Gabriel’s Revelation (Vision) – A New “Dead Sea Stone” is really “Much Ado About Nothing”

Posted on July 9, 2008


Media coverage is getting broader regarding the “newly” discovered (10 years old now) stone with inscriptions (written in ink as opposed to carved) on it that may have implications for Christian theology.

Gabriel's Revelation stone

Biblical Archaeology Review’s article (BAR) is simply factual with little commentary. It concludes with this statement that sums up, in general, the conclusion of the matter to date: “It is difficult to say more. Perhaps this intriguing text only emphasizes the variety of Jewish movements at the turn of the era—and how much about them we don’t yet know.” BAR has also done the service of giving us the Hebrew transcription, as well as an English translation. The New York Times posted this article. HaAretz has this article which was written last year. Ben Witherington has his suggested response on his blog. Cathedra is supposedly the first publication of the stone, and their article is here. MSNBC’s article is more popular and sensational, but includes several links that are helpful in tracking a bit of history through these kinds of archaeological discoveries (namely the Dead Sea Scrolls and the James Ossuary. Unfortunately they mention the “lost tomb of Jesus” in the same breath. Todd Bolen at the Bible Places bloghere). always offers insightful thoughts (and the links to a larger picture

The sensationalization of a pre-Christian “resurrection-on-the-third-day” is what is causing a lot of buzz. For the record, the three locations where “three days” is even legible have too many missing pieces to really even make out what it is actually saying.

line 20-21:

לשלשת ימין תדע כי אמר יהוה אלהים צבאות אלהי ישראל נשבר הרע מלפני הצדק

[roughly translated: in three days you shall know, that(?)\for(?) He said, (namely,) YHWH the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Israel: The evil broke (down) before justice.]

line 54:

שלשת ימין זה שאמ…הוא

[roughly translated: (…) three days this is (that) which(?) … he(?)…]

line 80-83:

לשלושת ימין חא…אני גבריאל…ל…שר השרין ד…ן ארובות צרים א   א ל. ראו.ת ה…לשנם מ  … ן וה.ב.ג.מ לי מן שלושה הקטן שלקחתי אני גבריאל

[rouughly translated: in three days …, I, gabri’el … [?] the Prince of princes, …, narrow holes(?) … […] … to/for … […] … and the … to me(?), out of three – the small one, whom(?) I took, I, Gabri’el.


So, if you’d like to make all this say that there is a pre-Christian “resurrection-on-the-third-day” motif, fine, but it’s going to take some stretching and imagination. And even if the reference was crystal clear, as Bolen, Witherington, and others have pointed out, the actual impact on the Christian story, history, and theology is minimal if any.

Posted in: Religion