I said, “Jesus was a gay Jew”. The response was, “Evidence please.” Here is the evidence. I will provide a brief introduction.
Evidence is a funny thing. Some evidence is new to us, but it seems ordinary. Until we see its relevance to another piece of evidence. Like Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, 18.4.6.
Other evidence is familiar, but what it means is a mystery to us, or it doesn’t mean what someone told us it means. Like Luke 17:34-35.
Sometimes evidence is brand new to us, but it’s not like the evidence we’re used to. Like you just mastered fingerprints and along came DNA. There may be something about the source that makes you feel intimidated. Like the Talmud.
And sometimes it’s just not your neighborhood. You’re not a local. There’s a lot we can’t be expected to just know. Like in history.
Evidence for the Gay Jew Jesus
This evidence is in three standard sources: Josephus, the Gospels, and the Talmud. All three sources can be accessed in English translation online. Each source has its own perspective.
Josephus introduces the judge in the case, Philip the Tetrarch, and his judicial style.
The Gospels provide information on two things. First, the overall legal persecution of the target community. Second is the popular catch phrase that summarizes the trial results.
The Talmud also accounts for two aspects of the episode. The first aspect includes the tactics used by law enforcement (the Pharisees), which parallel those described in the Gospels, even down to word choice. The second element consists of two courtroom documents (Roman formularies) used by the prosecutor, Yohanan b. Zakkai, and preserved in the Talmud.
This is a bit complicated, but it isn’t brain surgery.
About this time it was that Philip, Herod’s brother, departed this life, in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius: after he had been tetrarch of Trachonitis, and Gaulanitis, and of the nation of the Bataneans also, thirty-seven years.
He had shewed himself a person of moderation and quietness in the conduct of his life and government.
He constantly dwelled in that country which was subject to him. He used to travel his circuit with a few chosen friends. His tribunal also, on which he sat in judgment, followed him in his progress: and when any one met him, who required his assistance, he made no delay, but had his tribunal set down immediately, wheresoever he happened to be; and sat down upon it, and heard his complaint. He there ordered the guilty that were convicted to be punished: and absolved those that had been accused unjustly.
The Gospel passages are written from the perspective of the targets of systematic and lawful criminal prosecution. Law enforcement is identified (the Pharisees) and their tactics described. The target community is warned that law enforcement will have comprehensive possession of the facts. Defendent mindset during a trial is addressed. There is, finally, the trial outcome.
So if anyone tells you, “There he is out in the wilderness,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not believe it.
Be on your guard against the [yeast of the] Pharisees [which is hypocrisy].
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed,
or hidden that will not be made known.
What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight,
and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms
will be proclaimed from the roofs.
Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body, but can’t kill the soul.
When they bring you before the assemblies,
do not be anxious how or what you are to say;
For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour what you are to say.
I tell you, in that night,
two men will be in one bed,
one will be seized, and the other left.
Two women will be grinding together,
one will be seized, and the other left.
Tosefta Sanhedrin 10:11
For all the capital crimes that are in the Torah, they do not entrap except for the enticer. How? They send to him two Sages in the inner room, and he sits in the outer room, and they light a candle so that they can see him and hear his voice. And thus they did to Ben Stada in Lod—they appointed against him two Sages and they stoned him.
(note the location)
Rabbi Judah said: an incident came before Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai in ‘Arav and he said, “I fear that he may be liable for a sin-offering.”
Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:2; Tosefta Sanhedrin 3:2
(note the Prince and the two-part explanation)
Antigonus the Prince asked Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, “The ox will be stoned and the master also die (Ex. 21:29). Why?”
He said to him, “The accomplice of a thief is like a thief.”
When he went out, the student asked, “Master, this one you pushed away with a reed, but to us, what will you reply?”
He said to them, “It is written, The ox will be stoned and also its master will die…
Formulary 1: Massekhet Semahot 8.7
(Note the transgression, and the human application of the original non-human, inanimate example.)
The dorshe hamurot used to say, You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom thou shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills, and under every green tree; you shall tear down their altars, and dash to pieces their pillars (Deut. 12:2-3). How did the wood and stones sin? But on account of them there came upon man confusion, and therefore Scripture said, You shall destroy their altars.
And behold it is a deduction: If in the case of stone and wood, which have neither merit nor demerit, neither good nor evil, because on their account confusion comes upon man, Scripture said to destroy their altars, a man who causes others to sin, and turns them from the way of life to the way of death, how much more so will he suffer.
Formulary #2: ySanhedrin 7.5
(Note the transgression, and the human application of the original non-human animal example.)
And so too, if a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast, they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them (Lev. 20:16). If the woman sinned, what sin did the beast commit? But because there came upon man confusion on its account, Scripture said to kill the beast, that the cow should not go into the market place and people say, “See, there is the cow on whose account so-and-so was put to death.”
Yoḥanan b. Zakkai’s commentary follows here.
