We spoke in the last article about the extensive reediting of many of the accounts in the New Testament for theological agendas. We saw how Paul, a Sadducee, was painted with Pharisee strokes in the New Testament to make him more appealing since the Sadducess were a hated lot. The Pharisees were completely misrepresented on purpose by the New Testament writers. Lastly we saw that conflicts were artificially manufactured between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day in order to artificially separate Jesus from his faith and separate the religious leaders of Israel from Jesus, thereby giving Jesus the reason to establish a new religion that was just waiting for Paul to be the ambassador to the nations.

Now we move on. An important ground of conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees, according to the Gospels, was Yeshua's insistence on healing on the sabbath, which was allegedly against Pharisee law. The Gospels allege that the Pharisees not only criticized Yeshua for healing on the sabbath, but schemed to bring about his death for this reason (Mark 3: 6; Matthew 12:14).

Answer for yourself: Jesus is also credited with certain arguments which he put to the Pharisees to defend his practice of sabbath healing: for example, that since circumcision was permitted on the sabbath, why should healing be forbidden (John 7:23)?

It is an amazing fact that, when we consult the Pharisee law books to find out what the Pharisees actually taught about healing on the sabbath, we find that they did not forbid it, and they even used the very same arguments that Yeshua used to show that it was permitted.

Answer for yourself: Then who is responsible for these lies written in our New Testaments? Would a Jew write this because he did not know his own faith well enough to represent it correctly, or could a Gentile be responsible for artificially separating Jesus again from Judaism and separating Judaism from Jesus for reasons listed above?

Moreover, Yeshua's celebrated saying, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath," which has been hailed so many times as an epoch-making new insight proclaimed by Yeshua, is found almost word for word in a Pharisee source, where it is used to support the Pharisee doctrine that the saving of life has precedence over any of the laws of the sabbath. So it seems that whoever it was that Yeshua was arguing against when he defended his sabbath healing, it cannot have been the Pharisees. It might surprise you to know that the categories of work that were prohibited on the Sabbath were those categories of work that were required in building the Temple, and rolling grain in the field in your hands (harvesting) was not one of the prohibited categories in the first place!

Answer for yourself: Then who is responsible for these lies written in our New Testaments? Would a Jew write this because he did not know his own faith well enough to represent it correctly, or could a Gentile be responsible for writing such a lie in order to artificially separate Jesus again from Judaism and separating Judaism from Jesus for reasons listed above; namely provide the reason for Jesus to break from Judaism and create a new religion which Paul could promote?

An indication of who these opponents really were can be found in one of the sabbath stories. Here it is stated that, in anger at Yeshua's sabbath healing, the Pharisees "began plotting against him with the partisans of Herod to see how they could make away with him" (Mark 3: 6).

Answer for yourself: Why would that be when healing was never a violation of the Sabbath; in fact healing was a picture of the Eternal Sabbath or the world to come when no sickness or illness will prevail? (THINK).

The partisans of Herod (i.e. Herod Antipas, ruler, by Roman appointment, of Galilee) were the most Hellenized of all the Jews and the most politicized, in the sense that their motivation was not in the least religious, but was actuated only by considerations of power. An alliance between the Pharisees (who were the center of opposition to the Roman, occupation) and the Herodians is quite impossible. But an alliance between the Herodians and the Sadducees was not only possible but actual. The Sadducees, as explained above, though ostensibly a religious party, were so concerned to preserve the status quo that they had become henchmen of Rome, their leader, the High Priest, being a Roman appointee, entrusted with the task of serving the interests of the occupation. It seems most probable, then, that, by an editorial creationism and the necessity of editorial intervention, the name "Pharisees" was substituted here for the original "Sadducees", and this is probably the case, too, in the other stories in which Yeshua is inexplicably arguing a Pharisee viewpoint about the sabbath against the Pharisees (really the Sadducees). The Sadducees, we know, had a stricter viewpoint about the sabbath than the Pharisees, and (though this cannot be documented, since no Sadducee documents have survived) it may well be that, unlike the Pharisees, they forbade healing on the sabbath ( but for certain the Pharisees did not). This, at any rate, is a hypothesis that makes sense, whereas the stories as they stand, with Pharisees wishing to kill Yeshua for preaching their own Pharisee doctrine, make no sense at all. But that goes for much in the New Testament as well when one knows Judaism, the religion of Jesus. If you love Jesus the why don't you begin to study his faith; Jesus was a Jew...he was not a Gentile Christian!

