The Pharisees and Jesus
The Stone Lectures for 1915-1916

A. T. Robertson



1. The Importance of Understanding the Pharisees

Theological controversy is out of harmony with the temper of the twentieth century, but one can by no means understand the life and teachings of Jesus if he is wholly averse to such a topic. The short earthly ministry of our Lord, at most only three and a half years in length (about the duration of an average city pastorate), fairly bristles with the struggle made by the Pharisees to break the power of Christ's popularity with the people. Jesus is challenged at the very start, and is thrown on the defensive by the rabbis, who are the established and accepted religious leaders of the Jewish people. They wish no revolutionary propaganda that will interfere with their hold on the masses. They are jealous of their prerogatives, these men who 'sit on Moses' seat' (Matt 23:2).(1) The thing to note here is that Jesus recognises the right of the Pharisees to sit upon their places of ecclesiastical eminence. He even commends the general tenor of their instructions: 'All things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe (Matt 23:3).(2) But Jesus in the very next verse hastens to warn His hearers against the conduct of the Pharisees, 'for they say and do not' (legousin gar kai ou poiousin). And yet this sharp paradox is not to be taken with the utmost literalness, for not all the acts of the Pharisees were wrong, and not all their teaching is to be commended. But the heart of the criticism of Jesus is thus reached at once. It is the discrepancy between conduct and creed. When presented in this form one is bound to admit that the issue is not a merely antiquarian or academic problem, but concerns every lover and seeker after righteousness in our own day. The term Pharisee has come to signify hypocrisy wherever found. Is it unjust? This we must answer by and by.

The Pharisees are interesting, indeed, from the standpoint of historical study. They are the most characteristic manifestation of Palestinian Judaism in the time of Christ (H. M. Scott in Hastings' D.C.G.). They alone of the Jewish parties survived the destruction of the temple and the city. Modern Judaism is immensely indebted to Pharisaism. The Pharisees remained, as representing all that was left alive of Judaism.(3) Indeed, Rabbi K. Kohler (Jewish Encyclopaedia, art. 'Pharisees') says: 'Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future.' He justified its separation and exclusiveness in that it preserved in the Jew his monotheism in the wreck of the old world and the barbarism of the medieval age.

It is impossible to understand the atmosphere of Christ's earthly life without an adequate knowledge of the Pharisees. They largely created the atmosphere which the people breathed, and into which Jesus came. Our Lord had to relate His message and mission at once to this dominant theology of his time in Palestine.(4) The people were quick to compare His message with that of the official rabbis, and to express their astonishment at His teaching, 'for he taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes' (Matt 7:29).(5) It is not a question whether we like the Pharisees or not. The historical environment of Jesus in Palestine can now be quite definitely outlined, at least in its broader aspects.(6) On the theological side, the Pharisees occupy far the major part of the space and transcend all other parties in importance, for our knowledge of the historical setting of the teaching of Jesus.

The fidelity of the picture in the Gospels is so manifest, that even Wernle(7) says: 'One thing is certain, that Jesus and His Gospel are intelligible from Judaism alone; and for this, for Jesus and His relation to Palestinian Judaism, other and more accurate data are available. He appeared in the last dying moments of the theocracy, and before the exclusive rule of the Rabbis which succeeded it Here, it is true, it can be affirmed that only a few decades later the origin of Christianity would be inconceivable.' Certainly no one who knows Wernle's writings will accuse him of being an apologist for Jesus or for Christianity. He is therefore a good antidote for the theory(8) that denies the historicity of Jesus, and seeks to dissipate all the evidence into the mist and myth of subjective imagination. The sharpness of the contrast between Jesus and the Pharisees in so many fundamental matters argues for the reality of the controversy, and the date before the destruction of Jerusalem as the time for the picture drawn in the Gospels. It is a pathetic outcome of Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus (1910, p. 401), when he laments: 'We can find no designation which expresses what he is for us.' He has tried to overthrow the modern Jesus of theology by the true historical Jesus, but he is so confused by the dust of his own learning that he cannot recognise Jesus when he sees Him. The Gospels in a wonderful way preserve and reproduce the colouring of the life in Galilee and Jerusalem, while Pharisee and Sadducee shared the power, and were full of jealousy of each other, while the Palestinian Jew still felt his superiority in privilege over the Jew of the Diaspora, while the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was still unbroken and seemed unbreakable.


2. The Alleged Misrepresentation of the Pharisees

It is now a common remark in books about the Pharisees that they are not treated fairly in the New Testament. The usually fair Rabbi Kohler(9) says: 'No true estimate of the character of the Pharisees can be obtained from the New Testament writings, which take a polemical attitude toward them, nor from Josephus, who, writing for Roman readers and in view of the Messianic expectation of the Pharisees, represents the latter as a philosophical sect.' But Josephus was himself a Pharisee of the liberal sort.

However, Oesterley (The Books of the Apocrypha, pp. 136f.) notes that besides comparing the Pharisees to the Stoics (Vita, sect. 2) and the Essenes with Pythagoreans (Ant., bk. xv. ch. x. sect. 4), Josephus apparently wrote more about the Pharisees in a paragraph which is lost from the War, bk. 2 ch. 8 sect. 14. His account is certainly incomplete, besides its Hellenising basis. Certainly Paul had been a Pharisee and knew intimately the doctrines and practices of the Pharisees. And yet Herford(10) bluntly says: 'Paul's presentation of Pharisaic Judaism is, in consequence, at its best a distortion, at its worst a fiction.' Surely one cannot forget that this same Paul was once the pride of Pharisaism and the heroic champion of Pharisaic Judaism, in its apparently triumphant conflict with the heresy of Christianity. Montefiore(11) puts the case against Paul much more mildly when he says: 'I am, however, inclined to think that even in 50 Rabbinic Judaism was a better, happier, and more noble religion than one might imagine from the writings of the Apostle.'

Herford(12) also pointedly charges Jesus with not being able to comprehend Judaism. And alike to Christian and Jew, it is almost impossible to comprehend the religion of the other. Even Jesus could not do it. Herford in particular takes up the phrase, 'Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,' and adds(13): 'That such a statement should be made of the Pharisees is to Jews hard to endure,' as hard, he argues, as for Christians to stand this sentence in the Talmud(14): 'Jesus practised magic and led astray and deceived Israel,' or the phrase about Jesus in the Mishna, 'the sinner of Israel.'

And Wernle(15) ruthlessly brushes aside Jesus as an interpreter of Pharisaism in the almost brutal words: 'It was His incomplete knowledge of the law which was in this point the cause of an entire deception on the part of Jesus. . . . The law necessitated the existence of the scribes, the murderers of Jesus. But all this Jesus concealed from Himself throughout His life on earth. . . . The converse of Jesus' positive attitude towards the law is His uncompromising rejection of Pharisaism. He is so unsparing, so entirely without any exception, that the very name of Pharisee has become a term of abuse for all ages.' Herford,(16) it should be added, does draw a distinction between the method of Jesus and that of Paul: 'Paul condemned Pharisaism in theory, while Jesus condemned it in practice.'

The attack of Jesus was more concrete and hurt most, and has lasted till to-day. We see, then, that moderate Jewish writers, like Kohler and Montefiore, and some non-Jewish writers like Herford and Wernle, expressly claim that Jesus, Paul, and New Testament writers generally have distinctly misunderstood and misrepresented Pharisaism. The closing chapter of Herford's book on 'Pharisaism' is entitled Pharisaism as a Spiritual Religion. He admits(17) that 'it is easy to make Pharisaism appear ridiculous, a mere extravagance of punctilious formalism,' and claims that 'Pharisaism is entitled to be judged according to what the Pharisees themselves meant by it, and its worth to be established by what they found in it.' This claim has a large element of justice in it, but Pharisaism, like Christianity, must submit to the judgment of all men, the universal conscience. Certainly it is true that Christians should be willing to look at the facts about Pharisaism. It is probably true, as Montefiore(18) charges, that many of the modern antagonists of Rabbinic Judaism have been somewhat lacking in first-hand knowledge. On the other hand, Montefiore(19) frankly admits that 'the Jewish scholar has hitherto shown little capacity for appreciating Paul,' or Jesus, as he would freely add, though he does claim that the standpoint of a modern Jew towards Jesus should be of interest to Christians.(20) At any rate, it is perfectly clear that the subject of the Pharisee demands reinvestigation in the light of the repeated charges of unfairness in the New Testament pictures, and in particular on the part of Jesus Himself.


