Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?

By G. R. S. Mead

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It is impossible to be certain whether all of the subsequent "Minim" Talmud passages refer expressly to Christians or not, for the word Min is in itself no certain guarantee, and it must ever depend on the context as to whether it can be taken in this precise sense or not. Since, however, Mr Moses Levene, in his article on "Jesus and Christianity in the Talmud,"[l] quotes these passages as referring to the Christians, we cannot go altogether wrong in provisionally following his lead, for we may plead that according to common Jewish tradition they are taken in this sense, and this is all that concerns us at present. But besides these Minim passages there are others concerning which there can be no possible doubt as to against whom they are intended to be directed, and with these we will begin, still using the Dalman-Laible-Streane version.

The first passage is a wearisome academical exercise in name- and word-play, and runs as follows : 

"There is a tradition: Jeschu had five disciples (talmidim)—Mathai, Nakkai, Netzer, Bunni, Todah. 

"Mathai was brought before the judgment seat. He 

[1] See "The Theosophical Review," vol. xxix. pp. 316-320.


said to the judges: 'Is Mathai to be put to death? Yet it is written: "Mathai ( = when) shall I come and appear before God ?" ' [Ps. xlii. 3], They answered him: ' Nay, but Mathai is to be executed; for it is said: "Mathai (when) shall (he) die and his name perish?" ' [Ps. xli. 6]. 

"Nakkai was brought. He said to them: ' Is Nakkai to be put to death? Yet it is written: "Naki (the innocent) and righteous slay thou not"' [Ex. xxiii.] 7. They replied to him: 'Nay, but Nakki is to be put to death; for it is written: "In covert places doth he put to death the Naki"'[Ps. x. 8]. 

"Netzer was brought. He said to them: ' Is Netzer to be put to death? Yet it is written: "A Netzer (branch) shall spring up out of his roots "' [Is. xi. 1]. They answered him: 'Netzer is to be put to death; for it is said: "Thou art east forth from thy sepulchre, like an abominable Netzer'" [Is. xiv. 19], 

"Bunni was brought. He said: 'Is Bunni to be put to death? Yet it is written: "Israel is Beni (rny son), my first born "' [Ex. iv. 22]. They answered him: Nay, but Bunni is to be put to death; for it is written: "Behold, I will slay Binkha (thy son), thy first born "' [Ex. iv. 23]. 

"Todah was brought. He said to them: 'Is Todah to be put to death? Yet it is written: "A psalm for Todah (thanksgiving)'" [Ps. c. 1, heading]. They answered him: 'Nay, but Todah is to be put to death; for it is written: "Whoso offereth Todah honoureth me"' [Ps. i.23]."[1] 

Laible introduces his discussion of these "proofs from 

[1] "Bab. Sanhedrin," 43a. 


the scripture" with the following extraordinary sentence: "What is found related of these disciples indeed, namely, their crucifixion, as well as the circumstance that this narrative is immediately connected with the account of the Crucifixion of Jesus," etc.[1] But in the first place there is absolutely not a single word said about crucifixion it the whole passage, nor is crucifixion implied even for the liveliest imagination; nor in the second does the preceding passage in "Sanhedrin," 43a, which refers to the death of Jeschu, say anything of crucifixion, but twice distinctly states that Jeschu was put to death by "hanging." Such positive statements concerning matters of the greatest uncertainty are not proper in an investigation of this nature; it may be that Jeschu was crucified, though I am inclined to think he was not, and that the passion of the crucifixion originated from some such mystery-tradition as that preserved in the beautiful ritual of the newfound fragment of the Acts of John,[2] and certain mystery-rites to which we shall refer at length later on, but the passages in the Talmud which Laible adduces do not prove his confident statement. 
As to the number of disciples, moreover, to me it seems probable that if there had been any other examples o! this philologico-legalistic wrangling on hand, we should have had the number increased to six or seven or more; I, therefore, see no necessity for trying to account for the number five on some more complex hypothesis, or to be surprised that the Talmud 

[1] Op. cit., 7i. 

[2] See my "Fragments of a Faith Forgotten" (London; 1900, pp. 431 ff.). 


has preserved no tradition of the symbolically necessitated "twelve." 

It is, however, to be noticed that the compiler of the Toldoth Jeschu printed by Huldreich (pp. 35 and 36) gives the names as Simeon, Matthai, Elikum, Mardochai, and Toda, and says that their names were afterwards changed to Peter, Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Paul. 

As to the contents of the wrangle, we can only say that if any disciple of Jesus or of any other great teacher had no better apologia to put forward pro vita sua, he had but little justification for his continued existence; we know, however, that the arguments of Christianity against Jewish legalism were at the very least as powerful as the arguments of the Rabbis against Christian dogmatics. What then can we think of the academical state of mind that could preserve such barren word-play as a precious tradition to be handed down to an admiring posterity! And yet we must not forget that this was not peculiar to the Jews; Babylonians, Egyptians, Zoroastrians, Greeks, Brahmans, Buddhists and Arabs, all delighted in such pseudo-philological exercises, and as for text-proof for everything under the sun, general Christianity slavishly followed the Rabbis for many a long century. 

What, however, interests us most deeply in this quaint Talmud passage is the list of names, for with the exception of Matthai (Matthteus, Matthew), it is exceedingly difficult to equate them with the names of the "twelve "as preserved in Christian tradition. 

