Sunday, August 24, 2008

A letter from Israel Knohl addressing some of the issues I raised about the Apocalypse of Gabriel

Israel Knohl sent me an e-mail message addressing some of the issues I raised in an earlier post about the Apocalypse of Gabriel. He has asked me to post the entire correspondence, which I gladly do. By the way, in another exchange I also asked him about the status of ink testing. It has not yet been done because it would mean destroying some of the letters.

It is my feeling that in this age of "perfect" frauds, it is absolutely essential to test scientifically whenever possible these types of finds, especially when their archaeological history is unknown. So I hope that the owner of the Apocalypse of Gabriel will agreed to this ink testing, and the sooner the better. Otherwise the Apocalypse of Gabriel will go the way of the James' ossuary and the Secret Gospel of Mark. Knohl also told me that writing on stone with ink is known in the Dead Sea area. There is an example from Qumran and many examples from Zoar, at the southern end of the Dead Sea. I have not studied these examples yet, so I cannot comment on them here.

Here is a copy of Knohl's letter:

Dear April,

I have read with interest your learned comment on my recent article in BAR and would like to respond to it.

You are absolutely right that ancient artifact should be checked by experts from various fields in order to establish their authenticity. In fact this is exactly what was done with regard to the Gabriel Revelation: The stone itself was checked by Prof. Yuval Goren, head of the Archeology department of Tel Aviv university. The script was checked by Dr. Ada Yardeni who is the best expert of the paleography of the Hebrew script of this period and the Languish was checked by Prof. Moshe Bar Asher, President of the Academy of the Hebrew languish. All three experts confirmed the authenticity of the artifact!

By the way, Ada Yardeni who was the first to read and publish this text agrees now with my reading of the crucial line, line 80 of the text where we have the words "In three day live, I Gabriel". She expressed her agreement with my reading in a letter to Hershel Shanks which is now published as an appendix to my article in the BAR website, under the title "web extras".

Finally, I would like to respond to your comment about the apocryphal writings that I have referred to in my article. You are of course right that these Jewish writings were later on edited by Christians thus there is a possibility of later Christian additions. In fact, I have dealt with this issue in length in my scholarly article at the April issue of the Journal of Religion. However, I do believe that the fact that "Ephraim" is mentioned in the Gabriel Revelation, which is clearly pre-Christian text, beside "My servant David" supports the view that these are not later Christian interpolations.

I would be happy if you could my response in you website.

Thank you in advance and best wishes,

Israel Knohl

Israel Knohl
Yehezkel Kaufmann Professor of Bible
The Hebrew University


Phil Snider said...

Interesting correspondance. The comments about the ink on stone make sense, so a priori I don't think it undercuts authenticity. I'm still not convinced that this isn't a really good fraud, but only time will tell on that question. It is still an oddity to have a literary text on stone, but, again, it isn't unheard of.

I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced by his argument on the appearence of Ephraim and my servant David proves Jewish authorship. Given the multiple examples of apparently Jewish writing with a Christian tone and the patristic tendency to assimilate Hebrew Testament imagry, I don't think this proves much. It might be suggestive or a putative Christian writer might just be very good at imitating Jewish style or this might be a Jewish Christian. It really is hard to say.


April DeConick said...


Well said. I agree.


Unknown said...

The problem with testing the ink is that it can be faked. Still it needs to be done.

What other examples are there of writing on stone? This is the first I've heard of such writing from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

K∴∆∴ said...

I thought I would point out this blog entry as it references you and your conversation with Knohl.