Guest / Limited Access /

A 2,000-year-old inscription, written in ink on a stone, is being called "a Dead Sea Scroll on stone." But New Testament scholars scoff at the idea that the inscription "should shake our basic view of Christianity," as one scholar told The New York Times.

The inscription has been dubbed "Gabriel's Vision" since the phrase, "I, Gabriel," appears several times in the broken text. It was apparently discovered somewhere in Jordan about a decade ago, and was more recently purchased by an Israeli-Swiss businessman from an antiquities dealer. The legible parts of the Hebrew text are stylistically similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and so far no scholar has raised doubts about its authenticity despite its murky provenance.

An analysis of the inscription appeared in the Hebrew journal Cathedra a year ago and in Biblical Archaeology Review earlier this year. But few people outside the scholarly world paid attention until The New York Times featured an interview with Hebrew University professor Israel Knohl, who claims additional insight into some of the hard-to-read areas of the text.

Knohl says one illegible word is the Hebrew word for "live," which led him to translate one sentence as, "In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you." He concludes the inscription is about a leader of the Jews who will die and be resurrected after three days.

That's in contrast to the typical Jewish image of a triumphant messiah, who is usually seen as a powerful leader like his ancestor King David. It suggests there were other perspectives on messianism in the first-century Jewish world from which Christianity sprang.

Darrell Bock, a professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, says Knohl may be reaching too far with his translation. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
How 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money
Leadership Network and Vanderbloemen find what determines pastor salaries (and who might be most underpaid).
TrendingLecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
Lecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
(UPDATED) Performance with The Roots was the first by a Christian rapper on late-night TV.
Editor's PickWorking For Justice Will Make You Uncomfortable
Working For Justice Will Make You Uncomfortable
Eugene Cho wonders whether we're willing to go beyond paying lip service to social change.
Comments
Christianity Today
'Dead Sea Scrolls on Stone'
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.