The attempt to equate Todah with Thaddaeus hardly commends itself, for the Jacobite Syrians give this name back as Thaddi and the Nestorians as Thaddai 


and not Todah. Moreover we have to ask: Who was Thaddaeus, or the composite-named Thaddseus-Lebbaeus-Judas; further, was he of the Twelve or of the Seventy as in the apocryphal Acta? 
Nor can we regard the suggestion of Laible[1] that Todah may be the Theudas of Acts v. 36,[2] as very fortunate, for this Theudas, as Josephus tells us,[3] was some popular prophet who pretended to magical power, and led many of the Jews in revolt about 45 or 46 A.D.; so that the author or redactor of the Acts is here guilty of an anachronism, for Gamaliel must have spoken at latest prior to 37 A.D., and apologists are consequently hard put to it to defend the "inspiration" of this passage. Be this as it may, this Theudas can hardly be spoken of as a disciple of Jesus. 

We, however, do know of a Theudas who was a "disciple," and the link between Paul and Valentinus; he was a Gnostic.[4] If, then, Todah is the same as Theudas (which is generally taken to be a shortened form of Theodorus), the only "disciple" Theudas known to Christian tradition with which he could possibly be identified is the Theudas of Paul; like so many other "disciples," however, he had never seen Jesus in the flesh.[5] 

[1] Op. cit., p. 76. 

[2] Where Gamaliel is made to say to the Sanhedrin: "For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about five hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to naught."' 

[3] "Antiqq.," xx. 5, 1. 

[4] Clement of Alexandria, "Stromat.," vii. 7. 

[6] See my essay, "The Gospels and the Gospel" (London; 1902), pp. 107, 108. 


As to the name Bunni, it has been conjectured by Thilo[1] and others that Bonai or Bunni is the same as Nicodemus, from a Talmud passage ("Taanith," 20a), where the name of a certain Nakdimon ben Gorion is said to have been properly Bunni. The difficulty in accepting this equation, however, is considerably increased by the further supposition of Laible that Nakkai also stands for Nicodemus. In this connection no one seems so have thought of Bannus, the Essene teacher of Josephus, and I therefore suggest his name for what it is worth. But surely there were many Bunnis and many disciples of Jesus whose names have not been preserved? 
Finally, if, as Laible says, Netzer "unquestionably" stands for Notzri = Nazarene, we can only reply that such a designation is not much of a distinctive title for one of the disciples of Jesus. 

On the other hand, we may ask: Can it be possible that in four of the five names Jewish tradition has preserved genuine names of "disciples" unknown to Christian tradition? And to this we may reply: If the names were not genuine, surely the whole academical discussion would be without point, and therefore deprived of all sting? There remains, however, a further question, suggested by the Netzer-Notzri-Nazarene speculation: Can these names possibly be meant for leaders of schools, and that there was no question of putting the leaders to death physically, but every question of giving an academical coup de grace to their doctrines and activity? 

[1] "Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti" (Leipzig; 1832), Evangelium Nicodemi," p. 550 n. 


We will next turn to what the Talmud has to tell us of a disciple of Jesus called Jacob. First of all we have a curious story of the great Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (the founder of the school at Lud and teacher of Akiba), who flourished about 70-100 A.D.)., who, we know, was put under the ban by Jewish orthodoxy for reasons that are now by no means clear, and who, nevertheless, after his death was regarded as a great light of Israel. It is a story which brings out very strongly the fastidiousness of the Rabbinical mind with regard to any source of doctrine, even a fairly sensible Halacha, as far as Halachoth go, which might in any way be suspected of heresy. The story is found in two almost identical forms, and we might choose either for quotation, but perhaps the citation of both of them will bring out the points more clearly, and be an instructive object lesson in tradition-modification. The first is found in the Babylonian Gemara and runs as follows: 

"The Rabbis have handed down the following: When R. Eliezer was about to be imprisoned on account of heresy,[1] he was brought to the court of justice to be tried. The judge said to him: Does a man of mature years like thee busy himself with such nullities? Eliezer replied: The Judge is just towards me. The judge thought that Eliezer was speaking of him; but he thought upon his Father in heaven. Then spake the judge: Since I believe thee,[2] thou art acquitted. 

[1] Minuth. Liable, op. cit., p. 62, says "a leaning towards the forbidden Christian religion." 

[2] Dalrnan translates: "Since I am held by thee to be just." 


"Now when Eliezer came home his disciples presented themselves to console him, but he admitted no consolation. Then R. Akiba said to him: Permit me to tell thee something of what thou hast taught me. He answered: Say on. Then said R. Akiba: Perchance thou hast once given ear to a heresy, which pleased thee; on account of which thou wast now about to be imprisoned for heresy. Eliezer replied : Akiba, thou remindest me. I was once walking in the upper street of Sepphoris; [1] there 1 met with one of the disciples of Jeschu ha-Notzri, by name Jacob of Kephar Sechania,[2] who said to me : It is found in your Law [Deut. xxiii. 19]: 'Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore . . . into the house of ... thy God.' May a retiring place for the high-priest be made out of such gifts? I knew not what to answer him to this. Then he said to me: Thus Jeschu ha-Notzri taught me: 'Of the hire of an harlot has she gathered them,[3] and unto the hire of an harlot shall they return' [Mic. i. 7]. From offal it has come; to the place of offal shall it go. This explanation pleased me, and on this account have I been impeached for heresy, because I transgressed the Scripture: 'Remove thy way far from her' [Prov. v. 8], from her, i.e., from heresy."[4] 

The second form of the story is found in a commentary on Ecclesiastes i. 8: "All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing," though I fail to see the connection. It runs as follows: 

[1] A city in lower Galilee. 

[2] Siknin. 

[3] A.V. : "it"

[4] "Aboda Zara," 16b f. 

[A] Halacha of Jeschu.


"It is related of R. Eliezer that he was seized for heresy. A certain governor took him and brought him up to the place of judgment to judge him. He said to him: Rabbi, shall a great man like you be occupied with such vain things? He answered: The Judge is faithful towards me. And as he (the governor) imagined that he was speaking (so) on account of him, though he had only spoken in reference to Heaven (God), he said to him: Because I am faithful in your eyes, I also venture to say: Can it be that these academies are erring (and occupy themselves) with these vain things? Dimus,[1] you are set free. 

