Monday, September 30, 2013

Jesus the Pharisee by Harvey Falk

book cover
Jesus the Pharisee
by Harvey Falk

ISBN-13: 978-0809126774
Trade Paperback: 175 pages
Publisher: Paulist Pr
Released: July 1985

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
An important and provocative study of the thought of the Pharisees in the time of Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth consistently upheld the views of the rabbis of the School of Hillel, and all his criticism was directed at the School of Shammai. Following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in the First Century, Judaism developed according to the teachings of Hillel.

My Review:
Jesus the Pharisee is a Bible background book, at least for me. The author argues that Jesus was a Pharisee who followed the school of Hillel and that he was criticizing the Pharisees who followed Shammai, who were the dominant group at the time. He went on to argue that Jesus and Paul never meant for their "new religion" to be taught to Jews but were solely missionaries to gentiles. Their intent was to give gentiles a share in the world to come by teaching them to follow the Noahide commandments.

You only need to read the gospels and Paul's letters to realize that Jesus and Paul were primarily focused on the Jews and only then on the gentiles. Much of the book was poorly argued, based more on "it could be" rather than "historical records tell us." However, this book did provide a detailed look at the differences in the teachings of Hillel and Shammai and how Jesus' teachings compared and contrasted to the two prevailing schools of thought at the time. I found this very interesting.

While I did learn a lot from the comparisons of the two schools, the author didn't usually explain how it compared to Jesus' teachings. When he did, the similarities between the two weren't always obvious to me. I suspect there are other books that also cover the differences in the teachings of Hillel and Shammai and compare them to Jesus' teachings in a more focused fashion.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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