THE HISTORICAL JESUS ACCORDING TO THE TALMUD:
FACT OR FABLE?
The Synagogue has always maintained that the Talmud is totally and unequivocally reliable and inerrant. This claim is held not only in matters pertaining to the study and practice of Judaism but also in the area of recordation of Jewish historical data.
Since the first century of the Common Era, myriads of gentiles have unabashedly proclaimed that our Messiah has come, in the flesh, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. (Who was actually born in Bethlehem ). When confronted with this bold claim, the synagogue has always acerbically retorted that she alone has the real “untold story” about “Yoshke” The Talmudic account unfolds as follows:
In Sotah 47a, the Talmud places Jesus contemporaneously with Yehoshua ben Perachya (who, according to the Talmud, lived during the time of King Alexander Jannai – a Hasmonean). “When King Jannai put the Rabbis to death, Simeon b. Shetah was hid by his sister whilst R. Joshua b. Perachiah fled to Alexandria in Egypt . When there was peace, Shimum b. Shetah sent this message to him: “From me, Jerusalem , the Holy City , to thee Alexandria in Egypt . O my sister, my husband dwelleth in thy midst and I abide desolate” R. Joshua arose and came back and found himself in a certain inn where they paid him great respect. He said, “How beautiful is this aksania” One of his disciples (Jesus) said to him, “My master, her eyes are narrow!” He replied to him “wicked person! Is it with such thoughts that thou occupiest thyself!” He sent forth four hundred horns and excommunicated him. The disciple came before him on many occasions, saying, “Recieve me” but he refused to notice him. One day while R. Joshua was reciting the Shema, he came before him. His intention was to receive him and he made a sign to him with his hand, but the disciple thought he was repelling him. So Jesus went and set up a brick and worshipped it. R. Joshua said to him, “Repent” but he answered him, “Thus have I received from thee that whoever sinned and caused others to sin is deprived of the power of doing penitence”. A master has said “the disciple practiced magic and led Israel astray”.
It would be pointless speculation to attempt to establish the veracity of this Aggada (story) by debate of its content. However, the time frame in which it occurs (latter Hasmoneans 200 – 100 B.C.E) will reveal its historical accuracy.
Ironically and incongruently, the Talmud in another tractate, (Berakoth 61B) places the supposed father of Jesus in the 2 nd century C.E.! “R. Akiba was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus b. Judah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him…” That Pappus b. Judah is Jesus’ father is stated in Sanhedrin 67a and also Shabbath 104b (uncensored editions) “Did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches upon his flesh? Was he then the son of Stada, surely he was the son of Pandira? – Said R. Hisda : the husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappus B. Judah.” It is a well known and undisputed fact that Rabbi Akiba lived in the 2 nd century C.E. In Kalla Rabati (2) (a minor tractate of the Talmud) it is stated that Jesus himself lived in the time of R. Akiba.
The Talmud thus places Jesus both in the 2 nd century B.C.E. and the 2 nd century C.E. (a span of 300 to 400 years) In light of these chronological discrepancies it must be logically and undeniably concluded that the Talmud cannot be trusted as a reliable historical reference.
PG. 2 – The Historical Jesus According to the Talmud
The question arises – in what century did Jesus live? The Christian world has always maintained that the historic Jesus lived in the 1 st century during the period of Roman oppression. All secular historians support this view beginning with the great roman historians Cornelius Tacitus and Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger) in their respective works “Annals” XV.44 “History: Epistles X.96.” For further corroboration of this position see: Lucian of Samosata’s “The Passing Peregrinu Suetonius”, “Life of Claudius” and Thallus’ “Third Book of History” (fragments salvaged by Julius Africanus).
Surprisingly, the fourth volume of the historical work “Our People” by Jacob Issacs (published by Lubavitch and well received in the orthodox community) corroborates the Christian view that Jesus lived in the 1 st century and was put to death by Pontuis Pilate (see page 185).
What then is to be concluded from all this data? If traditional sources such as the Talmud cannot be trusted for reliable historical information vis-à-vis Jesus, then perhaps one must consult the New Testament for the truth.
As an Orthodox rabbi, I once believed that the Talmud and Sefer “Toldoth Yeshu” held the key to understanding the “Yoshke” problem. After having to honestly acknowledge the glaring contradictions in rabbinical sources, I was compelled to consider the Christian claims. After a thorough and systematic study of the New Testament I found finally the pure and unadulterated truth I had long sought.