"When Rabbi Eliezer had been dismissed from the tribunal, he was pained because he had been seized for heresy. His disciples came to see him in order to comfort him, but he did not accept (their consolation). Then R. Akiba came to see him, and said to him: Rabbi, perhaps one of the heretics has said before you some word which pleased you. He answered: Lo, by Heaven, you remind me. Once when I was going up in the street of Zippori, a man, named Jacob of Kephar Sechania, came to me and told me something from Jeschu ben Pandera, and I liked it. And this it was: It is written in your Law: 'Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore or the wages of a dog into the house of Yahwe'; how is it with them? I said: They are forbidden. He said to me: Forbidden for sacrifice, but allowed for purposes of destruction. I said to him: But what may then be done with them? He answered: You may build with them baths and privies. I said to him: You have said well, for at this time the Halacha 

[1] That is, "dismissus es."


was hidden from me. When he saw that I praised his words, he said to me: Thus Ben Pandera hath said: From filth they went [? came], to filth they may go, as it is said: 'For of the hire of an harlot she gathered them, and unto the hire of an harlot shall they return'; they may be applied to public privies. This pleased me, and, therefore, I have been seized for heresy, and also because I transgressed what is written in the Law: ' Remove thy way from her'—that is, the heresy." [1]

In the first place the story is clearly intended as an apologia for R. Eliezer devised by a later age. What the nature of Eliezer's liberalism may have been we do not know, all we know is that he was finally condemned and lived in exile; but the fact that the Haggada we are considering connects the very slight lapse on the part of R. Eliezer, which it admits, with the teachings of Jeschu, or, at any rate, with Halachoth preserved in the tradition of his school, is a strong confirmation of the supposition that Eliezer was deeply interested in the Christianity of his day, and perhaps this accounts to some extent for the fierce opposition of his pupil the purist Akiba. 

The story shows, moreover, that Jeschu was regarded (and this was admitted by the Rabbis) as being learned in the Law, so that a Halacha attributed to him pleased even such a connoisseur as Eliezer. Though the matter discussed may seem to us more than trivial, it was no doubt a point of the greatest importance for the legal purists of the Talmud period. The question seems to have had to do with a retiring place to the chamber in

[1] Koheleth Rabba to Eccles. i. 8 (Pesaro; 1519). 


which the high priest had to pass the last week before the day of atonement.[1] 

According to the story, R. Eliezer is evidently referring to something which had taken place long ago, so long ago that he had personally forgotten all about it. The retentive mind of his pupil Akiba, however, had not allowed it to escape his memory, and so he recalls it to his teacher's fading recollection. Eliezer is thus represented as an old man, and we may place him then, presumably, somewhere about 100 A.D. Thus we may suppose he had met Jacob some fifty years ago, somewhere about the middle of the first century, and so the words, "Thus Jeschu ha-Notzri taught me," of the first form of the story might be held to confirm the Christian traditional date of Jesus, for according to canonical data at 50 A.D., Jacob could very well have been a personal disciple of Jesus.

On the other hand, the words used do not absolutely necessitate such a construction, for such expressions as "thus" Hillel, or Shammai, or Plato, "has taught me" would be the usual form in quoting the sayings of those teachers; while the variant, "thus Ben Pandera[2] hath said," in the second form of the story, strongly confirms this view, showing that "has said" was taken as identical with "has taught me," and nothing more. 

We have another story of this same Jacob, however, which, instead of placing him at this early date, makes him a contemporary of Akiba (fl. 100-135). Of this story also there are two variants, the first of which is given twice in the Palestinian Gemara and runs as follows: 

[1] Mishna, "Yoma," i. 1. See Laible, op. cit., p. 64. 

[2] A name, however, which Jacob could scarcely have used. 


"It happened that E. Eleazar ben Dama was bitten by a serpent. Then came Jacob of Kephar Sama,[1] to heal him in the name of Jeschu Pandera.[2] But R. Ishmael suffered him not. Eleazar said to him: I will bring thee a proof, that he has a right to heal me. But he had no more time to utter the proof; for he died. R. Ishmael said to him: Blessed art thou, Ben Dama, that thou wentest in peace from this world, and didst not break through the fence of the wise, for it is written: ' And whoso breaketh through a fence, a serpent shall bite him,' not a serpent has bitten him, but (it means that) a serpent should not [sic] bite him in the time to come."[3] 

The variant in the Babylonian Gemara rims thus: 

"It happened that Ben Dama, son of E. Ishmael's sister, was bitten by a serpent. Then came Jacob of Kephar Sechania to heal him. But E. Ishmael suffered him not. Ben Dama said: R. Ishmael, my brother, allow me to be healed by him, and I will bring thee a verse from the Torah, showing that it is allowed. But he had not time to complete what he was saying; for his spirit departed from him and he died. Then R. Ishmael exclaimed over him: Happy art thou, Ben Dama, that thy body is pure, and that thy spirit has passed away in purity, and that thou hast not transgressed the words of thy companions (chabirim)." [4] 

Rabbi Ishmael, when found alone, stands always for 

[1] I cannot discover the locality of this village

[2] In "Pal. Aboda Zara," 40d, at the bottom, where the same narrative is found, the name is given as Jeschu ben Pandera.

[3] "Pal. Shabbath," 14b (lower part). 

[4] "Bab. Aboda Zara," 27b. 


R. Ishmael ben Elisha, the contemporary of Akiba. According to this tradition, then, Jacob of Kephar Sechania cannot possibly have been a personal disciple of Jesus, even according to the canonical tradition of the date. We have to notice also, that according to the rigid legalists of the Talmud, the poison of a serpent was thought to be less noxious than the contact with the magnetism or even thought-sphere of a follower of Jesus. 

