If I had a dime for every “discovery” by the New York Times that threatens to “shake our basic view of Christianity” I would be one wealthy dude. This story is merely a warmed over replica of last years burial ossuary story. The entire story hinges upon what might be a word on the stone and what that word, if it were there, could be interpreted to mean by those who don’t believe in Jesus in the first place.
The latest discovery, similar to last years ossuary story, isn’t a new discovery at all. 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. Then years later, a scholar wrote a paper on the stone and it was read by an author of a book.
Israel Knohl, an professor of Bible studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, saw the article on the stone and decided that this was the PROOF of a theory he had published in a book that had been widely ignored. His book posited the idea of a suffering messiah before Jesus, using a variety of rabbinic and early apocalyptic literature as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
To make his case about the importance of the stone, Mr. 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 Ms. Yardeni and Mr. Elitzur, but Mr. 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 Mr. 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.”
So almost the entire line is based upon supposition about what Knohl thinks he sees written on the stone. One of them is so clearly off, that he makes the case for an unusual spelling. Silly.
Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Israeli Academy of Hebrew Language and emeritus professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at the Hebrew University, said …also respectful but cautious. “There is one problem,” he said. “In crucial places of the text there is lack of text. I understand Knohl’s tendency to find there keys to the pre-Christian period, but in two to three crucial lines of text there are a lot of missing words.”
Knohl, undaunted by reality, cries eureka!
“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 on an earlier messiah story.”
Let’s say that for one instance that the stone says what Knohl pretends it does, why would that shake the foundations of Christianity? While the “mainstream” idea of the messiah at the time may have been a political one, why would the idea that some people had interpreted the scriptures to refer to a suffering messiah that would rise after three days shake the foundation? They were right after all.
This fatuous story bears remarkable similarity to last years discredited ossuary story. Artifact discovered years ago sits in someones garage until a “scholar” reads into it things that are not there and then jumps to wildly implausible conclusions based on nothing. Throw in a compliant media, and presto! The yearly “shake the foundations of Christianity” story.
Don’t they ever get tired of this?