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What the Talmud Says about Jesus

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    What the Talmud Really Says About Jesus by David Klinghoffer, Religion BookLine (RBL) Publishers Weekly, Jan. 31, 2007 Will Peter Schaefer s new book, Jesus in
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2007
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      What the Talmud Really Says About Jesus
      by David Klinghoffer,
      Religion BookLine (RBL)
      Publishers Weekly, Jan. 31, 2007

      Will Peter Schaefer's new book, Jesus in the Talmud (Mar.), be
      controversial? "I'm afraid so," Schaefer told RBL. "That's why I'm

      His editor at Princeton University Press, Brigitta van Rheinberg,
      laughed but agreed: "You think, oh, whoa, this is not going to go over
      well in certain circles."

      Schaefer, who heads up Princeton's Judaic studies program, has
      collected and analyzed all the passages in the Talmud that apparently
      refer to the founder of Christianity, texts that were previously
      censored from Talmud editions for centuries. In his book he
      argues—against other scholars—that the scandalous passages indeed
      refer not to some other figure of ancient times but to the famous
      Jesus of Nazareth.

      What exactly is so scandalous? How about Jesus punished in Hell for
      eternity by being made to sit in a cauldron of boiling excrement? That
      image appears in early manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud, as does a
      brief account of Jesus' trial and execution—not by the Romans but by
      the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin. The Jewish community, to the
      extent Jews were even aware of these excised texts, has been content
      to let them remain obscure and unknown.

      Schaefer, a distinguished German-born Christian scholar who describes
      classical rabbinic literature as "my first love," has now definitively
      let the cat out of the bag. This undermines a widespread assumption
      that, of Judaism's and Christianity's respective sacred texts, only
      the Christian Gospels go out of their way to assail the rival faith,
      whereas Judaism's classical texts refrain from similar attacks.

      It seems fair to say now, however, that the Talmud is every bit as
      offensive to Christians as the Gospels are to Jews.

      The Talmud's scattered portrait of Jesus unapologetically mocks
      Christian doctrines including the virgin birth and the resurrection.
      Which isn't to say that the rabbinic invective is meant simply to
      insult. In his book, the author calls the Talmud's assault on
      Christian claims "devastating."

      "It is a very serious argument," said Schaefer, who emphasizes that
      the rabbis' stories about Jesus were never intended as an attempt at
      historically accurate narrative. Rather, in the classic Talmudic
      style, they encode legal and theological argumentation in the form of
      sometimes-imaginative storytelling.

      One naturally wonders, when Jesus in the Talmud is published, what the
      results will be for Jewish-Christian relations. "I certainly don't
      want to harm Jewish-Christian dialogue. God forbid," Schaefer said.
      But dialogue requires honesty, and "I'm trying to be honest."



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