“If any one of the prophets had conceived the whole idea of Messiah’s character, and all the circumstances of his birth, passion, and death, although improbable, it might perhaps have been possible to sketch an outline so like real life in its ordinary phases, as to find a fulfillment in some individual of the people amongst whom he lived.  Sagacity, combined with study of the national character and circumstances, might enable an acute observer to conjecture the rise of some illustrious individual, and his influence upon the world. But no skill in poetic portraiture, no acuteness of observation, or power of human forecast, can enter into the details of family, birthplace, place of education, and all the unusual circumstances of a strange and violent death and burial, such as we see in the history of Jesus, nor even offer a conjecture concerning them.  But that many individuals, living at different periods of time, all professing to be prophets, should offer conjectures as to the life of one and the same individual who was to appear hundreds of years after their decease, and should succeed by a number of independent conjectures in forming a prophetic portrait of that individual’s history–each giving some circumstance that the other omits, is totally beyond the limits of possibility.

“The ordinary course of events might fulfill some of the conditions of the prophecy, but a complete agreement in so many and unlooked-for particulars proves design as certainly as a perfect similitude between a picture and a human being would prove that the one was the original of the other.  And here it is particularly to be remarked that the fulfillment is not mystical.  It is not by a doubtful interpretation of dark enigmas, or a skillful adaptation of symbolic imagery, that the likeness is obtained.  The coincidence between the prophecies of a Messiah and the history of Jesus of Nazareth is obvious to the view of the most careless, and rests altogether upon the plain grammatical sense of the prophecies, so that in some cases it can be evaded only by a departure from the simple meaning, and a mystification of the prophetic declarations.”


(Alexander McCaul, “The Messiahship of Jesus,” Lecture III, p6, 1852)


The Messiah’s Portrait in the Old Testament


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