Epistles of Thomas

July 5, 2008

Gabriel’s Revelation?

In Sunday’s New York Times there is an interesting story about a tablet discovered that dates to the second century BC: Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection. It reports that this MAY provide evidence of the pre-Jesus idea of the Jewish messiah dying and rising again after three days. There is some vital text missing from the stone but it seems to suggest that Jesus did not invent the idea of a suffering, dying, and resurrecting Jewish Messiah.

I can’t see this changing things though. Those who accept Jesus in the Christian sense will say that he fulfilled pre-existing expectations and died for the people of God, including both Jews and Gentiles, whereas those who do not believe will say that Christians co-opted an existing tradition and presented Jesus as this suffering, dying Messiah. Either way I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more about this next Easter if not in the coming months.



  1. I would submit that this “ancient tablet” is probably another sensationalist scam, as is clearly indicated by the facts

    (1) that no specific information 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.,




    Comment by Museum Ethics — July 6, 2008 @ 16:11 | Reply

  2. There are certainly a lot of questions about this stone that will need to be answered before it can be seen as anything other than a sensationalist something-or-other. I must say I am “honoured” to receive the same comment as Richard Dawkins on his website: http://richarddawkins.net/userComments,page1,45626. Thank you for considering my humble blog worthy of your attention :).

    Comment by true54blue — July 6, 2008 @ 23:06 | Reply

  3. it is better to leave the matter to experts and not to religious fanatics. LK

    Comment by keivom — July 7, 2008 @ 0:16 | Reply

  4. The revelation of God to mankind through the birth of Jesus was, by it’s nature going to involve an element of faith; the faith which is the bedrock of Christianity. I don’t believe that the essential elements of our Christian faith are ever going to be proved or disproved before the Second Coming. There are many who would love to be able to disprove the Bible but we need have no fear. When we are all called to account before the Throne of God we will have the opportunity to put forward our scientific “evidence” and our eternal destiny will be determined by the strength of our case.

    Comment by newlongtonmethodist — July 7, 2008 @ 3:16 | Reply

  5. Did not Jesus Himself say that the Jewish Messiah had to suffer and die “according to the scriptures”?

    While this CERTIANLY isn’t Scripture, it is entirely possible that a segment of Jewish culture did in fact look forward to a “suffering, dying, and resurrecting Jewish Messiah”. If that was the case, they were right!

    Comment by Monk-in-Training — July 7, 2008 @ 10:00 | Reply

  6. Retired professor, Stan Seidner contends that it reflects the Apocalyptic beliefs of the day, many which are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as antecedent and predictive writings of Christianity. He also suggested the use of infra-red technological applications, similar to what had been utilized on Dead Sea Scroll Material in the recent past. Challenging Knohl’s “Two Messiahs” theory, Seidner noted that, “Knohl’s reliance upon what he calls, the ‘Glorification Hymn,’ in support of a first Messiah’s relationship with King Herod, failed in its Carbon 14 testing. It predates Herod’s ascendency to the throne by at least twelve years and as much as one hundred and fifty six.” However, he does agree with Knohl’s interpretation of the inscription,”to rise from the dead within three days.” From the author’s paper , Seidner, Stanley S. “The Knohl Hypothesis and ‘Hazon Gabriel,'” June 3, 2009.

    Comment by David — June 16, 2009 @ 13:39 | Reply

    • Any idea how I can email Dr. Stanley S. Seidner. He was my professor 33 years ago. He was the most encouraging professor I knew and the only one ever to suggest I should do graduate level work. I wanted to tell him I recently earned my doctorate.
      Mike Gill

      Comment by Mike Gill — February 15, 2010 @ 13:20 | Reply

  7. Congratulations Mike!! Perhaps one of my readers will be able to help you.

    Comment by Thomas — February 15, 2010 @ 18:18 | Reply

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