Expert Evidence on the Crucifixion of Jesus

Dr David Instone-Brewer and Dr Peter J. Williams look at the Munich Talmud, which contains traditional Jewish teaching, and discover how even the deleted text provides evidence for Jesus' crucifixion!

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More about Jesus' Trial in the Munich Talmud

The actual passage on p.679 looks like this:

The highlighted section is translated:

On the eve of Passover they hung Jeshu the Nazarine. And the herald went out before him for 40 days [saying]: "Jeshu the Nazarine will go out to be stoned for sorcery and misleading and enticing Israel. Any who knows [anything] in his defence must come and declare concerning him." But no-one came to his defence so they hung him on the Eve of Passover.

This is followed by a late discussion about the names of his disciples, which was also censored.

The bold bits are likely to be older than the rest because they have independent witness elsewhere. The phrase "they hung him on the Eve of the Passover" occurs also in the censored passage about Ben Stada at b.San.67a. The charges "sorcery and enticing Israel" occur twice in other censored portions of the Talmud (b.San.107b and b.Sot.47a) and in Justin Martyr who said that the Jews "dared to call him a magician and an enticer of the people" – Dialogue 69.

The addition of "misleading" came from Deuteronomy 13:5-10 (6-11). This was perhaps added to cast doubt on Jesus' miracles which this charge regards as genuine. Mishnah makes a clear distinction between sorcery which is merely an illusion and real magic (m.San.7.11) and death only applies for the latter. For example, Talmud records the story which Rab told to R. Hiyya: " 'I myself saw an Arabian traveller take a sword and cut up a camel; then he rang a bell, at which the camel arose.' R. Hiyya replied, 'But after that, was there any blood or dung? If not, it was merely an illusion.' " (b.San.67b). The implication of this charge is that Jesus did real miracles by evil power.

For more information see:

'Jesus of Nazareth's Trial in Sanhedrin 43a' (Jerusalem Perspective, 2011) by Dr David Instone-Brewer - a detailed discussion of the dating of the different layers in this tradition. (Pre-publication version)

Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Pess, 2007) by Peter Schäfer - an up-to-date discussion of the historicity of all the censored passages.

Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (London: Williams & Norgate, 1903; New York, KTAV, 1975) by R. Travers Herford - a list and analysis of all the censored passages.

'Jesus of Nazareth: a magician and false prophet who deceived God's people?' by Graham Stanton; in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ: essays on the historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, ed. by Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1994): pp.164-180. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Press, 1994) - a detailed discussion of the charges against Jesus in other literature.

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