N.T.WRONG

Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Archive for the ‘Eschatology’ Category

Full English Translation of Hazon Gabriel by Israel Knohl

Posted by NT Wrong on July 16, 2008

Israel Knohl provides his full English translation of Hazon Gabriel here.

A drawing of the inscription can be found here.

It’s a difficult text to understand in any specificity, due to the gaps. But lines 19ff seem to refer to the eschatological arrival of the God of Israel within “three days”, together with the head archangel Michael and the other(?) three archangels.

“19. … By three days you shall know, for thus said
20. the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the evil has been broken
21. before righteousness …

25. … Here is the glory of the Lord God
26. of Hosts, the God of Israel, These are the seven chariots
27. at the gate of Jerusalem and the gates of Judea they will re[st] for
28. my three angels, Michael and all the others …”

As this meaning is relatively clear and the text unbroken, shouldn’t the far more broken lines 80-81 be interpreted as also referring to the same or similar eschatological arrival after three days by Michael (there called “The Prince of Princes”)? That is, the arrival will be in glory, on chariots from heaven, accompanied by God Almighty. The context supports this interpretation, while Knohl’s interpretation relies on the controversial reconstruction of hayeh (interpreted as the imperative “live!”). If Israel Knohl could also make a photograph available, that would be handy to judge the issue, too.

Israel Knohl’s latest article in Tarbiz can be found here, which includes the Hebrew transcription for Hazon Gabriel.

Thanks to Jim West for noticing it first.

Advertisements

Posted in Apocalyptic, Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Hebrew & Semitics | Comments Off on Full English Translation of Hazon Gabriel by Israel Knohl

Hazon Gabriel – Who is ‘The Prince of Princes’?

Posted by NT Wrong on July 14, 2008

Line 81 of Hazon Gabriel (“The Vision of Gabriel”) refers to Sar Hasarin (“The Prince of Princes”). The sentence in which the phrase appears, as reconstructed by Israel Knohl, reads Leshloshet yamin hayeh, ani Gavriel, gozer alekha, sar hasarin (“In three days, I, Gabriel, command you, prince of princes: live!”).

As discussed elsewhere, Israel Knohl’s reading of the inscription has not (yet?) received widespread acceptance, and he relies on a reconstruction of some key gaps in the text. In particular, the all-important translation “live!” relies on a word for which only the first letter is partially visible according to the original editors, has to be understood in the imperative for Knohl’s interpretation to work, and is an unusual use of the verb if it refers to resurrection (wouldn’t “stand!” be more likely?). I haven’t seen a photograph of the original, but if the first het of the word is only partial, the word could be almost anything.

What is more, Knohl’s “Prince of Princes” must be understood as a mortal, for his interpretation to be feasible. But the term first appears in Daniel 8.25, where it refers to an angelic being against whom Antiochus IV Epiphanes dared to act arrogantly (cf. Dan 8.11). In Daniel, Michael is identified as the angelic “prince” of Israel (Dan 10.13, 21; 12.1). The angel who reveals this to Daniel in a vision is likewise identified as Gabriel (Dan 8.16; 9.21; 10.5-6).

Most of the contemporary literature supports the identification of the Prince of Princes with Michael, the primary eschatological defender of Israel. Michael’s essential function in Jewish tradition was as “heavenly protector and champion of the Jewish nation”. He was the archangel responsible for the protection of the chosen people against other hostile powers, and the sole contender against the angelic evil “princes” of Israel’s enemies (1 Enoch 20.5; Dan 10.21). Michael undertakes his role of protector as the highest and chief angel of heaven, and commander-in-chief of the heavenly angels (Dan 12.1; 1QM, Rev 12.7; 3 Bar 11.4-8; 2 En 22.6; 33.10; T. Abr). Darrell Hannah notes that, “already by the beginning of the first century AD, Michael had become the principal angel, if not everywhere, at least in many circles” (Michael and Christ, 48). He is called archistrategos (“commander-in-chief”) throughout the Testament of Abraham (A). In the Similitudes of Enoch, Michael is described as “the first” angel. Michael is the highest archangel in 3 Bar 11.4-6, receiving veneration from fellow archangel Phanuel. He is recognised as head angel in all but a few texts (Pr. Jos, Apoc. Abr, Apoc. Zeph., Astrom. Bk 74.2; 75.3; 79.6).

