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Messiahs and Resurrection in 'The Gabriel Revelation' (The Robert and Arlene Kogod Library of Judaic Studies) 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826425072
ISBN-10: 0826425070
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Review in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol.25, no.2, 2010.

'Knohl's convincing reconstruction of the text of new inscriptions opens new ways to understand some seminal elements in early Christianity, and has the promise of a break-through in the history of Jewish and Christian messianism.'
Professor Moshe Idel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

About the Author

Israel Knohl is Yhezkel Kaufmann Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Israel.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Robert and Arlene Kogod Library of Judaic Studies (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826425070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826425072
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Santi Tafarella on July 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Israel Knohl's book is an important event for students of Christian origins, for it is the first book-length treatment, by a prominent biblical scholar, of an unusually important archeological artifact: A recently discovered and described text, written upon a stone from the Dead Sea area, and dubbed by scholars "The Gabriel Revelation."

Because "The Gabriel Revelation" has been dated to a full generation prior to Jesus, and because it has a curious passage that may suggest that the angel Gabriel will command a slain messianic figure to "in three days, live," it opens up the possibility that early Christianity's understanding of Jewish messianism was not perhaps as "out of the blue" as once supposed.

One consequence of "The Gabriel Revelation" is that it resurrects a once apparently defunct scholarly theory known as the "Messianic Secret" (in which Jesus has a plan, known only to himself and a close circle of disciples, that he will suffer, die, and rise again on the third day). Here's Knohl on a passage from Mark's gospel: "'The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' (Mark 9:31), might very well reflect Jesus' original words" (87).

Barring appendices and notes, Knohl's text is less than 100 pages long and is very clearly and concisely written. In the first two chapters, for example, Knohl translates the text of "The Gabriel Revelation" (which is only 87 lines long and fragmentary) and then literally does a line by line commentary on what we have, laying out its apocalyptic and messianic assumptions, the historical background for the statements, and the biblical allusions that the text renders.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Israel Knohl brings to light the Gabriel Revelation inscribed on a memorial stone dating to the beginning of the first century CE. Knohl theorizes that the inscription memorializes the failed Jewish revolt of 4 CE in which one of its celebrated leaders, Simon, suffered an inglorious death at the hands of his enemies.

Knhl offers a serious challenge to modern critical scholars who would like us to believe that the idea of a suffering and dying messiah was written back into the gospels after the fact. As he had done in his previous book, The Messiah before Jesus, Knohl offers some unique insights into the origins of Christianity.

The idea of a suffering and dying Messiah Son of Joseph or Ephraim in the Gabriel Revelation, which Knohl refers to as "catastrophic messianism", may have been the product of certain apocalyptic, messianic Jewish groups in the early first century who believed they were living in the end times. Jesus predictions of his own suffering and death were probably authentic and not a post-resurrection belief projected back onto him. The triumphant Messiah Son of David who was not supposed to be conquered by his enemies may have been Jesus' future role, but Jesus perceived his earthly role as the suffering Messiah whose sacrificial death would trigger the end-times.

In Mark 12:35-37, Jesus refutes his present role as the Messiah Son of David by quoting Psalm 110.

I would add that Albert Schweitzer also proposed the idea that Jesus' saw his own suffering and death as a sacrifice which would provoke God into inaugurating the end times and manifesting His Kingdom on Earth.
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Format: Paperback
The discovery of the inscribed stone and its subsequent decipherment reveals the ideology of an apocalyptic-messianic group that belonged to the period of the death of Herod the great. This is a fascinating revelation that may have great import for the history of Christian origins and especially for Pauline theology. It seems to me that it is entirely possible that the individual who was referred to in this inscription was the prototypical "Jesus".

But, it is Knohl's explication of the theology of the inscription that is most fascinating. It seems that the shed blood of the martyrs of that time was seen as the catalyst for the coming of salvation. It was rather like the blood itself created a "stairway to or from heaven" in some sense, that not only allowed the cry of the Jewish people to attract the attention of their god, but created a pathway for the descent of that god and/or his agents to wreck vengeance upon the oppressors, i.e. the Romans, specifically Augustus AKA the Antichrist, the latter idea being one that Knohl develops.

To me, the idea of the "living blood" was the most fascinating because of the similarity of it to certain Greco-Roman philosophical ideas (Stoic, I believe) about comets being the conveyors of souls of heroes to the heavens or realm of the gods. One is also reminded of the verse in Genesis where God tells Cain "The voice of your brother's blood cries to me from the ground." A careful reading of the epistles of Paul reveals some of these rather esoteric ideas about the value of the shed blood of martyrs, mainly "Jesus".

Another interesting idea was that only the heroic would be granted conveyance to the heavens/realm of the gods, while ordinary folks were still stuck in Sheol/Hades.
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