Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Interesting Discovery

Photo: Dominic Buettner for the New York Times

from the New York Times
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.

Some of the scholars interviewed for this article believe that this discovery will be a challenge to Christians. My personal feeling is that most folks in the pews don't even here about such things. How does the idea that there was already a tradition of a Messiah being murdered and rising from the dead after three days before the time of Jesus affect your faith and your beliefs?


IT said...

Great minds think alike: I was going to post the same question.

(Tho' technically, Padre, I don't think it's legal under copyright to post the NY Times pics.)


fs said...

Thanks for this; it's an interesting discovery and will probably add to our understanding of who Jesus was and how the people of his time sought to explain him.

But it doesn't detract one iota from my faith and belief, as they've never been centered on the death and resurrection story.

Lois Keen said...

It might effect the faith and beliefs if it's important to one that the gospels are right in implying the rising from the dead was an unexpected and new thing, completely off the radar of the Jews.

However, being one of those Christians who tries, with mixed success to read the Hebrew scriptures for themselves and not reading Jesus into them, but rather reading them as the background for how Jesus and what Jesus saw himself to be, this news is really wonderful - the expectation of resurrection is all of a piece.

On the third hand, it can also be seen to put the nail in the coffin of a real resurrection. One could understand the gospel writers as reading the expectation of a resurrection on the third day into the story of Jesus, making it fit, the way Matthew has the birth and ministry of Jesus fit his view that Jesus is the new Moses and lawgiver coming out of Egypt to preach on the mountain.

Padre Mickey said...

Tho' technically, Padre, I don't think it's legal under copyright to post the NY Times pics. Didn't I give them credit? Well, I live in Panama, where we say Ní! at your silly copyrights maniacal laughter

IT said...

I asked my beloved about this story, and she thought it was very cool and in no way detracted from her faith.

But she asked why these previous predictions did not make the Jews consider Christ the messiah.

Jr. said...

I, too, found this an interesting item. Like the late flap over the Gospel of Judas. Adds only another suggestion (or in the case of the G of Judas, a more explicit statement of what the Gospel of John already implies) to our understanding of the ancient situation and the ancient texts.

It doesn't affect my faith. A RC friend of mine once said that she thought that my life is grounded in the Bible. I had to gently correct her and say that my life is grounded in Jesus -- of my experience of the Living God -- not in the Bible per se. For me the point is that we are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, not this Simon fellow, fundamentally because Jesus' disciples had amazing experiences of the risen Lord and witnessed to that. Whether resurrection was expected or unexpected in their culture is almost beside the point, and we know already that some Jewish sects of Jesus' time believed in resurrection.

I do get a little testy when Jewish scholars tell me that I am going to be shocked by something or other that actually shocks them.

BTW, I was a lurker at jake's. Posting a place to comment on this article brought me out of the shadows.

Counterlight said...

The story of Osiris is a murder and resurrection story that's way older than either the New Testament or this stone. His temple and "tomb" at Abydos (Abedju) were popular objects of pilgrimage for Egyptians for many centuries. Modern Egyptians refer to the ancient site of Osiris' tomb as Um al Qa'ab (Mother of Pots) because of the mounds and mounds of pious offering pottery left by generations of pious ancient Egyptians still to be seen there.

And there are the references to the Suffering Servant in Isaiah, who the rabbis (as opposed the Christian priests) understood to be Israel.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Interesting yes, but doesn't change a thing ; = )

Ann said...

Since my faith is about following Christ - nothing really changes it.

JCF said...

"Kewl!" sez I...

[Am I the only one here who, when Paul says "Your faith is in vain" wants to fire back, "No, YOUR faith is in vain---neener, neener, neener!" ;-p]

Still haven't gotten rid of the freakin' "Word Verification" yet, I see. :-X

it said...

fs, please write david h, he's been trying to reach you!

As for the rest....even Shakespeare pointed out that there were no original plotlines left.


::ducks and runs::


fs said...

[Am I the only one here who, when Paul says "Your faith is in vain" wants to fire back, "No, YOUR faith is in vain---neener, neener, neener!" ;-p]

I absolutely love that, JCF. Who *are* these people (even Paul) to place limits on our faith, anyway?

IT, Thanks. I will look for David H.'s email and get in touch. BTW, your comment about plotlines is interesting. This kinda touches on the periphery of the subject of my master's thesis (ugh), but I consider narrative thinking a two-edged sword, the downside being its rather rigid, automatic inner logic which too easily substitutes verisimilitude for rational thought.