Michael is attacked by the evil king in the eschatological end-times battle, which gives occasion to his arrival on earth for the deliverance of the righteous and receipt of the kingdom from the powers of evil (Dan 8.10-11; 11.36; Dan 12.1).

In the Book of Dreams (c. 164 BC), Michael binds the leader of the rebellious angels in the abyss, records the actions of the shepherds who overstep the mark against God’s chosen people, and intercedes for his “sheep”, assisting the righteous Israelites in the final battle, and delivering the evil powers for judgment in the heavenly court (1 Enoch 88-90).

In the Assumption of Moses, when the Kingdom of God appears at the end of times, an angel “who is in the highest place appointed” will “avenge [Israel] of their enemies”, and “then the devil will have an end”, before raising the people of God to the heavens (10.1-2, 9). The close parallel with the angel Michael’s role in Dan 12.1 identifies the angel of the Assumption of Moses as Michael. Hannah also notes that the reference to “his hands will be filled” (implebuntur manus) refers to priestly ordination (cf. Exod. 28.41; 29.9; Lev. 21.10; T. Levi 8.10), which agrees with Michael’s role in the heavenly sanctuary. Again, in T. Dan 6.1, the “angel who intercedes for you” who is “the mediator between God and men for the peace of Israel” is predicted to “stand in opposition to the kingdom of the enemy”, and bring Satan’s kingdom to an end.

Likewise, in the War Scroll, God is described as destroying Belial (also referred to as “the Prince of the Kingdom of Evil”) in an eschatological battle, through the agency of the archangel Michael. The Priestly Messiah tells his soldiers that God will humiliate Belial “through the power of the majestic angel of the authority of Michael” and that God will “exalt the authority of Michael among the gods” in order to restore the people of God (1QM 17.5-8).

In 11QMelchizedek, Melchizedek is presented as “an angelic figure and eschatological saviour”, who stands at the head of the angelic Sons of Light, exercises a priestly function in heaven, makes atonement and delivers judgment, in a way that identifies him with the lead angel Michael (2.8). As in the War Scroll, Melchizedek is said to “exact the vengeance of God’s judgments and … protect all the sons of light from the power of Belial and from the power of all the spirits of his lot” (2.13). Melchizedek conquers Belial, proclaims liberty, and provides relief from iniquities (2.6) and expiation for the sons of light (2.8), and then reigns as king. Of course, Melchizedek is also employed in the Christian Letter to the Hebrews, in order to identify the nature and functions of Jesus Christ.

In 11Q11 (11QApocryphal Psalms a) 3-4, Yahweh is to send “a powerful angel” or “the chief of the army” to evict Belial from “the whole earth”, to hurl Belial into the great abyss, where he will be shut in forever. A further text from Qumran, 4Q‘Amram, pits “Belial, The Prince of Darkness and Melchiresa” against “Michael, The Prince of Light and Melchizedek” in a battle over the soul of ‘Amram after his death.

Michael is also the chief legal advocate for the people of God against Satan. In the lost ending to the Assumption of Moses (identified from Jude 9 and Origen, Princ. 3.2.1), Michael contests Satan’s claim to the body of Moses, opposing Satan’s claim that Moses belongs to him because Moses had sinned by murdering the Egyptian, and Michael denyies that Satan has a right to humanity as Lord of Matter.

Michael also functions as intercessor for humanity at the right hand of God. His righteousness, together with Abraham’s righteousness, atones for the sins of certain souls in the Testament of Abraham.

