Finally! A Response (almost)
“Contra Brown” was made public (on www.jewsforjudaism.org ) more than five years ago. In that article I critique the core arguments that Dr. Brown makes against Judaism. At the time Dr. Brown assured me that he would respond in writing but his response has not materialized (as of now – Nov. 2013). This lack of response has been disappointing. I believe in the process of human discussion and I feel that as we bring our arguments to light all of us can come closer to the truth. I have engaged in lengthy written discussions with various Christians and I have found that these dialogues lead to greater clarity and articulation (https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/response-to-line-of-fire-13-dispelling-a-myth/ ).
But it takes two to dialogue. And until anyone from the Christian world addresses the arguments that I have raised in Contra Brown then the conversation cannot progress any further.
It has been brought to my attention that Gassen Duu has posted a response to one of the points I raised in Contra Brown (http://answering-judaism.blogspot.com/2013/10/examination-of-isaiah-539-by-gassen-duu.html ). Duu’s article is crowned with the broad title “Hebrew Scriptures Refute Contra Brown,” but in fact his article addresses only one argument out of the totality of Contra Brown.
Duu concludes his article with the words “only hyper literalists are trying to pick faults from the minute details.” His contention is that the line of reasoning that I present in relation to Isaiah 53:9 is an example of “nitpicking” and hyper literalism.
I humbly disagree with Duu’s concluding remarks. I believe that it is not only the hyper literalists who focus on minute details. Those who have no response to the larger argument also tend to try to draw people’s attention to the minute details. And Duu’s article is a prime example of this strategy.
In Contra Brown I present a comprehensive argument why I believe that the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 cannot be Jesus. One section of my argument focuses on the suffering described by Isaiah. I demonstrate why Isaiah’s depiction of suffering cannot apply to Jesus but clearly does apply to the righteous of Israel.
In one subsection of my argument I point out that Isaiah predicts that the servant will die with rich and make his grave with the wicked. My contention is that if Isaiah was thinking of Jesus when he uttered these words he would have switched his metaphors. According to the gospels Jesus died with the wicked and not with the rich. According to the same gospels Jesus is buried with the rich and not with the wicked. If Isaiah had Matthew’s Jesus in mind when spoke his prophecy he would have more accurately described the servant as dying with the wicked and making his grave with the rich.
It is this subset of my larger argument that Duu attacks in his article. Duu makes the claim that the words “grave” and “death” are synonymous. As evidence to this contention he presents several passages from the Jewish Scriptures which use these terms as poetic parallelisms.
This argument is devoid of any substance. The Jewish Scriptures use many terms as poetic parallelisms and this does not make these terms “synonymous.” Horses and chariots (Isaiah 2:7; Psalm 20:8), mouth and tongue (Psalm 66:17; Job 33:2), violence and deception (Isaiah 53:9; Zephaniah 1:9), are but three examples of poetic parallelisms in Scripture. Yet although these words are closely associated they are not synonyms.
If the prophet was thinking about the central character of the Christian Scriptures when he spoke his prophetic words he would have switched the metaphors.
For anyone who is familiar with Jewish history it is amazing to see how the prophet accurately predicted the basis for the persecution of his people. The common canards against the Jewish people were the claims that they had misappropriated the wealth of the world and that they slaughter innocent Christian children.
Here is a quote from an 1893 Catholic publication: “The Jewish nation does not work, but traffics in the property and work of others; it does not produce, but lives and grows fat with the products of the arts and industry of the nations that give it refuge. It is the giant octopus that with its oversize tentacles envelopes everything. It has its stomach in the banks…”
This from a 1477 Catholic author: “…they cheat us and ruin whole nations by their usury and secret murders.”
The Great Reformer, Martin Luther, wrote: “They have been thirsty bloodhounds and murderers of all Christendom for more than fourteen hundred years…” “Jews are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us…”
The Jew lived in the constant shadow of these vile accusations; that he obtained wealth through deception and that he committed violent murder on a grand scale. The Jew could have avoided these terrible indictments by converting to Christianity. But the Jew’s loyalty to God prevented him from taking that step.
This is what Isaiah had in mind when he said about the servant “he made his grave with the wicked and with rich in his deaths for no violence that he has done and for no deception that was in his mouth.”
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal