How Jesus (mis)used Exodus 3

Now that the pressure of other demands has finally let up, I wanted to go back and have a look at cl’s reply, posted on his own blog, to my post on the topic of Jesus’ use of Exodus 3:6. I had pointed out that Jesus, in his attempt to find the resurrection mentioned in the Law of Moses, resorted to a text that, in fact, says nothing at all about any future resurrection of the dead. In no less than 3 separate posts, cl attempts to refute that point, and his approach is somewhat intriguing.

He begins, rather inauspiciously, with a very peculiar argument.

I believe that DD’s overlooked some fundamental points here. I’ll grant him a technicality: Exodus 3:6 does not literally contain the word “resurrection,” but then again, the fossil record doesn’t literally contain the words “evolution by natural selection,” either. So I opine that in both cases, we must rely on inferences from facts.

Did you catch that? Because we do not find literally “words” written in the fossil record, therefore it doesn’t matter that Exodus 3:6 fails to contain the words needed to express the idea that Jesus attributed to the passage. No, seriously!

It’s hard to tell why cl thought this would be some kind of valid reasoning. It’s not exactly an analogy (let alone a properly parallel analogy) because if we were looking for something in the fossil record that was analogous to the words in the written record, it would be the fossils. But cl doesn’t make an analogy based on what conclusions we would draw if certain fossils were missing from the fossil record, he seems to be arguing that there is some kind of applicable significance to the fact that certain words are “missing” from something that’s not even literature!

A better parallel would be for me to claim that the fossil record proved the existence of unicorns. The absence of unicorns from the fossil record, in that case, would be directly parallel to Exodus 3’s lack of any of the terms needed to refer to a future resurrection of the dead. Such a parallel, however, would only be more accurate, and would not do anything to advance cl’s case. We should not shrink from drawing inferences based on fact, of course, but the first step in drawing valid inferences is to correctly identify the relevant facts, and the words of a text are the relevant facts regarding its meaning.

The most cogent fact on which we ought to base our inferences about Jesus’ use of Exodus 3, therefore, is the absence of the terms needed to express the idea that Jesus said it expressed. And cl seems to agree that these terms are missing, though he fails to follow through with the obvious inference. If the text does not contain any of the terms needed to express the idea, then the idea is not being expressed by the text, and is necessarily being added by the mind of the reader (hence perhaps the desire to supply “inferences” in place of the missing text?).

Let’s move on to the core of cl’s rebuttal, which he lists in the form of a syllogism.

For some background context, at the time of Exodus 3:6, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had already met their physical deaths. Let’s state the undeniable premises and conclusion we end up with if we take the account at face value:

P1 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living;

P2 God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob;

P3 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead;

C  If God is to be their God, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must live again.

Curiously, he calls these “undeniable premises” even though, as given, each pair of the three premises denies the third. If God is not the God of the dead but of the living (P1) and God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (P2), then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living, which denies P3. If God is not the God of the dead (P1) and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead (P3), then God is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which contradicts P2. And of course, if God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (P2), and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead (P3), then that contradicts the claim in P1 that God is not the God of the dead.

What’s particularly fascinating about this argument is the fact that cl sincerely believes that you can reach a valid and even compelling conclusion by starting from these three mutually-contradictory premises. It never even occurs to him that Jesus is capable of presenting us with flawed logic—and therefore it’s not flawed! It must be correct, by definition, and therefore the question is not whether Jesus’ logic leads to a valid conclusion, but only what conclusion seems to make the most sense.

Unfortunately, not only are the premises mutually refuting, but cl’s preferred conclusion also fails, even when he tries to reinforce it.

Honestly, taking it at face value, I don’t see how the logic could be any more straightforward; I even broke it down to syllogism form in my first responses. Here’s a version amended for absolute clarity:

P1 God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; (I’ll grant that ‘is‘ as used in Exodus 3:6 may or may not denote a present relationship)

P2 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living; (Jesus’ emendation removes any possibility that ‘is‘ referred to a past relationship)

P3 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead; (undeniable premise that was true at the time both Exodus 3:6 and Jesus’ emendation were spoken)

The problem is twofold: first, if we’re going to focus on the fact that the text uses the present tense “is” instead of the past tense “was” or the future tense “will be,” then cl’s argument becomes an argument against the possibility of a future resurrection. Exodus 3 does not say “I will be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” it says “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Nor does Jesus say “God will be the God of the living and not the dead,” he says “God is (etc.)”. To the extent that the present tense “is” eliminates the possibility of a past relationship, it eliminates the prospect of a future association as well. Even if we assume that Abraham & Co. will someday stop being dead, that does not change the fact that they are dead now, no matter what Jesus said about God not being the God of the dead in the present tense.

This is a moot point, though, because the intransitive verb “is” refers to the nature of the identity of God, not to any past, present, or future relationship between God and anyone else. The statement in Exodus 3 is “I am the God.” The same is true of Jesus’ declaration, “God is the God.” Which God? The text identifies which God by specifying a relationship with known personalities of the past, but the word which links God to those personalities is the word “of,” not the word “is.” Which God? “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob.” “The God, not of the dead but of the living.”

This is why the text Jesus used to “prove” the resurrection is actually no such thing. He claimed to be citing a passage about a future resurrection, but what he quoted was merely a story of a God identifying His present-tense identity (“yep, that’s who I am all right”) relative to a trio of personalities whose known association with Him was in the past, even though the language used contains absolutely nothing, linguistically, grammatically, or historically, to tie that relationship to any particular point in the past, present or future.

I think cl is trying to make the case that his conclusion must be true because if it’s not true, then the argument becomes absurd. Unfortunately, Christians are doomed to reach absurd conclusions no matter what they conclude here, since they’re starting from premises that already contradict one another. And there’s no way to remove the contradiction unless we agree that the Bible itself, if not Jesus as well, is wrong. Since that’s not an option for believers, they have no way out.

It’s a textbook case study in how faith can interfere with someone’s thinking. Jesus’ argument is clearly irretrievably flawed, not only because the premises contradict themselves, but because trying to fix it only makes it worse. If you try and solve the dilemma by insisting that Abraham & Co. are not dead, for instance, then you’ve only dug yourself in deeper, because you can’t be resurrected if you’re not dead, and that blows Jesus’ whole point. Yet believers cannot acknowledge, even to themselves, that their Lord and Savior could have goofed so badly, and so their only alternative is to hobble their own minds to the point that they believe in contradictory premises leading to valid and even undeniable conclusions.

Terrible waste of a perfectly good intellect if you ask me.

 
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Posted in Unapologetics. 34 Comments »

34 Responses to “How Jesus (mis)used Exodus 3”

  1. pboyfloyd Says:

    I’ve called this, “Sleight of mind.”, trying to basically ‘name that tune’ which apologists use to confuse.

    In keeping with the french legerdemain the snappiest I can come up with is legerdecontexte(still a bit cumbersome, I know).
    But it works the same as sleight of hand except with ideas.

    cl wants to move your focus from the meaning of the words, to the meaning of ‘meaningful things in general'(fossils must mean ‘something’ too), then brings that broader, “things(fossils e.g.) and words have meaning” back into focus with the idea that these meaningful things and words need expression AS words!(which don’t even need to have been written.)

    But I think that the Bible itself is a ‘study’ in this kind of sleight of mind. We KNOW what ‘dead’ means. But where do you go when you die, HEAVEN! Are you dead in Heaven then? Certainly not, quite the opposite in fact!

  2. pevo Says:

    [devil's advocate hat on]
    Living means currently alive or alive in the future
    [/da]

  3. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Or previously alive? :)

  4. cl Says:

    Response To DD’s “What Biblical Inerrancy Really Means” Pt. IV

  5. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Wow, check this out. Not only does cl try to make people think I was claiming the complete absence of any mention of resurrection anywhere in the entire Old Testament, he then goes on to give me a prim reprimand for presumably thinking that I had an “inerrant” understanding of Jesus’ motives. I only discussed Jesus’ actions and never said anything about an “inerrant” understanding of his motives, but I guess ol’ cl must be a mindreader, eh? And then he tops it off by saying, “I don’t know about you, but for me, red flags go up whenever I see anybody attributing motives to people still living, let alone people thousands of years dead.”

    Ah well, at least he’s keeping the trolling on his own blog, where it belongs. I notice he posted this instead of attempting to address the problems I pointed out in his first attempt at rebuttal. Go figure, eh? Ol’ cl, faced by serious problems in his apologetic, responding by completely misrepresenting what other people were saying, creating pretexts for accusing them of some kind of intellectual misconduct or other, and generally talking about any and everything else besides the inconsistencies in his own position? Who’d have thought?

  6. mikespeir Says:

    I got my fill of cl on another blog. He’ll often start off on a line of discussion sounding pretty reasonable. That will lure you in, which is a mistake. Little by little, things get progressively warped thereafter until you’re not even sure you’re talking about the same subject anymore. And, as he does here, he then tries to lure everyone back to his own site, for home field advantage, I assume. I find it best to ignore him.

  7. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I don’t mind him posting links back to his own site (as long as he’s responding to something I wrote here, and not just spamming, which hasn’t been a problem). In fact I would much prefer that he post the troll stuff on his own blog so I don’t have to moderate it. He’s welcome to post honest and reasonable comments here, of course, and has done so on more than one occasion since I put him on the moderation list. So he can stop trolling when he makes the effort. I think it’s just that too many times there simply isn’t any honest and reasonable rebuttal to the evidence against Christianity, hence his need to resort to trolling.

  8. Jayman Says:

    For those interested, many of the points I raise in this comment are given in more detail in John P. Meier’s A Marginal Jew, Volume 3: Companions and Competitors, pp. 419-431.

    The main problem can be found in this statement by DD:

    If the text does not contain any of the terms needed to express the idea, then the idea is not being expressed by the text, and is necessarily being added by the mind of the reader (hence perhaps the desire to supply “inferences” in place of the missing text?).

    We cannot hope to understand the dialogue between the Sadducees and Pharisees if we merely look at the text through our 21st century eyes and do not make an attempt to understand the socio-historical context of the dialogue. The mere fact that Exodus 3:6 does not contain the word “resurrection” is irrelevant to whether Jesus’ statement would have been understood by his listeners.

    Meier summarizes Jesus’ argument as (pp. 429-430):

    1. Major Premise: According to God’s self-chosen definition, the very being of God involves being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is his permanent self-definition.

    2. Minor Premise: But, as the whole of the OT proclaims, God is God only of the living, not of the defiling, unclean dead, with whom he has no relation.

    3. Unspoken Conclusion: Therefore, if God’s being is truly defined by his permanent relationship to the three patriarchs, the three patriarchs must be (now or in the future) living and in living relationship to God.

    Meier does not try to stress the present tense of “is” or “am” so we can avoid that part of DD’s objections. The premises do not contradict each other.

    DD ignores the shared presuppositions of Jesus and his first-century audience as well as the second premise of Jesus’ argument. Meier concludes as follows (p. 430):

    In the concrete arena set up by the Sadducees and accepted by Jesus, this life beyond death in God’s presence is understood in terms of resurrection. Moreover, since the formula “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” has as its precise purpose in Exodus 3 the proclamation of the continuation of God’s saving action to the patriarchs’ descendants, this hope of resurrection is held out to all their faithful offspring. Jesus thus grounds the hope of resurrection firmly in the primordial revelation of God to Moses and the chosen people — and ultimately in the very being of the God who, by definition, is related to the people he saves. To understand the God of Israel correctly is to accept the resurrection. To reject resurrection is to misunderstand God’s primordial revelation to Israel and ultimately God himself. Hence the bite of Jesus’ final, reinforced rebuke to the would-be teachers and leaders of Israel in v 27b: “You are very much in error.” This inclusio with Jesus’ opening question in v 24 (“Is this not the reason why you are in error?”) clinches the argument rhetorically as well as theologically.

    We see these shared presuppositions at work in b. Sanhedrin 90b-91a. There the later rabbis make arguments for the resurrection that, at first glance to us moderns, appear as strange as Jesus’ reference to Exodus 3:6. We need to place ourselves in the ancient Jewish community if we are going to understand Jesus or the rabbis. The fact that the average modern person is ignorant of ancient Jewish culture does not mean the ancient Jews were making poor arguments.

  9. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Meier sounds like a fairly well-educated and intelligent fellow, so it’s surprising that he completely overlooks the fact that there were no Pharisees around at the time Exodus 3 was written. It is just as big an error for Jesus and the Pharisees to interpret the centuries old books of Moses according to their own post-Exilic culture as Meier says it would be for us to interpret the words of Jesus in our modern culture. Yet his whole defense of Jesus’ argument is based on making the exact same contextual error as he warns against. The correct historical context for interpreting Exodus 3 is the culture of pre-Davidic Israel, not the culture of the Sadducees and Pharisees.

  10. Jayman Says:

    DD:

    Meier sounds like a fairly well-educated and intelligent fellow, so it’s surprising that he completely overlooks the fact that there were no Pharisees around at the time Exodus 3 was written.

    Obviously, he makes no such claim. These “strange” arguments made sense to the ancient Jews and it is up to the responsible historian to try and understand the presuppositions that make sense of the arguments.

    It is just as big an error for Jesus and the Pharisees to interpret the centuries old books of Moses according to their own post-Exilic culture as Meier says it would be for us to interpret the words of Jesus in our modern culture.

    The basic presupposition underlying Jesus’ argument is that God will fulfill his covenant obligations. This is not a belief that arose after the biblical period. Ancient Jews would understand the underlying presuppositions of Jesus’ argument without them needing to be spelled out.

    The correct historical context for interpreting Exodus 3 is the culture of pre-Davidic Israel, not the culture of the Sadducees and Pharisees.

    The context of Exodus 3 is one in which the patriarchal covenant is continuing to be fulfilled.

  11. MS Says:

    Let’s rearrange the syllogism this way:

    P1 If God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, and God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be living.

    P2 God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, and God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    C Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be living.

    This is sufficient to refute the entirety of Sadducean doctrine, of which the denial of resurrection was only a subset of their wholesale rejection of any life after death. They also denied the spirit realm as recorded in Acts 23:8: (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

  12. pboyfloyd Says:

    Nope, this is a word-game. There’s no reason to think that the Old Testament quote is saying anything at all about resurrection.

    These tribal people are plainly identifying their tribal god.

    In other parts of the O.T., God speaks to people and explains that HE is NOT their god.

    Are we to believe that HE is telling these people that they have no chance at being resurrected? Of course not.

    Seems to me that Jesus was adding context to the Exodus quote that wasn’t even there, reinterpreting it in light of his own ‘story’, moving his own ‘storyline’ along, as it were.

    The original premise is that God is the god of the Hebrews anscestors, the New Testament premise is that the Old Testament backs up the New Testament ‘new twist’ ON the Old Testament, now emphasizing resurrection and entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    But if we are physical beings AND spiritual beings, we can die physically yet never die spiritually, and in fact if our choices lead our soul to either Heaven or Hell, NO-ONE has ever ‘died’.

    I think that there is no doubt in any of our minds, whether Christian or atheist or any other religion in fact, that all the characters in the Bible are physically dead.

  13. Jayman Says:

    pboyfloyd:

    Nope, this is a word-game.

    It just appears that way to the ignorant. You’re so focused on a context-less reading of Exodus 3:6 that you ignore how it ties into the over-arching narrative underlying Judaism and Christianity.

    There’s no reason to think that the Old Testament quote is saying anything at all about resurrection.

    Put the quote in the proper context and it will not be so puzzling. I repeat what Meier wrote: “In the concrete arena set up by the Sadducees and accepted by Jesus, this life beyond death in God’s presence is understood in terms of resurrection. Moreover, since the formula ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ has as its precise purpose in Exodus 3 the proclamation of the continuation of God’s saving action to the patriarchs’ descendants, this hope of resurrection is held out to all their faithful offspring.”

    These tribal people are plainly identifying their tribal god.

    The God of the Bible is not a tribal God, he is not restricted to a specific people or location. More importantly, Exodus 3:6 is identifying the deity as the God of the covenant. Jesus connects this verse to the many biblical passages stating God is the God of the living and is speaking in a context where life after death is understood in terms of resurrection.

    Seems to me that Jesus was adding context to the Exodus quote that wasn’t even there, reinterpreting it in light of his own ‘story’, moving his own ‘storyline’ along, as it were.

    A running theme throughout the Torah, of which Exodus is a part, is that God will fulfill his covenant promises that began with the patriarchs. Jesus was certainly not the first to recognize this fact. You also leave out the fact that Jesus’ argument does not rely solely on Exodus 3:6.

    The original premise is that God is the god of the Hebrews anscestors, the New Testament premise is that the Old Testament backs up the New Testament ‘new twist’ ON the Old Testament, now emphasizing resurrection and entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The Old Testament states: (1) God is the God of the universe (e.g., Genesis 1 or Jonah) and has entered into a special covenant with the Israelites, (2) the dead will be resurrected (read Daniel), and (3) a messianic age will come about. Jesus’ words are not the radical reinterpretation of the Old Testament you are making them out to be.

    But if we are physical beings AND spiritual beings, we can die physically yet never die spiritually, and in fact if our choices lead our soul to either Heaven or Hell, NO-ONE has ever ‘died’. I think that there is no doubt in any of our minds, whether Christian or atheist or any other religion in fact, that all the characters in the Bible are physically dead.

    The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife of any kind. Jesus is trying to get them to realize that “if God’s being is truly defined by his permanent relationship to the three patriarchs, the three patriarchs must be living and in living relationship to God.” In other words, there must be life after physical death and, as we Jews know, life after death takes the form of resurrection.

  14. » Bring out your dead! Evangelical Realism Says:

    [...] glad to see Jayman returning to our comments section once again, and he comes back bearing gifts: a commentary from Professor John P. Meier, of the Notre Dame Department of Theology, on the subject of [...]

  15. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Jesus is trying to get them to realize that “if God’s being is truly defined by his permanent relationship to the three patriarchs, the three patriarchs must be living and in living relationship to God.” In other words, there must be life after physical death and, as we Jews know, life after death takes the form of resurrection.

    And therefore the resurrection of the dead took place before the Exodus (so that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could be alive when God spoke to Moses), right?

  16. pboyfloyd Says:

    “It just appears that way to the ignorant.”

    I’m assuming that you are calling me ignorant because you don’t think I know that, “The Old Testament states: (1) God is the God of the universe..”

    But seriously now, isn’t it you who is being ignorant here?

    The Bible wasn’t written by God but by tribesmen who thought that they were being inspired BY God.

    Even they didn’t deny that there were other Gods, some of whom WERE Gods of the dead, in the Egyptian pantheon for the example which Yahweh is being compared favourably against throughout Exodus!(“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt..”)

    Seems to me that, if anything, the writers were DOWNPLAYING physical resurrection to emphasize how Yahweh interacted with HIS people, the TRIBE called the Hebrews, as opposed to how the Egyptians’ Gods interacted with the Egyptians, through physical resurrection, mummification, pyramids and such.

    Of course Yahweh was the tribal God of the Hebrews, that is how He is being presented to the Hebrews in the Booklets of Exodus, and through the Booklets of Exodus, to us.

    Tribes have patriarchs, the writers portray their tribal God as the God of their patriarchs.

    Seems to me that Jesus, Meier and you are simply willing to fudge on this simple point to recontextualize what was being said in the light of what the writers of the New Testament wanted to say.

    If there is any hidden meaning about long dead flesh reconstituting to ‘be with’ God, HE’d be needing a fleshy body too? Why? Why aren’t you happy with the notion that we’ll ‘live’ with God spiritually in the spiritual realm?

    Seems to me that your religion relies on the ‘mystery’ of confusing organic life and spiritual life.

  17. Jayman Says:

    DD:

    And therefore the resurrection of the dead took place before the Exodus (so that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could be alive when God spoke to Moses), right?

    Wrong. The patriarchs are alive but they are not yet resurrected. See my response to your latest post for more.

  18. Jayman Says:

    pboyfloyd, Daniel 12:2, an Old Testament book, mentions the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead was not an idea that the New Testament writers or Jesus created. Rather it was the common view of the afterlife among Jews in the age of Jesus. It is not a matter of whether I’m “happy” with living with God in the spiritual realm. It is a matter of what God says will be our final state.

    The fact that God enters into a special relationship with the patriarchs and Israel does not mean he is not concerned with the rest of the world. In Genesis 12:3, God promises that all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. In Exodus 19:5-6, God makes a covenant with Israel but also mentions that all the earth is his. The covenant is a theme throughout the entire Bible and it is to this that Jesus, Meier, and myself point to. If God made an everlasting covenant with the patriarchs and promised it would end with the resurrection of the dead, then how can the believer deny the resurrection?

  19. pboyfloyd Says:

    “If God made an everlasting covenant with the patriarchs and promised it would end with the resurrection of the dead, then how can the believer deny the resurrection?”

    Well, you’re mixing and matching your definitions to suit yourself here. How does a believer define ‘dead’ if God is not the God of the dead?

    These patriarchs certainly physically grew old and died, yet you and Meier and Jesus(apparently) are claiming that they are NOT dead.

    I keep saying that you are playing word games and you keep replying that God said this or that in the Old Testament, which is neither here nor there.

    If the writers of the Old Testament were being honest about what they thought God was trying to say, there’s no hedging back and forth on the definition of the word ‘dead’ there. There’s no confusion over the physically alive and some supposed everlasting spirit(alive in the sense that Gods/spirits/demons are ‘alive’) at all. The writers are just saying that God is addressing the physically living descendants of the Hebrew tribal patriarchs.

    What later writers tell us what is supposed to have happened in the booklets of Daniel is neither here nor there either.

    The ancient and supposedly inspired writers specifically mentioned that physically living people were barred from eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life, forcing them to remain mortal and eventually die.

    Abraham et al were physically living people(according to the stories) who DIED. No bandying words about it, no ‘greater context’ about it, end of story.

  20. John Morales Says:

    You shall have no other gods before me.

    Makes it very clear… not the God, but a God.

  21. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Jayman,

    Wrong. The patriarchs are alive but they are not yet resurrected.

    I see. So before the Exodus, the patriarchs were experiencing a life after death that did not take the form of resurrection? You’re telling me now that all those Jews, who “know” that life after death takes the form of resurrection, are wrong?

  22. Jayman Says:

    pboyfloyd:

    Well, you’re mixing and matching your definitions to suit yourself here. How does a believer define ‘dead’ if God is not the God of the dead?

    For the Sadducees, “dead” means physically dead and no longer in existence. For Jesus, “dead” means physically dead and unsaved, yet still in existence in Sheol.

    These patriarchs certainly physically grew old and died, yet you and Meier and Jesus(apparently) are claiming that they are NOT dead.

    Jesus is claiming that the patriarchs are physically dead but alive in Sheol. On the other hand, the Sadducees are saying the patriarchs are physically dead and are not living on in any form.

    I keep saying that you are playing word games and you keep replying that God said this or that in the Old Testament, which is neither here nor there.

    As long as you think that the rest of the Old Testament is irrelevant you will never understand Jesus’ statement. Exodus 3:6 ties into the covenant that is developed throughout the Old Testament. The remark that God is the God of the living echoes passages scattered throughout the Old Testament.

    What later writers tell us what is supposed to have happened in the booklets of Daniel is neither here nor there either.

    Why not? It ties in with the covenant.

    The ancient and supposedly inspired writers specifically mentioned that physically living people were barred from eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life, forcing them to remain mortal and eventually die.

    Neither the Sadducees nor Jesus are denying that humans physically die.

    Abraham et al were physically living people(according to the stories) who DIED. No bandying words about it, no ‘greater context’ about it, end of story.

    Ignoring the context does not make it disappear. Both the Sadducees and Jesus believe the patriarchs physically died, but Jesus, and the author of Genesis (e.g., 15:15), believed the patriarchs still existed in Sheol.

  23. Jayman Says:

    John Morales:

    You shall have no other gods before me. Makes it very clear… not the God, but a God.

    Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the verse in question means what you think it means, that does not change the fact that the God of the Bible is not restricted to a specific people or location.

  24. Jayman Says:

    Deacon Duncan:

    So before the Exodus, the patriarchs were experiencing a life after death that did not take the form of resurrection?

    Correct.

    You’re telling me now that all those Jews, who “know” that life after death takes the form of resurrection, are wrong?

    No, the resurrection of the dead just hasn’t happened yet.

  25. John Morales Says:

    Jayman, what else could it mean? :)

    PS Gods mentioned in the Bible [by name].

  26. pboyfloyd Says:

    I’m not sure which part of what I’m saying, about the different meanings of ‘dead’ that you’re not ‘getting’ here.

    You seem to agree with me about the bad definition of the word ‘dead’ and want to ‘put that on the Sadducees’ and be claiming that indeed there ARE two definitions of the world ‘dead’, but if I ask you outright you avoid answering or reply in the negative.

    The writers of the Gospels had Jesus telling his doctrine to you and me too, isn’t THAT right? But who cares if it was Sadducees or atheists that were being used to demonstrate that the word dead doesn’t MEAN dead? They seem to have taught YOU that the word ‘dead’ doesn’t really MEAN dead too, right?

    I can’t see you making much of a case in a court of law that, for example, you didn’t kill a person when you caused that person’s body to stop functioning, because that person isn’t really dead(he or she will be resurrected), can you?

