Another Note on The Vision of Gabriel

If you’re at all interested in the Vision/Revelation/Apocalypse of Gabriel—and why on earth would you be reading this if you weren’t?—you really ought to read Israel Knohl’s paper that kicked off this last week’s ado. It’s an academic paper, but surprisingly readable even to those of us who know no Hebrew (Hebrew is Greek to me…). Professor Knohl does distinguish between what he’s fairly sure of—messianic/Suffering Servant references, the “by three days, live” resurrection references (from whence he takes the title of his paper), the “background of a bloody confrontation”—and what he admits is speculation depending on reconstructions of lacunae in the text—basically that the “bloody confrontation” was the rebellion in the wake of Herod the Great’s death, and that the resurrected suffering servant was Simon, one of the leaders of the rebellion, known from Josephus and Tacitus. Mind you, I have no idea how conjectural his readings of blurry words really are.

I was struck by another relatively minor point. Knohl interprets a “difficult word” in the text as “white-plastered,” or “whitewashed” or “whited,” in exactly the sense of Matthew 23:27 or Acts 23:3. Apparently that was a common usage at the time. Did Jesus (or Matthew, or whoever) coin the specific phrase “whited sepulchre,” or was that image “in the air”? I should think little things like that can really shed light on the composition of the gospels.

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