Rabbinical literature denounces the practice of praying to Michael or Gabriel as an intercessor (y. Ber 9.13a; Abod. Zar. 42b). An earlier instance of prayer to Michael is recorded in Joseph and Aseneth. Aseneth’s prayer of repentance is heard by the Morning Star, the pre-eminent star/angel in the host of heaven. In Joseph and Aseneth, the Morning Star is identified as “the chief captain of the Lord and commander of the whole host of the Most High” (14.8). This results in Aseneth’s veneration/worship of the lead angel (15.11), and praise to him for rescue “from the abyss” (15.2). Although not explicitly identified as Michael, the identification is highly probable, and the angel is prayed to and venerated by Aseneth, and described by Aseneth as “(a) god” come down from heaven (17.9). Likewise, Jesus takes for himself the title of pre-eminent host, the Morning Star in Rev 2.28; 22.16 (cf. 2 Pet 1.19). “Morning Star” is the title given to Satan before his fall, according to first-century exegesis of Isa 14.12. Justin claims that Jesus existed before the Morning Star as well as other angelic hosts such as the moon (Dial. 45). Ignatius explains that Jesus had been hidden from Satan, and when he became incarnate, it was announced to the world/aeons by “a star that shone forth” in heaven brighter than all the stars” (Eph. 19.2). The other stars, the sun and moon “formed a chorus around the star”, yet it outshone them all (Eph. 19.2). Melito explains that Christ “is the firstborn of God, who was begotten before the Morning Star” and in fact created the stars and angels (82).

So, on the one hand, line 81 of Hazon Gabriel is not likely to refer to a resurrection after three days, because “The Prince of Princes” is more likely to refer to the angel Michael, who is not subject to death. But on the other hand, Hazon Gabriel adds to the traditions about an angelic being who descends to earth and effects an eschatological salvation – the very traditions that the Jesus Movement adopted and adapted in respect of Jesus. Michael was identified as occupying the top position in heaven at the right hand of God the Most High, protecting the people of God against attacks by Satan in the intermediate period between Satan’s fall from heaven and his eventual defeat, interceding on their behalf for their sins as heavenly high priest, able to receive prayers and forgive sins, and worthy of veneration. He was the heavenly agent who would be sent down from the highest heaven to defeat Satan in the final eschatological battle, after which Satan and all evil would be eradicated, and the righteous would ascend to be in heaven for all eternity with Michael. It is obvious that the Christian tradition about Christ’s defeat of Satan has taken over the bulk of earlier Jewish traditions about Michael’s victory over Satan, and attributed them to Christ. As Hannah summarises:

    “Christians adopted nearly all of the Jewish apocalyptic Michael traditions”
    – Hannah, Michael and Christ, 54

This is not to deny that there are changed emphases and different ways of combining the traditions in the Christian tradition which differentiate the Christian tradition from others. The Christian tradition cannot simply be reduced to its background, but instead the distinctive way it interprets and rearranges the tradition must be acknowledged. Given Christ’s identity with The Angel of Yahweh, and also with the exalted attributes of God’s Glory, Name, Wisdom and Word, his affinity with God was unequalled in the contemporary literature. But given the extent of continuity with the angelic traditions, the function, if not the person, of Christ should be viewed more as a natural evolution than dramatic mutation from the earlier Jewish traditions.

As for Hazon Gabriel – if genuine (and although unprovenanced) – it adds to our knowledge of first century apocalyptic and messianism. But it probably doesn’t do so in the precise and direct way that Israel Knohl proposes.

Posted in Apocalyptic, Early Christian literature, Early Jewish literature, Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Jesus & Christ | Comments Off on Hazon Gabriel – Who is ‘The Prince of Princes’?

Hazon Gabriel – Knohl versus Witherington on CNN

Posted by NT Wrong on July 13, 2008

This is Israel Knohl:

This is Ben Witherington:

Together they are … Biblical Scholars.

