Jesus in the Talmud

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Feb 9, 2009 - Religion - 232 pages

Scattered throughout the Talmud, the founding document of rabbinic Judaism in late antiquity, can be found quite a few references to Jesus--and they're not flattering. In this lucid, richly detailed, and accessible book, Peter Schäfer examines how the rabbis of the Talmud read, understood, and used the New Testament Jesus narrative to assert, ultimately, Judaism's superiority over Christianity.


The Talmudic stories make fun of Jesus' birth from a virgin, fervently contest his claim to be the Messiah and Son of God, and maintain that he was rightfully executed as a blasphemer and idolater. They subvert the Christian idea of Jesus' resurrection and insist he got the punishment he deserved in hell--and that a similar fate awaits his followers.


Schäfer contends that these stories betray a remarkable familiarity with the Gospels--especially Matthew and John--and represent a deliberate and sophisticated anti-Christian polemic that parodies the New Testament narratives. He carefully distinguishes between Babylonian and Palestinian sources, arguing that the rabbis' proud and self-confident countermessage to that of the evangelists was possible only in the unique historical setting of Persian Babylonia, in a Jewish community that lived in relative freedom. The same could not be said of Roman and Byzantine Palestine, where the Christians aggressively consolidated their political power and the Jews therefore suffered.


A departure from past scholarship, which has played down the stories as unreliable distortions of the historical Jesus, Jesus in the Talmud posits a much more deliberate agenda behind these narratives.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
2
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
0
1 star
2

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Maggie.Anton - LibraryThing

I found this book fascinating and highly informative. The author combed through many original manuscripts of Talmud to find what the medieval censors had deleted. The results are amazing, and prove ... Read full review

Contra Velma Akins' Review

User Review  - H Carl Moerschbacher - Christianbook.com

Peter Schäfer is Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion at Princeton University. He has published widely on a variety of topics including Jewish history and early Jewish and ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Jesus Family
15
2 The SonDisciple Who Turned out Badly
25
3 The Frivolous Disciple
34
4 The Torah Teacher
41
5 Healing in the Name of Jesus
52
6 Jesus Execution
63
7 Jesus Disciples
75
8 Jesus Punishment in Hell
82
9 Jesus in the Talmud
95
Bavli Manuscripts and Censorship
131
Notes
145
Bibliography
191
Index
203
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Peter Schäfer is Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Judaic Studies and Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. His books include Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah (Princeton) and Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World, which has been translated into several languages.

Bibliographic information