Indiana Jones move over: A real blockbuster find in biblical archeology

Dead Sea tablet.jpgFascinating story just moved by The New York Times on a stone tablet which apparently came from the Dead Sea area and speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days…and it is dated to decades before the time of Jesus.
Many questions to be sure, but this doesn’t sound like Gospel of Judas hype, nor is it positing anything that should be all that unsettling to either Christians or Jews. Here’s the money quote from a scholar quoted by the Times:


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,” Mr. Boyarin said.

What’s your reaction? Given all we now know of the historical context of Jesus and early Christianity, along with the NT writers’ use of the Hebrew scriptures to interpret the Christ story, it strikes me as fascinating rather than unnerving. It would also perhaps prompt many to refocus on Jewish traditions of the resurrection of the dead, which have often been obscured.

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posted July 6, 2008 at 12:31 am

I have long believed – and taught in our Bible Studies – that a person cannot understand the expectations or appreciate the implications of Jesus ministry – or the stories about him – without being very familiar with the Maccabean revolution and the events that followed. Chanukah is more than a nice story that gives Jewish kids something to do over or near Christmas.

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posted July 6, 2008 at 8:13 am

Am I the only one who finds the pervasive use of “money quote” jarring? I started seeing it as a sniggering sort of joke, then it spread to the point where it was nearly universal. Anyway, I wish people would stop. It’s not that I find the (originally) implied reference so offensive per se that I can’t handle seeing it where intended [see It’s just disturbing that this has so deeply invaded our language that you find it in places like this blog.

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Rita c sheehan

posted July 6, 2008 at 7:30 pm

From what I have read, seems history is always coming up with things in threes; nothing new here but of course it is an interesting story.

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posted July 6, 2008 at 9:13 pm

They try to make this into a big deal, but in reality, there’s nothing here to ‘shock’ a Christian. It makes sense that the Christ would act within the cultural expectations of the time.

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posted July 7, 2008 at 9:57 am

Christ said: “Before the End of Times, the earth sahll give up her dead.” This is just one example of that. Unfortunately, many people think that this statement refers to actual people rising; it does not. I wish now that religious pontiffs would acknowledge that the True Sons of God, the Creator Sons who ‘came down’ from heaven were known as the Annunaki. Yes, people, we were created by beings from another planet. We were created to serve them as their slaves, and to worship and honor them. They fought wars, using mankind for control over the earth. To me, this knowledge makes the full and total acceptance of Jesus, The Christ all the more powerful, and important. Yes, he is truly our Lord and Saviour. He has changed my life completely. Many religious scholars know the truth of the Annunaki; however, they keep this and the truth about UFO’s hidden for fear, they say, that the people would lose faith and/or panic. Revealing the Truth would change that.

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Martha White

posted July 7, 2008 at 10:15 am

This is a lovely find. It fascinates the likes of “Indiana me”, not to mention keeping archeologists, priests, ministers, rabbis, rebes, and gurus of all kinds busy for years. But I do not see that, from what is available in the press, it changes a thing. As far as Mr. Boyarin’s conjecture “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,” is concerned, I am absolutely lost looking for the result he arrives at from the material at hand. As Christians [actually I’m Catholic] the Old Testament is the first half of our story. The “stone” makes use of OT prophecies. The dating of the find points to the story being very much alive and in the vernacular strand a mere 30 years before Jesus. I hope your scholars don’t find it shocking that in parochial grammar school [from unsophisticated Sisters] I learned that many Jews of Jesus’ day cherished the hope that a “messiah” to come would be a literal, military liberator, whereas when He arrived, He spoke of another kind, or layer of life, sought to make us mindful of its superior quality –and, as Evangelists recorded and the early “Church” taught, He embraced death to ransom that presence in us. This stone tells a tale I would absolutely envision in keeping with opinion, discussion and prophesying 30 years prior, but without the hero or actual “history” to write. Good conjecture but without surprise.

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posted July 8, 2008 at 9:25 am

Don’t get too excited in your pants just yet.
Lets let non-biased scholars take a look before people get excited.
This is poor reporting as the tablet is up to debate.
Remember the Jesus Family Tomb & what a joke that turned out to be.
This stone was bought off a street vendor.
Not discovered by an “Indiana Jones” type person on a dig.
The James Ossuary was bought from a merchant too, later proved to be fraudulent.

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Brendan Kelleher SVD

posted July 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm

For all who want to follow up what ideas on the resurrection were current in time of Jesus, see writings of N.T. Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, who has written one of the most comprehensive surveys available. The specific reference to three days strikes me as rather more precise than most other witnesses from that era, but not beyond the grounds of possibility. So nothing really new here. Only other question remaining is authenticity, and dating.
(I write as a RC Priest, a missionary here in Japan, who tries to keep up with contemporary scholarship.)

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posted July 9, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Oh ye of little faith.

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posted February 6, 2009 at 2:28 am

well all i can say is that…the bible is the truth , the way and the life. why jumping to conclusions and why claiming jesus or jehovahs name. they have given us guidelines, which is in the bible and isnt there enough evidence in the bible to whats happening right now, no we werent made by other creatures from other planets, it doesnt say in the bible, stop making things up if they are not true, you are misleading yourself….

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posted March 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm

All the things you find in the waters and on land and on the “streets”… Are all earthly things. made by man. Everybody knows God is real and everybody know Christ is the savior. They either feel intimidated by the truth. Or just don’t want to be accountable for what they do. Either way the truth is the truth.
So , If you really have a relationship with God, then you don’t need some rock to show people that He excists. Because ythay already know.

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