3. The Possibility of Treating the Pharisees Fairly

It can be said at once that it is not easy to do this. Oesterley and Box (The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue, p. ix.) indeed say that 'the time is hardly ripe for a full discussion of the important issues' connected with the Pharisees. But surely we cannot agree that it is impossible for Christian scholars to be just even to the enemies of Jesus. It is not necessary, however, for one to become a blind champion of the Pharisees in order to do them justice. This is precisely what Herford has done in his Pharisaism. In order to do 'justice to the Pharisees' (p. 6), he conceives it necessary to divest himself of Christianity and not to judge Pharisaism 'by the standard of the Christian religion,' as Oesterley and Box do in The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue. That is to claim that 'no one but a Jew, of whom it may be said that the Talmud runs in his blood, can fully realise the spiritual meaning of Pharisaism' (p. 3). But it is merely special pleading to assert that no one has a right to pass judgment upon a system of thought or upon a religion save the devotees of the system. That is the plea of the Christian Scientist, of the Mormon, of the Buddhist, of the Mohammedan, but surely not of the enlightened Christian, who stands in the open and invites comparison between Christ and all other teachers in the world. Herford poses as the pioneer in the business of treating the Pharisees fairly.(21) 'Something was still left to be done, by way of treating the Pharisees fairly, that is, without either contempt or condescension; and that "something" I have tried to do.' Certainly he has set before himself a laudable ambition, but he proceeds to boost the Pharisees by depreciating Jesus while disclaiming it. 'I will yield to no one,' he says,(22) 'in my reverence for Jesus; He is to me simply the greatest man that ever lived in regard to His spiritual nature. Some may think that too little to say; others may think it too much.' He adds (p. 125), 'I do not contend that all the Pharisees, or any of them, were the equals of Jesus in spiritual depth.' Suffer another word from Herford(23): 'He was really rejected, so far at all events as the Pharisees were concerned, because He undermined the authority of the Torah, and endangered the religion founded upon it. That Jesus really did so is beyond dispute.' Once more (p. 146) Herford says: 'Torah and Jesus could not remain in harmony. The two were fundamentally incompatible. And the Pharisees being determined to "abide by the things they had learned," viz., Torah, were necessarily turned into opponents of Jesus.' Thus does Herford justify the Pharisees at the expense of Jesus, as a dangerous heretic who had to be put down in order to save the religion of the Jews. Herford calls this treating the Pharisees 'fairly.' What shall we say of his treatment of Jesus?

Apart from the matter of prejudice on both sides of the problem of the Pharisees, we are bound to make serious inquiry about the sources of our knowledge of the subject. We have already seen that Herford rules out Jesus and Paul as witnesses. Montefiore appeals to modern criticism as justifying the most cautious use of the Gospels and Epistles of Paul,(24) though he finds himself more at home in the atmosphere of the Synoptic Gospels than in that of the Gospel of John and Paul's Epistles (ibid., p. 8). He sees no essential reason why Jews and Christians cannot understand one another just as learned Christians have written just presentations of Buddhism and Confucianism (p. 3). He recognises, however, that the Jew will seek to show the superiority of the Talmud to the Gospels, since 'the Jew has been told over and over again of the immense superiority of the teaching of the New Testament over the Old' (p. 7).

If we let the ancient Pharisee speak for himself, as he surely has the right to do, we are not without resources, apart from Josephus who must be considered, in spite of Kohler's protest quoted above. In particular we find the Pharisaic teaching in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, certainly in those portions which are clearly pre-Christian, though Charles would place all these writings before Christ. Charles(25) has a very high estimate of this collection of sayings, and says: 'Their ethical teaching, which is indefinitely higher than that of the Old Testament, is yet its true spiritual child, and helps to bridge the chasm that divides the ethics of the Old and New Testaments.' Some scholars, Plummer, for instance, will not admit that these portions of the Testaments that come so near the level of the New Testament in some points, are earlier than the Christian era. Shailer Matthews (Hastings one vol. B.D., p. 40) dates the Testaments in the first and second centuries A.D., and says that it is full of Christian interpolations. But at any rate we find here the view of some of the Pharisees about the time of Christ. The Psalms of Solomon, which belong to the period B.C. 70 to 40 A.D. and were written by a Pharisee, voice bitter antagonism toward the Sadducees and justify the downfall of the Maccabean dynasty. The Apocalypse of Esra or Second Esdras was written shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem and 'is the most complete expression of Pharisaic pessimism.' It is thus possible to get an inside view of the Pharisaism of the time, and to compare it with the pictures in Josephus and the New Testament.

But the great storehouse of Pharisaic teaching is in the Talmud and the Midrash. We may let Herford(26) state the case for Pharisaism here: 'In the Talmud is contained the main source for the knowledge of what Pharisaism meant; because it was made the storehouse in which all, or nearly all, that was held to be valuable in the Tradition of the Elders, the explicit religion of the Torah, was stored up. There is a huge literature contemporary with the Talmud, to which the general name of Midrash is given; all of it is traditional, and all of it bears on the religion of the Torah, in one way or another. This is the written deposit of Pharisaism, the mark which it has left upon the literature of the world. It is there, and not in the writings of those who did not understand its ideals or share its hopes, that its real meaning can alone be found.' Here we seem to have struck bottom at last.

But, unfortunately, the Talmud in its written form is much later than the time of Jesus. The Mishna or Second Law belongs to the period 210 A.D. This writing down of the tradition of the elders or comments on the law came to be in turn 'a code of the law for the guidance of the Jews' (Herford, Pharisaism, p. 52). 'The Mishnah became, in its turn, the subject of study in the Rabbinical schools' (ibid., p. 53). Then the comments of the rabbis on the Mishna were written down, and were called Gemara (completion) There were two centres when the Gemara was written out, one in Palestine and one in Babylonia. The Talmud is the Midrash plus the Gemara. Hence we have the Palestinian Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud with the same Midrash, but a separate Gemara. We can see at once that it is a precarious matter to appeal to these late comments (both Midrash and Gemara) as a certain proof of the Pharisaic teaching in the first century A.D. It is for this reason that Montefiore(27) says in all candour: 'The greatest caution is necessary in using the Rabbinical literature to illustrate whether by way of contrast or parallel the statements and teachings in the Synoptic Gospels. . . . You can hardly count up the number of rules about the Sabbath in the Midrash and say, there is what the average Jew or Gentile in A.D. 29 was expected to observe.' Certainly we know more of Palestine and of the Jews than we once did. In fact, we know entirely too much to be as dogmatic as Herford in his special plea for the Pharisees. Montefiore(28) says there were many 'Judaisms of the first century,' and adds: 'And of Palestinian or early Rabbinical Judaism it may be said, that we realise better the limits of our knowledge; we realise how meagre is its literary remains; and we realise how the purest Rabbinical Judaism of 50 A.D., whether in doctrine or in the type of the average believer which it produced, may not have been wholly the same as the Rabbinical Judaism of 500 A.D.' This is well said. It is to be remembered also about the New Testament writers that they assume a knowledge of the Pharisees and nowhere give full details about their tenets. The background has to be depicted largely by implication. The lines have to be filled in to avoid undue emphasis. Josephus certainly toned down his picture to please the Romans. He does not mention the Messianic hope of the Pharisees. As to the Talmud, Thomson(29) says that the lateness of the Gemara, which has most to tell about the Pharisees, 'renders the evidence deduced from the Talmudic statements of little value.' He adds: 'Even the Mishna, which came into being only a century after the fall of the Jewish state, shows traces of exaggeration and modification of facts.' And yet it is possible to look at Jesus and the Pharisees side by side, and to see the facts and to tell the truth about them.


4. A Sketch of the History of the Pharisees up to the Time of Christ

The first mention of the Pharisees by name is by Josephus, Antiquities, bk. 13 ch. 5 sect. 9: 'At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essenes.' By 'at this time' Josephus means the time of Jonathan Maccabaeus, whose career he is describing. Jonathan succeeded Judas Maccabaeus, and was the leader of the Jews in the struggle for religious liberty and political independence during the years B.C. 161-143. But Josephus tells us something of the origin of these Jewish sects. The next time that he mentions the Pharisees and Sadducees is in connection with the reign of John Hyrcanus I. (B.C. 135-106), where(30) he refers to his previous mention of the Pharisees, 'as we have informed you already.'

