The Stone’s Story

An interesting bit of information is highlighted here on Ben Witherington’s blog. I use his words:

David Jeselsohn bought an ancient tablet …but he was totally unaware of its significance. Now it may be the earliest Jewish evidence for the idea of a dying and rising messiah figure.

The stone has been credibly dated to the first century B. C., before Christ's birth, and this has caused quite a bit of discussion.

Isaiah 53 foretold the Messiah’s death a few hundred years before this stone’s composition, so I don’t think this stone should surprise most Christians. (Other prophecies from the Jewish tradition concerning Christ’s suffering are found here and here.) Of course, that will not stop some sensationalists from reaching extreme conclusions like those related here.

What’s BW3’s conclusion?

…the real implication of this for Jesus' studies should not be missed. Most radical Jesus scholars have argued that the passion and resurrection predictions by Jesus found in the Gospels were not actually made by Jesus-- they reflect the later notions and theologizing of the Evangelists.

But now, if this stone is genuine there is no reason to argue this way. One can show that Jesus, just as well as the author of this stone, could have spoken about a dying and rising messiah…

Charles Colson, who addressed this issue in his latest book, reaches a similar conclusion in the article here. From the article:

…I wrote about this new evidence in my book The Faith as an apologetic argument for the historicity of the resurrection. The idea of a messianic figure rising from the dead goes way back in antiquity. Jesus simply fulfilled the truth written by God on the human heart…The newfound stone does not call Christianity’s credibility into question. Instead, once again, when it comes to the historicity of Scripture, the only credibility at stake is the media’s.

Most of the parallels from other religious traditions either occur after Christ’s life or are such a stretch to the imagination that they are easily ignored. However, even if you do accept some of the parallels as authentic, what does that prove exactly? Could not God have given some form of revelation about Christ to other people outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition? This seems to be Colson’s logical conclusion.

Stand to Reason has an interesting post here. It seems that if you assume beforehand that accounts of Christ’s resurrection are false, then no matter what the “stones say,” you will reach the same conclusion you assumed to begin with.

(For expert opinion on related topics, see Edwin M. Yamauchi, here and here.)

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