The author does not set up his subject to my liking.
What was the state of Babylonian rabbis to Jerusalem rabbis during the 1st century?
Did the religious establishment of Babylon travel back and forth to Jerusalem?
Did the religious establishment of Jerusalem travel back and forth to Babylon?
Did Jesus or any of his disciples travel to Babylon?
Were there Babylonian rabbis who were eyewitnesses to Jesus? Who were they?
We know rabbis of Jerusalem experienced Jesus first hand.
Does the Babylonian Talmud only reflect activities and debates that took place in Jerusalem?
Were the major players and contributors to thought only in Jerusalem with their being no intellectual capital of consequence in Babylon?
What was the source material for the editors of the Jerusalem Talmud vs. the Babylonian Talmud. Did the two schools of editors share primary sources?
There is exciting information about Christianity at the time of Constantine in this book. Peter Schafer's book added to what I learned having read Constantine the Great: And the Christian Revolution by G. P. Baker.
On page 122, the author writes: "The polemic [between Jews and Christians / between two competing 'religions' under the suspicious eye of the Sasanian authorities] that the Bavli shares with us is scanty and has unfortunately been tampered with by Christian censors..."
To what is the author referring? How has the content of the Bavli been tampered with by Christian censors? Alternatively, how has the polemic been tampered with by Christian censors?
The author needs after "...been tampered with by Christian censors..." (See "Appendix: Bavli Manuscripts and Censorship, page 132.) However, once one reads the page to which the reference should be made there are still questions. 1) While the author points out the difference in political climate between Jerusalem under Roman rule and Babylonia under Parthian and Sasanian rulerships and the lack of freedom to speak/write vs the freedom to speak/write, he does not explain censorship on both sides of the West-East divide. 2) In his list of Bavli Manuscripts, there appears to be no West-East divide. The majority of the manuscripts, if not all are from the West. How is it that no manuscripts survived in the region from which the Bavli originated? Did the Muslim conquest of Persia bring censorship and/or the destruction of manuscripts? The answer seems to be no since the Bavli dates to the 7th century after the Sasanian empire underwent the Isalmic conquest. This makes the author's comments about the Bavli's anti-Christian stance during Sasanian persecution of Christians weak and in need of extended treatment.
Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba (Jewish Messiah, according to Rabbi Akiva) revolt
_[name of tannaim/s]__? and Jesus (Christian Messiah) revolt during the mid 30s Common Era
_[name of tannaim/s]__? and the position of the rabbis as to whether or not to submit to Rome - Jewish Rebellion to the Destruction of the Temple
Referencing the above, it is quite evidenced that the Talmud includes Rabbi Akiva, a revolt and a Jewish Messiah.
It is also quite evidenced that we find Hillel and Shammai in the Talmud. We also find Yoma 39b where Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai "foretells" the destruction of the Temple. So, Jesus wasn't the only one to "foretell" the destruction of the temple. (Which prophecy came first Johanan's or Jesus'?)
When I think on Jesus in the Talmud, I think of Jesus' crime against Rome, Jesus' display on "Palm Sunday" which was an affront to Rome. What seems to be apparent in Peter Schafer's book and in the Talmud itself is that there isn't an equal distribution of editorial coverage of tannaims and the Bar Kochba revolt vs. tannaims and the Biblical Jesus revolt of the mid-30s, and the tannaims and the leaders of the revolt of the late 60s Common Era.
In conclusion of this point, Peter Schafer's book could benefit from a chart that showing the tannaim, amoraim--list of contributors--and the year they lived. The passages he cites for Jesus go back to what years of Oral Scholarship?
The author misleads people into thinking he's covered all the references to Jesus in the Talmud, but he fails to mention Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 105a. This should have been added to his coverage of Jesus and Ancient Egyptian magic/sorcery. Ancient Egyptian creation myths are related to Sanhedrin 105a. Here, Balaam is Jesus because after reading Numbers chapters 22-24, it would not be the Balaam of the Torah who was practicing Egyptian sorcery but Jesus.
An Egyptological perspective factors into an accurate concept of Jesus. One book that covers this subject is The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy
This book is a good read for Christians who have been taught the hope of interfaith dialogue between Jews and Christians without seeing its limits. It is also a good read for Jews for Jesus for the same reason.
This book shows the contempt the Babylonian Talmud had for Jesus and for whatever signs of support God gave to Jesus.
I thought it was interesting that neither the Jerusalem Talmud nor the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli) mentions the Palm Sunday event. In this book of Peter Schafer, one reason for Jesus' execution is that Christianity led Jews into idolotry. While Jesus may have said things that could be taken as idolatrous, the Jesus of Paul (Christianity) needed to be executed as well, if not more so.
The book cautions the reader to be careful about reaching conclusions about the Historical Jesus from the Talmud because the Babylonian Talmud is more clearly reacting to the "Johannine" Syrian Diatessaron ("Harmony " of the Four Gospels) by Tatian (120 - 173 C.E.) rather than eyewitness accounts of Jesus and the tannaim. However, Schafer does not explain how Sanhedrin 43a is only sourcing the Diatessaron and not a historical Jesus. Sanhedrin 43a explains that Jesus was close to government/royalty.
And as the Talmud does not pick up on the ramifications of a historical Palm Sunday event, the Gospels do not pick up on the talmudic allegation of idolatry against Jesus. Neither the Bible, Sunday schools or seminaries articulate this position. The case made against Jesus seems to be a good case. Those who chose Jesus over Barabas may have been given less credit than they deserve. However, Christian theology counters Jesus is God and therefore cannot be an idol before G-d. This was not the public theology of Jesus during his lifetime. The Johannine declaration of Jesus being the Word of God in the beginning probably was not a tenet preached by Jesus. Was this a secret teaching of Jesus? I do not know.
(First draft - August 1, 2011) / (Second draft - November 6, 2011) / (Third draft - November 13, 2011) /
(4th draft - Nov. 25, 2011) / (5th draft - Dec. 3, 2011)