    Certainly after Jesus himself supposedly explaining this, we can’t imagine using your definition of ‘dead’ and still imagine that Jesus died(i.e. was unresurrectable), then go ahead and be surprised that, according to the story, Jesus IS resurrected!

    Either death is a grave, final situation OR it is just a passing phase. It can’t be both.

    This is why your ‘greater context’ doesn’t matter, not if you write it in gold thread on a banner and wave it where ever you go, you still insist on using the word dead to mean different things when it suits you.

  27. pboyfloyd Says:

    Sorry for the double post, but I have to say, Jayman, if we use your/Meier’s/Jesus’ definition of the word ‘dead’, then God saying that HE is not the God of the dead, is meaningless.

    Why even those that we atheists and those poor Sadducees CONSIDERED dead, aren’t REALLY dead after all, they’re just waiting somewhere to be resurrected, isn’t that RIGHT?

    What would be the point of God even saying this to the Hebrews then?

    Is it that God said to them, “I am not the God of the dead!”, then ends his sentence quietly to himself, “..because there ARE no dead, everyone is waiting for resurrection!”, and winks knowingly to those who understand that some are being fooled by physical death, who titter like schoolgirls at Gods joke?

    Can we not imagine ‘understanding’ believers tittering like schoolgirls at funerals for loved-ones because they’re SO sad that they died, yet, “Tee-hee! They didn’t die. How silly of everyone to be crying over a dead body!”

  28. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Jayman,

    You have said that life after death takes the form of resurrection, but you have also said that the patriarchs experienced a life after death that did not take the form of resurrection at the time of Moses. In other words, at the time of Exodus 3, even if we assume that God were making a reference to the patriarchs being “alive,” they were nevertheless “alive” in an unresurrected form, correct? So Jesus is “proving” the resurrection of the dead by citing a verse that, at best, is only a reference to God having an ongoing relationship with unresurrected patriarchs, right?

  29. Jayman Says:

    pboyfloyd:

    You seem to agree with me about the bad definition of the word ‘dead’ and want to ‘put that on the Sadducees’ and be claiming that indeed there ARE two definitions of the world ‘dead’, but if I ask you outright you avoid answering or reply in the negative.

    The Sadducees used one definition of dead and Jesus used one definition of dead. It just so happened that the Sadducees definition of dead different from Jesus’ definition of dead. I don’t see what is so difficult about understanding that.

    Sorry for the double post, but I have to say, Jayman, if we use your/Meier’s/Jesus’ definition of the word ‘dead’, then God saying that HE is not the God of the dead, is meaningless.

    I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion. To say that God is not the God of the dead means “the dead” are not in a right relationship with God.

  30. Jayman Says:

    DD:

    You have said that life after death takes the form of resurrection, but you have also said that the patriarchs experienced a life after death that did not take the form of resurrection at the time of Moses.

    I said Jesus and the Sadducees shared a belief that, if the afterlife exists, it will eventually take the form of resurrection.

    At the beginning of the discussion the Sadducees could have made an argument that takes the following form:

    1) If the afterlife exists, then the resurrection will occur.

    2) The afterlife does not exist.

    3) Therefore the resurrection will not occur.

    Jesus agrees with the Sadducees regarding point 1. He merely needs to convince the Sadducees that the afterlife does exist and he will have succeeded in convincing them that the resurrection will occur.

    If you don’t share a belief in 1, then Jesus’ argument may not persuade you. That’s fine. His argument was with the Sadducees, not you. We all tailor our arguments for our audience.

    In other words, at the time of Exodus 3, even if we assume that God were making a reference to the patriarchs being “alive,” they were nevertheless “alive” in an unresurrected form, correct?

    Yes.

    So Jesus is “proving” the resurrection of the dead by citing a verse that, at best, is only a reference to God having an ongoing relationship with unresurrected patriarchs, right?

    Sorry, I can’t give a simple yes or no answer to that question because you ignore the covenantal context of the verse, Jesus’ reference to other OT passages about God being the God of the living, and the shared point 1 from above.

    You seem to see how Jesus’ argument suggests that there is an afterlife. Plug that into point 2 from above and you will see how the resurrection is the logical conclusion for the Sadducees to come to.

    If you can do that, you can see why Meier’s statement, copied below, is not the “vague hand-waving” you initially made it out to be.

