Una antiquísima tableta de piedra caliza cubierta con un misterioso texto hebreo que habla del arcángel Gabriel se encuentra en el centro de una nueva exposición en Jerusalén, a la vez que los estudiosos continúan discutiendo sobre lo que realmente significa.

La llamada piedra de Gabriel, una especie de tableta o placa de piedra de un metro (tres pies) de altura, fue encontrada hace 13 años en las orillas del Mar Muerto, y cuenta con 87 líneas de un texto profético desconocido fechado en el siglo I a. C, en la época del Segundo Templo judío.

Los eruditos la ven como una especie de portal a las ideas religiosas que circulaban en la Tierra Santa en la época en que nació Jesús. Su formato es también único – tinta escrita en la piedra, no tallada – y ningún otro texto religioso de tal formato se ha encontrado en la región.

Los conservadores del Museo de Israel, donde la primera exposición dedicada a la piedra se abrirá el miércoles, dicen que es el documento más importante que se ha encontrado en la zona desde el descubrimiento de los Manuscritos del Mar Muerto.

«La piedra de Gabriel es de alguna manera un Manuscrito del Mar Muerto escrito en piedra«, nos dice James Snyder, director del Museo de Israel. Las fechas de su escritura son del mismo período, y utiliza la misma escritura hebrea caligráfica que algunos de los Manuscritos del Mar Muerto, una colección de documentos que incluyen los más antiguos manuscritos y textos supervivientes conocidos de la Biblia hebrea.

La piedra de Gabriel causó sensación en 2008 cuando el biblista israelí Israel Knohl ofreció una teoría audaz sobre el contenido de ese texto medio desvaído de la piedra que iba a revolucionar la comprensión del cristianismo primitivo, alegando que hacia referencia a un concepto de la resurrección mesiánica que precedió al de Jesús. Él basó su teoría en una línea borrosa del texto que tradujo como «en tres días vivirá«.

Su interpretación provocó una tormenta en el mundo de los estudios bíblicos, con eruditos convocando a una conferencia internacional al siguiente año de su descubrimiento para debatir sobre las diversas lecturas del texto, y con un equipo de National Geographic realizando un documental sobre su teoría. Un equipo estadounidense de expertos que utilizó tecnologías de escaneo de alta resolución intentó – pero no lo consiguió – detectar y definir aún más esa escritura descolorida.

Israel Knohl, profesor de la Biblia en la Universidad Hebrea de Jerusalén, con el tiempo redujo el impacto de su teoría original, pero el debate académico feroz que provocó siguió reverberando en todo el mundo académico y provocó una gran atención internacional sobre la piedra de Gabriel. En los últimos años, fue exhibida junto con otras antigüedades de la Biblia en Roma, Houston y Dallas.

Los expertos de la Biblia siguen debatiendo el significado de dicha escritura, sobre todo porque gran parte de la tinta se ha erosionado en los puntos cruciales de los diversos pasajes, y la tableta de piedra tiene dos grietas diagonales que cercena el texto en tres pedazos. Los conservadores del Museo dicen que sólo el 40% de las 87 líneas que aparecen son legibles, aunque muchas de ellas apenas.

Todos coinciden en que el pasaje describe una visión apocalíptica de un ataque contra Jerusalén tras el cual Dios aparece con los ángeles montados en carros para salvar la ciudad. El personaje central es el ente angélico Gabriel, el primer ángel que aparece en la Biblia hebrea. «Yo soy Gabriel», dice el escrito.

La inscripción de piedra es uno de los más antiguos pasajes donde aparece dicho arcángel, y representa una especie «explosión de ángeles en el judaísmo del Segundo Templo, en un momento de gran angustia espiritual para los judíos en Jerusalén en busca de una conexión divina”, afirma Adolfo Roitman, el curador de la exhibición.

La exposición traza el desarrollo de la historia del arcángel Gabriel en las tres religiones monoteístas, mostrándose un fragmento de los Manuscritos del Mar Muerto que menciona el nombre del arcángel; el códice de Damasco Codex del siglo XIII, uno de los más antiguos manuscritos ilustrados de la Biblia hebrea completa; un manuscrito del Nuevo Testamento de Britania del siglo X, en el que el arcángel Gabriel predice el nacimiento de Juan el Bautista y aparece a la Virgen María; y un manuscrito de un Corán iraní fechado en el siglo XV o XVI, en el que el arcángel, llamado Jibril en árabe, revela la palabra de Dios al profeta Mahoma.

«Gabriel no es arqueología. Él sigue siendo relevante para millones de personas en el mundo que aún creen que los ángeles son seres celestiales que aparecen en la tierra«, comenta Roitman. “La piedra de Gabriel”, nos dice, «es el punto de partida de una tradición continua que sigue siendo relevante hoy en día«.

La historia de cómo se descubrió esa tableta de piedra es tan oscura como su significado. Se dice que un beduino la  encontró en la orilla oriental del Mar Muerto (Jordania) hacia el año 2000, nos comenta Knohl. Un profesor universitario israelí examinó posteriormente un pedazo de tierra pegada a la piedra y encontró una composición de minerales que sólo se encuentra en la región del Mar Muerto.

La tableta de piedra finalmente llegó a las manos de Ghassan Rihani, un anticuario jordano con sede en Jordania y Londres, que a su vez le vendió la tableta al coleccionista suizo-israelí David Jeselsohn en Zurich, por un monto no especificado. Rihani murió posterioridad. El estudioso de la Biblia viajó a Jordania varias veces para comprobar si pudieran existir más tabletas de piedra, pero no fue capaz de encontrar la ubicación original donde se encontró.

Los curadores del Museum de Israel nos dijeron Jeselsohn prestó la tableta de piedra al museo para esta exhibición temporal.

Lenny Wolfe, un comerciante de antigüedades en Jerusalén, afirma que antes de que el distribuidor de Jordania hubiera comprado la tableta, otro intermediario le envió una imagen de la piedra por fax y le ofreció vendérsela.

«El fax no era claro. No tenía ni idea de lo que era«, dice Wolfe, quien no hizo caso a ese ofrecimiento. Se trata de «una de mis mayores fracasos«, reconoce Wolfe.

La función de la piedra, donde se ubicaba y por qué fue escrita, se desconocen, según los curadores de la exhibición del Museo de Israel.

«Todavía hay muchas cosas que no está claras«, nos  dice Michal Dayagi-Mendels, otro curador de la exposición. “Los estudiosos seguirán discutiendo sobre ella durante años«.

Labels: Tableta de Gabriel

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