Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Messiah tradition around the time of Jesus

with 3 comments

Very interesting article in the NY Times by Ethan Bronner. It begins:

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.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.

Still, its authenticity has so far faced no challenge, so its role in helping to understand the roots of Christianity in the devastating political crisis faced by the Jews of the time seems likely to increase.

Much more at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

5 July 2008 at 11:42 am

3 Responses

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  1. You might want to check out this site:

    Scroll down and click on this link: Putting the Jesus Puzzle Together in 12 Easy Pieces with special attention to #6:

    Christ’s features and myths are in many ways similar to those of the Greco-Roman salvation cults of the time known as “mystery religions”, each having its own savior god or goddess. Most of these (e.g., Dionysos, Mithras, Attis, Isis, Osiris) were part of myths in which the deity had overcome death in some way, or performed some act which conferred benefits and salvation on their devotees. Such activities were viewed as taking place in the upper spirit realm, not on earth or in history. Most of these cults had sacred meals (like Paul’s Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23f) and envisioned mystical relationships between the believer and the god similar to what Paul speaks of with Christ. Early Christianity was a Jewish sectarian version of this widespread type of belief system, though with its own strong Jewish features and background.

    You may also want to rent this movie from Netflix.



    6 July 2008 at 12:19 pm

  2. 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 expression appearing on a government-run North Carolina museum’s website. See, e.g.,



    Museum Ethics

    6 July 2008 at 5:10 pm

  3. Museum Ethics: you may be right, though I think saying it’s “probably” a scam is unsupported by evidence. Certainly some scholars believe that it’s authentic, and they have examined the stone directly (rather than reading a newspaper account about it). From the story:

    Ms. Yardeni, who analyzed the stone along with Binyamin Elitzur, is an expert on Hebrew script, especially of the era of King Herod, who died in 4 B.C. The two of them published a long analysis of the stone more than a year ago in Cathedra, a Hebrew-language quarterly devoted to the history and archaeology of Israel, and said that, based on the shape of the script and the language, the text dated from the late first century B.C.

    A chemical examination by Yuval Goren, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University who specializes in the verification of ancient artifacts, has been submitted to a peer-review journal. He declined to give details of his analysis until publication, but he said that he knew of no reason to doubt the stone’s authenticity.

    It is as much a mistake to doubt too soon as to believe too soon. A judicious wait is, I think, the proper stance for us non-scholars.



    6 July 2008 at 5:21 pm

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