Q&A: What is it about the Talmud that bugs some Christians?

February 19, 2011
by the justified sinner

Question by Maci: What is it about the Talmud that bugs some Christians?
If you’re one of those people, could you explain what you think the Talmud is?

Best answer:

Answer by Buddy R
Nothing. I love the Old Testament. The Talmund is commentary on the Torah. I don’t necessarily agree wth all of that commentary.

Give your answer to this question below!

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14 Responses to Q&A: What is it about the Talmud that bugs some Christians?

  1. Paperback Writer JPA KosherNinja on February 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Great, great post :)

    I was wondering this also, as lately there have been so many posts on the Talmud, most of them critical. Yet as BUDDY shows, the people bashing the Talmud usually don’t know what it is….



    You reveal such ignorance. The Talmud was compiled *before* the time of Jesus, so he is not mentioned in it at all, and not is Xianity.

    And the ‘old testament’ is a Church-created text, mistranslated, wrongly rearranged, and a bad version of the Tanakh.

    edit to ‘godspeed’

    – actually the Talmud says the OPPOSITE. I don’t know where some of you are getting these ‘facts’ but they do NOT come from the Talmud.

    Listed are the FALSE accusations re the Talmud, and then the actual material from the Talmud, from http://talmud.faithweb.com/


    OK, for those people insisting that Jesus is mentioned in the Talmud – here is the bit of text you are referring to and the PROOF that it is nothing to do with Jesus:

    The Accusation
    Insults Against Blessed Mary, Sanhedrin 106a . Says Jesus’ mother was a whore: “She who was the descendant of princes and governors played the harlot with carpenters.” Also in footnote #2 to Shabbath 104b it is stated that in the “uncensored” text of the Talmud it is written that Jesus mother, “Miriam the hairdresser,” had sex with many men.
    “Jesus was a bastard born of adultery.” (Yebamoth 49b, p.324).
    “Mary was a whore: Jesus (Balaam) was an evil man.” (Sanhedrin 106a &b, p.725).
    “Jesus was a magician and a fool. Mary was an adulteress”. (Shabbath 104b, p.504).

    The reference to Shabbat 104b will be taken up in the section on the Jesus narrative.

    The Text
    Mishnah Yevamot 4:18

    R. Shimon ben Azzai said: I found a book of geneologies in Jerusalem and in it is written “The man Plony is a bastard.”

    This is claimed to be a reference to Jesus. However, this claim is patently ridiculous. The Mishnah was most likely referring to a famous person and, due to the lack of any practical ramifications, his name was left out by the compilers of the Mishnah. Plony is a biblical term used similar to John Doe today (cf. Ruth 4:1). The keeping of geneological records was very common in talmudic times so that regular Jews did not marry bastards and violate the biblical prohibition (Deuteronomy 23:3). Investigations into lineage and proclamations of bastardy were not uncommon (cf. Nehemiah 7:5; Talmud Kiddushin 70b-71a). There is no reason to assume that this refers to Jesus.

    Gustaf Dalman rejects the assertion that this Mishnah refers to Jesus [Dalman, Die Worte Jesus (Liepzig: Hinrichs, 1898), p. 4 n. 2]. Similarly, RT Herford calls this suggestion “doubtful and probably unfounded” [Herford, “Jesus in Rabbinical Literature”, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 6 pp. 87-88]. Johann Maier calls it “odd speculation” [Maier, Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen Uberlieferung, p. 50]. All of this is cited approvingly by John P. Meier in his highly acclaimed A Marginal Jew, vol. I p. 108 n. 53. See also Avraham Korman’s discussion in Zeramim Vekitot Beyahadut, pp. 348-349.

    The Text
    Sanhedrin 106a

    R. Yochanan said (regarding Balaam): In the beginning a prophet, in the end a sorcerer.
    Rav Papa said: As people say, “She was the descendant of princes and rulers, she played the harlot with carpenters.”

    Here we come to the common distortion that references in the talmud to Balaam are really veiled references to Jesus. As we shall soon see, Balaam is not a talmudic codeword for Jesus. Therefore, the passage above is referring solely to Balaam and not to Jesus. Besides this fact, read the passage closely and you will see that Rav Papa is offering a parable that explains R. Yochanan’s statement. It is impossible to read R. Yochanan’s statement as referring to Jesus and Rav Papa’s as referring to Jesus’ mother.

    R. Yochanan is saying that Balaam had tremendous potential and started out as a true prophet of G-d. However, he turned to evil and in the end of his life became a sorcerer (i.e. user of black magic). This tradition regarding Balaam’s descent was also recorded in the Tanchuma [Balak, 5] and in Yalkut Shimoni [Numbers, 771].

