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Holy Orthodox Temple
Ancient Jewish Views of Jesus

Following are some ancient Jewish views of Jesus.

Celsus on Jesus

Celsus lived in during the 2nd century, CE. Origen is refuting him in the 3rd

century. Celsus' writings no longer survive in tact, but we have access to some

of his work when Origen quotes passages for the purpose of refutation. The

following is one such passage. [AH]

Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28

Translation, quoted from Mead.

Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who

gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out

of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of

adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her

husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard.

Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he

acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on

possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on

the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.

Josephus on Jesus

The so called Testimonium Flavianum. This is the only direct discussion of Jesus

to be found in the writings of Josephus. Unfortunately, the text as we have it

in extant copies of Josephus' Antiquities appears to have been dramatically

re-written from a Christian point of view. (The writings of Josephus were

brought down to us from antiquity not by the Jewish community, but by the

Christians). The second column contains an Arabic quotation of the Josephus

passage that has a much less Christian flavor. Some scholars have argued that

the Arabic version has a more likely claim to originality.

Although that is a strong possibility, it should be noted that even the Arabic

version is a good deal kinder to Jesus than Josephus usually is to messianic

claimants. In addition it is harder to see why the Christian scribe would feel

so compelled to change it. It is possible that the original may have been much

more insulting, in keeping with Josephus' normal pattern, and that the Greek and

Arabic versions are simply two different recensions of a Christian rewrite. R.

Eisler has made an effort to reconstruct an 'original' that might have, given

Christian revision, served as a base for the version that survives in Greek. It

is, of course, entirely hypothetical, and no textual evidence exists to support

it, but it does fit in better with Josephus' usual pattern and language, as well

as the general context of the passage.

On the other hand, it may be possible to 'save' the Arabic version. Particularly

if we remove the last sentence (accordingly ...wonders) as a pious expansion, we

are left with a non-committal report on the martyrdom at Roman hands of a pious

Jew. This would not be at all inconsistent with Josephus' style, particularly if

he discounted as later followers' embellishments the claims made by Christians

that Jesus was the Messiah. This last suggestion is to some extent crippled by

the less controversial reference in Antiquities 20 if it is genuine (see below).

Arabic Version

Arabic summary, presumably of Antiquities 18.63. From Agapios' Kitab al-'Unwan

("Book of the Title," 10th c.).

The translation belongs to Shlomo Pines. See also James H. Charlesworth, Jesus

Within Judaism.

Similarly Josephus the Hebrew. For he says in the treatises that he has written

on the governance of the Jews:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was

good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and

the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and

to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.

They reported that he had appeared to themafter his crucifixion and that he was

alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have

recounted wonders.

Tertullian Mocks Jewish 'Slanders'

Tertullian wrote this passage late in the 2nd century, CE. In the context he is

imagining himself, after Jesus' triumphant return, mocking the now damned Jews

for their perversions of of the truth about Jesus (from his point of view). Much

of what he accuses the Jews of saying/doing is straight out of the canonical

gospels, but some, especially the last phrase, seems to reflect some of the

traditions that will later be brought together in the Toldoth Yeshu. [AH]

Tertullian, De Spetaculis 100.30

Translation, quoted from Mead, p. 133.

This is your carpenter's son, your harlot's son;[1] your Sabbath-breaker, your

Samaritan[2], your demon-possessed! This is he whom you bought from Judas. This

is he who was struck with reeds and fists, dishonored with spittle, and given a

draught of gall and vinegar! This is he whom his disciples have stolen secretly,

that it may be said, 'He has risen', or the gardener abstracted that his

lettuces might not be damaged by the crowds of visitors![3]


[1] The 'harlot's son' accusation is doubtless a commonplace. It is directly

connected with Christian claims of virgin birth, but there is something of a

chicken-egg problem. It is easy to imagine such a rebuttal to Christian claims,

but it is also quite conceivable that the Christian version is a response to

Jewish slanders about his origins. I am inclined toward the former explanation,

but arguments can be made for either.

[2] Samaritan. Thanks to Mike Sassanian for reminding me of John 8:48 where

Jesus is called a Samaritan and accused of being demon posessed.

