Toledot Yeshu

Last updated

Sefer Toledot Yeshu (ספר תולדות ישו, The Book of the Generations/History/Life of Jesus), often abbreviated as Toledot Yeshu, is a medieval text which presents an alternative, anti-sectarian view, as well as a disputed biography of Jesus of Nazareth. It exists in a number of different versions, none of which is considered either canonical or normative within Rabbinic literature, [1] but which appear to have been widely circulated in Europe and the Middle East in the medieval period. [2] [3] A 15th-century Yemenite version of the text was titled Maaseh Yeshu, or the "Episode of Jesus", in which Jesus is described either as being the son of Joseph or the son of Pandera. The account portrays Jesus as an impostor.


The Toledot portrays Jesus (known as Yeshu by the author) as an illegitimate child who practiced sorcery, taught a heretical Judaism, seduced women, and died a shameful death. [4] Interestingly, the author also shows a paradoxical respect for Jesus. Perhaps surprisingly, instead of denying the miracles the New Testament claims Jesus had performed, Toledot Yeshu doubles down. The difference, of course, is that in this polemic his powers are chalked up to sacrilegious sorcery, while the authors of the New Testament portrayed these events as proof of divine power. In some versions of Toledot Yeshu, Jesus is noted to have revived a man from the dead, turn clay statues into flying birds, and lift his arms like the wings of an eagle, ascending towards the heavens for an airborne battle with Judah Iskarioto. As Joseph Dan notes in the Encyclopaedia Judaica , "The narrative in all versions treats Jesus as an exceptional person who, from his youth, demonstrated unusual wit and wisdom, but disrespect toward his elders and the sages of his age." [5] Robert Van Voorst calls the Toledot Yeshu a record of popular polemic "run wild." [2] The Toledot's profane portrayal of the person Christians consider divine has provided fodder for Christian antisemitism and anti-Judaism. [6]

Until the early 21st century (with few exceptions), mainstream Jewish and Christian scholars paid little attention to the Toledot Yeshu. [7] The opinion of noted advocate of Christian-Jewish reconciliation, Father Edward H. Flannery, is representative:

This scurrilous fable of the life of Jesus is a medieval work, probably written down in the tenth century. [...] Though its contents enjoyed a certain currency in the oral traditions of the Jewish masses, it was almost totally ignored by official or scholarly Judaism. Antisemites have not failed to employ it as an illustration of the blasphemous character of the Synagogue. [8]

This disregard has recently shifted towards a growing level of discussion on the text's possible scholarly use as a window into the early history of Jewish-Christian relations. [9]

Composition and dating

Recent scholarship has drawn attention to the date of origin of the Toledot Yeshu. The earliest layers are considered to have been manufactured orally, and written source material of the Toledot Yeshu is much older than the work itself. As Flannery states:

Most offensive to Christians were Jewish insults to the person of Christ, about which St. Justin, Tertullian, Eusebius, Hippolytus, and Origen complained [...] In his Against Celsus [A.D. 248], Origen provides an idea of the caliber of the insults: Jesus, illegitimate son of Panthera, a Roman legionary, was a charlatan and a magician killed by the Jews; after His death, marvels were invented by His disciples concerning Him. Other tales of a still lower grade circulated, in which Jesus figured as a bandit and one possessed. At a later age, these obscenities were compiled in the infamous Toledot Yeshu. [10]

The first textual evidence consists of fragments of Aramaic manuscripts discovered in Cairo. [11] A recent study reports that more than 100 manuscripts of the Toledot exist, almost all of them late medieval (the oldest manuscript being from the 11th century). [12] The earliest stratum of composition was probably in Aramaic. There are recensions extant in Hebrew, and later versions in Judeo-Persian and Arabic, as well as in Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish). [13]

The date of composition cannot be determined with certainty and there are conflicting views as to what markers denote dates. For instance, some manuscripts of the Toledot (called the Helena-recension and unattested before the 13th century) refer to Christian festivals and observances that only originated after the 4th century. [14] [15] This does not account for all of the manuscripts and those that were created earlier do not mention the festivals. [16] In Origen's Contra Celsum (likely written in the 3rd century AD), Origen quotes Celsus as calling Jesus "son of Pantera," which would point to Celsus' knowledge of the Toledot Yeshu or its source material. In his Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, Robert M. Price states that the Toledot Yeshu is "dependent on second-century Jewish-Christian gospel", [17] and Alexander argues that the oral traditions behind the written versions of the Toledot Yeshu might go all the way back to the formation of the canonical narratives themselves. [18]

