Historical Jesus III:Talmudic Sources Page 2

The Religious A priori

Historical Jesus

III.Ancient Secular Historians

I.Talmudic Sources Page 2

The Religious A priori

I will now examine several Talmudic passages in slightely greater depth:

these are found on the westie of Gil Student. Student argues that the evidence is too veg to say that Jesus is spoken of in even one passage in the whole of the Talmud. But let's see.

Gil Student

"The Jesus narrative in the Talmud"

Talmud Shabbat 104b, Sanhedrin 67a>

"It is taught: R. Eliezer told the sages: Did not Ben Stada bring witchcraft with him from Egypt in a cut that was on his skin? They said to him: He was a fool and you cannot bring proof from a fool."

Ben Stada is Ben Pandira.

R. Chisda said: "The husband was Stada and the lover was Pandira.

[No,] the husband was Pappos Ben Yehudah and the mother was Stada.

[No,] the mother was Miriam the women's hairdresser [and was called Stada]. As we say in Pumbedita: She has turned away [Stat Da] from her husband."


"What we see from here is that there was a man named Ben Stada who was considered to be a practicer of black magic. His mother was named Miriam and also called Stada. His father was named Pappos Ben Yehudah. Miriam (Stada) had an affair with Pandira from which Ben Stada was born."


"Some historians claim that Ben Stada, also known as Ben Pandira, was Jesus. His mother's name was Miriam which is similar to Mary. Additionally, Miriam was called a women's hairdresser, "megadla nashaia" [for this translation, see R. Meir Halevi Abulafia, Yad Rama, Sanhedrin ad. loc.]. The phrase "Miriam megadla nashaia" sounds similar to Mary Magdalene, a well-known New Testament figure."

Here's where Student argues against the passage being about Jesus, as he does with all the passages:


1. Mary Magdalene was not Jesus' mother. Neither was Mary a hairdresser.

Of course the hair dresser bit is new information that would be part of the unique Jewish soruces and kept out fo the Gosepsl, or if we look at it in another way, added as propaganda value since a working woman was supect. We see from Celsus' comments tha they also said she spun for living. Association wiht Mary Magdelon is based upon the assumption of a pun. Maybe they weren't making a pun. Maybe they were just running two figures from the Gospels together as if to say they all common women.

2. Jesus' step-father was Joseph. Ben Stada's step-father was Pappos Ben Yehudah.

Who knows what that means. It looks offhand like its dervied from the Roman Pappa, meaning father, ben = son, Yehudah might mean something derogatory.

3. Pappos Ben Yehudah is a known figure from other places in talmudic literature. The Mechilta Beshalach (Vayehi ch. 6) has him discussing Torah with Rabbi Akiva and Talmud Berachot 61b has Pappos Ben Yehudah being captured and killed by Romans along with Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva lived during the second half of the first century and the first half of the second century. He died in the year 134. If Pappos Ben Yehudah was a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva's, he must have been born well after Jesus' death and certainly could not be his father.

that leads me to suspect that his use here is polemical.

Passage #3: Trial
Talmud Sanhedrin 67a

"It is taught: For all others liable for the death penalty [except for the enticer to idolatry] we do not hide witnesses. How do they deal with [the enticer]? They light a lamp for him in the inner chamber and place witnesses in the outer chamber so that they can see and hear him while he cannot see or hear them. One says to him "Tell me again what you said to me in private" and he tells him. He says "How can we forsake our G-d in heaven and worship idolatry?" If he repents, good. If he says "This is our obligation and what we must do" the witnesses who hear him from outside bring him to the court and stone him. And so they did to Ben Stada in Lud and hung him on the eve of Passover."


"This passage discusses how an enticer to idolatry, one of the worst religious criminals (see Deuteronomy 13:7-12), was caught. The Talmud then continues and says that this was the method used to catch the notorious Ben Stada."


"Again we see Ben Stada. Above we were told that he performed witchcraft and we are now told that he was an idolater as well. The connection to Jesus is that Ben Stada is connected to Jesus in the passage above and that he was executed on the eve of Passover. The Gospel of John (19:14) has Jesus being executed on the eve of Passover."


1. The same problems above connecting Ben Stada to Jesus apply here as well, including his living almost a century after Jesus.

Now wiat a minute, if he's basing that upon the passage above that talks abou the grandpa, Pappos Ben Yehuda, then he's just assuming that Ben STada also lives latter than the time in which the grandpa is palced in the other passage. That in no ways means that they are writting of this figure with historical accruacy. They are barrowign him and placing him into the Stada narrative for polemical reasons, but it doenst' say when Ben Stadda lived. Thus Student is pulling a fast one. There is no proof that Ben Stadda lived after the time of Jesus!

2. Ben Stada was stoned by a Jewish court and not crucified by the Roman government like Jesus.

O but wait! in the passage is says he was stoned then hung! that curcial because we know that "hung" is eunphemism for crucifiction (Ray Brown, Death of the Messiah).

