MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE

Part II

 

 March 12, 1999

 
The recent postings on the Hebrew Roots Movement have had both positive and negative effects. On the negative side, these reports have incurred the wrath of some HRM leaders which have been named and various of their adherents, whose responses have ranged from vitriolic epithets to calumny to threats of litigation against those who have challenged their teachings. A positive result has been to exorcise these false teachings from the place of refuge afforded them by certain discernment ministries into an open forum where examination and legitimate debate can occur. 
 
On February 2, we posted an article by Richard Engstom titled MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE, which was a refutation of AN EXPLANATION OF MIDASH by Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries.  On February 21, Mr. Prasch published his response, which we hesitated to post because the ad hominem attacks rather overpowered any rational discussion of the issues.  However, on March 9 we received the following response from Richard Engstrom, which also contains the full text of Mr. Prasch's letter of February 21. To publish this composite seemed an appropriate way to present some of the HRM issues under debate in a fair and balanced context.
 
For reference, the original articles are posted on the Internet:
 
EXPLANATION OF MIDASH by Jacob Prasch
http://www.cw.co.za/moriel/midrash.htm
 
MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE by Richard Engstrom
http://watch-unto-prayer.org/midrash.html 
 
Also relevant to the discussion of Midrash is Vicky Dillen's recent report. Part VIII explains how Midrash, which is based on the belief that the Torah holds interpretations that are accessible to and may be deciphered by the sages alone, led to Gematria or numerology. This system of interpreting the presumed numerical equivalence of letters of the Hebrew alphabet has been exported to Christianity as the popular Bible Codes.
 
HEBREW ROOTS: GEMATRIA & NUMEROLOGY
http://watch-unto-prayer.org/HRgematria.html
 

Below is my response to Jacob Prasch's rebuttal of MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE. His rebuttal as I received it is attached.
 
Richard Engstrom
 

ANSWER TO JACOB PRASCH'S REBUTTAL OF MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE

 
Jacob Prash has responded to the article I wrote entitled MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE.  As you will see, he doesn't actually answer to any of my objections to his presentation of MIDRASH.  His "rebuttal" therefore, does not actually answer to any of our concerns, nor does he seem to really care what we think, or what kind of agenda he represents.  It does seem to be his habit to treat contradiction with contempt, and to hold those who disagree with him in derision.
        
Prasch wrote:
            "I find it difficult to respond to the “Camel’s Nose” paper which
            Richard Engstrom has published against me for two reasons:
              i) He repeatedly attributes things to me I either never said or
            have myself warned against, and then attacks me for them.
            (His lack of integrity rivals his lack of logic.)"
 
My reply:
I quoted directly from Prasch's article, which I still have on file, and will gladly send it to anyone who wants to read it for themselves.  I did not attribute anything to Prasch but what he wrote.  Furthermore, I plainly declared that Mr. Prasch has declared himself to be an opponent of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Nonetheless, his tactic of demeaning the Protestant hermeneutic in order to promote MIDRASH, is what makes MIDRASH, the Camel's Nose of the Hebrew Roots Movement, despite his protest to the contrary.
 
Prasch wrote:
              "ii) It is a waste of time trying to constructively dialogue with
            people who have a cultic mentality on theological points. Be it
            with a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Moonie or, as in this
            case, an allegedly rehabilitated Branhamite, one must first deal
            with the unbiblical nature of their presuppositions before such
            dialogue is possible. Therefore, I only invest time in this
            rebuttal so as not to be falsely accused of ‘dodging the
            issues.’ In other words, what I write here is for Engstrom’s
            readers and not for Engstrom."
(underline, mine)
 
Reply:
Unable to actually consider the possibility that anyone who disagrees with him can be anything but stupid, Prasch resorts to the same kind of slander and innuendo that I objected to in his article.  A few weeks before he wrote this, he retracted his false accusation that we are or were Branhamites, but here he is again, pushing the same falsehood.  Resorting to name-calling is a typical tactic of those who know that they haven't got a leg to stand on.
 
As you will see from his "rebuttal", he can write quite a lot and STILL dodge the issues.
 
Prasch wrote:
             When Engstrom initially asked me if I thought his little cult
            group “living in isolation from the rest of the world,” could
            come to a complete understanding of all God's deeds through
            only the KJV, I replied, No, because the priority is on the
            original languages, not a sixteenth century English translation.
(underline, mine)
 
What I actually asked:
    "1. Can a group of sincere, literate, English speaking people in isolation from the rest of the world, come to a COMPLETE understanding of ALL that God deeds to us through the Bible, if all they have in their possession is a KJV without notes (without Midrash, without Eidersheim, without Josephus)?"     
 
