Peter Schafer
PETER SCHÄFER  Macroknow Library

Jesus in the Talmud

" . . . [A]ccording to them [rabbis], Jesus was not born from a virgin . . . but out of wedlock, the son of a whore and her lover, therefore, he could not be the Messiah of Davidic descent, let alone the Son of God."1a

"The most bizarre of all the Jesus stories is the one that tells how Jesus shares his place in the Netherworld with Titus and Balaam, the notorious archenemies of the Jewish people. Whereas Titus is punished for the destruction of the Temple by being burned to ashes, reassembled, and burned over and over again, and whereas Balaam is castigated by sitting in hot semen, Jesus' fate consists of sitting forever in boiling excrement. The obscene story has occupied scholars for a long time, without any satisfactory solution. I will speculate that it is again the deliberate, and quite graphic, answer to a New Testament claim, this time Jesus' promise that eating his flesh and drinking his blood guarantees eternal life to his followers. Understood this way, the story conveys an ironic message: not only did Jesus not rise from the dead, he is punished in hell forever; accordingly, his followers -- the blossoming Church, which maintains to be the new Israel -- are nothing but a bunch of fools, misled by a cunning deceiver."


Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World

"The Exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses is one of the decisive events of Jewish history. According to the biblical story, the people of Israel left Egypt voluntarily and against the will of the Pharaoh and his fellow Egyptians . . . Quite different is the Egyptian and Greco-Roman tradition of the Exodus: the Jews were driven out of Egypt by force in a kind of 'ethnic cleansing' because they were polluted lepers and/or unwelcome foreigners . . . "2a TACITUS

" . . . Tacitus connects with the motif of impiety that of misanthrōpia: the Jews are loyal only to their fellow countrymen but express hostile odium toward all other people (adversus omnes). This is reminiscent of Hecataeus, Manetho, . . . , and above all Lysimachus, according to whom the Jews should not show good will to any man and should always offer the worst possible advice."2b* TACITUS

"Juvenal accuses only the Jews . . . of proselytism. And it is precisely the combination of proselytism and exclusiveness that alarms him. One can hardly think of a more serious attack on the customs of Rome's ancestors than the Jewish insistence that one has to abandon the "laws of Rome" (Romanas contemnere leges) in order to follow the "Jewish law" (Judaicum ius)."2c*

"As the course of history shows, this fear was well-founded. The vanquished did succeed in giving laws to their victors: at first as Jews and later, and most effectively, in the guise of Christianity."2d TACITUS


* Italics in the original. Editor's emphases.

1 Peter Schäfer (b. 1943). Jesus in the Talmud. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.
a Introduction, at 10.
b Ibid., at 13.

2 Peter Schäfer (b. 1943). Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1997. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
a Part 1. Who Are the Jews. Ch. 1. Expulsion from Egypt, at 15.
b Ibid., at 32-33.
c Part III. Centers of Conflict. Ch. 11. Rome, at 185.
d Part III. Centers of Conflict. Anti-Semitism, at 211.

MK-BOOKS-SCHÄFER-20011223. UPDATED 20090120, 20170909.