Ehrman clarifies that the name "Son of Panthera" Roman who allegedly was the seducer of Mary was a tradition, as scholars have long recognized, that represented an attack on the Christian view, that he was the son of a virgin. In Greek, the term for virgin is parthenos, which is similar to panthera, implying that "son of panthera" is a pun on "son of a virgin". In other words, his mother Miriam was also called "Stada" because she was a sotah, a woman suspected, or rather convicted, of adultery. Van Voorst describes this as a spectrum of opinion: On one side stand Johann Maier and those broadly sympathetic to his conclusions such as John P.

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The pelting, burial and punishment of Jesus with excrement, and similarly the transformation of the household cesspool into his temporary habitation for one night of the year, are grotesque and vulgar expressions of contempt for Christianity.

When he is finally resurrected, it is only to creep through latrines again. An Inverted Christmas Eve The manifestation of Toledot Yeshu in the night of Nittel, whether the narrative was actually read during the night or not, turned the liturgical custom into an inverted version of Christmas Eve. At the very hour when Christians gathered to glorify their God and savior, even Jews ceased their regular course of time.

This custom of abstaining from Torah study was first mentioned in an anti-Jewish pamphlet published by the convert Johann Adrian in , although it probably began earlier. And the fact that Torah is not studied, is Torah, and the world exists on that. Jews thus abstained from Torah study, and even from sexual relations. However, this portrayal does not adequately reflect the complexity of the Jewish rituals of that evening. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Christian clergy created a rich satirical tradition parodying every possible aspect of Catholic liturgy parodia sacra.

In the annual cycle, the Christmas season was especially rich in carnival events, both ecclesiastical and civil. Nevertheless, the Christian parodic tradition is relevant as a broad cultural context, since the parodic nature of Nittel is fitting of general cultural patterns of pre-modern Europe.

The Role of Liturgical Theatre in Christian Society Liturgical drama and theatrical violence played an important role in Christmas festivities. These allowed interaction between different layers of Christian society, promoted common values, and established social boundaries among the spectators. The similarity between Jewish mythology related to Christmas Eve and the story line of Toledot Yeshu suggests that Nittel is the staging of the Jewish narrative after the manner of liturgical drama, filling similar social and cultural functions with regard to Christianity.

That is to say, through its set of customs and beliefs, Nittel slandered Christianity, but at the same time enabled its presence in the Jewish liturgical calendar. A Jewish Christmas In his studies on rites of passage, the British cultural anthropologist Victor Turner showed the importance of the liminal stage for continuity and change in the social order.

While the ritual inversion that characterizes carnivals allows emotional release, isolation from daily life by means of the liturgical calendar leaves the social order intact and strengthens it. However, every liminal attempt carries within it the potential for change and puts forward alternative constructs. In this way, Jewish customs on Christmas Eve contributed to merge the separate spheres of liturgical time and the spread of the Jewish calendar into the Christian domain, even if the latter was distorted and ridiculed.

Footnotes 1. Ernestum Ferdinandum Hessen, Flagellum Iudeorum. IV, [pp. V, [p. I, [p. Meerson and Y. For a similar claim, see Herbert W. Walfish, vol. He answered: with boiling excrement.

Johannis Pfefferkorn, Handt Spiegel Mainz, , [p. IV, [p. I, [pp. See also Joh. Strasbourg BnU , fol. Also published in Krauss, Das Leben Jesu, vol. DWB, v. See Krauss, Das Leben Jesu, vol. Veynakht lit. See Jeffrey A. Princeton Firestone Lib. This is a paraphrase of Gen , in which the angel wrestling with Jacob realizes he cannot defeat him.

See: Shapiro, pp. Ibid, p. Chambers, The Mediaeval Stage, vol. Aron J. Staging the Massacre of the Innocents was generally done on the on the 6th of January, but also on Christmas Eve itself. Nirenberg, Communities of Violence, p.


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