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I came here searching for a question regarding ancient Jewish rabbis view regarding Jesus. Are there any Jewish sources or authoritative ancient texts that show that Jesus never claimed divinity (saying "I am God") but rather only claimed to be messiah, or not even that?

Update :

As the question has migrated to history from Judaism i would like to re formulate my question for History.SE as follows:

What are the historical accounts preserved and authenticated which indicate Jesus's Claims about himself and not what others think or ascribe to Jesus.

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migrated from judaism.stackexchange.com Feb 8 '13 at 19:35

This question came from our site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more.

You've basically jinxed your own question by preloading it with a bunch of conditionals that preclude quality answers. In order for ancient texts to be authoritative, they usually need to be undisputed or at least have good attestation. In this case, the majority (and most credible) of the historical evidence contradicts your premise, so what you are really looking for is minority sources. Almost anything you get will be dubious. Answering this question with "none of texts X/Y/Z say anything of the kind" is only going to improve the case for the texts that DO cover the issue. Like the Bible. –  Caleb Feb 9 '13 at 9:30
@caleb I think that has something to do with the question was originally asked in judaism.se then migrated here. Feel free to improve it so that it fits our SE –  Louis Rhys Feb 9 '13 at 9:54
@Caleb there was no assumptions \ premise on my part its just a sincere question , if you feel you have the answer then please answer it in a format and criteria history.SE accepts. I had not at all intended to ask this question in history.SE and i expected answers only from Jewish sources. –  hist Feb 9 '13 at 14:08
@Ali: Saying you make no assumptions and have no premises doesn't help your case. Everybody does, and it's much better to recognize them than to ignore them. Among other things, you've brought your believe that the four authors of the NT gospel accounts of Jesus life are not authoritative ancient texts that have a valid voice in describing Jesus statements and the reactions of Jewish Rabbis. Secondly you've made this question about proving a specific position without without engaging the evidence for the opposite position. –  Caleb Feb 9 '13 at 14:24

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The historical Jesus is completely irrelevant to Judaism or Jewish life or history. (As contrasted with Christianity, which has had a very big impact on the most recent two millennia of Jewish history.)

There are Jewish texts in the Talmud that refer to someone named something like “Jesus”, but it is not clear whether they refer to differing traditions about the historical figure (Toledot Yeshu follows this view), whether they refer to someone else (see Rabbi Gil Student’s essay on the subject here), or whether they were intended as anti-Christian polemic.

(I came across an article quoting scholars who made this last claim, but don’t recall where.)

In none of these texts is mention made of Jesus’ claim to be a messiah, nor any sort of divine figure.

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Are Jewish texts in the Talmud considered historical evidence? I'm asking out of curiosity because you mention the historical Jesus, and for what I know in the analog Christian case texts in the Bible are not normally considered such. For what I know historical evidence about Jesus is mainly confined to Josephus' account. –  Drux Feb 8 '13 at 20:19
@Drux: I’d originally written the answer for ✡.SE (where the question originated), then adapted it as best I could for this site. The question as asked does not ask about evidence for what the historical Jesus did or didn’t say, but what “Jewish sources or authoritative ancient texts” record. The Talmud is such a source, but I included caveats regarding the historical usefulness of its stories about Jesus. It’s possible that this question, as currently written, is not a good fit for this site either; if the question is changed, I’ll try to adapt my answer. –  J. C. Salomon Feb 8 '13 at 20:40
I agree and did not want to criticize your response. So I take it from your comment that texts in the Talmud and texts in the Bible have a similar status relative to "historical evidence" when considered from outside the contexts of their respective religions. –  Drux Feb 8 '13 at 20:46
...even if you were drug in here unwillingly. :-) –  T.E.D. Feb 9 '13 at 2:25
@Vector, not necessarily; it’s quite possible to undermine someone’s story without making explicit reference to his claim. The scholarly view that the Talmudic “Yeshu” passages are anti-Christian polemic take that view: that the stories present derogatory details about “Yeshu” which (in passing) undermine any claims to his being a messiah—but without directly addressing such claims. –  J. C. Salomon Sep 17 '13 at 20:45

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