Ancient Jewish Tablet Ignites Controversy: Another 3-Day Messiah?

When the Drudgereport first posted an unlinked story “BIBLICAL STONE CAUSES STIR; re-evaluation of Jesus story?” this morning, it caused quite a stir and much speculation. And while it remains unlinked at the moment, it likely refers to this NYTimes story: Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection.

The tablet of this story contains what appears to be a sort of Judaic sect’s apocalyptic gospel, ostensibly transmitted to man by the angel Gabriel. That in itself is not so controversial, since such literature was well known in the era. What’s stunning is that some scholars have made what seems to be a decent case that the text proves the pre-Christian existence of a cultural motif of the suffering messiah: one who, no less, is killed and then perhaps even comes to live again three days later. If this is so, it means that this idea was not, as most scholars believed, original or unique to Christianity, but was in fact a known cultural theme that predates the life and ministry of both Jesus portrayed in Gospel texts as well as any historical Jesus.

As with all such finds (such as the famous Ossuary of James, now widely believed to contain partial fraud), a significant amount of skepticism is warranted. But for many reasons, including the length of time the tablet has been around in scholarly hands, it seems like few doubt the legitimacy of the stone and its text, at least insofar as their dated origin. The debate instead revolves around what precisely that text says (much is illegible or missing) and what that means for the cultural and religious beliefs of the time.

“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” Mr. Boyarin said.

On the face of it, the use of past events to flesh out the Christian story is not exactly unprecedented: many of the Gospels and other early Christian writings seemed concerned with showing that their religion echoes, and thus is legitimately rooted in, Jewish scripture and history (i.e. the idea that Jesus was in some respects analogous to the lamb of Passover). This could simply be one more example, and whether or not this demonstrates post-hoc justification and embellishment or prophetic harmony is a matter of subjective opinion.

However, while some believers may indeed decide that the tablet is actually just another prophecy predicting the life story of Jesus, that line of argument is complicated by the fact that the story of the tablet seems to concern very different events and characters (and if it is a real prediction, then the Bible seems to be missing a rather amazing and key text!)

And the idea that the Christian idea of martyrdom was so culturally “out-of-the-blue” that it just has to be true (i.e. true because it’s too absurd and out of the mainstream for the Gospel writers to have dreamed up) is still decisively undermined. To be sure, atheist critics of such apologetics have dealt with these sorts of arguments quite convincingly in any case. But if the translations and interpretations of the tablet pan out, it will be yet another case in which the comfortably certain claims of evangelists are later overtaken by real history, which seems to have no particular inclination to validate such apologetic assertions after the fact.

Will this turn out to be another James Ossuary scandal, where over-competitive scholarship drove breathless conclusions and media stories far beyond what skeptical scholarship should have allowed? Or will this find ultimately alter our understanding of the pre-Christian world and the context in which Christianity took hold?

You were expecting me to have any clue? Nope. We’ll have to wait and see!

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26 Responses to Ancient Jewish Tablet Ignites Controversy: Another 3-Day Messiah?

  1. qatharms says:

    This tablet is a tempest in a teapot. Christians are not going to be surprised. Maybe Jews will find it surprising, or even offensive. I have been reading the New Testament for a long time. Jesus always acted as if the Jews should have expected a Messiah who would be killed and rise again in three days. He probably wasn’t surprised that they didn’t connect that prophecy with him, but he tried to tell them. I don’t know who is supposed to be shocked by this tablet, but I am not among that number.

  2. Bad says:

    Jesus always acted as if the Jews should have expected a Messiah who would be killed and rise again in three days.

    Not only is there simply no Biblical support for this claim, but it runs precisely contrary to both Biblical scholarship and what virtually all the Christian apologetic literature holds: that the Jews were grossly mistaken about what a messiah was was supposed to be and do, and that no one, not even Jesus’ disciples, really understood what was going to happen and what was coming.

    He probably wasn’t surprised that they didn’t connect that prophecy with him, but he tried to tell them.