Perhaps the following story, taken from the "Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew," or of the "Infancy of Jesus and Mary" (ch. xli.), may have originated in the same medley of legend from which the Talmud derived the main incident of its Ben Dama story.

"And on a certain day Joseph called his firstborn son James to him and sent him into the kitchen-garden to gather herbs to make pottage. And Jesus followed his brother James into the garden, and Joseph and Mary knew it not. And while James gathered herbs there suddenly came a viper out of a hole and wounded the hand of James, and he began to cry out through excessive pain. And when already fainting, he said with a bitter cry, Oh! Oh! a very bad viper has wounded my hand. And Jesus, who stood opposite, at that bitter cry ran to James and took hold of his hand, and did no more than merely breathe upon the hand of James, and soothed it. And immediately James was healed, and the serpent died. And Joseph and Mary knew not what had happened; but at the cry of James they ran into the garden and found the serpent already dead and James quite healed."[1] 

[1] Cowper (B. H.), "The Apocryphal Gospels "(6th ed., London; 1897), p. 82. 


That moreover, the Christians of these early days and later were accustomed to heal psychically by means of prayer or the invocation of some holy name is well attested from outside and hostile sources by the following Talmud story, which is also found in two variants. Thus in the Palestinian Gemara we read: 

"His grandson (the grandson of Jehoshua ben Levi) had swallowed something. A man came and whispered to him (a spell) in the name of Jeschu ben Pandera, and he got well. When he went out, he (Jehoshua ben Levi) asked him: What did you say over him? He answered: According to the word of somebody. He said: What had been his fate, had he died and not heard this word? And it happened to him 'as it were an error which proceedeth from the ruler'" [Eccles. x. 5].[1] 

A commentary on Ecclesiastes x. 5 ("there is an evil which I have seen under the sun as an evil which proceedeth from the ruler") preserves the same story as follows: 

"The son of Rabbi Jehoshua ben Levi had something in his throat. He went and fetched one of the men of Ben Pandera, to bring out what he had swallowed. He (Jehoshua ben Levi) said to him: What didst thou say over him? He answered: A certain verse after a certain man. He said: It had been better for him, had he buried him and not said over him that verse. And so it happened to him,' as it were an error which proceedeth from the ruler.'"[2] 

"The error that proceedeth from the ruler "most prob- 

[1] "Pal. Aboda Zara," 40d. 

[2] "Koheleth Rabba" to Eccles. x. 5. 


ably refers to some "planetary" ruler, or one of the "names of the angels" which were guarded so jealously by the Essenes, and of which we find so many examples in Gnostic and allied literature, and in Jewish apocalyptic. 

We have seen above that it is impossible to fix the date of Jacob of Kephar Sechania from the contradictory indication of the Talmud stories; but if we survey the whole period from 50 to 135 A.D., which years may be taken approximately as the Talmud termini for this Jacob, and look for a Jacob of pre-eminence among the Christians with whom to identify him, the name of "James, the brother of the Lord," presents itself as having the best claim to our attention. 

Eusebius tells us[1] that in his day the "most accurate account" of this James was to be found in the fifth book of the Commentaries of Hegesippus, who, he says, "flourished nearest to the days of the Apostles"; modern scholarship, however, assigns the date of writing of Hegesippus's "Memoirs" to about 180 A.D. Eusebius then proceeds to quote from Hegesippus the story of the martyrdom of this James, the setting and tone of which is very Jewish. The most interesting part of the story, however, is the description of James himself, where we read: 

"He was holy from his mother's womb; drank no wine or strong drink, nor ate animal food; no razor came upon his head; he neither oiled himself nor used the bath; he alone was permitted to enter the holy places,[2] for he never wore wool, but [always] linen. And he used to go alone into the Temple, and was found on his 

[1] "Hist. Eccles.," ii. 23. 

[2] na agia


knees, interceding for the people, so that his knees grew hard like a camel's, because of his kneeling in prayer to God, begging forgiveness for the people. Indeed, on account of his exceeding great righteousness he was called ' the righteous' and Olbias, which means in Greek 'defence of the people' and 'righteousness.'"[1] 

Here we have the picture of a rigid ascetic, a The Chassid, an Essene, a Therapeut, a Nazir, for from his mother's womb he was vowed to holiness. It is, however, difficult to understand what is meant by the sentence which I have translated, "he alone was permitted to enter the holy places"—generally rendered the "Holy of Holies," or the "Sanctuary." It is, of course, impossible to believe that James could have been permitted to enter the Holy of Holies of the Temple at Jerusalem, which no one but the high priest, and he only on a certain day in the year, could enter. Nor can we suppose that James alone of all men was accorded the privilege of entering the "shrines," whatever they may mean[2]; it can only mean that such men alone as those who kept the same rigid rule as James, could do so; for we can hardly suppose that it means that James alone of the Christians had this privilege, that is, was the only one of the Christians who kept this rule. 

[1] For text, see Routh's "Reliquiae Sacrae "(2nd. ed., Oxford; 1846), i. 208, 209. 

[2] We know that the Essenes, or at any rate some of the Essenes, would not visit the Temple at Jerusalem, because they regarded it as polluted by blood sacrifices; they had, however, their own "shrines," which they kept most strictly pure. Can the "shrines" of our text be explained in some such fashion? 