Prasch complains:
              I merely argued for the need to give exegetical priority to the
            original text and context, a view which Engstrom does not
            share. The fact that in his “Camel’s Nose” paper Engstrom
            distorted my statement by reporting only that I had said “No,”
            without giving my reasons, shows that he believes it is
            acceptable to distort the facts in pursuit of the greater good.
 
Prasch's original full answer:
 1. The Word of God was given in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic - not Elizabethan English. I accept the infallibility of the original manuscripts in the original languages, and not the infallibility of any translation, be it KJV or otherwise. Literacy in English is not a major factor, scripture demonstrates the importance of bringing out the original meaning in the original languages (eg. Neh. 8:8 where after the captivity most people no longer knew Hebrew so the original Hebrew meaning had to be explained). Hence, because I believe in the priority of the original languages (I have more faith in the bible than I do in translations of it) my answer to your first question is no.
 
Reply:
No matter how you slice it, his answer was NO!  He denies that YOU, dear reader, can come to a COMPLETE understanding of ALL that God deeds to us through the Bible, if all you have in your possession is a KJV without notes (without Midrash, without Eidersheim, without Josephus).  You be the judge.  Did I misrepresent his answer or not?
 
Prasch wrote:
            1. Engstrom has misled his readers in the following areas:
 
            (a) In the first section of his paper Engstrom says that the
            Hebrew Roots Movement is the latest attempt to judaize the
            church.
            
            I have myself warned in print against this element within the
            Hebrew Roots Movement. It is dishonest of him to tar me with
            the same brush. Engstrom also fails to distinguish between the
            valid biblical teaching about the Hebrew Root (Greek: reza -
            singular) in Romans 11:18 and the unscriptural nonsense going
            on today that I and MORIEL have written against. In mixing
            the two, Engstrom appears to be bent on deception.
 
Jacob wrote in his article, MIDRASH:
"Something went wrong in the early Church; it got away from its Jewish roots. And as more Gentiles became Christians, something that Paul (in Romans 11) warned should not happen, happened. People lost sight of the root." [bold & underline, mine]
 
To which I replied in my article:
First of all, it is impossible for ANY student of the Bible to miss the significance of our "Jewish roots". This is absurd. The entire Old Testament constitutes Hebrew History, and I would be willing to bet that most Christians are more familiar with Jewish History than they are of the history of their own nation. and the New Testament has always said that we who are saved, now belong to the commonwealth of Israel.
 
You will notice that Prasch uses the plural: roots, in his article, and therefore it is utterly absurd to try and construct a case against me on these grounds.  Furthermore, if he wants to escape the caricature of someone who is working in harmony with the Hebrew Roots Movement, all he has to do is to drop this MIDRASH business.  The fact remains that MIDRASH, as a system of Biblical interpretation, can be traced to extra-biblical Judaism.  Apart from two incidental uses of this Hebrew word in the Old Testament and some treatment of the subject by Lightfoot and Bullinger, there is no tradition of MIDRASH established in historic Christian scholarship. 
 
Jacob wrote:
           (b) Engstrom mixes “The Law and Prophets” being preached
            until John with “Midrash.”
           
            This is a ridiculous mixture of two unrelated things. To dismiss
            a model of hermeneutic used by Paul after Jesus fulfilled the
            Law, because the Law is fulfilled, is simply stupid.
(underline, mine)
 
Reply:
I want you to NOTICE:
 
1. That Jacob Prasch clearly identifies MIDRASH in terms of being an HERMENEUTIC PRINCIPLE, which he also ascribes to Jesus and Paul.  None of these things is asserted in the Bible.  The law and the prophets were until John (Luke 16:16): MIDRASH was contrived by the Jews from the law and the prophets.  Did I miss something?
 
2. I will stipulate that MIDRASH is an hermeneutic principle used by the Rabbi's of Jesus' day, BUT it is also undistinguished from the other traditions of the Jews that Jesus condemned.  It was, in fact, an hermeneutic that was applied to the Law and the Prophets, and it was never mentioned in the Bible, either by way of definition or as something that ought to be retained as a part of the Gospel.  The entire supposed justification for the MIDRASH is taken from 2 occurrences of this word in the Old Testament.
 
3. Jacob Prasch presents MIDRASH to us as an essential but heretofore absent or suppressed element in Protestant hermeneutics, which is needed to correct our understanding of the Bible, which understanding Prasch implies has been flawed, almost from the beginning by an Hellenistic rather than an Hebraic world-view.
 
