Unlike the dogmatic religious, I have no trouble changing my opinion when evidence becomes available. I was convinced that there was no one called Jesus who was the basis of Christianity. Then, I was enticed by the notion that maybe Jesus was an Essene since there seemed to be so much similarity between early Christianity and the Essenes. I figured that it was reasonable to conclude that either Jesus did not exist or that he was well known in a small circle which would explain his absence from historical reference and yet a means for the myth to grow into something bigger and different from what it was originally.This stone tablet fits the latter, Essene, explanation. If this archetype existed previous to Jesus, however derived, it would be just another similarity that Christianity shared with the Essenes who were the predecessors. It seems like everywhere we turn; the Biblical stories have their counterparts elsewhere and earlier.
Hi Trou,It seems like everywhere we turn; the Biblical stories have their counterparts elsewhere and earlier.more than you know. All one has to do is start looking at the history of the Near East starting from the end of the last Ice Age, or tracing the earliest representation of an Idea (like man made from earth and woman made from bone) and it takes you all the way back to around 40,000 BC.
Uh oh, the Messianics are going to have a hay day with this one.I can see where this will easily be twisted to "prove" Christianity.
"I can see where this will easily be twisted to "prove" Christianity."They may use the foreshadowing argument as if God has to telegraph every move of his with a hint or two but those who are willing to think about it will see that preexisting motifs mean that the idea is not new and that cultures influence one another. Influence from another culture means that God can easily be explained away as the source of an idea or concept. This is like the "god of the gaps" in science where we find a robust god who slowly fades away as naturalistic mechanisms for the unexplainable are discovered and fill in our gaps of ignorance with real explanations that make sense. The same thing is happening in the study of religion only the progress is moving more slowly because of the preponderance of the religious who do most of the study and are doing it with presuppositions firmly fixed in favor of orthodoxy.
Shades of J.M. Robertson and pre-christian Joshua cults. Could this be a smoking gun for some such cult? Interesting.
I think it's compelling evidence that the "Jesus" of history is a manufactured cult that grew out of the failure of the Jews to win independence from the Romans. It then seems that the Jesus of faith is an accretion of multiple strands of pagan and Jewish thought redacted into a soteriology of blood sacrifice already extant in significant numbers of pagan mystery cults and ancient near eastern sacrificial motifs.But that's just my opinion.
My preferred hypothesis is that the stories and teachings of the gospel Jesus are actually the confused and garbled re-tellings of stories about the Essene's 'Teacher of Righteousness', mixed up with stories about the many apocolyptic prophets who were so common in Palestine leading up to the Roman/Jewish war.For an excellent summary of Essene-Christian parallels, take a look at this web page called 'Essene and Christian Parallels and Commonalties'. (Just cut and paste the address into your browser).http://www.thenazareneway.com/essene_and_christian_parallels.htm
Jason Engwer apparently thought that Evan's comment here was worth a brief response. He apparently sees Evan's comments as wishful thinking. I won't pretend I'm able to read Evan's mind as Jason has done, but I would say for my part it's not about wishful thinking, if he means we are hoping the evidence will "justify our apostasy" as he likes to claim. We're already firmly persuaded of our views on the truth of the physical resurrection of Jesus. It's not about wishing that religion will disappear. We're well aware that fear and ignorance are often more powerful than evidence. And it's certainly not about hoping that apologists such as Jason will change their opinions. We've seen the apologist deny the mountain of evidence for evolution, deny that Jesus prophesied an imminent second coming, deny that the accounts in Scripture of Judas' death contradict one another, and deny many other clear falsifications for their views. We have no illusions that this tablet would matter.Mostly I involve myself in these discussions because it is interesting to me. But if there is any wishing involved for me, I admit I would prefer that people do embrace truth, because I think that would work out better for them generally, and if this new evidence leads to that, I regard that as a good thing. I think embracing truth is more likely to lead a person to a happy and fulfilling life. There's nothing wrong with wishing for that.
Jon wrote:"Jason Engwer apparently thought that Evan's comment here was worth a brief response. He apparently sees Evan's comments as wishful thinking."It strikes me as being incredibly ironic when people who claim to believe that,"Donkeys can talk, And people can fly, And a man named Jesus Lives up in the sky"accuse atheists and skeptics of engaging in wishful thinking.I noticed that one of the contributers to his blog is the calvinist nutjob Paul Manata. That just about says it all to me about Jason's credibility (or lack of it).
It will be interesting to see how the academic discussion about this tablet plays out. If it turns out to be authentic, and to be saying what it seems to be saying, it would appear to be another defeater for Craig's (and Wright's and ....) "the Jews had no concept of a dying and rising messiah, so they couldn't have gotten the idea unless something weird happened..." line of reasoning as a part of their case for the resurrection of Jesus.