    But there isn’t a “prophecy” at all. There is an entirely different text apparently talking about a different historical figure as a potential messiah, establishing as pre-existent an idea that was supposed to be original and unique to Christianity (and hence less likely to have merely been something appropriated by Christian sects rather than the actual event inspiring the stories)

    And the reason most Jews never connected messianic prophecy to Jesus was simply that he never fulfilled any of the clear and core signs of the arrival of the messiah according to their scriptures.

  3. MA says:

    The Messiah must… Prophecy OT Fulfillment by Jesus NT

    Be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7
    Be adored by great persons Psalms 72:10-11 Matthew 2:1-11
    Be annointed with the Spirit of God Isaiah 11:2, 61:1 Matthew 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38
    Be hated without cause Isaiah 49:7; Psalms 69:4 John 15:24-25
    Be undesired and rejected by His own people Isaiah 53:2, 63:3; Psalms 69:8 Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11,
    Be plotted against by Jews and Gentiles together Psalms 2:1-2 Acts 4:27
    Be betrayed by a friend Psalms 41:9, 55:12-24 Matthew 26:21-25, 47-50; John 13:18-21; Acts 1:16-18
    Be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Zechariah 11:12 Matthew 26:16
    Have his price given for a potter’s field Zechariah 11:13 Matthew 27:7
    Be forsaken by His disciples Zechariah 13:7 Matthew 26:31, 56
    Be struck on the cheek Micah 5:1 Matthew 27:30
    Be spat on Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67, 27:30
    Be mocked Psalms 22:7-8 Matthew 27:31, 39-44
    Be beaten Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67, 27:26, 30
    Be thirsty during His execution Psalms 22:15 John 19:28
    Be given vinegar to quench that thirst Psalms 69:21 Matthew 27:34
    Be considered a transgressor Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
    Be buried with the rich when dead Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
    Be sought after by Gentiles as well as Jews Isaiah 11:10, 42:1 Acts 10:45
    Be accepted by the Gentiles Isaiah 11:10, 42:1-4, 49:1-12 Matthew 12:21; Acts 10:45; Romans 15:9-12

  4. Bad says:

    Those are all Christian interpretations after the fact, most of them being extremely vague and fairly dubious to begin with as actual messianic connections. Jewish Scripture, on the other hand, is very clear.

    Jesus, if he was a virgin birth, could not be a direct male descendant of David. He did not gather all the Jews back into Israel. He did not build a temple that lasted eternally. He was not a king. He did not rule at a time of world-wide peace. He did not rule at a time of world-wide acceptance of the existence of God. None of this came to pass with Jesus, which for learned Jews, was and is proof positive that he cannot possibly have been the messiah. All of these events are, in fact, more important to messianic idea in Judaism than the identity of the messiah, who in any case is described to be a normal person and ruler, not an incarnation of God.

    Christian interpretations of these things either try to explain them away with a hypothetical second coming in which they will eventually all come to pass, or by radically reinterpreting things, often in a non-literal “spiritual” fashion.

    Again, not being a Jew or a Christian, and having no belief in prophecy in the first place, I don’t really have a stake in any of this. But I can certainly understand why most learned Jews find the claims of Jesus being the messiah to be unconvincing or even absurd.

  5. charm says:

    I’m a christian and was brought up to be a believer of Jesus although not a consistent mass goer, so I have no victory over those who mastered the bible. I just believe that there is one God who created every living ones and that 1 day we will be meeting Him.

    I just have 1 question that my buddhist husband always ask me. “If all christians where guided by the spirit of Jesus Christ, then why do they keep on doing bad things even after hearing the Sunday mass?” I dont know how to answer this since I myself have the same observation. Now that this tablet came out, it just strengthen my husband’s belief that the christians were praising the wrong messiah afterall.

    I hate myself for how I have reacted. I’m just one of the few who need some answers. I hope you understand. thank you.