Since Yeshua certainly came into conflict with the High Priest of his day, who was a Sadducee, it would be quite natural for stories to be preserved in which Yeshua figures as an opponent of Sadducee religious doctrines, even though, as we shall see, the chief point of conflict between Yeshua and the Sadducees was political rather than religious. In the Pharisee literature many stories are found about Pharisee teachers who engaged in argument with Sadducees. A frequent topic of these debates was the question of the resurrection of the dead, in which the Pharisees believed, and the Sadducees disbelieved. As it happens, such a story has been preserved in the Gospels about Yeshua (Mark 12:18-27 and parallels). The answers given to the Sadducees by Yeshua are typical of those given by Pharisees in their debates. Even among non-Jews it was too well known that the Pharisees believed in resurrection for these stories to be re-edited as confrontations between Yeshua and the Pharisees, so they were left unaltered - interesting evidence of the status of Yeshua as a Pharisee, though, of course, the Gospels represent Yeshua as arguing, not as a Pharisee, but simply as one whose views happened for once to coincide with those of the Pharisees.

Answer for yourself: What was the motive for the re-editing of stories about conflicts between Yeshua and the Sadducees so that he was portrayed as in conflicts with the Pharisees instead (altering the account as if his opponents were Pharisees when in reality they were Sadducess)?

The reason is simple. The Pharisees were known to be the chief religious authorities of the Jews, not the Sadducees. In fact, at the time that the Gospels were edited, the Sadducees had lost any small religious importance that they had once had, and the Pharisees were the sole repository of religious authority. As we shall see shortly in more detail, it was of the utmost importance to the Gospel editors to represent Yeshua as having been a rebel against Jewish religion, not against the Roman occupation. The wholesale reediting of the material in order to give a picture of conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees was thus essential to their plan of creating an artificial separation and rejection of Yeshua and Judaism, and Judaism and Yeshua. This was done to clear the way for the establishment of a new religion by Yeshua since he has turned his back on Biblical Judaism. And Paul will be his spokesman! Also, since it was known that the Sadducees were collaborators with Rome, any substantial picture of opposition by Yeshua to the Sadducees, even on purely religious grounds, would have given an impression of Yeshua as an opponent of Rome - just the impression that the Gospel editors wished to avoid.

That there was in reality no major conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees which would entail Yeshua forsaking his faith and creating another one is shown by certain telltale features which have been allowed to remain in the narrative. An important example is: "At that time a number of Pharisees came to him and said, 'You should leave this place and go on your way; Herod is out to kill you.'" Here we find the same Pharisees we are expected to believe want him dead and try to plot his death are waring him of the plot to kill him and are urgently trying to save his life. This passage has puzzled all the commentators. My advise to the revisionists that altered the New Testament is that if you are going to change it please do a better job for their sloppy attempts to reedit it negatively against the Pharisees does not succeed when passages like this one remain within it.

Answer for yourself: Why should the Pharisees, who, in previous stories, have been represented as longing for Yeshua's death because of his sabbath healings come forward to give him a warning intended to save his life?

