What if Jesus intentionally acted out the OT “prophecies”?

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by Neil Godfrey

This question keeps popping up all over the place. I’d like to kill it.

People “act out scriptures” all the time. But I don’t think they intend their actions are meant to be seen as fulfilments of prophecies. People on street corners and in parks preach the word of god out loud to passersby, imitating the prophets and apostles shouting out to the people in the cities. Sects that have all things in common are acting out bible passages. I once belonged to a cult that “acted out” an exodus every year by leaving our homes and going to a festival.

The Children’s Crusade in the Middle Ages failed because their expectation that the Mediterranean would open for them to get to the Holy Land failed them. They saw themselves acting out the Exodus and Moses thing. And Jewish revolutionaries, we are told by Josephus, acted out a Moses or Joshua exploit hoping that God would act miraculously to deliver them from the Romans, only to get themselves massacred for their faith.

And there are the stigmata types who act out Christ’s wounds. Some act out Christ’s temple violence by sneaking into military bases and violently smashing military equipment.

Most acting out though is done theatrically. Pantomines and religious dramas.

Anyone can act out Zech 9.9 too by getting on a donkey and riding into Jerusalem I suppose. But it would be meaningless because “anyone” is not the “king of Jerusalem”. If you had a cult following who did think you were a king then that would be awesome, however.

It shouldn’t be too hard for at least someone to ‘act out’ Zech 9.6, either: “a bastard shall live in Ashdod”.

And millions of fundies think that world events right now are in the process of “acting out” biblical prophecies.

The point is, it’s not the acting out that carries any significance. It’s the narrative and meaning given to the acting out by certain storytellers or followers that is what it’s all about.

So even if a Jesus did act out things like donkey rides to Jerusalem and crying out a verse of the psalm from the cross it would have meant nothing to anyone who did not already — beforehand — believe he was fulfilling the true allegorical (‘spiritual’) meaning of the entire Jewish scriptures.

In other words, “acting out the scriptures” is in itself a meaningless act.

It is the storyteller who chooses what meaning, if any, to give it.

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Neil Godfrey

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