Johann Maier (talmudic scholar)
Johann Maier (born 1933) is an Austrian scholar of Judaism, and was founder and for thirty years director of the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne. He retired in 1996 and is now living in Mittenwald in Upper Bavaria.
Maier was appointed director of the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at its founding in Spring 1966. This was the second of three faculties of Jewish studies in Germany after the Free University of Berlin (1963, Prof Jacob Taube) and before the University of Frankfurt (1969, Prof. Arnold Goldberg).
Areas of research
Judaism and philosophy
Following on from the naming of the institute in Cologne after Martin Buber, one of Maier's principal areas of research was on the relationship between Jewish and general philosophy – such as Intellektualismus und Mystik als Faktoren jüdischer Selbstdefinition (1985) where Maier noted that question as to the existence of “Jewish” philosophy, and its essence forces the question as to the essence, identity, and continuity of Jewish culture.
One of Johann Maier's notable areas of research is regarding the dating and origin of passages relating to Jesus in the Talmud. Many scholars, such as Joseph Klausner see possible traces of the historical Jesus in tannaitic (20-220 CE) and amoraic (230-500 CE) passages in the Talmud. Maier's research led him in Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen Überlieferung (1978) to deny the possibility that there are any authentic tannaitic Jesus passages and even declares the amoraic passages as all belonging to the post-talmudic (600-1000 CE) rather than to the talmudic period. Maier views that “authentic” Jesus passages occur only in the very late talmudic and more so the post-talmudic sources. For example, Maier views that Sanhedrin 43a did not originally refer to Jesus of Nazareth, and the identification of the condemned sorcerer as Jesus has nothing to do with the original context, and should probably be ascribed, in Maier's view, to post-Talmudic redaction of a passage originally told of a second-century magician, ben Pandera. Likewise the list of charges found applied to Jesus at Sanhedrin 107b originally referred to Gehazi. Maier's argument that the name Yeshu in the texts is a later interpolation depends in part on his general conclusion that Palestinian Jewry was unconcerned with Christianity before Constantine. Van Voorst (2000) has depicted Maier's position that the Jesus references in the Talmud were added later in the Middle Ages as the other extreme of the more uncritical early view of R. Travers Herford (1906) who took all texts as being original.
- Maier, J. Judentum von A bis Z: Glauben, Geschichte, Kultur 2001
- Maier, J. Geschichte der jüdischen Religion Berlin 1972; Freiburg 1992
- Maier, J. Das Judentum Munich 1973 - one of the main reference works on Judaism in German.
- The Judaic System of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jacob Neusner, ed., Judaism in Late Antiquity, 2, pp. 84–108. 2004
- Maier J, Die Kabbalah. 1995 - an introduction to Kabbalah.
He was the editor of Judentum und Umwelt.
- Die Kabbalah: p418 Johann Maier "Das Buch des Kölner Judaisten Maier führt anhand von Texten in die »klassische« Kabbalah ein. ... Der Herausgeber Johann Maier, geb. 1933, ist emeritierter Professor für Judaistik an der Universität zu Köln. ISBN 3-406-39659-3."
- Martin-Buber-Institut für Judaistik
- Martin-Buber-Institut für Judaistik
- Judaistik und ihr Ort in der universitas litterarum heute - Einige Überlegungen zum Fach Judaistik in Deutschland Peter Schäfer
- Kairos 27, Bern 1987;
- Renaissance Philosophy in Jewish garb: foundations and challenges p14 ed. Giuseppe Veltri - 2009 "1.1 The Question - The question as to the existence of “Jewish” philosophy, and its essence, was first raised in ... the more radically it forces the question as to the essence, identity, and continuity of Jewish culture as compared to " 8 As already noted by Johann Maier, “Intellektualismus und Mystik als Faktoren jüdischer Selbstdefinition,” Kairos 27 (1985): 230.
- Gerd Theissen, Annette Merz The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide 1998 German original Der historische Jesus: Ein Lehrbuch p82 Gerd Theissen, Annette Merz - 2001 DIE RABBINISCHEN QUELLEN: JESUS ALS VERFÜHRER (bSANH 43a) "J. Maier, Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen Überlieferung ... So kommt J. Maier nach gründlicher Untersuchung aller infragekommenden Stellen zu dem Urteil: „Kontextanalyse, über lieferungs-, Stoff-, motiv- und formgeschichtliche Beobachtungen sprechen ... dafür, daß es keine einzige rabbinische „Jesus-Stelle" aus tannaitischer Zeit (bis ca. 220 n.Chr.) gibt."35 Vielmehr sei der Name Jesu in dem jahrhundertelangen Entstehungsprozeß des Talmud erst sekundär in bestehende Zusammenhang eingefügt worden, und zwar als Reaktion auf christliche Provokationen, weshalb die Stellen keinen unabhängigen historischen Wert besäßen. Im Gegensatz dazu glauben andere Autoren, zB J. Klausner,36 zumindest einige alte und historisch .."
