April 08, 2006

the bad guys

We are used to seeing the bad guys as the Pharisees. Pharisee as a word has come down to mean stuck up legalists who don't care who they step on if they can just prove how holier they are than the rest of us.

Yet here it's a Pharisee (Gamaliel) urging prudence and arguing that God's will shows itself in practical events and situations whereas its the Sadducees who are out for the blood and screaming letter of the law.

I wonder how much of this is an internal matter in the Sanhedrin? The Christians didn't have a label yet -- it was just these rabble rousing disciples of Jesus. And the teachings sounded an awful lot like that of the Pharisees: resurrection, love, mutual aid. Maybe there was a fear that if the Christians sided with the Pharisees the Sadducees would lose influence.

It just seems to me that when I do an internet search on Pharisees -- they come up as -- at least for their day -- fairly open-minded fair-minded types compared to the law and nothing else attitude of Sadducees.

The Pharisees were the group that ultimately formed and informed the Rabbinic Judaism we have today. In the face of the sorts of issues we wrestle with here -- Old Testament vs. New, Pharisee versus Christian it would be nice to have a Jewish voice here as a corrective. Most Jews I've met have been reformed and not Orthodox -- but they seem far less legalistic than many Christians I've known.

When a Christian goes out of their way to avoid eating kosher food because kosher is legalistic and not in keeping with the liberty of the gospel, are they not being as or more legalistic than a Jew who keeps the kosher food laws?


At 10:02 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

Indeed, David.
I note that where the synoptics said pharisees, John said Jews. One might suppose that they bad mouthed pharisees due to the opposition of the synogogues,)largely led by pharisees, huh?) to the Christians in the first couple of generations.

BTW I was recently re-exposed to Origen's 'science of exegesis' with four steps of ascending importance: literal, ethical, allegorical and anagogic. This struck me anew because I perceive that I've been concentrating largely on the anagogic. (for those who don't know what it means, my dictionary says 'mystical', but Huston Smith describes it as the inspiration we can draw from the text (The Soul of Christianity).

At 8:12 p.m., Blogger david said...

So that was Origen. Thought it was St Augustine. I'm glad. I like Origen better.

It is kinda neat -- I learnt about by our mutual dialogue partner Northrup Frye. I tend towards the ethical rather than the anagogic myself.

At 2:31 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

That's interesting ... I'm trying to do both literal and anagogic at the same time ... not working out so well :-)

At 9:16 a.m., Blogger anonymous julie said...

"Avoid legalism like the plague!!"


I do wonder about the politics question raised here; it's not one I've seen before.

At 10:01 p.m., Blogger xianchick said...

There is an interesting read on the NYT Best Seller list right now called "Misquoting Jesus"

It is written by a very devout christian scholar, and it is all about the history of how much of the New Testament is impossible to textually criticize based on the poor scribalship (I don't know if it's a real word, but it the most accurate verb available) available in the first century.

In Est, very few of the official scribes of the first century were actually xian, b/c christianity was such a small sect at that time.

Most of the scribes were only responsible for being able to sign their names, and it is a fairly widely recognized fact that copying the texts (not to be confused with manuscripts) was very difficult...

For a better example, try looking at an arabic document and copying it -- btw, this exercise only works if you don't speak arabic. Essentially that is what occurred with the New Testament much of the time.

I'm guessing that if there is a mix-up in which ones were bad-guys (e.g. Pharisees or Saducees), that could be the reason why.

Just thought I'd throw that in.

At 1:06 a.m., Blogger Barefoot Guy said...

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