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Reflections Newsletter from Shalom Hartman InstituteThe newest issue of Reflections, the Shalom Hartman Institute electronic magazine of ideas, is now online. Read these five great articles:

Israeli Society and the ‘Society of Learners’

Professors Shlomo Naeh, Zvi Zohar and Elhanan Reiner discuss the place of Torah scholars within the Jewish People throughout the generations, and the relevance of models from Jewish history to the current political rift

The Secrets of ‘Guide to the Perplexed’

Dr. Micah Goodman, who is currently completing the first book in Hebrew that is completely dedicated to the Guide to the Perplexed, explains why he also chose to reveal its secrets

Ancient Jewish Magic

Dr. Ishay Rosen-Zvi surveys Yovel Harari’s book on magic in Judaism, which shatters some of the myths relating to magic

Devekut

As shown by Dr.Adam Afterman, devekut was a marginal commandment in the time of the Sages. Only under the influence of external philosophies did the great medieval Jewish thinkers give it a new meaning and a more significant status

Abraham Abulafia

Professor Moshe Idel’s survey clarifies how even amongst self-declared messiahs, the 13th century Abulafia was a unique figure

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Israel Knohl’s new book on his controversial interpretation and analysis of the stone monument with fragmentary Hebrew writing in ink (not engraved) on it: Messiahs and Resurrection in the Gabriel Revelation, will be published May 7, 2009, by Shalom Hartman Institute and Continuum Books.

Prof. Knohl sat down with me the other day to discuss the stone, his findings, the era in which it was written, the historical and prophetic truths embedded in it, and what its impact will and should be on today’s understanding of Judaism, Christianity, and Jesus as a historical figure.

We made three versions of the video: a tightly edited, “director’s cut”  of 10 minutes  (see above), a two-minute “trailer” version strictly about the book’s impact – here – and the full, 20-minute interview – here.

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Israel Knohl tells us his latest in-depth article about the “Messiah Stone” and its translation is available in the new issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (It’s the cover article for you print types).

What Israel tells us is also new is written confirmation by prominent archeological scholar Ada Yardeni, “premier expert of the script of that period, where she accepts my reading of the crucial words IN THREE DAYS, LIVE.”

Those four words provide the basis for the thesis that ties in Jewish prophecy of the day with the origins of the Christian Jesus.

For a lot more from Knohl, including his translation, click here. One more thing…

(more…)

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Watch this video of Israel Knohl, Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, author of the controversial, “The Messiah Before Jesus,” whose tranlsation of the “Messiah Stone” has caused a stir worldwide, talks here about the Jewish concept of tikkun olam – repairing the world, and where it first appeared in the Jewish Bible.

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Rabbi Prof. David Hartman, Co-Founder, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Prof. David Hartman, Co-Founder, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel

David Hartman has just posted another remarkable commentary on the Hartman Institute website. David Hartman is able to maintain his optimism, faith, and love for Israel and the Jewish people in the face of disappointments.

He is sustained in that precisely because he does not see Israel as a messianic redemption, but as an opportunity and a possibility. It’s a fascinating twist on those who see Israel as the sign of the impending (Jewish) messiah.

Read it and let us know what you think about this inspiring message.

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Oh, the power of the New York Times combined with a provocative idea. The Times story quoting Hartman Institute Senior Fellow Israel Knohl‘s innovative commentary on the “biblical stone” and the idea that Jewish tradition and folklore had of the messiah whose death and resurrection three days later would redeem the people has spun around the world and back again since it appeared on the paper’s front page and website over the weekend.

Follow-up stories in everything from Time to MSNBC and newspapers in Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and elsewhere have given the matter widespread publicity. Now, bloggers worldwide are chewing over Knohl’s research and claims, which we posted on the Shalom Hartman Institute website in May.

Some of the more interesting thoughts and headlines out there:

MSNBC: Messianic message stirs debate. MSNBC quotes (among others), Herschel Shanks, founder of the Biblical Archaeology Society and editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review:

“The really unique thing about Christian theology is in the life of Jesus – but in the doctrines, when I was a kid, you had little stories about the Sermon on the Mount and the people listening to this saying, ‘What is this man saying? I never heard anything like this! This is different,'” Shanks told me. “Today, this view is out. There are Jewish roots to almost everything in Christian experience.”

Time: Was Jesus’ Resurrection a Sequel?

“It is certainly not perfectly clear that the tablet is talking about a crucified and risen savior figure called Simon,” says Ben Witherington, an early-Christianity expert at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. The verb that Knohl translates as “rise!,” Witherington says, could also mean “there arose,” and so one can ask “does it mean ‘he comes to life,’ i.e., a resurrection, or that he just ‘shows up?’ “

New York Sun: Blurry ‘Vision of Gabriel.’ The usually reliable Hillel Halkin, roused by his editors in New York to join the conversation offered this surprisingly thin commentary:

 The “Vision of Gabriel,” from what I have been able to gather from these reports — I was not at the Jerusalem conference and have not read Mr. Knohl’s paper — would seem to be in many ways a typical late-Second-Temple-period eschatological text, a cryptically couched prediction of the messianic End of Days in the form of a revelation granted to the anonymous author by the archangel Gabriel….

What, then, is so dramatic about the “Vision of Gabriel”? Mainly, it would seem, a possible pronouncement by the archangel that the future Messiah will die and rise from the dead in three days’ time, just as Jesus is said to have done by the New Testament….Let us suppose that Mr. Knohl is right, and that the New Testament story of a messiah who is killed and rises from the dead on the third day represents a borrowing of a motif current in the same Jewish circles in Palestine that produced the “Vision of Gabriel” a generation or two before Jesus’s time.

(D)oes it tell us anything sensationally new about Christianity’s Jewish antecedents? I doubt it — not because these antecedents were not real, but on the contrary, because we already know so much about their reality that one more instance of it, however remarkable, will not add a great deal to the overall picture.

Knohl spoke on his theories at the Israel Museum conference mentioned above on Tuesday. There is no doubt his thought-provoking interpretations will continue to be discussed by religious thinkers and all those who care about the connections between Judaism and Christianity.

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Israel Knohl, Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

Israel Knohl, Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

Shalom Hartman Institute Senior Fellow Israel Knohl is in the news – in a big way – as the New York Times has covered the so-called “Gabriel’s Vision” stone tablet, a sort of “Dead Sea Scroll on stone” from Second Temple days that suggests a Jewish myth/story/prediction of a messiah who would rise from the dead after three days.

(Haaretz picked up the story a day after it ran in the Times, and done its own interview Knohl. See it here in Hebrew and here in English.)

The Times story has brought a huge amount of attention to Knohl – it’s the most emailed and blogged article on the Times website right now – and the Institute website is really the only online location for Knohl’s original article.

There are many controversial aspects to this matter. One is Knohl’s reading translation of the degraded text on the stone, and the other is the interpretation he give it, which is that Jewish mythology/belief of the Second Temple era included a messiah who rises from the dead after three days and whose blood purifies the people.

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