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Akiba: sage in search of the Messiah; a closer look.

As far back as 1972 I suggested that PRDS in the Tannaitic sources (in which four sages entered PRDS and only one came out "in peace") should be read PARADOS rather than PARDES, making it the Hebraized form of the Greek PARADOSIS, hence a probing (by the sages) of early Christianity.(1)

The traditional vocalization of the word is Pardes, from the Greek paradeisos,

meaning "garden," hence, the garden of speculative theosophy,

or esoteric philosophy.(2) My hypothesis is that there is a reference to Christianity

in this Baraita. Assuming that Ben Zoma's dereliction was his adoption

of Christianity, which the Rabbis sought to conceal, something

startling emerges from this passage. We can retain the consonants of the

word PRDS, but we must reconsider its vocalization, which had never

before been questioned by any Talmudic authorities. I propose that, instead

of Pardes it be read Parados, the Hebrew rendering in apocopated

form of the Greek word Paradosis, which was the term used extensively

by Christians, in the second century and thereafter, to apply to the authoritative

tradition or transmission of an authentic doctrine concerning

the life of Jesus and the early teachings of the Church, with special reference

to the materials which subsequently were incorporated into the

writings of the New Testament.(3) What the Baraita tells us is that the

four made a probing study of Christian origins and belief's.

There are four versions of PRDS: Tosefta Hagigah 2:3,4; B. (Babylonian Talmud or Bavli) Hagigah 14b; J. (Jerusalem Talmud or Yerushalmi) Hagigah 77d; and the Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 1:4;1. Of these, the versions of the Yerushalmi and Midrash Rabbah are inaccurate, confusing Ben Azzai and Ben Zoma. The version of the Bavli has Amoraic interpolations, corrupting the original text. From the standpoint of authenticity and literary style, the version of the Tosefta appears to be the simplest and the most accurate, the original source. It reads:

Four entered PRDS, Ben Azzai and Ben Zoma, Aher and R. Akiba. Ben

Azzai caught a glimpse and died. Concerning him Scripture says, "Precious

in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones (hasidim)"

(Ps. 116:15).(4) Ben Zonia caught a glimpse and was smitten. Concerning

him Scripture says, "If you have found honey eat only as much as you

need" (Prov. 25:16). Aher caught a glimpse and mutilated the plants.

Concerning him Scripture says, "Do not let your mouth cause your body

to sin" (Eccl. 5:5). R. Akiba entered in peace and emerged in peace. Concerning

him Scripture says, "Take me along! We would run after you!"

(Song of Songs 1:4).

In order to understand this Tannaitic passage it must be borne in mind that the proof-texts cited have a significant and direct bearing on the personalities to whom they are applied in this particular context. They are a fitting Scriptural depiction of what happened to these men as a consequence of their investigation of the paradosis. What prompted their probe of Christianity was a fervent search for liberation from Rome and the shackles which it imposed upon Judaea and its tyrannical treatment of the Jewish people. Rome's destruction of Jerusalem and burning of the Temple in 70 C.E. were especially painful and bitter. Versed in Scripture, these sages were looking for the Messianic deliverance divinely promised in the Bible. Christianity then, as now, claimed that the Messianic hope was fulfilled in Jesus. These four sages wanted to see for themselves if there was any validity to the Christian claim, hence their probe of the paradosis. How were they affected by this experience?

Ben Azzai, according to the text, "glimpsed and died." The prooftext tells us that he died a hasid, a faithful Jew who rejected the Christian claim. However, it is not quite that simple, and requires some elaboration. According to a Rabbinic opinion, one who has been a min, a Christian or other deviant from the Jewish faith, and returns to the fold, is regarded as though he had died and has been restored as a Jew.(5) Accordingly, Ben Azzai toyed with Christianity but was a ba'al t'shuvah, a penitent who died a loyal Jew.

Ben Zoma "glimpsed and was smitten," infected by the paradosis, and became a renegade from Judaism, a Judaeo-Christian. The prooftext is remarkably revealing. "If you have found honey, eat your fill ..." The Rabbinic twist of the verse makes it an affirmative statement rather than a question. What does honey have to do with Ben Zoma's defection? Everything! Christian writers of that era mention that an integral element in the ritual of the Christian baptism of converts, consisted of feeding them milk and honey either during or immediately after the baptismal rite.(6) The reference to honey in the proof-text points to Ben Zoma as a min, a Jewish Christian, and explains the meaning of his being "smitten."