The Pharisees were so hostile to the possession of both the civil and the religious power by Hyrcanus that finally Eleazar, one of the Pharisees, said to Hyrcanus: 'Since thou desirest to know the truth, if thou wilt be righteous in earnest, lay down the high priesthood, and content thyself with the civil government of the people.' When pressed for his reason for that demand, Eleazar said: 'We have heard it from old men, that thy mother had been a captive under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.' This unforgivable insult implied that Hyrcanus was a bastard, son of an unknown stranger, to whom his mother had given herself, and not a true son of Aaron. This pretext angered Hyrcanus still more, with the result that he left the Pharisees, to whose party he belonged, and went over to that of the Sadducees. This incident is very suggestive, and throws light in various directions. It shows that the Pharisees and Sadducees had been in existence for some time, and are in clear-cut opposition. The Pharisees wish the high priesthood to be separate from the civil government and are opposed to the union of Church and State. The Maccabees were not Zadokites, though priests. The resentment of the Assidean purists had been shown against Judas, and led to the welcome given the treacherous Alcimus with such dire results (1 Macc. vii. 9). The Pharisees here appear more as a religious sect and less as a political party. They wish, of course, for the high priest to be a Pharisee, and for the Pharisees to have control of the religious life of the people. The Sadducees are rejoiced to have Hyrcanus on their side, and make no protest against his possession of both the civil and religious leadership. But the Sadducees are at bottom a political party, while the Pharisees are a religious party, though each make use of both elements to carry their points. The Pharisees are now the party of the opposition with the Sadducees in authority, and they show their resentment in vigorous fashion. They fight Alexander Jannseus so bitterly, that in a rage he has many of the Pharisees in Jerusalem slain; according to Josephus (Ant, bk. 13 ch. 14 sect. 2): 'He ordered about eight hundred of them to be crucified; and while they were living, he ordered the throats of their children and wives to be cut before their eyes.' Already before this, 'at a festival which was then celebrated, when he stood upon the altar, the nation rose upon him and pelted him with citrons' (Ant. bk. xiii. ch. xiii. sect 5). Evidently the Pharisees have kept their leadership of the people, though they had lost the king and high priest. The Pharisees resented the Hellenic name 'Alexander,' which Jannaeus had as well as the title of king, since he was not of the Davidic line. Besides, a high priest was not allowed to marry a widow, and yet he had married the widow of his brother Aristobulus I. Alexander Jannaeus learned his lesson, and before his death advised (Ant., ch. 15. sect. 5) his wife to 'put some of her authority into the hands of the Pharisees, for,' he told her, 'they had great authority over the Jews.' 'Promise them also that thou wilt do nothing without them in the affairs of the kingdom.' Salome Alexandra took her husband's advice, and made their son John Hyrcanus II, 'rather than Aristobulus, high priest, because he was the elder, but much more because he cared not to meddle with politics, and permitted the Pharisees to do everything' (Ant., ch. 16 sect. 2). Josephus facetiously adds: 'So she had the name of the regent, but the Pharisees had the authority.' It was a veritable millennium for the Pharisees. The Sadducees found an ally in Aristobulus (Aristobulus II). Upon the death of Salome Alexandra the kingship also passed to Hyrcanus, but Aristobulus made war upon Hyrcanus his brother, with the result that Hyrcanus surrendered the kingship to Aristobulus and kept the high priesthood (Ant., bk. 14.). This compromise was due to the mild disposition of Hyrcanus, and after all suited very well both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, for each party had what it cared most about, the one the religious leadership, the other the political.

The 'ifs' of history are always interesting. If the Idumean upstart, Antipater, had not turned up in Jerusalem and stirred up the gentle Hyrcanus to try to regain the civil power (Ant., sect 2-4), the after history of the Jews might have been very different. Antipater was like the modern political boss who holds no office, and yet selects all who do hold such positions of power. He is the invisible government. Antipater is concerned about the civil rule which Aristobulus has. He selects Hyrcanus as his tool because he is the more pliable of the two brothers. Antipater is neither Pharisee nor Sadducee, and has neither politics nor religion, but uses both to further his own ambition for power. So he plays the Pharisees against the Sadducees in his effort to oust Aristobulus from the kingship and to restore it to Hyrcanus, whom he can manage. He makes Hyrcanus appeal to Aretas king of Arabia for help. This fratricidal contest, with the Arabs as arbiters, furnishes Pompey with a plausible excuse to come to Jerusalem on his way back from Armenia against Tigranes, and to assert the power of Rome in the dispute, with the result, after vacillation and trickery on the part of Aristobulus, that Jerusalem is captured, Aristobulus is taken captive to Rome, and Hyrcanus is left high priest, but not king (Ant., chs. 2-5). The Pharisees are left where they were, but the Sadducees are worsted. This was B.C. 63, and the glorious days of Maccabean independence are over. The Roman yoke has now been placed upon the Jews.

Roman wars play a part in the history of the Pharisees. Upon the defeat and death of Pompey, Hyrcanus and Antipater find themselves on the side of the vanquished. Julius Caesar reversed the policy of Pompey, and restored the party of the Sadducees to power by offering the high priesthood to Aristobulus. But Aristobulus and his son Alexander were slain, and only Antigonus, another son, was left (Ant., ch. 7 sect. 4).

Another turn in the wheel of fortune for the Pharisees came when Antipater went down to Egypt to help Julius Caesar against Mithridates of Pontus, and did it so successfully that Caesar felt that he owed his victory to Antipater, and as a result made him his personal representative in Palestine, with Hyrcanus as high priest (Ant., bk. 14 ch. 8). Thus the Pharisees are back again in ecclesiastical power. Antipater is at last supreme in Palestine.

However, the death of Caesar and the victory of Antony and Octavius over Brutus and Cassius left Herod, Antipater's son and prospective son-in-law of Hyrcanus, on the side of the defeated party (Ant., chs. 11-13). But Herod finally won the favour of Antony, ruler of the East, and was appointed Tetrarch with Hyrcanus as high priest. Thus the Pharisees retained their hold till the Parthians (Ant., ch. 13) came and set up Antigonus as king and high priest in Jerusalem, and so reinstated the Sadducees in power. Hyrcanus is mutilated, his ears being cut off by order of Antigonus, so that he could not be high priest any more, and was made the captive of the Parthians (Ant., ch. 13 sect. 10).

In despair Herod fled to Aretas in Arabia and then to Egypt, in search of Antony, and found him in Rome. Here Antony and Octavius; to Herod's surprise and joy, have him appointed King of Judea by the Senate. This was in B.C. 40, but it took him three years to secure the kingdom from Antigonus and the Parthians (Ant., chs. 14-15).

Henceforth the high priesthood is in the hands of Herod the Great, who appoints his puppets to office (Ant., bk. 15 ch. 2 sect. 4). When the Romans make a province instead of a vassal kingdom out of Palestine, they themselves appoint the high priest (Ant., bk. 20, ch. 9 sect. 1). In the ministry of Jesus the Sadducees control the high priesthood. The chief priests are Sadducees. Both Annas and Caiaphas are Sadducees. This long struggle for power made the bitterness between these two parties very sharp.


5. The Standing of the Pharisees in the First Century A.D.

The brief outline just given of the struggle of the Pharisees for power shows that they had won the sympathy and support of the masses of the people. This was due mainly to the fact that the Pharisees were the heirs and successors of the Hasidim or Assideans of the Maccabean books, the Loyalists or Puritans who resisted the efforts of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Hellenising high priests, Jason and Menelaus, to compel the Jews to adopt Greek customs, and even to worship Zeus and eat swine's flesh. It is a tragic story as it is told with simple power in 1 Macc, i.-ii. The revolt of Mattathias, and the long struggle under Judas and Jonathan, with final victory under Simon, is one of the heroic passages of history. It is clear that the Pharisees carried over the attitude of this patriotic party toward Hellenism, and that the Sadducees became the heirs of the Hellenisers. Aristobulus I (B.C. 106) was a Sadducee, and was known as the Phil-hellene, so that one of the Maccabees actually went over to the standpoint of the Hellenisers, after the fight against the Hellenisers had been won by the Maccabees. Shades of Mattathias and of Judas! The Sadducees were more hospitable to foreign influences of all sorts, while the Pharisees stood firmly by the tradition of the elders and the integrity of Judaism (Ant., bk. 13 ch. 11).

Certainly the roots of Pharisaism run back into the past, even beyond the Hasidim. Indeed, the Pharisees trace their origin in principle back to Ezra. Rabbi Lakish (b. Succ. 20a) says: 'When the Torah was forgotten, Ezra came up from Babylon and re-established it; when it was forgotten again, Hillel came up from Babylon and re-established it; and when it was forgotten again, R. Hija and his sons came up from Babylon and re-established it.' Herford(31) claims that 'while no one would say that Ezra was a Pharisee, it is true that he was a spiritual ancestor of the Pharisees, more than of any other element in post-exilic Judaism.' He adds: 'Pharisaism alone was the result of his work; and Pharisaism alone survived, to carry down through the centuries the spiritual treasure of Israel.' To this last statement I should certainly object, for I agree with Paul that Christianity is the true Israel of promise, and it is a heavy load on Ezra to hold him responsible for all the traditions and practices of the Pharisees.

Herford (p. 9) even says that, 'if Ezra had not come, it is conceivable, and indeed highly probable, that Judaism would have disappeared altogether.' But it is true beyond a doubt that the synagogue and the scribes, the powerful agencies in the hands of the Pharisees, were used to make the law an effective guard to keep the Jews from again going after strange gods, as before the Babylonian Captivity. 'But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up(32) unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed' (Gal 3:23). So then the middle wall of partition did serve a good purpose, hard as it was to batter down this mark of hate towards the Gentiles, as it came to be (cf. Eph 2:14-17).

The scribes so often mentioned in connection with the Pharisees in the Gospels were a profession, not a party or sect. They were nearly all Pharisees, though some of them were Sadducees. So the scribes (copyists of the law, then students, teachers, exponents of the law, doctors or lawyers) taught the law from the Pharisaic standpoint, and helped to make Pharisaism popular and powerful. As we have seen in the time of Jesus, the Romans gave the Sadducean high priest the chief power in internal affairs of Jewish administration (Ant., bk. 20 ch. 9 sect 1). The small Sadducean aristocracy had great power, but the Pharisees had representatives in the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 5:34, 23:6), and were able to exercise great power with the people (Ant., bk. 18 ch. 1. sect. 4).

