Saturday, July 07, 2007

Jesus in the Talmud

Something new to quarrel about. (Image: Princeton Univ. Press)

Princeton University Prof. Peter Schaefer has written a new book called "Jesus in the Talmud," which seeks to move beyond mere positivistic compilation of the meager rabbinic sources for the "historical Jesus," and to instead make sense of these cameos as a kind of "counter-narrative" to the Gospels. Who knew that the authors of the Babylonian Talmud knew the Gospels so well? I'm surprised to learn as well that, as the J-Post review points out, Jesus' Sanhedrin trial (not dealt with explicitly in the Talmud) lacked so much in the way of adherence to Jewish law. As it turns out, it's in the Babylonian Talmud that Jesus tends to show up, in what some zealots are calling, "pornographic" detail, whereas, in the Palestinian Talmud, Jesus appears less often, mostly as a target of an attack on magic. Schaefer's historical explanation here is compelling: in post-Constantinian Palestine, more and more the site of inspired imperial patronage, bashing Jesus was risky. But in Sassanian Babylonia, where an attack on Christianity could be construed as an attack on Rome, it was cool. The J-Post review is a little suspect, but Antiquitopia has read the book and provides interesting analysis. Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, Schaefer's seen Amos in diapers, so we have to tread carefully here.

3 comments:

Amos said...

This book sounds great. I think Peter Schaefer is one of the greatest living Judaic Studies scholars, and a very fine teacher, too.

Jared said...

Thanks for the link. I am not sure how to take being interesting, but it is surely better than being suspect. Best, "Antiquitopia"

Aussie John said...

Tony Blair has arrived in the Middle East to talk about a future Palestinian State. I'm skeptical about how effective the proposed "Two State Solution" might be.

Every time Israel has conceded land, far from procuring peace, it only gave her enemies a better vantage-point from which to attack her.

Israel's enemies haven't disguised their intention: "Gaza today - Jerusalem tomorrow".

Yes every distinct people-group has a right to their own homeland: there is a rightful place for Israelis, and a rightful place for Arabs, to call home.

Israel's rightful, God-given boundaries can be found delineated in the Scriptures, God's holy Word.

So it doesn't seem right to pressure Israel to give-up part of her rightful inheritance - especially since vast areas of land was already allocated for Arabs in the early 1900s (present-day Jordan).

Britain, America, Australia, the Arab-world, and Israel herself ought not be irresolute regarding Israel's decreed boundary.

The Lord Jesus Christ our Savior stated, prior to the fall of Jerusalem, that because Israel failed to understand her God-sent peace and redemption, Jerusalem wouldn't be able to avoid being trodden under feet of the Gentiles, and then the end shall come.

He, Jesus, is the Prince of Peace to all that receive Him - whether Jew or Gentile. I have experienced Him as my peace. And all who read this can too.

Written with love for both Jew and Arab - and with a desire for both to flourish in (the rightful) homeland of their own.