As for Aher, Elisha b. Abuyah, "he mutilated the plants," that is, he sought to induce Jewish youths to stray from the Torah by arguing with them, as the Talmud explains.(7) The proof-text is appropriate: do not let your tongue (power of persuasion) lead your flesh (kin) into sin, as you are sinful with your pagan ideas.

R. Akiba entered in peace and emerged in peace, true to the Jewish faith and its teachings, unflinching in his love of God, his dedication to Torah, and his opposition to the Christian contention of Messianic fulfillment. Here, too, the proof-text is most appropriate. R. Akiba exalts the Songs of Songs as a serenade between God and Israel, declaring it to be the most sacred book of the Hagiographa.(8) The verse from the Song of Songs is cited as Israel's response to Christianity's attempt to subvert the Jewish people from their traditional religion. Israel favors the direction of R. Akiba towards God's promise of true Messianic redemption. "Take me along! We will run after you!" We will follow R. Akiba; we will remain faithful to the God of Israel!

The Tosefta version of PRDS is a remarkable literary document, amazing in its simple construction, powerful in its portrayal of personalities, and brilliant in its deployment of Scripture to convey descriptive depiction of delicate theological themes. It is an outstanding example of Tannaltic literary genius at its best.

The redactors of the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), several hundred years after the Tannaitic era, took liberties with the PRDS original, and made it look like a Merkabah (chariots) docunicnt related to the Hekhalot, (palaces), which focus on human ascensions through the celestial palaces to the vision of God's chariot or throne. (This mystical-magical literature was a product of the Babylonian Amoraim, the sages that followed the Tannaim, between the 3rd and 6th Centurics, C.E.). The ploy is an ingenious deception, which critical analysis reveals. After the opening statement, the Bavli inserts a caveat by Akiba to his colleagues: "When you come to the slabs of pure marble do not say, |Water, water,' for it is written, |He who speaks falsehood shall not endure before My eyes'" (Ps. 10 1:7).

Gershom Scholem(9) brilliantly expands on the Merkabah theme 1rom the Hekhalot literature with reference to this Baraita. He sees it as a test of the mystic's ascent through the sixth heaven, assuming that the caveat is an integral part of the Tannaitic statement. The caveat, however, is not found in any of the other versions of PRDS, and hence must be suspect. Meyer Waxman(10) suggested that the caveat is related to the confrontation between Ben Zoma and R. Joshua b. Hananiah, during which Ben Zoma mentions upper waters and lower waters,(11) which is also a brilliant observation. In any case, I contend that the caveat is an intrusion into, and a distortion of, the original version in the Tosefta.

The Bavli also deviates from the Tosefta by omitting the proof-texts for Aher and Akiba where they should be, delaying them to a later discussion,(12) thus fragmenting the Baraita into confusion and disarray. While it correctly quotes the Tosefta at the outset, "Rabbi Akiba yaza beshalom," "R. Akiba emerged in peace," it goes on to distort the original by asserting, "Rabbi Akiba alah beshalom veyarad beshalom," "R. Akiba ascended (sic!) in peace and descended (sic!) in peace," altering the text so as to make it conform to the Merkabah interpretation.

But hard as it tried, and much as it shrouded PRDS with legend, the Bavli could not completely conceal the truth. It fabricated the Merkabah legend of Aher's encounter with Metatron in heaven, in which he questions the authenticity of the Jewish traditions concerning the nature of heaven. Upon voicing his suspicions, Aher was denounced, was driven out of the heavenly world, and became an apostate. After that, the Bavli maintains that "when he would get up to leave the Bet Midrash (house of study), many sifre minim Christian books) would fall from his lap."(13) Then there is a startling revelation: "The ministering angels also sought to thrust R. Akiba out (as they had done to Aher), but the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, |Leave this elder alone, for he is worthy to avail himself of My glory.'" (italics mine)

To be sure, Akiba rejected Christianity and its Messianic claims, but the Rabbis knew that Akiba was not entirely unaffected by his PRDS experience, and that he was initially influenced by some Christian ideas. The Rabbinic tradition has left us some subtle clues to that effect.

Searching for the true Messiah who would liberate his people from the yoke of Rome, Akiba offered an interpretation of a passage in the book of Daniel in an eschatological context, which irked his colleagues. The verse is Dan. 7:9: "As I looked on, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat." The verse creates a theological problem in that the plural form, khorsavan, implies two Divine thrones.

