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Yeshua in Context » Pharisees

Pharisees

The Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” -Mark 2:24 You may have heard, wrongly, that the Pharisees were the rabbis and that they basically ran the show in Yeshua’s time. You may have heard that the Pharisees . . . were all hypocrites made up 613 rules which were oppressive led the synagogues and governed the way Jews lived for God. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Beginners, Josephus, Law, Torah, Pharisees

The Invisible Jews, Until the Sixth Century CE

People often think that Judaism was led by the Pharisees in an unbroken chain from before the time of Yeshua to the present day. In this mistaken notion of history, the Pharisees of Yeshua’s time were the influential leaders of world Jewry who morphed into the rabbis of renown. The truth, well-documented in such books as E.P. Sanders’s Judaism: Practice and Belief and J.D. Shaye Cohen’s From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, is that the Pharisees and the early rabbinic movement were not that influential until at least the sixth century CE. Contributing to the faulty view of rabbinic dominance in early Jewish history is the Mishnah and Talmud and Midrashic literature. This, taken together, is called rabbinic literature. And in the rabbinic literature, the dominance of the rabbinic movement is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Pharisees, Sadducees

Pharisees in Josephus

It is important not to take Josephus at face value in his descriptions of the Pharisees. Nonetheless, his descriptions are some of the best information we have. Josephus is prone to the following in these descriptions: (1) to describe Jewish sects in terms understandable by his Roman audience, such as calling them “philosophies,” (2) exaggerating the influence and political power of the Pharisees, the party he aligned with and which still had a strong purpose after the war (unlike Essenes and Sadducees, whose reason to be faded). E.P. Sanders says of Josephus’ bias that he “assigns so much power to the Pharisees, more than they had” (Judaism: Practice and Belief, 409). The Pharisees simplify their standard of living, making no concession to luxury. They follow the guidance of that which their … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Pharisees

Galilean vs. Judean in Matthew 22

The following notes are based on a combination of observation about Matthew 22 and reading Richard Horsley’s Archaeology, History, and Society in Galilee. The potential correlations are my own hypothesizing and do not come from Horsley’s material. Richard Horsley makes the case that too little attention has been given in historical Jesus research to the latest information and guesses about religious and political differences between Galilee and Judea. Suddenly statements such as in the fourth gospel about the “Passover of the Jews” begin to make more sense (Passover at the Temple run by the Judeans and based on Judean interpretations of the Torah and the obligations of Israel). What follows is a summary of some main points from Horsley’s book (restated in my own words and greatly simplified) and a comparison with … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Galilee, Geography, Herodians, Judea, Pharisees, Sadducees

Yeshua’s Attitude Toward the Pharisees’ Lawkeeping

Curiously, people have gotten the idea that Yeshua felt many Pharisees were too rigid in their lawkeeping. Actually, he decried a tendency toward laxity in lawkeeping as well as an inclination to misplaced priorities. Whether or not the Pharisee in the famous (and dangerous for its readers and hearers, since the parable tempts us to judge the Pharisee) Pharisee and Tax Collector parable (Luke 18:9-14) was supposed to be prototypical or not, Yeshua has more to say about Pharisees being lax in lawkeeping than rigid. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says he comes to fill up the Torah (Matthew 5:17, “fulfill” is a misleading translation best done away with). … Read entire article »

Filed under: Erasing Anti-Judaism, Law, Torah, Pharisees

Seekers of Smooth Things

Although modern readers often (erroneously) think of Pharisees as hardliners, bent on interpreting the rules as strictly as possible, even in the early days (before the rabbinic movement which developed in continuity with them) they were thought of by some as liberal, compromisers, making the way of the law too easy. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Essenes, Pharisees

Pharisee Facts #1

Earliest uses of the term Pharisee: Paul’s letters (50′s CE), Mark’s gospel (probably 60′s CE), Josephus’ works (80-90 CE). … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Pharisees