Jesus by David Flusser
|Died||September 15, 2000
David Flusser was born in Vienna on September 15, 1917. He grew up in Příbram (Przibram, Pibrans, Freiberg i.B.), middle Bohemia, Czechoslovakia and attended the University of Prague. There he met a pastor who piqued his interest in Jesus and Christianity. Flusser immigrated to British Mandatory Palestine in 1939, and completed his doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1957. He later taught in the Comparative Religions department for many years, mentoring many future scholars.
David Flusser was the cousin of Vilém Flusser.
Flusser died in Jerusalem on September 15, 2000, on his 83rd birthday. He was survived by his wife, Chana, 2 sons, Yochanan and Uri, and 7 grandchildren.
Flusser on Jesus
Flusser scrutinized the ancient Jewish and Christian texts for evidence of the Jewish roots of Christianity. While critically distinguishing the historical Jesus from the portrayal in the Gospels and other Christian writings, Flusser saw Jesus as an authentic Jew, misunderstood by his followers.
David Satran, a professor of comparative religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "Dr. Flusser was rather remarkable in his strong insistence that not only was Jesus a Jew from birth to death, but that Jesus did nothing that could be interpreted as a revolt or questioning of the basic principles of the Judaism at the time."  Personally, Flusser viewed Jesus as a tsadik with keen spiritual insight and a "high self-awareness" that near-contemporaries similarly expressed, such as Hillel the Elder in the Talmud and the "Teacher of Righteousness" in certain Dead Sea Scrolls.
Flusser pursued his research at a time when many Jews blamed Christianity for Nazism. During his trial in Israel, the Gestapo officer Adolf Eichmann refused to take an oath on the New Testament, insisting he would swear only "in the name of God." Flusser commented in an editorial in the Jerusalem Post: "I do not know who is the God in whose name Eichmann swore, but I am certain that it is neither the God of Israel nor the God of the Christian church. It should now become clear to the strongest Jewish opponents of Christianity that Christianity per se imposes limitations, and that the greatest crime against our people was not committed in the name of the Christian faith".
Flusser published over 1,000 articles in Hebrew, German, English, and other languages. The results of his many academic writings can be found in his book, Jesus (1965), whose augmented second edition The Sage from Galilee (1998) was updated to incorporate his later research and views on Jesus.
One of Flusser's views which was particularly influential in Germany, being taken up and advocated also by Joachim Jeremias, was the suggestion that the name Yeshu used of Jesus in the Talmud was "in no way abusive" but was in fact a Galilean dialect version, since according to Flusser, Galileans found the final ayin of the name Yeshua difficult to pronounce. Flusser also took the view (1992) that the Birkat haMinim was originally in reference to Sadducees, not Judaeo-Christians.
Flusser was trained as a philologist and thus the study of Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts was central to his research interests. He was primarily interested in the medieval Book of Yosippon which claimed much of his time from 1940-1982 when he finished his scholarly edition of this seminal medieval history of the Second Temple period. His studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament manuscripts illuminated both the contemporary period and the echoes in the Book of Yosippon. Flusser once quipped that he would like to chat with Jesus and the anonymous author of the Book of Yosippon once he reached the "academy on high". His final biography would emphasize his medieval training and interests.
Flusser was a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and received the Israel Prize in 1980, for his contributions to the study of Jewish history. Lawrence Schiffman, chairman of the Skirball department of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, credited him with pioneering "the modern study of Christianity in the state of Israel in a scholarly context".
- Jerusalem Perspective Online Premium Content Authors
- David Flusser Jewish sources in early Christianity - 1987 p89 "The Hebrew name for Jesus, Yeshu, is evidence for the Galilean pronunciation of the period, and is in no way abusive. Jesus was a Galilean..."
- The image of the Judaeo-Christians in ancient Jewish and Christian literature p15 ed. Doris Lambers-Petry; Peter J. Tomson, chapter 'The War Against Rome' - 2003 "... who unearthed the conceptual background of the birkat ha-minim. In his analysis, the material of the berakha basically dates from temple times, when it was directed against such 'separatists' (perushim or porshim) as Sadducees who ..."
- "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1980 (in Hebrew)".
- Jesus, second ed. augmented (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998) ISBN 965-223-978-X.
- Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1988) ISBN 965-223-627-6.
- "One of the world's foremost Jewish authorities on the New Testament and early Christianity"
- Jewish-Christian Relations