Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jesus in the Talmud wrap up

Is that what is says?

It needs to be noted that there is some questions about the accuracy of this Talmud quote. Could this text dealing with some other sorcerer named Yeshu who was arrested and killed on the eve of a passover? The phrase "On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged" was inserted at a latter date as the Florentine manuscript of the 12th century (1177) is the first to have this phrase, where as older ones don't. If that is the case, then there is a chance that this reference is about another Yeshu who had five people following him and later was killed.

It has been argued that Rabbi Nachmanides in the Disputation of Barcelona (1263) said that the Talmud didn't not mention the same Jesus that the Christians were following, although I don't really see that argument here. It looks more like Nachmanides is saying that Jesus could not have being the Messiah and that the people who compiled the Mishnah did it years after the time of Jesus. It doesn't denial Jesus' existence and the text of Sanhederin 43a doesn't seem to be in question. For a more detailed paper on the Disputation see here or here. (update: sorry your network might not have access to that journal, I can email you the articles if you want).

What can we say?

If this passage is accurate, we can see that

1. The Jews had an independent tradition around the circumstances around Jesus' death as possibly a response to what the Christians were saying.
2. Jesus died by execution
3. Jesus' actions were suspect of sorcery
4. Jesus had disciples

Anything else?

There is also an interesting discussion here. Ignore the actual post, but read the exchange between Peter and John Dickson. They talk about a few Jesus sources, including this Sanhederin 43a passage and how the phrase "Yeshu Ha-Notzri" has been added.


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