Friday, October 15, 2010
Fellowshipping with the Atheists in the Midianite Camp
On Tuesday night, my wife and I went to a Secular Humanist (Atheist) meeting (SHSNY) and saw a Richard Dawkins video. His position is that atheism is about science, facts, and rationality, while religion is about mindless faith. Therefore, religion is out-of-touch with reality.
I responded that while atheism also has their values and faith-commitments, Christianity’s faith is based upon evidence. I cited Jesus: “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does [miracles]” (John 10:37).
Of course, I was beat back with a predictable chorus of, “That’s a lot of myths and old wives tales.” Therefore, I cited the fact that even ancient Jewish sources acknowledge that Jesus performed miracles (although they add that He performed these by the power of Satan or evil magic).
Not to be outdone, they understandably demanded that I provide sources. So here is what I emailed them:
Here are some of the references I found:
"Jesus was a magician and a fool. Mary was an adulteress". (Shabbath 104b, p.504).
Sanhedrin 107B of the Babylonian Talmud: "Jesus... stood up a brick to symbolize an idol and bowed down to it. Jesus performed magic and incited the people of Israel and led them astray."
Sanhedrin 43A: "On Passover Eve they hanged Jesus of Nazareth. He practiced sorcery, incited and led Israel astray...Was Jesus of Nazareth deserving of a search for an argument in his favor? He was an enticer and the Torah says, 'You shall not spare, nor shall you conceal him!"
“The Avodat Zerah, however, says that Jesus did miracles as no other rabbi, that his disciples not only healed the sick but even raised the dead in His name, that after He was crucified He rose from the dead, and that He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. All of that is actually in the Talmud – even His enemies acknowledged the truth of what He did. This was written by rabbis who were trying to prevent other Jews from believing in Him; but they had to deal with the historicity of His miracles, of His disciples doing miracles, and not only of His crucifixion but also of His resurrection and ascension into heaven – the Talmud admits He did it!” http://www.moriel.org/articles/sermons/jesus_in_the_talmud.htm
MISHNAH.[104b] If one writes on his flesh, he is culpable; He who scratches a mark on his flesh. He who scratches a mark on his flesh, [etc.] It was taught, R. Eliezar said to the sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh? He was a fool, answered they, proof cannot be adduced from fools. [Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? - Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? - his mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? - It is as we said in Pumbeditha: This is one has been unfaithful to (lit., 'turned away from'- satath da) her husband.] (Shabbath 104b)
Celsus [150-170 AD] confirms that this is about Jesus:
"Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumors about the true and unsavory circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of Bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57).
“It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): 'He is going to be stoned, because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of Passover.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a)
About this time arose Jesus, a wise man, who did good deeds and whose virtues were recognized. And many Jews and people of other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. However, those who became his disciples preached his doctrine. They related that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Perhaps he was the Messiah in connection with whom the prophets foretold wonders. [Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XVIII 3.2]
According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, Jesus was often accused by the Talmudists of performing magic:
“It is the tendency of all these sources to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to him illegitimate birth, magic, and a shameful death …
Magic may have been ascribed him over against the miracles recorded in the Gospels …
The sojourn of Jesus in Egypt is an essential part of the story of his youth. According to the Gospels he was in that country in his early infancy, but Celsus says that he was in service there and learned magic …
According to Celsus (in Origen, “Contra Celsum,” i. 28) and to the Talmud (Shab. 104b), Jesus learned magic in Egypt and performed his miracles by means of it; the latter work, in addition, states that he cut the magic formulas into his skin. It does not mention, however, the nature of his magic performances (Tosef., Shab. xi. 4; Yer. Shab. 18d); but as it states that the disciples of Jesus healed the sick “in the name of Jesus Pandera” (Yer. Shab. 14d; Ab. Zarah 27b; Eccl. R. i. 8) it may be assumed that its author held the miracles of Jesus also to have been miraculous cures. Different in nature is the witchcraft attributed to Jesus in the “Toledot.” When Jesus was expelled from the circle of scholars, he is said to have returned secretly from Galilee to Jerusalem, where he inserted a parchment containing the “declared name of God” (“Shem ha-Meforash”), which was guarded in the Temple, into his skin, carried it away, and then, taking it out of his skin, he performed his miracles by its means. This magic formula then had to be recovered from him, and Judah the Gardener (a personage of the “Toledot” corresponding to Judas Iscariot) offered to do it; he and Jesus then engaged in an aerial battle (borrowed from the legend of SIMON MAGUS), in which Judah remained victor and Jesus fled.
The accusation of magic is frequently brought against Jesus. Jerome mentions it, quoting the Jews: “Magum vocant et Judaei Dominum meum” (“Ep. 1v., ad Ascellam,” i. 196, ed. Vallarsi); Marcus, of the sect of the Valentinians, was, according to Jerome, a native of Egypt, and was accused of being, like Jesus, a magician (Hilgenfeld, “Ketzergesch.” p. 870, Leipsic, 1884). The accusation of magic is frequently brought against Jesus … As Balaam the magician and, according to the derivation of his name, "destroyer of the people", was from both of these points of view a good prototype of Jesus, the latter was also called "Balaam" …
Jesus performed all his miracles by means of magic …”— The Jewish Encyclopedia (26)
It was nice to meet you Tuesday night. I hope I’ll be able to make it again sometime soon.