Will Stone Tablet Shake Christianity?
Regis NicollRegis Nicoll's weblog
- 2008 Jul 08
The Passover Plot, Gospel of Judas, and the Jesus Ossuary follow 2000 years of attempts to undermine the pillars of the Christian faith: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, the "Gabriel Revelation" can be added to the mix.
What is the Gabriel Revelation? It is a text, written on a stone tablet in the first century B.C., that purportedly refers to a suffering messiah that will die and rise again.
To Christian critics like Israel Knohl, the tablet confirms the theory that a suffering messiah was an established part of Jewish tradition well before the appearance of Jesus. Well, yeah: Genesis 3:15, Psalm 22, Isaiah 52 and 53 and Daniel 9:26 tell us as much, so what’s new?
According to the decipherers, the tablet refers to a messianic figure who is told he will be slain and “in three days you will live.” Such detail, it is argued, means that the Gospel writers penned this prediction in their narratives after the fact. Except that, as I have commented, the Gospels were “written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses, [so that] any fabrication on the part of authors to fudge the facts would have been readily contested by any number of hostile contemporaries.”
So why that added detail should raise eyebrows is more than a little perplexing, considering that there are hundreds of prophecies about Jesus recorded in the Old Testament centuries before His birth, the most astonishing being the precise year of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem predicted by Daniel (chapter 9:25-26) 300 years prior.
Nevertheless, for the better part of two centuries, critics have been citing myths of Olympian deities impregnating human women to sire half-gods, and dying and rising Corn-Kings, as proof that the Christian narrative is one of human invention. C. S. Lewis saw it differently.
To Lewis, myth at its best is a penumbra of divine light that inspires the human imagination about the true nature of things—much of which is stamped onto the design of nature.
Myths about the Corn-King abound because of the natural pattern of life, death and new life which presages the “real Corn-King who will die once and rise once at Jerusalem.” Lewis writes, “We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical person…under Pontius Pilate.” He concludes, “We must not be nervous about ‘parallels’ and ‘pagan Christs’: they ought to be there—it would be a stumbling block if they weren’t.”
In the same way, myths -- in the sense of what Lewis might call "true myths," or general revelations -- like those that appear to be contained in the Gabriel Revelation, "ought to be there," as we get closer and closer in time to the "myth that became fact."
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