The first mention of the “slain Messiah” called Mashiah ben Yosef (Messiah Son of Joseph) is in the Talmud (Sukkah 52a). In my book “The Messiah Before Jesus” (University of California Press, 2000), I argue that the story of this slain messiah is based on historical fact. I believe it is connected to the Jewish revolt in the Land of Israel following the death of King Herod in 4 B.C.E. This Jewish insurrection was brutally suppressed by the armies of Herod and the Roman emperor Augustus, and the messianic leaders of the revolt were killed. These events set the slain Messiah Son of Joseph tradition into motion and paved the way for the emergence of the concept of “catastrophic messianism.” Interpretations of biblical text helped to shape the belief that the death of the messiah was a necessary and indivisible component of salvation. My conclusion, based on apocalyptic writings dating to this period, was that certain groups believed the messiah would die, be resurrected in three days, and ascend to heaven (see “The Messiah Before Jesus,” 27-42).
Ada Yardeni and Binyamin Elitzur recently published the text of a fascinating text they call “Hazon Gabriel” or the Gabriel Revelation (Cathedra magazine, vol. 123). This text, engraved in stone, conveys the apocalyptic vision of the Archangel Gabriel. Yardeni and Elitzur date it by its linguistic features and the shape of the letters to the end of the first century B.C.E.
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