It is unlikely that one person is the author, since the narrative itself has a number of different versions, which differ in terms of the story details and the attitude towards the central characters. Even individual versions seem to come from a number of storytellers. [1]

Some scholars assert that the source material is no earlier than the 6th century, and the compilation no earlier than the 9th century. [19] Although individual anecdotes that make up the Toledot Yeshu may all come from sources dating before the sixth century, there is no evidence that their gathering into a single narrative is that early. [20] Some scholars, like Jeffrey Rubenstein, favour a later composition date, after the 7th century. [21]

The earliest known mention is an oblique mention by Agobard, archbishop of Lyon, c.826, and then another mention by his successor, Amulo, c.849. [3] [22] [23] However, since Agobard does not refer to the source by name it cannot be certain that this is the Toledot. [24]

The source material for the Toledot can be said to derive from four sources:

  1. Jewish rabbinic literature
  2. canonical Christian scriptures;
  3. noncanonical Christian writings;
  4. pagan anti-Christian writings of the Roman period.

The largest source of input to the Toledot seems to be anecdotes gathered from various parts of the Talmud and Midrash. [25] These appear to be popular adaptations of material aimed against two Christian doctrines: the virgin birth and the ascension. [2] Some of the Talmudic anecdotes are clearly fictitious or absurd, and some seem incompatible with each other or with known historical fact. [26] In some instances, the Talmudic source of the Toledot is very obscure or of doubtful authenticity, and may not originally have been relevant to Jesus. [lower-alpha 1]

Significantly, the Toledot seems to know (although sometimes only superficially) of the miracles of the canonical Gospels, and does not deny their occurrence, but instead attributes them to Yeshu's use of Egyptian magic, or his appropriation of the Ineffable Name (the Divine Name), but not to diabolical incantations. [lower-alpha 2] [29] [30]

Some of the anecdotes recounted in the Toledot seem to have been drawn from non-canonical early Christian writings known as apocryphal gospels, datable to the 4th–6th centuries AD. [lower-alpha 3]

The attribution of Yeshu's paternity to a soldier named Pandera or Pantera can be traced to the second-century Greek philosopher Celsus, [32] although Celsus himself was citing a Jewish contemporary in his account. Jews apparently polemicised actively against the new Christian religion, as can be inferred from the 2nd century Christian writer Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho , a fictional dialogue between a Christian and a Jew. In chapter 17 Justin claims that the Jews had sent out "chosen men" throughout the Roman Empire to polemicize against Christianity, calling it a "godless heresy". [33]

One early version of the Toledot Yeshu gave a milder description of Christianity. It did not cast aspersions on the characters of Mary and Jesus, instead it sought to undermine the tenets of the Christian faith. The goal was to seek the return of apostates to the Jewish fold. In keeping with this, Paola Tartakoff believes that the Toledot may have been modified by Jews to fit into specific situations. [34]

Christian response

From the 9th through the 20th centuries, the Toledot Yeshu has inflamed Christian hostility towards Jews. [6] [35]

In 1405, the Toledot was banned by Church authorities. [36] A book under this title was strongly condemned by Francesc Eiximenis (d. 1409) in his Vita Christi, [37] but in 1614 it was largely reprinted by a Jewish convert to Christianity, Samuel Friedrich Brenz, in Nuremberg, as part of his book vilifying his former religion, titled Skin Shed by the Jewish Snake. [38]

An indirect witness to the Christian condemnation of the book can be found in one manuscript of the Toledot, which has this cautionary note in its introduction:

[This booklet] should be shown only to people of discretion, for one never knows what the morrow may bring. [...] I copied it from three different pamphlets from three different countries, not just one, The contents of all these pamphlets were identical, except that I wrote it in the language of prudence [- namely, Hebrew, because Gentiles do not understand it]. [39]

Martin Luther quoted the Toledot (evidently the Strassburg version) at length in his general condemnation of Jews in his book Vom Schem Hamphoras in 1543. [40]

In the two centuries after Luther, the Toledot reached the height of its fame and was well sought after by scholars and travelers alike. In 1681 Professor Johann Christoph Wagenseil published an entire volume devoted to refuting the Toledot. Attitudes towards the work became more diversified during the Age of Enlightenment. [41]


Ramón Martí version, 13th century

Long unknown to Christians, the Toledot was first translated into Latin by Ramón Martí, a Dominican friar, toward the end of the 13th century. [4]

Strassburg Manuscript

In the Strassburg Manuscript, Mary was seduced by a soldier called Ben Pandera. The child Jesus shows great impudence by appearing bareheaded and disputing the Law with teachers.

