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Jesus: Evidence for His Existence
Evidence from History: The Babylonian Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud
The Talmuds were Rabbinic commentaries on the Jewish scriptures. The Babylonian Talmud was probably completed around the 6th century AD. The Talmuds are long and complicated, and it is difficult to make sense of some of what they say. Of course, the Jews were not overly sympathetic to the heretical new religion that Jesus founded. The Babylonian Talmud says:
'On the eve of Passover, they hanged Yeshu* [Jesus]. And an announcer went out in front of him for forty days, saying: 'He is going to be stoned because he practised sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favour, let him come and plead on his behalf.' But not having found anything in his favour, they hanged him on the eve of Passover.'
* One version of this text actually says 'Yeshu the Nazarene.'
There are, of course, some differences from what the Gospels describe, but the similarities are remarkable and include:
- Yeshu the Nazarene is described as someone who engaged in sorcery. (This is a typical way that Jewish writers accounted for the miracles of Jesus.)
- He was put to death.
- His death took place at the Passover
- His death was by 'hanging' - which was often used by Jews to describe crucifixion (see Luke 23:39 and Galatians 3:13).
There are various other passages in the Talmuds that refer to Jesus. You can find out a bit more about the Babylonian Talmud here.
These pages have been produced by David Couchman MA (Cantab), MSc. The material is taken from the Facing the Challenge course and is used with permission.