The Sadducees claimed affiliation with the priests and the Pharisees with the scribes.(33) The Sadducees were a priestly aristocracy of blood, while the Pharisees were an aristocracy of learning.(34) Kohler(35) calls the Pharisees the party of progress, and the Sadducees the party of reaction, but there are two sides to that question. The Sadducees were narrower than the Pharisees in their insistence upon the law of Moses as alone binding, in opposition to the Pharisaic traditions, but the Sadducees, on the other hand, were more open to the Greek and Roman life around them, almost Hellenisers, and ridiculed the Pharisees for their ceremonial punctilios about the Gentiles.

The Pharisees, though made finally an aggressive political party from necessity, were at bottom a brotherhood with oath of initiation and rules for life that distinguished them from other Jews. The old hasidhim were 'saints' like the English Puritans or the Cameronians in Scotland who would have none of William of Orange, because he was not a 'covenanted' king.(36) The Pharisees, perushim (from parash, פׇּרַשׁ, to separate),(37) those who had organised themselves into brotherhoods (habhuroth) in order to study the law and to obey its precepts. The habhurim or neighbours required an oath of fidelity in the presence of three other habhurim. This vow of initiation required the ideal of Levitical ceremonial(38) purity, the avoidance of the 'am-ha-'arets ('the ignorant and careless boor' who disregarded the Levitical requirements), the payment of tithes, the regard for other people's property, and respect for vows. These Pharisaic brotherhoods admitted women to their membership, and made proselytes as Jesus said: 'Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte (Matt 23:15). But membership was voluntary, and certificate of good character was required as well as a period of probation. The number of the Pharisees in Palestine in the time of Jesus was about six thousand, and they were scattered all over the country, though Jerusalem in Judea was headquarters.

They met Jesus in Jerusalem, in Galilee, in Perea, in Decapolis. They are not so powerful in the government of the country as the Herodians and the Sadducees, though certainly they had a strong representation in the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6-9), for they were able to defeat the effort of the Sadducees to injure Paul as Gamaliel had done about Peter and John (Acts 5:34f.). But the people accepted the Pharisees as the orthodox interpreters of Judaism as opposed to the Sadduoees, Herodians, Essenes, and for a while the Zealots.

We have seen how the Sadducees stood in bold outline, few and powerful priestly aristocrats, against the Pharisees. Two of the other parties were offshoots of the Pharisaic movement (the Essenes and the Zealots). Thomson (Intern. Stand. Bible Encycl.) thinks that the Essenes were descendents of the Assidean purists, who fled to the desert to escape the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccc 2:27), and who lived on there in protest even against the Maccabeans and the Pharisees. They were Pharisees run to seed or carried to the nth degree, and the mystics of Judaism with a dash of Persian astrology and Greek philosophy and the asceticism of some of the other mystery-religions. The Zealots,(39) on the other hand, were the fanatics of the Pharisees, who grew tired of the slow opposition of the body of the Pharisees to Roman oppression and Sadducean subserviency These Zealots(40) precipitated the war with Rome (see Josephus' War, 5.1.), and thus played the decisive part in the culmination of political Judaism. They were scornful of the time-serving Pharisees who were ready, many of them, to make peace with the Romans as Josephus did. The Herodians, on the other hand, opposed all the other parties in the insistence that Judea should have one of the Herods as king after the deposition of Archelaus. They have power even during the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. In the life of Christ all these parties are active and aggressive in public life, save the Essenes, who lived in the wilderness apart from the whirl of politics and theology. With the destruction of Jerusalem all vanish save the Pharisees, who become practically the nation. Pharisaism after 70 A.D. may be said to be the religion of official Judaism, and it has remained so ever since. First it gathered round the oral law or Midrash, as the interpretation of the law. Then the Mishna was the interpretation of the oral law. Then the Gemara explained the Mishna. The Talmud has now become the actual Jewish Bible far more than the Old Testament.

The Pharisees in the time of Jesus have all the pride of a religious inheritance. They have Abraham to their father as all the Jews did, but their knowledge of the law and ceremonial punctiliousness placed them far above other Jews and all Gentiles. 'This multitude ('am-ha-'arets, people of the land) that knoweth not the law are accursed' (John 7:49), the Pharisees scornfully retort to the soldiers in defence of their hostility to Jesus. A Pharisee is not allowed to eat at the table of another Pharisee, if his wife is one of 'the people of the land' ('am-ha-'arets). He must not sell to one of the 'am-ha-'arets or have any association with any of them. One thinks at once of the caste system of India. The origin of this attitude is seen in the description of the heathen and half-heathen people of Palestine, in distinction from the Jews who came back from Babylon (cf. Ezra 9:1f., 10:2,11; Neh 10:29-32).

They brand as 'publicans and sinners' not merely the really wicked, but all who are not 'righteous' like themselves. From the Pharisaic standpoint there were two great classes of society, the righteous and the sinners. Their spiritual pride is seen to perfection in the prayer of the Pharisee in the temple in Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18. We see it also all through the Psalms of Solomon, where condemnation is invoked upon the Sadducees and all others (sinners) who are not Pharisees.(41) In Luke 18:13 the publican describes himself as 'the sinner' (τω αμαρτωλω [to amartolo]), as the Pharisee referred to him contemptuously as 'this publican.' The Pharisees are the exponents of official Judaism, the custodians of the Torah, the hope of the future, and have accepted explanations for all scripture and for every problem of life.


6. The Seven Varieties of the Pharisees

The Pharisees were not at one with themselves save in opposition to everybody else. There is no logical place to stop in the business of Pharisaic seclusiveness when once it is started. The line was drawn against the Gentiles, against the 'am-ha-'arets among the Jews, against the publicans and sinners, against the Sadducees, and then against some of the Pharisees themselves. The Talmud itself gives the seven varieties of the Pharisees, and all but the last one are afflicted with hypocrisy, the sin that Jesus so vigorously denounces, and that stirs the modern apologists of Pharisaism to such rage. Even the Psalms of Solomon are full of denunciations of hypocrisy. Thomson (Intern. Stand. Bible Encycl.) argues that hypocrisy was 'a new sin, a sin only possible in a spiritual religion, a religion in which morality and worship were closely related.' Certainly, the true Judaism was not hypocrisy, but it is remarkable that the Psalms of Solomon (a Pharisaic book), the New Testament, and Talmud (the Pharisaic Bible), all give hypocrisy as the chief sin of the Pharisees. Herford(42) admits that the Pharisaic theory of the Torah 'could, and in some cases did, lead to that mere formalism and hypocrisy which have been charged upon the Pharisees as a class.' He claims that such formalism and hypocrisy were only the perversion of Pharisaism and not inherent in it. This is one of the points to examine. Meanwhile the seven types of Pharisees are pictured in the Talmud(43) itself.

(a) The 'Shoulder' Pharisee. This type wears his good deeds on his shoulders, and is very punctilious in his observance of the Torah, traditions and all, from expediency, not from principle. He finds that Pharisaism pays one in the increased reputation for purity. As Jesus said, they did their righteousness 'to be seen of men' (προς το θεαθηναι [pros to theathenai]), not for the moral and spiritual worth of the act.

(b) The 'wait-a-little' Pharisee. He always has an excuse for not doing the good deed just now, like the Spanish proverb 'Manana' ('to-morrow'). One is reminded at once of the man whom Jesus invited to follow him (Luke 9:57-60), but who excused himself on the ground that he must first go and bury his father. We know from Tobit vi. 14 ('They have no other son to bury them') that the idea of this man (probably a Pharisee) was to go and stay with his father till he was dead and buried, and then to come and follow Jesus. Another man wanted first to bid farewell to those at home (Luke 9:61f.). Thus the Pharisee preserved his creed at the expense of his conduct.

(c) The 'bruised' or 'bleeding' Pharisee. This Pharisee is too pious to look at a woman, and so shuts his eyes if he fears one is coming, and stumbles against a wall, and makes the blood flow from his face. He is anxious that the blood shall be seen in order to gain credit for his piety. One is reminded of the beggars to-day who mutilate themselves to arouse pity. In Sotah f. xxi. 2, we read: 'Foolish saints, crafty villains, sanctimonious women, and self-afflicting Pharisees are the destroyers of the world.' There are plenty of parallels in the Brahmanism of India to-day and in types of Roman Catholicism. There were (and are) men who leer at women with lustful eyes (cf. Christ's denunciation in Matt 5:28), but these Pharisees looked on women as the personification of evil. The disciples of Jesus were astonished to see him, a teacher (rabbi), talking in public 'with a woman' (John 4:27, μετα γυναικος ελαλει [meta gunaikos elalei]).

(d) The 'pestle' or 'mortar' Pharisee. He walks with his head down in mock humility like a pestle in a mortar. He is also called the 'hump-backed' Pharisee, who walked as though his shoulders bore the whole weight of the law, or the 'tumbling' Pharisee, who was so humble that he would not lift his feet from the ground, or the 'painted' Pharisee, who advertised his holiness by various poses, so that no one should touch and bring defilement to him. These are all caricatures, to be sure, of the true Pharisee, but they were so common that the Talmud(44) pictures them in great variety of detail—'the dyed ones who do evil deeds and claim godly recompense,' 'they who preach beautifully, but do not act beautifully.' Alexander Jannaeus warned his wife against 'painted Pharisees who do the deeds of Zimri and look for the reward of Phinehas.' One is reminded of the charge of Jesus: 'For they say, and do not' (Matt 23:3), of the broad phylacteries and the large borders on their garments, of the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the market places, and the wish to be hailed as Rabbi or Doctor (Matt 23:3-6).

