girls/unmarried women generally as in Song of Solomon for example. In a society which treated sex before marriage as a serious sin the difference between "virgin" and unmarried woman was much less. The much more common word for "woman" in Hebrew is 'ishshah but Isaiah did not use that word.

So then any woman who conceived the first time she had intercourse was expected by that society to be a virgin when she conceived. So the "prophecy" further evaporates.

The Hebrew halmah is not a direct equivalent of "woman" as I've already explained. "Young woman of marriageable age" may be the best translation. I'm not arguing that the immediate application (most likely Maher-shal-hash-baz - Isaiah's son) was the result of a virgin birth in the sense that it is believed that Jesus was. However, one needs to consider why the LXX used parthenos=virgin rather than agamos=unmarried woman. (see 1 Cor 7:34 where "unmarried woman" may mean a widow or divorcee and is used in contrast with parthenos).

Well even the original context does not just describe "any" birth by "any woman". The child is described as "Immanuel" and later described in chapter 9 as "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end." It is obviously intellectually unsound to allege that the LXX translators just got it wrong or didn't know what they were doing. So it is likely that already by the time of the LXX, the extra significance when taking Is 7-9 together had registered in Jewish understanding leading to a longer term Messianic interpretation.

Hi kurros,

Yes probability is fascinating even when considering something as simple as tossing a coin. Just to check: the coin which comes up with ten heads - do we know whether it is type A or type B or can it be either? with equal or unknown probabilties?

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Is the Old Testament of the Bible True?
« on: February 20, 2014, 04:08:35 AM »
Quote from: ArtD
But the original said "woman" not "virgin". It was mistranslated in the Greek version of the Bible to "virgin"
The key point is that the Hebrew halmah was translated into the Greek parthenos c200 years before the time of Christ and Matthew which disproves the idea of a conspiracy.

Also, the assertion of "mistranslation" is shaky at best. The usage of halmah in the OT indicates either young girl (used of Moses' older sister Miriam when Moses was a baby) or young girls/unmarried women generally as in Song of Solomon for example. In a society which treated sex before marriage as a serious sin the difference between "virgin" and unmarried woman was much less. The much more common word for "woman" in Hebrew is 'ishshah but Isaiah did not use that word.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Is the Old Testament of the Bible True?
« on: February 19, 2014, 06:23:05 PM »
and the whale/big fish and the chariot of fire and the wheels within wheels and the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea (Charlton Heston proved that was possible of course) and the widow's cruse and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah etc. etc. In fact it's all so incredible you couldn't and wouldn't make it up.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Is the Old Testament of the Bible True?
« on: February 19, 2014, 05:49:48 PM »
One should not forget that the passages in Isaiah chapters 7 and 9 are related to each other and not treat the first one in isolation. Is 7:14 introduces the idea of the birth of a child which will act as a sign of rescue for His people and was further developed with motifs such as the stump of Jesse and the righteous branch.

The use of the Greek word for "virgin" in Is 7:14 (parthenos) had already been used in the Greek OT: the Septuagint or LXX. Ths was written c200 years before the time of Christ and was commonly used by diaspora Jews who spoke Greek. So the accusation of "quote mining" by Matthew is factually incorrect. One can argue about the use of the LXX in the NT, but an argument for it is that it was the established Greek version of the OT and the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic.

The Hebrew word used in Is 7:14 for woman/virgin (halmah). There are other instances of the use of this word that indicates it has a meaning of virgin or unmarried woman: Ps 68:25; Gen 24:43; Song 1:3; 6:8; Ex 2:8.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Would the world be better off without religion?
« on: February 19, 2014, 04:56:53 PM »
A fuller quotation from Ephesians chapter 4 is:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

So Paul urges the Ephesians to be patient with each other and "keep the unity of the Spirit" but then states as fact that there is one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith and baptism. This is a statement of fact by the apostle and is as true today as it was then. (A fact we believe by faith - not a fact like the value of the speed of light in vacuo but still true of course).

But what about all those denominations you say? Well that doesn't alter what Paul wrote here so one must conclude (following Sherlock Holmes' dictum) that to think otherwise (that there isn't one body etc.) is to misunderstand what Paul (and so God) means.

So all true believers are united in the body of Christ by virtue of being in Christ (and having Christ living in them by His indwelling Spirit) but we should strive (here in the context of a local fellowship of Christians) to bear with one another in love.

