The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1
I was planning to make a post about obvious blunders in William P. Lazarus' book.
I will instead gratify his itch to infirm defenses of Christianity (supposing he can do so), by giving a somewhat hazardous hypothesis or conjecture of mine.
When WPL argues for a movement with forgotten origins getting completely rebooted ones via a novel writer talented Gospeller under pen name Mark and three of his rip offs, he is arguing for a Yeshu from c. 100 years before the one we worship having been the real founder of a sect called Notsri.
This is a very hazardous claim. I will make one myself.
There was a Yeshu c. 100 years before Our Lord, he made himself conspicuous by looking at women he was not married to, he left a rabbi who would otherwise have forgiven him, he went to Egypt and learned magic. He founded a sect which was idolatrous - in Sweden. In Ynglingatal and Ynglingasaga and in Saxo, he is known as Odin.
Pharisees retained the memory. So did other future enemies of Our Lord.
When about 100 years later they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they decided to conflate the account of Him with the memories of Odin's pre-Swedish carreer.
The result of this conflation is a blasphemous book known as Toledot Yeshu.
Betrayal by a disciple called Ischarioto was added from the Christian story, a disciple named Mattai were added from it, execution by Jews was added from it (bypassing their use of Romans). The conflation with an earlier character allowed them to forget Jesus was crucified by Ethnics, by Goyim, because Jews in the time of Pilate had already lost the right to execute death penalties.
It also allowed them to explain the Divine Miracles of God made Man as dark magic, learned by Egyptian magicians.
Note, by the time that Toledot Yeshu is composed ... by the way, when is it composed?
It is certainly attested much later than the canonic Gospels.
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). 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 Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish).
The date of composition cannot be ascertained with certainty and there are conflicting views as to what markers denote dates. For instance, the Toledot refers to Christian festivals and observances that only originated after the 4th century. However, in his Incredible Shrinking Son of Man Robert M. Price states that the Toledot Yeshu is "dependent on second-century Jewish-Christian gospel", 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.
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 seems to come from a number of storytellers.
Some scholars assert that the source material is no earlier than the 6th century, and the compilation no earlier than the 9th century. Although the 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. Some scholars, such as Jeffrey Rubenstein, favour a late composition date, posterior to the seventh century.
The earliest known mention is an oblique mention by Agobard, archbishop of Lyon, circa. 826, and then another mention by his successor, Amulo, circa 849.  However, since Agobard does not refer to the source by name it cannot be certain that this is the Toledot.
So, my conjecture is very tenuous indeed. The Toledot could be very late, and so could the material from Mishna and Gemarah where certain hints come from.
Instead of there being a real man c. 100 years before Jesus from Nazareth, one who is remembered in Toledot Yeshu for the purpose of denigrating Our Lord, and one better known in his idolatry from Norse myths and the historic legends of his arrival in Uppsala region, the person described could be purely fictitious, invented as a parady of Our Lord.
By the time the Toledot is composed or its Talmudic very partial sources are composed (except if some should refer to a real pre-Christian false prophet), one is very much further away from the times when the supposed or real Yeshu would have existed, and already at some distance from the life of Our Lord whom the Jews rejected, also, and therefore, with description of an extraneous community, Jewish intellectuals were free to make conflations in denigrating purposes.
The only falsehood they make about their own one is pretending it is a straight on continuation of pre-Jesus and pre-Caiaphas Judaism. By the time the Temple was destroyed it was already not so.
Before making comments on other obvious blunders, I think it is appropriate to comment on this one, making the possibly real person of Sanh 103a/b; Ber 17b, Sanh 107b; Sot 47a (I checked "Jesus in the Talmud" for the references) the key in understanding the Christian community is a heavy overreliance of Jewish sources, and notably of the conflation between this man and Jesus in Sanhedrin 43 (same source, I am obviously not an expert in Judaica).
Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris III, la Mairie
All Hallows' Eve
- Wikipedian references
- to the quote above:
- Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) pages 483-484.
- 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.
- Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, 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.
- Maas, Michael (2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. p. 406. ISBN 0-521-81746-3.
- Price, Robert (2003) Incredible Shrinking Son of Man pg 40
- 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.
- Dan, Joseph (2006). "Toledot Yeshu". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Encyclopaedia Judaica. 20 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Gale Virtual Reference Library. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-02-865928-2. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
- 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 ....".
- 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").
- effrey 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."
- 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.
- Agobard of Lyons, De Iudaicis Superstitionibus, cited in Van Voorst, op. cit. [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.]
- Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) pages 29-30.
- See Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925), page 53 note.