Four evaluations of the significance of
"Gabriel's Vision of Revelations" tablet
Material to read first:
Background of resurrection and the tablet:
The following was extracted from our essay on the
newly discovered tablet:
Belief in the miracle of Jesus'
resurrection is one of the
cardinal doctrines of historical Christianity; some
suggest that it is "the" cardinal doctrine.
Most Christians believe that Jesus was executed on a Friday
afternoon in the springtime, circa 30 CE and was resurrected sometime before
sunrise on the following Sunday morning, perhaps a day to a day and a half
A tablet dated to the late first century BCE
has been found. A message was written on it many decades before Jesus' ministry.
Yet it appears to describe a great Jewish leader -- a "prince of princes" --
who would die violently and be resurrected three days later.
Some have speculated that the Gospel stories may related to
earlier Jewish prophecy in addition to -- or instead of -- being based on real events. That is, Jesus'
resurrection and ascension
may not have actually happened.
Dr. Knohl a senior fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem
and the Yehezkel Kaufman Professor of Biblical Studies at Hebrew University has translated the tablet.
He has expressed his belief that:
"This should shake our basic view of Christianity.
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. ...
[Jesus'] mission is that he has to be put to death by the Romans to suffer so
his blood will be the sign for redemption to come. This is the sign of the son
of Joseph. This is the conscious view of Jesus himself. This gives the Last
Supper an absolutely different meaning. To shed blood is
not for the sins of people but to bring redemption to Israel." 1
If the tablet predates Jesus' ministry and describes a messiah figure,
a son of Joseph, who is violently
killed, and resurrected in three days, the discovery could have profound effects
on Christians' understanding of Christian exclusivity, atonement,
resurrection, ascension, Trinity,
virgin birth, etc.
Evaluations of the tablet discovery:
(Text in brown represent our
synopsis of various bloggers and theologians' comments)
- Paul, Gospel writers, & tablet all based on
Old Testament writings: "Rey", a Plymouth Brethren blogger, wrote:
"Is the Jesus resurrection then unoriginal and thus fake? I’d argue of
"Paul would argue throughout his epistles and most pointedly in the
synagogues that Jesus the Messiah (the Christ if you would rather use
that term) was revealed, suffered and died and rose again according to
Scripture. Paul argues this by looking back at the Old Testament Hebrew
writings before Christ came. If he could argue those points based on
those texts, why would it surprise anyone that there’s a tablet that has
some Jewish interpreters drawing similar conclusions before Messiah
came? In other words, if Paul saw it in Isaiah 53 (and other places),
one would expect others to pick up on it too."
"One of the scholar’s in the article suggests that the resurrection
event that occurs in 3 days in the account puts Christianity in an
extremely bad light. I wonder why he would assume that since the 3 day
motif is one that is drawn from the Jonah story where he spends 3 days
and nights in the belly of a water creature. And even if there weren’t
other sources to draw a 3 day/3 night parallel from I’ve already argued
in a different post that there may be myths out there that hint at the
truth but what happened with Christ was the realization of myths. In
other words, it wasn’t merely a story: it happened." 2
- Gospel story grounded in universal human
myths: "Quixie" describes himself as an iconoclast from Tempe,
AZ. He writes:
"The recent discovery of a tablet with an 80 line inscription in Hebrew,
which possibly contains a pre-christian reference to an anointed one who
is resurrected by Gabriel after three days has been talked about
recently in blogs. I think it should surprise no one that there are
mythic precedents to all of the details in the gospel narrative—even the
Easter narrative. That's the very nature of human mythology; the symbols
used to relay our stories are recycled and assimilated by societies
instinctually from decade to decade, epoch to epoch, into the spiritual
languages of their own times. ... Nevertheless, if the inscription
says what Israel Knohl thinks it says, then it's a very good example of
this Jungian principle in action. It's evidence that the motif was an
active and contemporaneous one in the very geographical locale where
Christianity was to eventually germinate. ..." 3
- Resurrection after three days found in
ancient Canaanite texts: "N.T. Wrong,"
is a pseudonym based on "New
Testament - Wrong," or perhaps an
inversion of the name of the
famous Anglican author N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham. He wrote:
"The idea that the dead take three days to return to the world of the
living is a familiar one. The time period of three days is often given
as the distance between the netherworld and earth."
"A very relevant example is in the Texts (KTU 1.20-22)
from ca. 1200 BC. It is very relevant, because the Ugaritian and
biblical traditions share a broadly common geographical locale, many
common beliefs and traditions, and a broadly similar language (although
are separated by some 500+ years). The traditions about the Rephaim (Saviours)
are included in the biblical books with very similar accompanying
mythological themes (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah).
"KTU 1.20 ii 5-7a says ... as Wyatt translates:
'They journeyed a day and a second. After su[nrise on the third] the
Saviours arrived at the threshing-floors, the di[vinities at] the
"The picture here, although from another fragmentary and uncertain text,
is of the 3-day journey from the netherworld to Ugarit by the
long-deceased heroes (-kings) who were the deified heroic ancestors of
Ugarit. ... Note that the dead return after sunrise on the third day.
Now read Mark 16.2. " 4
- Three-day resurrection was a traditional
Jewish expectation by the time of Christ: Dr. James F. McGrath, assistant professor of religion
at Butler University, writes:
I've yet to take a proper look at it, but it would make sense in the
context of my current thinking about the rise of early Christianity if
the motif of 'in three days rise again' was already traditional, and the
disciples who fled back to Galilee came to believe that Jesus had risen
'on the third day' not because they knew a tomb had been found empty on
that day, but because they believed that was what must have happened
'according to the Scriptures'." 5
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Ethan Bronner, "Ancient tablet ignites debate on messiah and resurrection," New York Times, 2008-JUL-06, at:
- Rey, "Ancient tablet proves Jesus wrong?,"
- "Quixie," "The Hazon Gabriel tablet," The Quixotic Infidel, 2008-JUL-07, at:
- "N.T. Wrong," "A pre-Jewish prediction of a Saviour who will die and be
raised again on the third day," 2008-MAY-16, at:
- Dr. James F. McGrath, "Ancient Texts Online: Rising Messiahs and Reproduced
Mandaean Sources," Exploring our Matrix, 2008-JUL-07, at:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultant on Religious Tolerance
Essay originally written: 2008-OCT-04
Essay last updated: 2008-OCT-04
Written by: B.A. Robinson