[3] Presumably, in this version a gardener who grows cabbages near the grounds

of the sepulcher is irritated by the large numbers of disciples who are

trampling his crops when they come to visit the tomb. He solves the problem by

moving the body, which gives rise to Christian claims of resurrection. The

gardener parallel to the Toledoth tradition is clear enough, although not

identical, particularly in motive. What is interesting is the peculiar detail of

the cabbage. I am not aware of the Toledoth stories mentioning this, but they do

often have Jesus being crucified on a cabbage. While the context is different,

the wild improbability of the recurring vegetable seems too peculiar to be

coincidence. There may also be a connection between this gardener and the story

in John 20.14-16 where Mary Magdalene, on seeing the resurrected Jesus, fails to

recognize him, taking him to be the gardener.

Yeshu and Joshua b. Perachiah

This story cannot be directly connected with any of the traditional events in

the life of Jesus, and it is set about 100 years before Jesus presumably lived.

Yeshu/Yeshua is not an uncommon name, and it may be that we simply have a story

about a Jewish 'bad boy' whose name happens to be the same as Jesus'. But as the

last sentence (only in the Sanhedrin version) demonstrates, whatever the

original intent of the story, it came to be connected with the Yeshu/Jesus

traditions in the early medieval period. Even the historical setting -- the

reign of Jannai (Alexander Jannaeus, reigned 103-76 BC) -- seems to have stuck,

and is clearly embedded in the Toldoth traditions.

Sanhedrin 107b || Sota 47a (except for the last sentence)

This is mostly a somewhat modernized version of A.M. Streane's translation,

quoted in Mead, pp. 137f. My modernization has been informed by Goldstein's

translation of the same text (pp. 73f)

The Rabbis taught: The left should always be used to push away, and the right,

on the other hand to draw nearer. But one should not do it as Elisha who pushed

Gehazi away, nor as R. Joshua ben Perachiah, who pushed away Yeshu with both

hands. What was the problem with R. Joshua ben Perachiah? When King Jannai

ordered the extermination of the Rabbis, R. Joshua ben Perachiah and Yeshu fled

to Alexandria. When it was safe to return, Rabbi Simeon ben Shetach sent him a


From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to the Alexandria in Egypt, my sister. My

spouse tarries in your midst, and I sit desolate.

Joshua set off at once. During the trip they happened upon an inn in which they

treated him with great respect. Joshua commented, "How fair is this inn[1]."

Yeshu replied, "But Rabbi, she[1] has unattractive eyes."[2] Joshua replied,

"You godless person, do you fill your mind with such things?" Then he had 400

trumpets sounded and anathematized him. Yeshu often came and said to him,

"Receive me back." Joshua paid no attention. One day, while Joshua was reciting

the Shema, Yeshu came to him, hoping for a reprieve. Joshua made a sign to him

with his hand. [3] Yeshu misunderstood, thinking he had been repulsed, so he

went away set up a brick and worshipped it. Joshua said to him, "Repent!" Yeshu

replied, "I learned this from you: 'Anyone who sins and causes the people to

sin, is not allowed the possibility of repentance.'"

[The Teacher said: "Yeshu practiced sorcery and corrupted and misled Israel."]

[1] akhsanya can mean either 'inn' or 'hostess'. Joshua intends one meaning,

Yeshu hears another. On the subject of word plays, it may not be accidental in

this story that 'Yeshu' is a diminutive form of 'Joshua'.

[2] Or perhaps "she is near-sighted".

[3] Presumably the hand sign meant that Yeshu should wait until Joshua had

finished the Shema.

Simeon b. Azzai finds a Genealogy

This brief passage is the only presumed reference to Jesus in the Mishna. That

it refers to Jesus depends on the supposition that peloni, 'so and so,' is a

veiled reference to Jesus. There is reasonable evidence that in later Talmudic

literature this is often, perhaps exclusively, the case. It is problematic in

this case, though. In the later literature the Rabbinic authors may have had

good reason to be careful about overt negative references to Jesus, but no such

constraint hindered the compilers of the Mishna. There is, of course, the

possibility that the text was originally explicit, and that peloni was

substituted for yeshu when it became politically expedient. It seems more likely

however that the referent was someone with more political clout on whom the

Rabbis take a subtle delight in finding 'dirt'. See Goldstein for a fuller


B. Yebamoth 49a, M. Yebamoth 4.13

Translation, quoted from Mead.

Simeon ben Azzai has said: I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein

was written: That so and so is a bastard son of a married woman.