(e) The 'ever-reckoning' or 'compounding' Pharisee. He is always on the look-out for something extra to do to make up for something that he has neglected. He is the 'reckon-it-up' Pharisee, trying to counterbalance his evil deeds with his good ones. He is anxious to have his few sins deducted from his many virtues and leave a clean balance-sheet. One is reminded of the Roman Catholic system for buying one out of purgatory and the whole system of indulgences. Pharisaism made a large contribution to Roman Catholic doctrine and life. It is easy to recall what Jesus said about tithing mint, dill, cummin, and about straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

(f) The 'timid' or 'fearing' Pharisee. His relation to God is that of trembling awe in dread of punishment. They imagine that they can satisfy God with outward performance, and keep the outside of the cup scrupulously clean, but neglect the inside of the cup (Luke 11:39f). They watch heaven with one eye and keep the other open for the main chance on earth, cross-eyed or cock-eyed instead of focussing both eyes in a single look at the glory of God (Matt 6:19-23). Hence, though ravening wolves, they will even put on sheep's clothing (Matt 7:15). This type of Pharisaism actually projected a conception of God as a devout Pharisee 'who repeats the Sh'ma to himself daily; wears phylacteries on the wrists and forehead; occupies Himself three times every day in studying His own law; has disputes with the angels about legal minutiae; and finally summons a Rabbi to settle the difference.'(45)

(g) The 'God-loving' or 'born' Pharisee. This type is supposed to be like Abraham, and to show the true Pharisaism, of which the other six types are variations or perversions. Certainly, no one would say that all the Pharisees were hypocrites. Nor did Jesus mean that, but simply that hypocrisy had come to be the distinguishing characteristic of Pharisees as a class or party. To this fact the Talmud itself bears clear testimony. The emphasis upon external observances drifted logically and naturally to that result. There were Pharisees who were friends of Jesus, men like Nicodemus, who cautiously felt their way and finally enlisted on his side. There were voluble Pharisees who quickly flocked to Christ, till he exposed their emptiness, when they deserted him (John 8:30f.).


7. The Two Schools of Theology

With all this variety among the Pharisees as pictured in the Talmud, it is no wonder that there were two schools of Pharisaism in Jerusalem (the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai) which took opposite positions on many points of theology, some of them trivial enough, as, for instance, whether it was proper to eat an egg laid by a hen on the Sabbath day. One is reminded of the Big Endians and the Little Endians in Gulliver's Travels. The Lilliputians split hopelessly on the grave issue as to which end to stand the egg upon. There was 'the plague of Pharisaism' in Palestine, and the Talmud bears its own terrible condemnation of it, in spite of its being the standard exposition of Pharisaic theology. It is urged by Buchler,(46) as we shall see later at more length, that it was the school of Shammai that made the washing of hands binding law about 100 A.D. against the protest of the school of Hillel. 'Up to this time the school of Shammai, and perhaps also some of the more strict Hillelites, may have practised the washing of hands; but it was not yet binding law.' It was, he holds, insistence on strict Levitical purification for priests and teachers of the law that was the occasion of Christ's sharp criticism of the Shammai Pharisees in Mark 7.

They championed the most narrow type of ceremonial piety and exclusiveness. Oesterley and Box(47) think that the school of Shammai was in the ascendant in Palestine up to A.D. 70, when the school of Hillel gained the upper hand. If so, this fact partially explains the intensity of Christ's denunciation of these rigorous legalists in such general terms. They were the real leaders of the majority. At the same time one is enabled to understand the friendly intercourse that existed between Christ and the Pharisees of the Hillel school of thought, who on occasion took his part against the school of Shammai. We see this division of sentiment among the Pharisees about Christ in John 9:16, 10:19-21, 12:42. In Luke 5:17-26, the Pharisees are apparently greatly impressed by what Jesus said and did. So Chwolson(48) argues that Christ attacked only the extremists among the Pharisees, but he goes too far in exonerating the Pharisees from any part in the death of Jesus, and seeking to place all the blame on the Sadducees. Elbogen(49) reminds us that the Pharisees were the guardians of the Prophets and of the Hagiographa as well as of the Pentateuch.


8. The Two Methods of Pharisaic Teaching

In Ezra the Scribe it is common to find the origin of the Jewish scribes, and also of the Pharisees in principle, though not in time. We know not whether the 'assembly' described in Nehemiah 10 became the great synagogue hypothecated by some scholars for this period.

One of the treatises in the Mishna, called the Pirke Aboth or Sayings of the Fathers, ascribes this saying to the men of the Great Synagogue: 'Be deliberate in judgment; make many disciples; make a hedge for the law.' But no one knows who said this. Herford(50) regards this saying as the key to the interpretation of the Talmud: 'Deliberation in judgment is the key to the casuistry of the Talmud', and thus even Herford admits the 'casuistry,' though he justifies it. It has always been the aim of Rabbinical Judaism to make disciples, and the hedge about the Torah was 'the means taken to keep the divine revelation from harm.' This saying does let us into the heart of the secret of Pharisaism. Herford(51) holds that, even apart from this saying, with the conception of the law held by Ezra, 'Pharisaism was certain to appear sooner or later, and the Talmud itself was the implied, though distant, result of the process by which that conception was to be worked out.' In other words, Herford maintains that Pharisaism is the natural and inevitable outcome of the Old Testament teaching, while Jesus made a distinct departure from the real Judaism of the past. This view misinterprets the Old Testament, the Pharisees and Jesus, in my opinion. At any rate, there is no doubt of the fact that Pharisaism grew out of the effort to honour the Torah, and was the religion of the Torah.

But surely Herford(52) is asking too much when he asks us to feel sympathy with the idea that 'Rabbinical devotion could express itself quite naturally in terms which to the unenlightened Gentile appear extravagant—as, for instance, when it is said that God studies Torah for three hours every day' (b. A. Zar. 3b). He adds:(53) 'It is near the truth to say that what Christ is to the Christian, Torah is to the Jew.' With the Pharisees, Torah included the unwritten as well as the written word of God. Herford(54) unwittingly justifies Jesus when he says: 'And he (the Pharisee) would say that the unwritten was more important than the written, because the unwritten unfolded what was concealed in the written, and extended its application.'

This conception of the superiority of the oral law to the written on the part of the Pharisees is implied in what Josephus(55) says about their following the conduct of reason. Only they did not put it that way. This oral teaching or tradition of the elders was held to be authoritative. Rabbi Eleazar of Modin says: 'Whosoever interprets Scripture in opposition to tradition has no part in the future world.' Once more we read: 'The voice of the Rabbi is as the voice of God' (Erubin, fol. 21, col. 2), and 'To be against the word of the scribes is more punishable than to be against the word of the Bible' (Sanh. xi. 3). Surely Jesus(56) does not strain the point at all when he says with fine irony: 'Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your tradition.' In time the rabbis(57) came to say this: 'Moses received the (oral) Law from Sinai, and delivered it to Joshua and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the men of the great synagogue.' They either read all the oral law into the written law (eisegesis) or twisted it out of the written law (exegesis) in ways wonderful to behold.

The oral teaching itself (like the later Talmud) came to be divided into two parts (Halachah and Haggadah). In broad general terms Halachah (from הׇלַךְ [halakh] to go) means the way to go or rules of life, the rule of right conduct. This was the part that was considered binding and as authoritative as the Pentateuch itself. Much of it covered what is usually included by us in civil and criminal law. The rabbis were masters of canon and civil law, real LL.D.'s; or rather it was all one and the same with them. Lawyers and doctors of divinity were these rabbis, as we see them in the New Testament. The Halachah included careful decisions arrived at with great deliberation, 'guided by the recorded opinion of earlier teachers, when known, and also by recognised rules of interpretation.'(58) The whole of life came under the control of the Halachah, as we shall see later. The Halachah is the most distinctive element in Pharisaic teaching, and received the most careful consideration.(59) By it they must in all fairness be judged. And yet Herford(60) says: 'It is the Halachah which has laid the Pharisees open to so much misrepresentation and obloquy.' One may properly ask if it is misrepresentation even if it is obloquy. 'Undoubtedly the rabbis thought that the Halachah as interpreted by them was the will of God. Hence they gave to that Halachah, which more than anything else has brought scorn and ridicule upon them, the patient labour of about six centuries.'(61)

One example of the Halachah may be given. In Numbers 15:38 we read this command to Moses: 'Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringes of each border a cord of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember the commandments of Jehovah, and do them.' This is just the kind of precept in the law that delighted the rabbis, and gave free range for expansion. The white wool and the blue threads would make pretty 'symbols of innocence and heaven.'(62) But the scribes 'added a mountainous mass of oral pedantries.'(63) They argued that the fringe must consist of four threads of white wool, one of which must be wound round the others as follows: seven times with a double knot, then eight times with a double knot, then eleven times with a double knot, then thirteen times with a double knot, 'because 7+8+11=26, the numerical value of the letters of Jehovah (יהוה) and 13 is the numerical value of Achad, one, so that the number of windings represents the words "Jehovah is one."'(64)

