Upon This Stone I Will Build…

It is interesting what happens when a major archeological find is, uh, found. Sometimes it turns up more than the artifact. I’m not a follower of debates over Jesus, they’re just to speculative. So when a tablet was recently discovered that dates from the century before Jesus’ birth and describes a suffering messiah and might even make reference to his resurrection after three days, I thought it was interesting but didn’t think it would impact the faith too much. What I found more fascinating is what the tablet ‘proves’ according to radical Jesus scholars.

It turns out that before the tablet was found, the radicals claimed that the idea of a suffering messiah didn’t exist in Jesus’ days and that the authors of the gospels (and probably Jesus himself) made it up years later. Great, so this slab of stone with writing on it should shut down that theory right? I mean, in light of that kind of scholarship shouldn’t this prove that the idea wasn’t invented? It doesn’t prove that Jesus was who he said he was but at least it should shut down that line of reasoning.

Sort of. One radical scholar claims that since the tablet predates Jesus, the myth of a dying and rising messiah was already around and so Jesus and the gospel writers simply pick up existing folklore and apply it to Jesus. As the New York Times puts it “it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.”

To sum this up: If the idea that the Messiah would die and rise wasn’t part of Jewish tradition at the time of Jesus, that proves it must have been invented years later. And if the idea that the Messiah would die and rise was part of Jewish tradition at the time of Jesus that proves that it wasn’t unique and was adopted by Jesus and the gospel writers. Either way, whether there was or wasn’t an expectation that the Messiah would die and rise, Christianity is supposed to be false based on that. How you read the evidence is based on what you presuppose the truth to already be.

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  • Another example of starting with a conclusion, and then reasoning backwards to substantiate it, as if we needed another such example!

    “Thinking themselves to be wise, they became fools . . .”

  • No winning with “scholars,” huh? At least, not when the implications call for ultimate accountability. I mean, who wants THAT?

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