Hence my assertion in MIDRASH: THE CAMEL'S NOSE:
 
"First, we are just being asked to acknowledge the "possible" superiority of the Jewish system of interpretation (MIDRASH) in contrast to the so-called "obvious" flaws in the Protestant system of Biblical interpretation."
 
Prasch wrote:
            (c) Engstrom, making supposed reference to the Jerusalem
            School of Synoptic Research, says “They lied to you and didn't
            tell you the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew.”
            
            Engstrom is aware that I have challenged this position. His
            efforts to link me to something I have opposed is deceitful.
 
            (d) Engstrom then goes on with an attack on keeping Jewish
            holy days.
           
            I have warned on our tapes against any legislating of holy day
            observance, on the basis of Romans 14:4 and Colossians
            2:16-18 (hence, more deceit by Engstrom). However the New
            Testament does use the Hebrew holidays and their typology as
            teaching tools for the church (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Hebrews
            4:7-9). Is Engstrom’s problem with me, with Jews, or with the
            Word of God?
 
I wrote in my article:
"Although he claims to be an outspoken opponent of the Hebrew Roots Movement, per se, it is his stated agenda to reintroduce into Christendom the Midrashic system of Biblical interpretation. Why? Because he judges the Protestant system to be deficient and fundamentally flawed."
 
And:
"I have no evidence that Mr. Prasch is conspiratorially working with any segment of the Hebrew Roots movement, so it could be that he is just an unwitting tool of those Judaizers and they will not be content with Christ's "one new man" (Eph.2:15), unless that man is Jewish in culture, tradition and religion."
 
Further reply:
I still insist that MIDRASH is just the Camel's Nose of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and the more egregious errors of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research are only different in matter of degree.  I acknowledged Prasch's outspoken opposition to the more extreme elements of the Hebrew Roots Movement, but while he is speaking against them in our hearing, he is also helping to push their agenda by intimating that without his MIDRASH, we shall be deprived of a right understanding of Scripture. 
 
On Prasch's Moriel website is found the following endorsement:
http://users.sgi.net/~moriel/u-frends.html

"Moriel and Jacob Prasch are pleased to endorse the following ministries,
among others, as Christ-centered, doctrinally sound, and warmly deserving of
your prayers and support."


Directly linked is Messengers of Messiah, an aggressive Hebrew Roots Movement organization. Some questions must be answered.  Like how is it that one who claims to be so vehemently opposed to the HRM, has no problem with recommending outspoken proponents of the very thing he claims to oppose?
 Prasch wrote:
           2. Engstrom goes on about Midrash, both misunderstanding it
            and distorting things I have written by taking them out of
            context.
 
            (a) He seems to argue that Paul was not a rabbi because the
            title was not asigned him by the New Testament.
           
            To argue that a rabbinic disciple of Gamaliel was not a rabbi is
            silly. The New Testament plainly shows Paul to have been a
            rabbi, as was Jesus.
              The gospels, written in and for a Jewish culture, transliterate
            “rabbi” from Aramaic, directly calling Jesus “rabbi.” The
            Epistles, written in a Hellenistic setting, use the Greek
            equivalent “peadion.”
 
Reply:
The only reason why Prasch needs for us to recognize the appellation of Rabbi in connection to Jesus and Paul is that he needs this to add some legitimacy to his MIDRASH.  He cannot find the writers of the New Testament calling Jesus and Paul, Rabbi, so he surmises on the basis of Paul's education under Gamaliel, and the fact that some in Israel CALLED Jesus, Rabbi, that this title should be attributed to them, and by intimation, the Jewish traditions of midrashic interpretation as well. 
 
Prasch wrote:
            (b) Displaying gross ignorance of the matters he seeks to
            elaborate upon, for some undiscernable reason Engstrom
            introduces the subject of the Septuagint (a Pre-Christian
            Jewish text) in identification with the Alexandrian school of
            hermeneutics in the early church.
 
            Except that he is making a public fool of himself by confusing
            something Pre-Christian with a school of theology existing
            nearly four centuries later in the same location, I am unable to
            account for these ramblings.
              There were two primary schools of hermeneutics in the
            Patristic era - the Antiochan (identified with the Cappadocian
            Fathers) and the Alexandrian (associated with Clement,
            Origen, but with seminal influences in Philo, and later heavily
            gnosticized by Valentinus and Basilides).
              Since Engstrom plainly has no idea of what he is talking
            about, I cannot comment further on what he means. A paper
            containing such ignorance would be laughed out of any
            theological seminary.
 
Reply:
 
Quote from Prasch's article:
 
"Midrash makes heavy use of allegory and typology to illustrate and illuminate doctrine, but never as a basis for doctrine. It sees multiple meanings in Bible texts found in strata, but this is very different in certain fundamental respects from the gnostic and Alexandrian uses of figurative interpretation associated with Philo and Origen, reflecting more of Hebraic, rather than Helenistic philosophical world-view and view of theology."
 
