Essay on Jewish Perceptions of Jesus Christ

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Jewish Perceptions of Jesus Christ

Christianity and Judaism are major world religions which, though they worship the same God, have marked differences which have caused two thousand years of strife and animosity between the two religions. In his book We Jews and Jesus, Samuel Sandmel likens the link between Judaism and Christianity to a type of parent-child relationship, saying, “Early Christianity was a Judaism; within a century after the death of Jesus it was a separate religion. It was critical of its parent, and hostile to it, and elicited from its parent reciprocal criticism and hostility.”1 Opposing views of Jesus Christ caused the initial rift between Judaism and Christianity and is the primary source of the tension between
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According to the Talmud, Jesus was actually an illegitimate child. In a passage narrated in the Tract Kallah, 1b (18b), Rabbi Akibah says to Mary, “Tell me, what kind of son is this of yours?” to which Mary responds, “The day I was married I was having menstruation, and because of this my husband left me. But an evil spirit came and slept with me and from this intercourse my son was born to me.”3 The Talmud (the Babylonian Talmud in particular) refers to Jesus as “Son of Stada/Satda” and “Son of Pandera” ; these titles are not used clearly, but it is evident that both are used in reference to Jesus, and scholars have inferred their probable meanings. Sanhedrin 67a states that “The son of Stada was son of Pandera. Rab Chisa said: The husband was Stada, the lover Pandera. . . his mother was Miriam, the women’s hairdresser; as they would say. . . S’tath da to her husband”; S’tath da means “she was unfaithful” or “she proved faithless,” and is obviously used in reference to Mary’s lack of faithfulness to her husband.4 According to this passage, Stada was Jesus’ legal father (Mary’s husband), and Pandera was his biological father, Mary’s alleged lover. Stada is also used as a nickname for Mary, again, in reference to her alleged infidelity. According to Jewish

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