With regard to this James the Just, the Righteous (one of the titles of the Essenes and of all who vowed themselves to the service of God), Eusebius gives us some further information of a most interesting nature when he quotes [l] from the sixth book of Clement of Alexandria's lost work "The Institutions," where Clement writes: "Peter and James and John, after the ascension of our Saviour, though they had been preferred by the Lord, did not contend for the honour, but chose James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem"; and in the same book Clement adds: "The Lord imparted the gnosis to James the Just, to John and Peter, after his resurrection, these delivered it to the rest of the Apostles, and they to the Seventy," 

It seems probable from the first of these passages that James the Disciple and James the Just were quite different persons. It is also to be remarked that in the second paragraph James the Just is apparently preferred to Peter and John, while the Peter, James and John of the first paragraph are of another elections The Gnosis for Clement was the inner teaching of the Master, given, as we see, after the "resurrection," that is to say, when the Master returned to them after the death of His physical body, James the Just then, was one who, because of his strict training, was able to receive this Gnosis psychically and spiritually.

In the remarkable passage in which Paul recounts the Epiphanies of the Master, after he had departed from the body, in precisely the same terms as those h»e uses in describing his own vision this James is specially 

[1] "Hist. Eccles.,11 ii. 1. 


mentioned as one who had enjoyed this high privilege. The familiar passage runs: 

"He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve; afterwards he appeared to above five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, then to all the other Apostles, and last of all, as to 'the Abortion,' he appeared to me also."[1] 

It is here to be noticed that Paul speaks of James and the other Apostles of the time as being known, if not personally, at any rate by reputation, to his correspondents. He also says that most of the five hundred brothers were still alive; but why he should make this remark if the "Cephas" and the "Twelve" were also still alive it is difficult to understand. Can it be that that "Cephas" and that "Twelve" were of a past generation; while the Cephas who was known to Paul, and whom he withstood to the face, was the Cephas of a later "Twelve"? 

However this may be, the James known to Paul, James the Righteous, had had, according to Paul, direct experience of the spiritual presence of the Master, while, according to Clement, he had been one of the chief means of communicating the inner teaching of the Master to the Twelve of his day, this James not being one of the original Twelve according to canonical tradition, and that this Twelve further communicated the Gnosis to the Seventy or outer circle of the inner Twelve. James thus seems to have been one of the

[1] Corinth, xv. 5-8. For an explanation of the otherwise inexplicable term "The Abortion," see my article, "Some Notes on the Gnostics," in "The Nineteenth Century and After," Nov. 1902.


Three order, the Twelve or the Seventy (? Seventy-two) being lower grades. 

But this James the Righteous is farther distinguished by the title "Brother of the Lord." If this epithet is to be taken in its literal sense, we are involved in a host of difficulties, as may be seen by turning to any recent Bible dictionary.[1] Moreover, with the passage of Hegesippus before us, if we are not prepared to abandon it entirely as some have done, we should have to ask: If James was a vowed ascetic from his mother's womb, are we to think that it could have been otherwise with his traditional brother Jesus? And this difficulty is only removed one stage by supposing that James was a cousin of Jesus, a hypothesis, moreover, contradicted by all the canonical data, and only a desperate resort to preserve the dogma of the perpetual Virginity of Mary. Further, if this ascetic and spiritual James was the blood brother of Jesus, why did he not believe on Jesus, as the canonical Gospel account tells us, till after the "resurrection," when, according to Paul, he experienced his vision of the Christ? 

There is, however, a scrap of information dropped by Paul in his first letter to the community at Corinth,[2] which may throw a gleam of light .on this obscure question, and relieve us of some of our difficulties. In his first letter to the Corinth thiasos of Christians, or whatever they were called in those days, the unofficial Apostle who practically by his unrestrained propaganda threw open the Christ mystery to the 

[1] See articles "James "and "Brethren of the Lord "in Hastings' "Dictionary of the Bible" and Cheyne's "Encyclopedia Biblica." 

[2] I. Corinth, ix. 5. 


Western world, for its helping and its mystification, asks a strange question: 

"Have we not," says Paul, "power (or authority) to lead about a sister wife (adelfhn gunaika) as well as the rest of the Apostles and the Brothers of the Lord and Cephas?" 

What this leading about of a "sister wife" may mean I do not pretend to say, and must refer the curious reader to the Acta of Paul and Thecla for how later generations explained it; but we have here "Apostles" as one recognised official class and "Brothers of the Lord" as another, and for all we know "Cephas" may have held an office which constituted a third class. It is difficult to believe that, all these took about with them a "sister wife" when we know the rigid asceticism of many of the early communities; but be this as it may, and be the "Cephas" a title or the Gospel Simon Peter, the "Brothers of the Lord" can hardly be taken here to mean the blood-brothers of Jesus. Surely this was a title applying to those who were "kin to Him" (the Logos), as the MS. of the Gnostic Marcus, quoted by Irenaeus,[1] has it, those whose "greatnesses," whose angels, contemplate His face perpetually. 

If this can in any way be so, the title "Brother of the Lord" as applied to James has a new meaning for us, and many obscurities created by the historicizing Gospel narratives of Post-Pauline days may be cleared away, and the saying that "he who doeth the will of God is my brother" be found to have not been forgotten in the early days.

As for the interpolated qualifying phrase "the brother 

[1] "Adv. Haer.," I. xiv. 1.


of Jesus called the Christ" referring to a certain James mentioned by Josephus,[1] we have already dealt with it in the chapter on "The Earliest External Evidence to the received Date of Jesus." 

There remains only to refer to the title Olbias, which Hegesippus says means "defence of the people." The authorities I have consulted say nothing about this name, and I am unable to make anything out of it philologically, and, indeed, Hegesippus seems to have been in the same case, for it certainly cannot mean both "defence of the people" and "righteousness," as he says. Olbias, however, reminds us strongly of Alphaios (Alphaeus); and James of Alphaeus, of whom the canonical tradition preserves little but the name, together with James, son of Zebedee, complete the list of the three Jameses which are such a puzzle even to the most laborious scholarship. 

