Sunday, July 6, 2008

Archaeology stirs the "historical Jesus" controversy

image Somebody is always digging up new evidences that throw into fresh relief historical evidences of various kinds.  Here we have a stone which dates to the 1st century, and on its face is written text which reflects thinking about a resurrected Jewish messiah figure. 

This latest discovery is being pounced upon by scholars of all stripes; should be interesting what their wrestling uncovers.  Here's a blurb from Ben Witherington's blog:

There just isn't enough controversy in Israel these days about Jesus, his death, burial and his resurrection. So, adding a little fuel to the fire is the revelation that comes from the finding of a substantial inscribed stone, probably dating to the first century B.C. that may refer to the death and resurrection of some sort of messiah figure. Here is the link to the NY Times which Bill Barnwell has kindly reminded me of, as I seem to have missed it.

I take quite seriously the authenticity of this stone, since Ada Yardeni has weighed in on it, and found it genuine. So let us suppose it is genuine-- let's ask the question, So what?

So what indeed.  My prediction is that conservative scholars will come up with ways that this more firmly establishes the historical record as understood by current NT scholarship by the likes of N. T. Wright, Witherington, and others.  At the same time, progressive scholars will attempt to show how this undermines the current thinking and shows that Jesus wasn't who he says he is in the canonical NT.

So, a small typhoon has erupted that will stir everything up--and then put things back exactly as it found them.

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