The miracle working powers of Jesus are attributed to having stolen the Name of God from the Temple. Jesus claims messianic dignity and is accused of sorcery by the Jews in front of Queen Helena of Jerusalem, but Jesus raises a man from the dead in front of the Queen's eyes and is released. Jesus goes to Galilee where he brings clay birds to life and makes a millstone float. (Klausner notes that the Toledot scarcely ever denies Gospel miracles, but merely changes good to evil.) [42]

Judas Iscariot, the hero of the tale, learns the Divine Name as well, and Jesus and Judas fly through the sky engaged in aerial combat, with Judas victorious. The now powerless Jesus is arrested and put to death by being hung upon a carob tree, and buried.

The body is taken away and his ascension is claimed by his apostles on the basis of the empty tomb. However, Jesus's body is found hidden in a garden and is dragged back to Jerusalem and shown to Queen Helena. [13]

Wagenseil version, 1681

Among the versions of the Toledot, the version published by Johann Christian Wagenseil is perhaps the most prominent.

In 1681, Wagenseil, a professor at the University of Altdorf, published a Hebrew text of the Toledot Yeshu with a Latin translation, in a book titled "Satan's Flaming Arrow" (Tela Ignea Satanae). [43]

The first section treats Jesus's life; later sections deal with the exploits of his apostles. Supplementary chapters tell of Nestorius and his attempts to keep Christians obeying Jewish custom, and the story of Simeon Kepha who is construed to be the Apostle Peter or Paul. [2]

Jesus is portrayed as a deceiver and a heretic, showing a connection to the traditions in Celsus and Justin Martyr (see above).

Summary of Wagenseil version

A great misfortune struck Israel in the year 3651 (c.90 BC). A man of the tribe of Judah, Joseph Pandera, lived near a widow who had a daughter called Miriam. This virgin was betrothed to Yohanan, a Torah-learned and God-fearing man of the house of David. Before the end of a certain Sabbath, Joseph looked lustfully at Miriam, knocked on her door and pretended to be her husband, but she only submitted against her will. When Yohanan came later to see her, she was surprised how strange his behavior was. Thus they both knew of Pandera's crime and Miriam's fault. Without witnesses to punish Pandera, Yohanan left for Babylonia.

Miriam gave birth to Yeshua, whose name later depreciated to Yeshu. When he was old enough, she took him to study the Jewish tradition. One day he walked with his head uncovered, showing disrespect, in front of the sages. This betrayed his illegitimacy and Miriam admitted him as Pandera's son. Scandalised, he fled to Upper Galilee.

Yeshu later went to the Jerusalem Temple and learned the letters of God's ineffable name (one could do anything desired by them). He gathered 310 young men and proclaimed himself the Messiah, claiming Isaiah's "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son" and other prophets prophesied about him. Using God's name he healed a lame man, they worshipped him as the Messiah. The Sanhedrin decided to arrest him, and sent messengers to invite him to Jerusalem. They pretended to be his disciples to trick him.

When he was brought, bound, before Queen Helen, the sages accused him of sorcery. When he brought a corpse to life, she released him.

Accused again, the queen sent for his arrest. He asked his disciples not to resist. Using God's name he made birds of clay and caused them to fly. The sages then got Judah Iskarioto to learn the name. At a contest of miracles between the two, they both lost knowledge of the name.

Yeshu was arrested and beaten with pomegranate staves. He was taken to Tiberias and bound to a synagogue pillar. Vinegar was given to him to drink and a crown of thorns was put on his head. An argument broke out between the elders and Yeshu followers resulting in their escape to Antioch (or Egypt). On the day before the Passover, Yeshu decided to go to the Temple and recover the secret name. He entered Jerusalem riding on an ass, but one of his followers, Judah Iskarioto, told the sages he was in the Temple. On a day before the Passover, they tried to hang him on a tree; using the name, he caused it (and any tree they should use) to break. A cabbage stalk, not being a tree, was used successfully to hang him on, and he was buried.

His followers on Sunday told the queen that he was not in his grave, that he ascended to heaven as he had prophesied. As a gardener took him from the grave, they searched it and could not find him. But the gardener confessed he had taken it to prevent his followers from stealing his body and claiming his ascension to heaven. Recovering the body, the sages tied it to a horse's tail and took it to the queen. Convinced he was a false prophet, she ridiculed his followers and commended the sages. [44]

Huldreich version, 1705

A third major recension was published by Johann Jacob Huldreich (or Huldrich) in Leyden, Holland, in 1705, with a Latin translation, as Historia Jeschuae Nazareni by "Johannes Jocabus Huldricus". This was based on a Hebrew manuscript, now lost, and has its own unique variants. [45] A summary of it is presented by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, The Lost and Hostile Gospels (1874, London) pages 102–115, who surmised (because of some of the errors and anecdotes) that it was of medieval German origin, perhaps not even predating Martin Luther (page 115). Baring-Gould noted (pages 69–71) that the Wagenseil version contains historical references that place its 'Yeshu' at least a century before the Jesus and Pontius Pilate of the New Testament, and the Huldrich version contains references that place its 'Yeshu' at least a full century after the time of the Gospels.

Krauss compilation, 1902

Samuel Krauss reprinted a version recounting that Miriam had been betrothed to a nobleman by the name of Yochanan, who was both a descendant of the House of David, and a God-fearing Torah scholar. [3] In Yochanan's absence her neighbor, Yosef ben Pandera forced himself upon her, [lower-alpha 4] coercing her into an act of sexual intercourse during her Niddah (i.e., menstruation, a period of ritual impurity during which relations are forbidden according to Jewish Law). The fruit of the affair was a son she named Yeshu, "the bastard son of a menstruate woman." [3]

Krauss's book, Das Leben Jesu nach juedischen Quellen, published in Berlin in 1902, contained a study of nine different versions of the Toledot, and remains the leading scholarly work in the field (but has not yet been translated into English). [5]

Krauss's work has been joined by Toledot Yeshu: The life story of Jesus, [47] which contains English translations of several versions of the Toledot Yeshu and lists all of the known manuscripts (as of 2014).

English versions

The first translation into English appears to be an anonymous edition published in 1823 by Richard Carlile. [48] In 1874, Sabine Baring-Gould published The Lost and Hostile Gospels, which included lengthy summaries of two versions of the Toledot – one called the Wagenseil and one called the Huldreich (so named from the editor of a 1705 Latin edition) – as well as quotations and descriptions of apocryphal and lost gospels of early Christian history. He regarded the Toledot as being a kind of early anti-Christian folklore, largely motivated by the oppression suffered by Jews. [49]

In 1903, G.R.S. Mead, a well known Theosophist, published Did Jesus Live 100 BC?, which treated the Toledot Yeshu as sufficiently authentic and reliable to postulate, on the basis of its mention of historic figures such as Queen Helene, that Jesus actually lived a century earlier than commonly believed. [50] Baring-Gould (page 71) notes that, although the Wagenseil version named the Queen as Helene, she is also expressly described as the widow of Alexander Jannaeus, who died BC 76, and whose widow was named Salome Alexandra and she died in BC 67.

In 1937, the Jewish New Testament scholar Hugh J. Schonfield published According to the Hebrews, which theorized that the Toledot was considerably more ancient than commonly thought and may have originally been derived from the Gospel of the Hebrews, a lost (and presumably heretical) book mentioned by name, but not otherwise described, in some early Christian literature. [51]

However, scholarly consensus generally sees the Toledot Yeshu as an unreliable source for the historical Jesus. [lower-alpha 5]

These books provided translations of the Toledot. Mead included some indelicate verses which Schonfield censored, but Schonfield was the more erudite scholar, and he identified Talmudic and Islamic passages that may have supplied the content of the Toledot Yeshu.

An English translation by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer, a Jewish musician and writer, is available in its entirety at the Open Siddur Project. [53] Along with the translation, a fully vocalized and cantillated version of the original Hebrew text is included. This translation was first published online in 2023.


