Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Gospel According to the Pharisees

Greetings.

Jewish date:  25 Tammuz 5770 (Parashath Re’eh).

Today’s holidays:  Dedication of St. Mary Major (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Lucretia Borgia/St. Enola Gay (Church of the SubGenius).


Topic 1:  For someone who was supposed to be the Jewish Mashiaḥ (= Messiah), Jesus is almost totally unmentioned in Jewish tradition.  I say “almost” because there is one passage in the Talmudh Bavli which might refer to Jesus, though the story presented is very different from anything presented in the Gospels.  Thus is it written in Sanhedhrin 43a (my translation):
[Quote from the Mishnah under discussion:]  “And a herald goes out before him [one condemned to death by a court]”—before him, yes, from the beginning [forty days before], no.
But it was taught:  On the eve of Pesaḥ [= Passover] they hung Yeshu the Noṣri; and the herald goes out before him forty days:  “Yeshu the Noṣri goes out to be stoned because he practiced magic and incited [to transgression] and tempted Yisra’el; all those who know for him any merit, let him come and teach it.”  And they did not find for him merit, and they hung him on the eve of the Pesaḥ.
‘Ulla’ said:  And you will think [this is something to bring a proof from]?  Is Yeshu the Noṣri one worthy to overturn [judgement] in his merit?  He was an inciter, and the Merciful One said “You will not pity and will not cover over him [an inciter]” (Deuteronomy 13:9).  But Yeshu is different, for he was close to the government [and thus the Sanhedhrin needed to give him every opportunity to have his name cleared, even though they knew this would not actually happen].
Our Masters taught:  Yeshu the Noṣri had five students:  Matta’y, Naqqa’y, Neṣer, and Buni, and Todhah.
They brought Matta’y.  He said to them, “Will Matta’y be killed?  Isn’t it written, ‘When [mathay] will I come and see the face of ’Elohim?’ (Psalms 42:3)?”
They said to him, “Yes, Matta’y will be killed.  For it is written:  ‘When [mathay] will he die and his name be lost?’ (Psalms 41:6, as if it were ‘Matta’y will die and his name be lost’)”.
They brought Naqqa’y.  He said to them, “Will Naqqa’y be killed?  Isn’t it written, ‘And one clean [naqi] or righteous you will not kill’ (Exodus 23:7)?”
They said to him, “Yes, Naqqa’y will be killed.  For it is written:  ‘In secret he will kill one clean [naqi] (Psalms 10:8).”
They brought Neṣer.  He said to them, “Will Neṣer be killed?  Isn’t it written, ‘And a stem [neṣer] from his root will bear fruit’ (Isaiah 11:1)?”
They said to him, “Yes, Neṣer will be killed.  For it is written:  ‘And you will be throw from your grave like an abominated stem [neṣer]’ (Isaiah 14:19).”
They brought Buni.  He said to them, “Will Buni be killed?  Isn’t it written, ‘My son [beni], my firstborn is Yisra’el’ (Exodus 4:22)?”
They said to him, “Yes, Buni will be killed.  For it is written:  ‘Behold, I kill your son [binkha], your firstborn’ (Exodus 4:23).”
They brought Todhah.  He said to them, “Will Todhah be killed?  Isn’t it written, ‘A song for thanks [todhah]’ (Psalms 100:1)?”
They said to him, “Yes, Todhah will be killed.  For it is written:  ‘One who sacrifices a thanksgiving-offering [todah] will honor Me’ (Psalms 50:23).”
The elements that are the same between this passage and the Gospels are the central character’s name (Yeshu the Noṣri = Jesus the Nazarean), that he had some sort of powers and incited people to violate the Torah, that he had disciples, that one of the disciples is named Matta’y (= Matthew), the Sanhedhrin tried Yeshu and found him guilty, and (in accordance with John) he was executed on the day before Pesaḥ.  On the other hand, this Yeshu was a magician and inciter to ‘avodhah zarah (“strange worship” = idolatry and polytheism) and not a prophet or the Son of God, he was stoned and hung and not crucified, his execution was announced 40 days in advance and was not done hastily, he was close to the government, he was executed by the Sanhedhrin and not the Romans, and he had five disciples and not 12.  And four of the disciples’ names are unlike those in the New Testament.  Notably strange is that the canonical Gospels all disagree with this passage and claim that the Romans, not the Sanhedhrin, executed Jesus, even though they go out of their way to lamely pin the blame on the Jews.  Intuition suggests that the Christian version of the story may have undergone a period in which they shifted blame to the Romans and then flip-flopped back again to blame the Jews, but this is just speculation on my part.


Rather unusual is the second part of the passage, in which every disciple gives a reason he should live, citing verse in the Hebrew Bible as word-play, and he is condemned with another verse in equal and opposite word-play.  While the first part of the passage is (so far as I know) at least historically possible, the second part is rather unrealistic and reads like fiction, and a truncated one at that since the charges against the disciples are not mentioned and neither are their executions.  Intuition suggests this section is a legend that was added to the first section.

Topic 2:  For today’s religious humor: “Cyoot Kitteh Of The Day: The Power Of Ceiling Cat Compels You!”:
funny pictures of cats with captions
NOTE:  You want to click the link for an additional LOLcat shown after the one displayed above.

Peace.

Aaron
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