Exapologist wrote:"it would appear to be another defeater for Craig's (and Wright's and ....) "the Jews had no concept of a dying and rising messiah, so they couldn't have gotten the idea unless something weird happened..." Craig and Wright are already being incredibly dishonest about this, because they would be well aware that the Greek and Roman world was already awash with dying and rising savior cults. They falsely like to try convince people that the Jewish people would have been immune to such ideas, while history clearly demonstrates that many Jews openly and enthusiastically embraced Pagan ideas and ideologies. Especially Jews who were living in parts of the empire other than Palestine.The Bible even tells us that many people (including Herod himself) were of the opinion that Jesus was actually John the Baptist who had been re-incarnated.If nothing else, it demonstrates how much Jesus must have relied on the prior teachings of John the Baptist for his own preachings, and how similar their teachings must have been to one another.
If nothing else, it demonstrates how much Jesus must have relied on the prior teachings of John the Baptist for his own preachings, and how similar their teachings must have been to one another.Or an alternate explanation, that he is a legend concocted with elements of pagan and Jewish myths.
I agree, Dingodave. I think there's one more explanation for the source of their conception of the resurrection of Jesus that has a lot of force (one which I think you hint at): Jesus was fundamentally an eschatological prophet (albeit a failed one, like John the Baptist). His primary message was the coming of the eschaton ("Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"). But with the eshaton comes the resurrection of the dead and the final judgement. But if these things are so, then his followers no doubt took his death to be an indication of the imminence of the eschaton, which brought to mind the idea that all -- including Jesus -- would be raised (Jesus being the "first fruits", of course, as Paul puts it). Thus, even if Craig were correct that the Jews had no concept of a single person resurrected before the eschaton, that leaves open the very real possibility that his earliest followers thought that the general resurrection would occur imminently, with Jesus being the first fruits.So when we add up all the plausible explanations in this thread for Craig's (and Wright's, and...) question, we get:1. Many in Jesus' day already thought Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected, so they clearly did have a concept of a single person dying and rising before the eschaton.2. There was a lot of historical precedence for the idea from surrounding culture (stories of dying and rising gods that go back many centuries B.C., contrary to what the apologists reiterate ad nauseum).3. The tablet (that is the subject of this post) seems to demonstrate that the notion of a dying and rising messiah was extant in Jewish culture a good while before Jesus came on the scene.4. Jesus was fundamentally an eschatological prophet, and so he put the idea of the eschaton, including the judgement and final resurrection, at the forefront of his followers' minds.
No, no, no, exapologist. Herod probably thought that John the Baptist had been resuscitated. I'm not exactly sure how you resuscitate a beheaded individual. Do you do CPR at the lips or on the neck?
Jon wrote:-"No, no, no, exapologist. Herod probably thought that John the Baptist had been resuscitated."It seems that we've raised a few hackles over at the 'Triablogue' website. Jason is so upset, that even I have been granted an ignoble reference or two. Of course his arguments are merely 'farts in the wind', but any publicity is good publcity I guess. : ) "Keep em comin" fellow debunkers. I say, "Viva la de'bunking!" Hoist the colours high comrades, and let's go get 'em! : D
If anyone would like to see what is actually translated from the tablet:MS Word FileAlso link for Hebrew translation as well:Daily Bible and Archaeology NewsLook forward to about a decade of textual and historical reconstruction before anything is set in stone...hah I couldn't resist! :)
The Article said:"The slaying of Simon, or any case of the suffering messiah, is seen as a necessary step toward national salvation, he says, pointing to lines 19 through 21 of the tablet — “In three days you will know that evil will be defeated by justice” — and other lines that speak of blood and slaughter as pathways to justice.To make his case about the importance of the stone, Mr. Knohl focuses especially on line 80, which begins clearly with the words “L’shloshet yamin,” meaning “in three days.” The next word of the line was deemed partially illegible by Ms. Yardeni and Mr. Elitzur, but Mr. Knohl, who is an expert on the language of the Bible and Talmud, says the word is “hayeh,” or “live” in the imperative. It has an unusual spelling, but it is one in keeping with the era."and"Two more hard-to-read words come later, and Mr. Knohl said he believed that he had deciphered them as well, so that the line reads, “In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you."Come-in fellas...If I as a Christian produced anything even as remotely scant as this as evidence you'd blow up the internet with all kinds of dissent...Heck, Christians offer much better evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than this and you fight it tooth and nail...why be so soft about this?I notice they also said this,"Regarding Mr. Knohl’s thesis, Mr. Bar-Asher is also respectful but cautious. “There is one problem,” he said. “In crucial places of the text there is lack of text. I understand Knohl’s tendency to find there keys to the pre-Christian period, but in two to three crucial lines of text there are a lot of missing words."Boy o boy...If that was any type of evidence FOR Christianity...Need I say more?Can't wait until his paper comes out...it'll probably be around ChristmasLater
I'm banned at Triablogue, but I just can't resist getting involved anyway. I comment on your interactions there on my blog here.
