Simeon b. Azzai finds a Genealogy

This brief passage is the only presumed reference to Jesus in the Mishna. That it refers to Jesus depends on the supposition that peloni, 'so and so,' is a veiled reference to Jesus. There is reasonable evidence that in later Talmudic literature this is often, perhaps exclusively, the case. It is problematic in this case, though. In the later literature the Rabbinic authors may have had good reason to be careful about overt negative references to Jesus, but no such constraint hindered the compilers of the Mishna. There is, of course, the possibility that the text was originally explicit, and that peloni was substituted for yeshu when it became politically expedient. It seems more likely however that the referent was someone with more political clout on whom the Rabbis take a subtle delight in finding 'dirt'. See Goldstein for a fuller discussion.

B. Yebamoth 49a, M. Yebamoth 4.13
Translation, quoted from Mead.

Simeon ben Azzai has said: I found in Jerusalem a book of genealogies; therein was written: That so and so is a bastard son of a married woman.


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Prepared by Alan Humm
Last Modified March 14, 1996