Second Temple Pharisees

I was told I had some wrong information about Second Temple sects - what do you know about the Pharisees?

They were a sect within Judaism and were strong, both politically and religiously, in Jesus’ day. My teacher in seminary described them as Theologically Liberal and Politically Conservative. In other words, they believed that all of what we now consider the Old Testament was holy scripture (as opposed to just the pentatauch), and were zealously opposed to Rome. They believed in strict, literal interpretation of Levitical law, especially Sabbath law, and they gave Jesus a lot of grief throughout His ministry.

They also believed in angels and in the resurrection of the dead (their opponents, the Saduccees, did not).

rastahomie’s description of a Pharisee, kinda of fits the Christain Coalition.

Akat and I have responded in the thread on Sadduccees, rather than have three of these things runnin’ around.

“rastahomie’s” take on the Pharisees is common, but incorrect. The Pharisees were more or less the liberal sect, and were the direct ancestors of modern Judaism. They emphasized the synagogue and the moral teachings of the OT, and de-emphasized the Temple (which is why, after the Temple was destroyed, they were left with the strongest position). They were not particularly anti-Roman, at least in Jesus’ time.

In fact, Jesus was more or less a Pharisee, himself, at least compared to the other Jewish divisions. The idea that they were puritans comes from Jesus’ criticisms of hypocritical adherents of the Pharisee party; Christians, unaware of 1st-century Jewish politics, tend to think of a vague cloud of puritanical, anti-Jesus “Pharisees ‘n’ Sadducees”, but that’s not how it was at all.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

The Pharisees did not de-emphasize the Temple. However, the Pharisees’ power over their followers did not rest in the temple, as the Sadducees’ did. Rather, their power was in the courts and houses of study, whose authority they managed to preserve even after the Romans destroyed the temple.

But they certainly did not de-emphasize the importance of the Temple in Jewish life while it existed.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective