The Jewish Talmud: An Apologetic for Christianity?

The Jewish leaders of the second century wrote down their official traditions in what has come to be known as the Talmud. Gary Habermas quotes the following from the Tamud in his book The Historical Jesus:

On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.” (Babylonian Talmud, v. III, Sanhedrin 43a, quoted in Habermas p.203)

Josh McDowell in his book Evidence That Demands a Verdict records the following, also from the Talmud:

R. Shimeon ben Azzai said [concerning Jesus]: ‘I found a geneaological roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, Such-an-one is a bastard of an adultress.'” [Jewish scholar Joseph] Klausner adds to the above, “. . . that Jesus is referred to here seems to be beyond doubt . . . ” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, quoted in McDowell, v. 1,  p. 86)

McDowell also quotes another part of the Talmud which refers to Jesus in passing, but adds little valuable content other than some support for the existence of Jesus and His followers. (McDowell, p.86).

From these quotes, we can learn several things. We can say that the Jewish Talmud supports (1) the existence of Jesus, (2) that Jesus had disciples, (3) the Jewish leaders disliked Jesus, (4) the Jewish leaders planned to kill Jesus by stoning, (5) Jesus was killed on the eve of the Passover, (6) Jesus was killed by hanging (on a cross, which was the Roman method of hanging in that period), (7) Jesus was recorded in the geneaological rolls, (8) Jesus was reported among the Jews to be a bastard son.

What makes this significant is that the Jewish Talmud is by no means pro-Christian in any sense. Yet it supports at least these eight points, all of which are reported directly in the New Testament or implied there. 

In light of the evidence, we are forced to conclude that the eyewitness accounts of Jesus in the New Testament are accurate and true.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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5 Responses to The Jewish Talmud: An Apologetic for Christianity?

  1. rosross says:

    Except that the Talmud is like the Bible and is neither a historical or archeological document. More to the point, Jesus, yeshu, was a common name. However, the evidence for a historical Jesus must come not from religious writings but from contemporary historical writings and so far there is nothing.

    • humblesmith says:

      The writers of the New Testament are contemporary and eyewitness accounts. There is no logical reason to separate their historical accounts from any other writings of the same era….they are equally historical as any that are non-Christian, and with the accuracy of Luke, moreso. Further, there are several historical accounts which are non-Christian, the Talmud being but one. Also in existence are Tacitus, Suetonias, Josephus, Thallas, Pliny the Younger, Trajan, Hadrian, Lucian, and Toledoth Jesu. Once we get to the second and third centuries, there are more non-Christian sources that speak to the growth of the church.

      True, none of these give as much detail as the New Testament, but as Habermas’ book demonstrates, once we add them all together, we can reconstruct almost the entire message of the gospel from extra-biblical sources.

      • rosross says:

        There is not a single contemporary writing which mentions Jesus. There were Greek and Roman writers at the time who travelled widely. If Jesus was as famous as the Bible attests he would have been mentioned surely. The Bible writings came into being hundreds of years after the death of Christ – when I said contemporary I meant people writing at the time that Jesus supposedly lived. These people were not writing at the time he supposedly lived. The stories were oral for centuries. That is not the same thing as a contemporary writer of mentioning him.
        Neither the New or Old Testaments are valid historical or archeological record although they may have some historical facts mixed in amongst the writing.

        • humblesmith says:

          If you say it long enough, maybe you’ll believe it’s true. For the rest of us, we’ll believe the evidence, reasonably applied, which I already gave you. You did not respond to the evidence, but merely stated your opinion.

          • rosross says:

            Not at all. I don’t actually care if there were a real Jesus or not – I believe only the teachings matter. It is irrelevant to me if there is proof but from all the research to hand the New Testament(which is religious writing not history) is the only source of information about the man at a time when people were writing and recording events of great interest. None of those writers mention Jesus. So there is still no evidence that he existed but if it appears beyond religious writings it is fine by me.

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