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Gospel According to Isaiah 53, The: Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology Paperback – 1 Jan 2012
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"It is certainly time for a precise and well-researched explanation of Isaiah 53, and this book clearly fills this void for the evangelical world."--Paul D Wegner, Professor of Old Testament"Phoenix Seminary" (12/01/2012)
"Provides pastors and other readers with a wonderful diversity of insights and perspectives on the meaning, relevance, and communication of Isaiah 53."--Roy E Ciampa, Professor of New Testament"Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary" (12/01/2012)
"The essays here, all written by superb evangelical scholars, explore the rich texture and consequential history of Isaiah 53. This is an important contribution both to biblical theology and to the life of faith."--Timothy George, Dean"Beeson Divinity School" (12/01/2012)
-It is certainly time for a precise and well-researched explanation of Isaiah 53, and this book clearly fills this void for the evangelical world.---Paul D Wegner, Professor of Old Testament-Phoenix Seminary- (12/01/2012)
-Provides pastors and other readers with a wonderful diversity of insights and perspectives on the meaning, relevance, and communication of Isaiah 53.---Roy E Ciampa, Professor of New Testament-Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary- (12/01/2012)
-The essays here, all written by superb evangelical scholars, explore the rich texture and consequential history of Isaiah 53. This is an important contribution both to biblical theology and to the life of faith.---Timothy George, Dean-Beeson Divinity School- (12/01/2012)
About the Author
Darrell L. Bock is Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. A former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, he is the author of the best-selling Breaking the Da Vinci Code and numerous works in New Testament studies, including Jesus According to Scripture.
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For over 1,000 years since the writing of Isaiah and Isaiah 53 (technically, Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12 in English Bibles), Jewish Rabbis have always interpreted Isaiah 53 as referring to a personal Messiah. It wasn't until the 11th century AD, when Rashi (famous Jewish Rabbi of 11th century) reinterpreted Isiah 53 to refer to the nation of Israel. This was over 1,000 years AFTER Jesus, since Isaiah was written hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. In fact, Rashi's contemporaries, that is, other influential rabbis of his day, dismissed, rejected, and chided Rashi for departing from the interpretation of "the fathers." In other words, Rashi's critics, accused him of contradicting over 1,000 years of rabbinic interpretive tradition and orthodoxy, which up to that point in history, understood this passage as referring to the Messiah.
By the 11th century AD, Rashi's era, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians pointed to Isaiah 53 as definitive proof that Jesus was indeed the long awaited prophesied Messiah of Israel. In reaction to this, rabbis chose to throw off over 1,000 years of tradition, in favor of Rashi's interpretation. Tragically, Jewish doctrine followed Rashi in this error, and that's why, to this day, Jews will say that interpreting Isaiah 53 to refer to the Messiah, is a Christian invention that was "never" part of historic rabbinic tradition.
On the contrary --- Jewish tradition for over 1,000 years since Jesus' day, understood Isaiah 53 as do the Christians today.
Then why did the Jews of Jesus' day reject Him as Messiah?
Because based on Pharisaic Judaism, the identifying marks of the Messiah differed substantially from BIBLICAL Judaism that prophesied the Messiah. Pharisaism taught that the Messiah would be a Pharisee who would finish writing Pharisaic tradition by closing all the "holes on the fence around the Torah"; namely, complete the heretofore incomplete Mishnah. Also, the Messiah would live according to Pharisaic tradition and law to a perfect degree. Third, the Messiah would be a conquering King who would defeat all of Israel's enemies.
So when Jesus went out of His way to demonstrate by words and deeds, that Pharisaic Judaism contradicted BIBLICAL Judaism, the Pharisees rejected Jesus as their Messianic candidate. Jesus said to these same Pharisees, "...there is one that accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My words?" (John 5:45-47). Jesus said of Pharisees and Pharisaism, that they have nullified the Word of God by their traditions (i.e., the Old Testament or Tanakh was nullified by the deeds and doctrine derived from Pharisaic tradition). The gospel of Mark says, "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him (Jesus), 'Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?' He (Jesus) answered and said unto them, "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And He (Jesus) said unto them, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:5-9; KJV).
