Isa. 42:3

John Ronning ronning at
Tue Dec 19 01:36:46 EST 2000

John Richards wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Ronning" <ronning at>
> > Interesting concept of allegory you have.  I remember
> > reading the fourth servant song to an unbeliever and asking
> > him where he thought it came from.  "The New Testament" was
> > his immediate reply.
> This really does not mean a thing! Lots of people have heard these
> quotations in works like the Messiah, in Carol Services, etc. and so
> identify them with Jesus. Even the fact that the early Christian writers
> consciously modeled the Jesus narrative on Isaiah and Psalm 22 does not mean
> that these originally had Jesus in mind when written. 

You overlooked my point.  Liz said that the Christian
interpretation of the servant passages was allegorical.  My
anecdote was to demonstrate the contrary (allegories are
anything but obvious interpretations).  Your claim that the
NT was contrived to fit the OT prophecies actually supports
my assertion that the NT is not an allegorization.  If one
rejects the Christian interpretation of the servant songs it
is because of religious presuppositions (e.g. genuine
prophecy is impossible), not because the data doesn't fit.

> In the same way
> Matthew's use of "Out of Egypt did I call my son" does not mean that Hosea
> 11.1 was originally intended to refer forward to Jesus. 

I don't think Matthew intended anybody to understand that it
did.  The NT idea of fulfillment is not limited to
fulfillment of specific predictions but includes typological
fulfillment.  Abraham went down into Egypt and came out
again, foreshadowing the events that happened to the nation
(the son); similarly Jesus came out of Egypt to foreshadow
his own "exodus" triumph on the cross.

> The "Chief Priests" would hardly have quoted
> with approval the words the psalmist puts in the mouth of the ungodly "Let
> him deliver him, if he delight in him, etc.". 

The gospels do not tell us that they were consciously and
approvingly quoting from Psalm 22 - that's your addition.  

> In its original context, Isaiah 42 looks far more likely to be dealing with
> Israel and its mission to spread the knowledge and worship of (in ITS eyes)
> the one true God among the "godless" gentiles - a mission not anulled in the
> prophet's eyes by Israel's failure to live up to its commission, nor by
> Israel's evidently broken and powerless position in current Middle Eastern
> politics. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him." How else to maintain the
> claim to a unique mission and explain Israel's present situation at the same
> time?

The servant passages (the so-called servant songs plus the
other passages speaking about the servant) are somewhat
paradoxical in presenting apparently mutually exclusive
views of the servant.  On the one hand, the servant is the
nation of Israel - blind, sinful, suffering under God's
judgment.  On the other hand is the servant who opens the
eyes of the blind, is sinless, perfectly obedient, suffering
for the sins of others, yet victorious.  49:5 is key in
resolving the paradox - the individual servant's job is to
bring the nation back to the Lord.  Chap. 53 explains how he
does that.

> Later full-blown Messianism was a growth of
> Apocalyptic. To read it back into every earlier use of the word "anointed"
> is anachronistic.

What element of "full-blown Messianism" is missing from


John Ronning

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