Gabriel's Revelation

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A detail of the Gabriel Revelation Stone on display in the Israel Museum (fair use full view).

Gabriel's Revelation, also called Hazon Gabriel (the Vision of Gabriel)[1] or the Jeselsohn Stone,[2] is a stone tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink, containing a collection of short prophecies written in the first person. It is dated to the late 1st century BCE or early first century CE and is considered important for understanding Jewish messianic expectations in the Second Temple Period.

Description[edit]

Gabriel's Revelation is a gray[3] micritic limestone[4] tablet with 87 lines (in two columns, 44 and 43 lines) of Hebrew text[3] written in ink.[5] It measures 37 centimeters[3][6] (width) by 93[3] or 96[6] centimeters (height). While the front of the stone is polished, the back is rough, suggesting it was mounted in a wall.[7]

The writing is a collection of short prophecies written in the first person by someone identifying as Gabriel to someone else in the second person singular.[8] The writing has been dated to the first century BCE or the early first century CE by its script and language.[9][10][11][12] David Hamidovic's analysis instead suggests a date after 50 CE.[13][14] A physical analysis of the stone found no evidence of modern treatment of the surface, and found the attached soil most consistent with the area east of the Lisan Peninsula of the Dead Sea.[15] The text as a whole is unknown from other sources;[6] it is fragmentary, so the meaning is quite uncertain.[16][17][18] It is considered very similar to the Dead Sea scrolls.[10] The artifact is relatively rare in its use of ink on stone.[5][10][19]

Scholars have characterized the genre of Gabriel's Revelation as prophetic,[20] although biblical Hebrew scholar[21][22][23] Ian Young expresses surprise that it does not use Hebrew language characteristic of biblical prophetic texts.[24] Other scholars describe its genre as a revelatory dialogue similar to 4 Ezra or 2 Baruch[25] or even as an apocalypse.[26][18]

Origins and reception[edit]

The unprovenanced tablet was likely found near the Dead Sea some time around the year 2000. It is in the possession of Dr. David Jeselsohn, a SwissIsraeli collector, who bought it from a Jordanian antiquities dealer. At the time, he was unaware of its significance.[27][28]

The first scholarly description of the find and the editio princeps of the text[5][11][29] was published in April 2007 in an article written by expert Hebrew paleographer and epigrapher[30][31][32] Ada Yardeni in consultation[12] with Binyamin Elizur.[a] Yardeni gave the writing the name "Hazon Gabriel".[33]

The stone has received wide attention in the media.[34][35]

Authenticity[edit]

Most scholars have tentatively accepted it to be authentic.[36][19]

Årstein Justnes, a biblical studies professor,[37][38] questioned its authenticity. His position is that the following elements are indicative of the possibility of forgery:[39]

  • Lack of provenance
  • Novel material (ink on stone), not observed before, which also makes dating more difficult for a number of reasons
  • Incoherent content apparently coming from many sources, indicative of "cut and paste" by a non-expert
  • Unknown genre
  • Hybrid language, also suggesting a forger with insufficient expertise.

Justnes also points out that nearly all parties were eager for the text to be authentic, resulted in an insufficient critical view. For example, Yuval Goren speaks cautiously that while there are no indications of modern treatment of the stone, this cannot be stated without any trace of doubt and further investigations are necessary. Still Goren's 2008 survey is often presented to public as a proof of authenticity, and Goren's warning is dismissed as a scientific over-cautious way to say "yes". [39]

Interpretation and significance[edit]

Hillel Halkin in his blog in The New York Sun wrote that it "would seem to be in many ways a typical late-Second-Temple-period eschatological text" and expressed doubts that it provided anything "sensationally new" on Christianity's origins in Judaism.[40]

The finding has caused controversy among scholars.[41] Israel Knohl, an expert in Talmudic and biblical language at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, translated line 80 of the inscription as "In three days, live, I Gabriel com[mand] yo[u]".[42][43] He interpreted this as a command from the angel Gabriel to rise from the dead within three days, and understood the recipient of this command to be Simon of Peraea, a Jewish rebel who was killed by the Romans in 4 BCE.[28][43] Knohl asserted that the finding "calls for a complete reassessment of all previous scholarship on the subject of messianism, Jewish and Christian alike".[43] In 2008, Ada Yardeni was reported to have agreed with Knohl's reading.[44] Ben Witherington noted that the word Knohl translated as "rise" could alternately mean "show up".[28]

Other scholars, however, reconstructed the faint writing on the stone as a different word entirely, rejecting Knohl's reading.[45][46] Instead, Ronald Hendel's (2009) reading of "In three days, the sign..." has gained widespread support.[47] In 2011, Knohl accepted that "sign" is a more probable reading than "live", although he maintains that "live" is a possible reading.[48][49][50] However, the meaning of the phrase in the currently accepted reading is still unclear.[47] Knohl still maintains the historical background of the inscription to be as mentioned above. He now views Simon's death, according to the inscription, as "an essential part of the redemptive process. The blood of the slain messiah paves the way for the final salvation".[51]

