Saturday, July 12, 2008


Here is the link to the brief discussion on the Gabriel Stone which I was involved in this week:


Kyle Nolan said...

i'm wondering, what was wrong with what the man who was interviewed before you said? the idea of the messiah as a suffering servent was present in the hebrew scriptures, right? and the concept of a messiah who would offer himself as a sacrifice? (Isaiah 53) so what was it that he said that was false, or just 'creative interpretation?' i could understand that his view of Jesus being a product of the Jewish environment being an example of him stretching it a bit, but weren't the Jewish people yearning for the Messiah to liberate them from Rome? I think it was the brevity of the interview that threw me, but I am a bit confused as to what the actual controversy is.


Kent said...

I was wondering the same thing as Kyle. From what I could gather from the interview and reading the article from TIME, I don't see what the controversy is. Doesn't this discovery actually do more to confirm Jesus resurrection? I am limited in my understanding of the written language and maybe that's what the debate is about. But I don't think Christians should responded negatively or argue the legitimacy of this discovery. I think we should search it out and allow it to confirm our faith and also challenge others with the truth of the resurrection.

Ben Witherington said...

Well if you suggest that the Gospels have contrived and placed on Jesus' lips a prediction he didn't make, or even worse, that the Gospel writers invented the story of Jesus' death and resurrection on the basis of earlier Jewish ideas, then there is an issue here.


Kent said...

I agree. I wouldn't say invented (is that what Knohl is suggesting?). I would use the word applied. There were stories, prophecies and predictions about Messiah and when Jesus came and applied them to himself and fulfilled them, the gospel writers applied them to him as well.

What is your notion about the possibility of this being related to the Dead Sea Scrolls?

masonbooth said...

i think that one of the issues is that several historians (in particular N.T. Wright) have argued that what makes Christianity unique is that there was very little if any evidence in 2nd Temple Judaism of a suffering, dying and rising Messiah. so the argument goes that it would be very difficult for the disciples to just make it up. it was so unexpected that the resurrection has to be true. (very simplified summary). so the disciples would have had to come up with all of the stories about the resurrection out of thin air, or it actually happened. BUT if there were people who believed in a dying and rising messianic figure then opponents could say that the early Christians just borrowed the idea and were basically building on current ideas of the day. especially if this tablets comes from near the Dead Sea. (remember a few people still try to locate JBap and Jesus within the Essenes.) this would just add fuel to that line of thought. i can hear it now. "sure Jesus said these things, b/c that is what he learned from the Essenes." Wright argues forcefully that the early followers of Jesus could not have borrowed or made up such an idea, because no one believed such things, particularly an individual being resurrected may be al of the righteous or the remnant; see Ezekiel and Daniel. if people held those beliefs prior to the life and death of Jesus then it could appear that Jesus resurrection was not as unique nor a surprise. that it could have actually been a myth based upon 1st century beliefs. of course i believe that Lewis once talked about how all myths pointed to the great truth. that Jesus was the reality of all myths...or something like that...good Wesylans would argue that if this tablet is real then it was simply prevenient grace pointing to the truth, although it is extra-biblical in nature...:-)


Nance said...

"Myth Became Fact" was a little essay Lewis wrote on that... I think the idea pops up in Miracles a bit as well.
Thanks for that comment Mason--now the problem makes sense. On one level it's almost too bad that Wright will be busy with Lambeth for a few weeks now, as I'd really like to hear his thoughts on this.

Ivan said...

Dr Ben.

Why this tablet mentioned the number of "three" (80). Is the number popular in Jewis concept. As we knew Jesus also mentioned it related to His Ressurection and reflected also in book of Jonah and Hosea.



Tim said...

This is off topic, but I hope of interest to Dr. Witherington and my fellow readers: I am a scientist, trained as an astronomer, and thought I would pass along a great image recently taken of the night skies over Ephesus.

I thought you all might enjoy this. It's worth clicking on the image to see the panoramic view.


Rev. Spike said...

Nice to see them give you equal time :)

Ben Witherington said...

The number 3 was important in Jewish gematria. The phrase 'after 3 days' however normally just means 'after a while/ several days'. It is used metaphorically in Hosea to refer to restoration not long after chastisement. It is not a specific time reference, unlike 'on the third day' which is much more specific.

Ben Witherington said...

Tim: That is a great shot of Ephesos. Please send me the jpeg.

Ben W.

Folly is Green--at least today! said...

Hey Ben, thanks for this post.

Please read the one (1) post that I've made on my site, or, at least, may ur readers look at it.


Hawks for Christ said...

The Bible itself lends credence to the belief in a resurrection idea that developed during the Intertestamental Period, even a possible form of bodily resurrection. A group of Sadducees ask Jesus about the marriage of a seven-time widow in Matthew 22:23-33 (cf. Mark 12, Luke 20.) We are told here in this passage, as well as in Acts (4:1-3; 23:7-8), that the resurrection was not a concept believed by the Sadducees but was accepted by the Pharisees.

Two of the main sects within Judaism adhered to different ideas concerning the resurrection of the dead. However, none would have tied it to the Messianic figure. Not even the "Murdered Messiah" fragment from the dead sea scrolls (now proved to refer to the Messiah killing his enemies)would make such a claim...

But if it DOES indeed refer to a crucified messiah, does that negate the validity of Jesus' claim? God has already shown us that he works through the cultural and intellectual conceptions of humanity (i.e. Suzrainty treaty outline of Deuteronomy, the depiction of God as a Baal-like figure in Psalms, the similarities AND differences between Genesis 1-11 and other ANE literature.) Why couldn't God chose to work that way again?

Mike Bell said...

Hi Ben,

I love your blog. So take this next comment in the lighthearted way it is intended.

Where did you get your suit??? I had one just like it! In 1978!

In all seriousness though. I appreciate your work in this area.