Posted in Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Jesus & Christ | 3 Comments »

Knohl’s Interpretation of Hazon Gabriel

Posted by NT Wrong on July 6, 2008

Knohl’s interprets lines 80-81 of Hazon Gabriel (“The Vision of Gabriel”) as saying:

“by three days live/be resurrected, I Gabriel command you, prince of the princes”

Here are the two key two excerpts from his article, in which he argues for this meaning. From “By Three Days, Live”: Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel.” The Journal of Religion 88 (Apr 2008):147–158, Appendix, 150):

Posted in Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Hebrew & Semitics | Comments Off on Knohl’s Interpretation of Hazon Gabriel

New York Times on Hazon Gabriel – Resurrected Messiah Before Jesus

Posted by NT Wrong on July 6, 2008

The New York Times has picked up on the Hazon Gabriel (“Vision of Gabriel”) tablet, and in particular the interpretation being offered by Israel Knohl in “By Three Days, Live”: Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel.” The Journal of Religion 88 (Apr 2008):147–158).

“A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.”
New York Times

The writer of the article is quite aware that the interpretation of the tablet as concerning a messiah who would resurrect after three days is still some way from being affirmed. In particular, the gaps in the text require readers of the tablet to reconstruct the missing words, as discussed in my previous post. Moreover, because of the broken and uncertain context, it is uncertain who is saying “live!” to who, even if “live” can be properly restored in the gaps. So, even in the long term, the measured conclusion may be that we just cannot tell what the tablet originally said. Time will tell.

Still, if the tablet does talk about an anointed one (messiah) who will rise from the dead, it is very significant for our interpretation of beliefs in Jesus in the first century AD. The tablet is dated before Jesus’ birth, in the late 1st century BC.

“Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.

“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” [Dr]. Boyarin said.”
New York Times

“”This should shake our basic view of Christianity,” [Israel Knohl] said as he sat in his office of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem where he is a senior fellow in addition to being the Yehezkel Kaufman Professor of Biblical Studies at Hebrew University. “Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship. What happens in the New Testament was adopted by Jesus and his followers based on an earlier messiah story.”
New York Times

Although, the idea of an anointed king who serves at the side of the High God and returns from the dead after three days is one that can be traced back at least to 1200 BC in Syria-Palestine.

Future developments are afoot:

“A conference marking 60 years since the discovery of the scrolls will begin on Sunday at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the stone, and the debate over whether it speaks of a resurrected messiah, as one iconoclastic scholar believes, also will be discussed.”
New York Times

“There is now a spate of scholarly articles on the stone, with several due to be published in the coming months.”
New York Times

“A chemical examination by Yuval Goren, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University who specializes in the verification of ancient artifacts, has been submitted to a peer-review journal. He declined to give details of his analysis until publication, but he said that he knew of no reason to doubt the stone’s authenticity.”
New York Times

Posted in Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Hebrew & Semitics | Comments Off on New York Times on Hazon Gabriel – Resurrected Messiah Before Jesus

N T Wright on Comedy Central – The Last Anglican Straight Man?

Posted by NT Wrong on June 21, 2008

On Thursday 19 June, 2008, Bishop N T Wright was interviewed by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. The subject was the Bishop’s latest book, Surprised by Hope, and the topic of Heaven.

N T Wright was playing the straight man to Colbert. This is an unusual role for a bishop to assume in the Anglican Church these days, unless he’s Nigerian. But N T Wright played the role well, and even slipped in a fine gag about the possible title of Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book.

Here’s a transcript of what they said, for the sole purpose of religious education:

Stephen Colbert: “Our guest tonight wants Christians to rethink Heaven. I say they still have harps, but now with whammy-bars. Please welcome Bishop NT Wright. Bishop, thank you so much for joining us. Now, you are a bishop in the Anglican Church, correct.”

N T Wright: “Right.”

Stephen Colbert: “Great. Well welcome.”

N T Wright: “Thank you.”

Stephen Colbert: “Now, I’m a Roman Catholic – no hard feelings about the whole Henry thing. Ok?”

N T Wright: “Absolutely.”

Stephen Colbert: “Let’s not try to make this, you know … let’s not settle any scores.”