Some pious Christian commentators, anxious to preserve the picture of malevolent Pharisees, have concocted an elaborate scenario in which the Pharisees were playing a double game: knowing that there was more danger for Yeshua in Jerusalem than in Galilee, they gave Yeshua a spurious warning about Herod in order to induce him to flee to his death in Jerusalem. Apart from the fact that this is mere fantasy, it is hardly likely that if the Pharisees had previously shown themselves to be Yeshua's deadly enemies they could expect Yeshua to accept a message from them as actuated by the friendliest of motives. So this explanation does not hold water.

This story indeed is valuable evidence of friendly relations between Yeshua and the Pharisees; to give such a warning the Pharisees must have regarded Yeshua as one of their own. The very fact that this story is so inconsistent with the general picture of Yeshua's relations with the Pharisees in the Gospels guarantees its historical truth (remember we discussed in an earlier article that when one statement goes against the grain more than likely it is the "truth?). Such a story could not have been added at a late stage in the editing of the material, but must be a survival from an early stage which by some oversight was not edited out. This story alone brings into question all the others whereby we find serious contention between Jesus and the Pharisees; even those where they plot his death.

Answer for yourself: Plotting to kill one of your own for theological diversity is rather strange for a group of lenient theologians would you not say?

An important indication that the stories about Pharisee opposition to Yeshua on the question of sabbath healing are not to be taken at face value is the fact that there is no mention of this charge at Yeshua's trial.

Answer for yourself: If Yeshua, as the Gospels represent, actually incurred a capital charge in Pharisee eyes because of his sabbath activities, why was this not brought against him at a time when he was on trial for his life?

Answer for yourself: Why, in fact, is there no mention of any charges brought specifically by the Pharisees at Yeshua's trial (THINK!)? You see that with a few facts concerning Judaism the reediting of the accounts in the New Testament by Gentiles betray not only their lack of knowledge and understanding of Judaism but also betray their tampering of the truth for theological agendas. Jesus and Paul are not immune to such tamperings as I have shown you.

As you shall see soon, Yeshua's trial was not on religious charges at all, but on political charges, though the Gospels, pursuing their general aim of depoliticizing Yeshua's aims, try to give the political charges a religious flavor.

Answer for yourself: Yet, if the trial really had been a religious one, who better than the Pharisees, the alleged bitter religious enemies of Yeshua, to play the most prominent part in the proceedings...and they did not; it was the High Priest was it not?

Answer for yourself: Why was it that the Pharisees did not defend Yeshua at his trial, in the same way that Gamaliel, the leader of the Pharisees, defended Yeshua's disciple Peter when the latter was put on trial before the religious Sanhedrin?

The answer is that the Pharisees were not even present at Yeshua's trial, which was not before the religious Sanhedrin, but before the political tribunal in which the High Priest which was held not only at night but on a festival day which was prohibited by Law. The High Priest was the representative and henchman of the Romans and it was he who presided over a court of his own minions.


Answer for yourself: If the matter of sabbath healing, eating grain on the sabbath, or washing of the hands cannot be substantiated as a ground of conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees, what about the other features of Yeshua's teaching which the Gospels represent as revolutionary and offensive to the Jewish religious authorities of the time?

Answer for yourself: What about Yeshua's claim to be the Messiah?

Answer for yourself: Was not this blasphemous in the eyes of the Pharisees?

Answer for yourself: What about Yeshua's threat to destroy the Temple- an allegation brought against him at his trial?

Answer for yourself: What about his aspiration to reform or even abrogate the law of Moses (a charge made concerning him but a teaching which he never professed [Matt. 5:17]?

The answer is that none of these matters constituted any threat to the religious view of the Pharisees, and on examination we shall find that on all these matters Yeshua's view were pure Pharisaism and one that confirms that he was himself a member of the Pharisee movement.