Uhm, ... so similarities between an ancient Jewish text and Christianity somehow manage to usurp Christianity by showing that there are actually huge chances of Jesus being the Jewish Messiah ... I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.(And no, Christianity is not supposed to be an "original" religion, just the fulfillment of Judaism; I thought that to be already well-known and self-understood).
Its sort of a double edged sword really, because one of the more popular arguments for the historicity of resurrection goes something like this: "There was no reason for 1st century Jews to take the position that a man actually rose from the grave..."I think NT Wright and his "The Resurrection of the Son of God" most thoroughly go into that strand of argumentation, but the point is that if they can reconstruct this tablet pretty well using special techniques (will be hard since its not a scroll they could use special illumination techniques on)...IF they can do that then NT Wright may be out of an argument because now we have some evidence of a pre-existent notion of bodily resurrection.Now some of you may be going for the standard "but what about Isis" and all that jazz...fine, but the more I looked into that the more it looks like a bunch of people translating passages while utilizing Jud-Christian terminology (aka resurrection, redemption) and then going "hey this looks just like Christianity!" I haven't read NT Wright's book yet since its freaking 800 pages long...Maybe there are examples of pre-Christian bodily resurrection (physical) that I'm not aware of? So it can hurt Christian apologists, but it can also hurt skeptics that make this argument: "The Jews just made that stuff up"....We know now that Hellenistic mystery cults were not yet widespread enough to influence Christianity in the first century.Obviously with the Qumram finds there is still ongoing debate on whether or not there was some Jewish pre-Messiah expectation brewing in Jerusalem...but this tablet could very well go further and show specific kinds of thinking pre-Christ.Anyway, thats just my opinion I've only read a few articles about this Gabriel Revelation. Definitely look forward to hearing more about it.
exapologist you beat me to it, well said.
Ivka,The reasoning here isn't, "not unique; so, not true". Rather, it's a reply to the common apologetic line, viz., that since the concept of a single individual (here, the Messiah) dying and rising -- let alone doing so prior to the general resurrection -- is without precedent in Jewish and non-Jewish sources, prior to Jesus' day, and that therefore the best explanation of this belief in Jesus' earliest disciples is that Jesus actually rose from the dead and appeared to them (for otherwise where did they get the idea? Even if they had visions or hallucinations of Jesus after his death, they wouldn't have thought "resurrection", but rather "his spirit is with the Father", or something of that sort). The point in the thread here is that the tablet -- if authentic, and if it says what it seems to say -- shows the "without precedent" claim in that line of reasoning to be false. And the force of this point is not supposed to be that Jesus therefore didn't rise from the dead, but rather the weaker one that this finding (again, with the qualifications mentioned above) undercuts the evidence for that line of reasoning (i.e., the line of reasoning sketched in the previous paragraph) in support the claim.
Well, ... if the apologists said that, then they've made a stupid blunder: our religion views itself as the fulfillment of Judaism, and not as some completely original concept, or whatever. [There's an entire Book in the Bible, called The Gospel of Mattew that's wholly dedicated to that, so ... it's just that it's a bit hard to just miss it, especially since it's the one by which the entire New Testament begins :-) ]. I personally like to say that Jesus came from the sky, but that He didn't fall from the sky, if You know what I mean. :-)
Ivka wrote:-"our religion views itself as the fulfillment of Judaism, and not as some completely original concept, or whatever. [There's an entire Book in the Bible, called The Gospel of Mattew that's wholly dedicated to that, so ... it's just that it's a bit hard to just miss it, especially since it's the one by which the entire New Testament begins."New Testament writers, especially Matthew, took Old Testament passages and mercilessly twisted them, in order to give the false impression that the Old Testament predicted Christianity. He wasn't even subtle or clever about it. There is an entire thread devoted to the subject on this very page called 'Jeremiah's New Covenant vs. Christianity'. It's well worth a read.
If by "twisting" You mean quoting more frequently the Septuagint, rather than the Massoretic, and interpreting it typologically and allegorically (Galatians 4:24) ... well, what can I say? It only proves that the first Christians used a different method than that of the Protestant and NeoProtestant movement (Sola Scriptura, eXegesis not eIsegesis, GHM not something else).
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