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Ancient Tablet Proves Jesus Wrong?

I figured I should write something about the recent discovery of the Gabriel Tablet as they’re calling it. New York Times asserts that this tablet might actually prove that Christianity isn’t unique with its resurrections claims. What I found interesting about that bit is that most informed Christians don’t make a point of arguing about the uniqueness of the death and resurrection but rather the historicity of the death and resurrection. Let me flesh that out a bit.

The article states that this tablet has information of the possibility of a death and resurrection of a Jewish Messiah before the disciples’ claim that’s what actually happened to Jesus. The question being raised is this: Is the Jesus resurrection then unoriginal and thus fake? I’d argue of course not.

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.

Lastly, going back to my main point about the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection, most Christian’s shouldn’t be concerned by these sorts of discoveries-if anything we should be excited. They speak of things that others have realized in regards to the coming Messiah and when Messiah actually came, He carried out what was promised to happen and was still rejected and crucified. So when there’s folk bringing a charge that the story of a suffering Messiah is labeled a fabrication post-Jesus (and thus maintaining the teachings of Jesus as Good but the Theologizing of the disciples as Bad) we can point to earlier interpretive evidence that shows that the Disciples weren’t alone in seeing this.

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6 replies on “Ancient Tablet Proves Jesus Wrong?”

I’d think this would be called out as a prooftext, but it’s more the commentaries on these verses that I found interesting. The more I look around through Christian academia (and the older theological commentaries), the more I find that suggests this whole concept of a Jewish death/resurrection <i>motif</i>-since the Jews don’t accept the Jesus/Jonah connection so far as I understand it-prior to the New Testament period is not all that unknown or uncommon. In short, this whole (so-called) controversy is more a matter of some people not doing their homework rather than really any "new" information coming to light.
"Hos 6.1-2"Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."

But this seems to have a further reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and the time limited is expressed by <i>two days</i> and the <i>third day,</i> that it may be a type and figure of Christ’s rising the <i>third day,</i> which he is said to do <i>according to the scriptures,</i> according to this scripture; for all the prophets testified of <i>the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow.</i> Let us see and admire the wisdom and goodness of God, in ordering the prophet’s words so that when he foretold the deliverance of the church out of her troubles he should at the same time point out our salvation by Christ, which other salvations were both figures and fruits of; and, though they might not be aware of this mystery in the words, yet now that they are fulfilled in the letter of them in the resurrection of Christ it is a confirmation to our faith that <i>this is he that should come,</i> and we are to <i>look for no other.</i>
-from <i>Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible</i> (italic emphasis in original)

Primarily, in type, Israel’s national revival, <i>in a short period</i> ("<i>two or three"</i> being used to denote a <i>few</i> days, Isa 17:6; Luk 13:32, Luk 13:33); antitypically the language is so framed as to refer in its <i>full accuracy</i> only to Messiah, the ideal Israel (Isa 49:3; compare Mat 2:15, with Hos 11:1), raised on the third day (Joh 2:19; 1Co 15:4; compare Isa 53:10).
-from <i>Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary</i> (italic emphasis in original)

The Resurrection of Christ, and our resurrection in Him and in His Resurrection, could not be more plainly foretold. The prophet expressly mentions "two days," after which life should be given, and a "third day, on" which the resurrection should take place. What else can this be than the two days in which the Body of Christ lay in the tomb, and the third day, on which He rose again, as "the Resurrection and the life" Joh_11:25, "the first fruits of them that slept" 1Co_15:20, the source and earnest and pledge of our resurrection and of life eternal?
-<i>Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible</i>

Though there is a dissenting voice as well:

The Rabbins consequently suppose the prophecy to refer either to the three captivities, the Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Roman, which has not ended yet; or to the three periods of the temple of Solomon, of that of Zerubbabel, and of the one to be erected by the Messiah. Many of the fathers, on the other hand, and many of the early Lutheran commentators, have found in them a prediction of the death of Christ and His resurrection on the third day. Compare, for example, <i>Calovii Bibl. illustr. ad h. l.</i>, where this allusion is defended by a long series of undeniably weak arguments, and where a fierce attack is made, not only upon Calvin, who understood these words as "referring to the liberation of Israel from captivity, and the restoration of the church after two days, i.e., in a very short time;" but also upon Grotius, who found, in addition to the immediate historical allusion to the Israelites, whom God would soon liberate from their death-like misery after their conversion, a foretype, in consequence of a special divine indication, of the time "within which Christ would recover His life, and the church its hope." But any direct allusion in the hope here uttered to the death and resurrection of Christ, is proved to be untenable by the simple words and their context. The words primarily hold out nothing more than the quickening of Israel out of its death-like state of rejection from the face of God, and that in a very short period after its conversion to the Lord.
-from <i>Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament</i>

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