Archeology attempts to debunk Christianity … again

Archeology attempts to debunk Christianity … again


So now we have yet another “discovery” in biblical archeology that’s supposed to shake the very foundations of Christianity… except I see no basis for such shaking. But then I’m not an archeologist or historian of Holy Land with a predilection for de-mythologizing everything about religion.

In this case we have a a stone tablet dating from the 1st century BC which makes mention of a messiah and resurrection. The tablet apparently predicts (and there is still some debate about this) that a Jewish messiah will be killed and then rise from the grave three days latter to defeat the Romans. So what’s the problem? That seems compatible with Christianity? Shouldn’t we expect such prophecies from the time before Christ?

From what I can understand from the article, as an admitted layman and non-expert on this topic, this is supposed to show that three-day resurrection was not a concept unique to Christianity but has its roots in Judaism. That may shake some Christians, but Catholics have been saying for quite some time that the Jewish faith is the root of Christian belief. Pope Benedict XVI wrote a book before he was elected pope on this topic called “Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World”


“His mission is that he has to be put to death by the Romans to suffer so his blood will be the sign for redemption to come,” Knohl said. “This is the sign of the son of Joseph. This is the conscious view of Jesus himself. This gives the Last Supper an absolutely different meaning. To shed blood is not for the sins of people but to bring redemption to Israel.”

What we have are academics who don’t really understand the theology of Christianity making judgment upon it in order to bolster their own favored interpretations. The tablet, as they describe it, does not change the meaning of the Last Supper one whit because we know that Christ came for the redemption of all. What does Israel—as firstborn of the covenant—and all humanity need redemption from if not from sin?

But of course, how will they get the world’s major newspapers to publish headlines about their work if they don’t propose that Christianity is being debunked by their findings?

Photo credit: Callmetim via Used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike license.

  • Um… Is it just me or do I remember messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, even ones that related to three days (Jonah anyone?)… seems to me like this new evidence BOLSTERS our case instead of hurting it.

  • I had the same reaction to the article as Dom and Joseph; the tablet bolsters the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s coming to die in order to redeem us.

    It’s an exciting find, certainly, but not one that debunks Christianity.

  • When I first heard of this, my reaction was a Homer Simpsonesque “Woo hoo!”

    Should it now be a “Woo hoo! D’oh?”  Nah.

  • I think that if the writing on the stone is proven to date before Christ’s crucifixion, it WILL be “big news” for detractors of Christianity – and something that even believing scholars will have to contend with.

    Of course it seems obvious to us now that Jesus’ death and resurrection had to happen in the way it did as a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.  But it was not obvious to his disciples at the time (Road to Emmaus?)  They were not expecting the Messiah to be put to death and to rise again.

    In a way, their shock and the sheer unexpectedness of Easter is a great argument for the authenticity of the story.  It is so unheard of, so unprecedented in Jewish thoughts about what the Messiah would be/do, that the early Christians couldn’t have made it up.

    But, if it can be “proven” that death/rising again in three days was a more common idea, then it makes it more plausible (from a historical, scholarly perspective) that the early Christians took this pre-existng idea about the Messiah and stuck it onto Jesus after His execution.

  • Isaiah 53 predates this stone. We sing part of it every year during Christmas when we participate in Handel’s Messiah!!