Otzar HaMidrashim: Jesus Sources Outside the New Testament,Part 1

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 Mandaens, the followers of John the Baptist, survive today and

have a very different view of Jesus and the baptism in the Jordan. 

Stay tuned.