    Rav Papa adds a parable to explain this. Consider a woman who is married to a powerful ruler who leads their people out into battle. She is used to being the wife of someone strong, whose powerful hands can skillfully manipulate a sword and overcome any opponents. If her husband were to die she would still want to marry someone in a similar position of leadership and strength. Even if this widow is continually passed over by those she wishes to marry, she will still strive for her former glory, and will even marry a carpenter who, while not leading his countrymen out into battle, still must skillfully handle tools. Even when the ability to reach her old glory is obviously absent, she will still try everything possible to reach any position that remotely resembles it.

    Similarly, Balaam started out as a man with prophecy (like a prince or ruler). He was capable of seeing the future and even manipulating it through his curses and blessings. However, when he lost that gift when G-d removed his prophecy, Balaam still wanted to see the future, even resorting to such pale comparisons as sorcery and black magic (like a carpenter).

    This passage has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus and there is certainly no insult implied towards Mary.

    Cf. R. Meir HaLevi Abulafia, Yad Ramah, Sanhedrin ad. loc.; Ephraim Urbach, “Rabbinic Exegesis About Gentile Prophets And The Balaam Passage” (Hebrew), Tarbitz (25:1956), p. 284 n. 56.

    The Accusation
    Gloats over Jesus Dying Young, A passage from Sanhedrin 106 gloats over the early age at which Jesus died: “Hast thou heard how old Balaam (Jesus) was?–He replied: It is not actually stated but since it is written, Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days it follows that he was thirty-three or thirty-four years old.”

    The Passage
    Sanhedrin 106b

    A sectarian said to R. Chanina: Do you know how old Balaam was? [R. Chanina] replied: It is not written. However, since it says (Psalms 55:24) “Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days…” he was 33 or 34. [The heretic] said: You said well. I have seen the chronicle of Balaam and it said “At 33 years Balaam the lame was killed by Pinchas (Phineas) the robber.”

    Again we see the assumption that Balaam is a codeword for Jesus. Here the connection is that Jesus died at the age of 33, and this passage says that Balaam died at that age also. Also, Pinchas and Pontius Pilate both have the letter “P” in their names. Even if this passage refers to Jesus, which it does not, I do not see any gloating.

    However, historians generally agree that this passage does not refer to Jesus. The following is taken from Encyclopedia Judaica (“Jesus”, vol. 10 p. 16) [transliteration from Hebrew changed for consistency]:

    However, it is impossible to imagine that a Christian would ask a Jew how old Jesus was, and call the Gospel Balaam’s Chronicle or that Pontius Pilate, who is not mentioned even once in the whole of rabbinic literature, should be referred to as Pinchas the robber. The sectarian referred to was merely a member of a Gnostic sect who was testing whether Chanina could answer a question that was not answered in the Torah. Balaam’s Chronicle was an apocryphal book on Balaam. These books often adopted an unfavorable attitude to the patriarchs and the prophets and it was possible that Pinchas of the Bible was called in them Pinchas the robber.
    Cf. Urbach, ibid., p. 284; W. Bacher, Jewish Quarterly Review O.S. 3, pp. 456-457; Chanoch Zundel Ben Yosef, Eitz Yosef to Ein Ya’akov, Sotah 11a sv Balaam.
    To clarify the issue, let us now address the general claim that Balaam is a talmudic codeword for Jesus.

    Balaam in rabbinic literature is one of the archetype villains. As we shall see, he was a powerful man whose prophecy and closeness with G-d gave him potential to do much good. However, he chose to use those gifts towards evil. Because of his terrific potential that was utterly twisted, his heavenly abilities that were perverted towards wrongdoing, he is considered the prime example of corruption.
    Some scholars have suggested that Balaam is a codeword in talmudic literature for Jesus. However, we will show that Balaam is considered the paragon of evil in passages that cannot refer to Jesus and from these passages we can see that there is no compelling reason to read other similar passages as referring to Jesus. Indeed, reading these passages as referring to Jesus would be breaking with the established understanding of the talmud.

    Sifrei on Deuteronomy 34:10

    “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses” – But in other nations there did arise. Who? Balaam the son of Beor. But there is a difference between Moses’s prophecy and Balaam’s prophecy.
    Moses did not know who spoke to him but Balaam knew who spoke to him, as it says (Numbers 24:16) “The words of the one who hears the sayings of G-d…”

    Moses did not know when G-d would speak to him until he was spoken to but Balaam knew when He would speak, as it says (ibid.)

  2. Officer. on February 19, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    the talmud is not the old testament, it’s jewish commentaries which came out after the old testament and the new testament, and are not considered a part of Biblical scripture..

    and a lot of writings talk a lot of bad things about NON Jews, calling Jesus a bastard, and a bunch of other slander. its not bibical however..just jewish/khazarian bs.

