This was posted in spin’s blog at FRDB three days ago, and is a bit more (not by much lol) in depth explanation of my post on the introduction to the history of early Christianity back in April, where I explained that the messiah claimant here might have been a slave of Herod the Great’s named Simon (Josephus, Antiquities 17.10.6).
An Israeli scholar named Israel Knohl wrote a book called “The Messiah Before Jesus”. It was a bit thin, but proposed that the notion of a suffering messiah already existed in Jewish tradition. Recently (July 2008) an inscription came to light, sold some years before to a person living in Zurich by a Jordanian antiquities merchant through a London newspaper.
The Israeli epigrapher Ada Yardeni was approached about the inscription, resulting in its publication in a Hebrew journal, then in BAR. Yardeni called the inscription “Hazon Gabriel” (“the vision of Gabriel”). Although the stele is unprovenanced, it has been examined by Yuval Goren, the scholar who exposed the James Ossuary, and Goren could find nothing wrong with it. It is thought to have been a grave monument from an ancient Jewish tomb in Jordan and has been dated to the early first century BCE.
When Knohl came across the article and found a line “after three days…, I Gabriel…”, he examined the lacuna after “three days” and found that a word could be seen, the verb “live”, a reading that Yardeni later confirmed upon further examination. This find lends support to the existence of a tradition of a messiah who was resurrected after three days.
Early in the inscription there is mention of both David and Ephraim (son of Joseph):
My servant David, ask of Ephraim [that he] place
the sign; (this) I ask of you. — (Knohl’s translation)
The context is apparently apocalyptic, making the reference to David messianic, yet Ephraim is taken to be part of the messianic tradition here as well, a notion that is strongly supported by a passing passage in the Babylonian Talmud tractate Sukkah 52a, referring to “the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph”.
Three essential parts of the Jesus tradition are already in circulation before the end of the 1st c. BCE:
- son of Joseph;
- his slaying; and
- his resurrection after three days.