Jewish Studies

Toledot Yeshu (»The Life Story of Jesus«) Revisited

A Princeton Conference
Ed. by Peter Schäfer, Michael Meerson and Yaacov Deutsch

[Toledot Yeshu (»Die Lebensgeschichte Jesu«). Eine Konferenz in Princeton.]

114,00 €
including VAT
ISBN 978-3-16-150948-3
Also Available As:
Published in English.
Toledot Yeshu (»The Life Story of Jesus«) is a satirical Jewish counter-history, polemicizing against the life of Jesus as narrated in the New Testament. It ascribes to Jesus an illegitimate birth, a theft of the Ineffable Name of God, heretical activities, and, finally, a disgraceful death. These papers, held at a Princeton conference discuss the present state of research.
One of the most controversial books in history, Toledot Yeshu recounts the life story of Jesus from a negative and anti-Christian perspective. It ascribes to Jesus an illegitimate birth, a theft of the Ineffable Name of God, heretical activities, and, finally, a disgraceful death. Perhaps for centuries, the Toledot Yeshu circulated orally until it coalesced into various literary forms. Although the dates of these written compositions remain obscure, some early hints of a Jewish counter-history of Jesus can be found in the works of pagan and Christian authors of Late Antiquity, such as Celsus, Justin, and Tertullian. In the Middle Ages, the book became the object and tool of a most acrimonious controversy. Jews, Christians, and atheists – such as Ibn Shaprut, Luther, and Voltaire – quoted and commented on Toledot Yeshu, trying to disprove the beliefs of their opponents and revealing their own prejudices. Due to the offensive nature of the book, scholars have until recently paid little attention to Toledot Yeshu. In 2007, Peter Schäfer launched a project at Princeton University to prepare a scholarly edition with translation and commentary based on all the available manuscripts (about 150). Along with this project, Peter Schäfer, Michael Meerson, and Yaacov Deutsch organized an international conference, attended by the leading scholars of the subject, to discuss the present state of research. The conference contributions, published in this volume, mark a new stage in Toledot Yeshu research.
Survey of contents
Peter Schäfer: Introduction – Michael Sokoloff: The Date and Provenance of the Aramaic Toledot Yeshu on the Basis of Aramaic Dialectology – Peter Schäfer: Agobard's and Amulo's Toledot YeshuWilliam Horbury: The Strasbourg Text of the Toledot – Adina M. Yoffie: Observations on the Huldreich Manuscripts of the Toledot YeshuMichael Stanislawski: A Preliminary Study of a Yiddish »Life of Jesus« (Toledot Yeshu): JTS Ms. 2211 – Pierluigi Piovanelli: The Toledot Yeshu and Christian Apocryphal Literature: The Formative Years – Eli Yassif: Toledot Yeshu: Folk-Narrative as Polemics and Self Criticism – Philip Alexander: The Toledot Yeshu in the Context of Jewish-Muslim Debate – Sarit Kattan Gribetz: Hanged and Crucified: The Book of Esther and Toledot YeshuMichael Meerson: Meaningful Nonsense: A Study of Details in Toledot YeshuOra Limor and Israel Jacob Yuval: Judas Iscariot: Revealer of the Hidden Truth – John Gager: Simon Peter, Founder of Christianity or Saviour of Israel? – Galit Hasan-Rokem: Polymorphic Helena – Toledot Yeshu as a Palimpsest of Religious Narratives and Identities – Yaacov Deutsch: The Second Life of the Life of Jesus: Christian Reception of Toledot YeshuPaola Tartakoff: The Toledot Yeshu and Jewish-Christian Conflict in the Medieval Crown of Aragon.

Yaacov Deutsch Born 1966; PhD Hebrew University, Jerusalem; currently head of the history department at David Yellin College, Jerusalem, and adjunct lecturer at the Hebrew University.

Michael Meerson Born 1973; 2006 PhD Bar-Ilan University; since 2004 Senior Researcher at Princeton University, working on Sefer Hasidim and Toledot Yeshu.

Peter Schäfer Geboren 1943; 1968 Promotion; 1973 Habilitation; 1983–2008 Professor für Judaistik an der Freien Universität Berlin; 1998–2013 Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies und Professor of Religion an der Princeton University; 2014–2019 Direktor des Jüdischen Museums Berlin.


The following reviews are known:

In: Apocrypha — 27 (2016), S, 229–230 (Jean-Daniel Dubois)
In: Judaica — 2011, Heft 4, S. 423–424 (Lutz Greisiger)
In: Revue d'histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses — 92 (2012), S. 513–514 (Ch. Grappe)
In: Journal of Jewish Studies — 64 (2013), S. 403–409 (Daniel J. Lasker)
In: Salesianum — 74 (2012), S. 733–734 (Rafael Vicent)
In: Revue des Etudes Juives — 172 (2013), S. 230–233 (Jean-Pierre Rothschild)
In: Association Jewish Libraries Newsletter — May/June 2012, S. 40 (Daniel Scheide)
In: New Testament Abstracts — 56 (2012), S. 452
In: Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge — 38 (2013), S. 138–143 (Rebekka Voß)
In: Rey Desnudo — 1 (2012), S. 11–18 (Rodrigo Laham Cohen)
In: Revue Théologique de Louvain — 47 (2016), p. 596 (Didier Luciani)