complete Greek manuscript of the Antiquities dates from the
eleventh century, the Ambrosianus 370 (F 128); preserved in
the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.
Origen Adamantius (184/185 – 253/254), was one of the early Church Fathers of Alexandrian school of the late second centuy. Oriegen has written about these passages in his writings within a century of the writings of Flavius. Here is what he says:
"And to so great a reputation among the people
for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius
Josephus, who wrote the "Antiquities of the
Jews" in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the
cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even
the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things
happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in
consequence of the things which they had dared to do against
James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And
the wonderful thing is that, though he did not accept Jesus
as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness
of James was so great; and he says that the people thought
that they had suffered these things because of James."
Origen - Matthew X, XVII
"For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the
Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a
Baptist, and as promising purification to those who
underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not
believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause
of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple,
whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against
Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the
people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet,
says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far
from the truth - that these disasters happened to the
Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who
was a brother of Jesus (called Christ) - the Jews having
put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished
for his justice. Origen,"
- Against Celsus I, XLVII
brother of Jesus called Christ' certainly existed in
Josephus even at the time of Origen.
Notice how he repeats this phrase 'called Christ'.
cannot be a Christian interpolation as they called James
either 'James the Just' or 'James the Brother of the Lord'.
The reference to 'James, brother of Jesus called Christ' is
still found in Antiquities 20 and this by itself torpedoes
the idea that Jesus never existed. The fact idea that
Christians were going around doctoring copies of Josephus
while they were still a persecuted minority is just
“Now, to the fact that the Jews of old used to call blessed Daniel the greatest prophet the Hebrew Josephus is a notable witness, who, while not accepting the Christian message, could not bring himself to conceal the truth.” (Theodoret, Commentary on Daniel 12:14)
The Testimonium from Eusebius’ Theophania is preserved in only a Syriac translation, where the oldest surviving manuscript is as early as from the year 411 CE in 5.43b-44 states as follows:
“There is nevertheless nothing to prohibit our availing ourselves even the more abundantly of the Hebrew witness Josephus, who in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities of the Jews, writing the things that belonged to the times of Pilate, commemorates our savior in these words: At that time there was a wise man named Jesus, if it be fitting to call him a man; for he was the worker of wonderful deeds and a teacher of men, of those who in truth accept grace, and he brought together many of the Jews and many of the pagans; and he was the messiah. And when, according to the example of the chief principal men among ourselves, Pilate put a cross on his head, those who formerly loved him were not silent; for he appeared to them on the third day alive, the divine prophets having said this and many other things concerning him. From then until now the sect of the Christians has not been wanting.” (Eusebius, Theophania 5.43b–44; from Ben C. Smith, Text Excavation, The Testimonium Flavianum)
The importance is that, if this was a later Christian interpolation it was done 255 AD while the Christians were a persecuted hunted minority in Rome which does not make sense.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08375a.htm summarises the arguments as follows:
regard the passage as spurious
First, there are those who consider the whole passage as spurious. The principal reasons for this view appear to be the following:
• Josephus could not represent Jesus Christ as a simple moralist, and on the other hand he could not emphasize the Messianic prophecies and expectations without offending the Roman susceptibilities;
• the above cited passage from Josephus is said to be unknown to Origen and the earlier patristic writers;
• its very place in the Josephan text is uncertain, since Eusebius (Church History II.6) must have found it before the notices concerning Pilate, while it now stands after them.
But the spuriousness of the disputed Josephan passage does not imply the historian's ignorance of the facts connected with Jesus Christ. Josephus's report of his own juvenile precocity before the Jewish teachers (Vit., 2) reminds one of the story of Christ's stay in the Temple at the age of twelve; the description of his shipwreck on his journey to Rome (Vit., 3) recalls St. Paul's shipwreck as told in the Acts; finally his arbitrary introduction of a deceit practised by the priests of Isis on a Roman lady, after the chapter containing his supposed allusion to Jesus, shows a disposition to explain away the virgin birth of Jesus and to prepare the falsehoods embodied in the later Jewish writings.
Those who regard the passage as authentic, with some
A second class of critics does not regard the whole of Josephus's testimony concerning Christ as spurious but they maintain the interpolation of parts included above in parenthesis. The reasons assigned for this opinion may be reduced to the following two:
• Josephus must have mentioned Jesus, but he cannot have recognized Him as the Christ; hence part of our present Josephan text must be genuine, part must be interpolated.
• Again, the same conclusion follows from the fact that Origen knew a Josephan text about Jesus, but was not acquainted with our present reading; for, according to the great Alexandrian doctor, Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Messias ("In Matth.", xiii, 55; Against Celsus I.47).
Whatever force these two arguments have is lost by the fact that Josephus did not write for the Jews but for the Romans; consequently, when he says, "This was the Christ", he does not necessarily imply that Jesus was the Christ considered by the Romans as the founder of the Christian religion.
Those who consider it to be completely genuine
The third class of scholars believes that the whole passage concerning Jesus, as it is found today in Josephus, is genuine. The main arguments for the genuineness of the Josephan passage are the following:
• First, all codices or manuscripts of Josephus's work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way.
• Second, it is true that neither Tertullian nor St. Justin makes use of Josephus's passage concerning Jesus; but this silence is probably due to the contempt with which the contemporary Jews regarded Josephus, and to the relatively little authority he had among the Roman readers. Writers of the age of Tertullian and Justin could appeal to living witnesses of the Apostolic tradition.
• Third, Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl"., I, xi; cf. "Dem. Ev.", III, v) Sozomen (Church History I.1), Niceph. (Hist. Eccl., I, 39), Isidore of Pelusium (Ep. IV, 225), St. Jerome (catal.script. eccles. xiii), Ambrose, Cassiodorus, etc., appeal to the testimony of Josephus; there must have been no doubt as to its authenticity at the time of these illustrious writers.
• Fourth, the complete silence of Josephus as to Jesus would have been a more eloquent testimony than we possess in his present text; this latter contains no statement incompatible with its Josephan authorship: the Roman reader needed the information that Jesus was the Christ, or the founder of the Christian religion; the wonderful works of Jesus and His Resurrection from the dead were so incessantly urged by the Christians that without these attributes the Josephan Jesus would hardly have been acknowledged as the founder of Christianity.
All this does not necessarily imply that Josephus
regarded Jesus as the Jewish Messias; but, even if he had
been convinced of His Messiahship, it does not follow that
he would have become a Christian. A number of possible
subterfuges might have supplied the Jewish historian with
apparently sufficient reasons for not embracing
In his work Feldman describes the chief arguments for and against the Testimonium authenticity.
At any rate Josephus do declare
a historical person called Jesus
performed surprising feats
He had a
large following that were still in existence at the time of
Thallus, The Samaritan-Born Historian
Thallus demythifying darkness at noon
Thallus was an early historian who wrote in Koine Greek.
