It was not always thus. Indeed, the texts discussed in the best book of the recent crop, Peter Schafer’s “Jesus in the Talmud,” were once considered so outrageous that they were self-censored from European editions of the Talmud. Not that the attempt succeeded: Christian authorities burned the Talmud anyway, and antisemitism continued unabated. But the censorship did succeed somewhat; these texts are practically unknown even today.
And they are still somewhat scandalous. What Schafer shows is that the rabbis of the Talmud knew the New Testament well enough to parody it and were concerned enough about the growth of the Jewish-Christian sect to condemn the testament. And they did so in unsparing terms.
The image of Jesus that one gets from the Talmud is that of an illicit, sex-crazed black magician who uses trickery to lead Israel astray. In BT Sanhedrin 103a, Jesus is depicted as a poor disciple who “spoiled his food,” which Schafer speculates may be a euphemism for sexual misconduct: “to eat the dish” being a recognized Talmudic euphemism known for the sex act itself. A later emendation adds that he “practiced magic and led Israel astray.” And the virgin birth is ridiculed as a cover-up of Jesus? true parentage: His mother was an “illicit woman” (another Talmudic locution), perhaps even a prostitute.
Strong stuff – no wonder they don’t teach it in Sunday school. But fascinating, as well, as long as, of course, we don?t take it too seriously (which, doubtless, some Jews do). The texts Schafer adduces – all of them relatively late, dating to the third- or fourth-century C.E., suggesting a conscious effort to fight the upstart sect – show that the Talmudic rabbis did not reject Jesus for the noble reasons that Klinghoffer and his ilk suggest. At least according to these texts, they rejected him because they thought he was evil, or saw him as a threat.
The most notorious of all the “Jesus texts,” however, is BT Sanhedrin 43a, which describes the halachic procedure of Jesus? trial and execution. This is notorious, of course, because for nearly 2,000 years, Christian authorities have been blaming the Jews for killing Jesus, even though the New Testament itself makes clear that it’s the Romans who actually did the deed.
Shockingly, however, the Talmud does not shirk responsibility for Jesus? death. On the contrary, it says that he deserved it and that the Jews did it themselves. Jesus was, the text relates, a sorcerer, an idolater and a heretic who led Israel to idolatry. His conviction was entirely just, and his execution – stoning and then hanging – was carried out in strict accordance with rabbinic law.
Why would the Talmud make such a claim? Schafer speculates it is to undermine the Gospels’ account and empower the rabbis. In the Gospels’ account, the rabbis are tools, almost, of Rome. In the Talmud?s account, they are powerful – so powerful that they condemned the hero of the Christian sect to his brutal death. (Believe it or not, there are actually even more graphic texts, which Schafer includes in his book. Suffice to say, their gruesome account of hell puts even Dante to shame. But I’ll leave that out of this family newspaper.)
The rest of the article can be found at the link above.
Look, to be honest, I except that many horrible things have been done in the name of Christ, but that it no way tarnishes the name of the Lord, nor His Church. Those that would do horrible things in the name of Christ should not be counted as Christians, and yet, so often in the media and in the eyes of others, there is no attempt at separation.