Evidence of Innocence Sought in Vain

This is one of the (few early) passages that Goldstein judges to be a possibly

authentic reference to Jesus. He identifies two difficulties: the details do not

fit well with the gospel accounts, and Yeshu / Yeshua / Yeshoshua (all forms of

the same name) was an extremely common name. In its favor, the fact that this

Yeshu is executed around Passover, as was Jesus, makes it less likely that it

intends some other Yeshu/a. Differences in detail probably simply reflect a

tradition widely divergent from the Christian gospels. There is, as with many of

these stories, the strong possibility that stories about other Yeshu/as or

accused magicians have mingled with authentic Jesus traditions to create a new

story. The story is hard to date with any confidence, but it cannot be later

than about 220, CE (Goldstein:29). The italicized section is Amoraic, 4th c. at

the earliest. [AH]

Baraitha Bab. Sanhedrin 43a

The translation is informed by both Goldstein:22,109ff and Mead:178f,210f.

There is a tradition (in a Barraitha): They hanged Yeshu on the Sabbath of the

Passover[1]. But for forty days before that a herald went in front of him

(crying), "Yeshu is to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and seduced Israel

and lead them away from God[2]. Anyone who can provide evidence on his behalf

should come forward to defend him." When, however, nothing favorable about him

was found, he was hanged on the Sabbath of the Passover[1].

Ulla[3] commented: "Do you think that he belongs among those for whom redeeming

evidence is sought? Rather, he was a seducer [of whom] the All-merciful has

said: 'Show them no pity... and do not shield them.' (Deut 13.8b NRSV)[4] In

Yeshu's case, however, an exception was made because he was close to those who

held [political/religious] authority."

Jesus' Students/Disciples


This is in the same larger context. Who, exactly, these disciples are is not

clear. Mattai is likely to be Matthew. For the others scholarship has resorted

to what is, at best, educated speculation. The fact that there are five rather

than twelve suggests that we look elsewhere than Christian tradition to solve

the problem. It may not be coincidence that both Yohanan b. Zakkai and Akiba

each have five students (Goldstein:32). The italicized section is Amoraic, and,

incidentally, contains several bad etymologies (Mattai/mathai, Nakki/naki,

bunnibeni). [AH]

There is a tradition (in a Barraitha): Yeshu had five students[4]: Mattai,

Nakkai, Netzer, Buni, and Todah.

When Mattai was brought to trial, he said to the judges, "Should Mattai be

executed? But scripture says, 'When [mathai] shall I come and behold the face of

God?'" (Ps 42.2b RSV) They replied, "Yes, Mattai should be executed, for

scripture says, 'When will he die, and his name perish?'" (Ps 41.5b RSV)

When Nakkai was brought, he said to them, "Should Nakkai be executed? But

scripture says, 'Do not slay the innocent[naki] and righteous.'" (Ex 23.7b RSV)

They replied, "Yes, Nakkai should be executed, for scripture says, 'in hiding

places he murders the innocent.'" (Ps 10.8b RSV)

When Netzer was brought, he said to them, "Should Netzer be executed? But

scripture says, 'a branch[netzer] shall grow out of his roots.'" (Is 11.1b RSV)

They replied, "Yes, Netzer should be executed, for scripture says, 'you are cast

out, away from your sepulchre, like a loathed branch.'" (Is 14.19a RSV)

When Bunni was brought, he said to them, "Should Bunni be executed? But

scripture says, 'Israel is my firstborn son[beni].'" (Ex 4.22b RSV) They

replied, "Yes, Bunni should be executed, for scripture says, 'behold, I will

slay your firstborn son[benkha].'" (Ex 4.23b RSV)

When Todah was brought, he said to them, "Should Todah be executed? But

scripture says, 'A psalm for Thanksgiving [todah].'" (Ps 100.heading RSV) They

replied, "Yes, Todah should be executed, for scripture says, 'He who brings

thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me.'" (Ps 50.23a RSV)


[1] 'Sabbath of the Passover'. alt: 'on the eve of the Passover.' One ms.

reads "on the Sabbath on the eve of Passover.'

[2] See the same charge in Sanhedrin 107b and Sota 47a.

[3] Ulla. Late 3rd / early 4th c. CE (Goldstein:109).

