DSS: Suffering Messiah

A respected Israeli scholar and professor at Hebrew University is making an intriguing and compelling case that it is a distinctly Jewish notion to expect the Messiah to come, die as a “suffering servant” as an atonement for sins and the redemption of Israel, and then to rise from the dead on the third day. Based on his many years of research, and fairly recently analyzed archaeological evidence — including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll – the scholar is also arguing that this notion of the Messiah rising on the third day is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah. The case made by Dr. Israel Knohl has attracted significant attention, including a major article in the New York Times and several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review — see here, and here, and here.

The Times story, which ran under the headline, Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection, begins as follows: “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. The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.” The tablet has been named by scholars as “Gabriel’s Revelation” because it suggests that the angel Gabriel was instructed by God to direct that the Messiah be raised from the dead on the third day.


No Evidence.

Renowned Talmudic scholar, Daniel Boyarin, in his latest book, The Jewish Gospels (speaking of Isaiah 53, on pg.152) states:

"I cannot overstate the extent to which the interpretation of this passage has anchored the conventional view of Judaism's relationship to Messianism. It has been generally assumed by modern folks that Jews have always given the passage a metaphorical reading, understanding the suffering servant to refer to the People of Israel, and that it was the Christians who changed and distorted its meaning to make it refer to Jesus. Quite to the contrary, we now know that many Jewish authorities, maybe even most, until nearly the modern period have read Isaiah 53 as being about the Messiah; until the last few centuries, the allegorical reading was a minority position." He continues, "Aside from one very important - but absolutely unique - notice in Origen's Contra Celsum, there is no evidence at all that any late ancient Jews read Isaiah 52-53 as referring to anyone but the Messiah."

Purchase Daniel Boyarin's The Jewish Gospels here.
Read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah here.
Watch The Mysterious Prophecy of Isaiah 53 video here.


The Jewish Gospels

Daniel Boyarin’s The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ is a welcome revelation. Not only is Daniel Boyarin a universally celebrated author for his understanding of Talmud and ancient writings, his knowledge of history and scholarship is exceedingly well exhibited in this title. So rarely does a book break so much new ground, and still manage to exact a severe blow to the impotent arguments of anti-missionaries. This is an incredible book, and it's been an absolute joy for me to discuss the many implications of Boyarin’s discoveries with others over the last week.

In fact, I dare anyone who has bought into the modern myth (that the Sages have believed and taught that the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is Israel) to read The Jewish Gospels. That's only the beginning, though. This small format title (160 pages) packs in so much vision - it really is a marvel. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough - absolutely essential reading.

The Jewish Gospels will certainly disturb those (in Christianity, as well as Judaism) who relish blindness and cling to ignorance - central pillars for far too many today. Daniel Boyarin reveals essential truth - truth this world desperately needs. The concepts Boyarin expounds upon in The Jewish Gospels are the key to the future of Judaism - and Christianity. If you feel you're ready to read an astonishing, challenging, and completely eye-opening book – it’s available here.

Chag Pesach sameach to you all!