As it was taught, one throne is for Him (God) and one throne is for David (the Messiah), these are the words of R. Akiba. R. Jose the Galilean said to him, Akiba, how long will you persist in profaning the Shekhinah (God)? Rather, one throne represents God's attribute of justice, and one throne represents God's attribute of righteousness ... R. Eleazar b. Azariah said to him, Akiba, what business do you have with Aggadah (theology)? Desist from your discussion and go, confine yourself to the laws concerning defilement of leprosy and tents (in which you are an expert). Rather, one represents God's throne, and one represents His pedestal, a throne on which to sit and a pedestal as His footstool, as it is said, The heavens are My throne, and the earth is My footstool (Is. 66:1).(14)

The accusations of R. Jose and R. Eleazar b. Azariah against Akiba were serious, as indicated by the severity of the language. The offense must have been serious and vexing. It was a theological deviation from the acceptable norms of Jewish religious ideas. Akiba's profanation of God in this context is a reference to his interpretation that the Messiah sits next to God, an idea that seems to be a reflection of Mark 14:62, "... you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power (Hagevurah) and coming with the clouds of heaven." Akiba was clinging to some ideas that were tainted by Christian interpretation. He not only incurred the displeasure of his associates; he had to answer to the authorities the Jewish community, rather severely.

The Tannaitic sources are not explicit, but critical analysis leads me to a plausible reconstruction of what happened and why it happened. The revelation comes from the testimony of R. Johanan b. Nuri, who ranked high in the inner circle of the patriarch Gamaliel II: "I call upon heaven and earth to testify for me that on more than four or five occasions I had Akiba publicly flogged, because I had brought accusation against him before Rabban Gamaliel."(15) What the charges against R. Akiba were is not specified.

Louis Finkelstein, whose biography of Akiba is a masterpiece of erudition and literary style, has an interesting comment on this passage:

That such humiliating punishment should have been meted out to one

of the foremost members of the academy ... would seem incredible, and

indeed some copyists, out of respect for both Gamaliel and Akiba, have

tried to soften the text. But the accuracy of Johanan's reports cannot

really be doubted. We could only wish that he had described the derelictions

for which Akiba was punished. They cannot have been infringements

of the ceremonial law, for which the punishment would have been

nothing less than expulsion from the academy. We must assume that some

violation of academic rules was involved, and that even this served only

as a pretext; actually, Gamaliel could not forgive Akiba for his frank and

forcible championship of the plebeian cause.(16)

Finkelstein reduces this biographical interlude to his favorite theme, which recurs many times throughout the volume: patrician versus plebeian, but his conclusion is questionable. A mere violation of academic rules would not have called for so drastic a measure as official scourging. And the patriarch Gamaliel, whatever his shortcomings, would not have resorted to, or even permitted, the flogging of a sage of the stature of Akiba, simply because Akiba differed with him in matters of political opinion. There is more here than meets the eye. We must apply the criteria of literary criticism to arrive at a reasonable and plausible explanation of what happened.

I contend that it goes back to the PRDS and its devastating effect on the four who delved into it, including Akiba. The clue is to be found in R. Jose's response to Akiba's interpretation of the thrones passage in Daniel: "Akiba, how long will you persist in profaning the Shekhinah (God)?" R. Jose minces no words. He accuses Akiba of committing Hillul ha-Shem, profanation of God's name,(17) an unforgivable sin which God punishes forthwith,(18) hence karet (extirpation), and those who incur karet are flogged.(19) It seems most probable that Akiba's dereliction was theological, and could have involved interpretations that had a Christian flavor. This could also have prompted R. Eleazar b. Azariah's castigation of Akiba to desist from theological speculation and to limit himself to Halakhah, in which he excelled.

There is a further bit of evidence which we must not overlook. In 2 Cor. 11:24, Paul asserts: "Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one," an exact description of the Bet Din's imposition of malkol, official flogging.(20) In the case of Paul, there can be no question as to why he was scourged - his persistent preaching of Christian doctrine. Akiba's case also seems to have overtones of a theological dereliction. The coincidence of the two passages, 2 Corinthians and Sifra, even to the exact number of times that each was flogged, is, indeed, alarming.

