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Thanks for your responses to my questions. I tend to think you are begging the question though, in the sense of assuming your conclusion before you have proved it.

In 1. we are in total agreement about the historical reasons for the death of Jesus. Insurrectionists were crucified; Jesus was accused of being an insurrectionist; he was crucified; yet he was innocent. Nothing in that outline of the historical reasons for his death proves your final sentence: “He suffered for the sins of the many in Israel who were on the broad road leading to destruction”. It’s a non sequitur.

In 2. you make an unproven syllogism: “Jesus was destroyed by Rome, part of Israel was not destroyed by Rome. His death opened up a way to life”. The conclusion is not proved by the first two statements, or anything you have said. I also think you have missed my point. The apostles died (as well as Jesus). This could hardly be said to demonstrate the “narrow way which leads to life”, which you say was true of the death of Jesus. You are assuming another interpretation of the deaths of both Jesus and the apostles, and whatever that is, you have not demonstrated it. But whatever you think of the deaths of the apostles, it’s the death of Jesus which is at issue here. How did his death open up a way of life?

3. I did not say “He gave his life as a ransom for many” was not a substitution. I believe it was. The issue is whether the substitution was also penal. That’s what you are assuming without having proved it. And so do many others. The “ransom” idea lends itself to other interpretations besides being also penal. In fact penal and ransom do not logically fit together.  Ransom is, as you say, a metaphor for what Jesus did. But you provide an explanation of the metaphor which I think is questionable. You explain it in terms of kidnappers and ransom — which I think has little or nothing to do with the way Jesus is using it. You then say that in this case a life is given as a ransom. Precisely. You go on to say it’s not a theory of how atonement works, but a metaphor of what happened in history. But you are providing an explanation (of sorts), and so does everybody. Metaphors always require interpretation on some level. I am simply questioning an interpretation which you have assumed, which is that some sort of deal was arranged whereby the death of Jesus in some way mitigated the judgment on some but not all of Israel (that’s the best way I can describe it, but you haven’t really made it as clear as that). I don’t think that is the best and certainly not the only way of explaining what “ransom” means in this context.

4. The way Jesus uses parables is quite unlike the way allegories are used by the prophets. I think you have not understood the point I was making about genre. To take two examples: in the parable of the shrewd manager Luke 16:1-13, instead of condemning the man for his dishonesty, Jesus commends him for his shrewdness, and holds this up as an example for the disciples. Clearly, a like for like comparison is not taking place here, and the servant is not being held up as model of discipleship in every respect. In the parable of the persistent widow Luke 18:1-8, God is compared with an indifferent and unjust judge. Clearly that is not how we are meant to see God. In the parable of the unmerciful servant Matthew 18:21-35, the punishment the man receives is out or proportion to his offence and described in hyperbolically gruesome language. The comparison with God is not literal.  So in the parables you cite, suggestions of a literal outcome in his Israel’s history, which the hearers clearly understood, may have to be qualified against their understanding of God, or God as he is suggested by the parables, which Jesus is probably reflecting. God is both like and unlike the parable picture of Him, and His actions.

5. Word studies are always useful, but not always conclusive. If you look at the context of episkopēs in Luke 19, it can only mean the coming of Jesus in his earthly life, not a “visitation” of judgment when Jerusalem was destroyed. By then it was too late for Israel to “recognise God on the day of his visitation” and receive him as messiah. The passage clearly shows that this “visitation” was when Israel still had time for recognising him, but failed to do so.

I think your final question here is crucial: “If you object to the God of Jesus punishing his people violently, what are you going to do with the whole of the Old Testament?” Well, not the whole of the Old Testament Andrew, because as we know, there are discordant voices in the OT. But what am I going to do with the parts of the OT attributing extreme violence to God? Good question. I am honestly wrestling with that at the moment, in a way that I have avoided, or thought I had adequate apologetics for, for the last 44 years. It sounds as if you’ve never had to do that.

6. I’m not sure you have grasped my point. If the death of the tenants, or the mass crucifixion of Jews, was God’s judgment, and therefore just and deserved, why did Jesus not approve and affirm what God was going to do? That he didn’t suggests that this was not an act of judgment and justice, demonstrating God’s righteousness, which we should all approve, Jesus included. The conclusion is he wept because God wept, because it was avoidable, and God had not wanted it. It was not necessarily a straightforward righteous judgment, or even God expressing his anger against sin. I simply don’t see what your final extract is trying to prove.

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