But what shall we say to the remark of Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Isaaki, 1040-1105 A.D.), 'the prince of commentators' on the Talmud? He says: 'The precept concerning the fringes is as weighty as all the other precepts put together,' and again he says: 'He who observes the precept about the fringes shall have 2800 slaves to wait on him.'(65) Of this custom Jesus said: 'They enlarge the borders' or fringes of their garments (μεγαλυνουσιν κρασπεδα [megalunousin kraspeda]) for purposes of display, with all the Pharisaic knots tied according to the rules of the rabbis in the Halachah. By Halachah, therefore, the Pharisees meant all the legal and ritual element in the Scripture, and all the usages, customs (Minhagim), ordinances (Teqanoth) and decrees (Gezeroth) for which there is little or no authority in the Scripture.(66)

But what is the Haggadah? This term is from nagad (נׇגַד), to say, and was applied to all the interpretations of Scripture that were not precept.(67) Under this designation we find almost anything about everything. The rabbis by no means agreed with themselves, and they did not require uniformity of belief in every detail. A rabbi could say utterly contradictory things if it was merely Haggadah, for it was not binding. Weber(68) is justly open to criticism, for seeking to produce a system of Pharisaic theology in so far forth as the Haggadah is concerned. Herford(69) sarcastically remarks: 'Christian scholars are pathetically grateful to Weber for having given them an orderly and methodical arrangement of the medley of Pharisaic doctrines; certainly he has done so, but with as much success and as much truth as if he had described a tropical jungle, believing it to be a nursery-garden.' Anything may find a place in the Haggadah, provided it can be shown to have some vague connection with a word or letter of Scripture, however irrelevant the interpretation, illustration, or application may be. Here we find 'astronomy and astrology, medicine and magic, theosophy and mysticism.'(70) In popular form the rabbis have had free play for imagination, for anecdote, for parable, for fable. Recall Paul's warnings to Timothy against 'fables and endless genealogies' (1 Tim 1:4), 'profane and old wives fables' (4:7), and to Titus against those who give heed to 'Jewish fables and commandments of men' (1:14).

Hear Herford(71) again, the modern apologist of Pharisaism: 'Ethical principles, mystical speculations, meditations on providence and the wonders of creation, the imaginings of pious fantasy, and even the play of daring wit. No freak of allegory, of word-play, of fantastic juggling with letters and syllables, is without illustration in the Haggadah.' The Haggadah dealt with what a man was to believe and to feel (his theology), while the Halachah set forth what he was to do (morality or ethics).(72) Halachah led to pure externalism, 'all that was internal and higher being merely Haggadic,'(73) and so not binding. This distinction drove a wedge between the spiritual and intellectual on one side, and the performance of rites and ceremonies as real religion on the other. As a specimen of Halachah we read (B. Meg. 86d) that during a discussion about purity in the heavenly academy Rabbah was summoned from earth to prove the correctness of the Almighty's opinion on the subject. Once more the Talmud tells us how to see demons. Rabbi(74) says: 'Whoever wishes to see them let him take the interior covering of a black cat, the kitten of a first-born black cat, which is also the kitten of a first-born, and let him burn it in the fire, and powder it, and fill his eyes with it, and he will see them.'

It must be borne in mind that the distinction between Halachah and Haggadah applies both to the Midrash(75) and the Talmud.(76) The Mishna was mainly Halachah, but the Gemara was largely Haggadah. The Babylonian Talmud, which is the one in common use among Jews to-day, is more casuistical in the Gemara than the Palestinian.(77) 'It was said by some that the written law was like water, the Mishnah like wine, and the Gemara like hippocras or spiced wine.'(78) The Babylonian Gemara had an extra touch of spice.

I cannot pose as an impartial witness, but I have never read a book so dull as the minutiae and hair splitting tortuosities of the Mishna and the Gemara. One opens almost anywhere and it requires a positive effort to go on. This wine has lost its flavour for me. Take this specimen, selected at random (Baba Kamma, ch. iv. Mishna iii.). Mishna: 'An ox belonging to an Israelite that gored an ox belonging to the sanctuary, or of the sanctuary that gored one of a commoner, there is no liability, for it is written: the ox of another but not of the sanctuary, Ex. xxi. xxxi. Gemara: This Mishna is not in accordance with R. Simeon b. Menassia of the following Boraitha: An ox of a commoner that gored an ox of the sanctuary; or vice versa, is free, for it is written, an ox of another, but not of the sanctuary. R. Simeon b. Menassia, however, says that an ox of the sanctuary that gored an ox of a commoner is free, but an ox of a commoner that gored an ox of the sanctuary, whether vicious or not, the whole damage must be paid.' And on the twistification and casuistry go for another page.

It is not possible to give a picture of the long line of rabbis who have given themselves so devotedly to the explication of the involutions of the Torah. The Talmud and the Midrash are the chief monuments of their wisdom and their industry. Each rabbi sought to add one great saying to the endless store to be passed on to future generations. Hillel's great rule was: 'That which is hateful to thyself do not do to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, and the rest is mere commentary'(79)—the negative form of the Golden Rule. The great word of his rival Shammai was: 'Let thy repetition of the law be at a fixed hour; speak little, but do that which thou hast to do with cheerful countenance.'(80) The word of Gamaliel I., Rabban, 'Our Teacher,' the teacher of the Apostle Paul, was: 'Procure thyself a teacher, avoid being in doubt, and do not accustom thyself to give tithes by guess.'(81) Gamaliel had gained some knowledge of Greek literature, a heresy from the standpoint of the rabbis, but he was excused on the ground that he needed it for diplomatic intercourse with the government.


9. The Chief Points in Pharisaic Theology

At once we are confronted with the importance and the difficulty of distinguishing between the later theology of the rabbis and that current in Palestine, in the first century A.D. Clearly both Halachah and Haggadah are far more extensive in the written Midrash than was true in the time of Jesus. But Herford(82) admits that 'the intention of it is the same for the earlier as for the later. Wherefore it is legitimate to use the Talmud, to illustrate the principle of Halachah, as accepted in the New Testament period.' But, as already stated, the theology of the Pharisees, so far as their beliefs were concerned, was mainly Haggadah. But the New Testament, Josephus, the Psalms of Solomon, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 2 Esdras, the Talmud, and the Midrash agree in the main outlines of Pharisaic theology. We can only give the picture in bold outline.

Elbogen(83) is right in his plea that justice be done the Pharisees, for the preservation of monotheism in opposition to the powerful pressure of Greek polytheism, for the emphasis on individualism, and for the prominence of belief in a future life. It is impossible to over-estimate the value placed upon the study of Torah by the rabbis. Rabbi Jacob said (Pirke Aboth, iii. 10): 'He who is walking by the way and studying, and breaks off his Mishnah (study) and says, How fine is this tree! and how fine is this fallow! they account it to him as if he were guilty of death.' Again Rabbi Dosithai says (iii. 12) in the name of Rabbi Meir: 'When a scholar of the wise sits and studies and has forgotten a word of his Mishnah, they account it unto him as if he were guilty of death.' Once more Rabbi Li'eser (Pirke Aboth ii. 14) says: 'Warm thyself before the fire of the wise, but beware of their embers, perchance thou mayest be singed, for their bite is the bite of a fox, and their sting the sting of a scorpion, and their hiss the hiss of a fiery serpent, and all their words are as coals of fire.' Rabban Jochanan ben Zakai placed such an estimate upon one of his disciples, that he said (Pirke Aboth, ii. 2): 'If all the wise of Israel were in a scale of a balance, and Eli'ezer ben Hyrqanos in the other scale, he would outweigh them all.'

In a way the Pharisees as a whole were theological moderates as between Sadducees and Hellenisers on the one hand, and the Essenes on the other. The Essenes were far more reactionary than the Pharisees, while the Sadducees lent a listening ear to the allurements of Hellenism. The outstanding features of Pharisaic theology, as distinct from practice, are easily grasped. They are four.

(a) They held both to divine sovereignty and human free agency. The Essenes were fatalists and denied human responsibility, while the Sadducees rejected divine sovereignty over man's actions. Josephus speaks of the matter twice. In Antiquities, bk. 18 ch. 1, sect. 3, he says: 'When they determine that all things are done by fate, they do not take away the freedom from men of acting as they think fit; since their notion is that it hath pleased God to make a temperament, whereby what He wills is done, but so that the will of man can act virtuously or viciously.' Josephus here occupies the standpoint and uses the language of Greek philosophy, but properly represents the Pharisees on this point as the Talmud shows. In the War, bk. 2 ch. 8 sect. 14, he says: 'These ascribe all to fate and to God, yet they allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of man, although fate does co-operate in every action.' By 'fate' Josephus means the personal God, not a mere abstraction like the view of the Stoics. On this point, which is fundamental, the Pharisees occupied in general the stand-point about God and man that modern Calvinists maintain.