- review in Orientalia suecana:30-32 ed. Erik Idor Theander Gren - 1983 - „Kontextanalyse, über lieferungs-, rungs-, stoff-, motiv- und formgeschichtliche Beobachtungen sprechen sogar dafür, dass es keine einzige rabbinische „Jesus-Stelle" aus tannaitischer Zeit (bis ca. 220 n. Chr.) gibt' (p. 268): and likewise concerning the Amoraite period:"
- Antoinette Clark Wire Holy lives, holy deaths: a close hearing of early Jewish storytellers 2002 "27 Joseph Klausner argued in 1925 that Sanhedrin 43a offers at least some historical evidence about the death of Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshu ha-Notsri, tr. Herbert Danby as Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching [New York: ....After a thorough evaluation of Sanhedrin 43a and related texts, Johann Maier concluded in 1978 that the reference is probably to an already conflated figure called Ben Stada who was stoned for sorcery under Hadrian."
- Peter Schäfer Jesus in the Talmud p8 2009 "Here I substantially disagree with Maier who vehemently denies the possibility that there are authentic tannaitic Jesus passages and even declares the amoraic passages as all belonging to the post-talmudic rather than to the talmudic period 24."
- Peter Schäfer Jesus in the Talmud p8 "He takes it for granted that in having purged the bulk of rabbinic literature from Jesus and in allowing for “authentic” Jesus passages to appear only in the very late talmudic and preferably the post-talmudic sources, he has solved the "
- Journal of Theological Studies 1982 reprinted in Jews and Christians p105 William Horbury - 2006 "Secondly, and more fundamentally, Maier contends that Sanh. 43a did not originally refer to Jesus of Nazareth.143 He notes that the tannaitic material is only quoted in this Talmudic context for the sake of halakhic debate on the proclamation prescribed at Mishnah, Sanh. 6.1 the identification of the condemned man as Jesus has nothing to do with that context, and should probably be ascribed, in Maier's view, to post-Talmudic redaction; the list of charges, also found applied to Jesus at Sanh. 107b (where Maier believes it originally referred to Gehazi) cannot have been uncommon in the rabbinic period, and the anecdote at Sanh. 43a will originally have been told of a second-century magician, ben Pandera."
- Graham N. Stanton, 'Aspects of Early Christian-Jewish Polemic and Apologetic' NTS 31 (1985) 377-82, included in A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1992), and Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus p167 ed. Joel B. Green, Max Turner - 1994 footnote "Maier, Jesus von Nazareth has claimed that b. Sanh. 43a did not originally refer to Jesus: that identification was made only in post-Talmudic redaction. Horbury, however, has argued strongly that the sentences "on Passover Eve they hanged Jesus" and "Jesus the Nazarene" ...practised sorcery and deceived and led astray Israel" may be older than their immediate context ("Benediction," 57). "
- Horbury "First, Maier's general view (14 f., 255-8) that Palestinian Jewry was unconcerned with Christianity before Constantine is inconsistent with the solidarity attested between Jewry in the Land and elsewhere in the Roman Empire (p. 97 above) and with evidence that Christians attracted adverse Jewish attention in Palestine.. "
- Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus outside the New Testament: an introduction to the ancient p108 - 2000 "While Herford was somewhat critical of their accuracy, he seems almost never to have met a possible reference to Jesus that he did not like!70 On the other end of the spectrum, Johann Maier in his Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen Überlieferung has concluded that no genuine Tannaitic or Amoraic references are present, even in the Talmuds when first issued, but were added later in the Middle Ages.71 Most scholarly opinion falls between these two extremes."
- Martin Hengel, Jesuszeugnisse außerhalb der Evangelien in Testimony and interpretation: early Christology p156 ed. Jan Roskovec, Jiří Mrázek, Petr Pokorný - 2004 "Dagegen urteilt J. Maier, Jesus von Nazareth in der talmudischen Überlieferung (ETF 82; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1978) extrem negativ apologetisch und ohne wirkliches historisches Verständnis fur diese eigenartigen Texte."
- Judith Marcus Surviving the twentieth century: social philosophy p423 1999 "He is a renowned scholar of Judaic studies. He is the author of the main reference work on Judaism in German, entitled Judaismus"
- Bruno Chiesa: The Emergence of Hewbrew Bibblical Pointing. The indirect Sources. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 1980 an Helmut Hirsch: Marx und Moses. Karl Marx zur Judenfrage und zu Juden. Peter Lang, Frankfurt 1980.