Scott raised a question about the “virgin” / “young woman” mistranslation in the Old Testament in one of the comments. Essentially, Christians claim that the virgin birth was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy written hundreds of years earlier. (My response.) Christians will sometimes claim that Jesus fulfilled all kinds of Old Testament prophecies. I’ve looked up a few and found them lacking. But, the point I was getting to was this: I was listening to a debate the other night about whether Jesus existed or did anything miraculous. At the end of the debate, one of the audience members asks the non-Christian debater (Dr. Robert Price) how he explains all the prophecies that Jesus fulfills:
Audience Question: How do you explain all the prophecies Jesus fulfilled?
Dr. Price: He didn’t fulfill any of them. If you look at all of these – and I mean every one of them, they’re grossly taken out of context. Um, Hosea 11:1: “Out of Egypt I have called my son” – any fool can see it has to do with the exodus. Matthew certainly understood that. Isaiah 7:14 is has something to do with Isaiah’s son or the King’s son – certainly not something 700 years in the future. Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 are not even prophecies …
Surprisingly, the other debater (the Christian, Dr. Greg Boyd) said he agrees with almost everything Price says about these Old Testament prophecies:
Dr. Boyd (Christian): Ok, I’m going to end with a little bit of a surprising statement here. I agree with almost all of that. I do think there is some predictive element to some prophecy in the Old Testament, but it plays a very minor role. I think there are a few predictions that, in fact, do come true. But, I really believe the way most Christians and most apologists read the prophecies of the New Testament is completely inaccurate for all the reasons Bob just gave. But it presents this interesting question. Bob is right that sometimes as you look at the way New Testament authors apply Old Testament texts — “Out of Egypt I have called my son” — and things like that, it seems like such a stretch and if you go back and look at the original passage you go “What are you talking about?”
He goes on to claim a rather odd position that the awkwardness of the fit means the New Testament stories actually happened. But, my point is that it’s interesting to actually see a Christian debater admit that the big claims about Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy are very exaggerated and often depend on taking the Old Testament grossly out of context.
If you want to hear it, the complete debate is here (look for “Two examples of how dialog can and should take place – 12/12/2007”, the Dr. Greg Boyd and Dr. Robert Price debate). This is the very last question asked in the third audio file.