Monday, July 14, 2008

Hosea 6:1-3 and the Apocalypse of Gabriel

Although I remain skeptical about the authenticity of the Apocalypse of Gabriel because we do not know its provenance, and ink on stone for a literary text seems odd, I am very curious about the three day resurrection reference found on the stone.

The stone tablet and its owner, David Jeselsohn

There is a hymn embedded in Hosea (6:1-3) that has relevance to this discussion:
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.
Originally this priestly (?) poem from 8th c. BCE or earlier, addresses Israel's expectations that the nation has become ill but that God will heal it in as shortest time as possible. It was similar in content with the priestly psalms in which the wounded are raised up from their sickbeds (cf. Ps. 41:3, 10) and statements that God wounds and heals, kills and enlivens (Deut. 23:39; Ezek. 30:21; Job 5:18). In this old context, it had nothing to do with resurrection from the dead.

However, once resurrection doctrines came into existence in the Maccabean period, could Hosea 6:1-3 have been read as a post-mortem expectation, that the dead would be raised by God on the third day after their deaths? Could the Christians have understood or framed Jesus' resurrection along these expectations?

The earliest blatant reference to this is made by Tertullian (Against Marcion 4.43.1ff.; An Answer to the Jews 13.23). There is an old scholarly article written on the scriptural basis for the three day expectation in the Journal of Biblical Literature 48 (1929) pp. 124-137, by S.V. McCarland, "The Scripture Basis of 'On the Third Day.'"

So it is quite possible, that in Judaism at the time of Jesus there was an expectation that after death, God would resurrect those who died "on the third day" after they had died, using Hosea 6:1-3 as the proof-text. I can imagine the first Christian Jews relying on this expectation as they told stories about Jesus' resurrection. This expectation happened to get connected with Messianic beliefs through association with the Jesus stories.

But what the Apocalypse of Gabriel suggests, if it is authentic and should be read in the way that Knobl insists, is that in Judaism there was also the expectation that the MESSIAH would die and be raised on the third day. Again, I am very hesitant about this since so much of the early Christian literature is open apology for the Messiah's death (and suffering and resurrection) which Jews apparently did not expect. I'm not sure how to reconcile this with the Apocalypse of Gabriel.

11 comments: said...

It is quite clear who is complaining and who is on the receiving end of the complaints.

"Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgement is against you." (Hos. 5:1).

Figuratively, on behalf of God, it was the prophets who were 'cutting the priests, Israelites and royals to pieces'.

"What can I do with you Ephraim? What can I do with you Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you to pieces WITH MY PROPHETS, I killed you with the words of my mouth (no doubt spoken by prophets); my judgement flashed like lightning upon you (that is the judgement of the prophets). For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings (in the opinion of the prophetic writer)" (Hos.6:4-6).

You couldn't do much better to find the origin of original 'Christianity' than to start here. The "winter rains" and the "spring rains" (Hos.6:3) were symbolic of God's Spirit which could revive Israel. The two days and the three days were the times the Spirit would take first to "revive" Israel, then on the third day to "restore" it or make Israel grow and prosper. The symbology came from the effect the rains had on plants struggling to survive in a dry climate. First they pick-up, then they start to flourish, as any gardener knows.

It seems more than likely to me that the scripture "after two days he will revive US; on the third day he will restore US, that WE might live in his PRESENCE" (Hos.6:2) was quoted correctly somewhere in the original prophetic documents of the NT, but was adapted later by the Pauline editors for the resurrection story of the singular Jesus.

Leon said...

Jews held mamy different beliefs about a future life and a coming Messiah. There was no one doctrine that everyone had to abide by. Some, like most Sadducees, did not believe in any of this and mocked those who did. The Pharisees certainly promoted a belief in a future resurrection and most believed in a Messiah, but not all. In later Judaism, there was a belief in 2 Messiahs, one would suffer and die first and the other would come in triumph (I think they were the Messiah ben Joseph and the Messiah ben David, but I am working from memory). No one is sure how far back this idea might go.

At Mark 8:28 and Matt 16:14, you can see that there was a popular belief that deceased Jewish prophets could come back to life, even one as recently dead as John the Baptist. I'm sure there were even more variations than that. Whether there was a specific belief about rising on the third day, I have no idea. But it is not incompatible with other Jewish beliefs. Nobody in the 1st century who believed in a resurrection and a Messiah would have been shocked by the claims of Jesus' followers. It was a plausible belief in their time, whether or not you agreed with it.

