Jesus in the Talmud by Peter SchaferScattered throughout the Talmud, the founding document of rabbinic Judaism in late antiquity, can be found quite a few references to Jesus--and theyre not flattering. In this lucid, richly detailed, and accessible book, Peter Sch?fer examines how the rabbis of the Talmud read, understood, and used the New Testament Jesus narrative to assert, ultimately, Judaisms superiority over Christianity.
The Talmudic stories make fun of Jesus birth from a virgin, fervently contest his claim to be the Messiah and Son of God, and maintain that he was rightfully executed as a blasphemer and idolater. They subvert the Christian idea of Jesus resurrection and insist he got the punishment he deserved in hell--and that a similar fate awaits his followers.
Sch?fer contends that these stories betray a remarkable familiarity with the Gospels--especially Matthew and John--and represent a deliberate and sophisticated anti-Christian polemic that parodies the New Testament narratives. He carefully distinguishes between Babylonian and Palestinian sources, arguing that the rabbis proud and self-confident countermessage to that of the evangelists was possible only in the unique historical setting of Persian Babylonia, in a Jewish community that lived in relative freedom. The same could not be said of Roman and Byzantine Palestine, where the Christians aggressively consolidated their political power and the Jews therefore suffered.
A departure from past scholarship, which has played down the stories as unreliable distortions of the historical Jesus, Jesus in the Talmud posits a much more deliberate agenda behind these narratives.
The Talmud and the Gospels
Or, as Chrysostom c. An evil contingent within the Jewish nation influenced the Romans to put Christ to death. No serious student of history can deny this reality. For nearly two millennia Jewish writers have been attempting to revise history in an effort to rationalize their role in the death of Jesus of Nazareth. In each attempt, they pitifully ensnare themselves. Better it would have been had they treated the awful history factually and simply moved on.
The Jewish Text
Rabbi Eliezer remarked that the one in his bare head was illegitimate, a mamzer. Rabbi Jehoschua said that he was conceived during menstruation, ben niddah. Rabbi Akibah, however, said that he was both. Whereupon the others asked Rabbi Akibah why he dared to contradict his colleagues. He answered that he could prove what he said. He went therefore to the boy's mother whom he saw sitting in the market place selling vegetables and said to her: 'My daughter, if you will answer truthfully what I am going to ask you, I promise that you will be saved in the next life.
No Jewish scholar can fail to recognize that the teaching of Jesus forms one of the most unique codes in the world. Joseph Klausner, for many years professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, states in his epoch-making book, Jesus of Nazareth, His Times, His Life and His Teaching , that in his ethical code there is a sublimity, distinctiveness and originality in form unparalleled in any other Hebrew ethical code. Although Dr. Klausner admits distinctiveness and originality in the teaching of Jesus, he did not succeed in liberating himself from the general contention that this teaching has its basis in rabbinic literature. It cannot be denied that there exists a striking similarity between some of the teachings of Jesus and those of certain rabbis.