Talmud and Gospels on Legal Entrapment

If you’re studying history, when two separate sources talk about the same thing, from different perspectives, that is worth focusing on. The Talmud and the gospels both talk about entrapment, but from different perspectives. The Talmud discusses entrapment from the perspective of Law Enforcement, and the gospels from the perspective of the target community.

I no longer assume that the target community I talk about is what I used to think it was. It was not what we think of when we think “Christians” or “the church”. These pictures all came later. You need to consider the possibility that the big picture you have developed in your mind could be inaccurate.

I need to draw your attention to lots of small.detaind. One important detail to notice: the phrase inner room or inner rooms.

◼️ Talmud (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.”

The basics of law enforcement guidance for entrapment has not changed much in the eons of history, except for the use of technology. You select and prepare the location. You make sure that you can see your target. You make sure that you can hear your target. After the arrest, you have two expert witnesses able to testify in court.

In historical study, when two different sources discuss the same phenomenon but from different perspectives, that’s an opportunity to learn something new.

◼️ Luke 12:1-3

As we now have it, the text reads, “Be on your guard against the [yeast of the] Pharisees [which is hypocrisy].” It is now a bit clumsy. I believe the original text was more straightforward. The addition of a few words was enough to muddy the meaning of the rest of the Lukan pericope.

“Be on your guard against the Pharisees. 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.” 

◼️ Matthew 24:26

“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.” 

These three passages all refer to the same law-enforcement practice, entrapment. The law enforcement perspective is a how-to, how to conduct an entrapment that will withstand judicial cross-examination. On the other hand, the target community is instructed on how to avoid entrapment.

It seems likely that in the original version of the trial and execution of Jesus Luke 2:1-3 and Matthew 24-26 were originally together, and were later divided. This is a good example of one technique used by scribes in the process of composing the gospels. The original version was as follows.

“Beware of the Pharisees. 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 inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. 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.” 

So, one technique illustrated from the gospels is dividing a passage into sections in order to mask the original content and context, but retain something interesting to read. Another technique is also illustrated in these verses, adding just enough distractor material to confuse the reader. Specifically, in the Luke 12:1-3 pericope there are two such phrases”, “in the ear” and “yeast of the . . . which is hypocrisy” were added to complicate and distract.

The words “in the ear” are three words in greek as well, πρὸς τὸ οὖς.

The six word phrase mentioning yeast and hypocrisy happens to be six contiguous words in greek, ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμη ἥτις ἐστὶν ὑπόκρισι.

The Talmud discussion of conducting a bullet-proof entrapment belong with the target-community exhortation to avoid entrapment.

The addition of a few extra words is sufficient to muddy the waters of the pious reader. In terms of the Luke and Matthew material, we become concerned about the internal scrupulous issue of hypocrisy, instead of the life-and-death issue of law enforcement set-ups.

 

About Ron Goetz

Husband, Father, Author
This entry was posted in Gay Jew Jesus Trial, Law Enforcement Entrapment/Stings, The Galilee Episode and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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