And behold, it is a matter of deduction: If in the case of the beast, who has neither merit nor demerit, because on its account man was brought into confusion, Scripture said to stone it, a man who causes his fellow to sin, and leads him from the way of life to the way of sin, how much the more (will he suffer).
(Neusner, Life, note 1, pp 93-94)
The Fact of a Trial and Its Strategic Importance
Whereas Philip the Tetrarch was chief magistrate and judge over the region which included Bethsaida, and
Whereas Philip was responsible for the elevation of Bethsaida to the status of imperial polis in 30 C.E., and
Whereas the city status elevation would require considerable work on infrastructure beforehand, and
Whereas the elevation of Bethsaida’s official status in the region would seriously impact the balance of power between Rome and Jerusalem, and
Whereas the Pharisees had long-standing roles as political operatives, judicial officials and law enforcement officers, and
Whereas Yohanan b. Zakkai was eventually the most significant Pharisee to emerge from Upper Galilee, and
Whereas Rabbi Yohanan had as long as ten years to formulate a strategic legal response to Bethsaida’s impending status elevation, and
Whereas all manner of sexual transgression was within the purview of Torah, and
Whereas Jewish history reports that sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews were scandalous in 1) the Torah, 2) the wives of Solomon, and 3) the mandated divorces in Ezra and Nehemiah, and
Whereas the Torah mandated one Law for both Jew and non-Jew, and
Whereas Rome’s imperial policy mandated respect for the judicial systems of subject peoples, and
Whereas the Jewish Temple-state was desperate to slow Rome’s encroachment at every level, and
Whereas any judicial precedent could be incorporated into Bethsaida’s anticipated new city charter,
Therefore, Pharisee Yohanan b. Zakkai arranged for the arrest and prosecution of two mixed-ethnicity same-sex couples hoping that the conviction of all four defendants would authorize Torah enforcement on non-Jews in a newly-minted Roman jurisdiction.
The seizing for execution referred to in Luke 17:34 was not spoken by Jesus, but was recorded about Jesus.
Whereas a trial occurred in Bethsaida in 30 C.E. adjudicated by Philip the Tetrarch and prosecuted by Yohanan b. Zakkai, and
Whereas the defendants were mixed Jew and gentile same-sex couples, and
Whereas the accused gentiles were released but the Jewish transgressors were seized for execution, and
Whereas the trial summary was preserved in Luke 17:34-35, and
Whereas the trial summary would only be preserved by or for individuals with an interest in the legal treatment of sexual minority individuals, and
Whereas, therefore, Jesus and his community were directly connected to the judicial results summarized in Luke 17 by virtue of time, place and personal connection, and
Whereas the active participants in a trial are generally more significant and remembered than those reporting on the trial, and
Whereas martyrs are the seedbed of the church, and
Whereas theology is secondary to the sources of theology, and
Whereas the belief that Jesus was a gentile is the preserve of antisemites,
Therefore let it be concluded that Jesus was a gay Jew, and
Further concluded that Jesus was the gay Jew seized for execution in Luke 17: 34, and
Whereas Moses could not utter the announcement of his own death,
Therefore, the words in Luke 17:34 were not spoken by the historical Jesus, but were spoken about him.
Dissatisfaction with Philip’s Ruling
Whereas R. Yohanan b. Zakkai had hoped for Philip’s ratification of all four Torah-based death penalty convictions but only got the go-ahead to execute the two Jewish transgressors, and
Whereas the Queer Community had hoped for the acquittal of all four defendants but only got acquittals for the two gentiles, and
Whereas the complaint of Yohanan b. Zakkai, “O Galilee, Galilee, You hate Torah!” is shrouded in mystery regarding its context, and
Whereas the complaint of Jesus the Palestinian, “Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you, Bethsaida!” is likewise shrouded in mystery regarding its context,
Therefore it is probable that both complaints are in response to Philip’s issuing a “split decision”.
Luke’s use of the word “Sodom”
The word “Sodom” in Luke 10:12 and Luke 17:29 are scribal flags connecting nearby material and the relevance of the same-sex them in both texts. The first refers to the condemnation of Chorazin and Bethsaida, which until now has been shrouded in mystery.. The latter refers to the reason for the difference in treatment, which until now has also been shrouded in mystery.
Is Chorazin Relevant to the Discussion?
“Jesus” is reported pronouncing woes on both Chorazin and Bethsaida. Both “Jesus” and Philip the Tetrarch are specifically connected with Bethsaida.
It seems possible that the unidentified lesbian defendents were apprehended in Chorazin. It is also possible that their original trial was convened there.
This is the evidence (from Josephus, the Gospels and the Talmud) and the argument supporting the idea that just prior to 30 C.E. two mixed-ethnicity couples were charged with sexual transgression and that Jesus the Palestinian, a gay Jew, was one of two Jews subsequently executed.
To see a list of other posts related to the Evidence, the Bethsaida Trial and the Gay Jew Jesus, click here.