[4] Deuteronomy 13.6-9 command that those who lead Israel to worship other

gods are to be executed:

If anyone secretly entices you... saying, "Let us worship other

gods",... you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or

compassion and do not shield them. But you shall surely kill them; your own hand

shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the

people. [NRSV].

[5] 'Students': or 'disciples'. Heb: talmidim. See the discussion in the

introduction above..

Toldot Yeshu

This is a derogatory version of the life of Jesus, growing out of the response

of the Jewish community to Christianity. The tradition presented here is most

commonly dated to approximately the 6th century CE. The text it self is closer

to the 14th c. There is no scholarly consensus on to what extent the text might

be a direct parody of a now lost gospel. H.J. Schonfield argued that it was so

closely connected to the Gospel of the Hebrews that he attempted to reconstruct

that lost work from the

Text from Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition, pp. 148-154. Most of the

notes are mine, but they are clearly marked ([G] = Goldstein, [AH] = me)

Toldot. There is not just one version of the story, and I have not found

Goldstein vorlage on line, but there seems to be a version in Hebrew here.

In the year 3671[1] in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell

Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose

name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah.

Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam.

Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in

the Torah and God-fearing.

At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior

in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her

room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan.

Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her


Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior

so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime

of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam. Whereupon

Yohanan went to Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah and related to him the tragic

seduction. Lacking witnesses required for the punishment of Joseph Pandera, and

Miriam being with child, Yohanan left for Babylonia.[2]

Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua, after her brother. This name

later deteriorated to Yeshu. On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was

old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in

the Jewish tradition.

One day Yeshu walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing

shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior

did not truly indicate that Yeshu was an illegitimate child and the son of a

niddah[3]. Moreover, the story tells that while the rabbis were discussing the

Tractate Nezikin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an

ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if

he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the

antecedents of Yeshu, and it was discovered through Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah

that he was the illegitimate son of Joseph Pandera. Miriam admitted it.[4] After

this became known, it was necessary for Yeshu to flee to Upper Galilee.

After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene[5] ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was

to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraved the letters of God's

Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able

to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one

should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the

gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name,

when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret

would be forgotten.

Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment

which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the

parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he

came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out

the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.[6]

He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused

those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power

for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, "I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah

prophesied and said, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall

call his name Immanuel.'" He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, "David my

ancestor prophesied concerning me: 'The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this

day have I begotten thee.'"

The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give

them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never

walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the

leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the


When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring

about the capture of Yeshu. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who,

pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from

the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Yeshu consented on condition the members

of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and,

arriving at Knob, acquired an ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a

fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah.

The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: "This

man is a sorcerer and entices everyone." Yeshu replied, "The prophets long ago

prophesied my coming: 'And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of

Jesse,' and I am he; but as for them, Scripture says 'Blessed is the man that

walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.'"

Queen Helene asked the Sages: "What he says, is it in your Torah?" They replied:

"It is in our Torah, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture:

'And that prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have

not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even

that prophet shall die.' He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the


Yeshu spoke up: "Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead." A dead body was

brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came

to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: "This is a true sign." She

reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Yeshu's

dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel.

Yeshu went to Upper Galilee. the Sages came before the Queen, complaining that

Yeshu practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent

Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him.

The found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they

tried to take him there was a struggle, but Yeshu said to the men of Upper

Galilee: "Wage no battle." He would prove himself by the power which came to him

from his Father in heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay

and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had

been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they

saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Yeshu, the emissaries departed

and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment.

Then the Sages selected a man named Judah Iskarioto and brought him to the

Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Yeshu had done.

When Yeshu was summoned before the queen, this time there were present also the

Sages and Judah Iskarioto. Yeshu said: "It is spoken of me, 'I will ascend into

heaven.'" He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between

heaven and earth, to the amazement of everyone.

The elders asked Iskarioto to do likewise. He did, and flew toward heaven.

Iskarioto attempted to force Yeshu down to earth but neither one of the two

could prevail against the other for both had the use of the Ineffable Name.

However, Iskarioto defiled Yeshu, so that they both lost their power and fell

down to the earth, and in their condition of defilement the letters of the

Ineffable Name escaped from them. Because of this deed of Judah they weep on the

eve of the birth of Yeshu.

