Breaking News: James Tabor, on his blog, promotes Israel Knohl’s interpretation of the “suffering messiah before Jesus” stone tablet. Here’s Professor Tabor’s statement:
I recently highlighted the fascinating interpretation of Prof. Israel Knohl of Hebrew University of a new “Dead Sea” style text, the so-called “Gabriel Revelation,” inscribed in ink on a stone tablet. The New York Times (Sunday, July 6, 2008) offers a comprehensive discussion of the storm of controversy that Knohl’s interpretation has sparked: “Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection.”
Several scholars, myself included, along with Michael Wise, Michael Fishbane, and Israel Knohl, have argued for some years now that the “Suffering Messiah” ideas, reflected in our Synoptic Gospels, were not creations of the Christian communities after Jesus’ death, nor even unique to Jesus himself, but in fact were ideas current within messianic varieties of Judaism reaching back into the 2nd century BCE or earlier.
I develop this in a narrative way in my book The Jesus Dynasty (section titled “The Making of a Messiah” in chapter 10; and “Going Underground” in chapter 11). I also have published two academic articles that deal with this subject more technically, “Are You the One? The Textual Dynamics of Messianic Self-Identity,” and “Patterns of the End: Textual Weaving from Qumran to Waco,” both available for downloading.