Other Jewish polemic or apologetic sources:

The works bear striking resemblance to Christian legends regarding Simon Magus, and to 12th-century Christian portrayals of Muhammad. [6]

Mentions in modern literature

The book is mentioned in the poem The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. [54]

It is also mentioned in Mitchell James Kaplan's historical novel, "By Fire By Water."

In Umberto Eco's Baudolino , set in the XII century, the character Rabbi Solomon is introduced translating the Toledot Yeshu for the curiosity of a Christian cleric.

See also


  1. For example, the "nativity" account in chapter 1 of the Strassburg version of the Toledot is derived from Kallah, a purported Talmudic tractate whose provenance is so uncertain that it did not appear in print until 1864. [27] Moreover, the anecdote in Kallah may not refer to Jesus at all. [28]
  2. Concurrences with the gospel accounts include the fact that Jesus's parents were named Joseph and Mary; that he was born in Bethlehem; that he was bold toward the Jewish elders; that he could perform miracles (here made out to be sorcery); that he claimed to be born of a virgin; that he claimed to be the Son of God; that he applied Isaiah 7:14 to himself; that he raised the dead; that he healed a leper; that Jews fell down and worshipped him; that he entered Jerusalem upon an ass; that he applied to himself Zacharias 9:9; that he charged the Jews with being stiff-necked people; that he applied to himself the 2nd and 110th Psalms; that he walked on water; that he was betrayed by Judas; that he was scourged, crowned with thorns, and given vinegar to drink; that he was put to death on the Passover and buried before the Sabbath began; and that his twelve apostles spread a story of his resurrection.
  3. For example, the Strassburg version of the Toledot tells the story that Yeshu, using magic, made clay birds come to life and fly. This closely resembles a story about the young Jesus found in the apocryphal Infancy gospel of Thomas and Infancy gospel of pseudo-Matthew. [31]
  4. Later Slavonic versions portray Mary as active in the adulterous affair. [46]
  5. According to Van Voorst, "It may contain a few older traditions from ancient Jewish polemics against Christians, but we learn nothing new or significant from it". Jane Schaberg, on the other hand, contends that the Toledot lends weight to the theory that Mary conceived Jesus as the result of being raped. However, according to Van Voorst, "Schaberg provides no evidence that the Toledot Yeshu traditions may be reliable, even reaching back behind Matthew and Luke, in the face of overwhelming consensus that they are not". [52]

Related Research Articles

Hugh Joseph Schonfield was a British Bible scholar specialising in the New Testament and the early development of the Christian religion and church. He was born in London, and educated there at St Paul's School and King's College, doing additional studies in the University of Glasgow. He was one of the founders and president of the pacifist organisation Commonwealth of World Citizens "Mondcivitan Republic".

Yeshua was a common alternative form of the name Yehoshua in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous (Ἰησοῦς), from which, through the Latin IESVS/Iesus, comes the English spelling Jesus.

Most adherents of Judaism believe that Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah nor "the Son of God". In the Jewish perspective, most will argue that the way Christians see Jesus goes against monotheism, a belief in the absolute unity and singularity of God, which is central to Judaism; the worship of a person is seen by them as a form of idolatry. Therefore, considering Jesus a deity is forbidden according to Judaism. Judaism's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah is based on Jewish eschatology, which holds that the coming of the true Messiah will be associated with events that have not yet occurred, such as the rebuilding of The Temple, a Messianic Age of peace, and the ingathering of Jews to their homeland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joseph Klausner</span> Jewish historian

Joseph Gedaliah Klausner , was a Lithuanian-born Israeli historian and professor of Hebrew literature. He was the chief redactor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica. He was a candidate for president in the first Israeli presidential election in 1949, losing to Chaim Weizmann. Klausner was the great uncle of Israeli author Amos Oz.

Yeshu is the name of an individual or individuals mentioned in rabbinic literature, Jesus when used in the Talmud. The name Yeshu is also used in other sources before and after the completion of the Babylonian Talmud. It is also the modern Israeli spelling of Jesus.

Jacob the heretic is the name given to a 2nd-century heretic whose doings were used as examples in a few passages of the Tosefta and Talmud to illustrate laws relating to dealing with heresy (minut).

The rabbinical translations of Matthew are rabbinical versions of the Gospel of Matthew that are written in Hebrew; Shem Tob's Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, the Du Tillet Matthew, and the Münster Matthew, and which were used in polemical debate with Catholics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera</span> Roman soldier of the Cohors I Sagittariorum (c. 22 BC - AD 40)

Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera was a Roman-Phoenician soldier born in Sidon, whose tombstone was found in Bingerbrück, Germany, in 1859. A historical connection from this soldier to Jesus has long been hypothesized by numerous scholars, based on the claim of the ancient Greek philosopher Celsus, who, according to Christian writer Origen in his "Against Celsus", was the author of a work entitled The True Word.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Schäfer</span>

Peter Schäfer is a prolific German scholar of ancient religious studies, who has made contributions to the field of ancient Judaism and early Christianity through monographs, co-edited volumes, numerous articles, and his trademark synoptic editions. He was a Professor of Religion and the Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Judaic Studies at Princeton University from 1998 to 2013.

Isa is a classical Arabic name and a translation of Jesus. The name Isa is the name used for Jesus in the Quran. However, it is not the only translation; it is most commonly associated with Jesus as depicted in Islam, and thus, commonly used by Muslims. Arab Christians commonly refer to him by the name Yeshua, an alternate form of the name Joshua.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Christoph Wagenseil</span> German historian, Orientalist, jurist and Christian Hebraist

Johann Christoph Wagenseil was a German historian, Orientalist, jurist and Christian Hebraist.

Johan Kemper (1670–1716), formerly Moshe ben Aharon Ha-Kohen of Kraków or Moses Aaron, baptized Johann Christian Jacob; was a Polish Sabbatean Jew who converted from Judaism to Lutheran Christianity. His conversion was motivated by his studies in Kabbalah and his disappointment following the failure of a prophecy spread by the Polish Sabbatean prophet Zadok of Grodno, which predicted that Sabbatai Zevi would return in the year 1695/6, It is unclear whether he continued to observe Jewish practices after his conversion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nazarene (title)</span> People from the city of Nazareth

Nazarene is a title used to describe people from the city of Nazareth in the New Testament, and is a title applied to Jesus, who, according to the New Testament, grew up in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, now in northern [Israel]]. The word is used to translate two related terms that appear in the Greek New Testament: Nazarēnos ('Nazarene') and Nazōraios ('Nazorean'). The phrases traditionally rendered as "Jesus of Nazareth" can also be translated as "Jesus the Nazarene" or "Jesus the Nazorean", and the title Nazarene may have a religious significance instead of denoting a place of origin. Both Nazarene and Nazorean are irregular in Greek and the additional vowel in Nazorean complicates any derivation from Nazareth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Disputation of Paris</span> Disputation over the Talmud at the court of French King Louis IX (1240)

The Disputation of Paris, also known as the Trial of the Talmud, took place in 1240 at the court of King Louis IX of France. It followed the work of Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity who translated the Talmud and pressed 35 charges against it to Pope Gregory IX by quoting a series of blasphemous passages about Jesus, Mary, or Christianity. Four rabbis defended the Talmud against Donin's accusations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jesus in the Talmud</span> Possible references to Jesus in the Talmud

There are several passages in the Talmud which are believed by some scholars to be references to Jesus. The name used in the Talmud is "Yeshu", the Aramaic vocalization of the Hebrew name Yeshua.

Tzoah Rotachat in the Talmud and Zohar is a location in Gehenna (Gehinnom) where the souls of Jews who committed certain sins are sent for punishment.

Johann Maier was an Austrian scholar of Judaism, and was founder and, for thirty years, director of the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne. He retired in 1996, and was living in Mittenwald, in Upper Bavaria.

Jewish polemics and apologetics in the Middle Ages were texts written to protect and dissuade Jewish communities from conversion to Christianity, or more rarely to Islam. The terms polemics and apologetics may be distinguished but may also be considered somewhat subjective. A smaller number of proselytizing text also exists intended to convert Christians, or more rarely Muslims, to Judaism. However, the vast majority of Jewish polemical literature was written in response to Christian polemical writings and with a permanent reference to Christian arguments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sources for the historicity of Jesus</span> Sources about Jesus as a historical figure

Christian sources such as the New Testament books in the Christian Bible, include detailed accounts about Jesus, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the biblical accounts of Jesus. The only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Date of birth of Jesus</span> Hypothetical date of birth of Jesus