  3. KiraJenLove on February 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    The Talmud is not the Torah (Old Testament). The Talmud is a collection of Jewish traditions from the 3rd century. It is not canon. In fact, it contains Kabbalist Occult knowledge, and the Occult is satanic in origin.

  4. PROBLEM JPAS on February 20, 2011 at 12:13 am

    The Talmud is record of rabbinic discussions of Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. I find some of it a bit anti Christian, but looking at history, that’s understandable. Most of it is fascinating some of it is difficult to understand. I suppose it would help if my Hebrew didn’t suck. I try to find English translations and read as much as possible.
    any on line sites would be appreciated.
    OK why the thumb down? email me
    I wasn’t aware of some of the outright crap that is out there about the Talmud. I was not referring to that. I apologize if you thought that is what I meant.

  5. JPA Ms Asher on February 20, 2011 at 1:05 am

    answer: as you can see by some answers, some take their “knowledge” of the Talmud from racist websites. Considering the volumes number over 50 (before all the translations), its doubtful any of them have actually read the Talmud through and can’t back up the claims that “Jesus is called a bastard” in it because he isn’t. That’s usually a slur aimed at Muslims, interesting to see it thrown at Jewish literature.

    The Talmud, being the commentary on the Tanakh doesn’t even mention Jesus because Jesus isn’t in the Tanakh.

    Good question!

  6. The Gallant Gryffindor Returns!! on February 20, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I think I had read (from Elie Weisel’s Night) that it is Jewish mysticism and that you had to be male and a certain age before you could begin to study it.

    I don’t know why it should “bug” christians…I mean it’s not even part of their religion.

  7. mike necro on February 20, 2011 at 1:45 am

    this question is easy . shaul/paulos didn’t write it.

  8. Bobby Jim on February 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I love the Old Testament. It is the Word of God.
    The Talmud, the way I understand it though, is a combination of God’s Word and Rabbinical wisdom and interpretation, and that of the Scribes, passed down and eventually recorded as sacred scripture.

    The Talmud is therefore God’s Word , PLUS human words.
    Christians are taught to believe God’s Word.

  9. Godspeed on February 20, 2011 at 2:44 am

    There are two Talmuds: the Babylonian Talmud and the Palestine Talmud. The Babylonian was written down in 500 AD by Jewish sages and these rabbis discussed daily Jewish issues as well as theological issues based on the Jewish oral tradition. The Palestine Talmud was written in 200 AD in the town of Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.

    The Talmuds, in parts, say somethings that are very nasty and anti-Christian. Like it is okay to not pay Christians for their work. This is why they bug some Christians. One needs to take into consideration that at the same time they were written, Christians were also saying very nasty things about the Jews too.

  10. jojojubi on February 20, 2011 at 2:48 am

    The Talmud is the work of the Pharisees, which had no affection for Christ or Christians, maybe that’s why it bugs some.

  11. Nicholas R on February 20, 2011 at 2:49 am

    If there is in fact an overarching Christian suspicion of the Talmud, it could only be because of Jesus’ warnings to the Pharisees: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, saying ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain you worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:6-7)…You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition…(Mark 7:13).”

    The inter-testamental period saw the rise of the rabbinical leadership and the corruption of priesthood. Scripture mentions no prophet sent after Malachi until John the Baptist.

    However, like most spiritual things, its not that simple. Jesus himself observed Hanukkah: “Now it was the festival of the Dedication, and it was winter; and Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s Porch. (John 10:22)”

    It is not tradition in itself that is bad, but rather, putting aside the revealed word of God, for example, that which is spoken by a genuine prophet, that causes the problem. The New Testament enjoins the Christian believer to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)”

    The New Testament has much to say on the topic of Jewish tradition and scriptural interpretation. The book of Romans, Chapter 11, explains the official Christian position towards Judaism, declaring that the Church of Jesus Christ, is “engrafted” upon “the rich root” of Judaism, warning: “do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. (Romans 11:17-18)”

  12. plushy_bear JPA on February 20, 2011 at 3:02 am

    I suspect it’s because many look on the web and find nonsense. People have posted cr@p about the Talmud – how it maligns Jesus and Christians. Unfortunately, many normally intelligent folks who would not believe everything they read on the Internet suddenly get this “Oh my G-d! Look at what’s being written in this Talmud! It’s on the Internet, so it must be true” attitude.

    The Talmud is a collection of discussions and laws (put simply); the Torah tells us to keep the Shabbat/Sabbath holy – the Talmud tells us how. The Talmud is the law and you do not study Jewish law without a good foundation of Torah (the base of this law). Also, would you study Advanced Law before you study its prerequisites? American Jurisprudence is difficult enough (I know, I took a few classes in college!), can you imagine how difficult this must be?