Scholars believe that his work was the earliest
reference to the historical Jesus, written within two
decades soon after the Crucifixion. He wrote a three-volume
history of the Mediterranean world from before the Trojan
War to the 167th Olympiad, c. 112-109 BC. Most of his work,
like the vast majority of ancient literature, perished, but
not before parts of his writings were repeated by Sextus
Julius Africanus in his History of the World.
(Sextus Julius Africanus (c.160 - c.240) was a
Christian traveler and historian of the late 2nd and early
3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his
influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church
history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of
chroniclers. His name indicates that he was an African.
Suidas calls him "a Libyan philosopher", while
Gelzer considers him of Roman descent. Julius called himself
a native of Jerusalem which some scholars consider his
birthplace and lived at the neighbouring Emmaus. His
chronicle indicates his familiarity with the topography of
Here is the passage from Africanus reproduced by Syncellus:
"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the Passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending of rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer."
He is one of the first Gentile
writers who mention Christ. Whether we accept these
explanations for the darkness or not, the event directly
refers to the crucifixion of Jesus within decades of the
Orthodox Jews believe God taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2d century AD, when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah. The Jewish community of Palestine suffered great losses during the Great Revolt and the Bar-Kokhba rebellion. Millions of Jews were killed in which most of the Jewish scholars perished along with them. As a result the oral teachings which were handed down through rabbinic disciples almost came to an end. Around 200 AD Prince Rabbi Judah decided to write them down against the century old tradition. Teaching the law orally, the rabbis knew, compelled students to maintain close relationships with teachers, and they considered teachers, not books, to be the best conveyors of the Jewish tradition. But with the deaths of so many teachers in Rabbi Judah feared that the Oral Law would be forgotten unless it were written down. Mishna has sixty three tractates dealing with all sorts of details of the law.
Over the next few centuries, additional commentaries elaborating on the Mishnah were written down in Jerusalem and Babylon. These additional commentaries are known as the Gemara. The Gemara and the Mishnah together are known as the Talmud. This was completed in the 5th century AD.
Talmud, which literally means “learning,” is actually a
vast library, consisting of sixty-three individual works, or
enormous collection of literature covers a range of subjects
as diverse as biblical law, medicine, agriculture, and
is the embodiment of what is called the “oral law” – a
compilation of Jewish religious traditions developed over
the centuries and handed down orally from generation to
Talmud consists of two main parts – the Mishna,
written in Hebrew around A.D. 200, and the Gemara,
written in Aramaic, around A.D. 400 in Palestine and around
A.D. 500 In Babylonia. The
Gemara is related to the earlier
Mishna in the same way as a
Bible commentary is related to the biblical text.
The mastery of this enormous collection of
literature, sometimes referred to as the “sea of the
Talmud” (yam hatalmud),
requires a lifetime of diligent study. Various attempts over
the years have been made to summarize Talmudic teachings
into accessible “topics,” since the style and reasoning
of the rabbis quoted in its pages is rather difficult to
The Talmud is written in the following format making it a detailed commentary even including marginal glosses which may be additional thoughts or corrections by the scribe and rabbi.
"The Talmud consists of two specific collections of texts—the Mishnah and the Gemara.
As the Mishnah is written in such precise and terse verse, the rabbis needed to discuss and analyse it. The Gemara is the collection of the rabbinic discussions about the Mishnah and other teachings of the Tannaim (scholars from 400 BCE - 200 CE), which took place for three hundred years after the Mishnah was written down (200-500 CE).
The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah, and the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds contain two different commentaries on the Mishnah, each originating from a certain place (Babylon and Israel, not actually Jerusalem). Sometimes, the Gemara alone is called the Talmud, although strictly speaking this is not true as the Talmud also contains the Mishnah.
Talmud literally means ‘study’. The Talmud embodies the labours, opinions, and teachings of the ancient Jewish scholars in expounding and developing the religious and civil laws of the Bible during a period of some eight centuries (from 300 BCE to 500 CE). There are two different versions of the Talmud—the Talmud Bavli (lit. Babylonian Talmud), and the Talmud Yerushalmi (lit. Jerusalem Talmud). Each of these is very long—the Babylonian Talmud is usually printed as twenty large volumes and the much smaller Jerusalem Talmud—as three large volumes. The two versions of the Talmud contain the same Mishnah (i.e., there is one Mishnah, common to both) but different Gemara. The Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) is the authoritative collection, and is usually what people refer to when they mention the Talmud. Not every Masechet (Tractate) of the Mishnah has a corresponding Gemara in both, or even either version of the Talmud. In general, the Talmud Bavli doesn’t contain a Gemara on Seder Zeraim (Seeds) as this is about agriculture in the Land of Israel which was not discussed in detail in Babylon. Seder Teharot (Purity) also has no extensive Gemara as laws concerning purity were so important in everyday life that it didn’t need to be written down.
Although the Talmud, strictly speaking, consists simply of the Mishnah and Gemara, if you look at a standard edition of the Talmud there are a lot of other commentaries and discussions printed in the book. Again, this is similar to some editions of a play by Shakespeare that may be printed with all sorts of explanations in the margins. The standard Vilna Edition of the Talmud is a little over a hundred years old
If the Torah is the foundation of Jewish life, then the Talmud is the central pillar of Jewish study and thought."
the first few centuries CE, there were many sects of Judaism
(such as Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees) each claiming to
be the correct faith. Early
Christianity was simply one of many sects of Judaism where
Jesus of Nazaareth was the long awaited Mesiah. Some sects
wrote polemics advocating their position, and occasionally
disparaging rival sects.
It is therefore quite possible that the depictions of
Jesus in the Talmud is presented as such by rival groups
Even though some Christian scholars consider that
these references are such depictions, even a basic analysis
will show that none of these refer to the Christian Jesus.
earliest undisputed occurrences of the term Yeshu are found
in five anecdotes in the Tosefta (c 200 CE) and Babylonian
Talmud (c 500 CE). The anecdotes appear in the Babylonian
Talmud during the course of broader discussions on various
religious or legal topics.
Venice edition of the Jerusalem Talmud contains the name
Yeshu, but the Leiden manuscript has a name deleted, and
"Yeshu" added in a marginal gloss. Schäfer (2007)
writes that due to this, Neusner treats the name as a gloss
and omitted it from his translation of the Jerusalem Talmud.
views the accounts as finally understood to be at most
spurious legends combining Jesus with other individuals.
Here are some titbits which give some insight into the problem
following analysis is taken from The Jesus Narrative In The
Talmud Written by Gil
as given in http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/jesusnarr.html
how Gil Student explains the Jesus passages away:
#1: Ben Stada
Ben Stada is Ben Pandira.
Sanhedrin 107b, Sotah 47a
of R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah?
John [Hyrcanus] the king killed the rabbis, R. Yehoshua Ben
Perachiah [and Yeshu] went to Alexandria of Egypt. When
there was peace, Shimon Ben Shetach sent to him "From
me [Jerusalem] the holy city to you Alexandria of Egypt.
