Philobiblon: An alternative Christmas story

Thursday, December 23, 2004

An alternative Christmas story

Hat-tip to Laputan Logic, I've just explored a fascinating collection of biblically related material, including an early anti-Christian Jewish acount of the life of Jesus, the Toledoth Yeshu, in a version dated to the 6th century:

"In the year 3671[1] in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of Judah, whose name was Joseph Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah.

Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yohanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in the Torah and God-fearing.

At the close of a certain Sabbath, Joseph Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yohanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will.

Thereafter, when Yohanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Joseph Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam. Whereupon Yohanan went to Rabban Shimeon ben Shetah and related to him the tragic seduction. Lacking witnesses required for the punishment of Joseph Pandera, and Miriam being with child, Yohanan left for Babylonia. ...

Interesting how forms of slander - such as accusations of bastardy - haven't changed much over the years, although it does make Mary virtuous - I wonder why?

This from an University of Pennsylvania grad student's lovely collection of material, including images of the temptation of Adam and Eve and a collection of resources on Lilith, which takes me back into the Gnostics, on whom I have posted before here and here. It also led me to the Gnosis Archive, which has many original sources.


Blogger Ronnie Smartt said...

I am not sure what you mean by "early", but no matter. For some time now you have interested me, educated me and amused me by the breadth of your topics and the wit of your comments. Thank you. I wish you joy now in this season when some of us still celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour. I look forward to reading more from you.

12/23/2004 10:43:00 pm  

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