Yeshua's claim to be the Messiah was not in any way blasphemous in the eyes of the Pharisees or, indeed, of any other Jews, for the title "Messiah" carried no connotation of deity or divinity. The word "Messiah" simply means 'anointed one", and it is a title of kingship; every Jewish king of the Davidic dynasty had this title. To claim to be the Messiah meant simply to claim the throne of Israel, and while this was a reckless and foolhardy thing to do when the Romans had abolished the Jewish monarchy, it did not constitute any offense in Jewish law. On the contrary, the Jews all lived in hope of the coming of the Messiah, who would rescue them from the sufferings of foreign occupation and restore to them their national independence. Anyone who claimed to be the promised Messiah (prophesied by the prophets of the Hebrew Bible and not the Greek translations which were corrupted) who would restore the beloved dynasty of David would be sure of a sympathetic following. Yeshua was by no means the only person during this period to make a Messianic claim, and not one of these other claimants was accused of blasphemy. These Messianic claimants were not all of the same type: some were warriors, like Bar Kokhba or Judas of Galilee, while some were non-militarist enthusiasts, like Theudas or "the Egyptian" (both mentioned in the New Testament as well as in Josephus 4), who gathered a crowd of believers and waited confidently for a miracle by which the Romans would be overthrown. Yeshua was of the latter type like "the Egyptian," he expected the great miracle to take place on the Mount of Olives, as prophesied by Zechariah chapter 5. Some Messiahs had the limited aim of merely liberating the Jews from Rome, while others, of whom Yeshua was one, expected this liberation to be the precursor of an era of peace and liberation for the whole world, when, in the words of the prophets, the swords would be beaten into ploughshares, and the wolf would lie down with the lamb. But none of these aspirations had any tinge of blasphemy; on the contrary, they were an integral part of Judaism, in which the Messianic hope was the logical outcome of belief in the One God, whose reign would one day extend over all humanity.

In later Christianity, however, after the death of Yeshua, the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah (i.e. "Christ") had come to mean a deity or divine being. Consequently, Gentile Christians reading this "incorrect divine meaning attached to the Hebrew word "messiah" back into Yeshua's lifetime, found it easy to believe that Yeshua's claim to Messiahship would have shocked his fellow Jews and made him subject to a charge of blasphemy. Claiming to be the Messiah or others claiming that for you was not a crime punishable by death let alone a crime of any nature.

The Gospels, indeed, credit Yeshua with a concept of his own Messiahship that was different from that of his fellow Jews; but even if this were the case, since he used the word "Messiah" about himself, his fellow Jews would have no reason to believe that he meant anything abnormal by it, especially as, according to the Gospels, he was so reticent about the alleged special meaning that he attached to this word that even his own disciples did not understand his meaning. Consequently, no charge of blasphemy could arise from a concept that was never divulged. In historical scholarship, however, the idea of an undivulged Messianic concept ("the Messianic secret") is merely an attempt by later Christians to attribute to Yeshua an idea that in reality did not arise until after his death.

It is interesting, again, that in the Synoptic Gospels it is never the Pharisees who accuse Yeshua of blasphemy on Messianic grounds, but only the High Priest. This indicates that the charge against Yeshua for claiming to be the Messiah was not a religious charge at all, but a political one. It was no infringement of Pharisee law to claim to be the Messiah, but since "Messiah" means "kin," and since the Romans had abolished the Jewish monarchy, anyone who claimed to be the Messiah was acting subversively towards the Roman occupation, and, as the Roman-appointed quisling whose task was to guard against anti-Roman activities, the High Priest would be bound to take an interest in any Messianic claimants with a view to handing them over to the Romans. for punishment. The Gospels, however, in pursuance of their policy of representing Yeshua as a rebel against Jewish religion, depict the High Priest as concerned about blasphemy rather than rebellion.