Jesus also contradicted Pharisaic Judaism by His deeds. Pharisaism taught that it was illegal to healing anyone on the Sabbath unless they were suffering from a life-threatening condition. However, Jesus would heal people on the Sabbath and call the Pharisees who objected, hypocrites for regularly helping animals in distress on the Sabbath, but not their fellow Jews. "And He (Jesus) departed thence, and went into their synagogue: and behold, a man having a withered hand. And they asked Him (Jesus), saying, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?' that they might accuse him. And He (Jesus) said unto them, 'What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep, and if this fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man of more value than a sheep! Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.' Then saith He (Jesus) to the man, 'Stretch forth thy hand.' And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, as the other. But the Pharisees went out, and took counsel against him, how they might destroy Him (Jesus)." (Matt 12:9-14; ASV)
But Jesus also did things to satisfy Pharisaic Judaism Messianic expectation: in other words, Jesus would perform miracles deemed Messianic by the Pharisees' doctrine. Therefore, the one able to perform such miracles would qualify as the Messiah by Pharisaic standards.
According to a mixture of the Mosaic Law and Rabbinic tradition, the treatment of the leper was severe. They were virtually ostracized from all society. They were forbidden to enter any of the Temple precincts; they had to live in a quarantined area away from the rest of society. When they walked through town, upon encountering others, they had to yell “Unclean!” to approaching people. They were required to wear torn clothing as a sign of their leprosy.
In Jewish history, no Jew was ever healed from leprosy after the Mosaic Law was completed. There exists only two instances in the Old Testament where they were cured of leprosy: (1) Miriam’s healing (Num.12) occurred before the Law was completed (2) Naaman, who was a Syrian, not a Jew (2Kings 5).
In Rabbinic writings, there exist many cures for many diseases, except leprosy. The thought was that since leprosy was a divine judgment and divine threat upon the person who violated the Mosaic Law (i.e., King Uzziah in 2Chron.26:19-23), the person suffering from it was under God’s judgment, thus, only God could cure Jewish leprosy. Out of that belief, the rabbis taught that when the Messiah came, He would cure Jewish lepers. Long before Jesus incarnated, the rabbis separated miracles into two main categories: (1) those miracles that could be performed by anyone who was enabled by God to do so (2) Messianic Miracles: those miracles that only the Messiah could do. If ever one of these Messianic Miracles was performed by someone, that person in essence was making a clear and unmistakable claim to be the Messiah. Within this second category of miracles, there were three types. [Why were the three Miracles considered Messianic? (1) Healing a leper had never occurred to any Jew after Moses received the Law until Jesus did it. (Naaman was a Syrian, not a Jew and Miriam (a Jew) was healed before the Law was completed.) (2) Casting out a dumb demon prevented the Pharisees from implementing the first two steps of their exorcism ritual. (3) Blind at birth was considered a Divine Discipline upon the “fetus” who had sinned against the mother in the womb, thus only the Messiah could “over-turn” the Divine verdict.]
Later in the Gospels, whenever Jesus performed the first type of miracles, the religious leaders did not react, but whenever Jesus performed any one of the three miracles from the second type (i.e., Messianic Miracles) the went berserk. Because by doing so, Jesus was making an unmistakable claim to Deity and being the Messiah. Jesus said to His doubters and critics, "Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father's name, these bear witness of Me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.'"
(John 10:25-28; ASV)
So for those reasons, and others, Pharisaic Judaism rejected Jesus as Messiah. Whereas, those Jews of Jesus' day who believed BIBLICAL Judaism, DID recognize Jesus as the Messiah prophesied in the Tanakh (Old Testament). All of Jesus' Apostles, disciples, and members of the early Church, were all Jewish. In fact, when Gentiles started believing in and following Jesus, the Church held a meeting to decide what to do. Did Gentiles have to convert to Judaism first, then become Christians. Or could Gentiles remain Gentiles and be Christians (see Acts 15).
Therefore, if Jews or Gentiles simply take the Bible and the Messianic prophesies in the Tanakh (Old Testament) at face value, they will, along with the first century Jews who did likewise, they will believe that Jesus is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament and Isaiah 53.
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