N T Wright: “No, we actually have an annual golf match of Anglicans and Catholics, and I’m sorry to say that they won the first two. But we shared the one last week, so we’re getting on alright.”

Stephen Colbert: “Ok, great, well, that’s a good ecumenical step.”

N T Wright: “We played for a dogma a hole.”

Stephen Colbert: “A dogma a hole?”

N T Wright: “Mmmm – go figure.”

Stephen Colbert: “That’s very nice. Now you talk a lot about a dogma, a really quite ancient dogma, in your book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. I love the name Surprised by Hope – I believe that will be the title of Hillary Clinton’s next book, also.”

N T Wright: “I thought that was going to be ‘Hoping for a Surprise’.”

Stephen Colbert: “Well, these days, when I feel hope, I’m kind of surprised.”

N T Wright: “Well, absolutely. But the whole point about this is that most Christians have this vague idea of going to Heaven as something that …”

Stephen Colbert: “No, mine’s very specific, you get a harp, and I’ll have a mint julep, and I’ll ask Ronald Reagan questions.”

N T Wright: “Right, and you’ll be sitting like that guy in the Far Side cartoon, saying, ‘Gee, I wish I’d brought a magazine, because it’s so boring’? I mean that’s the image a lot of people have of it, but the point in the New Testament is that there’s this big surprise that Heaven is just Phase 1, and then there’s a further thing, further down the track, which is what the Bible calls New Heavens and New Earth.”

Stephen Colbert: “The New Jerusalem.”

N T Wright: “Well, the New Jerusalem, but at the end of the Bible, The New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven to Earth, so that Heaven and Earth get joined and made over.

Stephen Colbert: “And we’re made over too, right. We have physical perfection along with our spiritual perfection.”

N T Wright: “The resurrection is what you get in order to inhabit this new world. But that’s only Surprise Number 1. Surprise Number 2 …”

Stephen Colbert: “What’s behind door number 2? Ha!”

N T Wright: “Well, it’s a good question. Behind door number 2, in the last chunk of the book, is that, if God is going to do that, to the whole creation at the end of time, and if that began with Jesus, then we now get to share in doing bits that are going to turn into the New Creation. In other words, stuff like, feeding the hungry, and looking after the poor, and particularly things like ….”

Stephen Colbert: “But at the coming resurrection, Jesus is going to take care of all of that. He comes on a cloud of glory, judges the living and the dead, ok, and then [claps hands twice] everything’s better. Right? He made everything in six days, he can clean up what we got here in, like, an afternoon.”

N T Wright: “Now, I don’t know if you have kids, but …”

Stephen Colbert: “I have three kids, yeah.”

N T Wright: “Well I have four, and two grandkids …”

Stephen Colbert: “It’s not a contest, ok!”

N T Wright: “Oh really, I thought it was. Never mind.”

Stephen Colbert: “Ok, yeah … I should have said, ‘… That I know of’ ”

N T Wright: “ha ha ha. Was that yours or mine?”

Stephen Colbert: “Right.”

N T Wright: “If you say to your kids, by the end of the weekend, this will be alright, so they can go and play, if there’s stuff they need to do, they need to do it now. But the point is, seriously, the beginning surprise is the resurrection of Jesus, and there’s a great many Christians who have …”

Stephen Colbert: “That surprised a lot of people, especially the Romans!”

N T Wright: “Absolutely, and the early Christians themselves. They weren’t expecting it at the time. It took them by surprise.”

Stephen Colbert: “He told ’em, though.”

N T Wright: “Yeah, he told them, but they didn’t get it. It says, ‘They didn’t get it’ and it …”

Stephen Colbert: “What’s the surprise here? Hasn’t this long been the message of the Church. Isn’t this a medieval doctrine?”

N T Wright: “It’s not medieval, in fact the middle ages was when it started to go wrong. If you go back to the very early church, yes, resurrection was the standard doctrine. I’m not saying anything radically new that wasn’t in the New Testament in the early church. In the middle ages there’s a lot of stuff comes from the Greek philosophers, people like Plato, which says that actually you can have a soul, and the soul ends up going off, and so you don’t need a body anymore.”