We now have to ask: Can this Jacob the Righteous, Jacob the Episcopus of the Jerusalem community, who is supposed to have been put to death in 67 A.D., be in any way identified with Jacob of Kephar Sechania of the Talmud? It is impossible to give a decided answer to this question, for while one tradition of the Talmud would favour this identification, another tradition would render it impossible. But Talmudic tradition is notoriously indifferent to dates, and presumably selected the name Jacob simply because it was the name of one held in high honour by the Christians. The account of Josephus and the strong Hebrew colouring of the story of Hegesippus, moreover, make it appear exceedingly probable that Jacob the Righteous was well known to 

[1] "Antiqq.," xx. ix. 1. 


the Jews. It is therefore probable that in this vague fashion there is some connection between our two Jacobs. 

We now pass on to a strange story in which a Christian "philosopher" is turned into ridicule in appropriate Rabbinical fashion. 
"Imma Shalom, the wife of R. Eliezer and sister of Rab ban Gamaliel, had a philosopher as a neighbour, who had the reputation of taking no bribe. They wished to render him ridiculous. Imma accordingly brought him a golden candle-stick, presented herself before him and said: 'I should like to have a share in the property of my family.' The philosopher answered her: 'Then have thy share!' But Gamaliel said to him : 'We have the law: where there is a son, the daughter shall inherit naught.' The philosopher said: 'Since the day when ye were driven out of your country, the Law of Moses is repealed and there is given the Gospel, in which it is said: Son and daughter shall inherit together.' 

"On the next day Gamaliel brought the philosopher a Libyan ass. Then the philosopher said to them: ' I, the Gospel, am not come to do away with the Law of Moses, but to add to the Law of Moses am I come. It is written in the Law of Moses: Where there is a son, the daughter shall not inherit.' Then Imma said to him: ' Nevertheless may thy light shine like the candlestick.' But Rab ban Gamaliel said: 'The ass is come and has overturned the candle-stick.'" [1] 

Imma Shalom, or Aima Salome, was sister of the Patriarch R. Gamaliel II., and wife of Eliezer the Great, who is curiously enough supposed elsewhere to have 

[1] "Bab. Shabbath," 116 a and b. 


had a leaning to Christianity. The word for Gospel is the Hebrew transliteration of Evangelion. 

In the first place it is to be observed that according to our philosopher the year 70 A.D. ("since the day when ye were driven out of your country "), the date of the fall of Jerusalem, marked a period of the strongest possible differentiation between the Jew and Christian. It was this crushing blow to the national hopes, far more than the propaganda of Paul, which aided the spread of Christian and non-particularist ideas. 

The main point, however, which interests us is the question of the quotations put into the mouth of the philosopher. The intention of the Rabbis appears to have been to show the inconsistency of the Christian position. You contend, said the Rabbis to those whom they regarded as trespassers on their sacred property, that the Gospel has not come to put an end to the Law, but only to complete it; but whatever you may say, it is practically making the Law as we have ever known it of none effect in your communities. 

It is true that Christian tradition has preserved no trace of any saying to the effect that son and daughter should inherit together; but, if we are to take the Acts narrative as giving back a correct picture of what the author conceived the first communities to have been, as the early Christian had all things in common and gave their all to the common fund, this would practically amount to setting aside the Law as the Rabbis understood it, for it was an entire upsetting of the whole social organisation of Jewry. 

But what is most curious is the wording: "I, the Gospel, am not come to do away with the Law of 


Moses." This saying is preserved in our present canonical text by the writer of the first Gospel from his second main source as: "Think not that I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets; I came not to destroy, but to complete."[1] This saying, as the teller of our Talmud story will have it, the philosopher found at the end of his Gospel, meaning by this evidently a book. If there were nothing more to be said, we might dismiss the story as devoid of all historical basis, and consider it solely as a Haggada devised to preserve a controversial point. But the curious personification of the Gospel in the second quotation reminds us of an equally strange personification found in the tradition of the Gnostic Basilides at the beginning of the second century. For Basilides the Gospel was a living entity, a "Person" by whom the whole soteriology of his system was engineered. Can it therefore be possible that in one of the many traditions of the early days there was a document where the "Gospel," the personified Glad-tidings, was substituted for the teacher, or even stood so originally among circles where the message was thought more of than the messenger? Moreover we have similar personifications in Gnostic tradition; for instance, in the MS. of Marcus (who flourished a generation later than Basilides), to which we have already referred, the Tetras, Quaternatio or Quaternitas, the "Colarbasic" Silence,[2] is the inspiring intelligence of the Gnosis. 

[1] Matt. 

[2] Irenaeus, "Adv. Haer.,” I. xjv. 1. This "*Colarbasic" Silence, of which Marcus said he was the "receptacle," was a great puzzle to the worthy Church Fathers in their heresy-hunting, so much so that they eventually made of it a heresy derived from an arch- 

[footnote continued on p. 234]

heretic of their own imagination called Colarbasus. As a matter of fact, Cholarbu in Hebrew means simply "All-four," that is, the divine Tetrad or Tetractys. 


Of course the personification of the Gospel in our Talmud sentence may be sufficiently accounted for as a natural creation of the vivid oriental imagination, but we should hardly expect it from the side of the Rabbis in this connection, and, as a matter of fact, it is found in Christian tradition. 

Another point of great interest is that the Christian in this story is styled a "philosopher," and was therefore regarded as a learned man. 
We have now exhausted all the Talmud passages collected by Dalman, and will next turn to a few additional ones found in the far shorter collection, or rather selection, of Levene,[1] who takes Minim in all the following passages to mean Jewish Christians. 
I have arranged these passages as far as I can according to their chronological indications, and the first of them runs as follows: 
"Rabban Gamaliel, whilst presiding at the academical Sanhedrin, said to the sages: Is there any one present who is able to compose a blessing [? curse] for Minim? Then Samuel the Little came forward and composed it: 

" To the apostates let there be no hope; then shall all the wickedness perish in a moment, and all Thine enemies speedily shall be cut off, and the kingdom of pride Thou shalt uproot speedily, and break and cast 

[1] It must, however, he stated that Levene does not translate literally; he frequently shortens and paraphrases, as may be seen by comparison of his translation of the passages he gives in common with Dalman or Laible. 


down, and humble it speedily in our day. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, breaker of the enemy, and humbler of the proud." 

Rabbi Samuel the Little belonged to the first generation of Tanaim and flourished about 90-130 A.D.; E. Gamaliel II. flourished about 90-110 A.D. 

"At the death of Joshua Ben Chanania the Rabbis cried out: Who will now defend our cause against the Minim?"[2] 

R. Joshua Ben Chanania was one of the most famous Rabbis of Israel and flourished about 70-130 A.D. It is remarkable that in the Talmud tradition he is often found in controversy with R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, and this confirms the sense of our passage that he was regarded as one of the greatest champions of Jewish orthodoxy, for, as we have seen, Eliezer was suspected of sympathy with Christian views. 

" The Tanaic Rabbis have taught: When Rabbis Eliezer Ben Pardo and Chanena ben Teradion were seized on the charge of being Christians [minoth], Rabbi Eliezer said to Chanena ben Teradion: Happy be thou, O Chanena, for thou hast been seized on one charge, but woe to me that I have been seized for five offences. But Rabbi Chanena answered: Happy be thou, O Eliezer, for thou hast been seized on five charges and hast escaped[3]; but woe to me that I have been charged with one offence, and have not escaped. Thou hast been engaged in the study of the Law and in charity, whilst I engaged only in the study of the Law —therefore punishment has overtaken me."[4] 

[1] "Berachoth," 29a. 

[2] "Bab. Chagiga," 5a. 

[3] Levene adds: "from Christian influence." 

[4] "Aboda Zara," 16b. 


Eleazar ben Perata and Chanania (not Chanina) ben Teradion flourished about 100-135; the latter was one of the "ten martyrs" who lost their lives in the Bar Kochba rebellion. The story is somewhat curious, even from a Jewish point of view, for Ben Teradion was above all others specially noted for his charity.[1] 
"A certain Min asked Rabbi Chanena: Now that your temple is burnt, you cannot cleanse yourselves from your ceremonial defilement; you are, therefore, unclean, for it is written [Lam. i. 9]: ' Her filthiness abides in her skirts.' But Rabbi Chanena answered: Come and see what is written concerning them [the Jews]: ' Who remaineth among them in the midst of defilement' [Lam. xvi. 16].[2] 
This R. Chanena is probably intended for Chanania ben Teradion, a Palestinian Rabbi who, as we have seen, flourished about 100-135 A.D. 

"The books of the Minim [3] are not to be kept from the fire on the Sabbath, but must be consumed on the spot with the names of God contained therein. 

"Rabbi Joses said: On a week day let the names of God be cut out and hidden away, and the remainder burnt. Rabbi Tarphon declared: May I be deprived of my children if I do not burn them with the names of God! 

"If a man be pursued to death by a robber, or by a serpent, let him fly for refuge into a heathen temple 

[1] See Hamburger, "Real-Encyclopädie des Judenthums," "Talmud und Midrash," ii. 132, sub voce

[2] "Yoma," 57a. Levene adds : "That is to say, even when Israel is defiled the Shekinah dwells among them." 

[3] Levene adds : "the Gospels of the Christians." 


rather than into the house of a Min; for idolaters sin unwittingly, but the Minim do so deliberately. 

"Rabbi Ishmael said: If in order to make peace between husband and wife, the Law allows the name of God to be 'blotted out,' [1] how much more shall the books of these men be destroyed who stir up enmity and angry feeling between Israel and their Father who is in heaven. To them the words of David may be applied: ' Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? Am I not grieved with those who rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred, I reckon them my enemies.'"[2] 

Here we see that not even the strict observance of the Sabbath was to stand in the way of the instant destruction of the Siphre Minim; nay, the terrible profanity of destroying the names of God which were thought to give the material on which they were inscribed a special and inviolable sanctity, was set on one side, and this not only on the Sabbath, when the cutting of them out might be held to entail "work," but, according to R. Tarphon, even on week days. 
B. Jose (ben Chalaphtha) belonged to the third generation of Tanaim, and flourished about 130-160 A.D.; he was a great enemy of mysticism. R. Tarphon belonged to the preceding generation, 90-130 A.D.; he was a fierce opponent of Christianity, as indeed our passage shows. R. Ishmael ben Elisha was a contemporary of R. Tarphon and R. Akiba. 

It is to be noticed, however, that Friedlander, in his 

[1] Levene comments : "to be placed in the bitter waters "

[2] "Shabbath," 116a. 


"Vorbemerkung," makes the opening words of this passage, which he gives as "the Giljonim and books of the Minim," the basis of his interesting essay on pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism.[1] He denies that the Gilionim are the Gospels of the Christians, and that the Minim of the oldest Talmud tradition are Christians. He tells us that in Galicia, where old-fashioned Talmudism is still to be found in its most conservative form, the traditional interpretation of Min is that "Min is an Apikores," that is, an Epicuraean, a sceptic, an atheist, a "philosopher who despises God and his Law." His own theory is that by Min is meant, at any rate in the earlier deposits of the Talmud, "an antinomistic Gnostic," that is, presumably a Gnostic who set aside the traditional Jewish view, and contended that the Yahweh of the Jews was at best a secondary God. Friedländer is well worth reading, but a consideration of his arguments would necessitate more space than the treatment of our present subject will permit. The question of a pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism, however, is one of the points of the greatest importance in a consideration of Christian origins.[2] 
Weinstein has also quite recently returned to the subject[3] and further developed his contention in his essay 

[1] Friedländer (M.), "Der vorchristliche jüdische Gnosticismus" (Gottingen; 1898). 

