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Bad Names for Jesus

(Before you continue, I recommend that you read this article in its proper context - the wicked persecution of the Jews by the state Church. For a grip on this read the previous article - The Rabbis hit back!)

The story is told in the Talmud,

"Rabban Gamaliel said to the sages, "Is there anyone who knows how to compose a 'Blessing' about the heretics?" Samuel the Small stood up and composed it. The following year he forgot it, and tried to recall it for two and even three hours, yet they still did not call him down from the pulpit. Why did they not call him down? Because Rab Judah cited Rab as saying, that "If a man makes a mistake in any of the daily 'Blessings', they do not call him down. But if he makes a mistake in the Blessing against the heretics, they do call him down." [This is because] they then suspect him of being a heretic. But if was different in the case of Samuel the Small, because he had composed it, and it was thought that maybe he could remember [if he had enough time]".

Yes, it is hard going but the gist of it is that Rabbi Gamaliel II, the grandson of the Gamaliel who taught Paul, was eager for someone to compose a prayer against those who professed Christianity. Samuel the Small stepped forwards and obliged. This had to be the parting of the ways, as no Jewish believer in Jesus, considered slanderers at that time, would recite the prayer:

"May the slanderers have no hope; and may all wickedness perish in an instant; and may all of our enemies be cut down speedily. May you speedily uproot, smash, cast down and humble the arrogant sinners - speedily in our days. Blessed are You, O Lord, who breaks enemies and humbles arrogant sinners.'"

Jewish Christians were even known as minim, heretics, by their estranged brethren. Other names given to them by Jewish religious leaders include apikoresim (heretics) or meshummadin (apostates) but it was the names given to Jesus himself that really raised the ante.

The names given presented Jesus in an immoral light, as illegitimate (though one can see where that one came from), as self-centred, as an idolater and a blasphemer. The Talmud referred to him as Yeshu, that may seem an affectionate shortening of his Hebrew name, Yeshua, but, in fact, was an acronym for the Hebrew expression yemach shemo vezichro, which means, "may his name and memory be obliterated". In many places the full name used is Yeshu HaNotzri, the second word meaning "the Nazarene". Interestingly the Catholics ordered the Rabbis to remove the name from the Talmud, which is why it is only found in ancient versions of the Jewish writings.

There is another variation of this name in the ancient writings, Yeshu ben Pandera, "Yeshu son of Pandera". Pandera was meant to be the name of Mary's lover, a carnal dig at the Virgin Birth. A curious embellishment is the insistence that Mary was a women's hairdresser, though this is likely to be a mistranslation, a literary variation of Chinese whispers. Pandera, sometimes called Stada as a nickname, was thought to be a Roman soldier. This whole scenario reeks of spitefulness, as if the fabricator intended to present the most shameful and disrespectful situation he could think of. It's for this very reason that sets the seal of falsehood over the matter and it is hard to believe that anyone actually believed in these lies.

In all, over twenty different "nicknames" for Jesus appear in Jewish writing. One of these is "otho ha'ish", or "that man", or "that certain person" or "so-and-so". None of these names is endearing, all are a reaction to what was being done to the Jewish communities throughout the known World, at the hands of those who professed to follow "that man". The most popular theme plays on the fact of his illegitimate birth, a mamzer, as we can see from the following:

"Rabbi Shimon ben Azai said, 'I have found a roll of pedigrees in Jerusalem, and therin is written, A certain person is of spurious birth; to confirm the words of Rabbi Yehoshua.'"

"A certain person", as mentioned above, is one of the oblique names for Jesus in the Talmud and the reference to his spurious birth is a reference to his parentage. According to the Talmud, one who was born out of wedlock (as it seemed with Jesus), is condemned to a judicial death, so his fate would have been sealed long before his ministry got started.

Steve Maltz
January 2013 (This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Jesus Man of Many Names)

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