b. San 43a states Jesus had five disciples: Mattai, Nakai, Netzer, Buni, and Toda. The only names here I could see being associated with Jesus are Mattai for Matthew (Matt 9:9-13; 10:3), and Netzer for Nazarene (Matt 2:23; 26:71; Luke 18:37; John 18:5, 7; 19:19; Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 22:8; 24:5; 26:9). Is there any solid scholarship on the significance of these names?

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to see how this site works. A valid question here must have a specific Bible passage to analyze.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 4:47
  • Dottard, no it doesn't have to contain a ref, it must be a Bible related question including critical studies hermeneutics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3743/…
    – Michael16
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 6:28
  • See if this post contain answers reddit.com/r/AcademicBiblical/comments/bhl2h0/…
    – Michael16
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 6:35
  • Since 'san43a' means nothing to me I am also voting to close as no biblical-referenced text has been quoted.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 14:24
  • 1
    Nigel, "b." means "Babylonian Talmud," "j./y." means "Jerusalem Talmud," and "m." means "Mishnah." The tractate and page number is cited afterwards. Rabbinic literature contains many relevant insights for the study of the New Testament. The citations I gave are standard. Many here will understand what it means and why it is relevant. Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


The disciple whom the Talmud calls "Buni" is associated with Nicodemus. Rabbinic traditions point to a wealthy Jerusalem aristocrat called Naqdimon ben Gurion, whose original name was Buna. The Greek version of this given name is Nicodemus.

The Jewish Encyclopedia says of Naqdimon b. Gurion:

Lived at Jerusalem in the first century C.E.; the wealthiest and most respected member of the peace party during the revolution in the reign of Vespasian. Ta'anit 19b relates that during a pilgrimage he engaged twelve cisterns for the people and promised their owner twelve hundred talents of silver for them. It is supposed that his original name was Buna and that his name of Nicodemus was the result of a pun (ib. 21a). In the war against Titus he, like his two friends Kalba Sabbua' and Ben Ẓiẓit, took the part of the Romans and influenced Bar Giora against the Zealots, who therefore burned the immense quantities of provisions which the three friends had accumulated (see Giṭ. 56a).

Nicodemus is also a saint in Christian tradition, believed to have been a secret disciple along with Joseph of Arimathea. The idea of the Gospel's Nicodemus being the same as the Talmudic N. ben Gurion fits with the historical Jewish-Christian opposition to the Jewish Revolt. Some doubt it could be the same man on account of age.

I did find one scholarly work that deals with this topic. I could not find much that deals with the OP. But it mentions a Talmudic reference to a disciple of Jesus, namely Jacob of Kephar Sama, who is considered to have been a type of magician. This man, however, was not an apostle. See The Followers of Jesus in the Talmud

  • Dan, thanks for the great insight and resources! I would not see the dating of Buni being an issue since John likely retrojects later synagogue disputes into the life of Jesus (per Martyn, History and Theology). I'll have to dig deeper into that one! Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 18:00

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