[2] See also "Die jüdische Gnosis und die platonisch-pythagoraischen Anschauungen der palästinischen Lehrer," in M. Joël's "Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des zweiten christlichen Jahrhunderts "(Breslau; 1880), i. 114-170.

[3] Weinstein (N. I.), "Zur Genesis der Agada: Beitrag zur Entstehungs und Entwickelungs-Geschichte des talmudisehen Schriftthums" (Gottingen; 1901), Theilll. "Die alexandrinische Agada," "Die Minim," pp. 91-156. 


on the Essenes,[1] that by Minim in the Talmud we are nowhere to understand Jewish Christians, but that the chief characteristic of Minism from pre-Christian times is always polytheism; in brief, all non-monotheism without distinction was Minism, and that, too, not in the sense of idolatry but for the most part under such high forms of belief as the Logos-theory. 

Much work, however, remains to be done by such Talmud specialists as Joël, Friedländer, Weinstein and their co-labourers before we are quite sure of the exact value of this very general term, and first of all we require a complete list of Talmud passages where the term occurs; meantime we return to the passages which Levene considers to refer specially to the Christians. 

"A man must not carry or take from the Minim, he must not intermarry with them, and must not accept their cures for disease."[2] 

Then follows the story of Ben Dama's being bitten by a snake, with which we have already dealt. 

"The post-Mishraic Rabbis have taught: An animal, if slaughtered, even according to the Jewish rites, by a Min, is like an animal offered to idols. His (the Min's) bread is like the bread of a Cuthite (Samaritan) and his wine like that offered to idols. The books of the Law, the Profits and the Hagiographa which have been written by him, are like the books of magicians.”[2]

Here we have a Min who observes all the Jewish legal prescriptions as to food, and yet falls under the utmost displeasure of the Rabbis. His food and his copies of the Scriptures, even of the Torah, are

[1] "Beiträge zur Geschichte der Essäer (Wien; 1892).

[2] "Aboda Zara,” 27b.

[3] "Chullin,” 13a.


polluted and contaminate as do food offered to idols and books of sorcerers. This Min then must have been regarded as doctrinally and therefore spiritually impure; but there were evidently also Minim who did not observe the Jewish prescriptions, otherwise the sentence "even according to the Jewish rites "[1] would be meaningless. This passage accordingly seems as though it would somewhat upset Weinstein's theory. The post-Mishnaic Rabbis may be dated from the third century onwards. 

"Mark Ukvah said: The voice of two daughters who cry from Gehenna are they who exclaim, ' Give, give!' —in this world, namely Roman tax-collectors and Minim.[2] None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the path of life. A speedy death awaits those who return to Judaism from Christianity [? minoth], for they expire from remorse."[3] 

Mar Ukbah was in all probability Chief of the Exile, or Prince of the Captivity, in Babylonia about 210-240 A.D. 

"Rav Nachman said: We hold that a roll of the Law that has been written by a Min shall be committed to the flames; if by a Gentile, let it be concealed; if found in the possession of a Min, and it cannot be ascertained whether he has transcribed it, let it be concealed; if found in the possession of a Gentile, some say let it likewise be concealed, others, that it may be used for reading."[4] 

[1] If it stands so literally in the original

[2] Levene translates "Christians" and adds, "The former shouts, ‘Give taxes'; the latter, 'Give converts.'" 

[3] Levene gives no reference to this saying. 

[4] "Gittin," 45b. 


Rabbi Nachman was rector of the school at Nehardea in Babylonia, and lived 245-320 A.D. A Min was then presumably a born Jew; whether or not proselytes were included is uncertain. 

"Rabbi Abahu said: The Shema[1] was commanded to be repeated in a loud voice on account of the troubles caused by the Minim, but at Nehardea in Babylon, where there are no Minim, they repeat the Shema to-day in a low voice." [2] 

R. Abbahu belonged to the third generation of the Palestinian Amoraim, and flourished 279-320 A.D. He was a great opponent of all Minim, and especially of Christians, as we have already seen above. 

"Rav Saiseth, who was totally blind, ordered his servant to place him in any other but the eastward ward direction when he wished to pray, because the Minim did so."[3]

R. Shesheth belonged to the third generation of Babylonian Amoraim, and flourished about 300-330 A.D. It is difficult to believe that all Minim turned to the east in prayer; but we know that the Essenes and the Therapeuts did so. Was this a general custom of the early Christians also? 

We have now come to the end of Levene's quotations, but we are quite certain that the subject is by no means exhausted, as a glance at the Talmud passages cited by the authorities we have already referred to, or at the lives of the most renowned Rabbis as given in Hamburger's "Real - Encyclopädie," will show, 

[1] The prayer beginning "Hear, O Israel.”

[2] "Pessachim,” 56a.

[3] "Baba Bathra,"25a. 


It is a matter of capital importance for students of Christian origins that without delay the Talmud should be minutely scrutinized from the first to the last page, so as to unearth every scrap of information bearing directly or indirectly on the many phases of early Christianity, but this is a task that none but the most competent Talmud specialists, who are also exceedingly well read in all the latest research into the puzzling chaos of the early schools and "heresies" with which Christianity was inextricably mingled in the first centuries, can hope to achieve with any measure of success. 
We next pass on to a consideration of such of the contents of the Toldoth Jeschu as bear in any way upon our enquiry; but first of all we must inform ourselves concerning the history of these strange Toldoth.

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