My husband remains in your midst and I sit forsaken."
Yehoshua Ben Perachiah] left and arrived at a particular inn
and they showed him great respect. He said: How
beautiful is this inn [Achsania, which also means
day [R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah] was reciting Shema [during
which one may not be interrupted]. [Yeshu] came before
him. He was going to accept [Yeshu] and signalled to [Yeshu]
with his hand. [Yeshu] thought that [R. Yehoshua
Ben Perachiah] was repelling him. He went, hung a
brick, and bowed down to it.
[Yeshu] said to [R. Yehoshua Ben
Perachiah]: You taught me that anyone who sins and causes
others to sin is not given the opportunity to repent.
Background and Summary
John Hyrcanus was a successful
king and soldier. During a banquet celebrating his
victories in 93 BCE, some Pharisee rabbis offended him and
he was convinced by Sadducee leaders to try to kill every
Pharisee rabbi [Hyman, vol. II pp. 691-692, 766]. Some
rabbis, such as R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah and his student
Yeshu, fled to Alexandria outside of John Hyrcanus's reach
[Hyman vol. II pp. 647, 692]. Shimon Ben Shetach,
however, was hidden in Jerusalem by his sister, Salome
Alexandra, who was John Hyrcanus's daughter-in-law [Hyman,
vol. II pp. 647, 692, 766, vol. III pp. 1212-1213].
The extremely diverse religious population of Palestine,
full of sects such as the Essenes, Kumrans, and numerous
other groups, was temporarily devoid of any public Pharisee
By the year 91 BCE, John
Hyrcanus and his sons Antigonus and Aristobulos had died and
his third son Alexander Janneus became king. Even
though Alexander Janneus was an ardent Sadducee, his wife
convinced him to appoint his Pharisaic brother-in-law,
Shimon Ben Shetach, to the Sanhedrin, then dominated by
Sadducees. Slowly, over the course of a number of
years, Shimon Ben Shetach outshone his Sadducee opponents in
the Sanhedrin and appointed his Pharisaic students as
members [Hyman, vol. II pp. 766-767, vol. III pp.
By the year 80 BCE it was
finally safe for the Pharisee rabbis to quietly return and
Shimon Ben Shetach sent a cryptic note to his mentor, R.
Yehoshua Ben Perachiah, encouraging him to return [Hyman,
vol. II pp. 647-648, vol. III pp. 1213-1214].
Some 50 to 60 years after the
great Pharisaic victory of the Hasmoneans, in which
Pharisees rebelled against the Greek-Syrians and gained the
monarchy, these Pharisee rabbis returned to a country full
of heretical sects that had either integrated aspects of
Hellenist paganism into their religion or had, in an attempt
to repel all unproven influence, rejected the traditions of
the rabbis. The Pharisees who remembered the
prominence in which they had so recently been held were now
witnesses to the disintegration of their religious society.
While returning, Yeshu
misunderstood one of his teacher's remarks and said
something that demonstrated that he was interested in and
looking at married women. As sexual promiscuity was a
sign of many of the Hellenist sects, R. Yehoshua Ben
Perachiah suspected his student of being yet another leader
influenced by Hellenism and had him excommunicated [this
hasty conclusion was condemned by the Talmud a few lines
before our passage]. After many attempts by Yeshu to
reconcile with his mentor, R. Yehoshua Ben Perachiah was
finally ready. However, Yeshu approached him while he
was reciting Shema, the most important part of the morning
prayer during which he could not stop to speak. He
motioned to Yeshu with his hand which was misinterpreted as
a signal to go away. Yeshu finally gave up and
fulfilled his teacher's suspicion. He adopted a pagan
religion and went on to create his own sect of Judaism and
lead many Jews astray.
It is taught:
For all others liable for the death penalty [except for the
enticer to idolatry] we do not hide witnesses. How
do they deal with [the enticer]? They light a lamp for
him in the inner chamber and place witnesses in the outer
chamber so that they can see and hear him while he cannot
see or hear them. One says to him "Tell me again
what you said to me in private" and he tells him.
He says "How can we forsake our G-d in heaven and
worship idolatry?" If he repents, good. If
he says "This is our obligation and what we must
do" the witnesses who hear him from outside bring him
to the court and stone him. And so they did to Ben
Stada in Lud and hung him on the eve of Passover.
said: Would one think that we should look for exonerating
evidence for him? He was an enticer and G-d said
(Deuteronomy 13:9) "Show him no pity or compassion, and
do not shield him."
was different because he was close to the government.
taught: Yeshu had five disciples - Matai, Nekai, Netzer,
Buni, and Todah.
brought Matai [before the judges]. He said to them:
Will Matai be killed? It is written (Psalm 42:2)
"When [=Matai] shall (I) come and appear before
brought Nekai. He said to them: Will Nekai be killed?
It is written (Exodus 23:7) "The innocent [=Naki] and
the righteous you shall not slay."
brought Netzer. He said to them: Will Netzer be
killed? It is written (Isaiah 11:1) "A branch [=Netzer]
shall spring up from his roots."
brought Buni. He said to them: Will Buni be killed?
It is written (Exodus 4:22) "My son [=Beni], my
brought Todah. He said to them: Will Todah be killed?
It is written (Psalm 100:1) "A Psalm for thanksgiving
#6: The Student
once happened that R. Elazar ben Damah was bitten by a
snake and Ya'akov of the village Sechania came to heal him
in the name of Yeshu ben Pandira, but R. Yishmael did
not allow him.
As is easily seen the whole
Jesus stories are in a mess mixing up events.
In spite of that there is the essence of the
Christian Jesus in the Talmud.
But why did they make this mess?
For this we need to look at the history of Jewish
literature and the Christian reaction in time.
Taken as it is it would mean that the Jesus Christ, the Nazarene son of Princess Mirium and Prince Joseph of the dynasty of David is nowhere explicitly found in the Talmud in the discussion of the Rabbis.
1240 Nicholas Donin, with the support of Pope Gregory IX,
referred to Yeshu narratives to support his accusation that
the Jewish community had attacked the Virginity of Mary and
the divinity of Jesus. In the Disputation of Paris, Yechiel
of Paris conceded that one of the Yeshu stories in the
Talmud referred to Jesus of Nazareth, but that the other
passages referred to other people.
1372, John of Valladolid, with the support of the Archbishop
of Toldeo, made a similar accusation against the Jewish
community; Moses ha-Kohen de Tordesillas argued that the
Yeshu narratives referred to different people and could not
have referred to Jesus of Nazareth Asher ben Jehiel also
asserted that the Yeshu of the Talmud is unrelated to the
that the Talmud with its commentaries were written down only
in the second century and underwent large redactions in the
subsequent centuries this is to be expected.
In the second century A.D., Rabbi Judah Ha Nasi (A.D.
135-200) purged the Mishnah, part of the Talmud, of many
references to Christianity and those who adhered to it. But
not everything was edited out.
