During the centuries either side of Jesus, Judaism formed several distinct factions. The most famous of these are Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. Similar to modern day denominations, there are distinctions and areas of overlap (Wood et al., 1996, p. 914). Many Jews did not identify with any group
While the Sadducees were found in Jerusalem maintaining the temple cult the Pharisees lived in villages and towns
The Pharisees were committed to understanding Israel’s Law
The Pharisees observed and taught strict observance to the Law
Despite lacking economic or professional influence
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You may or may not believe it, but below is a true story.
In 2003 I attended [removed identifying information]
One evening the Minister spoke on Luke 18 – The Pharisee and The Tax Collector.
‘The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’ (Luke 18:11)
From memory he was well prepared and spoke well. However, what will always stand out was how he concluded.
‘We thank you God that we are not like this Pharisee.’
Achtemeier, P. J., Green, J. B., & Thompson, M. M. (2001). Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Basser, H. W. (2000). Priests and Priesthood, Jewish. In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Intervarsity Press.
Bealle, T. (2000). Essenes. In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Intervaristy Press.
Heard, W. J., & Evans, C. A. (2000). Revolutionary Movements, Jewish. In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Intervarsity Press.
Mason, S. (2000). Pharisees. In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Intervarsity Press.
Porton, G. G. (2000). Sadducees. In Dictionary of the New Testament Background. Intervarsity Press.
Shelley, B. L. (1995). Churst History in Plain Language. (U. 2nd, Ed.) Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Westerholm, S. (1992). Pharisees. In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity Press.
Wood, D. R., Marshall, I. H., Millard, A. R., Packer, J. I., & Wiseman, D. J. (Eds.). (1996). New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.