Similarly, the charge against Yeshua that he threatened to destroy the Temple and rebuild it was brought against him only at his trial, and the Pharisees are not associated with this charge. This is indeed a political, not a religious charge, for the Temple built by Herod was not expected by the Pharisees to last into the Messianic age. Yeshua very probably did declare his intention of destroying the Temple and rebuilding it, for this is just what anyone seriously claiming to be the Messiah would do. The Pharisees had no superstitious veneration for the Temple, and would not be horrified at the idea that Yeshua intended to build a new one, like his ancestor Solomon. The only people who would be seriously upset by such an intention would be the High Priest and his entourage, who could expect to see themselves swept away by the projected Messianic regime. Indeed, at the time of the Jewish War in AD 66, the first thing that the rebels against Rome did was to dismiss the High Priest and appoint a new one from a family uncontaminated by collaboration with Rome. Yet again, this charge is represented in the Gospels as a religious charge of blasphemy instead of as a political charge of rebellion against the status quo, in which the High Priest and the Temple were instruments of Rome.

As for the alleged reforms of Judaism which Yeshua is represented as advocating, none of these, on examination, proves to be in breach of Pharisee ideas. Thus we are told that Yeshua opposed the concept of "en eye for an eye," found in the legal code of the Hebrew Bible, substituting the law of love for the law of revenge. This is a travesty of the situation in Pharisaism. The Pharisees did not regard the expression "an eye for an eye" as a literal legal prescription. They poured scorn on such an idea as quaint and uncivilized (asking, for example, "What happens if a one-eyed man knocks out someone's eye?"). They regarded the expression "an eye for an eye" as meaning that in principle any injury perpetrated against one's fellow man should be compensated for in accordance with the seriousness of the injury. Indeed, the legal code of the Hebrew Bible itself provides for such compensation, when it states that loss of employment and doctor's bills must be paid for by the person responsible for an injury (Exodus 21:19). So clearly the Pharisees were not putting any strained interpretation on the Hebrew Bible when they understood the expression "an eye for an eye" to refer to monetary compensation rather than savage retribution. As for Yeshua's further recommendation that one should not seek compensation if injured, but should offer the other cheek, he certainly did not extend this idea to freedom from any obligation to compensate for injuries that one may have committed. As a counsel of perfections (not as a practical law), the idea of refusing to receive compensation was an option in Pharisaic thought too; but this did not mean that injuries could be committed with impunity without any remedy in law; on the contrary, the very person who was ready to waive his own legal right to compensation would be the first to uphold the right of others, especially if he himself had injured them. This is an area in which confusion of thought is rife, and Yeshua is credited with upholding a definition of the "law of love" which is mere nonsense, and would result in a society in which oppression and violence would reign unchecked. The Pharisees too believed in the "law of love," as is shown by their doctrine that love of God and love of fellow man are the basic principles of the Torah; but love of one's fellow man is shown more by a determination to secure his rights than by a blanket abolition of all rights. There is no reason to suppose that Yeshua held such a foolish doctrine, or that his views were different from those of other Pharisees.

As for Yeshua's individual "reforms" of Jewish laws, these were nonexistent. We find in Mark 7: 19 an expression which has been translated to mean that Yeshua "declared all foods clean", but this translation has been much disputed, and many scholars regard the phrase as an editorial addition anyway. In another passage, we find Yeshua explicitly endorsing the Jewish laws of purity, when he tells the leper he has cured, "Go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering laid down by Moses for your cleansing".

True, we find Yeshua speaking in the tone of a reformer in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says, "You have learned that our forefathers were told.... But what I tell you is this." Here he seems to assume a tone of authority and an independence of previous teaching which would justify the description of a "reformer". However, since the whole episode of the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew's invention (the sayings being found scattered over various episodes in the other Gospels, except in Luke, where the sermon is transferred to a plain and the grandiose note of authority is missing), the simplest explanation is that the reformer's tone has been imported into the story by later Christian editors, to whom the idea that Yeshua taught with the same kind of authority as other Pharisee teachers was unpalatable.

An interesting episode that seems to support the picture of Yeshua as a ruthless reformer of the Torah and as unconcerned with the observance of its laws is the corn-plucking incident, which first occurs in Mark:

One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and his disciples as they went, began to pluck ears of corn. The Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is forbidden on the sabbath?' He answered, 'Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry and had nothing to eat? He went into the House of God, in the time of Abiathar the High Priest, and ate the consecrated loaves, though no one but a priest is allowed to eat them, and even gave them to his men.'"

