Wide diversity of views
Messianic prophecy is a subject of great debate with a wide diversity of views.
- between different religions, e.g., Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity,
and the Baha'i faith
- between religious denominations within a particular religion, e.g., Methodism, or sects
- among biblical scholars, both secular and religious scholars
- among different camps within scholarship, i.e., fundamentalist, conservative, moderate, liberal
- between followers of a particular religion even within the same denomination or sect
"Skeptic" as used here simply means someone with a different
interpretation; it is not a comment on a person's general religious
Highly volatile reactions
As with many areas of politics, religion, etc., interpretation of
alleged prophecy often evokes strong emotional reactions, and sometimes
even leads to claims of prejudice, antisemitism, racism, religious
Issues in Messianic prophecy
Interpretations vary and involve questions such as:
- Is there a physical Messiah or is "the Messiah" just a general
concept about a future time when all world rulers will be just, there
will be world peace, etc.,?
- Is there more than one Messiah?
- Who is or are the Messiah(s)?
- When did or will the Messiah(s) come?
- Will a particular Messiah or Messiahs come more than once?
- What did or will the Messiah(s) do?
- Which biblical passages are prophecies?
- Which biblical prophecies are about the Messiah(s)?
- Have any messianic prophecies been fulfilled?
- If so:
- Which have been fulfilled?
- Which remain to be filled?
- When a messianic prophecy was fulfilled or gets fulfilled in the future:
- When was or will it be fulfilled?
- By whom was or will it be fulfilled?
- Precisely how was or will it be fulfilled?
- Can a messianic prophecy be partially fulfilled at one point, with complete fulfillment at a later date?
Arguments that a passage is not prophetic
Several types of arguments are offered that a particular passage is not a prophecy, including:
The passage is historical, not prophetic. It refers to an event that had already occurred when the passage was written.
The passage is taken out of context.
The interpreter started with a conclusion and then looked for
"evidence" that would support it whether the evidence exists or not.
Revisionist history. For millennia the passage had an
interpretation that was generally accepted. Now the advocate is
offering a new interpretation to support his personal view.