The Rabbi’s Birthday

By conventional agreement, this is the birthday of the rabbi Yeshua bar Yoseph, known to some as Masih Isa ibn Maryan. To mark the day, I’m republishing an old article I did about the rabbi’s life and legacy:


Like us, the rabbi Yeshua bar Yoseph lived in the shadows of a great and overweening empire that was held together by military might and a harsh judicial system heavily reliant on the death penalty. Although knowledgeable in the Hebrew scriptures, Yeshua often jostled with the religious authorities and was affiliated with no synagogue. The title “rabbi” was in fact an honorific bestowed on him by friends awed by his learning.

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Wisdom from the Rabbi

The rabbi Yeshua bar Yosef  was a master of the aphorism. Like many ancient sages, he wrote nothing down but strove to concentrate his wisdom into pithy, shocking, memorable sayings, often only a sentence long, at other times a very short story. Also called Masih Isa ibn Maryan, the rabbi deserves to be better known than he is. His sayings are collected in a little book entitled The Logia of Yeshua (translated by Guy Davenport and Benjamin Urrutia). Here are a few excerpts: 

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