Leon Zitzer said...

Leon, you haven't realised that the Jewish mind set was geared to belief in the reality of spirits that could animate and control individuals. There is a clear example in Hos.4:12 - "A spirit of prostitution leads them astray." Thus Jews would never have considered the prophet as literally having the body of Elijah. (Mk.8.28). So the prophet would never have said, "Who do the people say I am?", with a view to elliciting a reply, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah, and still others one of the prophets." This was simply the creativity of a later Pauline editor promoting resurrection. The question the prophet would have posed (probably to the high priests) would have been, "Who do you say the Spirit is?", i.e. who is the spirit in me that I am proclaiming to you? The answer of a prophet follower would have been, "The Spirit (not 'you') is (not 'are') God (not the 'Christ') (Mk.8:30). This was the challenge to the priests - the spirit in the prophet was the Spirit of God. Some may have thought it was the spirit of Elijah.

At the time of the prophet, Pharisees and Sadducees did not exist. said...

A really interesting phrase is:"I killed you with the words of my mouth." (Hos.6:5) This was presumably a figurative killing by God speaking through the prophet. Some of those being 'killed' were clearly priests: "As marauders lie in ambush for a man, so do bands of priests; they murder on the road to Shechem, committing shameful crimes." (Hos.6:9, and see Hos.5:1). The 'murder' by the priests seems to be real.

Mark.8.31 refers to the chief priests. The same verse contains the phrase "he must be killed and after three days rise again." Did the prophet say, in fact, "THEY must be 'killed' and after three days rise again", thus citing Hos.6:2,5? Was the prophet, in fact, going to proclaim the Spirit of God, or some hard message from God, to the chief priests? And was this why he was rebuked by one of his prophets (Mk.8:32)? The similarities of the above language between Hosea and Mark is remarkable.

R.Eagle said...

Though I would be very interested in actually seeing this rock and ink piece, I for one, think it is a creation AFTER the fact, and therefore, of little true value.

As most know, prophecies concerning the coming Savior in the OT went in two ways: the suffering Christ and the glorified Christ. Now although we can see examples of both in the life of Jesus throughout the Gospels, I really do not believe it was God's intention (nor Jesus' intention to be killed - Luke 20:9-19) to have Jesus killed. It only went this way BECAUSE of the Jewish religious leaders' (and the people's) unbelief.

IMHO (though based on much study and prayer), OT prophecies that might have suggested death to the Messiah were WARNINGS (if I may paraphrase)..."Hey, Chosen People, don't kill the ONES I send to you!! Ya corrupt bastards . . . epecially, the Messiah!"

So for this piece to suggest that God's plan W/O QUESTION was to have Christ crucified (and resurrect PHYSICALLY literally on the third day, no less) sounds to me like another manipulation to maintain control over the masses ("because how could something like killing the Christ happen without God ABSOLUTELY intending it?" so they [the orthodox-izers] mistakenly presume AND convey).

And finally, a critical message (so to speak) such as this in INK ON STONE??

Though maybe they intended to carve into the rock but didn't have time?

I agree with Dr. cheesy is that?!? Ink on papyrus, carvings on's basic, no?

All this to say (though I've obviously gotten away from the first point), Jesus should have lived, teaching us more about LOVE (W/O having to be murdered) and actually writing things that would ensure the preservation of the TRUTH.

Jim Davila said...

April, what do you mean by "So it is quite possible, that in Judaism at the time of Jesus there was an expectation that after death, God would resurrect those who died 'on the third day' after they had died"? In what sense or context would this resurrection take place? Obviously, people don't in the normal course of things rise from the dead after three days. Do you mean bodily resurrection in the eschatological earthly paradise or a resurrection of the soul after three days in the present era? Or something else? It's an interesting idea, but please clarify.

April DeConick said...


Good question. Given how Jesus' resurrection was interpreted as the beginning of the eschaton, I would tend to think that the three day reference was an eschatological expectation. Now having said that, I am also reminded of this material that I was working on last year about Jesus' teaching about resurrection - that it is proven because the fathers live with God. So there may have been a Jewish belief that we haven't tracked well, that there was some kind of personal resurrection at death. I would love to discuss this further with you.

