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Bibil Identifier bibil:202010
Publication Type Journal article
Title (English, Long) Jesus 'was close to the authorities': The Historical Background of a Talmudic Pericope
Author Mark, Gunther
Journal The Journal of Theological Studies (Volume: 60, Issue: 2)
Year (Publication) 2009
Year (Original (1st Edition)) 2009
Year (Copyright) 2009
Year (Reference) 2009
Year (Second publication) 2009
Language English
Pages 437-466 Pages
Genre Original
Abstract The famous pericope in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin folio 43a, which contains the passage ‘On the eve of Passover they have hanged Jesus’ and the mysterious phrase ‘Jesus was close to the authorities’, has long puzzled biblical scholars, who wonder whether we have here an astonishing piece of evidence for the trial of Jesus, but has never been fully expounded. The main reason is that scholars so far have approached the text from a New Testament vantage point. The essay examines the text within a Talmudic frame of reference. Questions of redactional patterns and modes of composition receive close attention, as does Talmudic terminology.

It is argued that ‘Jesus’ in these passages is merely a figure, signifying the sages’ concerns about Christian missionaries of Jewish descent, and the whole discourse is a footnote on the biblical imperatives of Deuteronomy 13 regarding Jewish advocates of a foreign religion, the Messit. It was prompted by the dramatic changes in the religious assumptions that underscored Talmudic discourse related to the Messit. The pericope was designed to add a Christian dimension to the existing body of Talmudic discourse on the death penalty. These passages are not anti-Christian polemic; the challenge that motivated its authors was not to discredit Christianity, but rather to offer instruction on what to do about it. It has the Halakhic purpose of equating Christianity with idolatry and the aim of keeping Halakhic traditions relevant in an age of Bible-based foreign monotheistic religions (not Jewish heretics).
DOI 10.1093/jts/flp114
Keywords Thesaurus BiBIL : Milieu : Ancient Judaism : Literature : Talmud (Babli and Yerushalmi) : Neziqin : Sanhedrin
Thesaurus BiBIL : Milieu : Ancient Judaism : Relationship with Other Religious or Philosophical Movements : Christianity
Thesaurus BiBIL : New Testament (Introduction) : Jesus
Last modification 2017-10-27