The Talmud

The Talmud - Overview

In Judaism, the Jewish people have two primary religious texts:

The Written Law - The Torah, or Pentateuch also known as the first five books of the bible, written by Moses before 1200 b.c.

The Oral Law - The Talmud - Which was orally passed down according to tradition from Moses time through the Rabbis and eventually was recorded into texts between 200 a.d and 500 a.d.

The Talmud is the primary source of the Rabbis religious law (Halakha) and theology. It remains the central piece of the Jewish culture and bases for their religious ideology. There two version of the Talmud, the Jerusalem Version and Babylonian Version. 

Structure of the Talmud

The structure of the Talmud follows the Mishnah, which is the first compiled work of the oral law. From there various interpretations, exegesis and debates emerge over interpretation, meaning and purpose of various subjects and verses in the Mishnah. 

Mishnah - compiled 200 c.e. - was the first major work of rabbinic literature, it documents the multiplicity of legal opinions in the oral tradition. The tannaim where the Rabbinic sages who recorded their views into the Mishnah. 

The Gemara - 500 c.e - The second major part of the Talmud is the Gemara. Rabbis in Palestine discussed the Mishnah and the Tannaim and their debates are recorded in the Gemara. It mostly contains legal analysis and contains statements about the approach to the biblical exegesis. 

The Baraita - this included additional tannaitic teachings shortly after the mishnah was complied. The Gemara refers to the tannaitic in comparison to the Mishnah.

Jesus Christ in the Talmud

Jesus is spoken of in the Talmud on a number of occasions by various Jewish writers. The references are not flattering to Jesus, his disciples or to Christianity, however they make an excellent historic record of who Jesus was, His claims and what He did.

On Jesus Death

Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, “He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it.” As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve  - The Babylonian Talmud, 500 a.d -600 a.d (Neusner/Green, 69), The Tractate Sanhedrin (43a) 

And it is tradition: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu the Nazarene was hung. But the herald went forth before him for the space of forty days, while he cried, “Yeshu the Nazarene goes forth to be stoned, because he has practiced sorcery and seduced Israel and led them astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and give information concerning it.” But no plea was found for him, and so he was hung on the eve of Passover. Ulla said, “But do you think that there could be anything in his favor? He was a seducer, and the All Merciful has said, ‘You shall not spare him, nor conceal him.’ (Deut. 13:8). “However, in Jesus’ case it was different, because he was near to the kingdom”. - Sanhedrin 43a

On Jesus Teachings

Jesus was considered a fool in the Talmud for claiming himself to be the Son of God. The Talmud also accuses Jesus of idolatry, specifically in the section that mentions Jesus:

“‘Neither shall any plague come nigh your tent’ (Psalm 91:10); in other words, you shall have no son or disciple who burns his food publicly, like Jesus the Nazarene.” - Sanhedrin 103a

Jesus practiced sorcery, and corrupted and seduced Israel.”  - Sanhedrian 107b

On Jesus Disciples

The Talmud mentions disciples of Jesus and what they believed.

Our Rabbis have taught, Jesus had five disciples — Matthai, Nekai, Netzer, Buni, and Thodah. They brought Matthai [before the judges]. He said, “Must Matthai be killed? For it is written (Psalm 42:2), ‘Mathai [i.e., “when”] shall [I] come and appear before God.'” They said to him, “Yes, Matthai must be killed, for it is written (Psalm 41:5), ‘Mathai [i.e., “when”] shall [he] die and his name perish.'” They brought Nekai. He said to them, “Must Nekai be killed? For it is written (Exodus 23:7), ‘The Naki [i.e., “innocent”] and the righteous you shall not slay.'” They said to him, “Yes, Nekai must be killed, for it is written (Psalm 10:8), ‘In secret places does he slay Naki [i.e., “the innocent”].'” They brought Netzer. He said, “Must Netzer be killed? For it is written (Isaiah 11:1), ‘Netzer [i.e., “a branch”] shall spring up from his roots.'” They said to him, “Yes, Nezter must be killed. For it is written (Isaiah 14:19), ‘You are cast forth out of your grave like an abominable Netzer [i.e., “branch”].'” They brought Buni. He said to them, “Must Buni be killed? For it is written (Exodus 4:22), ‘Bni [i.e., “my son”], my firstborn, Israel.'” They said to him, “Yes, Buni must be killed. For it is written (Exodus 4:23), ‘Behold, I slay Bincha [i.e., “your son”], your first born.'” They brought Thodah. He said to them, “Must Thodah be killed? For it is written (Psalm 100:1), ‘A Psalm for Thodah [i.e., “thanksgiving”].'” They said to him, “Yes, Thodah must be killed, for it is written (Psalm 1:23), ‘Whoever sacrifices Thodah [i.e., “thanksgiving”] honors me.'” 

References - Tanakh, Talmud and other Jewish texts and literature sources - Ancient Jewish history by category.

Jesus Christ in the Talmud and Commentary on the Gospels from the Talmud and the Hebraica: Abridged, and Rewritten in Modern language, and with Additional Notes. Wipf and Stock Publishers, May 1, 2002