3. The Synoptic Gospels say that Jesus was executed on Passover itself (Matthew 26:18-20; Mark 14:16-18; Luke 22:13-15) and not the eve of Passover. Yea but he just got through saying that John places it on the eve. Ray Brown talks abuot the problem of the exact time frame of the crucifiction and the three days in the tomb. One solution is that Jesus nd co were followers of the Qumran Calender which would put them a day ahdead. Thus for the early chruch he ws crucified on passavoer and for the phrisees the day before. Talmudists are decendents of the Phrisees.

4. Jesus was not crucified in Lud.

I don't know where Lud is. They could be wrong aobut the place for any number of reasons.

Ibid (Student)


"Here we have the story of the execution of Yeshu. Like Ben Stada, he was also executed on the eve of Passover. Before executing him, the court searched for any witnesses who could clear his name, as was normally done before any execution. Ulla, however, questioned this practice. An enticer, due to the biblical mandate not to be merciful, should not be afforded this normal consideration. The Talmud answers that Yeshu was different. Because of his government connections, the court tried to search for any reason not to execute him and upset the government."

sounds to me like tounge in cheek way of saying he "king of the Jews," the tag put on him by Pilate.


"Again we see Yeshu. All of the proofs from above connecting Yeshu to Jesus apply here as well. Additionally, the execution on the eve of Passover is another connection to Jesus as above with Ben Stada."


1. As mentioned above with Ben Stada, the Synoptic Gospels have Jesus being executed on Passover itself and not the eve of Passover.

Problematic, see above.

2. As above, Yeshu lived a century before Jesus.

based upon what? How do we know that? the other such claim was a false hood

3. Yeshu was executed by a Jewish court and not by the Romans. During Yeshu's time, the reign of Alexander Janneus, the Jewish courts had the power to execute but had to be careful because the courts were ruled by the Pharisees while the king was a Sadducee. It seems clear why the courts would not want to unneccesarily upset the monarch by executing a friend of his. During the Roman occupation of Jesus' time, there is no indication that the Jewish courts had the right to execute criminals.

That's a good indication that the account is written much after the time of Chrsit,when the eidtor/author didnt' know the situation of Chrit's time. It might also be just embellishment.

3. There is no indication from the New Testament that Jesus had friends in the government.

But it would be insulting to him to say that he was freinds with th profane Janneus.

Passage #5: Disciples
Talmud Sanhedrin 43a

It is taught: Yeshu had five disciples - Matai, Nekai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.

They brought Matai [before the judges]. He said to them: Will Matai be killed? It is written (Psalm 42:2) "When [=Matai] shall (I) come and appear before G-d."

They said to him: Yes, Matai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 41:5) "When [=Matai] shall (he) die and his name perish."

They brought Nekai. He said to them: Will Nekai be killed? It is written (Exodus 23:7) "The innocent [=Naki] and the righteous you shall not slay." They said to him: Yes, Nekai will be killed as it is written (Psalm 10:8) "In secret places he slay the innocent [=Naki]."

They brought Netzer. He said to them: Will Netzer be killed? It is written (Isaiah 11:1) "A branch [=Netzer] shall spring up from his roots." They said to him: Yes, Netzer will be killed as it is written (Isaiah 14:19) "You are cast forth out of your grave like an abominable branch [=Netzer]."

They brought Buni. He said to them: Will Buni be killed? It is written (Exodus 4:22) "My son [=Beni], my firstborn, Israel." They said to him: Yes, Buni will be killed as it is written (Exodus 4:23) "Behold, I slay your son [=Bincha] your firstborn."

They brought Todah. He said to them: Will Todah be killed? It is written (Psalm 100:1) "A Psalm for thanksgiving [=Todah]." They said to him: Yes, Todah will be killed as it is written (Psalm 50:23) "Whoever sacrifices thanksgiving [=Todah] honors me."


"Five of Yeshu's disciples were brought before a court, tried for the crime against G-d and society of idolatry, and executed according to biblical law. This passages presents each disciple cleverly bringing a biblical verse in an attempt to exonerate himself and the court responding likewise."


The name Yeshu is used as above. The additional proof this passage provides is that Matai is the Hebrew equivalent of Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples.


1. The same problems above connecting Yeshu to Jesus apply here.
2. Of the five disciples, only one is recognized. What of the other four?
3. The name Matai seems like a nickname or Aramaic equivalent of Matityahu, which was a known Jewish name in that time period. It was probably a common name, considering the high esteem in which the patriarch of the Hasmonean dynasty, Matityahu, was held by the common people. Some manuscripts have the name of R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah's famous colleague as Matai from Arbel [cf. R. Shimon Ben Tzemach Duran, Magen Avot, ed. Zeini (Jerusalem:2000) p. 31].

This passage is probably pretty worthless for establishing Jesus in the Talmud. Any of these above could be references to Jesus. The fact is we probably dont' have any references that are of any value now, they were expunged in the self censor, or mixed and mingaled over the years with other stories so that they are of little Vaule. What is clear is that Celsus had easy access to the Talmudic Mishna materials of his day, and he clearly understood them to be speaking of Jesus the leader of the Christians. WE may nhot have hte original material,so know about Jesus what the Talmudists knew. But it's clear they had some historical data of him and that they always regarded him as a felsh and blood man in history.

The Religious A priori