Saturday, July 05, 2008

An Interesting Discovery

Photo: Dominic Buettner for 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.

I don't know; so often this stuff turns out to be a hoax. The article is very interesting and apparently the authenticity of the find has not been challenged yet. Check it out!


FranIAm said...

That is pretty interesting - hmmm, will want to learn more.

liturgy said...

as you say there have been a number of fakes;
so this is worth watching...


Ormonde Plater said...

Display it alongside the Shroud of Turin.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, and you know, Mickey, I never get too wound up about this stuff, unlike the fundies, whose every tenet of their faith hinges on the unlikely chance that every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed in the Bible.

After all, the Bible is a book of several books considered "holy" put together by multiple committees. It's a compromise, some got left in that maybe shouldn't have (cough, sputter, Revelationhackhack) and others got booted that maybe shouldn't.

I have a feeling that stories about being resurrected after three days, may not be singular in antiquity to Jesus. Three is a very powerful number in the kabbalah. The number three--binah--is symbolic of "understanding"--it is linked to the womb and symbolizes growth and formation.

So we are back to my usual take, which is, "I am not interested if the stories in the Bible are literally true to the nth detail." But I do care about what they were meant to mean at the time they were crafted, and "What do they mean to me?" "How do these words connect me more closely to God, the author of the universe?" "What, in my life, helps me believe the concept of a loving God and a place beyond death that is the seat of all that is good and right and true?"

(Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.)

Fred Schwartz said...

OT, but only slightly. I wouild be curious to see what Goran has to say about this. Anybody see Goran since Jake's place went upside down?

Anonymous said...

YES, Hola FRED, we must regroup...quite often Goran is at Thinking Anglicans but I've been traveling and I don't know where anyone is...I'm so happy to see you FRIEND even though I ought not act so overly gleeful (or somethu'n).

Love to all,

Leonardo Ricardo

Museum Ethics Controversy said...

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.,


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Interesting. I posted a little about the NYT link on my blog and the dude above rushed to put the same comment on my blog. What is it that the minute that anything "challenging" to the Bible riles folks up so?

I'm like you, Mickey, a lot of that stuff turns out to be a hoax, but it goes back and forth for a long time, too. I think about the Kensington Runestone. For years, it was "real." Then for several years it was "fake." Lately, some folks have new evidence that swing us back to "real" again. Who knows. Only time will tell. But meanwhile we still have to carve our faith out that is our own, and that means some of it will always be a black box.

David |däˈvēd| said...

Kirkepiscatoid, I think you misread the guy's post. He thinks it could be a hoax, not because it is bible-critical, but just the opposite, he thinks the theory being forwarded does not involve enough research & scholarship.

His links about the Dead Sea Scrolls pertain to the fact that, in spite of counter theories regarding the origins of the DSSs, only the original theory, forwarded by bible scholars, is still being taught as gospel truth. Archeologists and historians have been saying since 1998 that the so-called Qumran theory of origin for the DSSs is questionable and much evidence points to a far different origin.

johnieb said...

Given that it's in the hands of a private owner, I find the lack of specifics as to its provenance more acceptable.

Otherwise, I'm with Kirk. The Big Deal some scholars were quoted in the NYT as making with regard to precedents for linking a "three days' Resurrection" to Messiah figures before Jesus doesn't seem to be that to me. If anything, it connects the early proclamation of the Gospel to its Jewish context.

PseudoPiskie said...

It is easier to deal with such "discoveries" when one's faith relies on trusting that what the Bible says Jesus taught - love all and judge none, feed the hungry, etc. - is the the secret to a "good" life. Problems arise when one tries to anchor one's life on historicity or legalisms or something other than "following directions". I don't care what they find, prove or disprove but I do get some amusement from it all.

Leo said...

Well, unless I have misunderstood what I read, It doesn't seem to challenge anything.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Well, for generations we in Europe have been told that the salvation promised through Jesus was not the anticipated political movement (such as Simon the Zealot and others thought), but different.

How could any interpretation of this stone (if authentic) challenge that?

Padre Mickey said...

You're right, Göran, it would not challenge that idea at all. I think that the challenge for some Christians is the idea that something they considered to be unique to Christianity may not have been unique at all. It doesn't challenge my faith at all, but I was curious if it would challenge any of the regular readers here ( I doubted that it would do so). I agree with Kirkepiscatoid and Psuedopiskie and others; this is may be a challenge to those whose faith depends on the Bible being the inerrant Word of God.

It does seem to have museum ethics controversy (if that's his/her REAL name!) a bit worked up; he/she has been all over the place posting the same comment!

Museum Ethics Controversy said...

I wouldn't say I'm "worked up," but I'm justifiably concerned (rather than "amused") that people are yet again getting carried away by an apparent hoax designed to profit from their genuine and legitimate interest in a question of religious origins. It was worth a couple of hours of my time pointing this out, since no one else seems to have done so.

Padre Mickey said...

I don't know, MEC (if that's your REAL name!), I don't think anyone is actually getting carried away about this, in fact, I think that very few people even know or care about it; it's just another article in the NYT, like an article about the discovery of another dinosaur fossil.

People may hear about this stuff on some cable tv channel, and every now and then someone here will ask me about the Jesus family tomb or the Gospel of Judas. The majority of this stuff turns out to be a hoax (as I believe I stated in my post).

If you want to spend your time flying about the web on this subject, it's fine with me; I can't say anything, since I pose inanimate objects and take photos of them for posting on the WWW.

Museum Ethics Controversy said...

I beg to differ -- people don't just "hear about it" on some cable station; they discuss it endlessly, purchase the documentaries and spend millions of dollars annually on these museum exhibits. And who does the money go to? Producers, film companies and the "scholars" who came up with (or went along with) the hoax. Anyway, have a good day.

Padre Mickey said...

So you're angry with museums? Do people in the U.S.A. really discuss this stuff endlessly and purchase the documentaries? Thank God I'm in Central America, where that is not the case at all!

Good luck with your campaign.

Museum Ethics Controversy said...

The San Diego exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls cost six million dollars to produce. The money was obtained from all kinds of major foundations. An estimated 450,000 tickets were sold at costs ranging from 20 to 30 dollars. I leave the math to you, but from what I have been reading, the exhibit was a pile of misinformation.

Lynn said...


A belated thank you for posting this here. Not long after I read the article, I received an email from a dear friend suggesting I read this, and we had a lively discussion about it. He has been guiding my casual studies of church history, so it was something new and different from the usual "so many heresies, so little time" discussions.

No, it is no reason to question the reality of the Good News.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I am a little troubled by that word "unique".

Why would it be? Because King Jame's Version in its 1787 íncarnation is prclaimed Holy by the innocent, and gay-as-a-lark King James too?

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