Three Messianic Miracles
A few years ago I asked about Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s sources regarding the “3 messianic miracles”. I was sent a prescribed answer Arnold wrote with regard to this question (which I would guess many people have asked him). Is there any more information regarding this question of sources? This is enlightening background but without sources to know where these ideas came from ““ it looses a bit of credibility (which is a shame). I am not being critical, I would just like to know what I learn or pass on to others is correct.
Thank you for looking into to this for me
Rev. Richard Porter
Blessings in Jesus.
I am not in a position to speak for Arnold so my recommendation would be that you speak to him about things he has said or written. I can only reply to specific questions concerning material that I have recorded or authored or that is published by Moriel.
I can tell you broadly that ‘Messianic Miracles’ (known in Hebrew and Judaism as ‘nessim v’niflaot’) in the Second Temple Period (the era in Jewish history corresponding to the time of Jesus and the early church) are largely derived from various passages in the book of Isaiah such as chapters 35, 51, and 53. The views of the rabbis during this time as referred or alluded to in the New Testament are not challenged by serious academic rabbis and scholars such as Ivy League Professor Rabbi Jacob Neusner or the late Rabbi David Flusser of Hebrew University. Only non academics from agenda driven organizations such as “Jews For Judaism” contest the Jewishness of the Gospel narratives. Neusner states “The Gospels are the pivotal Second Temple Period Jewish literature between the inter-testamental apocryphal literature and the early Midrashim”.
The New Testament background concerning Messianic miracles comes from what in Judaism is known as ‘Torah B’al Pei’ or ‘The Oral Law’ which includes what is commonly referred to as ‘the tradition of the elders’. Such materials were not codified in any written form until the second century AD/CE by Rabbi Yehuda Ha Nassi in Galilee. Thus because it was unwritten, we can only document it from citations and commentaries on it from later written sources. The only source of contemporary authorship with it ironically is the New Testament as Neusner and other rabbinic scholars accept.
We must keep in mind that such traditions were not directly from scripture but rather rabbinic interpretations of scriptures (mainly from Isaiah). Nor were they of necessity believed by Jesus Himself (even though He appears to have accommodated them) but they were the messianic expectations of rabbis of the day. This was later changed in Judaism primarily by Maimonides who was an Aristotelian and who largely denied the miraculous as logically explicable. Thus we are talking about rabbinic thought in the days of Jesus, and not necessarily what rabbinic Judaism believes today.
For instance – one Messianic miracle was healing of a leper. In fact, the washing of the healed leper in the days of Elisha can render the messianic uniqueness of this healing miracle to dispute if it was purely the domain of the Messiah. The recorded source in Judaism of this kind of healing miracle to the Messiah is in the Babylonian Talmud in folio 98a where the Messiah is called the ‘leper-scholar’ based on Isaiah chapter 53 “we esteemed him who bore our diseases afflicted by God and a leper” (where the word in English is ‘smitten’) which the Talmud says is about the Messiah (later contradicted by a Rabbi named Rashi in the Middle Ages). Thus the healing of the leper is accomplished by Messiah because He becomes as one under the smiting of God causing him to be ostracized.
There are other messianic miracles such as what in modern medical terms would be classified as neural regeneration of dead nervous tissue rendering one blind or deaf. By some interpretations it only applied to one born blind (as in John chapter 9) and the healing of a deaf person is related to a case of demonic possession where an indwelling demon caused the deafness and muteness.
But again, the oral laws were oral, not written. Thus there is no organized comprehensive or published tractate in the rabbinic literature on Messianic miracles. You need to find the references verifying from later sources. In addition to the Babylonian Talmud, other reference sources of rabbinic and Jewish thought in the Second Temple Period include the Pseudigrapha and 4Q521 from the Qumran literature (Dead Sea Scrolls). Again however, we should note that Neusner, Flusser and other modern rabbinic scholars accept the validity of the New Testament as a Second Temple Period Jewish source itself.
The History of Jewish thought in the Second Temple Period is a massive and frankly complicated subject with no shortage of division in expert opinion (there are also strong linguistic components to this subject involving Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).
I trust this helps, but again I can only speak to this subject broadly and I must allow my good friend and brother Arnold Fruchenbaum to speak for himself in regard to anything he has written.