Thursday, September 13, 2012

What Does it Mean that Paul was a Pharisee?

Here's a little fun fact for you.  Did you know that the defining quality of a Pharisee was that he believed in the twofold nature of Torah (i.e. the Written Torah and the Oral Torah)?

Check this out:

"The New Testament is in full accord with Josephus' view that the hallmark of the Pharisees was the twofold Law, the 'tradition of the elders' (Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Phil. 3:5-6; Gal. 1:13-14)," pg. 20 Judaism in the Time of Jesus by Irving Zeitlin

But don't think that the Pharisees all approached the Oral Torah in the same way.  On the contrary, Pharisaic halachah was heterogeneous:

"...'Pharisaism', so-called, far from being a monolith, was a rather complex and heterogeneous religious movement," pg. 15 Judaism in the Time of Jesus by Irving Zeitlin.

As Gene noted the other day, there were at least seven different "types" of Pharisees:

Talmud lists 7 types of Pharisees:

In ᚢota 22b seven types of Pharisees are described. The first five are hypocritical: (1) the “shoulder” Pharisee, who wears his good actions on his shoulder for all to see; (2) the “wait-a-little” Pharisee, who finds excuses for putting off a good deed; (3) the “bruised” Pharisee, who to avoid looking at a woman runs into walls; (4) the “pestle” or hunched-over Pharisee, who walks bent over in pretended humility; and (5) the “ever-reckoning” Pharisee, who is always weighing his good deeds against his bad. But also mentioned are (6) the “G-d-fearing” Pharisee, who lives in holy awe and the fear of G-d, and (7) the “G-d-loving” Pharisee, who loves God from his heart. (Summary by Robert Stein)


What does this mean that Paul identified as a Pharisee?  

Something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. That's a good sermon there! "What kind of Pharisee are you?" Hmmm...the rusty gears are slowly creaking forward.