Stephen Colbert: “So what happens, then? I’m all for finding out what happens to me after I die – because I’d love to make some plans. But what happens then? According to your reading – and is this your reading, or is this ‘Anglican theology’?”

N T Wright: “The great thing about Anglicans is that we have no theology of our own. If something is true, the Anglicans believe it. That’s the theory anyway, it would be nice if it worked that way.”

Stephen Colbert: “That’s what I say.”

N T Wright: “No, you chaps have this stuff that you look up in these big books all the time. But the point is this, in the New Testament …”

Stephen Colbert: “You’re talking to the wrong chap.”

N T Wright: “I didn’t know you used the word chap … In the New Testament you have this wonderful picture, which is lost off for many Christians today, of God bringing everything together in this recreation, and the point about that recreation is we can do recreation here-and-now, because it’s already begun with Jesus. And I talk a lot in the book …”

Stephen Colbert: “That sounds a little slippery. I’m sorry, you got a little slippery on me there. You’re saying everything’s recreated, ok? The Earth is recreated. Everything who every lived on it is recreated. Won’t it be crowded?”

N T Wright: “Well, it could be.”

Stephen Colbert: “Will the New Earth be bigger than the last one, or will we all be slimmer?”

N T Wright: “Ok – two little facts. Well, I could do with being a bit slimmer, and I’m sure it doesn’t apply to you, but, actually, every human being who’s ever lived on the face of the earth could just about stand together on the Isle of Man, which is a little offshore island off the English coast.”

Stephen Colbert: “And that’s what Heaven will be?”

N T Wright: “No. Fortunately, no. And you’re still doing what most people do, which is using the word ‘Heaven’ for the final stage. What I say is: think about life after life after death. Heaven, ok, where people go after death, but then there is a further stage. We’re talking about a two-stage post-mortem reality.”

Stephen Colbert: “I tell you what, this is the sort of thing that really can’t be argued out in this lifetime. I’ll see you in the afterlife, and we’ll settle it there.”

N T Wright: “Well, that would be nice. Yes, good.”

Stephen Colbert: “Bishop Wright, thank you so much for joining us.”

Posted in Eschatology | 7 Comments »

Today, the Properly Christian Ethical Stance Survives Mostly in Atheism

Posted by NT Wrong on June 12, 2008

“During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: “Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God.” Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.”
– Slavoj Žižek, ‘Defenders of the Faith’, New York Times Op-Ed, March 12, 2006

Posted in Eschatology, Justice | 4 Comments »

Militant Christian Extremist Cleric John Hagee on Israel

Posted by NT Wrong on June 3, 2008

“Support the Jewish people and the State of Israel today, tomorrow and forever, until the Messiah comes.”
– John Hagee

“Our support of Israel has nothing to do with end-times prophecy.”
– John Hagee

Max Blumenthal’s short documentary, “Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour” (9:57) is available on YouTube. They’re scary folk.

“During a press conference at the 2007 Christians United for Israel Washington-Israel Summit, I asked CUFI Executive Director Pastor John Hagee about passages in his book “Jerusalem Countdown” in which he appeared to blame Jews for their own persecution. Hagee was visibly piqued by my question, insisting that his statements were directly inspired by the Book of Deuteronomy. When I attempted to ask Hagee a follow-up question, a former intern for AIPAC, Kara Silverman, the former assistant communications director for AIPAC, cut me off. Moments later, a team of off-duty DC police officers hired by CUFI surrounded my co-producer and I and demanded that we immediately leave the conference, threatening us with arrest if refused to comply. You can view my exchange with Hagee and the ensuing fracas at 7:45 of my video report on CUFI’s summit, “Rapture Ready:”

For nearly two years, a handful of independent journalists and I have raised the alarm about Hagee’s long record of anti-Semitic statements. Until now, our reporting has been largely ignored by the mainstream press and the politicians who have clamored for Hagee’s support. The supposedly “pro-Israel” groups that have joined with Hagee in support of Israeli military aggression, providing him with much-needed moral cover in the process, have also turned a blind eye to the pastor’s Judeophobic tendencies.”
Max Blumenthal

