Posts Tagged ‘Otzar HaMidrashim’

Jesus Sources Outside the New Testament 2: Otzar HaMidrashim

August 23, 2009

The Jewish word for Bible commentary is Midrash.
A revealing Midrash on Exodus 25:10-13 is recorded in the book of
Otzar HaMidrashim (Vol. 2 page 557) which explains why the
Rabbis of Temple times were terrified of the original followers
of Jesus. According to the Midrash, they were a violent group
of political agitators. Here Jesus is portrayed as a political
terrorist and a man of violence.
The reason that this Midrash is so important is that
it sheds light on what is permitted and nonpermitted
zealotry. In the passage, Pinchas slays the prince Zimri
in a moment of national rebellion, and saves thousands of Jews
in the process. The Midrash itself points out that the case is
an exception to the rule, and condemns wanton violence.
What is significant here to the search for the
historical Jesus is that it points to Jesus as a model not
to emulate because of his violence. In Matthew 10:34, he says
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not
to send peace, but a sword.” In Luke 22:36, the savior gives
his disciples an interesting instruction: [Jesus] said to
[the disciples], “…and the one who has no sword must sell his
cloak and buy one.”
Why would the prince of peace order his disciples to buy swords?
Unless they had intention to use them in battle, little else
makes sense.
So much for the sermon on the Mount! In part 2, we will
examine how Jesus is portrayed in another religion’s holy writings.
The Mandaeans, the followers of John the Baptist, survive today and
have a very different view of Jesus and the baptism in the Jordan.
Stay tuned.