Thursday, August 21, 2008
My questions about the Apocalypse of Gabriel
Professor Knohl's new article in BAR has been posted HERE. I have also put a link to it on my growing index for the Apocalypse of Gabriel HERE.
I am a bit disturbed about Knohl's argument in the BAR piece, since the second temple passages that he quotes as evidence for a Jewish suffering messiah are from texts that have clearly been revised by later Christians.
How can we tell if the expectation of the suffering messiah in these late sources is pre- or post-Christian? One way to solve this dilemma is to notice HOW MUCH of the early Christian literature is devoted to apology for the fact that the Messiah Jesus suffered and died, and how this was a "stumbling block" to the conversion of Jews. Why would the Christians have so much explaining to do if there existed a common Jewish expectation of a suffering messiah prior to Jesus? This is a question that is absolutely necessary for us to face, and it suggests that IF the expectation already existed, it was not well-known or well-liked. Or the expectation grew as a result of Christians explaining the historical experience of their crucified Messiah Jesus.
So nothing is as "sure" as Knohl's argument suggests.
It is necessary that we approach this new apocalypse cautiously, especially until we determine its authenticity. This is the FIRST step, something that National Geographic Society recognized about the Tchacos Codex. The Society did the right thing by authenticating the Gnostic codex through scientific methods. I am concerned about the Apocalypse of Gabriel, however, because it is unusual to have ink on stone for a literary document. How sure are we that it is not a fraud?