Is National Geographic at it again? This time with the Gabriel Stone instead of the Gospel of Judas? It appears that they are going to be airing next week another sensationalistic "documentary" about how the Gabriel Stone may destroy Christianity's "unique" claim for a resurrected Messiah. When I watched one of their previews, I could not believe the nonsense that the narrator was stating. The narration suggests (dubbed on top of some Israeli folk music) that Professor Knohl's reading and interpretation is going to revolutionize and destroy the heart of Christian belief.
Professor Knohl's reading of the stone is severely challenged (in fact there is a brief article in the recent Cathedra, pp. 133-144 [in modern Hebrew] where Elisha Qimron and Alexey Yuditsky challenge some of the previous readings). The area of the tablet where Knohl reads "In three days live" is eroded. I have seen this line because the stone was here in Houston and we held a conference on it last semester. The tablet does not say, "In three days live." The tablet probably says, "In three days raise us up" and the reference is biblical to Hosea 6:1-3, which I have commented on in previous posts about this stone.
Come, let us return to Yahweh,
for he has torn, and he will heal us;
he has stricken, and he will bind us up,
will preserve our life.
After two days, on the third day
he will raise us up, that we may
live in his presence.
Let us know, yes, let us strive,
to know Yahweh.
As the dawn (breaks, so) certain is
his going forth.
He comes to us as surely as the rain,
as the spring rain that waters the land.
Almost every line of the stone is an allusion to other scriptures. The author is compiling and rereading them in such a way that they map out anew what will happen in the last days. This Hosea passage was being interpreted by the author of this apocalypse to refer to the liberation of the remnant of Israel that had been in exile and was now camping around Jerusalem and engaged in the last battle. God would raise up the exiled remnant and give them victory within three days was the promise being made.
I continue to be concerned with how the media is using academic discussions, especially over newly found objects that have yet not been vetted by the academic community, to threaten Christianity. The media will cry "wolf" enough times that pretty soon Christians won't listen to any academic argument, because they will not be able to distinguish the exploited and sensationalized from the rest.
So be careful consumers. Know that the goal of these so-called "documentaries" is entertainment. They pretend to be "balanced" but they are not. They take minority positions, and positions that cannot be maintained in light of the evidence or have not been vetted by the academic community at large, and make them sound reasonable and authoritative. It is all smoke and mirrors. So beware.
ADDENDUM: Michael in the comments mentions that this type of post will be used to characterize me as a "conservative scholar" who is trying to conserve the faith. Let it be known that this is not the case. Whether Christianity survives or not is not my concern. But good rigorous scholarship is. The Gabriel Stone is not going to make any difference to Christianity or its central tenet the resurrection because the Gabriel Stone does not even refer to the resurrection of a messiah, suffering or otherwise. What I worry about is the media's continual cry about how this new discovery or that new discovery is going to change Christianity and it is going to destroy the faith. This sort of media sensation does nothing more than dull the ears, so when we as academics have something that is actually important to say that may indeed impact Christianity, no one is going to listen.