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
tractate Abodah Zarah 16b-17a:
|Our rabbis taught: When rabbi Eliezer was arrested because of minuth
they brought him up to the tribune
to be judged. Said the governor
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
and said: Because you have acknowledged me as right, I pardon
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
when I came across one [of the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene], by name Jacob
of Kefar Sekaniah
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
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
he was brought to the gradus
and the hegemon
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
And he said: Because you trust in me, I swear by Dimus
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
and I met one of the minim, named Jacob
of the village of Zachania
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
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):
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.
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
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.
Our rabbis taught: Jesus of Nazareth had five disciples:
Mattai, Naqai, Netzer, and Buni, and Todah.
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).
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
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
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
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*
* 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.