How Reliable are "Messianic" Prophecies?
The bible can say anything you want it to say.
Here are a few verses before the prophecy.
- Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
- But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
- And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
- Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call F45 his name Immanuel
As far as I can remember, Jesus name was Jesus, not manwell. The first century writer who supported the Jesus idea wouldn't have to look to hard to find a statement as Leolai pointed out to apply it to Jesus.
Narkissos wrote: The very concept of "Messiah" is not part of the Old Testament. I disagree. A few basic "Messianic" passages immediately come to my mind. God's promise to send mankind a Savior first appears in the Old Testament in Genesis 3:15. It is there we read of God telling Satan that a descendant of Eve would one day rise up and deal Eden's serpent a fatal blow after first receiving a nonfatal blow from that "ancient serpent, called devil or Satan." (Rev. 12:9) In Genesis 49:10 we read how, as Jacob laid dying, he prophesied that, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." The "Shiloh" in this passage was understood by readers of the Jewish scriptures, long before the time of Jesus, to refer to the Jew's long awaited "Messiah." Of course, some will say that these "Messianic" passages can be, and are, understood in a non-Messianic way by many Bible readers. Those who wish to understand the Bible's "Messianic" passages in a non-Messianic way are certainly allowed by God to do so. For, as Jesus said on more than one occasion, many people have eyes which fail to see and ears which fail to hear. Daniel 9:25 actually contains a prophecy predicting the exact time of the "Messiah's" coming. There we read, "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' " Of course, some maintain that this passage was actually written long after the time of Daniel. But that is beside the point. For Daniel is a part of the Old Testament. So, to say that, "The very concept of 'Messiah' is not part of the Old Testament" is not a correct statement. For, as verses such as these show, the concept of the "Messiah" does exist in the Old Testament. In Genesis 3:15, in Genesis 49:10, in Daniel 9:25 and many places elsewhere. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Technically, messianism is part of the most recent layer of the OT...and Daniel is an excellent example of post-exilic messianism. The other verses you mentioned are not genuine messianic texts though they have been interpreted as such in early Christianity and rabbinical Judaism. Genesis 3:15, for instance, was given a messianic spin by Irenaeus and the Targum of Jonathan, but taking the Yahwistic text on its own terms, it simply refers to the "seed of the woman," that is humanity, having antagonism and enmity towards the "seed of the serpent," that is snakes in general, with snakes biting at people's heals and people (out of fear and hatred) trying to crush snakes underfoot. The serpent is presented not as Satan or demonic angel but explicitly as an animal that is cursed compared to the other "animals of the field and cattle" and which crawls on its belly in the dust (3:14). The messianic interpretation is impossible in the Hebrew because the noun zr' "seed" is to be understood collectively and the text is speaking of a line of descendents of the woman as well as of the serpent -- not a specific descendent, such as the Messiah, or a specific descendent of the serpent. Moreover, the text does not present a prophecy but gives a curse parallel to the curses on the woman and man. The pains in childbirth, domination of men over women, or the difficulty in planting crops was something that the "seed" of the man and woman would experience from that point on; the snake-bites and hatred of snakes discussed in v. 15 are going to similarly be part of life outside the Garden of Eden. This is the natural interpretation taking the text on its own terms; the messianic interpretation instead reads into the text. Revelation 12 is a Christian text that may involve a similar messianic interpretation, but the reference to the dragon Satan as the "original serpent" also clearly depends on the OT traditions of the war between Yahweh and the dragon Leviathan/Yam/Rahab.
I could go on about the other texts mentioned, but this example should suffice.
So then, it seems to be your contention that the writers of the Old Testament had no intention of directing the attention of their readers to a "Messiah" who they believed would one day appear and save mankind and/or the Jewish people from all their troubles. I suppose that is possible. However, if God inspired their writings, as they claim He did, it is also possible that He caused them to write what they did in a manner which would convey information above and beyond that which they themselves then understood they were then conveying. Information that would also not be immediately understood by most readers of Scripture. Such information would only be perceived by "reading between the lines." However, such information would later help many Bible readers to understand that it was indeed God's intention to send them a "Messiah." It is possible that God knew this information would at first be overlooked by most readers of Scripture and that He also knew it would later be rejected by those engaging solely in a "natural" reading of the Scriptures. God may have also known and intended that such information would be understood and appreciated only by "spiritual" men and women, and then only after they sought and received His help in understanding the Scriptures. After all, the Bible tells us that even Christ's own apostles failed to understand many of the Old Testament's "Messianic" passages prior to the time of Christ's resurrection. It was not until that time that He Himself explained all of these passages to them. Luke 24:25-27 tells us, "He [the risen Christ] said to them, 'How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." This conclusion seems reasonable since the Bible clearly indicates that God has at times conveyed His thoughts in just such a way, a way that would not be understood by "natural" readers of the Scriptures. Luke 8:10 tells us that, "He [Jesus] said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you [His disciples], but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; and though hearing, they may not understand.' " And Matthew 11:25 tells us that Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." With these things in mind, I have no problem with the idea that Messianic prophesies may have been "hidden" by God in passages of Scripture which are understood by many Bible readers only in a more "natural" way.
I don't think the occurrence of Messiah in Daniel 9 implies messianism as we mean it, referring to one (or two, cf. Qumran) central, individual and ultimate character(s). Along with many other texts (such as Isaiah 53f, Zechariah) it is a milestone on the way.
(Unfortunately I cannot develop for I'm leaving now for a few days.)