The gospels seem adamant: the disciples did not see Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection coming.
And its long been taken for granted that the notion of a suffering and resurrected messiah would have taken most 1st century Jews by surprise.
But now we have a new piece of data: a stone tablet from the Dead Sea, apparently written upon a full generation prior to Jesus’s death, talking about the suffering and third day resurrection of a messiah! See the NY Times article on the extraordinary tablet here: https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/a-suffering-and-resurrected-messiah-before-jesus-bombshell-archeological-find-causes-stir-in-academic-bible-community/
What this new suffering messiah tablet finding does is call into question whether the early followers of Jesus, and those of the Qumran community, would have found a suffering and resurrected messiah surprising afterall.
What the tablet also brings to our attention is something scholars have long insisted upon: 1st century Judaism and Christianity were diverse and complex phenomena.
In other words, there was not one Judaism among 1st century Jews and one Christology among 1st century Christians. Instead, there was enormous diversity and conflict about many issues, and there were peculiar sects around with peculiar beliefs.
Some sects may have held beliefs that had little circulation beyond the sects themselves. This is where archeology and the study of antiquites can bring a great deal of light if a text or tablet from such a sect is stumbled upon, which seems to have happened in the case of this recent finding.
What this tablet discovery hints at is that at least one sect in early Judaism, a full generation prior to the death of Jesus, was talking about the messiah in terms of suffering and resurrection.
It’s very interesting and important and opens up many questions that might once have seemed to be in the category of settled.
Isn’t scientific scholarship fun? Just when you think you know something, an inconvenient piece of evidence comes along that demands accounting for.
So what did the earliest disciples of Jesus think they knew about the messiah, and when did they think they knew it?
Call it Messiahgate.