The following article comes from from the tenth volume of the authors' Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. George P. Landow scanned, formatted, and linked the text.]
Hebrew and the Christian alike recognise the reality of the predictive element in the chosen oracles of the great I am. The two religionists, however, differ widely in their manner and sense of interpretation and in the application of the oracular utterances. This difference regarding a portion of Scripture accepted alike by both is easily accounted for. The divergence is in the two religions themselves, and is called out by the question whether the predictions for a Messiahship to the "chosen race" have ever been fulfilled. Upon this query all turns. The Israelite, refusing to recognise in Christ the long-promised divine messenger, either declares it a vain attempt to decipher the prophetic images, if he be a rationalist; or, if he be more faithfully wedded to the canon of the synagogue, patiently sits back, awaiting the final solution of the problem of God's salvation of his people.
In the early and mediaeval days of Christianity, the Jews did not deny the facts of the Christian miracles, but explained them away, and so nothing remained for settlement but the verity of the prophecies and the question of their fulfilment. The first of these the Jew conceded to the Christian, but on the last point a somewhat rich literature of polemics is preserved to us. It begins with the New Testament itself. Paul and other apostles were frequently called upon to argue the Messiahship of Christ. We have the same phase of the contest in the apology of Justin Martyr (q. v.) against Trypho, to which a new kind of objection expressive of prejudice is added in the discourse which Celsus, as preserved in Origen (Contr. Cels. bk. i and ii), puts into the mouth of the Jew whom he introduces. (In reference to this contest, these Church fathers, and especially Semisch's work on Justin Martyr and the works on the Jewish Talmudic literature and philosophy, may be consulted.
Last modified 28 August 2016