Gustav Dalman was probably the greatest Aramaic scholar of his day. His "Jesus Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, and the Zohar" was first published in 1894.
Extract: Jesus is commonly referred to in the
Talmud and in Talmudic literature by the expressions
"Son of Stada (Satda)", and "Son of Pandera"
These are so accepted that they appear constantly in the
Babylonian Talmud (cp. the Targum Sheni on Esther VII 9)
even without the name Jesus. It might seem to be a question
as to who it is that is to be understood by these. But in
the Jerusalem Talmud (Avodah Zarah II. 40d), the full name
is given as Yeshu ben Pandera (for which Shabbath XIV 14d
has more briefly, Yeshu Pandera); and in the Tosephta on
Hullin II, the full name is given as Yeshu ben Pantera and
Yeshu ben Pantere. So then Ben Pandera or ben Pantere also
bears the name Yeshu. Further, the Jesus the Nazarene who is
"hanged on the evening before Passover" (Sanhedrin
43a) is on the other hand (Sanhedrin 67a) also called the
"son of Stada (Satda)". It is evident that in both
these places the same person is spoken of. Here these two
passages may be considered conclusive, since they repeat
each other using the similar language, and in a section of
the text which is chiefly concerned about Jesus; and so we
see that Jesus was also referred to as Ben Stada.
The Toledot Jeshu (Book of the Life of Jesus), is a devastating Hebrew book to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to Him illegitimate birth, magic, witchcraft, and a shameful death. The main point of the Toledot is that Jesus is a deceiver and a heretic who was crucified by the Jews and his disciples stole his body and deceived others by proclaiming his resurrection. All the Toledot Jeshu editions declared Jesus Christ to be a bastard. The book which appears in different versions, appear to have been widely circulated in Europe and the Middle East in the medieval period
Virgin Mary is portrayed in the Toledot as a woman who conceived Jesus as a result of rape by a Roman soldier, Joseph Pandera.
"Jeshu" means "may his name be blotted out!". Most Jewish sources avoid the Greek name "Jesus", meaning "savior", and in Hebrew abbreviate Jeschua to Jeshu: "Jeschua" means "Savior", "Jeshu" means "may his name be blotted out!"
Here is the summary
of the story as presented in Toledot:
"Mary, who had
been betrothed to a man named John, was seduced by her
neighbor, Joseph ben Pantera.
When she discovered she was pregnant, John left her
and went to Babylon. When
Jesus was born, she tried to pretend He was the son of John
and even attempted to give Him a Jewish religious education.
Jesus, however, began to reveal the evil that would
later mark Him and was extremely rude to His rabbi teacher.
The rabbi eventually uncovered the truth about
Jesus’ father, but declared that Mary was not worthy of
death because she committed the act unwillingly.
Jesus, about thirty years old and now declared to be
a bastard, fled to Jerusalem.
There he secretly “stole” the letters of the
Divine Name which had been written on the Foundation Stone
of the Holy of Holies in the Temple – by sewing them under
his skin! With
the power of the Divine Name, He began to heal the sick and
eventually gathered 310 young men as His followers.
He also performed such “magic tricks” as enabling
a millstone to float on the Sea of Galilee and causing clay
birds to fly, and even occasionally flying Himself.
At one point He was chained to an ark of the law in a
synagogue in Tiberias, but His
followers, called “insurgents,” rescued Him and He fled
arrived in Jerusalem on the eve of Passover, riding on a
donkey. There He
was arrested and examined by the “wise men.”
During this time He claimed to be the Son of God and
the Messiah, and cited many of the traditional messianic
prophecies as being fulfilled in the events of His life.
Condemned as a blasphemer by the “wise Men” (the
Romans are not mentioned), He was put to death by hanging on
a tree and was buried by the time of the evening prayer.
On the third day, His “insurgents” declared to
Helena (queen at the time!?) that they could not find Him in
the tomb. At
that point, the gardener revealed that he had removed the
body and cast it in a nearby pool.
Whereupon the “wise men” recovered the corpse,
tied cords around His ankles, and dragged Him through the
streets of Jerusalem."
The most prominent edition was published by Johann C. Wagenseil in 1681, with the title Tela Ignea Satanae. Altdorf: Noricum, 1681. Other titles of the book are: Deeds of Jesus (Ma'ase Yeshu), Deeds of the One Who Was Hanged (Ma'ased Talui), Deeds of the One and His Son (Ma'asth do'otho v'eth b'no), Genealogy of Jesus... or Tolodoth Ieschu or Sepher Toldoth Jehoshua....\
the Middle Ages a series of debates on Judaism were staged
by the Christian church – including the Disputation of
Paris, the Disputation of Barcelona, and Disputation of
Tortosa – and during those disputations, Jewish converts
to Christianity, such as Pablo Christiani and Nicholas Donin
claimed the Talmud contained insulting references to Jesus.
carved by Johann von Armssheim (1483). Portrays a
disputation between Christian and Jewish scholars
When the Jewish teachings regarding Jesus Christ
were discovered in the early 1600's, a cover-up ensued. In
1631, a Jewish synod in Poland ordered the offending
passages to be expunged, and that these teaching were to be
passed on orally to young Jews by Rabbis and parents. This
is documented by P.L.B Drach:
The Shem-Tob Manuscripts,
the Talmud and the Toldoth Yeshu
Summary of Reference to
(Jesus) is also referred to as Peloni , which is translated
as “A Certain One.” In Chagigah, 4b, we read:
Jesus is also referred to as Naggar bar naggar – “the carpenter son of a carpenter”, also Ben charsch etaim – “the son of a wood worker.”
He is also called Talui – “The one who was hanged.” and him who was hanged, as well as “the one who was hanged on his banner.”
Below are some Talmudic passages that denigrate Christ:
Sanhedrin, 67a ~ Jesus is referred to as the illegitimate son of Pandira, a Roman soldier.
Sanhedrin 106a . Says Jesus’ mother was a whore
Sanhedrin 106 ~ Revels in the early age at which Jesus died
Sanhedrin 43a ~ Says Jesus (”Yeshu” / Yeshu “the Nazarene”) was executed because he practiced sorcery.
Gittin 57a ~ States that Jesus is being boiled in “hot excrement.”
Sanhedrin 43a . Jesus deserved execution: “On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu was hanged…Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a Mesith (enticer)?”
Abhodah Zarah II ~ Also referred to as the son of Pandira, a Roman soldier.
Schabbath XIV~ Again referred to as the son of Pandira, the Roman.
Schabbath, 104b ~ Called a fool and no one pays attention to fools.
Sanhedrin, 103a. ~ Suggested corrupts his morals and dishonors self.
Sanhedrin, 107b. ~ Seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.
Abhodah Zarah, 21a — Reference to worship of Jesus in homes unwanted.
Orach Chaiim, 113 — Avoid appearance of paying respect to Jesus.
Iore dea, 150,2 — Do not appear to pay respect to Jesus by accident.