  6. Bad says:

    I’m not sure the tablet says much of anything about the “wrong messiah”: if it’s really authentic, and if the translation is correct, then the most it does is undermine the idea that the Christian story was without cultural context and precedent. That still doesn’t demonstrate much about whether or not Christianity is true or not: it just undermines a particular argument for it.

    As far as why Christians keep doing bad things, the standard answer is simply that Christian theology does not say that merely being a Christian will make one perfect: it’s a struggle, and it’s also one that human beings can never fully win on earth. They can only ultimately get forgiveness, not perfection, on their own terms.

    Not that I happen to believe any of that, but the question you are asking isn’t at all a stumper for Christian theologians: it’s quite a common question, and they have a perfectly reasonable response to it, at least in the context of their own beliefs and teachings.

  7. Alan Abbey says:

    There is text support for this. Go to the lengthy essay by Israel Knohl – cited in NYT – on his website at hartman.org.il

  8. cornishevangelist says:

    Eusebius, was the first court-appointed Christian theologian in the service of the Emperor Constantine.
    Constantine commissioned Eusebius, personally, to produce fifty excellent copies of the sacred scriptures but gave no instruction as to which books Eusebius should include in this new Bible.
    He was given sole authority over this project and, therefore, became the first editor of the Bible we have today.
    Here are a list of some of the holy books which he threw out, but there are many more.
    The Acts of Andrew
    The Acts of John
    The Acts of Paul,
    The Apocalypse of Peter
    The Epistle of Barnabas
    The Gospel of Hebrews
    The Gospel of Matthias
    The Gospel of Peter
    The Gospel of Thomas
    The Shepherd of Hermas
    The Teachings of the Apostles
    Eusebius decided that, at least, 33% of all the commonly accepted books considered to be “New Testament” by the earlier church, should be taken out.
    He said there are only 4 gospels to be used because there were only four pillars of the Earth.
    Well do I need to say any more, judge for yourselves do you think there are more Holy Bible books to read?.
    EVANGELIST BILLY BOLITHO

    http://www.evangelistbillybolitho.blogspot.com

  9. Bad says:

    I think you’re over emphasizing the influence of Eusebius who, while important to early church history and the development of textual criticism, was hardly a solitary or singular figure, nor was he the “first editor of the Bible we have today” in any useful sense.

    In any case, I’m not sure what any of that has to do with this discussion, and your question at the end seems to be rhetorical… and yet I can’t figure out from the context what the answer or your point is supposed to be.

  10. Augustine says:

    This is an interesting discussion. How do we know the writing on the stone is not a fraud? I suspect anyone could obtain a stone from two thousand years ago, and then, fraudulently ink it up.

    Beyond whether it is a fraud, the stone raises other troubling issues. It speaks of being a “Revelation by Gabriel” and the alleged angel says “I command you to rise in three days.” This is highly suspect. According to Jewish and Christian tradition, angels do not give commands. The angel Michael says to Satan, “God rebukes you.” He never says, “I rebuke you.”

    There is some prophecy in the stone which is troubling. The stone appears to identify a resurrection/second coming. However, it names a person other than Jesus. Could this, along with other false claims about the lost tomb of Jesus on the Discovery Network be laying the groundwork for a political leader to claim that Jesus was not the true messiah, but that there are other messiahs? This could be a very dangerous trick for modern society.

    I agree that the stone generally indicates that the Jews had the wrong idea of what a messiah should be. The Church went through this thoroughly with a description of Barabbas. Could the stone have been a misinterpretation that got the number of days correct, but the wrong messiah figure?

    The facts surrounding Jesus’ death demonstrate that He is the messiah. The 12 disciples locked themselves away, fearing for their lives. Suddenly, they emerge three days later to confront the Jews and Romans. Something divine intervened.

    I challenge scholars to be highly suspect The New York Times article which fails to obtain the opinions of scholars from the Catholic and/or Orthodox Churches.

