The Talmud on Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus of Nazareth, not stoned but hung on Passover eve.


One of the ancient Jewish testimonia (though probably not nearly as ancient as the other examples).

Refer also to the page on Early Christian Writings dealing with the evidence from the Talmud.

In what follows the name Epstein refers to the Soncino translation by Isidore Epstein and the name Rodkinson refers to the translation by Michael L. Rodkinson. I have formatted and slightly altered and modernized both translations. The bracketed Hebrew words are from the online version of the Talmud from E-Daf.

Babylonian Talmud, tractate Abodah Zarah 16b-17a:

Epstein. Rodkinson.
Our rabbis taught: When rabbi Eliezer was arrested because of minuth [מינות] they brought him up to the tribune [גרדום] to be judged. Said the governor [הגמון, Greek ηγεμων] to him: How can a sage man like you occupy himself with those idle things? He replied: I acknowledge the judge as right. The governor thought that he referred to him, though he really referred to his father in heaven [אביו שבשמים], and said: Because you have acknowledged me as right, I pardon [דימוס, Latin dimissus]; you are acquitted. When he came home, his disciples called on him to console him, but he would accept no consolation. Said rabbi Akiba to him: Master, will you permit me to say one thing of what you have taught me? He replied: Say it. Master, said he, perhaps some of the teaching of the minim had been transmitted to you and you approved of it and because of that you were arrested? He exclaimed: Akiba, you have reminded me. I was once walking in the upper market of Sepphoris [ציפורי] when I came across one [of the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene], by name Jacob [יעקב] of Kefar Sekaniah [כפר סכניא], who said to me: It is written in your torah: You shall not bring the hire of a harlot into the house of the Lord your God. May such money be applied to the erection of a retiring place for the high priest? To which I made no reply. Said he to me: Thus was I taught [by Jesus the Nazarene]: For of the hire of a harlot has she gathered them and unto the hire of a harlot shall they return. They came from a place of filth, let them go to a place of filth. Those words pleased me very much, and that is why I was arrested for apostasy; for thereby I transgressed the scriptural words: Remove your way far from her, which refers to minuth [מינות], and come not near to the door of her house, which refers to the ruling power. There are some who apply removing your way from her to minuth as well as to the ruling power, and coming not near to the door of her house to a harlot. And how far is one to keep away? Said rabbi Hisda: Four cubits. The rabbis taught: When rabbi Eleazar was captured by the government, accusing him of being a min [מינות], he was brought to the gradus [גרדום], and the hegemon [הגמון, Greek ηγεμων] said to him: A sage like yourself should engage himself in such a valueless thing. And he answered: The judge himself may testify that such is not the case. The hegemon thought that he means him; he, however, meant the heavenly judge [אביו שבשמים]. And he said: Because you trust in me, I swear by Dimus [דימוס] that you are free from this accusation. When rabbi Eleazar returned home, his disciples surrounded him to condole him, but he did not accept it. Said rabbi Aqiba to him: Rabbi, allow me to say before you one of the things you taught me; and he allowed him. Said he to him: Rabbi, probably some explanations of the minim pleased you and you have accepted them, and therefore you were suspected and captured. Answered he: Aqiba, you have reminded me; it happened once that I walked in the upper market of Ciporas [ציפורי] and I met one of the minim, named Jacob [יעקב], of the village of Zachania [כפר סכניא], and he said to me: It reads: You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, et cetera. May then a retiring room for the high priest be built from such money? And I kept silent. Said he to me: So taught Jeshu ben Panthyra. It reads: For from the wages of a harlot she gathered them, and for the wages of a harlot shall they be used again; hence, money that comes from a dirty place may be expended on a dirty place, which explanation pleased me. It is for this that I was suspected and captured. And I confess that I have transgressed: Remove far from her your way, and come not near to the door of her house. To remove from her means from minunism [מינות], and to come not near means to government. Others, however, interpret this same removing far, et cetera, to mean minunism, and coming not near, et cetera, to mean prostitution, which place, according to rabbi Hisda, one is prohibited to approach from a distance of four yards.

Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 43a (text and translation based on the Soncino edition; please note that all instances of the words of Nazareth as applied to Jesus in this passage are textually suspect, and many thanks to Joe Wallack for pointing out this deficiency in my presentation of the passage):

משנה׃

מצאו לו זכות פטרוהו ואם לאו יצא ליסקל׃
וכרוז יוצא לפניו איש פלוני בנ פלוני יוצא ליסקל על שעבר עבירה פלונית ופלוני ופלוני עדיו פל מי שיודע לו זכות יבא וילמד עליו׃

Mishnah:

If they find an argument in his favor, they discharge him; and, if not, he goes out to be stoned. And a herald goes out before him: So-and-so the son of so-and-so is going out to be stoned because he committed such-and-such a transgression, and so-and-so and so-and-so are his witnesses; whoever knows an argument in his favor should come and argue on his behalf.

