Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus

Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus – In this picture, Jesus Christ shows in a conversation with the Pharisees whether it is legal to pay taxes to the Roman emperor. In the Bible, the Pharisees often show that they have legal disputes with Jesus. Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Jesus only loses his cool a few times in the New Testament (just ask the money changers in the temple), but he unleashes one of his fiercest rants against the Pharisees and other “teachers of the law” in Matthew 23. In verses 13-39, known as the “seven woes,” Jesus calls the Pharisees “hypocrites” six times. He also calls them “blind” (five times), “children of hell,” “a generation of vipers,” and compares the false piety and attitude of the Pharisees to “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every impure.”

Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus

Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus

The New Testament Pharisees are clearly seen as the bad guys, perfect ideological and spiritual foils for Jesus and his followers. The Pharisees are portrayed as deceitful enforcers of Jewish law who focus so intently on the letter of the law that they miss the spirit. As Jesus says:

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“You give a tenth of your spices: mint, fennel, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have applied the second one without neglecting the first one. Blind leaders. sneeze at a gnat, but swallow a camel.”

But does this picture of the Pharisees as legalistic hypocrites match up with what historians and religious scholars have to say about the actual Pharisaic movement that came to prominence during the Second Temple period of Judaism? We spoke with Bruce Chilton, professor of religion at Bard College and co-author of In Search of the Historical Pharisees, to better understand what the Pharisees really believed and why they clashed with early Christians.

In the first century, when Jesus lived, the Pharisees emerged as a religious movement within Judaism rather than a separate sect. The Temple still stood in Jerusalem and was the center of Jewish life. One of the greatest concerns of temple rituals was purity; that both those who entered the temple and the animals sacrificed there were “clean” enough to please God. The Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, beginning with Genesis) contains written commandments explaining the proper way to perform sacrifices in the Temple, but the Pharisees claimed they had additional divine instructions passed down through centuries of oral tradition.

“The Pharisees believed they had a special store of knowledge to determine purity,” says Chilton. “They taught that their oral tradition continued all the way back to Moses at Sinai, so not only was there a written Torah that anyone could access, but there was also an Oral Torah that was within the Pharisaic movement.”

Why Were The Pharisees The ‘bad Guys’ In The Bible?

A distinctive feature of the Pharisaic oral tradition was that it extended the issue of purity to life outside the Temple. Even if a Jewish person lived far away from Jerusalem (in Galilee, for example) and did not plan to make a pilgrimage to the Temple, they could lead their lives in such a way that they would be clean enough to enter the Temple.

However, the Pharisees were not the powerful elite of first century Judaism. These were the Sadducees, the priestly class that controlled temple worship and had the greatest political influence over the Roman Empire that ruled Palestine. The Sadducees rejected the oral tradition in favor of the written law (Torah).

The Pharisees were a working-class movement concerned with establishing a clear and consistent Jewish identity in everyday life. Interestingly, it was the Pharisees who believed in the afterlife and the resurrection of the dead, both of which were rejected by the Sadducees because they were not mentioned in the Torah. The Pharisees also believed that a Messiah would come who would bring peace to the world, although most of them did not believe that the Messiah was Jesus.

Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus

The New Testament portrays the Pharisees as a monolithic bloc, but Chilton says that while all the Pharisees were concerned with purity, there was fierce debate among the Pharisees about how best to achieve it. Of course, there were Pharisees who believed that purity was achieved from the outside in, and who taught that ritual baths (mikvahs) and ritual cleansing of cups and cooking utensils were the only means of attaining purity.

Pharisees Vs. Sadducees

In Matthew 23, Jesus criticizes the Pharisaic practice of cleaning the outside of cups and dishes, while “inside they are full of greed and self-love.”

“Since Jesus himself was concerned with purity but was not a Pharisee, his conflict with some of the Pharisees of his day was inevitable,” says Chilton. “If you accuse someone of being unclean, you are not saying that cleanliness does not matter, you are saying the opposite. There’s a better way to do it.”

But Chilton says there were other Pharisees who would have agreed with Jesus that the real work of cleansing begins with a clean heart and faith in God. If you read the New Testament carefully, you will in fact find that Jesus draws sympathy from the ranks of sympathizers and even followers of the supposedly hated Pharisees. Nicodemus, who visited Jesus at night to ask him questions and then provided money and spices to give Jesus a proper Jewish burial after the crucifixion, was a Pharisee (see John 3). And in Luke 13:31 a Pharisee comes to warn Jesus that Herod wanted him killed.

In this painting from 1889, Jesus confronts Nicodemus, a Pharisee who later became one of his followers. Found in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

What Would Jesus actually Do? He’d Never Give Up On The

But perhaps the most interesting and consistent reference to “friendly” Pharisees occurs in the book of Acts, when a group of Pharisees is listed among Jesus’ early followers who remained faithful after his death. As Chilton explains, however, these Pharisees took an ideological position in contrast to influential apostles like Paul and Peter, which may explain why the Pharisees got such a bad rap in the New Testament.

In Acts 15, there is a meeting or “council” in Jerusalem attended by Paul, Peter, James, Barnabas, and other apostles and followers of Jesus. The agenda of the meeting was to resolve an important issue between the early church. non-Jewish males had to be circumcised in order to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees present were the first to call. Acts 15:5 says: The Law of Moses.”

Notice that it says that the Pharisees were among the “believers,” further evidence that some of the Pharisees were also early followers of Jesus. But here’s where things go south. The apostles sharply disagree with the Pharisees and say that all, circumcised or uncircumcised, can have their hearts cleansed through faith in Christ. Peter, acknowledging the physical pain and danger of circumcising an adult, rebukes the Pharisees in verses 10 and 11.

Why Did The Pharisees Not Believe Jesus

“Now why do you try to test God by putting a yoke on the necks of the Gentiles that neither we nor our ancestors could bear? No. just the way they are.”

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“By the time you get to this meeting m. “Paul attacks anyone who supports the widespread use of circumcision as hypocritical, legalistic, and alienated from Christ.

And that’s pretty much the New Testament’s take on the Pharisees. It seems that it was this internal dispute among the followers of Jesus that gave rise to this sharp line of demarcation between Christians and Pharisees.”

It is important to understand that the four gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written in AD. 70, decades after the meeting in Jerusalem. So it’s very possible that Jesus himself had such aversion to the Pharisees during his lifetime, but the New Testament writers wrote the gospels with a piece on their shoulders after their ugly divorce from the Pharisees over circumcision.

“The Gospels are written from the perspective of a transgression that did not occur in Jesus’ time,” Chilton says.

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After the second temple was destroyed in The Sadducees, the most influential force in the Second Temple period, were scattered, and the flawed Pharisees, “who were very outgoing,” says Chilton, “really appeared as the last power standing in Judaism.”

Over the following centuries, the oral traditions of the Pharisees were committed to writing in the Mishnah and then interpreted in the Talmud. The Pharisee “wise men” who

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