    In the concrete arena set up by the Sadducees and accepted by Jesus, this life beyond death in God’s presence is understood in terms of resurrection. Moreover, since the formula “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” has as its precise purpose in Exodus 3 the proclamation of the continuation of God’s saving action to the patriarchs’ descendants, this hope of resurrection is held out to all their faithful offspring. Jesus thus grounds the hope of resurrection firmly in the primordial revelation of God to Moses and the chosen people — and ultimately in the very being of the God who, by definition, is related to the people he saves. To understand the God of Israel correctly is to accept the resurrection. To reject resurrection is to misunderstand God’s primordial revelation to Israel and ultimately God himself.

  31. pboyfloyd Says:

    So, Jayman, you seem to be studiously avoiding an actual meaning for ‘dead’ then.

    The Sadducees had their meaning for dead.
    You, Meier and Jesus and presumably God had ANOTHER meaning for dead.

    But God seems to be using the Sadducees meaning for dead to to make your/Meier’s/Jesus’ point that there’s that other meaning for dead.

    You can’t answer with simple yes or no because it makes YOUR/Meier’s/Jesus’ AND God’s meaning both confused and confusing.

    Hence the allegation of playing word games.

    You say, “I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion.” Well, I went on to try to demonstrate how I came to that conclusion but you ignored it.

    If it is true that the patriarch’s aren’t dead when they are physically ‘gone’ and are just waiting for resurrection, or simply ‘waiting for resurrection’, then God is saying, “I am not the God of the ‘waiting for resurrection’, I am the God of the living.”, because there is only the two kinds of people now. Either you’re living(in the flesh) OR you’re ‘waiting for resurrection’, right?

    I know, I know, I don’t ‘get it’ because Jesus’ argument is with the Sadducees and he only needed to convince THEM to be as confused as the rest of us over the meaning of the word ‘dead’.

    Seems Jesus forgot that the needed to convince God though, because even God used the term a la Sadducees, or at least uses the term either way when it suits to confuse.

  32. Jayman Says:

    pboyfloyd:

    So, Jayman, you seem to be studiously avoiding an actual meaning for ‘dead’ then.

    I gave a definition above. Once again: For the Sadducees, “dead” means physically dead and no longer in existence. For Jesus, “dead” means physically dead and unsaved, yet still in existence in Sheol.

    If it is true that the patriarch’s aren’t dead when they are physically ‘gone’ and are just waiting for resurrection, or simply ‘waiting for resurrection’, then God is saying, “I am not the God of the ‘waiting for resurrection’, I am the God of the living.”, because there is only the two kinds of people now. Either you’re living(in the flesh) OR you’re ‘waiting for resurrection’, right?

    Wrong, read the definition above closely. There would be four kinds of people under Jesus’ definition:

    1) The physically alive who are saved

    2) The physically alive who are not saved

    3) The physically dead who are saved

    4) The physically dead who are not saved

    Using these numbers, we could rephrase the quote as follows: “I am not the God of 2 and 4, I am the God of 1 and 3.”

  33. pboyfloyd Says:

    So now you’re calling some physically living people ‘dead’?

    And you still say that you’re not playing a word game?

  34. pboyfloyd Says:

    Jayman, you fooler. You just converted all the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews from Abraham all the way down, to Christianity!

    In your last over-analysed 1 and 3 but not 2 and 4 deal, we have God saying, “I am not the God of the unsaved, but the God of the saved!”

    But it’s not a word game at all though, it’s just that all those Jews down through the ages studying their Talmuds and Torahs and such, don’t REALISE that they are saved, they just don’t realise that they ARE Christians, right?

    It’s not a word game to suggest that God, talking to the Hebrews as the God of their forefathers, is REALLY saying that HE is the God of the saved(in Christ no doubt).

    Way to throw the Chosen people under the bus Jayman.

    Small wonder that they thought Jesus was nuts. Why, your meaning of the word ‘dead’ itself precludes any living person from not believing in both God and Jesus. If they don’t, they’re not considered living.

    Got to wonder how you differentiate between a ‘living’ chicken and a ‘dead’ one. They’d all be dead really, right? Ought we not be calling them undead chickens?

    Still, with this definition of yours, you can whip someone and beat someone and stab someone and hang ‘em out to dry, but you cannot take their life if it is exactly equal to ‘being saved'(as Jesus explained that God explained to the Hebrews).

    The story of Jesus becomes less of a miracle and more of a ‘showing-up-a-little-early’, now, doesn’t it?