גמרא׃

אמר אביי וצריך למימר ביום פלוני ובשעה פלונית ובמקום פלוני דילמא איכא דידעי ואתו ומזים להו׃
וכרוז יוצא לפניו לפניו איז מעיקרא לא׃
והתניא בערב הפסח תלאוהו לישו הנוצרי והכרוז יוצא לפניו ארבעים יום ישו הנוצרי יוצא ליסקל על שכישף והסית והדיח את ישראל׃
כל מי שיודע לו זכות יבוא וילמד עליו ולא מצאו לו זכות ותלאוהו בערב הפסח׃

Gemara:

Abaye said: And he must say: On such-and-such a day, and at such-and-such an time, and in such-and-such a place; perhaps there are those who know, and they come and refute them. And a herald goes out before him, before him, yes; from the outset, no. But surely it was taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus of Nazareth; and the herald went out before him for forty days: Jesus of Nazareth is going out to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and incited and led Israel astray. Whoever knows an argument in his favor should come and argue on his behalf; but they did not find an argument in his favor, and they hanged him on the eve of Passover.

אמר עולא ותסברא ישו הנוצרי בר הפוכי זכות הוא מסית הוא ורחמהא אמר לא תחמל ולא תכסה עליו אלא שאני ישו דקרוב למלכות הוה׃

Ulla said: And can you think this? Was Jesus of Nazareth deserving of a search for an argument in his favor? He was an inciter, and the merciful says: You shall not spare him, nor shall you conceal him. Rather, Jesus was different because he was close to the government.

תנו רבנן חמשה תלמידים היו לו לישו הנוצרי מתאי נקאי נצר ובוני ותודה׃

Our rabbis taught: Jesus of Nazareth had five disciples: Mattai, Naqai, Netzer, and Buni, and Todah.

אתיוה למתי אמר להו מתי יהרג הכתיב מתי אבוא ואראה פני אלהים אמרו לו אין מתי יהרג דצתיב מתי ימות ואבד שמו׃

They brought Mattai; he said to them: Shall Mattai be executed? But surely it is written: When* shall I come and appear before God? They said to him: Yes, Mattai shall be executed, for it is written: When* shall he die and his name perish?

* Hebrew מתי (matay).

אתיוה לנקאי אמר להו נקאי יהרג הכתיב ונקי וצדיק אל תהרג אמרו לו אין נקאי יהרג דכתיב במסתרים יהרג נקי׃

They brought Naqai; he said to them: Shall Naqai be executed? But surely it is written: And you shall not slay the innocent* and the righteous. They said to him: Yes, Naqai shall be executed, for it is written: In the secret places he murders the innocent.*

* Hebrew נקי (naqiy).

אתיוה לנצר אמר נצר יהרג הכתיב ונצר מרשיו יפרה אמרו לו אין נצר יהרג דכתיב ואתה השלכת מקברך כנצר נתעב׃

They brought Netzer; he said: Shall Netzer be executed? But surely it is written: And a branch* shall grow out of his roots. They said to him: Yes, Netzer shall be executed, for it is written: And you are cast out of your grave like an abhorred branch.*

* Hebrew נצר (netzer).

אתיוה לבוני אמר בוני יהרג הכתיב בני בכרי ישראל אמרו לו אין בוני יהרג דכתיב הנה אנכי הורג את בנך בכרך׃

They brought Buni; he said: Shall Buni be executed? But surely it is written: Israel is my son,1 my firstborn. They said to him: Yes, Buni shall be executed, for it is written: Behold, I will slay your son,2 your firstborn.

1 Hebrew בני (biniy).
2 Hebrew בנכ (binka).

אתיוה לתודה אמר תודה יהרג הכתיב מזמור לתודה אמרו לו אין תודה יהרג דכתיב זבח תודה יכבדנני׃

They brought Todah; he said: Shall Todah be executed? But surely it is written: A psalm of thanksgiving.* They said to him: Yes, Todah shall be executed, for it is written: Whoever offers a thanksgiving offering* glorifies me.

* Hebrew תודה (todah).

The ancient Jewish concept of agency.

From John S. Kloppenborg, The Formation of Q, page 197, note 113, writing on Luke 10.16 (Q 10.16):

The closest Jewish parallel is the principle of agency found throughout rabbinic literature: שלוחו של אדם כמותו "The agent of a man is like him." See Mek. Exod 12:6 (= Lauterbach, 1.40-41); m. Ber. 5:5; b. B. Mes. 96a; b. Hag. 10b; b. Qidd. 42b, 43a; b. Menah. 93b; b. Nazir 12b.