I’ve been hesitant to ask this question because I suspect this would be slightly annoying to do on your part, but here it goes…    I read one of your past Q & As addressing unfulfilled prophecies on rationalWiki:

You may or may not know this, but some authors on rationalwiki have actually posted your responses on the “unfulfilled prophecies” page and have given their responses to your objections. I was wondering if you might have any response to their rebuttals. I think the main grievance was that you didn’t post any sources to back up your claims, but they also give what appears to be some relatively legitimate feedback.  I understand if you might not want to answer this, after all, the back and forth could go on forever. If nothing else, I would be interested in any resources that you could point me to to help me confirm historical accuracy of what is written in the prophets.

Just a side note, I am not too advanced in my Old Testament knowledge, but my intuition would tell me that in prophetic language, God is probably not saying everything literally. For example, when it is said that Egypt will be uninhabited for 40 years, I feel like there is probably some significance in the number 40 (Israelites roaming 40 years in the desert and now the tables are turned on the Egyptians in a way). Or as another example, saying that the Nile will be completely dried up (see rationalWiki’s rebuttal of Isaiah 19:1-8), this is a hyperbole of some sort. But in truth, I am not certain, which is why I am asking. This has at least given me some extra motivation to grow in my knowledge of Old Testament historical context. I look forward to your reply.


I appreciate this rationalWiki author’s willingness to at least include comments from someone who disagrees with them.  This is a good sign that the author is at least willing to engage in a reasoned discussion, which many unbelievers are not willing to do.  Of course, this particular article is not a discussion, as he takes my comments, sometimes out of context, and then makes a point to refute what I said, and let the discussion end there.
Again, of course, this is his right, but it is not the end of the story.  For example, with the Cyrus quote, he assumes that it is a fact that Isaiah 40-66 was written after the events.  This is not a fact,  In fact, there is no physical evidence to support his claim.  I am well aware of the debate on Isaiah, and I am not ignoring this debate (though I did not mention this debate in the response, which is a legitimate criticism, I suppose).  It is true that some have argued for two and up to three authors of Isaiah, and it is also true that some conservative Christians accept this premise.  What the author does not mention is that those who believe that supposed “DeuteroIsaiah” was written after the events do so almost entirely out of circular reasoning, which is exactly what this author does.
In other words, the reasoning of the critics is this.  Obviously, Isaiah (or the second author of the book we call Isaiah) could not have prophesied something so specific as the name of the conqueror of Babylon.  Therefore, Isaiah 44-66 was written after the events.  This is the “proof” that it was written after the events.  This is a classic case of circular reasoning—plain and simple.  If we presuppose that the Bible is not inspired by God, then, naturally, we conclude that it was not inspired by God.  Besides, there are MANY clear and obvious other prophecies in these chapters (Isaiah 40-46), such as Isaiah 53.  If we can show, even using the author’s standard for what is a legitimate prophecy (see his article), that Isaiah 53 is indeed an historical prophecy, fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, then the shoe, as they say, should be on the other foot.
So, what is the actual evidence that Isaiah 40-66 was written after the events of the early sixth century?  The answer is that there is no such evidence.  Authors such as at rationalwiki resort to reasoning, independent of evidence.  The Jews accepted the entire book as being by the biblical author we know of as Isaiah, and they were far more likely to know that we are.  Is it possible that there is more than one author of the book?  Yes.  This is not an unreasonable proposal, as there are some stylistic differences, beginning with Ch. 40.    Is it possible that it was written after the events?  I cannot absolutely rule it out, but given the “fact” that there are many dozens of absolutely remarkable and extremely specific prophecies on the Old Testament, including in Isaiah 40-66, the onus should be on the critics to prove or to demonstrate that it was written afterward.  The current author in rationalwiki presents no such evidence, but only presents his circular argument, which is not convincing to me.
On the Isaiah 19 prophecy (see the rationalwiki article), what can I say.  I am sticking with what I said, and he presents no reason to refute what I said, except, I suppose, to say he disagrees.
On Micah 5, the author does have a legitimate point.  In the passage, Micah goes from a clear messianic prophecy (as the Jews before Jesus agreed, telling us that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem).  Then for whatever reason he chose, Micah moved on to a different topic beginning in Micah 5:5.  The author is correct, and even has every right to ask why Micah changed the subject.  I do not have an answer except this.  The author of Micah has a right to do whatever he chooses to do.  But what I do know is that Micah 5:2-4 is a clear messianic prophecy, as known to the Jews, even before Jesus was born.  Also, Jesus clearly fulfills Micah 5:2-4.  That is what I have to say about this passage.
As for the other criticisms, there are way too many there for me to respond to all of them.  Please choose one or at most two of the long list of prophecy criticisms at rationalwiki that you would like me to respond to.  Please understand that I am a busy person and do not have eight hours to respond to all of these criticisms!
Is there hyperbole in some of the prophecies?  Yes, most likely.  But, like I asked, please choose one or at most two examples for me to respond to.
On double prophecy, let us allow God to decide what he wants to do with his own Scripture.  We can decide a-priori that God would never do such a thing, but that is obviously presumptuous, and it can possibly make for circular reasonong.  It can go something like this.  It would be confusing for God to allow a prophet to speak a prophecy which interweaves predictions about two or more future events.  Obviously, God would not do this.  Therefore he did not.  Therefore, anyone who proposes that a particular prephecy has a double or even a triple fulfillment is wrong.  End of story.
Well, if it were true that God would not do this, then the result would be correct, but the argument would still be circular reasoning and invalid!!!
Here is the bottom line.  There are multiple clear and (in my humble opinion) obvious examples of what some call double prophecy in the Scripture.  If this is the case, then the question is settled, not because of circular reasoning, but because of the evidence.  Clear and obvious examples include Matthew 24 (about the destruction of Jerusalem is a slam dunk, and about the second coming is also a slam dunk), as well as Ezekiel 36 and Ezekiel 37 (and several other examples in Ezekiel), which are unmistakable and obviously about both the return of Judah to Palestine and about the establishment of the church.  I could cite literally dozens of examples.
Are there prophecies about which it is debatable whether they are double prophecies?  Yes, of course, but that they exist is established, not by appeals to reason, but by the evidence.
John Oakes

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