Notice:
Prasch lumps together the Alexandrian and gnostic schools of thought, puts them into a bag called, "Hellenistic philosophical world-view," and contrasts these with the "more correct" Hebraic view of things.  In doing this, he underhandedly casts historic orthodoxy as fundamentally captive to the errors that have long since been denounced, while intimating that the only solution to the problem is a return to a pre-Christian hermeneutic, specifically, his MIDRASH.  I say, his MIDRASH, because he also distinguishes between something called bad and good MIDRASH, a distinction which, though it might be clear to him is certainly unclear to most everyone else.
 
Jacob wrote:
            (c) Engstrom asserts that rabbinic hermeneutics was
            repudiated by Jesus.
           
            Again, Engstrom exhibits gross ignorance. The Mishnah and
            Qumran texts demonstrate an identical hermeneutic structure
            between Jesus and the other rabbis of his day
            (see E.P. Sanders, “Christ and Palestinian Judaism”).
              It would be obvious to any seminary graduate that Engstrom
            is way out of his league in making such blatantly false
            assertions.
              There are two forms of Midrash in the classic Second Temple
            Period and early post-Second Temple Period expression -
            ‘Haggadic’ (interpretation of narrative, poetry, apocalyptic,
            etc.) and ‘Halachic’ (the legalistic material based on nomianism
            and law keeping). It was not the former Jesus castigated, but
            the latter.
              Unless someone were seminary trained they would not know
            this. I have no problem with the fact that Engstrom is not
            seminary trained, but I do have a problem with his pretence
            that he knows what he is talking about when he most certainly
            does not.
 
Reply:
I was recently scolded by one of Mr. Prasch's friends for accusing him of being an advocate of the same kind of priest-craft that we have rejected in the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.  But here, he gives himself away.  It is not enough that I have 25 years of serious Bible study behind me; it is not enough that I have also read thousands of pages of Church history and early Christian writings.  No, unless I have been initiated into Mr. Prasch's particular arcanities, he will not afford me the right to disagree with him.
 
And now he regards my education and knowledge of the Truth to be deficient because I haven't also studied the Mishnah and Qumran texts.  He calls me stupid because I didn't know that Jesus denounced "Halachic" Midrash and not his "Haggadic" Midrash.
 
No. this is all still about our first objection in which Mr. Prasch denies that a literate English-speaking person can ever adequately understand his Bible without a veritable mountain of extra-biblical knowledge, and even knowledge that has been, for 1900 years, outside of orthodox Christian scholarship.
 
Jacob wrote: 
           (d) Engstrom says he finds it astounding that I present
            “prophecy as pattern” as a new concept.
           
            His claim is ludicrous. I have never said such a thing; I cannot
            defend what I did not say. What I did say is that since
            Qumran we know that this is centrally how the Jewish mind of
            Jesus’ day understood prophecy, that the New Testament
            handling of prophecy fits this pattern, and that it supports
            those who for years (eg. Harry Ironside) argued prophecy
            could have multiple fulfillment.
              I also never used pattern to deny literal fulfillment as
            Engstrom falsely suggests. For those interested, I am not the
            only one presenting such views (see “Prophecy As Pattern In
            Luke” by Dr. Darryl Bock - Professor - Dallas Seminary, edited
            by I. Howard Marshall). There are mainstream evangelical
            theologians in agreement with my position. It is again a case
            of Engstrom babbling on about issues outside his knowledge.
 
Reply:
Quote from Prasch's article:
 
"Midrash interprets prophecy as a cyclical pattern of historical recapitulation (prophecies having multiple fulfillment), with an ultimate fulfillment associated with the eschaton, which is the final focal point of the redemptive process."
 
And:
"Not prediction, but pattern the Jewish idea of prophecy is not prediction, but pattern."
 
All you have to do is to read Prasch's article for yourself.  You will see that, over and over again, Prasch describes MIDRASH as superior to the hermeneutic of historic Protestant orthodoxy.  If he does not SAY that "prophecy as pattern" is a new concept, he does intimate that the view of prophecy according to his MIDRASH is inherently superior, and therefore NEW to US.  Does he outright deny the predictive nature of Prophecy?  No, and neither did I say that he did,  BUT, from the above quotes you can see that he clearly diminishes the predictive aspect of prophecy.  Did he mean to do this or was he just reckless in his expression?  He will have to answer for himself.
 
