Christianity in Jewish literature

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spin
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Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by spin » Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:56 pm

The presence of Jesus in Jewish literature--principally in the Babylonian Talmud under the name Yeshu ha-Notzri--is frequently mentioned in efforts to sustain the notion of the historicity of Jesus. It's a rather strange idea considering there are no references to Jesus in the Jerusalem Talmud, where one should think it would be more likely to find mention of him, if he really started out in Palestine. There is a corollary that says that Jesus has been edited out of the Jewish literature, which of course might be true, or he could have been edited into it.

If anyone knows any tangible historical means of getting real evidence for Jesus from the traditional Jewish sources, I'd love to hear it. I've also heard people use the Birkat ha-Minim cited for evidence of christians at least from the time of "Javneh". The Birkat ha-Minim contains a curse of heretics (minim) which, in two versions of a mediaeval text found in the Cairo geniza (Fustat), also contained reference to the Notzrim, ie both the minim and the notzri were to be cursed according to these documents, so at least there were at least christians from the end of the first century according to Jewish sources, right? Well, not so fast. The idea of the Birkat ha-Minim deriving from Javneh is not too problematic, but the curse was originally commissioned by Rabban Gamaliel (Ber. 28b) against minim and that commission contained no reference to any notzrim, so it should be unlikely that the original production by Samuel the Short who undertook the commission would have mentioned notzrim. In fact, although Justin refers to Jews cursing christians, the first church fathers specifically mentioning curses against Nazoreans were Epiphanius and Jerome in the 4th century, so again the Jewish evidence seems not to support early christianity.

Anyone with ideas to find useful references to Jesus in history from Jewish literature?
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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by stephan happy huller » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:00 am

I don't think it exists because I don't think Christianity was the same religion when the rabbinic texts were being written developed from earlier sources. I think we are better to assume that the Christian groups identified by Bloom in Two Powers in Heaven and related texts were Jewish-Christian groups but even here we see their identification shift to 'Samaritan' and 'Epicurean.' No one knew what the earlier witnesses were talking about. The same pattern holds true in Samaritan literature but Abu'l Fath will come out and say it i.e. 'it says this but I don't know what the fuck this guy was talking about ...' or something to that effect.
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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:08 am

I don't think Jewish sources provide evidence about Jesus himself. However there are references in the Tosefta to early 2nnd century disputes betwwen Rabbis and followers of Jesus.

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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by Duvduv » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:00 am

No, Andrew. There are no references anywhere in any Talmudic text referring to the Jesus character of the texts of the New Testament. And if fact, there are no references to Christians or Jesus in the Gemara which covers the third and fourth centuries in Palestine. The Babylonian Talmud makes no references to that either because Christianity was not yet a significant presence in Babylonia at that time.

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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by stephan happy huller » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:04 am

I sense a beating coming ...
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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:21 am

Duvduv wrote:No, Andrew. There are no references anywhere in any Talmudic text referring to the Jesus character of the texts of the New Testament. And if fact, there are no references to Christians or Jesus in the Gemara which covers the third and fourth centuries in Palestine. The Babylonian Talmud makes no references to that either because Christianity was not yet a significant presence in Babylonia at that time.
See Tosefta Hullin 2:22-23 (Jacob of Kefer Sama offers to cure Eleazar b. Damah in the name of Jesus ben Pantera) and 2:24 (R Eliezer is arrested for association with Jacob of Kefer Sikhnin a disciple of Jesus ben Pantera.)

IMO Jesus ben Pantera is the Jesus of the NT although some have doubted this.

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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by Duvduv » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:50 pm

You are correct. Ben Pandera was not theJesus of the New Testament. The only similarities are his mothers name and that he was executed on the eve of Passover. But he was surely patterned after Ben Pandera though Ben Pandera was not a false Messiah figure , only a deceiver. Jacob of Sechanya believed inthe magical name of Ben Pandera. And of course Jacob is rendered as James....

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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by stephan happy huller » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:02 pm

And the fact that Celsus's Jew knows of the Panthera story and applies it to Jesus ...
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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by Duvduv » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:11 pm

So what? As pure anti-Christian rhetoric it's the usual style to make a point. But it still doesn't change the scenario.

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Re: Christianity in Jewish literature

Post by stephan happy huller » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:48 pm

I don't understand what that is supposed to mean.
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