The Pharisees (Hardcover)

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The Pharisees By Joseph Sievers (Editor), Amy-Jill Levine (Editor) Cover Image
By Joseph Sievers (Editor), Amy-Jill Levine (Editor)
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A multidisciplinary appraisal of the Pharisees: who they were, what they taught, and how they've been understood and depicted throughout history

For centuries, Pharisees have been well known but little understood--due at least in part to their outsized role in the Christian imagination arising from select negative stereotypes based in part on the Gospels. Yet historians see Pharisees as respected teachers and forward-thinking innovators who helped make the Jewish tradition more adaptable to changing circumstances and more egalitarian in practice. Seeking to bridge this gap, the contributors to this volume provide a multidisciplinary appraisal of who the Pharisees actually were, what they believed and taught, and how they have been depicted throughout history.

The topics explored within this authoritative resource include:

  • the origins of the Pharisees
  • the meaning of the name "Pharisee"
  • Pharisaic leniency, relative to the temple priesthood, in judicial matters
  • Pharisaic concerns for the Jewish laity
  • Pharisaic purity practices and why they became popular
  • the varying depictions of Pharisaic practices and beliefs in the New Testament
  • Jesus's relationship to the Pharisees
  • the apostle Paul and his situation within the Pharisaic tradition
  • the question of continuity between the Pharisaic tradition and Rabbinic Judaism
  • the reception history of the Pharisees, including among the rabbis, the church fathers, Rashi, Maimonides, Luther, and Calvin
  • the failures of past scholarship to deal justly with the Pharisees
  • the representations, both positive and negative, of the Pharisees in art, film, passion plays, and Christian educational resources
  • how Christian leaders can and should address the Pharisees in sermons and in Bible studies

Following the exploration of these and other topics by a team of internationally renowned scholars, this volume concludes with an address by Pope Francis on correcting the negative stereotypes of Pharisees that have led to antisemitic prejudices and finding resources that "will positively contribute to the relationship between Jews and Christians, in view of an ever more profound and fraternal dialogue."


Luca Angelelli, Harold W. Attridge, Vasile Babota, Shaye J. D. Cohen, Philip A. Cunningham, Deborah Forger, Paula Fredriksen, Yair Furstenburg, Massimo Grilli, Susannah Heschel, Angela La Delfa, Amy-Jill Levine, Hermut L hr, Steve Mason, Eric M. Meyers, Craig E. Morrison, Vered Noam, Henry Pattarumadathil, Adele Reinhartz, Jens Schr ter, Joseph Sievers, Matthias Skeb, Abraham Skorka, G nter Stemberger, Christian St ckl, Adela Yarbro Collins, and Randall Zachman.

Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award for Best Book on the New Testament (2023)

About the Author

Joseph Sievers has taught Jewish history and literature of the Hellenistic period at the Pontifical Biblical Institute since 1991. In addition, he served as director of the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University from 2003 to 2009. He has published several books and many articles, primarily in the areas of Second Temple history (especially Flavius Josephus) and Christian-Jewish relations. His abiding interest in the Pharisees was first expressed in an article titled "Who Were the Pharisees?" (1991). Amy-Jill Levine is the University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and the Mary Jane Werthan Chair of Jewish Studies Emerita at Vanderbilt University. Her numerous publications include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus; Short Stories by Jesus; The Gospel of Luke (with Ben Witherington III); The Jewish Annotated New Testament; The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently (with Marc Brettler); and Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner's Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780802879295
ISBN-10: 0802879292
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publication Date: December 2nd, 2021
Pages: 506
Language: English