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Recently, I came across a website with a Q&A about whether there was any record of Jesus' miracles in non-Christian historical documents. The site claimed certain passages in the Babylonian Talmud show evidence of miraculous works. Here is the quote from the site:

The first comes from the Babylonian Talmud 43a. Babylonian Talmud (late first or second century AD) Sanhedrin 43a-b: “On the eve of the Passover they hanged Yeshu and the herald went before him for forty days saying [Yeshu] is going forth to be stoned in that he hate practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel." Here Jesus is accused of sorcery, in obvious parallel with the charge leveled in Matthew 12:22-23. The writer of the Talmud does not agree that Jesus worked bona fide miracles, but he reports that he did things which, to the enemies of Jesus, could only be written off as sorcery. Also, in Babylonian Sanhedrin 107b it is claimed that Jesus practiced magic. In tHul2:22-23 it is reported that healings were done in the name of Jesus.

I am unable to read the Babylonian Talmud for myself, not to mention being grossly unqualified to interpret it (I am not Jewish, full disclosure). But I am very curious as to whether these statements are true, and what the Babylonian Talmud really says in the referenced sections.

  • Note that acts of sorcery don't necessarily indicate supernatural phenomena. One would have to document which particular practices were considered forbidden sorcery, by those who claim that Jesus was a sorcerer. – mevaqesh Nov 9 '16 at 23:05
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  • It should also be noted that the "name" Y Sh U can actually be from the reference to people who were guilty of that sin such as a false prophet As a result many of the heretics or false prophets mentioned were called y"shu instead of whatever their names actually were so that they would be totally forgotten. – sabbahillel Nov 10 '16 at 0:33
  • The so called Yeshu Hanotsri was living at the time of Yehoshua Ben Perachia his Rav, I am not sure that he is the same Yeshu – kouty Nov 10 '16 at 3:04
  • Additionally the ability to make miracles is not a criterion per se, a prophet need to fulfill additional criteria principally concerning his fidelity to commandments of Tora. If no, his miracles would be called sorcery or somewhat else but not miracles. – kouty Nov 10 '16 at 3:07
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Although the quotation you provided is a true segment of the the Babylonian Talmud, there are multiple disputes regarding if this "Yeshu" character is actually Jesus of Nazareth or not. When you work out the dates, "Yeshu" seemed to have lived about three hundred years before Jesus apparently lived.

Is "Yeshu" Jesus?

(Note that in the section you quoted, it mentions a herald goes before Yeshu for forty days saying that he will be stoned for leading Israel astray. To my knowledge no such thing happens in the Gospels, not even something close. According to the Gospel narrative, Jesus was brought in, tried, and hung in only about a day or maybe two.)

  • Discrepancies aren't necessarily proof that it is a different character, as Hazal may have just confused some of the details, or they may not have been transmitted properly. || Additionally, even if some passages may refer to a different character of the same name, that doesn't mean that this particular passage doesn't refer to Jesus of Nazareth. – mevaqesh Nov 10 '16 at 0:03
  • @mevqesh - True, and I am not saying the discrepancies prove anything. I'm just saying it is odd that such a detail would be MILES away from what it says in the Gospels. After all, the Chochamim lived much closer to the time than we do, so it is hard to say. – ezra Nov 10 '16 at 0:07
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    @mevaqesh It is more likely that the mythology invented by the "gospels" moved the character up to be closer to the destruction of the temple to connect it with their ideology. – sabbahillel Nov 10 '16 at 0:36
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    @sabbahillel - That is a really good point I had not considered before...anyway, the link is still good and I would encourage people to read it if you haven't already. – ezra Nov 10 '16 at 0:55
  • To my knowledge no such thing happens in the Gospels True, but the Gospels do have Jews attempting and/or threatening to stone Jesus on multiple occasions before the arrest. – Mr. Bultitude Nov 11 '16 at 1:11
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The references to Yeshu and Ben Pandera are almost certainly references to Jesus. The events surrounding this character often are similar to those in the Gospels, especially John.

The events recorded in Talmud mss often reflect Jewish traditions recorded in the (later) Toledot Yeshu editions. Some details found in the Talmud are even recorded by earlier non-Jewish writers like Celsus (who describes what a Jew told him about Jesus).

Still, the historical value of the Talmudic events is little. They were written as a sort of anti-Gospel to counter the narrative of the Christians. The Talmud generally describes Yeshu (ben Pandera) as a sorcerer who was rightfully executed by the authorities for a collection of reasons.

See Jesus in the Talmud (Peter Schäfer) for a modern scholarly view.

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    @Downvoter: Is there a problem with my answer? I would be happy to know if there is. – Argon Nov 10 '16 at 1:45

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