A three-foot tall tablet tells the story, in Hebrew, of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days. That sounds familiar, right? Well, the messiah mentioned, isn't Jesus. David Jeselsohn, an antiquities expert innocently purchased what looked like an ancient stone with centuries old Hebrew script — until one day a friend visited. This friend just happened to be an Israeli scholar who read the stone and came to the conclusion that the stone may hold another important key to the history of Christianity.
The stone, which was discovered nearly a decade ago, seems to point to a commander in Herod’s army named Simon who was believed to have been resurrected three days after being slain — suggesting that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique to Jesus Christ, but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.
A professor of Talmudic culture says the tablet is causing a stir. To see how, read more.
He says, "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." It's controversial of course; one scholar believes the tablet just propaganda from Simon’s followers. Another believes the Hebrew is too open to interpretation. “I understand tendency to find there keys to the pre-Christian period, but in two to three crucial lines of text there are a lot of missing words.”
The real crux of the debate however, is a historically religious and philosophical one. A self-sacrificing messiah has no precedent in Jewish culture up to that time, instead modeling their savior upon the lustful conqueror, David. In any case, it seems as though the concept of their messiah suffering and dying began during this crucial era as an important step towards a Jewish state free from Rome.
If resurrection, or resurrection stories, aren't unique to Jesus Christ, does this pose a problem to the foundation of Christianity?