Abhodah Zarah (78c) — Festivals of followers of Jesus regarded as idolatry.
Kallah, 1b. (18b) ~ Illegitimate son and conceived during menstruation.
Sanhedrin, 67a ~ Hanged on the eve of Passover.
Sanhedrin, 43a ~ On the eve of Passover they hanged Jesus.
Sanhedrin 90a ~Those who read the New Testament will have no portion in the world to come.
Shabbath 116a (p. 569) ~Jews must destroy the books of the Christians, i.e. the New Testament.
Rosh Hashanah 17a ~ Christians (”minim”) and others who reject the Talmud will go to hell and be punished there for all generations.
Sanhedrin 105ab ~ “Jesus fornicated with his jackass.
Gittin 57a ~ Jesus is in hell and is being punished by being boiled in semen. Christians are boiled in dung.
Talmudic passages are also used as the basis for the
writing titled Toledot Yeshu, which translated means The
Geneaology of Yeshu. This writing reports a distorted
view of who Jesus was, with many blasphemous statements
directed towards Him, claiming that he was the rebellious
illegitimate son of a Roman soldier (Pantera) born of
unclean conception or niddah, who practiced witchcraft by
speaking the sacred or ineffefable name of God who tried to
lead Israel astray. In this writing, it is also stated that
he set up a brick and worshipped it, and that he was hung,
which denies the blood atonement, and His finished work on
Why is the name
given as Yeshu and not Yeshua?
actual Biblical name for Jesus in Hebrew is spelled
Yod-Shin-Vav-Ayin which is Yeshua (H3442~H3443), a shortened
form of Yehoshua (H3091)."
means He is salvation or He saves.
shortening the name to Yeshu, they effectively deny His work
to get the name Yeshu, the ayin is dropped from His
Biblical Hebrew name.
All Hebrew letters represent something in Judaism. As
an example, the lettter represents the hand. The letter ayin
in the Hebrew language, is known to be representative
of the eyes. Here is an excerpt from the Toldoth Yeshu:
Miriam gave birth to a son and named him Yehoshua,
after her brother. This name later deteriorated to Yeshu.
The above quote from the Toldoth Yeshu tells us that
His name deteriorated to Yeshu. Deteriorated is a term that
obviously does not have a positive connotation. It should be
noted that informed believers object to the name Yeshu,
because they understand it as a rabbinically modified form
of the name Yeshua.
versions of the Toledot Yeshu, the name “YeSHU” is used
as an acronym for “Yemach Shemo U’zikhro” which
translated means “May his name and memory be blotted
Yemach comes from the root word Machah (H4229)
meaning to blot, Shemo from the root word shem (H8034) which
means name or reputation, and zikhro from the root word
zayker (H2143), which means a memorial or remembrance. This
statement is spoken in the form of a curse, because to erase
the name and memory of a person is to erase all knowledge of
their being. It should also be noted, that this phrase, or a
shortened version is often used in Jewish writings when the
name of a despised individual (Hitler, Amalek, Hayman, etc)
has been mentioned.
This could be a possible allusion to Psalms 109:13-15, where king David curses the enemies of Israel:
13 let his posterity be cut off; let their name be
blotted out (yimach shemam) in the following generation;
It could also be fashioned after the Biblical curses
found in the Torah, that were placed on the enemies of
Israel, such as Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:19.
In Exodus we find “machoh emche et zeykher Amaleq
mitachat hashamayim” translated as “I will utterly blot
out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven”. Amalek
is also cursed in Deuteronomy 25:19 as well.
Shem Tov rewrites
Shem Tov Matthew, in many places the name of Jesus is also
written in the Hebrew as Yeshu. The Shem Tov Matthew is a
theologically altered middle ages manuscript (1390 ce),
which was copied from a Latin text that originated from the
Greek making it a third generation altered copy at best.
This anti-Catholic version of the book of Matthew was
included in the writing titled “Even Bohan” which
translates as “The Touchstone.”
The Shem Tov Matthew has modified passages in some chapters that use Talmudic references, as well as some references from the Toldoth Yeshu.
This document was authored by Shem Tov, who resided
in Spain during the fourteenth century. He was an
anti-Catholic Jewish writer, who wrote this in an attempt to
stop the Jewish people from accepting Catholiscism as their
faith. The Shem Tov Matthew has anti-Catholic polemical
commentary written by him throughout the document. There are
a handfull of Shem Tov manuscripts available, but many of
them are not in agreement with each other. Before his
death, Shem Tov attempted to also translate to a
theologically altered version of the book of Mark, as he had
done with Matthew, but the work was never completed.....
some in Judaism have tried to state that the Talmud is
speaking of another person(s) named Yeshua(Jesus), and not
Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), but conervative rabbi’s
such as Daniel Lapin have clearly stated that the Talmud
does in fact denigrate “Jesus”.
Abhodah Zarah, 6a, it is stated that “He is called a
Christian who follows the false teachings of that man, who
taught them to celebrate the feast on the first day of the
Sabbath, that is, to worship on the first day after the
from Mara bar Serapion to his son (73-180 C.E.)
Mara bar ("son of ")
Serapion, sometimes spelled Mara bar Sarapion was a Stoic
philosopher from the Roman province of Syria. He is noted
for a letter he wrote in Syriac to his son, who was also
named Serapion. The letter was composed sometime between 73
AD and the 3rd century, and may be early non-Christian
references to the crucifixion of Jesus.
The letter refers to the unjust
treatment of "three wise men": the murder of
Socrates, the burning of Pythagoras, and the execution of
"the wise king" of the Jews. The author explains
that in all three cases the wrongdoing resulted in the
future punishment of those responsible by God and that when
the wise are oppressed, not only does their wisdom triumph
in the end, but God punishes their oppressors.
Mara Bar-Serapion's letter is
preserved in a 6th or 7th century manuscript (BL Add. 14658)
held by the British Library, and was composed sometime
between 73 AD and the 3rd century. The beginning of the
letter makes it clear that it is written to the author's
son: "Mara, son of Serapion, to my son Serapion,
key passage is as follows:
"What else can we say, when
the wise are forcibly dragged off by tyrants, their wisdom
is captured by insults, and their minds are oppressed and
without defense? What advantage did the Athenians gain from
murdering Socrates? Famine and plague came upon them as a
punishment for their crime. What advantage did the men of
Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land
was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from
executing their wise king? It was just after that their
kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise
men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were
overwhelmed by the sea and the Jews, desolate and driven
from their own kingdom, live in complete dispersion. But
Socrates is not dead, because of Plato; neither is
Pythagoras, because of the statue of Juno; nor is the wise
king, because of the "new law" he laid down."
didn't identify the "wise king" by name, as he did
in the case of both Socrates and Pythagoras.
Is this referring to Jesus?
How do we know that the
Serapion letter does not refer to one of those pretenders?
