Jesus was called a Rabbi during a time in history when being a Rabbi really meant something. He lived during the time of semicha, and his responses are often Rabbinic in nature. And so this begs the question, could Jesus have been a Rabbi who received semicha?

Note: I know there is plenty of evidence that Jesus as a person might not have existed.

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    1. What's your source for the Rabbi. 2. Bar Kochbah was another Rabbi that went astray. So what does it prove?
    – Al Berko
    Sep 9, 2018 at 0:39
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    Who called him a rabbi?
    – user6591
    Sep 9, 2018 at 1:02
  • @AlBerko If he's a Rabbi, then is one able to cite him Rabbinically?
    – Aaron
    Sep 9, 2018 at 2:25
  • Doesn't the Gemara say Yeshu was a talmid of R' Yehoshua b. Perachiah? (I think there's scholarly question to this "fact", though, and also speculation if this is even the same Yeshu.)
    – ezra
    Sep 9, 2018 at 5:13
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    @user6591 In the gospels he is addressed as "Rabbi." But I would say on the contrary, he lived in a time in history when being a rabbi didn't mean anything. The first "Rabban" lived a generation later and the first "Rabbis" (in Jewish sources) were nearly a century later. Yehoshua ben Perachya is not called "rabbi" in Jewish sources
    – b a
    Sep 9, 2018 at 9:38

3 Answers 3


Jesus's actions as reported by his followers indicate that he said some kind of brachot on bread and wine. This indicated familiarity with some aspects of the Oral Law. At one point he is even recorded as stating that the laws established by the Rabbis must be obeyed, although he later often contradicts these laws and argues about them (which of course indicates he was familiar with them). Therefore, it seems possible that he was a talmid of one of the Rabbis before turning to unorthodox beliefs. But there is no evidence that he received smicha and he certainly was never a dayan.

As to being called 'Rabbi' he is referred to in this way by his followers, who of course had accepted him as their teacher, which is what "Rabbi"'s meaning is. In those days Rabbi was not a formal title (note that none of the Zugot and few of the early Tannaim are called by any title, even in the Gemara).


Certainly possible; wouldn't make much of a difference from our perspective. The Talmud talks about a "Yeshu HaNotzri" who started off as a student of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachiah; there's plenty of discussion as to how that story relates to the Jesus known to most of the world. But the Talmud's telling of that story really doesn't dwell on how far along in his studies he was, whether he had received semicha at that point or not. It seems we don't particularly care.

For instance, Elisha ben Avuyah almost certainly had semicha at some point (if he taught Rabbi Meir), but the Talmud, in retrospect, doesn't use the honorific "rabbi" about him because he eventually became an apostate. So the fact that the Talmud calls him "Yeshu" and not "Rabbi Yeshu" doesn't prove that he didn't have semicha at some point.

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    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review Sep 9, 2018 at 1:30
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    @sabbahillel This does provide an answer. The question was whether Jesus could have been a rabbi, and the answer is that it is certainly possible. It might not be a good, sourced answer but it is an answer nonetheless.
    – Alex
    Sep 9, 2018 at 3:44

Rabbi was a Jewish title of respect and meant 'master, teacher', but it was not known to be used until the time of Herod the Great around B.C. 37. "Rabbi" was applied to Jesus (Yeshua) and was often translated 'master' in the A.V. of the Christian Bible (Mark 9:5; 11:21; 14:45; John 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26,; 4:31; 6:25; 9:2 and 11:8). Jesus (Yeshua) forbade that his disciples be called"Rabbi", for one was their Master, even Christ (Messiah). Matt. 23:8. According to the Jews, the levels of honor went from "Rab" to "Rabbi" and, lastly, to "Rabban" or "Rabboni". Jesus the Christ (Messiah) was so recognized by the blind man who sought after him: "Jesus answered and said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him, 'Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road" (Mark 10:51-52).

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Please take a look at our tour where you’ll find information about how the site works. I’m not sure that this answers the question, which specifically asks about Jesus being a Rabbi in the sense of receiving Semichah, not just in title alone.
    – DonielF
    Feb 22, 2019 at 18:08

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