(b) They placed the oral law on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures. We have had this point illustrated already, but let us bear in mind Josephus again. In Antiquities, bk. 13 ch. 10 sect. 6, he says: 'What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are delivered from the tradition of our forefathers.' Josephus wrote in the latter part of the first century A.D., but long before any of the oral law was written down in Mishna or Gemara. Josephus pays this tribute to Pharisaic exegesis: 'The Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skilful in the exact explanation of their laws' (War, bk. 2 ch. 8 sect. 14). And this also: 'They also pay a respect to such as are in years; nor are they so bold as to contradict them in anything which they have introduced.' That is more euphemistic, at any rate, than the language of Jesus: 'They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger' (Matt 23:4). Hear now some of the Jewish Fathers on the subject of learning this oral law: 'There are four characters in scholars. Quick to hear and quick to forget, his gain is excelled by his loss; slow to hear and slow to forget, his loss is excelled by his gain; quick to hear and slow to forget, is wise: slow to hear and quick to forget, this is an evil lot' (Pirkb Aboth, v. 18). These correspond somewhat to the four temperaments. And then this: 'There are four characters in college-goers. He that goes and does not practise, the reward of going is in his hand: he that practises and does not go, the reward of practice is in his hand: he that practises is pious: he that goes not and does not practise is wicked '(v. 20). And once more this: 'At five years old, Scripture: at ten years, Mishna: at thirteen, the Commandments: at fifteen, Talmud: at eighteen, the bridal: at twenty, pursuits: at thirty, strength: at forty, discernment: at fifty, counsel: at sixty, age: at seventy, hoariness: at eighty, power: at ninety, decrepitude: at a hundred, it is as though he were dead, and gone and had ceased from the world.'

(c) The Pharisees believed in the future life. The Sadducees scouted this idea and the absence of any definite teaching on the subject in the Pentateuch. And yet Jesus refuted the Sadducees on this very point with a quotation from the Pentateuch, and charged them with ignorance of the Scriptures and of the power of God when they failed to see that God, as the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is the God of the living and not of the dead (Matt 22:29-33; Mark 12:24-27; Luke 20:34-40).

On this subject Josephus says of the Pharisees: 'They also believe that souls have an immortal vigour in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again.'(84) Josephus also(85) puts it thus: 'They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.'

It is interesting to note that the words of Josephus about 'eternal punishment' are quite similar to those used by Jesus(86) in Matthew 25:46. But we must not argue that the Pharisees held to the transmigration of souls. The language of Josephus is probably due to his effort to put doctrine in a way not to shock Hellenic ideas, since the Greek contempt for the body made the idea of the resurrection of the body abhorrent to both Greeks and Romans.(87) In this matter the Pharisees follow the main lines of Jewish doctrine (cf. Dan 12:2). In the Psalms of Solomon, only the resurrection of the righteous is presented (xiii. 9f.): 'The life of the righteous is for ever. But sinners shall be taken away unto destruction.' Again: 'But they that fear the Lord shall rise again unto life eternal' (Ps. of Sol. iii. 16). Hence in the New Testament the Pharisees are represented as believing in angels and spirits, which the Sadducees deny (Acts 23:8).

(d) The Pharisees had messianic expectations. It is not easy to present in one paragraph the conceptions of the Messiah held by the Pharisees. But at least it can be said at once that they revived and preserved belief in the Messiah, however mistaken their idea of Him was. The Sadducees expected no Messiah. The Apocrypha has a strange dearth of reference to the Messiah. The oppressions of Antiochus Epiphanes quickened faith in the future life and in the Messiah as the Deliverer of Israel. Curiously enough, Josephus, though himself a Pharisee of the liberal sort (somewhat like the modern reformed Jews), does not mention the Messiah as the belief of the Pharisees in his description of them. He does, indeed, give one paragraph (Ant., bk. 18 ch. 3 sect. 3) in which he describes Jesus as one who was 'Christ,' which term he probably used more as a proper name or as an appellative in the language of the people, without admitting that Jesus was really the Messiah of Jewish hopes. It is possible to take the passage as it stands in this sense (so Burkitt and Harnack) without having to eliminate it (all or part) as Christian addition. Josephus's own belief on the subject of the Messiah appears in War, bk. 6, ch. 5, sect. 4, where he refers to 'an ambiguous oracle in their sacred writings' which had deceived many of their wise men into thinking that the Messiah belonged to the Jews alone. Josephus pointedly says: 'Now this oracle denoted the government of Vespasian who was appointed emperor in Judea.' Crude as this view appears, one must remember that Josephus wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple, and after the Jewish state had disappeared. And in the reign of Hadrian about a hundred years after the death of Jesus, it was the great Rabbi Aqiba who led the revolt against Hadrian, in order to establish Bar-Cochba (son of a star) as the political Messiah. The Pharisees rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and the great Pharisaic leader a hundred years later accepted Bar-Cochba as Messiah. But it was a political Messiah that the Pharisees expected, and in that sense they received Bar-Cochba with such lamentable results. There is ground for thinking that, if Jesus had been willing to pose as a political Messiah, with the claim of a world kingdom to throw off the Roman yoke, the Pharisees would have rallied round him. Indeed, on one occasion, there was a popular uprising to take Jesus by force and make Him king, since the crowd was persuaded that He was the prophet that was to come into the world (John 6:14f.).

The Pharisees did not agree in all their ideas about this Messiah, but in broad outline they did. The political kingdom was to be presided over by the king Messiah, who was not divine, and yet was supernatural in mission and in manifestation.(88) He is pre-mundane, and possibly eternal in His pre-existence.(89) He is the Son of Man(90) and the Son of God,(91) though we have to use Enoch with great caution, because of the uncertainty as to the dates of the various portions.

In the Psalms of Solomon the Messiah is free from sin,(92) the Son of David to reign over Israel, the righteous king, taught of God, Christ the Lord.(93) Here (Psalms of Solomon 17.23-49) we see the popular expectations of the Messiah. In the Talmud many marvels are presented that were to accompany the coming of the Messiah, which was to be sudden.(94) Some thought that the Messiah was to come with apocalyptic display out of heaven. Thus is to be understood the frequent request of the Pharisees for Jesus to produce a sign from heaven. The devil apparently had this idea in mind when he suggested to Jesus to let the people see Him sailing down from the pinnacle of the temple. So the rabble in Jerusalem argue: 'Howbeit, we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh no one knoweth whence he is' (John 7:27). Little effort was made to combine into a coherent whole these contradictory views of a human and yet a supernatural Messiah (Stanton, The Jewish and the Christian Messiah, 1886, pp. 135 f.). But there seems to be no connection with Philo's logos teaching (Baldensperger, Selbstbewusstsein Jesu, p. 88).

The Pharisees did not expect a suffering or dying Messiah.(95) They would hear nothing of a Messiah that was not to set up His political kingdom and throw off the Roman yoke, but who was simply to die and pass away. They wanted one who would abide for ever (John 12:34). But we cannot close this discussion without a word about the identification of the Messianic hope with John Hyrcanus I., who was regarded as prophet, priest, and king, thus abandoning the tribe of Judah for the tribe of Levi. This transition appears in the Book of Jubilees and in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Charles(96) makes a clear statement of this phase of the subject. See Test. Levi, viii. 14: 'A king shall arise in Judah, and shall establish a new priesthood. . . . And his presence is beloved as a prophet of the Most High. This was applied to John Hyrcanus I. in the height of Pharisaic enthusiasm, but alas! for human hopes, John Hyrcanus deserted the Pharisees for the Sadducees, and therewith perished this Messianic hope. But the two nerve centres of Judaism were the love of the law and the hope of the Messiah. The two poles round which Jewish life revolved were fulfilment of the law and hope of future glory.'(97) The temple and the synagogue kept up the fulfilment of the law and of tradition under the tutelage of priest and scribe. The hope of the future fell in the main to the apocalyptists,(98) who must have separate treatment directly. We are not quite done with the work of the scribe.


10. The Practice of Pharisaism in Life

Let us quote Herford again. 'Paul condemned Pharisaism in theory, while Jesus condemned it in practice.'(99) Jesus 'was really rejected, so far at all events as the Pharisees were concerned, because He undermined the authority of the Torah, and endangered the religion founded upon it.'(100) Once more hear Herford: 'Torah and Jesus could not remain in harmony. The two were fundamentally incompatible.' We must therefore see what is the Pharisaic view of life that clashed so sharply with that of Jesus. We may note at once that it is Halachah, not Haggadah, with which we are now concerned. These matters are binding. 'It is more culpable to teach contrary to the precepts of the scribes than contrary to the Torah itself.'(101) These precepts for conduct applied to every detail of life. Nothing is left to chance, or to the initiative or conscience of the individual. Everything is worked out with casuistical hypothesis, and it is all important and necessary. 'There is no real distinction of great and small, important and trivial, in the things that are done in accordance with Halachah,' says Herford.(102) So Josephus:(103) 'Now, for the Pharisees, they live meanly, and despise delicacies in diet. . . . And whatsoever they (the people) do about Divine worship, prayers, and sacrifices, they perform them according to their direction.'

The Pharisees applied their interpretation of the ceremonial law to the Sabbath, to meals, to ablutions, to travel, to trade, to dealings with Gentiles, to relations with the 'Am-ha-'arets, to tithing, to everything. All this led to that externalism and professionalism in religious service that Jesus condemned so severely. But we must hear the Pharisees themselves. Twelve treatises of the Mishna discuss the subject of purification. 'He who lightly esteems hand-washing will perish from the earth' (Sotah, iv.). The rabbis found forty-nine reasons for pronouncing each animal clean or unclean, and pronounced seven hundred kinds of fish and twenty-four kinds of birds unclean (Sopherim, xvi. 6). Imagine therefore the terror of Simon Peter, in his vision on the house-top at Joppa, when he was invited by the Lord to rise, slay and eat all manner of beasts and birds, and he a pious Jew. The rabbis added many regulations about the observance of mere rules, and then found them so inconvenient that they devised plans for evading them, for they were lawyers and fulfilled one of the functions of the modern lawyer in showing one's clients how to evade the law. The Book of Jubilees (chap. 50) has this paragraph about the Sabbath: 'Every one who desecrates the Sabbath, or declares that he intends to make a journey on it, or speaks either of buying or selling, or he who draws water and has not provided it upon the sixth day, and he who lifts a burden in order to take it out of his dwelling-place, or out of his house shall die. And every one who makes a journey, or attends to his cattle, and he who kindles a fire, or rides upon any beast, or sails upon a ship on the sea upon the Sabbath day, shall die.' Hear the Talmud: 'A fracture may not be attended to. If any one has sprained his hand or foot, he may not pour cold water on it.'(104) One was not allowed to write on the Sabbath, save on something dark or with the hand upside down. One is not allowed to read by lamplight or to cleanse clothing. Women were not to look in the mirror on the Sabbath day because they might see a grey hair and be tempted to pull it out. Some knots could be tied on the Sabbath and others not. One must state what kind of a knot it was. To untie the knot of camel drivers and of sailors is a sin, while a knot that can be untied with one hand is allowed. One must not kindle a fire on the Sabbath. Some churches in America used to consider it a sin to have fire in church on Sunday. Vinegar could be used for sore throat if it was swallowed, but not as a gargle. If the burden grew too heavy, one could evade these heavy laws by the rule of intention. An egg laid on the Sabbath day could be eaten, provided one intended to kill the hen. (105) So an ox(106) could be taken out of the ditch if one intended to kill it. In case of peril of life, one was allowed to send for the physician. The Jews, after the unfortunate experience of Mattathias, would fight on the Sabbath, but only in the case of attack by the enemy.(107)

But 'life under the law' had the added burden of the distinction between the clean and the unclean. This applied to persons and things and places. Part of these rules rested on the Levitical laws, and have a basis of value for hygienic purposes, and so as a means of keeping the people of Israel separate from the idolatrous practices of the Gentiles. But the rabbis could not rest content with the details of the law of Moses. They must define the most minute items with no chance of mistake. In the matter of utensils there was the question of material (earthen, wooden, leathern, glass, iron, gold, silver) and the shape (whether hollow or flat). If the vessel is unclean and one's hands are clean, how shall he take hold of the vessel? If the vessel is broken, what is to be done? Then the problem of purification is a serious one. There is pond water, spring water, running water in streams, collected water from the pond or spring or stream or rain water, and clean water and unclean water. Each kind has its special function, and must be properly used if one is to be clean.(108) If rain water and river water are mixed in the bath, what is one to do? And then what about hail, snow, frost, and dew? And then the hands must be washed before eating. Pouring water on the hands would answer for ordinary purposes, but in case of eating holy things the hands must be completely dipped in water. The cups, platters, pots must be properly cleansed. Piety came at a high price to the Pharisees.

And then one must be careful about his associates. Were they clean? The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, and kept away from the homes of Gentiles. Peter s apology to Cornelius (Acts 10:28) for violating the law of his people by entering his house is a case in point. A rabbi must not talk with a woman in public and not too much with his wife, else he will go to Gehenna. In the Jewish Prayer Book(109) we read: 'Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the universe, who hast not made me a heathen. Blessed art thou . . . who hast not made me a bondman. Blessed art thou . . . who hast not made me a woman.' The Pharisee thus has pride of race, of position, of sex, and of laborious personal purity by attention to the formulae for righteousness, by doing which he gained salvation. In all this he thought that he was doing the will of God. Rabbi ben Tema(110) says: 'Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a stag, and strong as a lion, to do the will of your Father in heaven.' It is easy to see that the study of these details required time. In Sirach xxxviii. 24-26 we read:

'The wisdom of a scribe cometh by opportunity of leisure;
And he that hath little business shall become wise.
How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plow,
That glorieth in the goad,
That driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours,
And whose talk is of bullocks?'
Here is fine scorn for 'clodhoppers' or the 'Am-ha-'arets, the people of the land. Josephus(111) had a sort of contempt for this casuistry, as we see: 'For there was a certain sect of men that were Jews, who valued themselves highly upon the exact skill they had in the law of their fathers, and made men believe they were highly favoured by God, by whom this set of women was inveigled. ... A cunning sect they were.' But with all these peccadillos, and partly by reason of them, the Pharisees had the multitude on their side,(112) while the Sadducees were able to persuade none but the rich.


11. The Apocalyptists

It is good to turn to a more pleasing phase of Jewish life and thought, even if only for a moment. The apocalyptists took the place of the prophets, and grew up beside the scribes. In the main they seem to have been Pharisees, though they did not belong to the mainstream of Pharisaic thought.(113) Certain aspects of their teaching were incorporated by the Pharisees, as in their Messianic expectations presented in the Sybilline Oracles, Book of Enoch, Psalms of Solomon, and 2 Esdras. Apocalypse was resorted to as a means of expressing the hopes of the people in times of persecution. We see it in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. The persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes stimulated it. They were often pseudepigraphic, with the idea that the name of an ancient worthy would gain a hearing for their message. The veiled form of the message in symbols made it a pillar of light for the initiated, and a cloud of darkness for the enemies of the chosen people.

The apocalyptists deal mainly with the future hopes of the people. They kept alive the fire when it was hard to do it. Charles (Religious Devel., p. 45) says: 'All Jewish apocalypses, therefore, from 200 B.C. onwards, were of necessity pseudonymous if they sought to exercise any real influence on the nation; for the Law was everything, belief in inspiration was dead amongst them, and the canon was closed.' It is clear that eschatological elements in the teaching exist. I am not able to follow Schweitzer, and make that the determining factor in the message of Jesus. That is to me a very one-sided view of the facts. Indeed, the positive ethical note (not mere interim ethics) is present in the Jewish apocalyptists along with the confused eschatology. Both John the Baptist and Jesus made use of the apocalyptic imagery of the Old Testament and of the popular writers of later days. These apocalyptists were largely neglected by the rabbinical legalists, but their ideas had gained a powerful hold on certain elements of the people. The law stood in the way of fresh truth, and the apocalyptists had no easy task. Indeed, the best of these books, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 'was never officially accepted or otherwise by the Pharisees. It was never authoritative save in certain circles of Pharisaic mystics, who must in due time have found a congenial home in the bosom of the rising Christian Church. So little did the Pharisaic legalists—the dominating power of Pharisaism—appreciate this work that they did not think it worth preserving. For its preservation the world is indebted to the Christian church.(114) In fact, it is by no means clear whether the book, as we now have it, has not been largely interpolated by Christian writers who have inserted teachings of Jesus here and there. At any rate, the teaching in this book is not sacramental legalism, but is a much nearer approach to that of Jesus in its emphasis upon the inward and the spiritual. Charles (115) shows that the teaching of the Testaments concerning forgiveness of injuries is far superior to that in the Talmud, and is in keeping with the entire ethical character of that remarkable book, which proclaims in an ethical setting that God created man in His own image, that the law was given to lighten every man, that salvation was for all mankind through conversion to Judaism, and that a man should love both God and his neighbour. It is entirely possible that Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary, John and Jesus knew the teachings of this side of Jewish thought, the apocalyptic tone and shading behind which glimmered the real flame in spiritual life. But the collision between the Pharisees and Jesus was in a different realm. The Pharisees themselves regarded the apocalyptists as an eddy in the stream. The real Pharisees we have seen as pictured in their own writings. What will they think of and do to the new Rabbi, who suddenly appears in the temple, and usurps authority in the home of priest and scribe?

They stand in Jerusalem entrenched in the hearts of the people as the exponents of current Jewish orthodoxy and professors of special holiness, the preservers of traditional Judaism. They sit in Moses seat with all the authority of hoary antiquity. They stand against the tide of Hellenism and every theological upstart. No one can be an accredited teacher of Judaism without their imprimatur. They had trouble with John the Baptist. One day Jesus appears in the temple with a scourge of cords in His hands. He has asserted His Messianic authority over priest and scribe, Sadducee and Pharisee. The Pharisees have reached a crisis in their history. What shall they do with Jesus?


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