Nor can we be certain that Akiba's status in the academy remained secure. There is a strong hint that he may have suffered exile, either official or self-imposed. It is the Zephyrion interlude, during which Akiba resided in Zephyrion on Cyprus.(21) Finkelstein maintains that Akiba left Yabneh because he was weary of defending the plebeian cause against the aristocratic posture of the patriarch Gamaliel.(22) I am of the opinion that he may have been embarrassing to Gamaliel. His unyielding search for the Messiah could have been regarded as bordering on treason against the Patriarchate, since the Messianic fulfillment would have meant the abolition of patriarchal rule. A bristling passage, attributed to Rabban Gamaliel, and suggesting prophetic insight, reveals the patriarch's thinking on the subject:(23)

When the Messiah does come,(24) chutzpah will become widespread and

inflation will become oppressive. Even though the vine will produce grapes

in abundance, the price of wine will be prohibitive. The government will

be subverted to minut, and there will be none to reprove it. The councilchamber

shall become a brothel. Galilee will be destroyed and Gablan

will be desolate. The people who live on the border will wander around

from city to city, but no one will take pity on them. The wisdom of the

Scribes will become odious; God-fearing people will be despised; and truth

itself will disappear. The young will embarrass their elders, and the elders

will rise submissively in the presence of youngsters. (Quoting Micah 7:6)

"The son will treat his father with contempt; the daughter will rise up

against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

a man's enemies will be those of his own household." The face of that

generation will be like the face of a dog, and the son will show no deference

to his father. Upon whom can we lean? Upon our Father Who

is in heaven!(25)

The scene here portrayed is contrary to the Biblical Messianic vision.(26) The Mishnah paints a disturbing picture of what the Jewish people can expect if their Messianic dream should be realized. The structure of society will collapse; religious, moral, and ethical values will vanish; high intellectual and cultural standards will disappear; and the traditional family ideals and attitudes will go by the board. The inner life of the Jewish people will be turned upside down, and there will be no redemption. The Messiah is no redeemer, no liberator, no savior. The only One whom the people can trust and lean on for help is our Father Who is in heaven!

Akiba's sojourn in Zephyrion, precipitated by circumstances, afforded him the opportunity to express with impunity his passionate, anti-Roman, religiously inspired Jewish nationalisrn and Messianic hope. The Jews living on Cyprus at the time (c. 100-115 C.E.) were in the throes of a rebellion against Rome. Headed by Artemion, the Jewish forces succeeded in capturing virtually the entire island. It was an ideal situation for Akiba, who found there a congeniality of spirit. For him, any triumph over Rome was tantamount to a Messianic deliverance. In the end, however, Rome crushed the rebellion, and expelled the Jewish populace.(27)

We know that Akiba left Zephyrion and returned to Yabneh. There are a number of Rabbinic sources which refer to this sojourn in Zephyrion, citing Akiba's opinion on various themes before and after his return from there.(28) There is every indication that the Zephyrion interlude was a major turning point in his life, and he changed his mind about things as a result of his experience on Cyprus. Probably the most significant aspect of this change in his thinking, was sweeping out all vestiges of the PRDS. This becomes abundantly clear in the Talmud's expansion of its discussion of the thrones in Daniel. "Did he (Akiba) accept the interpretation from him (R. Jose) or did he not accept it? Come and listen attentively: one throne represents God's attribute of justice and one throne represents God's attribute of righteousness, these are the words of R. Akiba ..."(29) What a reversal of opinion on the part of the great Sage! It was truly a tremendous turn, a veritable return to the unadulterated faith of Jewish tradition, and the purely Jewish exposition of Scripture free of sectarian tampering and of the exploitation of heretics of every shade. It marked the beginning of Akiba's intensive polemics against heresy in general and especially the Christian heresy, which he fought both ideologically and by ritual innovation.

Akiba proceeded to inculcate in his students a profound love of Torah, with special emphasis on the veracity of the Scriptures. One consequence was his influence in two major translations of Scripture - Targum Onkelos, the Aramaic version of the Pentateuch, and a Greek version, that of Aquila.(30) The latter was designed to counteract the Septuagint, which the Church had appropriated and corrupted. It was characterized as "the Synagogue's weapon of defense against the nascent Church."(31)

The Church also corrupted the Passover observance. Under the guise of celebrating the festival, the Gospels point to a Christian transmutation of the Passover into the Eucharist,(32) thus abolishing the memorial of Israel's liberation from the bondage of Egypt. Akiba and his associates responded by instituting the Seder ritual and the Haggadah, thus salvaging the Passover from the oblivion to which the Christians sought to consign it.(33)

In the matter of atonement and purification, which Christianity claimed were effected only by baptism in the blood of Christ, Akiba very subtly but firmly discounts its efficacy.

