The Pharisees are a little controversial. Who knew?

Wow! The post about the Pharisees has been a bit more controversial than I anticipated and after reading some of the comments, I have decided to go in a different direction with the next few posts that what I had intended.  I will take that as an interruption from God and as His way of keeping me on this topic.  So for the next few days I’m going to explore exactly who the Pharisees were from a historical perspective in a way that will hopefully allow us to learn how to better follow Christ.

In order to do this, we are going to have to explore some texts outside of Scripture.  While I fully believe that Scripture is the living word of God and our final authority, it does not answer every question.  It also does not give us a full picture of what culture was like in the time it was written.  I believe an important part of interpreting Scripture is having an understanding the culture of the people who wrote it, and to whom it was written.

Yes, you can read a book that was written in a specific culture at a specific time in a specific language thousands of years later in a different culture and language and still understand the story.  However, in the process I think it is inevitable that we lose some information that the original readers would have understood.   This is due to a lack of understanding of the culture, translation issues, and numerous other factors.

So over the next few posts I hope to explore how and when the Pharisees became a sect of Judaism.  I also want to take a brief look at the different groups within the Pharisaic movement.  By doing this I hope to not only have a better understanding of who they were, and who Jesus may have been talking to and about, but also to challenge us to look at who we are and how we have come to believe what we believe in our sects as well. 

Thanks for letting me take this rabbit trail and as always I look forward to the conversations that occur in the comment section. 

Grace and Peace to you as you welcome the new year.





Filed under Discipleship, History, Israel

2 responses to “The Pharisees are a little controversial. Who knew?

  1. You know, when our New Testament professor in college taught about this topic, he always “advertised” the lecture a few classes in advance by saying, “Remember, next week we’ll be talking about sects and parties.” Then he would laugh and comment how that always got college students’ attention.

    Perhaps that could be the title of your next blog post, brother. 🙂

  2. Amy


    I am commenting on both posts regarding the Pharisees. I think that as you look at this issue you need to decide if you wish to examine who the Pharisees are from which view a) historical b) Christian c) Jewish. If you are looking to understand it from a Christian view without the context of the time or origins of Christianity, then I am not the right person to ask, as Christianity is not my area of focus.

    If you are interested in a Jewish view you may find some of the following sites helpful to you as a beginning:

    Jewish Virtual Library article with short definitions of the major sects of Judaism at the time –

    My Jewish Learning article on who the Pharisees were –

    Jewish Encyclopedia (first published in early 1900s) article on the pharisees (much more in depth than first link) –

    While judging the Pharisees by the view point of the Gospel authors is limiting the scope of your understanding, if you desire a faith-oriented approach then I wish you luck.