He accuses me of babbling on about issues outside my knowedge.  My scope of knowledge centers upon what the Bible says.  I find no recommendation of a Jewish MIDRASH in my Bible.  Do you?  Are you awed by his list of "experts"?  Are you now convinced that you need Prasch and his "experts" to tell you what the Bible says? 
 
Jacob wrote:
            3. Engstrom then assails my view of Protestant Exegesis on a
            few grounds:
 
            (a) He somehow substitutes grammatical-historical exegesis
            for literal grammatical exegesis.
            
            I do not comprehend his point. The humanist scholarship that
            gave rise to the Reformation’s hermeneutics studied the
            scriptures in a literal sense as both literature and history,
            hence “grammatical-historical” exegesis, with a stress on the
            literal meaning in both cases. If Engstrom has a point (which I
            doubt), he has not made it very well.
 
Reply:
From letters I have received, thanking me for writing on this subject, I conclude that I have made my point quite clearly.  If Jacob wants to pretend ignorance of the difference between Literal-grammatical and Historical-grammatical interpretation, it is only to suggest that if he doesn't know it, it is not worth knowing.  Nonetheless, I am quite certain that he does know the difference, but being caught for dishonesty, he now claims to misunderstand.
 
Jacob wrote:
            (b) Engstrom, in an outright lie, states that I argue Christians
            should resort to the traditions of the Pharisees.
            
            I cannot defend statements I have never made and have
            never believed. Engstrom’s statement is completely without
            basis
.
 
Reply:
 
Quote from Prasch's article:
"The clearest set of guidelines in Midrash are the Seven Midroth attributed to Rabbi Hillel, the founder of the Pharisaic School of Hillel, where Rabbi Shaul (St. Paul) was educated as a rabbi by Rabbi Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel." [underline, mine]
 
Prasch insists that Jesus and Paul were Rabbis in the tradition of the Pharisees, like Gamaliel, and insists that their interpretation of Scripture was based upon the MIDRASH, which he recommends as different and superior to what we have known and learned from the Bible itself. In other words, he IS recommending that we return to the traditions of the Pharisees.
 
Jacob wrote:
            (c) Engstrom goes on to defend Augustine of Hippo as a great
            and revered man and takes issue with my view of him.
            
            Engstrom first of all contradicts himself in that he affirms my
            criticism of Augustine’s Manicheanism to be correct.
              Augustine was the one who first preached that the church
            could use violence to convert people (making himself the
            forefather of the Inquisitions and countless episodes of
            violence and war carried out in the name of Christianity).
              Influenced by Ambrose and Cyprian, Augustine argued for
            sprinkling babies because the church was composed of the
            saved and unsaved, so we should pronounce everyone
            Christian as it was the religion of the Empire (making himself a
            forefather of nominalism, instead of biblical ecclesia).
              Augustine established the doctrine of Post Millenialism as
            Christendom became the religion of the state (making himself
            the forefather of ‘Kingdom Now’ Theology).
 
Reply:
There is no doubt that had I been a contemporary of Augustine that we would have been at war over some of his doctrines, which I definitely consider to be heretical.  Jacob Prasch however, would make it necessary to reject EVERYTHING that Augustine wrote, for his errors in some of the things he wrote.  Does this mean that I should reject everything that Jacob Prasch writes because he has errors of his own?  Here again is another example of the way Prasch tries to undermine historical Christian Scholarship in order to insert his MIDRASH: he intimates that by receiving anything they had to say that we are also buying in on their errors.
 
Prasch wrote:
             In addressing his specific question, Engstrom once more
            demonstrates his ignorance. In the Greek metaphysical world,
            theology and spirituality were dualistic. The Greeks for
            instance had the concept of the “Logos” (which the Jews
            called the “dvar” or “Mamre”), but because the Jews were not
            dualists they had an incarnational Christology — “The Word
            became flesh.”

 
Reply:
I guess our New Testament is seriously flawed after all?  The apostle John saw fit to use the word "Logos". Is Prasch now suggesting that the use of this word is based upon the false conception of Dualism?  Or is he suggesting that our New Testament which came to us written in Greek is a perversion of earlier "authentic" texts that were written in Hebrew or Aramaic, which is the same thing that is being asserted by the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, and other HRM proponents?
  