The letter sets out seven distinct criteria describing this
Wise King, and none of those pretenders filled all seven
descriptions of a person who:
possessed of wisdom;
executed just before the Jews' kingdom was abolished.
executed before the Jews were dispersed;
executed by the actions of the Jews;
in the teaching that he had given;
referred to as a "king."
An analysis of the genealogy of
Jesus clearly indicates that Jesus was the legitimate heir
to the throne of David by legal descent and also by flesh.
(See my book on Genealogy of Jesus.)
In his trial he claimed to be so.
This is echoed in Pilate's declaration on the
inscription over the cross. "The King of the
GAIUS PLINIUS CAECILIUS
SECUNDUS (61 – 112 AD)
the Younger was a Roman statesman who held moderately
important posts, but he is known primarily because of his
letters. He was a contemporary of Domitian and Trajan, and a
personal friend of Tacitus the historian. As a man of
letters, his circle of friends and associates included some
of the better writers of the Silver Age including
Suetonius, Martial, Juvenal, and Quintilian. His career
included the standard series of public offices, the cursus
honorum, and he was also known as an orator and advocate
(or lawyer). He ended his career as the governor of
Bithynia, appointed by Trajan to help administer a province
then in need of reform. Pliny
the Younger was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from 111-113 AD.
We have a whole set of exchanges of his letters with the
emperor Trajan on a variety of administrative political
matters. These two letters are the most famous, in which P.
encounters Christianity for the first time.
Pliny wrote ten books. The tenth around AD 112.
By the second century AD, Christianity had migrated began to spread out into the rest of the world. These included modern-day Turkey, the Greek islands and Rome. It was still considered as Jewish cult, but was spreading fast and attracting others. They were poorly understood in terms of theology and their rites. "The superstition has spread like the plague."
Pliny the Younger asks for the advice of his Emperor, 112 AD:
To Trajan About 112 CE
It is my constant method to
apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for
who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding or
instruct my ignorance?
have never been present at the examination of the Christians
[by others], on which account I am unacquainted with what
uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to
be punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a
distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused]?
and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment
with strong men? Whether there be not room for pardon upon
repentance?" or whether it may not be an advantage to
one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken
the bare name, without any crimes besides, or the crimes
adhering to that name, is to be punished?
In the meantime, I have taken this course about those
who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them
whether they were Christians or not?
If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked
them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with
the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I
ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let
their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this
positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be
punished. There has been some of this mad sect whom I took
notices of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might
be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in such
examinations, the crime spread itself and many more cases
came before me. A libel was sent to me, though without an
author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These
denied that they were Christians now, or ever had been. They
called upon the gods, and supplicated to your image, which I
caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with
frankincense and wine; they also cursed Christ; none of
which things, it is said, can any of those that are ready
Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them
go. Others of them that were named in the libel, said they
were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed
they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some
three years, some many more; and one there was that said he
had not been so these twenty years. All these worshipped
your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed
Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their
fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on
a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to
sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to
oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do
anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft,
or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their
promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was
required back again; after which it was their custom to
depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal,
which they had left off upon that edict which I published at
your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such
These examinations made me
think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth
was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses:
but still I discovered no more than that they were
addicted to a bad and to an extravagant superstition.
Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and have
recourse to you, for the affair seems to be well worth
consultation, especially on account of the number of those
that are in danger; for there are many of every age, of
every rank, and of both sexes, who are now and hereafter
likely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for
this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into
cities and towns, but into country villages also, which
yet there is reason to hope may be stopped and corrected. To
be sure, the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin
already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities, which
were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices
begin to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers
had of late appeared; whereby it is easy to suppose how
great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for
repentance be admitted.
EPISTLE TO PLINY
You have taken the method which you ought in examining
the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for
indeed no certain and general form of judging can be
ordained in this case. These people are not to be sought
for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be
punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself
to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by
supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly,
may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels
sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any
accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill
example, and not agreeable to my reign.
Letters, transl. by William Melmoth, rev. by W.M.L.
Hutchinson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935), vol. II,
X:96 as cited in Habermas, Gary R., The Historical
Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ,
(Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company) 1996.
of Samosata (A.D. 120-180)
Samosata (Ancient Greek:
Latin: Lucianus Samosatensis; c. AD 125 – after AD
180) was a rhetorician and
satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for
his witty and scoffing nature. Although he wrote solely in
Greek, he was ethnically Assyrian.
He was a satirist who was scornful of Christians.
80 works are attributed to him.
Lucian was a professional rhetorician who toured the
Mediterranean giving improvised lectures on the art of legal
persuasion, the good life, human psychology, and so on.
Somehow, he became affluent and well-known.
H is second-best known work is
a proto-novel call “A True Story,” which was
not true and has some fantastical elements like
interplanetary warfare. It may be the first science fiction
Lucian was not a Christian, nor
was he known to be particularly religious.
But he did live in the earliest centuries of the
small and growing cult of Christ. His observations in “The
Passing of Peregrinus” are among the earliest
non-Christian impressions of the cult that exist, written
within a century of Paul’s lifetime.
To Jesus Christ
Christians. . . worship a man to this day - the
distinguished personage who introduced this new cult, and
was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these
misguided creatures start with the general conviction that
they are immortal for all time, which explains their
contempt for death and self devotion . . . their lawgiver
[taught] they are all brothers, from the moment that they
are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the
crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take
on faith . . . - The Passing Peregrinus
reference reveals several key things:
crucified for what he taught.
was second only to that one whom they still worship today,
the man in Palestine who was crucified because he brought
this new form of initiation into the world."
disciples believed Jesus' teachings.
Christians taught that when one was converted he or she had
convinced themselves that they are immortal and will live
forever, the poor wretches despise death and most willingly
give themselves to it. Moreover, that first lawgiver of
theirs persuaded them that they are all brothers the moment
they transgress and deny the Greek gods and begin worshiping
that crucified sophist and living by his laws."
“The Christians, you know,
worship a man to this day,–the distinguished personage who
introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that
account…and then it was impressed on them by their
original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the
moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece,
and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”
by faith - they believed Jesus.
too naive that cunning people creep in and deceive them.
scorn all possessions without distinction and treat them as
community property. They accept such things on faith alone,
without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person
who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among
them, he can make himself rich in a short time.
Peregrinus Proteus (c. 95-165 AD) was a
Cynic philosopher, from Parium in Mysia. The name
‘Peregrinus’ means ‘wanderer,’ and it is possible
that it was not his given name, but rather a name he chose
for himself when he began his self-imposed wandering style
of life. Leaving home at a young age, he first lived with
the Christians in Palestine, and becoming a Christian
attained a position of authority among them, becoming their
“prophet, cult-leader, and head of the synagogue, and
everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained
some of their books and even composed many…” (The Death
of Peregrinus 11) . During
this period he was arrested by the Romans and jailed.
Christian community showed their love to him by
waiting on him as families, with men even sleeping with him
in the cell and serving him.
He was later released.
