I came across an article in the NY Times about a tablet dating from before the time of Christ, that “may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.” This would be a major shift in understanding of Jewish thought at the time of Jesus. The discovery is being called “a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.”
Here are some of the more interesting quotes from the article:
“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” Mr. Boyarin said.
“This should shake our basic view of Christianity,” [Mr. Knohl] said as he sat in his office of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem where he is a senior fellow in addition to being the Yehezkel Kaufman Professor of Biblical Studies at Hebrew University. “Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship. What happens in the New Testament was adopted by Jesus and his followers based on an earlier messiah story.”
The article states that many scholars believe that the gospel stories where Jesus predicted his own death were actually manufactured stories by Jesus’ followers. However, this tablet would seem to refute that argument, since it dates before the time of Christ.
So, after reading the article, what are your thoughts? Is your faith in Christianity strengthened, weakened, or about the same as before?
I would submit that this “ancient tablet” is probably another sensationalist scam, as is clearly indicated by the facts
(1) that no specific information (apart from a vague 3rd-party rumor) is available on its provenance and
(2) that no details are provided on carbon dating of the ink.
As such, this “news” brings to mind the faked Lost-Tomb-of-Jesus “documentary” designed to make a profit off of people’s fascination with the “real” Jesus, as well as the larger scandal of the biased and misleading way the Dead Sea scrolls are being presented in museum exhibits around the world, with an antisemitic nuance appearing on a government-run North Carolina museum’s website. See, e.g.,
A lot has been said about the uniqueness of LDS teaching that Christianity predates Christ (e.g. BOM and POGP) and that the ancient prophets worshipped Christ. It would be nice to see this supported by external information; it also throws the OT into question (again, similar to LDS perspective) as to why more Messianic references are not there. Of course, we would argue that those keeping, scribing, translating, etc., left their mark on all scripture. So, an interesting find with some important scholarly applications.
Once again, very interesting topic, MH. Of course, as a skeptic, I would argue that quite possibly the story of Jesus could have been a re-fabrication of existing stories, in the same manner that Disney re-hashed and popularized Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
I also question the authenticity, but keep a plausibility that it is a historical record. At least we can see the tablet and study it.
I guess I don’t really find it that surprising. There is a great deal of evidence that the motifs of a son of God, a messiah and a resurrection are found in many ancient religious myths.
These myths become synthesized, adapted and evolve given the contexts they are in. I guess I just think that is how religious beliefs, histories and dogmas emerge, and am not surprised to see that the resurrection story could have also evolved in this way.
What I find fascinating is that it makes perfect sense either way. Isn’t it interesting that scholar’s who claim something was made up, can be proven wrong and not bat an eyelash while calling it a syncretion of previous traditions. Likewise, a Christian can instantly see prophecy fulfilled. Nothing is resolved by this. This is a great example of how history usually does not have anything to do with our spiritual beliefs.
I have to agree with Doc on this–it doesn’t really resolve anything, but just gives greater insight into early Jewish thought. However, as Hawkgrrrl points out, it could strengthen BoM claims of Christianity before Christ.
I find it interesting that some of you already lean toward “question the authenticity”, or “sensationalist scam”. Peter, I find this find quite different from the Lost Tomb of Jesus. Lost Tomb was promoted by the Titanic movie director, whereas this find is being studied by scholars. As the article states, Yuval Goren ” knew of no reason to doubt the stone’s authenticity.”
Yes, the jury is still out, but at this early point in the study of the stone, it seems the skeptic apologists are sure trying to discredit a stone which seemingly does nothing to shake the foundations of Christianity, but rather just sheds new light on pre-Christian era thought.
I agree with you, MH on this one that if this turns out to be authentic, it doesn’t really shake the foundations of Christianity, and you do have a point about pre-Christ “Christianity” as found in the BoM.
I alway hope that when something is found like this, that it is authentic. It wouldn’t change a thing for me either way. I think it would take a lot more than one tablet to shake the foundations of Christianity.
BoM claims of Christianity before Christ, have been around for a long time. What would shake up Christianity? If more plates and tablets proving the validity of the BoM were found.
They are out there somewhere.