Gabriel’s Revelation: Changing faith as we know it?

By CHRISTIAN PIATT
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

A stone tablet, 3 feet high with more than 80 lines of handwritten text, describes what some believe is a messiah who suffers, dies and rises again after three days.

The relic, called “Gabriel’s Revelation,” portrays an apocalyptic scene as supposedly recounted by the angel Gabriel himself.

Did I mention that archaeologists have dated its creation to several decades before Jesus was even born?

The tablet was recovered from the caves in Qumran, where the controversial Dead Sea Scrolls also were found, and whose authenticity have been argued passionately in the decades since they were found in clay jars in the far reaches of the desert. Though some of the writing on the Gabriel tablet is obscured, many linguists and archaeologists are closely studying the piece and its message.

Aside from being written on stone instead of scrolls, the fact that it’s written instead of inscribed in the stone is curious.

However, the message is stunning, particularly if found to be authentic and dated correctly.

“In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you,” says the text, or at least that’s the consensus among those studying it so far.

Some of the lettering is a bit worn and hard to read, and some of the verbiage is curiously hard to decipher, but to date, no one has contended the age of the artifact.

Some scholars, such as Israel Knohl, a professor of Bible studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, have hypothesized that the tablet refers to a man named Simon who lived before the time of Jesus. It’s believed that the author, or authors, of the tablets may have been Simon’s followers.

Did they believe this man who preceded Jesus was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy? Did they witness something that caused them to make such claims of his martyrdom and resurrection? Did he predict such a fate for himself, or was this imparted upon him after his death to bestow upon him some sort of mythical honor?

For skeptics of the uniqueness, or even veracity, of Jesus’ divine status, this is a rare documented artifact that may be used to further challenge the claims of sovereignty that some within Christianity make so strongly.

For those who adhere to the importance of the idea that Jesus was God’s “only son,” the very notion of another messiah who possibly could have conquered death is tantamount to heresy.

It’s a stunning proposition, to think that some of our Jewish ancestors just might have believed their savior had come, only 30 to 50 years before Jesus even arrived on the scene.

Of course, there will be those who argue passionately for both sides, and ultimately, we have no absolute way to establish what is truth and what is not.

After all, none of us witnessed the life, death and resurrection of Christ; we base what we believe on Scripture, on God as revealed through a community of faith and through the stories and experiences we share.

What I think is most interesting is not so much the existence of this tablet, but that there has been hardly any mention of it in the mainstream media. Is religion really treated with such kid gloves that a potentially paradigm-shifting story like this is too hot to handle for most media outlets?

Are folks too worried about the potential backlash, being blackliste by Christian activists or condemned in the public forum for calling the Christian faith into question?

In my experience, there is no information that is harmful to one’s faith, if approached with an open but critical mind. People ultimately will believe what they choose to believe, regardless of evidence.

So how can it hurt to explore the possible implications of the Gabriel’s Revelation tablet, and talk about what it makes us think about and how it makes us feel?

Does it scare us? Is it reassuring to know that people have been searching for a manifestation of hope and redemption since the dawn of humanity? Do we wish it had never been found? If it is eventually authenticated, would it change our faith?

All questions worth asking in my assessment – none with easy answers.

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