R. Akiba said, "Happy are you, O Israel! Before whom do you cleanse

yourselves and who is it that purifies you? Your Father who is in heaven.

As it is said, |I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you will be clean

(Ezek. 36:25).' And it is said, O Lord, mikveh (hope) of Israel'; (Jer. 17:13)

just as the mikveh (immersion pool) cleanses the unclean, the Holy One,

blessed be He, purifies Israel."(34)

Coming as it does at the end of the tractate Yoma in the Mishnah, this statement implies the negation by Akiba of a cardinal Christian ritual, and his firm faith that atonement and purity can be achieved only by direct communication with God Himself, the only true Redeemer.

Akiba's ultimate attitude towards Jewish heretics and Judaeo-Christians is summed up in the famous chapter (35) in Mishnah Sanhedrin, Helek:

All Israel have a share in the world to come, as it is said, "Your people,

all of them are righteous, they shall inherit the land forever, the branch

which I have planted, the work of My hands in whom I glory" (Is. 60:21).

And these are the ones who have no share in the world to come: he

who says there is no proof of the resurrection of the dead in the Torah;

and he who says that the Torah was not divinely ordained; and the epikoros.

R. Akiba says, "Also, one who reads the hizonim(36) books; and one who

whispers an incantation over a wound and says, |All the disease which

I inflicted upon Egypt, I will not inflict upon you, for I am the Lord Who

heals you'" (Ex. 15:26). (italics mine)

In addition to those who are mentioned in the anonymous Mishnah, Akiba denies the reward of the world to come to those who are heretics reading heretical books which are outside the official canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the faith healer who uses the verse from Ex. 15 as his formula. The key phrase in this formula are the last three words, Ani YHWH Rofekha (I am the Lord who heals you). Using gematria, the letters in the phrase have the numerical value of 388, plus 3 (representing the number of words in the phrase), equals 391, exactly the sum of the letters in Yehoshua, the full name for Jesus. Louis Ginzberg is of the opinion that early Christian healers used this verse so as to heal secretly in the name of Jesus without overtly using his name.(37) Akiba was well aware of what was going on, and made his pronouncement accordingly.

So much for the bits of direct evidence that Akiba had eliminated the PRDS from his thinking. His Messianic activism may have been temporarily quiescent, but deep in his heart his Messianic hope must have continued to throb, and his hatred of Rome must have simmered within him. Could it have been that he brought his lifelong search for the Messiah to a painful end? That search had been fortified by Johanan b. Zakkai on his death-bed: "Prepare a throne for Hezekiah, king of Judah, who is coming,"(38) esoteric language implying an imminent Messianic advent. Akiba would never forget!

It is not surprising that, when Simeon ben Koziba appeared on the scene and led his forces against the Roman legions, Akiba designated him as the Messiah.

R. Simeon b. Yohai taught: My teacher, Akiba, used to expound the verse

(Num. 24:17), A star has marched forth out of Jacob," Koziba has

marched forth out of Jacob. When R. Akiba would see Bar Koziba he

would say, "This is he, the King Messiah."(39)

On the strength of Akiba's interpretation, Ben Koziba was given the cognomen Bar Kokhba.(40) Akiba was the spiritual inspiration who encouraged Bar Kokhba in his military exploits against the Romans. The war lasted for three years, 132-135; Jewish armies were victorious; Jerusalem was taken and under Jewish control; Bar Kokhba issued his own coinage - portraying a star superimposed upon the Temple of Jerusalem.(41) Akiba's faith in the military Messiah appeared to be vindicated; but, alas, it turned out to be a replay of the Jewish experience on Cyprus under the military leadership of Artemion. Hadrian crushed the rebellion of Bar Kokhba, as Trajan had crushed the insurrection of Artemion!

Perhaps R. Johanan b. Torta was right when Akiba was proclaiming Bar Kokhba as the Messiah, and he taunted him, "Akiba, grass will grow from your jawbones and still the son of David (the Messiah) will not be coming."(42) Events may have convinced Akiba that the dream of a political-military Messiah was in vain, since all the Messiah-figures who had arisen, heroic and charismatic though they might have been, proved to be fantasies and delusions. The star over Jerusalem was no more viable a solution for the Jewish people than the star over Bethlehem! The time had come for a new vision and a re-directed Messianic emphasis.