The mainstream view is that Gabriel's Revelation is a pre-Christian work.[citation needed] However, David Hamidovic suggests it was written in the context of the Roman Emperor Titussiege of Jerusalem in 70 CE.[13][14]

Gabriel's Revelation is considered important for broader scholarly discussion about Jewish messianic expectations in the Second Temple Period, specifically the themes of the suffering messiah and the Messiah ben Joseph, both of which are otherwise believed to be later developments.[52][53] as well as the Davidic messiah.[18]

Publications[edit]

The Hebrew text and translation are available in several editions: Yardeni & Elizur (2007),[b] Knohl (2008c), Qimron & Yuditsky (2009), Knohl (2011), and Elgvin (2014). Photographs of the stone are printed in Henze (2011a, pp. 189–194). Newer high resolution images are available from the InscriptiFact Digital Image Library.[54] Detailed linguistic studies have been performed by Bar-Asher (2008), Rendsburg (2011), and Young (2013).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Elizur is a specialist on the 9th century CE Pesikta Rabbati (Septimus 2015, p. 153).
  2. ^ Yardeni & Elizur (2007) includes only the Hebrew text. The English translation was first published in Yardeni (2008). The Hebrew and English were republished in Yardeni & Elizur (2011, pp. 13–17), with a note from the authors that Qimron & Yuditsky (2009) contained "important corrections... to our reading", some of which were included in that edition (Yardeni & Elizur 2011, p. 11).

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Knohl 2008a.
  2. ^ "The First Jesus?". National Geographic. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Knohl 2009, p. xiv.
  4. ^ Goren 2008, p. 224.
  5. ^ a b c Novenson 2017, p. 176.
  6. ^ a b c Yardeni & Elizur 2011, p. 11.
  7. ^ Yardeni & Elizur 2007.
  8. ^ Yardeni & Elizur 2011, p. 17.
  9. ^ Novenson 2017, p. 176f.
  10. ^ a b c Yardeni 2008, p. 60.
  11. ^ a b Henze 2011a, p. xii.
  12. ^ a b Yardeni & Elizur 2011.
  13. ^ a b Hamidovic 2012.
  14. ^ a b Elgvin 2014, p. 16.
  15. ^ Goren 2008, p. 228f.
  16. ^ Novenson 2017, p. 177.
  17. ^ Witherington 2010, p. 211.
  18. ^ a b c Collins 2015.
  19. ^ a b Bronner 2008.
  20. ^ Yardeni & Elizur 2011, p. 12.
  21. ^ Schniedewind 2005, Section 3.8.
  22. ^ Gaines 2015, p. 68.
  23. ^ Byun 2017, p. 7.
  24. ^ Young 2013.
  25. ^ Henze 2011b.
  26. ^ Henze 2011b, p. 129.
  27. ^ Jeselsohn 2011.
  28. ^ a b c van Biema, David; Tim McGirk (7 July 2008). "Was Jesus' Resurrection a Sequel?". Time Magazine. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  29. ^ Knohl 2008b.
  30. ^ Dimant & Kottsieper 2012, p. 239.
  31. ^ Terry 2013, p. 551.
  32. ^ Evans 2003, p. 116.
  33. ^ Yardeni 2008 "It was written in the first person, perhaps by someone named Gabriel ("I Gabriel", line 77), so I have named the text "Gabriel's Vision"... "
  34. ^ Collins 2015, p. 127.
  35. ^ Henze 2011a, p. 6,99.
  36. ^ Hutchinson 2015, p. 117.
  37. ^ "Årstein Justnes CV" (in Norwegian).
  38. ^ https://www.uia.no/en/kk/profile/arsteinj
  39. ^ a b Justnes 2015.
  40. ^ nysun.com, Blurry 'Vision of Gabriel'
  41. ^ Collins 2015, p. 128.
  42. ^ Knohl 2008c.
  43. ^ a b c Knohl 2007.
  44. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20080820180906/http://www.bib-arch.org/news/dss-in-stone-news.asp Note: compare with archive from the day prior.
  45. ^ Bar-Asher 2008, p. 500-502.
  46. ^ Henze 2011a.
  47. ^ a b Koller 2014.
  48. ^ Novenson 2017, p. 178f.
  49. ^ Knohl 2011, p. 43, n. 12.
  50. ^ Hutchinson 2015, p. 118.
  51. ^ Knohl 2011, p. 47-48.
  52. ^ Aus 2015, p. 90-91.
  53. ^ Hutchinson 2015, p. 119f.
  54. ^ http://inscriptifact.com/ (registration required)

References[edit]

Subnotes[edit]

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