The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has been called into question by a radical new interpretation of a tablet found on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea.
The three-foot stone tablet appears to refer to a Messiah who rises from the grave three days after his death — even though it was written decades before the birth of Jesus.
The ink is badly faded on much of the tablet, known as Gabriel's Vision of Revelation, which was written rather than engraved in the 1st century B.C. This has led some experts to claim that the inscription has been overinterpreted.
A previous paper published by the scholars Ada Yardeni and Binyamin Elitzur concluded that the most controversial lines were indecipherable.
Israel Knohl, a biblical studies professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argued Monday that line 80 of the text revealed Gabriel telling an historic Jewish rebel named Simon, who was killed by the Romans four years before the birth of Christ: "In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you."
Professor Knohl contends that the tablet proves that messianic followers possessed the paradigm of their leader rising from the grave before Jesus was born.
He said that the text "could be the missing link between Judaism and Christianity in so far as it roots the Christian belief in the resurrection of the Messiah in Jewish tradition."