Leon said...

I am not sure why everyone is harping on the three day thing. I guess it is because of the Apocalypse of Gabriel. But even if there were some Jews who believed something like this, many others would have a different belief about the future resurrection. Their beliefs on the resurrection and everything else was very fluid and creative. Jesus participated in that creative culture of a multiplcity of ideas. Three days would not have been an important issue to them in their time, not in the total scheme of things.

The argument that Jesus has with the Sadducees is a typical Pharisaic-Sadduceean debate and Jesus uses the typical Pharisaic arguments when he tells the Sadducees that they do not know the power of God or the scriptures. He is alluding to the rabbinic interpretation of Psalm 62:11. It was absolutely important to the Pharisees and rabbis that not only did God have the power to resurrect bodies, but God also gave clues to this in scripture. "Once God has spoken, twice have I heard this" was interpreted by the rabbis that many sparks were hidden in Torah verses. You only had to strike them with a hammer and the sparks flew out. One of these sparks was resurrection. And even before the general resurrection in the future, there were many legends of Jews who conquered death (Elijah being the most famous but not the only one).

Leon Zitzer

ginat said...

Knohl's Tarbiz article cites Hosea 6:2 as a conjectural source for the resurrection of the prophet after three days in the Oracle of Hystaspes, which he relates to the three-day period in Hazon Gabriel and the three and a half days in Revelation 11 (also citing Daniel 7:25). The article develops other parallels among these texts and others, including the Testament of Moses, and their use of prophetic passages.

R.Eagle said...

Might there be a relationship between the "3 or third day" references and the "time, times, and half a time" references? Just a thought.

Watchman said...

Perhaps another perspective will help here.

None of the postings consider the ubiquity of the "three days" and "third day" references in the OT and NT, nor the possibility that they are a form of "leitmotif" comprising a spiritual resurrection model in a typological manner. It could be aligned with a spiritual or philosophical anthropology, that is, a way to describe the nature of man: animal, human, and divine (corresponding to days 1, 2, and 3). To be raised up or revived on day 3 means to be spiritually raised up from one's material attachments (day 2) and sensory/animal existence (day 1). These days are likened to states or planes. The Apostle Paul's formula of sarkic/hylic > psychic > pneumatic fit the pattern. They correspond also to Egypt > Wilderness > Promised Land, to Cain > Abel > Seth, to the three crosses on Calvary, and several other modes of transmission of the model. This isn't a superficial code, but rather a consistent model with several motifs (geography, time, spiritual children ...), meant to edify and guide the readers (and believers) towards some comprehension of their place in the spiritual realms.

I wish a comment box offered sufficient space to comment further. Further points of view on these matters are at my blog MasterKey, especially the posting Spiritual Geography: Paces and Places, and Dying to Live. These are Baha'i perspectives.

Hosea 6 is much broader than a mere historical comment on a certain time period for Israel, although it is tempting (and easy) to think of it as such. Marvin Sweeney's article A Form-Critical Rereading of Hosea is helpful for an alternative point of view: "Clearly, Hosea is not simply a three-part collection of the prophet's oracles to Israel. The book appears to have a much more complex structure, and it is formulated both to convey the prophet's oracles to Israel and to address an unspecified audience."

The "Lord" coming with each dawn, or like spring rains, refers to the coming (and going) of the Manifestation of God in sacred time, which is like spring, or the dawn. Has anyone known only one springtime, or only one dawn? There are many, in succession, just as the Manifestations succeed each other. To be killed by the words of the prophets means that their teachings slay our attachments to the world and also kill the old dispensation, to make all things new; after all, we have to "die" in order to "live" according to the Writings. The reference to the murderous behaviour of the "priests on their way to Shechem" is an indictment of ecclesiastical authority, which intentional leads the believers astray through literalization and other processes of corruption of the Teachings of the Manifestations of God, just to preserve their power and authority in society. That isn't just priests in "Hosea's" time, but at any time. Perhaps most importantly, the Hosea text tells us why we exist: to come to know the Lord.

Good thing the NY Times decided to publish Ethan Bronner's article. It certainly did trigger some discussion.