Our Lesson Study Guide for this week begins with something very similar to that immortal line from Blazing Saddles: We don’t need not stinking Higher Criticism. You don’t believe…well ok here is what they said:
As Adventists, we work from the starting point that the Bible is the Word of God and that what it says about Jesus is the truth, period. We do not have the time to waste on all the nonsensical high-critical speculations about whether Jesus really said and did the things the Bible says that He said and did. As Adventists we believe those things because they are written in God's Word.
After all, if we cannot believe the Bible, what can we believe?
I sincerely hope that quote raises the hackles of most educated and most educators in the SDA church. Such circular reasoning is poor logic, The Bible does not claim to be the Word of God, it could not it was put together from various books written and various times compiled by human beings. Even if it did, say Hosea said somewhere in the book that it was the word of God that would not make the second half of Isaiah the word of God, or any other book. In fact the second half of Isaiah towards the end says we will go out from Sabbath To Sabbath, new Moon to new Moon and look at the corpses.
"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isa 66:24 NIV)
Maybe the lesson only means it is the Word of God where it records things about Jesus? In which case the book of Matthew gives an account that is contrary to the account of the book of Luke. Luke says Jesus’ family left for
“where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." …"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Matt ,18 NIV)
Here is where higher criticism comes in, what is the author trying to say and what are the techniques he uses to get his message across. We see that in the book of Matthew, at least in the first several chapters, an intentional literary device employed. The book tries to recapitulate the events of ancient
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah NIV)
The book of Matthew’s use of this verse is often only considered to be a prophecy of Christ. Even though there is no place other then Matthew that calls Jesus Immanuel. However it is not to the name Immanuel that Matthew wants to draw attention, it is to the idea of what the name means, “God with us”. In fact it was the idea of “God with us” that Isaiah had presented to the Israelites hundreds of years before. In our ardor to insist upon Immanuel as a Messianic Prophecy we often ignore the repetition Isaiah uses of the terms with the meaning of “God with us”. Besides the reference in Isaiah he precedes to use it two more times:
And sweep on into
Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (Isaiah NIV)