Critical Thinking Watch: One Reason I’m Skeptical of the Claim That “Jesus Fulfilled Prophecies Made About Him in the Old Testament”

Here’s the claim:

  • Passages in the Hebrew Bible, such as Isaiah 53, foresaw the life and death of Jesus—and thus constitute strong evidence that the Bible is a miraculous book.

Why I’m skeptical:

The Jewish scriptures were read carefully by the authors of the New Testament. In other words, the authors may have shaped their stories to match what they had read.

It would be truly astonishing if Jesus had appeared, say, in CHINA two thousand years ago, where nobody had ever read the Hebrew Bible. If this had happened, then the match between the predictions (in Palestine) and the subsequent Jesus of history (in China) would be quite interesting.

But that’s not how it happened. The Hebrew scriptures were written in the Middle East and those who told stories about Jesus knew those scriptures. The probability that the prophecies are miraculous is reduced considerably by the fact that the writers of the New Testament were influenced by reading the Old Testament.

In other words, instead of something miraculous going on, it is more likely that the gospel writers simply built their Jesus-stories around Old Testament passages that they had read—creating, as it were, self-fulfilling “prophecies.”

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Critical Thinking Watch: One Reason I’m Skeptical of the Claim That “Jesus Fulfilled Prophecies Made About Him in the Old Testament”

  1. None of the stories of Jesus where written while he was alive, the only non-Christian source is a Jew named Josephus who wrote about Jesus from hearsay and rumors from decades after his death.

    • Daniel says:

      I beg to differ. Schlars belive that Q or Thomas were written shortly or during the life of Jesus and specially of the first disciples. You cannot write coherently about someone you haven’t met… and books like Luke and Matthew are coherent depicting the major parts of Jesus’ life…

  2. Bert says:

    Ignorant idiots

  3. santitafarella says:


    Do you believe that Q and Thomas, taken individually and in isolation, contain an Orthodox picture of Jesus (as the third person of the trinity; as a risen savior who died for the sins of the world)? Put differently: do you believe that the two people who wrote these two documents would have understood Jesus in Orthodox terms?


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