    Also, in response to Charm’s argument, all people, not just Christians, continue to sin because the state of nature (i.e. original sin) is maintained within them). Buddhists sin just as much as all other people. This is despite the Buddhist practicing significant meditation to try and break free from sin. I have never met a Buddhist who does not sin. Sin is enslavement and each person is in bondage due to Adam and Eve’s original sin. However, through a belief in Jesus, and confession, we can start to break the cycle of enslavement here on earth and start the process to freedom by choosing to follow Jesus. Freedom comes when the Christian chooses not to sin. Because all Christians sin, they cannot become gods as the Gnostic texts (i.e. Dead Sea Scrolls) and Buddhists have one believe.

    Due to our enslavement to sin, we need a belief in the Son to become one with the Father. This is metaphysical. God is not some old man sitting on a throne. He is the beginning and end and is in everything. As a result, we need to become one with the Son by believing in the Son, as adopted children, in order to become one with a metaphysical God who transcends all. We need to become one with the Son through belief in order to break the bonds of our perpetual enslavement to sin on earth. However, this is difficult for most people to understand.

  11. Bad says:

    How do we know the writing on the stone is not a fraud? I suspect anyone could obtain a stone from two thousand years ago, and then, fraudulently ink it up.

    That’s true, but so far the provenance of the tablet, as well as its physical examinations, don’t suggest fraud at this point. In part, that’s also because the writing is so worn away, and the key passages so ambiguous, an the ultimate implications so obscure until decades after it was first uncovered, that’s it’s hard to imagine a fraudster going to the trouble, only to have it sit around unnoticed for so long, and making any possible fame it might win so chancy and obscure a possibility.

    According to Jewish and Christian tradition, angels do not give commands.

    Cite? And in any case, it’s not clear from what we know of the passage that Gabriel is indeed commanding anything on his own authority.

    I think you’re also sort of missing the thrust of things here. The issue is simply that the idea of a suffering messiah who arises again may be a known cultural motif, which is a surprise to many scholars.

    No one talking about this today is claiming that this Simon really was the messiah. It’s just that apparently, some people in that day may have thought so, and may have already had a tradition relating to how he would ultimately triumph as such.

    Oh: and Buddhists don’t meditate to be free from “original sin” because that concept is a distinctly Christian one (even the Jewish idea of what sin is is different). They meditate to be free of desire and attachment to the world.

  12. 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.,

    http://spinozaslens.com/libet/articles/dworkin_ethicsofexhibition.htm

    and

    http://blog.news-record.com/staff/frontpew/archives/2008/06/dead_sea_scroll.shtml.

  13. Bad says:

    It’s certainly possible that the tablets could be another scam, though again, unlike the Ossuary, it’s far harder to understand why anyone would go to the trouble and then not make the writing contain anything of obvious sensational interest, and then make no attempts to get it noticed or make money off of it. We’ll just have to wait and see the results of the papers and research when published and vetted over the next few years.

  14. rebeldreams says:

    Interesting article and post. Here’s my 2¢. :D

    The debate over whether it is a fraud or not seems to be predicated around it being a “modern” fraud, which is fairly certainly untrue, but it could certainly be an ancient fraud – there was a fair bit of “heretical” writing at the time, somewhat akin to “National Enquirer” reportage on religious affairs that was probably available to the Jewish people and embedded in their consciousness. This happens with greater speed in the modern world (who here has NOT heard the “fact” that footage exists of the alien autopsies at Roswell?” It just so happens that today access to “truth” is a little easier, too.

    There’s little doubt that an average 1st century Jew would not necessarily be able to distinguish between authentic texts and the ‘rumor-mill’ generated texts, and Jesus may well have appealed to those Jews who had learned of this particular text.

    Of course, we may never know on that score; but I do want to add to cornishevangelist – check out how many books have been excised from EVERY major religious text on the planet, not just the Bible. EVERY religion picks and chooses what it wants to be a part of its official teachings, and there are “heretical” Islamic texts, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…the end is listless.. :D

    Do you really think that Mahabharat, the Q’ran, the various other “official” Jewish writings (not the Torah, of course, but others, for certain) are EXACTLY as they were “intended”?