Prasch wrote:
            Greek dualism saw God as impassible, thus could not come to
            terms with a God becoming a man as the Jews could at that
            time accommodate, despite Pharisaic resistance to it (hear our
            tape on “The Metatron”).
              John 1 was, in part, a Judeo-Christian polemic against Greek
            dualism. This dualism evolved into gnosticism, of which
            Manicheanism was a form. In this dualistic thought, everything
            spiritual was good, but what was physical was the domain of a
            lesser God (a view which partially underlay Paul’s discourse in
            Athens with the Epicureans and Stoics — Acts 17).
              This Greek dualism gave rise to various heretical influences
            infiltrating the early church, including Docetism as well as
            Manicheanism.
              It was Augustine, influenced by the Alexandrian School and
            importing gnostic models into the Latin West from the Greek
            East, that gave a warped exegetical credence to his
            packaging of Manichianism as a Christian belief. He used a
            Hellenistic, as opposed to Judaic, hermeneutic model in his
            treatment of 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.
              A non-dualistic Judaic approach, as seen in John 1, would
            have prevented this “doctrine of demons,” as Paul called it (1
            Timothy 4:1-3).
              Engstrom does not understand the basic differences between
            the dualistic and non-dualistic approaches to hermeneutics
            that distinguished the Hellenistic and Hebraic models. And
            while he may choose to respect the progenitor of so much of
            what has been fundamentally unbiblical in the church up until
            this very day, others retain the right, on the basis of the
            irrefutable facts, to form a different opinion.
 
Reply:
Tactic:  When you cannot answer to the issues - change the subject, or try to bury your opponent in tons of irrelevant verbiage.
 
 
Prasch wrote:
            (d) Engstrom wishes to know why we need a ‘new’ system of
            biblical interpretation in order to be rescued from the ancient
            heresies of the Manicheans.
            
            Midrash predates western Protestant exegetical methods by
            two millenia and was used by the Lord and the Apostles.
              A better question would be, Why do we need the new
            system of biblical interpretation the Reformers copied from late
            Mediaeval humanists?
 
Reply:
Once again, Prasch suggests that Protestant orthodoxy is different and inferior to historical Judaic Scriptural interpretation.  He furthermore suggests that the Reformers copied their system of Biblical interpretation from the Medieval humanists - lackies, one and all, right?
 
Prasch's often repeated assertion that Jesus and His apostles used MIDRASH in their interpretation of Scripture he expects  you to be believe, just because he said  so.  I challenge him to prove it!  He cannot prove it any more than some of our so-called scientists can prove that they found a rock on earth that came from Mars.  He hopes to add legitimacy to his MIDRASH by asserting a connection to Jesus and the Apostles, which you can NOT FIND in your Bible - NO NOT ANYWHERE!
           
Prasch wrote:
(e) Engstrom argues for a radical dichotomy between Erasmus
            and Luther.
           
            Poor ignoramus! As Roland Bainton, the definitive academic
            historian on Luther and Erasmus said, “Erasmus layed the egg,
            Luther hatched it.” I am indeed familiar with Luther's “Bondage
            of The Human Will,” I studied it at Cambridge.
              What Engstrom does not seem to realize is that the schism
            developed progressively. Luther’s "Babylonian Captivity Of The
            Church" drew directly from the seminal influences of Erasmus’
            “Praise Of Folly” and “Julius Exclusis.”
              Luther’s bible was directly inspired by Erasmus’ New
            Testament (as the ‘KJV only’ crowd are always pointing out,
            both derived from the same composite of Byzantian source
            manuscripts later called “Textus Receptus”).
              In the Counter-Reformation, the papacy plainly saw a cause
            and effect relationship between Erasmus and the Reformers.
              No scholar has ever rejected the seminal influence of
            Erasmus on Luther and the Reformers. Again Engstrom is
            proclaiming only his ignorance.
 
Reply:
No one denies Erasmus's valuable contribution in his translation of the New Testament.  Just because Luther acknowledged Erasmus's expertise in his textual scholarship does not mean that they were in any agreement at all in their theology and doctrine, and they were not.  To characterize Luther as Erasmus's hand-puppet is absurd. If Erasmus had had his way, there would have been no Protestant reformation at all, but just a readjustment within Romanism that left everything more or less intact, including the doctrines which made it necessary to defect from the RCC in the first place.
 
Prasch wrote:
            (f) Engstrom wrongly claims that I said Midrash cannot be
            explained.
           
            Lost for argument, Engstrom simply reverts to out and out
            lying. I have never said that Midrash cannot be explained. Get
            a copy of R.N. Longenecker's “Jewish Exegesis In The
            Apostolic Church” or the works of Jacob Nuesner. What I did
            say however, is that if one has no background in Hebrew and
            rabbinics, it is easier to demonstrate Midrash than explain it.
            Engstrom is a liar.
 