However he was eventually expelled from that
community for exploiting the believing community. Adopting
the life of a Cynic philosopher he eventually settled in
Greece. He is most remembered for committing suicide by
giving his own funeral oration and publicly burning himself
at the Olympic Games in 165. By 180 CE, a statue of
Peregrinus had been erected in his home city of Parium; it
was reputed to have oracular powers .The only detailed
account of the life of Peregrinus was recorded by Lucian in
his satire, The Death of Peregrinus (Latin: De Morte
Peregrini). Although this account is hostile to Peregrinus,
the bare facts of his life can be extracted. This story is
an account of the life and death of a Cynic philosopher
murdering his own father for living too long, he sets out
and roams various foreign lands, and it is during his
wanderings that he learns of Christianity.
For a time in his early life he became a Christian,
practicing it to the point of imprisonment under a very
tolerant administration, and after returning to Cynicism
became in his old age so enamoured of Indic ideas and
precedents that he cremated himself at Olympia, just after
the games of A.D. 165.
Here is the translation of the
"… the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult to the world … Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers ... after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping the crucified sophist himself and live under his laws."
Although, Jesus isn't mentioned by
name, there is no doubt that he is referring to Jesus. No
one else was ever worshipped by the Christians.
The first portion gives a short
description of the cult known a Christians and their
was then that he learned the marvelous wisdom of the
Christians, associating with their priests and scribes
around Palestine. And how else could it be? In a trice he
made them all appear like children, for he was prophet,
cult leader, head of the synagogue, and everything,
all by himself, and he exegeted and clarified some of their
books and even composed many himself, and they regarded
him as a god and made use of him as a lawgiver and wrote him
down as a protector, next after that other, to be sure, whom
they still worship, the man who was crucified in Palestine
because he brought this new cult to life."
following passage shows how the community comforted each
other even in extreme situations:
at length Proteus was apprehended for this and fell into
prison, which itself made up for him no little worthiness as
an asset for his future life and the charlatanism and
glory-seeking of which he was enamoured. Well, when he had
been imprisoned, the Christians, making the matter out to be
a misfortune, did everything they could in the effort to
rescue him. Then, since this was impossible, every other
form of attention was shown him, not in any casual way, but
rather with assiduity, and straightway from the break of
day aged widows and orphan children were seen waiting near
the prison, while those in command over them even slept
inside with him after having bribed the prison guards. Then
elaborate suppers were brought in, and sacred words of
theirs were read, and excellent Peregrinus, for he was
still called this, was named by them the new Socrates."
following passage refers to crucifixion of Jesus and the
early communes of the believers:
indeed, certain ones came even from the cities in Asia, sent
by the Christians from their common expense, to help and
defend and encourage the man. And they show incredible speed
whenever any such public action is taken; for in a trice
they lavish their all. And also for Peregrinus much money
came from them by reason of his imprisonment, and he made
not a little revenue from it. For the poor wretches have
convinced themselves, all in all, that they are going to be
immortal and live for all time, in consequence of which they
despise death and even willingly give themselves into
imprisonment, most of them. Furthermore, their first
lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one
another after they have transgressed once [for all], by denying
the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist
himself and living according to his laws. They despise,
therefore, all things alike and regard them as common
[property], receiving such things without any accurate
evidence.*(Literally, without any accurate faith.) So,
if any imposter and trickster, able to use such situations
come along to them, in a trice he suddenly becomes very rich
by imposing upon simple men."
"The ruler of Syria,
however, deigns to free Peregrinus at this point, and he
returns home to find that many are pressing for charges
against him for the murder of his father. To escape
judgment, he dons the garb of a cynic in chapter 15: * and
relinquishes his paternal estate, at which gesture the
people praise him as the only true philosopher.
"He left home, therefore,
for the second time to roam about, possessing an ample
source of funds in the Christians, through whose
ministrations he lived in unalloyed prosperity. For a time
he battened himself thus; then, after he had broken some law
even against them, for he was seen, I think, eating of
something forbidden to them, (For the notion of forbidden
foods amongst Christians, refer to Acts 15.29.) they no
longer accepted him, and so, being at a loss, he thought he
must sing a palinode and ask his possessions back from his
From Lucian, Alexander
the False Prophet 25 has a simple reference to
Christians again as part of the Philosophy.
at last many sensible men, recovering as it were from
profound intoxication, combined against him, especially all
the followers of Epicurus, and when in the cities
they began gradually to detect all the trickery and buncombe
of the show, he issued a promulgation designed to scare
them, saying that Pontus was full of atheists and Christians
who had the hardihood to utter the vilest abuse of him;
these he bade them drive away with stones if they wanted to
have the god gracious."
the False Prophet 38: There is ring of the Christian
celebration of the Holy Communion in the early period when
all those who are not confirmed were asked to leave before
the celebration. Thus
the worship consisted of two parts.
The first part was open to every one and the second
only to the initiates.
these preparations to meet the situation in Italy, and also
made notable preparations at home. He established a
celebration of mysteries, with torchlight ceremonies and
priestly offices, which was to be held annually, for three
days in succession, in perpetuity. On the first day, as at
Athens, there was a proclamation, worded as follows: If any
atheist or Christian or Epicurean has come to spy upon the
rites, let him be off, and let those who believe in the god
perform the mysteries, under the blessing of heaven. Then,
at the very outset, there was an expulsion in which he took
the lead, saying: Out with the Christians! And the whole
multitude chanted in response: Out with the Epicureans! Then
there was the child-bed of Leto, the birth of Apollo, his
marriage to Coronis, and the birth of Asclepius. On the
second day came the manifestation of Glycon, including the
birth of the god."
satirized the Christians in his Passing of Peregrinus, a
story of a philosopher sage who at one point becomes a
leader of the Christians to take advantage of their
gullibility. Here is a quote:
deluded creatures, you see, have persuaded themselves that
they are immortal and will live forever, which explains
the contempt of death and willing self-sacrifice so common
among them. It was impressed on them too by their lawgiver
that from the moment they are converted, deny the gods of
Greece, worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws,
they are all brothers. They take his instructions completely
on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly
goods and hold them in common ownership. So any adroit,
unscrupulous fellow, who knows the world, has only to get
among these simple souls and his fortune is quickly made; he
plays with them."
certainly conclude that
sneered at Christ and the Christians, as he scoffed at the
to Christ's death on the Cross, to His miracles,
the mutual love prevailing among the Christians ("Philopseudes",
nn. 13, 16; "De Morte Pereg").
the letter to Tiberius Caesar from Pontius Pilate authentic?
kept in the Congressional Library in Washington D.C.
