1. Regarding foreshadows, how much historical evidence is there for existence of many of the early prefigures and foreshadows; and for the accuracy of the biblical accounts? For example, are there any other known accounts regarding Moses and the Exodus, the existence of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Melchizedek? Obviously I realise these are very early examples and so it is very difficult to amount much, if any, evidence apart from a valuable text passed down through generations and inspired by God like the Bible. I would ask the same for Adam and Eve, and Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, but I do recall reading your ideas about the Noachian flood in ‘Is there a God?’ (the Cambrian explosion right?) and I imagine it is hard to amount much more knowledge for things so far back in history.
2. Do you think it could be contentious to change the symbolism of Canaan as a foreshadow between the death of Moses and he rise of Joshua as a leader? – it seems strange that God would make such a strong and clear foreshadow with Moses and then change it then, and make new symbolisms for when the crossed into the promised land under Joshua…
3. Has it been argued that many of the foreshadows are not falsifiable?; perhaps because there is enough material in the OT to adapt something to many situations, especially when employing different interpretations and readings of scriptures when looking back from a NT context.
4. I suppose this relates to (1) in that it depends on the fact that the OT events definitely happened, but what would you say to an argument that says that the OT types and prefigures were conceived at times later than they are supposed to (although I understand they could not be conceived post-Jesus or at that time… and this view would probably end up leading to some crazy ‘conspiracy theory’ kind of view where Jesus is a man acting on behalf of some group (sounds like a Dan Brown novel!) since Jesus would have to live his life in a manner which fulfilled these stories – which is obviously ridiculous when we consider those things that Jesus did when he lived and was resurrected.)
I guess I kind of answered my own question there, sorry!
5. Regarding the Isaiah 7:14-16, in the context of the time, is there also a virgin to have child during Isaiah’s time? (or would that have been understood as ‘maiden’ in that context?) The reason I ask this is because it says later in v16 that before this boy knows enough to reject wrong and choose right the two kings (presumably those kings against Ahaz?) will be laid waste… also I thought that v16 was interesting because surely there is no time when Jesus has not known right and wrong (or is this referring to Jesus as a man on Earth only?), so can this verse still be seen as about Jesus?
6. I was just curious why Matthew only attributes the prophecy in Matt 27:9 to Jeremiah (is it 32:9?) when a lot of its relevance lies in Zechariah, as you mentioned?
7. In Matt 24:34 and Mark 13:32, is Jesus referring to perhaps a spiritual generation, or the physical generation at the time?
8. Regarding the question you asked about the criticism in Matt 12:18-21, it relates also to the criticism he made of Matt 8:16-17. I think the atheist misunderstanding arises from saying that the relevant passages in Isaiah refer to Israel as God’s servant, not Jesus. Is this just a misunderstanding of Israel as a foreshadow? Also, they argue that the quoted scripture in Isaiah says ‘he will not quarrel or cry out, no one will hear his voice in the streets’ and this can’t refer to Jesus as people did hear Him, and He did cry out on the cross. I am assuming here they are misinterpreting ‘cry out’? They also say that the relevant passage in Isaiah declares that Jesus would "proclaim justice to the Gentiles", whereas Jesus said he was "only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Again, I think they are not seeing that without Jesus, there would have been no gospel or justice preached to the Gentiles – although his ministry was with the Jews, am I correct in saying so?
9. One last question: How would you argue against the view that the teaching of Jesus is original and hasn’t been adapted by the authors for their own theological purposes?
Good questions. I have not had a lot of questions in this area (question 1-4) so your questions are helping me to think clearly on the "evidences" about the evidence in prefigures and foreshadows. Enjoy.
1. As a rule, the historical support for the actual people, places and events in the Old Testament can be divided into two periods. For Genesis through Judges, Israel was an insignificant player on the world stage and, not at all surprisingly, we have no archaeological evidence for individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses or Gideon. All this changed, quite naturally, when David took the throne and Israel became a significant world player. From this time forward, we have physical, archaeological evidence, with names, cities and dates. For example, we have the Tel Dan Inscription, which mentions David and his dynasty, as well as Omri and his dynast. Pre-David, the Biblical story is consistent with the time, place and culture from what we know of Mesopotamia (Genesis), Egypt (Exodus-Deuteronomy) and Canaan (Joshua-Judges). If you want more information on this, there is a lesson at the EFC "store" on History, Archeology and the Bible, as well as some material in my book "Reasons for Belief."
So the answer to your question is that we can provide some direct archaeolgical support to David, who was the king of Salem (the king of Shalom, the king of peace). The prefigures and foreshadows we have with David, Solomon, Elijah and Cyrus are confirmed by archaeology to some extent. The historical foreshadows before this are not so strongly supported by physical evidence, although ther is some sugestive evidence for the Exodus having happened, as well as the conquest, and even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorah (see the references above). It is useful that the historical prefigures and foreshadows are of more or less the same character both in the period before the Old Testament is confirmed by direct archaeology and after. There is no change in the kind of details and the types of symbols. All this tells me that the historical accuracy of the stories is equal both before and after, even if we have less direct proof.
Let me add to this. These stories are wonderful and amazing foreshadows independent of the historical accuracy. In other words, they tell the story of Jesus in absolutely remarkable ways which would make them obviously inspired (in my opinion) even if they were just stories (which they are not). In other words, the story of the snake on the pole is such a spectacular picture of Jesus, that it would be evidence of inspiration even if it were just a made up story. I am not saying it is a made up story, but remember that this is a clear prophecy of Jesus which also just so happens at the same time to be actual history. It is miraculous on both counts. Does that make sense?
