Re: [asa] Tablet ignites debate on messiah and resurrection

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Jul 07 2008 - 14:30:22 EDT

Ben Witherington's take:
http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/07/death-and-resurrection-of-messiah.html

On Mon, Jul 7, 2008 at 1:02 PM, Christine Smith <
christine_mb_smith@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> Thanks for the interesting post Moorad :)
>
> Two questions on archeological dating techniques
> mentioned here:
>
> "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
> BC 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 BC
>
> 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."
>
> I assume the "chemical examination" referred to would
> be a form of carbon dating, yes? If so, and also with
> respect to the linguistic techniques referenced, what
> kind of error/uncertainty would be expected with such
> techniques? Can we really definitively say that the
> writing would date from late first century BC, rather
> than early/mid first century AD (i.e. how confident
> can we be that this didn't stem from the time of
> Christ's teaching and ressurrection?)
>
> Thanks for the clarification :)
> In Christ,
> Christine (ASA member)
>
>
> --- "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu> wrote:
>
> >
> http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/05/africa/06stone.php
> >
> > Tablet ignites debate on messiah and resurrection
> > By Ethan Bronner
> >
> > Saturday, July 5, 2008
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at
> > the University of California at Berkeley, said that
> > the stone was part of a growing body of evidence
> > suggesting that Jesus could be best understood
> > through a close reading of the Jewish history of his
> > day.
> >
> > "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," Boyarin said.
> >
> > Given the highly charged atmosphere surrounding all
> > Jesus-era artifacts and writings, both in the
> > general public and in the fractured and fiercely
> > competitive scholarly community, as well as the
> > concern over forgery and charlatanism, it will
> > probably be some time before the tablet's
> > contribution is fully assessed. It has been around
> > 60 years since the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered,
> > and they continue to generate enormous controversy
> > regarding their authors and meaning.
> >
> > The scrolls, documents found in the Qumran caves of
> > the West Bank, contain some of the only known
> > surviving copies of biblical writings from before
> > the first century AD In addition to quoting from key
> > books of the Bible, the scrolls describe a variety
> > of practices and beliefs of a Jewish sect at the
> > time of Jesus.
> >
> > How representative the descriptions are and what
> > they tell us about the era are still strongly
> > debated. For example, a question that arises is
> > whether the authors of the scrolls were members of a
> > monastic sect or in fact mainstream. A conference
> > marking 60 years since the discovery of the scrolls
> > will begin on Sunday at the Israel Museum in
> > Jerusalem, where the stone, and the debate over
> > whether it speaks of a resurrected messiah, as one
> > iconoclastic scholar believes, also will be
> > discussed.
> >
> > Oddly, the stone is not really a new discovery. It
> > was found about a decade ago and bought from a
> > Jordanian antiquities dealer by an Israeli-Swiss
> > collector who kept it in his Zurich home. When an
> > Israeli scholar examined it closely a few years ago
> > and wrote a paper on it last year, interest began to
> > rise. There is now a spate of scholarly articles on
> > the stone, with several due to be published in the
> > coming months.
> >
> > "I couldn't make much out of it when I got it," said
> > David Jeselsohn, the owner, who is himself an expert
> > in antiquities. "I didn't realize how significant it
> > was until I showed it to Ada Yardeni, who
> > specializes in Hebrew writing, a few years ago. She
> > was overwhelmed. 'You have got a Dead Sea Scroll on
> > stone,' she told me."
> >
> > Much of the text, a vision of the apocalypse
> > transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old
> > Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah
> > and Haggai.
> >
> > 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 BC 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 BC
> >
> > 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 was in Cathedra that Israel Knohl, an
> > iconoclastic professor of Bible studies at Hebrew
> > University in Jerusalem, first heard of the stone,
> > which Yardeni and Elitzur dubbed "Gabriel's
> > Revelation," also the title of their article. Knohl
> > posited in a book published in 2000 the idea of a
> > suffering messiah before Jesus, using a variety of
> > rabbinic and early apocalyptic literature as well as
> > the Dead Sea Scrolls. But his theory did not shake
> > the world of Christology as he had hoped, partly
> > because he had no textual evidence from before
> > Jesus.
> >
> > When he read "Gabriel's Revelation," he said, he
> > believed he saw what he needed to solidify his
> > thesis, and he has published his argument in the
> > latest issue of The Journal of Religion.
> >
> > Knohl is part of a larger scholarly movement that
> > focuses on the political atmosphere in Jesus' day as
> > an important explanation of that era's messianic
> > spirit. As he notes, after the death of Herod,
> > Jewish rebels sought to throw off the yoke of the
> > Rome-supported monarchy, so the rise of a major
> > Jewish independence fighter could take on messianic
> > overtones.
> >
> > In Knohl's interpretation, the specific messianic
> > figure embodied on the stone could be a man named
> > Simon who was slain by a commander in the Herodian
> > army, according to the first-century historian
> > Josephus. The writers of the stone's passages were
> > probably Simon's followers, Knohl contends.
> >
> > 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,
> > 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 Yardeni and Elitzur,
> > but 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.
> >
> > Two more hard-to-read words come later, and 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."
> >
> > To whom is the archangel speaking? The next line
> > says "Sar hasarin," or prince of princes. Since the
> > Book of Daniel, one of the primary sources for the
> > Gabriel text, speaks of Gabriel and of "a prince of
> > princes," Knohl contends that the stone's writings
> > are about the death of a leader of the Jews who will
> > be resurrected in three days.
> >
> > He says further that such a suffering messiah is
> > very different from the traditional Jewish image of
> > the messiah as a triumphal, powerful descendant of
> > King David.
> >
> > "This should shake our basic view of Christianity,"
> > he 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
> === message truncated ===
>
>
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-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Mon Jul 7 14:31:02 2008

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