Daily Archives: August 6, 2008
A long time ago, Rook Hawkins asked for my opinion on a recently unearthed tablet that contained an apocalyptic vision of the death and resurrection of a Jewish Messiah. According to many on the RRS boards, this find would invalidate Christianity. Well, I’ve thought long and hard about this. I don’t think that this tablet is anything to get excited about. Rook and I will actually agree on several points (surprising as that might be).
First, this was “found” in someone’s collection many years after the fact. We have no idea where it came from or how it got there. Already, the tablet has passed through too many hands to make an convincing case for its dating. This raises the possibility of a forgery. Second, if it is real, then it does solidify the fact that the notion of a suffering and rising Messiah was derived from Hebrew Scripture before Jesus ever was on the scene. This makes it all the more convincing that Paul was able to reason with people from the Scriptures about Jesus’ identity as Messiah.
What I don’t think that Rook will agree with is that the use of apocalyptic language suggests a prophecy–the writer wasn’t reporting a historical event but rather offering his opinion of what will happen in the future when the Messiah does come. Either way, the final report on this will be very interesting. But I don’t think it will offer any earth-shaking revelations that will destroy the foundations of Christianity.
In all, having a suffering-and-resurrection tradition already in place prior to the first century doesn’t weaken the case for Jesus in my mind. It strengthens it, and bolsters my faith to know that some of the Jews of Jesus’ day were on the lookout for exactly what transpired. These folks would have readily identified Jesus as the Savior promised in the Scriptures.