Reply:
 
What I actually wrote:
"Can't explain it? Neither can anyone else, apparently. After doing a brief survey on the subject, I found that some call it just a collection of homiletics. Jacob Prasch calls it an hermeneutic principle, which is the "scholars'" term for, "principles of interpretation". So let's get down to the nub on this matter: Mr. Prasch asserts that historical Christian Biblical interpretation has been flawed, almost from the beginning, because we didn't stick with the Jewish methods of interpretation that Jesus denounced. He says that Jesus Christ, Himself, and Paul, used the midrashic system of biblical interpretation, which he asserts to be superior to the grammatical-historical system, while ignoring the fact that it is the literal-grammatical system of interpretation that defines historic Protestant orthodoxy."
 
Further reply:
Here and again, Prasch implies that before you can really learn MIDRASH, you must first learn Hebrew and rabbinics.  All of this is evasive, and it is PRIEST-CRAFT in the classic sense.  Prasch is proposing that we NEED some knowledge that we can only learn from PEOPLE LIKE HIM, or else our ability to rightly  understand the Bible is distinctly crippled. I vehemently reject the notion that a comprehensive understanding of the Bible is in any way out of reach for anyone who has a Bible and perhaps, a common ordinary dictionary. Spiritual blindness is a moral problem, not an intellectual problem.
 
Prasch wrote: 
           (g) Engstrom states that those looking for multiple meanings in
            Scripture are in all probability trying to avoid the obvious. He
            also asserts that the Reformational assertion of there being
            only one application of a Scripture is reactive against both
            Roman Catholicism and Midrash.
           
            In Midrash the simple or “peshet” interpretation must be
            established before the “pesher” or deeper level can be
            addressed. Engstrom clearly knows nothing of the Midrash he
            criticizes.
              Moreover, in none of the Reformation writings was there ever
            even a mention of Midrash. He again does not have a clue of
            what he is talking about.
 
Reply;
 
What I actually wrote:
"The Reformation assertion that "there are many applications of a Scripture but only one interpretation," is indeed reactive against the errors of Romanism, but is also just as reactive against the Midrashic hermeneutic. I have read with my own eyes the proposition by rabbis that there are at least 40 interpretations of every Scripture and as many as 75 different interpretations. Anyone who spends their time looking for 40 interpretations of a verse of Scripture, is, in all probability, only trying to avoid the obvious."

Prasch wrote:
             The first significant Christian figure to address Midrash was
            the Puritan scholar John Lightfoot at a much later point. He
            approved of Midrash (as did the Puritan fathers generally) and
            wrote a three part Midrashic Commentary on the New
            Testament as a Christian Exposition. (I am not the first
            believer to urge the church ro revert to its Hebraic root in
            terms of hermeneutic - the Puritans were, but Engstrom does
            not know that either).
              In absurdity of absurdities Engstrom contradicts himself .
            First he states: “Anyone who spends their time looking for 40
            interpretations of a verse of scripture is in all probability only
            trying to avoid the obvious.” Then he affirms my example of
            Jonah, and admits, “I never read or heard anyone propose that
            the riches of scripture are confined to a single sense” (which
            contradicts both his previous statement and his earlier defense
            of a single meaning).
              We do not simply have a case of Engstrom not agreeing with
            me, we have Engstrom disagreeing with Engstrom. If he did
            not seem to lie so compulsively, I could write him off with
            some compassion as a confused man.
              Engstrom then immediately proceeds to sanction my
            midrashic exposition of John 1 - 3! Any intellegent reader will
            see that, in setting out to disagree with me, Engstrom winds
            up endorsing my use of Midrash.
 
Reply:
I have NO OBJECTION to Prasch, or anyone using MIDRASH to explore the depths of Scripture.  WHAT I OBJECT TO is the unrelenting suggestions and innuendoes of Jacob Prasch that the fundamentals of literal-grammatical interpretation, which are the foundations of Protestant orthodoxy, ought to be discounted and replaced by the historical traditions of Judaic MIDRASH.  How he can deny that his presentation of this matter is NOT in substantial harmony with the agenda of the HRM people is beyond my comprehension.
 
PLEASE NOTICE Prasch's admission that MIDRASH was not even a subject of consideration until just a couple hundred years ago.  For 1600 years, MIDRASH was completely absent from Christian Scholarship; the Holy Spirit, sent by God to lead us into all Truth, did not see fit to make the MIDRASH a part of our Christian heritage.  Even Lightfoot's Midrashic Commentary on the New Testament was left to gather dust as little more than a curiosity, until the Hebrew Roots people found a way to use it as a "foot in the door."
 
Prasch wrote:
            (h) Engstrom concludes this section by falsely stating that I
            equated the Reformers with the secular humanists of today.
           
            Here again, Engstrom is nothing more than an unmitigated liar.
            I clarified the differences between the Christian humanists of
            the 16th century and the later secular humanists of today. It
            is obvious that Engstrom has a simple philosophy: “If you
            cannot argue - lie.”
 