Getting back to the first paert about religion:

The outsider test is simply a challenge to test one’s own religious faith with the presumption of skepticism, as an outsider. It calls upon believers to “Test or examine your religious beliefs as if you were outsiders with the same presumption of skepticism you use to test or examine other religious beliefs

I think many evangelical believers would agree with this so I think the issue is not so much the principle but the application. How can anyone, including religious skeptics, know or ensure that they are being fair and unbiased in testing  their own beliefs.

Thus if there are (say) N = 70000 religions, the prior probality of a religion being true is 1/70000 p(R), p(R) being the total probability of a religious worldview being true.
I don't agree with this. One could simply manufacture many religions with small numbers of ahderents (would one actually need adherents?) to make any one particular religion less likely to be true. That doesn't work for me and seems to invalidate the model.

Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Question about the Gospel of John and "I am"
« on: February 18, 2014, 12:53:41 AM »
This is a quotation from Psalm 22:1 given in Aramaic which Jesus most likely spoke.
Matthew gives the Hebrew form for Eli rather than the Aramaic form Eloi (as in Mark) and this may explain the misunderstanding (mis-hearing) about Elijah. At this time there was a Jewish tradition that Elijah would come at a time of need.

e.g. Mt 17:10-13.
The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 11Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

According to Jesus "Elijah" had already come as John the Baptist.

Quote from: Jabberwock
as long as an existence of an angelic-like race of aliens would not be otherwise explainable without God.

I don't think we've defined "angelic-like race of aliens" in this thread yet. However, if they are not angels-as-described-in-the-Bible then they would have to be different in some way e.g. purely physical but resemble the biblical description of appearances. That still wouldn't explain the messages they brought as recorded in the Bible. One could just dismiss those stories but then there's no point speculating about such aliens. For this reason I think that angel-like aliens will only exist in fiction (e.g. Doctor Who).

angels might be an interesting and useful separate investigation.  I suppose there's loads of anecdotal evidence, but as to its credibility or strength I can't say.
Like miracles they are going to be intrinsically hard to "prove". Even if you get photographic or video evidence (assuming they actually register) then it could be argued that it was falsified. An appearance before a lot of people in controlled conditions might work but how would you arrange that. A golden telephone in Sheffield Cathedral might work  ;D

An American tourist comes to England to visit. He tours around the major cities and, being a great lover of cathedrals and churches, he visits many - starting in St. Pauls Cathedral in London. Whilst in there he is admiring the great architecture and amazing fittings when he notices a golden telephone behind the altar!
He asks someone what the golden phone is...and gets the answer "thats a direct line to God! But it costs 50 million British pounds to use it !" Amazed, he snaps some photos, and moves on for his next visit.

In Lincoln Cathedral he is again loooking around at the majesty of the interior, when he sees another golden telephone behind the altar. Again, he asks someone what it is...."a direct line to God mate! But its 50 million British Pounds to use it!" Again, amazed, he snaps some photos, and moves on for his next visit. He visits great cathedrals and churches the length and breadth of Britain - Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol etc etc....and all have these golden phones behind the altar - £50million pounds a call.

Finally he arrives in Yorkshire and visits Sheffield Cathedral. He is taking photos and taking it all in when he notices that there is a sign next to the golden phone which reads, "All calls 10pence". Aghast, he asks the Vicar about it, "I have seen these golden phones in all the places I have visited, but they are £50million to call come this one has that sign on it?" The Vicar replies "This is Yorkshire my friend...its a local call from here!"

Quote from: CrashTest
God is supposed to be omnipotent, He doesn't need messengers.  What are the angels even there for?

God doesn't "need" the universe, humans or the Christian church either. You have misused the idea of omnipotence such that it doesn't actually mean omnipotence. "God is omnipotent so doesn't need angels". So God can't use angels so isn't omnipotent.

Rather God is omnipotent but chooses to create and use angels. A full revelation of God is too much for humans as the Bible indicates when describing the events around Mt. Sinai (NB: Here the limitation is ours not God's). So angels act as intermediaries but Jesus was and is a superior intermediary (Heb ch 1) who came once at the right time.

It would be a circularity of belief to take the Bible as a basis for proving God's existence.
Not if an angel was detected that conformed to the biblical description.

The Bible describes angels as spirits or spiritual beings who are God's messengers. They can and have appeared to humans according to the Bible and later literature. So if the existence of an angel or angels was confirmed then that would be a pointer to the validity of the Bible's description of the spiritual dimension that we do not normally sense.

Well before I joined this forum I posted on the Richard Dawkins forum. There were some knowledgeable posters but very much in the minority. There was a lot of swearing and abuse aimed at me and other theists but you learn to ignore that. However, I was chucked out for "preaching" which I took to be quoting the Bible in a thread where the OP quoted the Bible several times.

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