Consider helping today!
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Term used by the scribes flourishing between 100 and 135 to denote the Gospels. The designation as used by them did not imply any mockery; R. Meïr, who flourished after 135, a descendant of Greek proselytes, was the first to play upon the word ἐυαγγέλιον by translating it as (= "worthlessness of [e., written upon] a scroll"). Although R. Meïr's words are generally interpreted in this sense, it is possible that, having had a Greek education, he simply intended to represent the sound of "evangelium" more exactly. R. Johanan (d. 279), on the other hand, calls the Gospel = "sin-scroll" (Shab. 116a, in the unexpurgated editions, and in Rabinovitz, "Variæ Lectiones," ad loc.). Only one Gospel is referred to. The Munich manuscript has in the decisive passage, Shab. 116a, the singular () where the printed editions have the plural. The title may have been originally briefly ἀγγέλιον = . In the first passage quoted below ("Gospels") does not mean several recensions—e., three or four different Gospels—but only several copies of one and the same work.
The principal passages are as follows:
"The 'Gilyon[im]' and the [Biblical] books of the Judæo-Christians ["Minim"] are not saved [on the Sabbath] from fire; but one lets them burn together with the names of God written upon them." R. Jose the Galilean says: "On week-days the names of God are cut out and hidden while the rest is burned." R. Tarphon says: "I swear by the life of my children that if they fall into my hands I shall burn them together with the names of God upon them." R. Ishmael says: "If God has said, 'My name that has been written in holiness [e., in the "jealousy roll" mentioned in Numbers 5:21 et seq.] shall be wiped out by water, in order to make peace between husband and wife,' then all the more should the books of the Judæo-Christians, that cause enmity, jealousy, and contention between Israel and its heavenly Father. . . . As they are not saved from fire, so they are not saved when they are in danger of decaying, or when they have fallen into water, or when any other mishap has befallen them"
M. Friedländer ("Der Vorchristliche Jüdische Gnosticismus," pp. 80 et seq., Göttingen, 1898) has erroneously contended that this passage does not treat of the Gospel. The Jewish Christians of Palestine had a Gospel of their own, the so-called Hebrew Gospel, from which still later Church Fathers quote (see Harnack, "Altchristliche Litteratur," 1:6 et seq.). Matthew was, likewise, originally written in Hebrew (Aramaic); many copies must, therefore, have been in circulation, and doubts must naturally have arisen concerning the manner in which they were to be disposed of, since they contained mention of the divine name. Furthermore, the whole tenor of the passage shows that those who asked the question which elicited these remarks concerningthe "Gilyon" were pious Jews, and they certainly used, and consequently inquired concerning, the Hebrew Gospel. Indeed, the correct reading in this passage has "Gilyon" in the singular; the gnostic writings (which were sometimes called "Gilyonim" also), however, were many; and had reference to these been intended here the plural would have been used.
Another passage shows that the Gospels have not the sanctity of the Biblical books. "The Gilyonim and the [Biblical] books of the Judæo-Christians do not render the hands unclean. The books of Ben Sira and all books written from now onward do not render the hands unclean" (Tosef., Yad. 2:13, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 683).
Talmudic Quotations from Gospels.
The Gospel is twice quoted in an anecdote, apparently from Babylonia, preserved in Shab. 116b (beginning): "The patriarch Gamaliel II. [c. 100] and his sister, the wife of R. Eliezer, were living near a philosopher who had the reputation of rejecting bribes. Desiring to cast ridicule upon him, the woman took a golden candlestick to him and said: 'I desire to be a coheir.' He answered: 'Divide.' Then she said: 'It is written in the Torah, "The daughter shall not inherit where there is a son."' He answered: 'Since you have been exiled from your country the Torah of Moses has been abrogated, and in its place the Gospel  has been promulgated, in which it is written, "Son and daughter inherit together."' On the following day Gamaliel brought a Libyan ass to him, whereupon the philosopher said: 'Observe the principle of the Gospel, where it is written, "I am not come to take away aught from the teaching of Moses, but to add to it"; and it is written in the Torah, "Where there is a son the daughter does not inherit."' The woman said to him: 'Let your light shine like a candle.' Then Gamaliel said: 'The ass came and overthrew the candlestick.'" It can not be ascertained whether the new law regarding the right of daughters to inherit was included in the original Hebrew Gospel. The Gospels are not otherwise mentioned in the Talmud or Midrash.
In the Middle Ages.
From the Talmudic narratives about Jesus it appears that the contents of the Gospel were known to the Talmudic teachers. In post-Talmudic days the Jews were often led to study the Gospels through controversy with Christians (see See Polemics). David Ḳimḥi (in "Milḥemet Ḥobah," and in his commentary on the Psalms) quotes them several times. They were early rendered into Hebrew. Sebastian Münster translated one. In modern times they have been translated into classical Hebrew by Salkinson, and into Mishnaic Hebrew by Franz Delitzsch.
The great mass of the Jewish people have in the past known the New Testament only from hearsay; and even to-day they do not read it, in spite of all inducements and of its translation into Jewish-German dialects. The following editions of the New Testament exist in the Hebrew language:
- . The Gospel according to Matthew, with a Latin translation and notes by Sebastian Münster, Basel, 1537.
- . The Gospel according to Luke, translated into Hebrew by H. Christ. Imm. Fromman, edited by J. H. Callenberg, Halle, 1735.
- . The New Testament, printed by A. Macintosh, London, 1817.
- . The Old and New Testaments, published by S. Bagster, London, 1835.
- The New Testament, published by S. Bagster, London, 1836.
- The New Testament, published by S. Bagster, London, 1844.
- The New Testament, London, 1846.
- The Epistle to the Romans, published by G. Ph. Löw, Berlin, 1855.
- The Epistle to the Hebrews, published by G. Ph. Löw, ib. 1858.
- The Acts of the Apostles, published by G. Ph. Löw, ib. 1867.
- The Gospel According to Luke, published by G. Ph. Löw, ib. 1869.
- The New Testament (Delitzsch's edition), printed by Trowitzsch & Son, Berlin, and published by the British and Foreign Bible Society, London, 1885.
- The New Testament (Salkinson-Ginsburg edition), printed by Carl Fromme, Vienna, 1886, and published by the Trinitarian Bible Society at London.
Since the eleventh or twelfth century a legend is known of St. Matthew which was originally written in Hebrew—according to Nöldeke, by a baptized Jew (Lipsius, "Die Apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden," II. 2:264)—of which, however, only a Latin translation is now extant. also New Testament.
- Kohut, Aruch Completum, 1:45b, 2:295a;
- Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterb. 1:41a, 334b;
- Krauss, Lehnwörter, 2:21;
- Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten, 2:38, Leipsic, 1858;
- Grätz. Gesch. 4:112;
- Derenbourg, Hist. p. 379;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., 2:378;
- Grünbaum, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, p. 450, Berlin, 1901;
- Blau, Studien zum Althebräischen Buchwesen, pp. 92,119.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Gilyonim'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/g/gilyonim.html. 1901.