    Check out: http://talmud.faithweb.com/ as well as: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Talmud/talmudtoc.html for more explanations.

  13. Leibel JPAA on February 20, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Paperback, Ms Asher and Plushy Bear are on target.
    I once had a person tell me what was in the Talmud. I asked him which version he read, the Bethlemhem or Sephardim Talmuds and did he read it in Yiddish or Spanish. He looked confused (as I knew he would) and boldly told me “Sephardim and in Herew”. When I informed him there were no such things as the Bethlehem and Sephardim Talmuds (as others have told you the two Talmuds are Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds but the BabylonianTalmud is the one used most often) and the language they are written in Hebrew and Aramaic. When I called him on this lie, he called me a filthy Jewboy and walked away. He took his knowledge from a racist website. Most of the people who take their knowledge from those sites have never seen a page of Talmud let alone read it or understood it.
    I don’t know why it bugs Christians.
    The book Elie Wiesel talks about not being able to learn was Kabbalah. You are not to learn that until you are 40.
    I suspect most of the people complaining about it are the same people who have asked me things like “When exactly did you stop killing children to get the blood to make your passover crackers” and other such ignorant anti-Semitic remarks. The sad thing is that I once had someone asking me if we ever did use human blood. He was serious. He was satisified with my answer but somewhere he heard that. Sad, isn’t it.
    I also figure the little boy who once asked me if I had horns (cause Jews are devils I guess) and when I showed him I did not by removing my ball cap he said to me “Did you have them surgically removed or what?”, will grow up to be a person that is “bugged” by the existence of the Talmud.

  14. DS M on February 20, 2011 at 3:23 am

    In Exodus, when Moses came down the mountain carrying the written Torrah in his hand, how could that be all 5 books that we know as the Torah? They were made of stone and he was able to throw them as well as read it.

    Once Moses gets down from the mountain, the Torah is spoken of as being singular not plural. No where in the Torah or Tanach is “the Torahs” mentioned. No where in the Torah or the Tanach does it say “the Torah” and mean the oral Torah. Rather, when “the Torah” is mentioned in the Torah and the Tanach, it is alway proper to interpret it as “the (singular) (written) Torah.”

    Jews, themselves, don’t agree if it originates about 3,500 years ago or 2,000 years ago. The Jews would need to come to validate when it was created and under what circumstances before allowing it to “interpret” the Torah as the Torah mandates.

    Jews, themselves, don’t agree on the purpose. Some say the interpretations started with Moses. Some say the interpretation started about the time of the destruction of the 2nd Temple. One interprets from need and the other interprets by God….which do you say it is?

    But both acknowledge that God gave us the Torah. Why is it a logical conclusion that if God made the effort to give us the written, He would want to give us the interpretation as well. It is a logical conclusion that a God wanting a people to be HIS people would also want to interpret what He said. If He was able to speak the specifics of the law, then He could speak the specifics of the laws interpretation and application throughout the ages.

    In one sentence, anything that eliminates the need to be dependant on God, bugs me. The Talmud is the document that Jews site that eliminates the need of God speaking and acting.

    Is it like what Mark said?

    Mark S, JPAA : “As to the others–Orthodox Judaism takes the Written and Oral Torah as divinely given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and therefore strives to follow all 613 of the mitzvot. Reform Judaism does not *necessarily* hold the same viewpoint. It is up to the individual to make these determinations. As far as following the mitzvot, same thing–whether or not to follow them must be an individual, **and informed** decision as to whether or not the particular mitzvot has meaning in your life.”

    Or is it like what Eoredd said?

    Eoredd: :There is at least one reason why the Oral Law was not written when given at Mount Sinai. Oral Law is a process of adaptation, and re-reading, of the Written Tora according to the necessities and problems of every time and generation. So if it had been written, it would have become a Tora for all ages, unchangeable and impossible to adapt to unexpected situations.”

    Or what Gil said?

    Gil Student “Along with that written text of the Torah, G-d gave Moses an oral explanation. We can thus speak of two Torahs – the Written Torah and the Oral Torah….The Oral Torah was originally meant to be transmitted by word of mouth. It was relayed from teacher to student in such a way so that if the student had any questions he would be able to ask and thus avoid ambiguity. A written text, however, no matter how perfect, is always subject to misinterpretation. Furthermore, the Oral Torah was meant to cover the infinitude of cases which would arise in the course of time. It could never have been written in its entirety. G-d therefore gave Moses a set of rules through which the Torah could be applied to every possible case. [Kaplan, 9:8-9]” http://talmud.faithweb.com/articles/whatis.html

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