The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical sources, but most biblical scholars generally accept a date of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC, the year in which King Herod died. The historical evidence is too incomplete to allow a consistent dating, but the year is inferred through three different approaches:


  1. 1 2 Dan, Joseph (2006). "Toledot Yeshu". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (ed.). Encyclopaedia Judaica . Vol. 20 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Gale Virtual Reference Library. pp. 28–29. ISBN   978-0-02-865928-2 . Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence . WmB Eerdmans Publishing. pp.  122 ff. ISBN   0-8028-4368-9.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Schäfer, Peter (2002). Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah. Princeton University Press. pp. 211f. ISBN   0-691-09068-8.
  4. 1 2 Webster, Nesta H (2000). Secret Societies and Subversive Movements. Book Tree. pp. 21f. ISBN   1-58509-092-1.
  5. 1 2 Dan, Joseph, "Toledot Yeshu" in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed. (2007)
  6. 1 2 3 Tolan, John Victor (2002). Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 17f. ISBN   0-231-12332-9.
  7. Van Voorst. p. 123
  8. Flannery, Edward H., The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-three centuries of Anti-Semitism (1965, NY, Macmillan) page 283 (footnote 30 to chapter 2).
  9. Meerson, Michael, and Peter Schäfer. Toledot Yeshu : The life story of Jesus. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism; 159. Tubinger: Mohr Siueck, 2014. ISBN   9783161534812 Contents: Vol.1, Introduction and translation
  10. Flannery, Edward H. (1985). The Anguish of the Jews (2004 ed.). p. 37. ISBN   0809143240.
  11. Cornelia Horn (27 July 2015). "Forbidden texts on the Western Frontier". In Tony Burke (ed.). Forbidden Texts on the Western Frontier: The Christian Apocrypha in North American Perspectives: Proceedings from the 2013 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 117–. ISBN   978-1-4982-0982-3.
  12. Stökl Ben Ezra, Daniel, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) pages 483-484.
  13. 1 2 Gero, Stephan (1988). "Apocryphal Gospels: A Survey". Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (in German and English). Teil II (Band 25 (5 Teilband)): 3991f. ISBN   978-3-11-011893-3.
  14. Stökl Ben Ezra, Daniel, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) p. 488; also, Leiman, Sid Z., The Scroll of Fasts: The Ninth of Tebeth, Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. n.s. 74, nr. 2 (Oct. 1983) p.186-188, p.195. See also Van Voorst, op. cit., p.122, 127.
  15. Maas, Michael (2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. p. 406. ISBN   0-521-81746-3.
  16. Stökl Ben Ezra, Daniel (2009). "An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in "Toledot Yeshu": Polemics as Indication for Interaction". The Harvard Theological Review. 102 (4): 481–496. doi:10.1017/S0017816009000960. ISSN   0017-8160. JSTOR   40390030. S2CID   162509439.
  17. Price, Robert (2003) Incredible Shrinking Son of Man pg 40
  18. Alexander, P. Jesus and his Mother in the Jewish Anti-Gospel (the Toledot Yeshu), in eds. C. Clivaz et al., Infancy Gospels, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck GmbH & Co. KG, 2011, pp. 588-616.
  19. Worth, Roland H., Jr., Alternative Lives of Jesus: Noncanonical accounts through the early Middle Ages (2003, NC, McFarland & Co.) pages 49-50; also, Dan, Joseph, "Toledot Yeshu" in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed. 2007, Farmington Hills, Mich., Macmillin Reference USA) page 29; "The complete narrative, which could not have been written before the tenth century, used earlier sources ....".
  20. Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (orig. 1922, Engl. transl. 1925, London, George Allen & Unwin) pages 52-53 ("The present Hebrew Tol'doth Yeshu, even in its earliest form, ... was not composed before the tenth century").
  21. Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, Stories of the Babylonian Talmud (2010), p 272: "There is not one shred of evidence that Toledot Yeshu existed in written form in Babylonian in the seventh century, as Gero claims it did, nor that the Bavli knew it."
  22. Agobard of Lyons, De Iudaicis Superstitionibus, cited in Van Voorst, op. cit.
  23. Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) pages 29-30.
  24. See Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925), page 53 note.
  25. E.g., the Talmudic references in Division 1.A of Herford, R. Travers, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (1903, London; reprinted 1966, NJ, Reference Book Publ'rs) pages 35-96