  15. Bad says:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “ancient” fraud. Various sects, heretical and mainstream, had all sorts of beliefs: including Christian sects. And text record them. If you mean “fraud” in the sense that mainstream beliefs of the day are more authentic, well, that really seems to be an unscholarly assumption.

    I’m also not sure what the difference is, because the whole reason the text is controversial is not because anyone believes that Simon was the messiah, but because it would demonstrate the existence of a concept and cultural motif pre-existing Christian thought. It has nothing to do with whether or not these scriptures actually belong in the Bible. My only point in even mentioning including this in the Bible was that the “it was a prophecy” defense doesn’t have much merit, because that assumes that there was some sort of very important mystical destiny for certain books in the Bible that held important predictions and prophecies.

    Do you really think that Mahabharat, the Q’ran, the various other “official” Jewish writings (not the Torah, of course, but others, for certain) are EXACTLY as they were “intended”?

    Intended by who? But by and large, no. I just don’t see what your point is on this though.

  16. rebeldreams says:

    Sorry – I should have been clearer in my writing… this is what I get for writing at 8 in the morning! :)

    By “ancient” fraud, I really meant an ancient “heretical” writing, which the religious authorities at the time would consider a “fraud”, in much the same way as, for example, David Koresh’s claims of being the Messiah were considered “fraudulent” by established religious orthodoxy.

    I completely accept your point about undermining the unique aspect of the resurrection as it eprtains to Christian faith, but I would point out that other ancient religions that predated Christianity also had resurrection in three days after an unjust death, including, I think, some aspects of Zoroastrianism…

    The “intended” remark was more directed at anyone of religious bent who believes that their books (be they Bible, Q’ran, etc) were “intended” by their god or gods for the consumption of man… it was a poorly expressed suggestion that ALL religious books are thoroughly edited by the orthodoxy and religious leaders only to express what aspects of a religion they want expressed and to downplay others.

    Many evangelical groups reject this belief, like cornishevangelist above, and lay claim to ALL the “excised” books of the Bible, but that just leads to even greater problems when it comes to “religious prophylaxis” (to borrow a phrase from Neal Stevenson) since those books are often even more contradictory and scattershot than those accepted books.

  17. Terry says:

    I think the stone is very interesting. The sensationalism around it less so. I’m just surprised it wasn’t saved for Easter or Christmas.

    This time around at least, most of the usual MSM news sources are being more restrained than in the past. Is it perhaps embarrassment about being mocked for their coverage of the James ossuary, the gospel of Judas, and James Cameron’s alternate tomb of Jesus.

    We have certainly long known that alternate Jewish sects than the Pharisee and Sadducee movements existed with some pretty far out ideas. It also isn’t very hard to see the influence of Hellenistic culture on religious thought at the time. I have to say I’ve got enough cognitive dissonance that I believe a man rose from the dead and I consume his body and blood whenever I’m not in a state of sin. It is hard to see how this could possibly shake anyone’s faith who could believe that.

    I also find alternate books of the bible outside of the accepted canon to be less problematic than I’m supposed to because the bible was constructed in a half-hazard way. If Jesus really intended for the bible to be the basis of the faith, he would have written it or ensured it was written. He instead founded a church, which then collected writings which expressed the belief that they already had. True, a particular group that was better trained in literature, philosophy, and administration won out over the heterodox, but I don’t consider that a scandal.

  18. Bad says:

    Like I said, the question is actually somewhat narrow: it really concerns what sort of cultural ideas were around at the time, and insofar as it affects Christianity, it mostly only affects arguments FOR the literal truth of the Gospels. It’s not likely to undermine the faith of anyone who already believes that they are true.

  19. Terry says:

    See, I don’t really think it does affect arguments for the literal truth of the gospels. What argument is there besides you believe it or you don’t? You can perhaps go backwards from a belief in the literal truth of the gospels and say that this shows god’s wisdom because of events in the incarnation, but you can never go from the events of the gospel and argue your way to credulity. That’s why it is faith seeking understanding, rather than understanding seeking faith.

    But we have a long history of resurrection myths, Jewish messiahs, alternate Jewish sects, etc. present in the time period. We know that the unknown authors who wrote the scriptures were quite liberal in grabbing ideas from stoic and neo-platonist philosophers and copying Greek literary structures. Heck, we can even point to old testament writings where we are absolutely positive have been lifted from other cultures such as the flood myth of Noah. I fail to see how this will affect anything that those discoveries haven’t.

    Mostly, I’m curious as to why so-called skeptics keep fawning over these Cardiff giants. After all, the gospel story is absolutely ludicrous and has no empirical support. When someone says “I believe Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead” all you really have to do is say “sez you”. You need the experience of faith or trust of someone’s authority in order for there to be a conversion.

    I suppose you could always hope that you’ll find an archaeological find which contradicts the gospel narrative. However given that Jesus as a name is about as common in his time and place as “Bill” is now and he only had a small group of followers when he was alive I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    In fact, I’d pretty much assume right off the bat that it probably stinks of a scam. Plus, you have the problem that Christ’s death and resurrection was either believed to be literally true by the first followers of Jesus (including Peter & Paul) or they were all willing to scam everyone that he did. If evidence was available enough to show up on the archaeological record, surely they wouldn’t have been able to pull off their delusion/fraud. I just don’t think there is a smoking gun to found, though I would thank the person who found it.

    Finally, I think skeptics need to be harder on people who pursue the “historical Jesus”. There are literary analysis techniques and near eastern archaeological finds that have changed long held assumptions to be sure. However, a lot of people like to just hang shingle out as a “new testament scholar” and simply read into the text whatever they feel like without any real evidence for it. So you see stories about how scholars have discovered the “truth” that Jesus was an Egyptian magician, or the Prodigal Son was sexually abused, or some other shit. That kind of scholarship is just a version of Freudian sola scriptura.

  20. Dave Austin says:

    I don’t get all the hubbub about it. Like “MA” said, there is already plenty of prescience in the Old Testament of a suffering Christ, and the most demonstrative being Isaiah 53 (below KJV):

    1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
    2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
    3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
    4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
    5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
    6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
    8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
    9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
    10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
    11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
    12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

    I can’t for the life of me imagine why people are insistent that ancient Jews were so mindlessly homogeneous as to never take this and similar Old Testament scriptures literal. The Pharisees and Saducees weren’t the only Jewish sect, and as a people they’ve always been so riddled with factions that tablets with disparate beliefs and even Christian-like beliefs before Christ should be rife throughout archeology.

    It also never ceases to amaze me the magnanimous stupidity that prevails that whenever the oldest record of a religious concept is found that immediately everyone concludes that the concept originated at that point, and that other cultures didn’t have it until later. The flood story is one such example, but this one also falls into that category. The true scientist should say “now we know this concept is at least this old” rather than “Aha! This concept evolved at this point and everyone else got it from them”.

  21. Bad says:

    You’ve missed the point, like many others. The point is that Christian apologists have claimed that there is no pre-existence to these ideas, no cultural basis, and thus no reason to think that the Gospel writers drew upon existing ideas to tell their story: thus it’s “too crazy” to have been anything other than straight history. And if this tablet is accurate, they’re wrong.

    And Jews read Isiah in context: the “suffering servant” to them is a poetic description of Israel itself, not the messiah.

  22. Ben says:

    Christianity today evolved from what it was 100 years ago, and evolved from 100 years before that. 2,000 years ago it was evolving. Most of the supposedly unique things in the new testament were ‘old news’ as far a religion was concerned. It, like all religions, is built on the myths and stories of other religions. Religion is a constantly flowing, changing river of superstition. That’s all it is.

    -Ben

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