New York Times
July 6, 2008
Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection
By ETHAN BRONNER
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....
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....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....
"This should shake our basic view of Christianity," [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."...
Mr. Knohl said...[the tablet] strongly suggested that a savior who died and rose after three days was an established concept at the time of Jesus....
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Ancient Tablet Evidence of Jesus Myth?
An ancient Hebrew tablet is creating a stir after certain scholars identified it as containing a pre-Christian account of the awaited Jewish messiah's death and resurrection after three days. If this artifact is genuine, from the era claimed, and actually says what is asserted, the discovery clearly demonstrates that the idea of a messiah, savior or divine redeemer dying and rising after three days existed decades before the alleged advent of Jesus Christ. This dying-and-resurrecting motif is one of a number that various writers and scholars have claimed demonstrate Jesus to represent not a "historical" personage but a mythical concept found in religious ideologies and mythologies long prior to the so-called Christian era.
A recent article in the New York Times expresses caution concerning the find, as it has not been conclusively proved to be from the era in question, some years to decades prior to the common era, or to discuss what it is alleged to relate. However, the article also concludes that if the tablet is truly what it is purported to be, then:
"Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship."
The idea of this motif existing before Christ "runs contrary to nearly all scholarship," except for that of "Jesus mythicists," including in my books, The Christ Conspiracy, Suns of God, Who Was Jesus? and Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection.
In fact, if genuine, this tablet would constitute not "prophecy" of Christ's alleged advent but a primary source for a BLUEPRINT used in the creation of the fictional Jesus character - a theme I repeatedly address in my work. Indeed, the educated Jews of the Diaspora, including the very important Egyptian city of Alexandria, were undoubtedly well aware of the ubiquitous story of the god Osiris, "Lord of Resurrections," who was said to have died and been resurrected after three days, as stated in ancient Egyptian texts that predate the alleged time of Jesus by hundreds to thousands of years. It may well be that the Jewish priesthood in Judea - a mere stone's throw from their many brethren in Egypt - were also quite knowledgeable of this highly important god and his resurrection, which promised hope to hundreds of millions of Egyptians over a period of several thousand years, long prior to the purported time of Jesus Christ. If so, we would logically expect from their own religion-making efforts just such writings as are alleged to be found on this extraordinary tablet.