Saturday, July 05, 2008

New Inscription Found: "Messiah to be Raised After 3 Days"?!

From tomorrow's New York Times:
JERUSALEM — A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.
Read the rest.
I've known about this for sometime, but it looks like it now is finally hitting the mainstream media.
For the record, it should be pointed out that the idea of a resurrection on the third day flows from Hosea 6:2: "After two days he will revive us;on the third day he will raise us up,that we may live before him."
Indeed, Jesus explains to the disciples that his resurrection on the third day would take place in order to fulfill Scripture.
"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead" (Luke 24:46).
In fact, the New Testament is clear that Jesus came to fulfill the hopes of ancient Israel.
Yet, the New York Times story seems to suggest that this tablet will somehow raise questions about the truth of Christianity. Somehow, for them, the discovery that some ancient Jews expected the messiah to suffer and rise on the third day is problematic for Christianity.
I really don't see why. Indeed, scholars generally agree that finding parallels in Judaism to Jesus' teachings tends to strengthen the probability of historicity. If this inscription says what the article claims this would seem to strengthen--not weaken--the historicity of the Gospels' story about Jesus.
In fact, I actually find this hugely ironic. For some have made the opposite claim--namely, that the lack of evidence that Jews expected the messiah to suffer and rise from the dead calls into question the historical authenticity of Jesus' prediction of his passion and resurrection.
I guess this just goes to show that no matter what the evidence is some scholars will find a way to conclude that Christianity isn't true.
Photo: Dominic Buettner, New York Times


DimBulb said...

I guess the "discoveries" and "revelations" that Jesus was buried in the Talpiot Tomb, married to Mary Magdalene, and best buds with Judas who tried to save him weren't enough of an embarrassment to the media which so gleefully pimped them.

It seems to me that the scholar Kohl is letting his imagination run wild in order to save a thesis he advanced in 2000, and which received no consideration.

Finally, given the fact that a bodily resurrection is not specifically mentioned, by what right does Kohl conclude that this is what is being talked about? Given the muddled views concerning the afterlife found in Judaism at the time, isn't this absence problematic?

Anonymous said...

Surely this would strengthen the historicity not weaken it?

Jeff (From the Abbey) said...

I have heard similar arguments from college professors. Their point is that anything found in literature before Christ can't be the subject of an authentic prophecy by Christ. Christ just read and repeated it, or (worse) the Gospel writers read it and used it as literary fodder to make up the story of Christ. The same arguments are used to "debunk" the virgin birth of Christ. The motif of the virgin birth is used in many ancient religions (the story goes) and so Christianity just borrowed the motif.

These people have no understanding of Old Testament prophecy and no concept of the partial truths that are present in world religions.

DimBulb said...

I found Knohl's speculation about the tablet referring to a certain Simon whom Josephus says was killed by a commander in Herod's Army to be enlightening. Given the absence of any reference to the messianic figure dying, it seems he needs a dead Jewish rebel to flesh out his speculations.

The militaristic/political, warfare/bloodshed content of the tablet, coupled with the absence of any reference to the figures death, when seen against the resurrection imagery of Hosea 6:2 and Ezek 37:1-24, and understood in their historical and literal context, suggests that the "rising" refers to the figures victory over his enemies.

Does this sound plausible?

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Three posts in one someone procrastinating from their dissertation?

Moonshadow said...

Help me out with the Hosea passage:

After two days he will revive us;on the third day he will raise us up

Isn't the numerical sequence a stylistic device, similar to the prophecies in Amos: For three transgressions of fill-in-the-blank, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because ...

To take the numbers literally is akin to our Lord riding astride both a donkey and a colt, as described in Matthew's Palm Sunday (21:7). Literal numbers cause problems, no?

Jeremy Priest said...

I liked Brant's proposal at the WCBSC in January, regarding the Feast of First Fruits (Reishit Katzir) and the resurreciton on the third day (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20). As he said, it seems more explanatory than the Hosea text, which refers to "us," rather than the messiah per se.

Stuart said...

There is a paper somewhere from a few decades ago, I think by John Wijngaards entitled something like "Resurrection in Covenenatal Context" that looks at the Hosea paage. But I agree with the last poster that firstfruits etc is a more likely context, not least because people are now lloking much more at Yom Kippur/Tabernacles etc in relation to Jesus rather than just Passover.