Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection

Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection

So reads the headline in the NY Times. Anyone reading this within a week can read the article here. For others, just contact me (I made a copy), or better yet, just do a search for more info.

The gist of the article is that a first century BC record speaks to the suffering servant AND the resurrection "on the third day" even as Jesus taught less than a century later. One scholar, Mr. Israel Knohl, of Hebrew University. Sees in it confirmation of his "iconoclastic" theory that Jesus and his followers just "made up" all their theology from existing literature at the time.

It is hard to tell who will most upset - the unbelieving "New Testament scholars" that insist that any prophecy that is too specific MUST have been inserted after the fact, or insecure believers who think that the ANY attempts to "reconstruct" Christianity from previous documents (such as the dead sea scrolls or this tablet from the century before Jesus) threatens the truth.

To unbelievers, the evidence is dangerous to their pet anti-supernatural theories that explain prophecies as after the fact inventions. Other unbelievers, like Knohl, try to shake our faith by pointing to all the "evidence" that our beliefs are all eclectic myths based on the political and religious expectations of the day in which they were written.

If this tablet is authentic - and it appears to be - what does it show? Does it strengthen our faith or weaken it? Well, it shows that the belief in the resurrection was strong - even to the point of expecting it "on the third day." It further shows that the disciples should NOT have been shocked at the possibility that Jesus would have to die before he could conquer the Adversary.

However, the disciples saw Jesus as more than a political rebel. Their Messiah was by nature a religious leader. They even saw him as GOD'S anointed, even as the Son of God! How could he be defeated by such base folk as the Romans, much less the Sadducees who ruled the religious courts of the day (and denied the resurrection). The Pharisees, on the other hand, would have seemed to be allies -- IF they had not been so corrupt in their orthodoxy.

And so, when Jesus used established interpretations of the prophets, applying it to himself, he was not "inventing" anything. The writers of this text were looking at the same scriptures, applying them to a different person, nearly a century earlier. Jesus just happened to be RIGHT!

Nothing I write here will convince an unbeliever that Jesus rose from the dead. This is a conviction that comes ONLY from God Himself. However, when unbelievers such as Mr. Knohl try to use this to disprove our sacred scriptures, then I can at least post an alternate view!

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