Yeshu was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with

pomegranate staves; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable


Yeshu was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a

pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set

a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the

unrestrained followers of Yeshu, as a result of which the followers escaped with

Yeshu to the region of Antioch[7]; there Yeshu remained until the eve of the


[8] Yeshu then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the

Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover,

Yeshu, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an ass. Many

bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten

followers. One of them, Judah Iskarioto[9] apprised the Sages that Yeshu was to

be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten

Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by

bowing to him. So it was done and Yeshu was seized. Asked his name, he replied

to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer,

each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages.

Yeshu was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the

Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had

possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should

hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the carob-stalk[10],

for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for

afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, "His body shall not remain all

night upon the tree." They buried him outside the city.

On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the

report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his

grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and

he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him

from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand

over which the waters flowed into the garden.

Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Yeshu be

shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the

keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanhuma walking in the field and lamenting over

the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that

Yeshu's followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended

into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and

transported it to the Queen, with the words, "This is Yeshu who is said to have

ascended to heaven." Realizing that Yeshu was a false prophet who enticed the

people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

The disciples went out among the nations--three went to the mountains of Ararat,

three to Armenia, three to Rome and three to the kingdoms buy the sea, They

deluded the people, but ultimately they were slain.

The erring followers amongst Israel said: "You have slain the Messiah of the

Lord." The Israelites answered: "You have believed in a false prophet." There

was endless strife and discord for thirty years.

The Sages desired to separate from Israel those who continued to claim Yeshu as

the Messiah, and they called upon a greatly learned man, Simeon Kepha, for help.

Simeon went to Antioch, main city of the Nazarenes and proclaimed toe them: "I

am the disciple of Yeshu. He has sent me to show you the way. I will give you a

sign as Yeshu has done."

Simeon, having gained the secret of the Ineffable Name, healed a leper and a

lame man by means of it and thus found acceptance as a true disciple. He told

them that Yeshu was in heaven, at the right hand of his Father, in fulfillment

of Psalm 110:1. He added that Yeshu desired that they separate themselves from

the Jews and no longer follow their practices, as Isaiah had said, "Your new

moons and your feasts my soul abhorreth." They were now to observe the first day

of the week instead of the seventh, the Resurrection instead of the Passover,

the Ascension into Heaven instead of the Feast of Weeks, the finding of the

Cross instead of the New Year, the Feast of the Circumcision instead of the Day

of Atonement, the New Year instead of Chanukah; they were to be indifferent with

regard to circumcision and the dietary laws. Also they were to follow the

teaching of turning the right if smitten on the left and the meek acceptance of

suffering. All these new ordinances which Simeon Kepha (or Paul, as he was known

to the Nazarenes) taught them were really meant to separate these Nazarenes from

the people of Israel and to bring the internal strife to an end.


[1] About 90, BC. [G]

[2] Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [AH]

[3] Sexual impurity (incest, adultery, prostitution, etc.). [AH]

[4] In one version of this admission, she confesses that not only is Yeshu the

product of an illicit union, but she was ritually unclean from menstruation at

the time as well (Sexual contact even with a woman's husband is not lawful

during, or, in Rabbinic law, for some time after, menstruation). [AH]

[5] Salome Alexandra. [G]

[6] Consistent, apparently, with the general tenor of Jewish criticism of Jesus'

miracles going at least as far back as Celsus (2nd c.) this tradition does not

deny Jesus' ability to perform miracles, accusing him instead of practicing

magic. This version even accepts the divine origin of the miracles, attributing

them to his misuse of the divine name, with its inherent powers. In the Alphabet

of Ben Sira, Lilith is accused of the same crime, using the power of the name to

escape from the Garden of Eden. [AH]

[7] Some traditions say 'Egypt'. [G]

[8] In a variation on the story, Judah is able to out-miracle Yeshu in the sign

contest without defiling him. Yeshu is discredited and arrested, and, as in this

story, his followers are able to break him free, but he still remembers the

Ineffable Name. He escapes to Egypt in hopes of learning Egyptian magic as well

(regarded as the best magic in the world). Judah comes to Egypt and infiltrates

the disciples, posing as one himself. It is from this vantage point that he is

able to cause Yeshu to forget the magical Name, resulting in the later's desire

to return to Jerusalem and relearn it. Judah sends warning to the Sages, along

with his plan to arrest him. [AH]

[9] Aramaic: Ga'isa. [G]

[10] Or cabbage stalk. [AH]n

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