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Jesus in the Talmud
Jesus in the Talmud
by Peter Schäfer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.22

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Reading Experience, 18 Nov 2011
This review is from: Jesus in the Talmud (Paperback)
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)

Herodian Messiah: Case For Jesus As Grandson of Herod
Herodian Messiah: Case For Jesus As Grandson of Herod
by Joseph Raymond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.22

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must Read on the Topic of the Historical Jesus, 13 Jun 2011
Monday, 6/13/2011 (This review is a draft.)

This book helped me understand some flaws in the gospels of the New Testament and some flaws in the works of Flavius Josephus.

Author of
Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus

Kindle Version: Insights on The Exodus, King David, and Jesus / The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy: The Hebrew and Christian Bibles, The Koran, and the Book of Mormon

The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy

Water Bearing Fish, Part I

Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them)
Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them)
by Bart D. Ehrman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

2 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The object of criticism, the Biblical Jesus, needs to be better known, 12 Feb 2011
Did you read The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine before reading Jesus, Interrupted? Credit should be given to Thomas Paine's Age of reason.

Some of the issues raised in Jesus, Interrupted are not new to readers of The Age of Reason.

Parts of the book I found informative and insightful.

I disagree that a lay believer can read books such as

- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
- The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S
- King Jesus: From Egypt (Kam) to Camelot by Ralph Ellis
- the theatricalized memoir Water Bearing Fish, Part I: Biblical Accuracy in Ancient History and Tests of Faiths Held in the Intellect / The Frustrations and the Aspirations by Steefen
- the nonfiction book extraction, Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus: The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy: The Hebrew and Christian Bibles, The Koran, and The Book of Mormon by Steefen

or this book, Jesus, Interrupted, and keep their faith. Some of the faithful prefer to have a faith that is above criticism, a faith that is integrity-tested for the heaven-bound soul. When a faith critic succeeds or appears to succeed, a person's faith is weakened or is no longer carried.

Here's an example and a glaring omission in Bart Ehrman's book.

On page 84, the author speaks of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew having miracles, not signs of proof while in the Gospel of John, the miracles are signs of Jesus' relationship to God.

In the second chapter of John's Gospel, the marriage in Cana has the sign of Jesus changing water to wine; but, this is a party trick devised by Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria (google Hero or Heron of Alexandria, vase, water, and wine).

This is a devastating blow to the Christian. It strengthens religions not stemming from Abraham. It is fuel for atheists, agnostics, the post-Christianity camp, and the anti-clerical/anti-religious camp. The gospels of the New Testament after Thomas Paine and Bart Ehrman are quite bombed. The faithful, whoever is left, surely carry a tattered flag.

Furthermore, in case you have read information which explains the astrotheological content of the Bible, pages 77-81 have a glaring omission. There were synagogues during Jesus' lifetime that had zodiacs in them. It was known that the Age of Taurus had ended when the Age of Aries began. It was known that the Age of Aries was up (the end was near). The end of the age had come. Jesus was the transition icon at the end of the Age of Aries and at the start of the Age of Pisces. You cannot speak of Jesus being an apocalyptic figure or prophet and not speak of the Pisces fish reference, the last sacrifice in the Aries' spirit of the times, lamb of God reference.

The Rosetta Stone has been deciphered. Ancient Egypt corroborates the Bible more than Bart Ehrman's frame of reference admits. Second, the works of Josephus beyond the Testimonium Flavianum, corroborates the Bible more than Bart Ehrman admits. Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus: The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy: The Hebrew and Christian Bibles, The Koran, and The Book of Mormon sets the stage for the historical-critical approach to Bible study. Bart Ehrman's book is premature in its criticisms.

Jesus, Interrupted does not have an index.

In Chapter Seven, "Who Invented Christianity," Bart Ehrman has a section called "The Transformation of the Apocalyptic Vision," pages 265-266. "In short, with the passing of time, the apocalyptic notion of the resurrection of the body becomes transformed into the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. What emerges is the belief in heaven and hell, a belief not found in the teachings of Jesus or Paul, but one invented in later times by Christians who realized that the kingdom of God never would come to this earth. This belief became a standard Christian teaching, world without end." Before this concluding paragraph, Bart Ehrman says the horizontal dualism of time (life and resurrection) is transformed into a vertical dualism of heaven and hell.

Now, contrast this with my position that the biblically, mythologized Jesus includes a Hellenistic component. Plato gives Socrates the following words: "Homer relates a law that ordains when one's time comes to die, a person who has lived a righteous and pure life shall depart to blessed lands and there remain in complete happiness, free from sorrow. Those whose lives have been wicked and godless shall be imprisoned in places of retribution."

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