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New find makes a splash in biblical scholarship

by Greg Krehbiel on 6 July 2008

The idea of a Messiah who died and rose again after three days might have pre-dated Christianity, according to an ancient tablet, which seems to be a sort of Dead Sea Scroll written on stone. (Thanks to Gordon for the link.)

People make a lot of assumptions about what the Jews believed in Jesus’ day, and it often seems the tend is to over-simplify. E.g., the Pharisees believed this, the Sadducees that, and the Essenes this other thing.

It’s probably more likely that religious views in the first century were all over the map, with little sects believing all sorts of things.

Of course people who find such things want to make a big deal out of them so they can get grants and spend the rest of their lives in comfortable jobs writing papers and giving talks, so we hear the inevitable “this will revolutionize our understanding of Christianity” nonsense.

(“Gee, will Tom Hanks play me in the movie version?”)

It’s a significant find, but the idea that it will revolutionize anything is far-fetched. It will simply show that first century Judaism was broader than is often assumed. That’s all.

2008-07-06  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 2

  1. John Krehbiel jkrehbielp
    6 July 2008 @ 10:35 am

    I just finished reading that article. It’s funny(and entirely predictable) that the most tenuous possible conclusion, held by one scholar, is featured in the headline.

    It’s the same thing that happens when they find a new fossil. The headline says “New find completely rewrites Vertebrate family tree.”

    Yeah, sure.

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    6 July 2008 @ 12:29 pm

    Apply what you know of selection to writers.

    Writer1 one goes to his editor and says, “I have a story about a new fossil.”

    Editor: “What’s special about it?”

    Writer1: “It’s a little odd and doesn’t quite fit with the current scheme.”

    Writer2 goes to his editor and says, “I have a story about a fossil that will completely rewrite everything we know about the evolution of man.”