Reply:
 
What I actually wrote:"
"The "Humanists" were certainly guilty of Mr. Prasch's charge, but by inferring that the Reformers were no different than the secular Humanists, this well informed and usually astute scholar is bearing false witness. He knows that the common conception of what a Humanist is today, has little in common with what it meant to be a Humanist in the sixteenth century. By failing to make the distinction between social-political Humanism and contemporary Religious Humanism, Mr. Prasch appears to being playing to the prejudice of his audience in order to make the Reformers appear all the more unreliable and trivial."
 
Prasch's "clarification"
"The Reformation was born out of something called Humanism. (Note: the first Humanists were not secular, they were Christians.) The best of the Humanists were men like Thomas A Kempis, John Colet, and Jacques Lefèvre. But the greatest of them all was Erasmus of Rotterdam. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and most of the other Reformers got their ideas from Erasmus." (underline, mine)
 
Yes, technically, Prasch did make a faint distinction between secular and Christian humanists, but even as I have painted the Camel's Nose on top of the word MIDRASH so that it will stick, Prasch by his use of the term hopes to paint the Reformers with the label of humanist, which today has clear and derogatory implications.  He will probably deny it but having had correspondence with this fox in the past, I am becoming familiar with his tactics.
 
Prasch wrote:
           4. Richard Engstrom states that Midrash is not important to
            prophecy.
 
            (a) He states that it does not matter what Hosea (or, I
            assume, the other divinely inspired authors of the bible)
            thought.
           
            This is the nonsense thinking that the liberal higher critical
            theologians use to discredit orthodoxy. The bible is fully the
            Word of God and fully the Word of Man. It is an incarnational
            logos in itself (The WORD). Like Christ Himself, Scripture is
            both fully human and fully divine.
              The authors the Holy Spirit inspired were intelligent men who
            placed the imprint of their character, emphasis, and
            understanding on what they wrote under direct divine
            inspiration. They did not write blindly like a mystic.
 
Reply:
John wrote that we are in the last hour - but we weren't in the last hour, 1900 years ago, were we?  Isaiah thought that he was prophesying about the birth of his own son when he prophesied: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," but he wasn't prophesying about his own son, was he?

It is clear that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of the writers of the Scriptures was overriding their present considerations: the gift is greater than the man.  As it is written:

(2 Pet 1:21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Prasch wrote:
              So too, the interpreters of the Bible (such as Matthew, who
            interpreted Hosea 11:2) used a method of exegesis found in
            the Dead Sea scrolls and early Midrashim, which was fully in
            character with the culture in which God inspired Matthew to
            write. The case for Matthew using a Midrashic pesher (as
            many conservative scholars have argued for) is a firm counter
            apologetic to liberal attacks (such as James Barr of Oxford) on
            the uses of the Old Testament in the New.
 
Reply:
And now, Matthew is just an interpreter of the Bible?  I guess SO! Who can ever argue with Mr. Prasch's experts, and especially someone from Oxford?
 
Prasch wrote:
              Even W. Kaiser and those scholars not leaning towards a
            midrashic view of apostolic exegesis (although he is begining
            to come around a bit) would not agree with such an
            irresponsible statement as that made by Engstrom.
 
Reply;
Ooooooooooo!  More experts! 
 
CONCLUSION
 
MIDRASH, connected as it is to the other Pre and Post-Christian writings of the Jews, such as the Talmud, Mishnah,  Kabbalah, etc., is being foisted upon us as JUST THAT PART of dead and apostate Judaism, which ought to be received as a remedial solution to our "flawed" system of biblical interpretation. 
 
Jacob Prasch, who claims to be specifically against the more egregious errors of the Hebrew Roots Movement, nonetheless has become one of the foremost proponents of the MIDRASH. 
 
His presentation of MIDRASH is saturated with denigrations of our historic Christian Scholars, many of whom are responsible for the establishment of Christian orthodoxy.  He suggests that their (and our) literal-grammatical system of biblical interpretation is, and has been, fundamentally flawed.  He does this by attempting to tar them all with the same brush, making people like Luther, part and parcel with men like Origen, whose errors in biblical interpretation have long since been repudiated.
 
He tries to get rid of people like me, by calling us names, or denying us the right to contradict him because we do not have "the credentials".
 
MIDRASH is just the Camel's Nose of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and if Mr. Prasch does not relent from his campaign to displace historic Christian Scholarship with his MIDRASH, he shall not be able to escape being identified as just another JUDAIZER, just like those in the Hebrew Roots Movement.
 


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