Information on Acts of Pilate
Quasten writes (Patrology, v. 1, pp. 115-116):
tendency to minimize the guilt of Pilate which is found in
the Gospel According
to Peter shows the keen interest with which ancient
Christianity regarded his person. The prominent position
occupied by Pontius Pilate in early Christian thought is
further evidenced by the Gospel
of Nicodemus. Into this narrative have been incorporated
the so-called Acts of
Pilate, a supposed official report of the procurator
concerning Jesus. Some Acts of Pilate, it seems, were known
as early as the second century. Justin Martyr remarks in his
first Apology (35)
after he has mentioned the passion and crucifixion of Jesus:
'And that these things happened you can ascertain from the
Acts of Pontius Pilate.' A similar statement occurs in
chapter 48. Tertullian refers twice to a report made by
Pilate to Tiberius. According to him, Pontius Pilate
informed the Emperor of the unjust sentence of death which
he had pronounced against an innocent and divine person; the
Emperor was so moved by his report of the miracles of Christ
and his resurrection, that he proposed the reception of
Christ among the gods of Rome. But the Senate refused (Apologeticum
5). In another place Tertullian says that the 'whole story
of Christ was reported to Caesar—at that time it was
Tiberius—by Pilate, himself in his secret heart already a
21, 24). We see here the tendency at work to use the Roman
procurator as a witness for the history of the death and
resurrection of Christa and the truth of Christianity.
Gospel of Nicodemus preserves a document known as the Acta
Pilati in chapters 1 to 11, with an addition in chapters
12 to 16, while chapters 17 to 27 are called the "Decensus
Christi ad Inferos." Quasten writes, "The whole
work, which in a later Latin manuscript is called the Evangelium
Nicodemi, must have been composed at the beginning of
the fifth century, but it seems to be more or less a
compilation of older material." (Patrology,
vol. 1, p. 116) It is possible that the material in the
Gospel of Nicodemus was written to refute pagan Acts of
Pilate created in 311, mentioned by Eusebius:
forged, to be sure, Memoirs of Pilate and Our Saviour, full
of every kind of blasphemy against Christ, with the approval
of their chief they sent them round to every part of his
dominions, with edicts that they should be exhibited openly
for everyone to see in every place, both town and country,
and that the primary teachers should give them to the
children, instead of lessons, for study and committal to
memory. (H. E.
F. Bruce writes (The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?):
should especially like to know if Pilate sent home to Rome
any report of the trial and execution of Jesus, and, if so,
what it contained. But it is not certain that he must have
done so; and if he did, it has disappeared beyond trace.
some ancient writers believed that Pilate did send in such a
report, but there is no evidence that any of them had any
real knowledge of it. About AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing
his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius,
referred him to Pilate's report, which Justin supposed must
be preserved in the imperial archives. 'But the words,
"They pierced my hands and my feet," ' he says,
'are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands
and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those
who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided
them among themselves; and that these things were so, you
may learn from the "Acts" which were recorded
under Pontius Pilate." Later he says: 'That He
performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from
the "Acts" of Pontius Pilate."
Tertullian, the great jurist-theologian of Carthage,
addressing his Defence of Christianity to the man
authorities in the province of Africa about AD 197, says:
'Tiberius, in whose time the Christian name first made its
appearance in the world, laid before the Senate tidings from
Syria Palestina which had revealed to him the truth of the
divinity there manifested, and supported the motion by his
own vote to begin with. The Senate rejected it because it
had not itself given its approval. Caesar held to his own
opinion and threatened danger to the accusers of the
would no doubt be pleasant if we could believe this story of
Tertullian, which he manifestly believed to be true but a
story so inherently improbable and inconsistent with what we
know of Tiberius, related nearly 170 years after the event,
does not commend itself to a historian's judgment.
the influence of Christianity was increasing rapidly in the
Empire, one of the last pagan emperors, Maximin II, two
years before the Edict of Milan, attempted to bring
Christianity into disrepute by publishing what he alleged to
be the true 'Acts of Pilate', representing the origins of
Christianity in an unsavoury guise. These 'Acts', which were
full of outrageous assertions about Jesus, had to be read
and memorized by schoolchildren. They were manifestly
forged, as Eusebius historian pointed out at the time;'
among other things, their dating was quite wrong, as they
placed the death of Jesus in the seventh year of Tiberius
(AD 20), whereas the testimony of Josephus' is plain that
Pilate not become procurator of Judaea till Tiberius'
Twelfth year (not to mention the evidence of Luke iii. 1,
according to which John the Baptist began to preach in
fifteenth year of Tiberius). We do not know in detail these
alleged 'Acts' contained, as they were naturally suppressed
on Constantine's accession to power; but we may surmise that
they had some affinity with Toledoth Yeshu, an
anti-Christian compilation popular in some Jewish circles in
in the fourth century another forged set of 'Acts of Pilate'
appeared, this time from the Christian side, and as devoid
of genuineness as Maximin's, to which they were perhaps
intended as a counterblast. They are still extant, and
consist of alleged memorials the trial, passion, and
resurrection of Christ, recorded by Nicodemus and deposited
with Pilate. (They are also own as the 'Gospel of
Nicodemus'.) A translation of them is given in M. R. James' Apocryphal
New Testament, pp. 94 ff., and they have a literary
interest of their own, which does not concern us here.
Quasten writes: "The oldest piece of Christian Pilate
literature seems to be 'The Report of Pilate to the Emperor
Claudius', which is inserted in Greek into the late Acts of Peter and Paul and is given in Latin translation as an
appendix of the Evangelium
Nicodemi. It is probable that this report is identical
with that mentioned by Tertullian. If that is true, it must
have been composed before the year 197 A.D., the time of
1, p. 116)
is the letter:
Report of Pilate to the Emperor Claudius
is found in the Greek Acts
of Peter and Paul and as an appendix to the Gospel of
Nicodemus in Latin. The translation is from M. R. James as
given in Quasten's Patrology,
vol. 1, p. 117.
THE GOSPEL OF NICODEMUS, OR ACTS OF PILATE
From "The Apocryphal New
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST DONE IN THE TIME OF PONTIUS PILATE
Pilate, when he heard these words of Annas and Caiaphas,
laid them all up amongst the acts of the Lord and Saviour in
the public books of his judgement hall, and wrote a letter
unto Claudius the king of the city of Rome, saying:
following Epistle or Report of Pilate is inserted in Greek
into the late Acts of Peter and Paul (40) and the
Pseudo-Marcellus Passion of Peter and Paul (19). We thus
have it in Greek and Latin, and the Greek is used here as
the basis of the version.]
Pilate unto Claudius, greeting.
befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or
made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished
themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of
their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al.
had announced unto them) that their God would send them out
of heaven his holy one who should of right be called their
king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a
virgin; he, then (or this God of the Hebrews, then), came
when I was governor of Judaea, and they beheld him
enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the
palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead,
rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea
dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people
of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests
therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and
delivered him unto me and brought against him one false
accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and
did things contrary to their law.
I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him,
delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and
when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my
soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so
much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money
to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole
away his body. But they, though they took the money, were
not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to
pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen
and that they received money from the Jews. And these things
have I reported for this cause, lest some other should lie
unto thee (lat. lest any lie otherwise) and thou shouldest
deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews.