Jesus’ Teaching And Pharisaical Judaism -- By: Steven L. Cox

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 07:2 (Fall 2010)
Article: Jesus’ Teaching And Pharisaical Judaism
Author: Steven L. Cox


Jesus’ Teaching And Pharisaical Judaism

Steven L. Cox

Dr. Cox is Research Professor of New Testament and Greek at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary Memphis, Tennessee

New Testament (henceforth NT) scholars often acknowledge Jesus’ identity or closeness in theology to Pharisaical Judaism; however, such statements are generalized without any discussion of their mutual theological positions. Yet, Jesus and the Pharisees were constantly at odds with one another. In the first section of this article I will review a variety of sources, both primary and secondary, concerning Jesus, the Pharisees, and first-century Judaism. Sources naturally will include the Old Testament (henceforth OT), the NT, Josephus, and the Mishnah, though these sources are not exhaustive concerning the topic. In the second section I will discuss beliefs and practices that were common to all Jews. Theological issues such as monotheism, nationalism, the law, and other topics will be discussed. In the third section I will discuss Jesus and Pharisaical Judaism’s kinship by comparing their similarities and how they differ from other first-century Jewish sects. Theological issues such as the afterlife, resurrection, place of worship, the OT canon, and other topics also will be discussed. In the fourth section I will compare and contrast Jesus’ teachings with those of Pharisaical Judaism.

A Collating Of Sources

Evidence From Josephus1

Josephus offered a general description of the Pharisees; however, he did not divulge much information that contributed to a description of their teachings. The references to the Pharisees may be grouped into the following topics:

(1) the Pharisees were strong supporters of Alexandra (War 1.111; Ant 13.408–411, 415);

(2) initially they had good relations with Hyrcanus (Ant 13.289);

(3) Josephus listed the Pharisees as one of the three major schools of Jewish thought (Ant 13.171; 18.11; Life 10);

(4) they were popular among the masses (Ant 13.298; 18.15);

(5) the Pharisees were involved in politics and influence (War 1.115–6, Life 39, Ant 13.288–98; 13.401–4);

(6) the Pharisees lived a modest lifestyle (Ant 18.12); and

(7) Salome was associated with the death of some Pharisees (Ant 17.44–5).

Josephus had a few references to the Pharisees that pertain to issues of continuity and conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus:

(1) the Pharisees refusal of oaths to Caesar (Ant 17.42);

(2) the doctrines of fate and resurrecti...

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