  26. Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (orig. 1922, Engl. transl. 1925, London, George Allen & Unwin) pages 26 & 51 ("the book contains no history worth the name"), as an example.
  27. See Herford, R. Travers, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (London, 1903) pages 487-50; Strack, H.L., & Stemberger, G., Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991) page 250; Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925) page 52.
  28. See Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (London: Duckworth, 1937) page 222; Herford, op.cit, page 49; and Klausner, op.cit., page 31.
  29. Frey, Joseph Samuel CF (1837). Joseph and Benjamin: a Series of Letters on the Controversy between Jews and Christians. Vol. 1. New York: Peter Hills. p. 214.
  30. Trachtenberg, Joshua, The Devil and the Jews (1961, Philadelphia, Jewish Publ'n Society) page 230 (footnote 11 to chapter 4).
  31. See Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (London: Duckworth, 1937), page 43; James, M.R., The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), pages 49, 55, and 76; Mead, George R.S., Did Jesus Live 100 BC? (London: Theosophical Publ'g Society, 1903), pages 264-265. For other examples see Baring-Gould, Sabine, The Lost and Hostile Gospels: an essay on the Toledoth Jeschu, and the Petrine and Pauline Gospels of the first three centuries of which fragments remain (London, 1874), pages 103-104.
  32. Cited by Origen, Contra Celsus 1.32
  33. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho ch. 17.
  34. Paola Tartakoff (24 July 2012). Between Christian and Jew: Conversion and Inquisition in the Crown of Aragon, 1250-1391. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 123–. ISBN   978-0-8122-0675-3.
  35. Schonfield, Hugh J., The History of Jewish Christianity, (1936, London, Duckworth) page 129.
  36. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe, Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Jewish History (1977, NY, Yeshiva Univ. Press) pages 185-186.
  37. McMichael, Steven J; Susan E. Myers (2004). Friars and Jews in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 157. ISBN   90-04-11398-3.
  38. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe, Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Jewish History (1977, NY, Yeshiva Univ. Press) page 186.
  39. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe, Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Jewish History (1977, NY, Yeshiva Univ. Press), page 185 (quoting a reprint in Krauss).
  40. Falk, Gerhard, The Jew in Christian Theology: Martin Luther's anti-Jewish Von Schem Hampharos, previously unpublished in English, and other milestones in church doctrine concerning Judaism (1992, Jefferson, NC, McFarland) 296 pages.
  41. Michael Meerson; Peter Schäfer (19 November 2014). Toledot Yeshu: The Life Story of Jesus: Two Volumes and Database. Vol. I: Introduction and Translation. Vol. II: Critical Edition. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 15–. ISBN   978-3-16-153481-2.
  42. Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (orig. 1922, Engl. transl. 1925, London, George Allen & Unwin) page 51.
  43. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe, Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Jewish History (1977, NY, Yeshiva Univ. Press) page 185.
  44. Van Voorst. pp. 123–6.
  45. Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) page 31.
  46. Schafer, Op cit.
  47. Meerson, Michael, and Peter Schäfer. Toledot Yeshu: The life story of Jesus. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism; 159. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014
  48. G.W. Foote; J.M. Wheeler (1885). "The Jewish Life of Christ". London: Progressive Publishing Co.
  49. Baring-Gould, Sabine, The Lost and Hostile Gospels: an essay on the Toledoth Jeschu, and the Petrine and Pauline Gospels of the first three centuries of which fragments remain (London, 1874). The Wagenseil Toledoth is summarized on pages 76-101, the Huldreich version summarized on pages 102-115.
  50. Mead, George R.S., Did Jesus Live 100 BC? (1903, London, Theosophical Publ'g Society) 440 pages, the Toledoth text (primarily from Strassburg ms) on pages 258-280; .
  51. Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) 272 page, the Toledoth text (primarily from the Stassburg ms) on pages 35-61.
  52. See Van Voorst, op. cit.
  53. Mayer, Isaac Gantwerk; Unknown. "The Book of the Generations of Yeshu, according to the Strasbourg Variant (Sefer Toldot Yeshu, L'fi Nusaḥ Shtrasburg)". Open Siddur. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  54. Browning, Robert (1910). Phelps, William Lyon (ed.). Robert Browning's Complete Works. F DeFau & company. p. 144.

Further reading