Posted in Eschatology, Fundamentalism, Modern Israel, Video | 4 Comments »

A pre-Jewish prediction of a Saviour who will die and be raised again on the third day

Posted by NT Wrong on May 16, 2008

Israel Knohl has recently claimed a pre-Christian prophecy of the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead after three days, based on his interpretation of a recently discovered text (Hazon Gabriel – The Vision of Gabriel). The interpretation rests on a significantly reconstructed text, so is still somewhat speculative. But if Knohl is correct, and his reconstruction is certainly at least worth suggesting, then the text would be important evidence of one of the trajectories of development in messianic thought in early Judaism.

However, the idea that it takes the messiah three days to come back to the world of the living employs a very familiar mytheme. The idea that the dead take three days to return to the world of the living is a familiar one. The time period of three days is often given as the distance between the netherworld and earth.

A very relevant example is in the Ugaritic Rephaim Texts (KTU 1.20-22) from ca. 1200 BC. It is very relevant, because the Ugaritian and biblical traditions share a broadly common geographical locale, many common beliefs and traditions, and a broadly similar language (although are separated by some 500+ years). The traditions about the Rephaim (Saviours) are included in the biblical books with very similar accompanying mythological themes (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah).

KTU 1.20 ii 5-7a says:

… which in English is (as Wyatt translates):

“They journeyed a day and a second. After su[nrise on the third] the Saviours arrived at the threshing-floors, the di[vinities at] the plantations.”

The picture here, although from another fragmentary and uncertain text, is of the 3-day journey from the netherworld to Ugarit by the long-deceased heroes (-kings) who were the deified heroic ancestors of Ugarit. In some sense, they appear to have blessed Ugarit at the the cultic feast here on earth by their presence.

Note that the dead return after sunrise on the third day. Now read Mark 16.2.

Given the Messiah’s/Michael’s function as defeater of death, it is unsurprising that this mytheme should recur in respect of a Messianic resurrection account from the first century BC. Note the mythic concatenation of themes of sea-monster–heart of the earth–three nights—Son of Man in Matthew 12.40. Sounds to me like it was based on an apocalyptic-mythic prophecy which employed these mythic themes.

Posted in Eschatology, Gospels, Hazon Gabriel, Hebrew & Semitics, Jesus & Christ, Ugaritic | Comments Off on A pre-Jewish prediction of a Saviour who will die and be raised again on the third day

Barbara Rossing debunks ‘The Rapture’

Posted by NT Wrong on May 11, 2008

Do you have bright yellow highlighted passages in your Schofield Chain Reference Bible? Does the highlighting start to get excessive when you get to the book of Revelation?

Barbara Rossing explains why the idea of ‘the Rapture’ is not biblical, in this interview excerpt:

Barbara Rossing explains how the idea of the supposed “Rapture” is pieced together from Bible verses taken from different contexts, to make an artificial whole. She calls it “pick-and-choose literalism”.

As well as being unbiblical, Rossing considers the idea of ‘the Rapture’ is very dangerous:

“The reason I am speaking out against the Rapture is because how it’s spilled over into our American public life. People are taking this supposed version of the biblical time-line, the biblical script, and thinking that it mandates a certain set of events to happen in Israel, in the Middle East, in order for Jesus to be able to return. The danger is that people will seek to precipitate these kinds of events in their wars and battles. Their idea of what is necessary for Jesus to be able to return is bloody battles of Armageddon, taken literally out of the book of Revelation, with blood up to the height of the horses’ bridles, all over the Middle East. It’s a terribly violent and un-Christian scenario of what God wants for our future.”
– Barbara Rossing

Posted in Apocalyptic, Eschatology, Fundamentalism, Religion & Society, Video | Comments Off on Barbara Rossing debunks ‘The Rapture’