It was a dramatic twist of history that made Akiba aware of what he should have known all along and it was none other than the wicked Hadrian who brought him to the full realization of what it was that made the Jewish people invincible and assured their survival. In order to destroy the Jewish people, Hadrian had issued an edict against Torah, declaring both the teaching and the study of Torah a capital offense, punishable by the vilest methods of execution.(43) Akiba bristled with defiance! He had devoted his life to Torah, and had built mounds upon mounds of halakhot upon every jot and tittle of the Torah.(44) Torah was life, and the indestructible assurance that Israel would live to the end of time! And it was Torah that was the very heart and soul of the Messianic hope.(45) The Jew must not only live by the Torah, but for it, and be prepared, if need be, to die for it. And so he did, executed by the Romans with the Shema on his lips.(46)

Akiba began his search for the Messiah with the PRDS. His Messianic odyssey led him through some bitter battles within the Bet Midrash, as well as the two major anti-Roman conflicts of Artemion and Bar Kokhba with their Messianic overtones. What he finally arrived at was the supermundane Messianism of Torah, which had been the vital immortal spirit of Israel since our people first appeared on the pages of history. Akiba himself summed up the result of his theological quest in a cryptic statement largely misunderstood by rabbinic scholars:

Rabbi Akiba ... used to say, Adam (italics mine) was divinely favored,

in that he was created in the image (of God). By an act of exceptional

divine favor, it was made known to him that he was created in the image

(of God). As it is said, "For in the image of God He made the man"

(Gen. 9:6). Israelites are divinely favored, in that they are called sons

of the Omnipresent God. As it is said, "You are sons of the Lord your

God" (Deut. 14:1). Israelites are divinely favored, in that a precious object

has been given to them. By an act of exceptional divine favor, it was

made known to them that to them was given a precious object with which

the world was created. As it is said, "I have given you good instruction,

My Torah, do not forsake it" (Prov. 4:2).(47)

Read in the context of Akiba's life and theological struggles, this statement is a powerful polemic against Pauline doctrine. Akiba's glorification of Adam is a refutation of Paul's denigration of the man whom God had created in His own image.(48) His assertion that all Israel are sons of the living god is a rebuttal of Paul's contention, adopted by the evangelists and incorporated as a dogma of the Church, that Jesus was the only son of God.(49) Akiba's declaration of the pre-mundane primacy of Torah as the divine instrumentality of creation was designed to counteract the Pauline claim that Jesus was the primordial agent of God in creating the world.(50) With rhythmic cadence and soft-spoken words, supported by proof-texts from Scripture, Akiba delivers a hammer blow to Paul's boisterous claim that God has rejected the Jewish people in favor of his newly-proclaimed Israel - those who are faithful to his concept of the Messiah.(51)

As the era of Hadrian passed into history, there surfaced in the Tannaitic tradition the portrait of another Messiah, who dies in battle against Rome.(52) He is the Messiah son of Joseph, who is said to be the one who paves the way for the Messiah son of David. There are theories upon theories concerning the identity of this person, including identification with Bar Kokhba. I venture a radical, mystical interpretation, which no scholar has ever articulated, and which the Tradition would never dare to admit. It is the Torah Messiah, who is killed leading the Torah's battle against Rome. Here is my equation:

(1.) S.H. Levey, "The Best Kept Secret of the Rabbinic Tradition," JUDAISM, vol. 21, no. 4, 1972: 468, (2.) M. Jastrow, Dictionary etc., vol. II, p. 1216 (a). (3.) G.W.H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford, 1961), p. 1014 f., sub Paradosis. (4.) For hasidim as "the faithful," see Ketubim (Philadelphia: JPS, new series), p. 156. (5.) B. Avodah Zarah 17a. (6.) E.N. Fallaize, "Honey," Hastings Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. VI, p. 770, #6. (7.) B. Hagigah 15a,b. (8.) M. Yadavim 3:5. (9.) G.G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (N.Y., 1954), pp. 52 ff. (10.) M. Waxman, Shimon Ben Zoma (Heb.) (St. Louis, 1928), pp. 13 ff. (11.) B. Hag. 15a. (12.) B. Hag. 15,a,b. (13.) Ibid., 15b. See the Soncino translation, Hagigah, p. 100. (14.) B. Hag 14a. (15.) Sifra, Kedoshim 4:9. (16.) L. Finkelstein, Akiba (Phila: Atheneum, 1936), p. 113 f. (17.) B. Yonta 86a: "If one's colleagues are ashamed of him, this is Hillul ha-Shem." (18.) Sifre, Deut. #238. See G.F. Moore, Judaism, vol. 11, p. 108 f. (19.) M. Makkot 3:15. (20.) Ibid. 3:10. (21.) Jastrow, Op. cit., vol. 1, p. 408. See also the Soncino, Baba Kamma, p. 664. Finkelstein, contrary to all other authorities, places it in Galilee, probably confusing it with the Biblical town (Num. 34:9), which had long since disappeared (Akiba, p. 118). (22.) Finkelstein, Akiba, p. 118. (23.) Derekh Erez Zuta X:1. In M. Sotah 9:15, it is an anonymous Mishnah. My translation. (24.) B'ikbot Meshiha, lit., "In the footsteps of the Messiah." (25.) This passage could be an eyewitness description of conditions in the Jewish community as a result of the defeat of Bar Kokhba, who was designated the King Messiah by Akiba. That the anti-Messianic sentiment persisted in the Patriarchate, is evident from the statement of R. Hillel, brother of the patriarch Judah II: En mashiah l'Israel, shek'var akhluhu biyeme Hizkiahu, "There will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already devoured him in the days of Hezekiah." B. Sanh. 99a. (26.) E.g., Is. ch. 11. (27.) R. Gottheil, "Cyprus," Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. III, p. 4000. D.J. Silver, History of Judaism, vol. I (N.Y., 1974), p. 257. (28.) B. Bava Kama 113a; Tosefta B.K. 10:17; J.B.K., 9:15, 7a; J. Avadah Zarah 2:4, 41b; Sifre, Num. 4; Sifre Zuta 5:10. See also Finkelstein, Akiba, p. 329, n. 53. (29.) B. Hag. 14a. (30.) J. Kiddushin 59a. In spite of the confusion of identities, these were two distinct translations under the influence of R. Akiba. See L. Ginzberg, "Akiba," Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 305, 6; Finkelstein, Akiba, p. 165. (31.) M.L. Margolis, The Story of Bible Translations (Phil: JPS, 1917), p. 39. (32.) Mark, ch. 14. (33.) See S.H. Levy, "Ben Zoma, the Sages, and Passover," Journal of Reform Judaism, Spring, 1981: 33 ff. (34.) M. Yoma 8:9. (35.) Ch. 10 according to the Yerushalmi and Maimonides. See Soncino, Sandhedrin, p. 60 1, n. 1. (36.) Lit., usually understood as the excluded or apocryphal books. My view is that hizonim could be Essenes, in Hebraized form, with Hebrew m. pl. ending in place of the Greek oi. (37.) L. Ginzberg, "The Attitude of the Synagogue etc.," Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 41 (1922): 123,4. See also M. Goldstein, Jesus in the Jewish Tradition (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1950), p. 80f. (38.) B. Berakhot 28b. (39.) J. Taanit 68d. (40.) Moore, Judaism, vol. 1, p. 89. (41.) M. Margolis, and A. Marx, History of the Jewish People (Phil., 1927), p. 214. W.D. Davies & L. Finkelstein, Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. I., (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 50, 51, #8. (42.) J. Ta'anit 68d. (43.) Margolis and Marx, p. 216. (44.) B. Menahot 29b. (45.) S.H. Levey, The Messiah, an Aramaic Interpretation, p. 143. "The Messiah would make the Torah the universal law for all mankind." (46.) Margolis and Marx, p. 216. (47.) M. Abot, 3:18. (48.) I Corinthians 15:22 ff. (49.) Romans 1:3 passim. See A.E. Burn, "Creeds," HERE, vol. IV, p. 237. (50.) Colossians 1:16 ff. (51.) Romans 9:6 passim. (52.) J. Klausner, Harayon Hameshihi Biyisrael, pp. 289 ff. Klausner traces the transmutation of Israel's Messiah idea from the political to the purely spiritual ideal.

SAMSON H. LEVEY is Professor Emeritus of Rabbinics and Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, CA.
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Title Annotation:Jewish Rabbi
Author:Levey, Samson H.
Publication:Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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