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Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

Who are the Pharisees?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

The Pharisees were lay leaders, a sect of Judaism that held great influence among Jewish people of Jesus’ day. They were characterized by observance of both the written laws (the Torah or Old Testament teachings) as well as oral tradition. In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees also believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels, and demons. In general, the Gospels portray the Pharisees quite negatively, painting them as hypocrites and strict legalists, often in opposition to Jesus. Such a portrait is probably unfairly exaggerated, reflecting polemics between Christians and Jews at the time the Gospels were being written. Although some clearly opposed Jesus, it is fair to assume that others were sympathetic to his teachings and way of life. There is some postulation that Pharisees were the forerunners of Jewish rabbis who became the synagogue leaders after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • ashley

    thx for the information

  • Janice

    Will someone weigh in on this? I’m really on a roll!!

  • Janice

    Wonder why they cannot see this comparison? Hypocrites is another word that comes to mind. I think that’s what the Bible referred to them as. Shame! Shame! Shame! We Reap What We Sow!

  • Janice

    The Pharisees Are the Republicans Today!!!!

    • Chazz Stanley

      NO that would be the liberal communist that would be the Pharisees since the Pharisees claimed to be for the common man and the Pharisees were for laws and regulations.The Republicans are for successful people and for little if no regulation

  • Josephine

    May be the Pharisees were confused about Jesus, they did not know whether to believe Him or not. I feel sad for the Pharisees they were with Jesus and they did not know Him. Now that I know who the Pharisees were I understand their arrogance.

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