2. It seems strange to me also, but the fact that this is what God did is abundantly clear and speaks for itself. I would not have made this up. Crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan are rather in-your-face foreshadows of baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1 for example), yet the circumcision which happened after crossing the Jordan is also a prefigure of baptism (see Colossians 2). Who could ever have thought of this rather complicated set of prefigures and foreshadows? Abraham is a prefigure of those who are saved by faith. The Old Testament testifies to this, as does the New Testament. At the same time, Abraham is a prefigure of God the Father and Isaac is a prefigure of Jesus the Son. God is able to make very complicated relationships amongst the prefigures and foreshadows. All this is strong evidence that these are not an accident or just conveniently abused stories out of their context. NO WAY this is all coincidence. It speaks or itself to anyone willing to look at the hundreds of examples. That is my opinion. Others will reach their own conclusions.
3. I have not heard this argument. One reason is that this apologetic is primarily useful for those who are already quite familiar with both the Old and the New Testament. I believe this is fantastically strong evidence for the inspiration of the Bible, but it is not terrifically useful as an apologetic for the non-believer because it requires some familiarity with the Old Testament. For this reason, atheists and other kinds of skeptics have not felt the need to "disprove" this evidence. Having said that, you raise a legitimate question. My response is that the seemingly innumerable examples are of such varied, complicated nature, spread over such a wide stretch of time from so many authors that anyone who takes this position can feel free to do so, but I think it borders on irrational. This is not cherry picking. The prefigures and foreshadows are on every page of the Bible (virtually). If someone can convince themselves that this is just a manufactured manipulated set of evidence, they can feel free to go that way, but personally I find this to be unimpeachable evidence.
4. I already said in #1 that these stories are striking evidence for inspiration even if they did not happen. The stories themselves serve as prophecy independent of the historicity of the events (even though I would defend the historicity). The messianic prophecies create a great case for inspiration and they are not historical events. The predictions themselves speak for themselves. I would say the same for the types, prefigures and foreshadows. If someone wants to say the lack of broken bones in Psalms 22 and in the Passover is just a coincidence, given the details of Jesus’ crucifixion, they are free to do so, but the number of examples seems to me to make this conclusion untenable. There is no doubt whatsoever that the entire Old Testament was completed at least two hundred years before the events. It could not be made up after the events. The Old Testament events are either a wonderful prophecy or not, but no matter what, they could not have been manipulated after the fact because they preceed the events of Jesus. The Jews certainly would have allowed their scripture to be manipulated to create a case for Jesus!
5. I believe that Isaiah 7:14-16 is a classic example of an Old Testament prophecy which has a double fulfillment. It is fulfilled in the events of Jesus’ birth, but it was also fulfilled in the immediate events surrounding the time of Isaiah. There are many examples of this in the Old and the New Testament. The prophecies in Matthew 24 are both of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and of the return of Jesus. Isaiah 7. I do not believe the birth which occurred during the time of Isaiah was a virgin one, yet there are some details in this prophecy which point toward what happened at that time. To be specific, the 7th chapter of Isaiah describes the military crisis that confronted King Ahaz of Judah in about 732 BC. The house of David was in danger of destruction under pressure from a coalition of the Northern Kingdom (Samaria) under King Pekah and ARam, led by King Retsin. The two armies beseiged Jerusalem and Isaiah 7:14-16 is an assurance that these enemies would not prevail. The armies would fail in their attempt to destroy the Davidic line (and the lineage of the Messiah). By the time the child born, as mentioned by Isaiah reached maturity (knows to reject bad and choose good) the kings of the two nations would be killed.
So, Isaiah 7:14-16 is both a near-term and a long-term prophecy. Some say the fact that it prophesied the events of the time proves that it is not a prophecy of the Messiah. That is their opinion, I suppose, but according to what rule does this fall? Who is to say that God cannot create a double prophecy? It happens all the time in the Old and the New Testament. As a Bible believer, we have seen this so many times that it is almost what we expect to happen.
6. I do not know why Matthew did this. To answer requires such speculation that I will leave it alone. It is not all that often, but sometimes I just have to say "I don’t know."
7. In Matthew 24:34 Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. That this is part of the prophecy is made clear by Matthew 24:15-25 (and the parallel in Luke 20-24 which speaks of armies surrounding Jerusalem). It was literally true that "this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
8. In my opinion, that Jesus fulfilled Matthew 12:18-21 is quite obvious for anyone well acquainted with Jesus. That Jesus would cry out "Why have you forsaken me" was also prophesied (Psalms 22). If someone wants to find an excuse to not see that Jesus fulfilled Matthew 12:18-21, that is up to them, but I believe Isaiah 42:1-4 is a beautiful picture of Jesus.
9. This question is a huge one, requiring a twenty page response at minimum. I would refer you to the Jacoby/Price debate and to the class on Jesus which we at ARS are putting together. If you want something immediate, I just uploaded a class taught on this exact question to the "store" at my web site. It is titled APLA 2 Who is Jesus of Nazareth. My general response is that the evidence supports that the Gospels are an accurate reflection of what Jesus taught. Those who argue that the Jesus of the New Testament is a "myth" present a very weak case, in my opinion. The best way to explain the willingness of the apostles and the early disciples to face death and the loss of all their possessions, and the best way to explain the fantastic growth of belief in the risen Jesus is that these people really believed in Jesus, and specifically in the Jesus of the New Testament. Recently, even some of the most hardened skeptics have begun to concede that the early church clearly did believe in the resurrection of Jesus. This being true, it seems to me to answer a lot of questions of this sort.