Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Does the Magdala Stone explain Jesus' execution?

CANDIDA MOSS: Is This Stone the Clue to Why Jesus Was Killed? A stone found in Israel with carvings of a chariot may be the key to understanding the charge of blasphemy leveled at Jesus Christ (The Daily Beast).

The stone is the Magdala Stone, on which more here. I have posted a photo of it here.

Even if we grant that the Magdala Stone showed a chariot in the holy of holies in the Jerusalem Temple, any connection with the execution of Jesus seems to me far-fetched. First, the idea that the heavenly Temple had chariots within it is very ancient, going back at least to the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice in the Dead Sea Scrolls. And the Chronicler explicitly states (more or less - the text is difficult) that King David put a "golden chariot (of) the cherubim" in the holy of holies of the earthly Temple and that their wings were spread over the ark of the covenant (1 Chronicles 28:18). So the idea is hardly new.

Second, I see no reference to the divine chariot in Mark 14:62. Jesus is quoted as alluding to the enthronement of the Davidic King alongside God in Psalm 110:1 and the coming of the son of man on the clouds of heaven in Daniel 7:13. I grant that claiming to be the heavenly Davidic King and the Danielic one like a son of man is not blasphemous by first-century Jewish standards, although it would have been considered megalomaniacal and quite possibly (especially by the Romans) seditious. But it is not at all easy to read the divine chariot into what Jesus is presented as saying, so I don't see that the Magdala Stone, interesting though it is, is very helpful for that issue. But, as always, such matter should be argued in the peer-review literature.