Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Christ son of Joseph (First Century BC)

Posted by NT Wrong on May 4, 2008

The recently discovered first century BC apocalyptic inscription, Hazon Gabriel (The Vision of Gabriel) makes mention of a Messiah/Christ who is a son of Joseph. This reference is in addition to mention of the Messiah son of Joseph in 1 Enoch 90, 4QTestimonia, the Talmud, and Sefer Zerubbabel.

Israel Knohl comments in ““By Three Days, Live”: Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel.The Journal of Religion 88 (Apr 2008):147–158, 150:

“Line 80 of the text begins with the words  לשלשת ימין (by three days), after which the editors read the letter het followed by three undecipherable letters and then the words  (I Gabriel). In my opinion, the word that the editors read only partially is completely legible and can clearly be read as האיה  The context implies that the angel Gabriel addresses someone and tells him: “by three days, האיה– live/be resurrected!”

Knohl continues, commenting on a passage in Hazon Gabriel where the blood of the slain is transformed into a chariot that ascends to heaven:

“Thus, Hazon Gabriel attests that the character of “Ephraim” as the “Messiah son of Joseph” was already known in the late first century BCE. From it we also learn of the contemporaneous fashioning of a belief in resurrection “after three days” and in the ascent to heaven of some people who were slaughtered. These conclusions are of decisive importance for understanding the messianic consciousness of “Jesus son of Joseph,” who was born around the time when this text was composed.”

After reconstructing part of the text, Knohl concludes that the one who was commanded to resurrect after three days was the “Prince of Princes”, a figure identifiable from Daniel 8 as either God, Michael or an earthly ruler.

A lot hangs on a reconstruction with some odd spelling on this one.

Knohl’s case is not at all in the O’Callaghan school of fragment reconstruction, but it is hardly watertight. He’s made a stimulating opening case, though.

Also: see this post.

2 Responses to “Christ son of Joseph (First Century BC)”

  1. I have often thought the possibility that a much earlier Messiah story had been grafted on to a more recent and memorable epoch (namely that of Pilate) is never given enough attention. It still leaves open the potential that a real Jesus taught and was crucified but not necessarily in 32 CE.

  2. Bob Moore said

    I try to show, in my historical fiction, how Judas may have had some influence toward making the 3rd day resurrection an actuality. See the “Judas” chapters in http://www.bobmoorepainting.com/Jesus

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