Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
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Basic Steps to Follow when Presented with a Proof-text

There are a few basic rules to follow when dealing with any verse that is supposed to be a support for a Rabbinic law or a contention that Jesus is the messiah:

1. Is the verse in context? Always check the context of the verse. Remember, the TaNaKh contains more than the one or two verses that are being shown to you. Read what comes before and after to see if the verse makes sense in the way they are using it.

2. If the verse is prophetic, then you must ask: Is the text a statement of fact? Has the action described already occurred or is it set to occur in a specific time period?

3. If the verse is messianic, you must ask: Does the verse actually have anything to do with a promised messiah, or is it relevant to another historical character?

4. Does the verse exist, and if so, has it been edited and translated correctly? Often times, Christian missionaries will quote verses from the TaNaKh that do not exist. If you find that the verse does indeed exist, you must then ask, "Has it been translated properly and kept in its original context?" (see 1)

5. Is there more than one legitimate interpretation of the verse being presented to you. In other words, is it ambiguous, or clear and easy to understand?