He also said to them, "The sabbath is made for the sake of man and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of Man is sovereign even over the sabbath."

This incident cannot be explained as having been originally an altercation with the Sadducees, for the Pharisees did indeed forbid the plucking of corn on the sabbath, together with all other forms of agricultural labor. So Yeshua, by allowing his disciples to pluck ears of corn on the sabbath, was flouting a clear Pharisee law, or so it appears.

An indication that all is not as it appears, however, is Yeshua's saying at the end: "The sabbath is made for the sake of man and not man for the sabbath." This, as previously mentioned, is a Pharisee maxims, and it gives the key to the whole incident. For the Pharisees used this maxim to show that in circumstances of danger to human life the sabbath laws could be, and had to be, ignored. In the story as it stands, there was no danger to human life to excuse the disciples from ignoring the sabbath law; but, as we examine the story further, we find more and more indications that the circumstances did indeed involve extreme danger.

Yeshua in his explanation to the Pharisees cites, in true Pharisee fashion, an episode from scripture as the ground of his attitude to the corn-plucking. This is the case of David and his violation of the sanctity of the shewbread; and this case is explained in the Pharisee literature (with good support from the actual text) as having been one of extreme danger to life, since David and his men were dying of starvation in their flight from King Saul. That is why, in Pharisee theory, David and his men were justified in eating the holy shewbread, though in circumstances where there was no danger to human life this was regarded as a heinous sin. Since the case of David was one of extreme emergency, it would seem to be an absurd instance for Yeshua to give unless the circumstances of himself and his disciples were equally desperate at the time of the corn-plucking incident. If, as the narrative seems to indicate, they were engaged merely in a leisurely stroll through the cornfields on the sabbath, and the disciples idly plucked and munched the corn for want of anything better to do, the David incident would have been quite irrelevant (apart from having nothing to do with the sabbath). If we restore the element of emergency to the narrative, however, it suddenly makes perfect sense.

Yeshua and his followers, in flight from Herod Antipas and the Romans, at the last extremity of exhaustion and hunger arrive at a cornfield. It is the sabbath day, but Yeshua, judging the situation to be, like the case of David, an emergency in which all ritual observances, whether of the sabbath or the Temple, are abrogated by Pharisee law, allows his disciples to satisfy their hunger by plucking corn. Later, when questioned about the incident by some Pharisee friends, he explains how he came to rule that the sabbath law should be broken.

This explanation also throws light on another puzzling point. To pluck ears of corn from a field was not only a breach of the sabbath law, but also a breach of the law against theft. Some Christian scholars have tried to cover this point by referring to the law in Deuteronomy 23:25-26: "When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with shine hand." This, however, as the Pharisee literature shows (e.g. Mishnah Bava Metzia 7:2) applies only to workmen who are working in a field for the owner; life would soon become impossible for farmers if every casual passer-by were allowed to take his fill of corn.But in cases of danger to life, the laws of theft were regarded as null and void - in fact, Pharisee law regards it as a duty to steal in order to save life. Yeshua, therefore, was quite entitled, in Pharisee thinking, to disregard the law of theft as well as the law of the sabbath in such circumstances.

Answer for yourself: Why then, was the element of emergency removed from the story as we have it in the Gospels, thus reducing the whole episode to nonsense?

The answer is: for the same reason that the element of emergency has been removed from the whole of the Gospels, which portray Judaea and Galilee as peaceful areas under benign Roman rule, instead of what they were in historical reality at this time, areas of bitter unrest and constant rebellion against the savage oppression of the Romans and the depredations of the tax-farmers (or publicans). If the sense of emergency had been retained in the story, not only would it have to be revealed that Yeshua was not flouting Pharisee law but also that he was a hunted man, wanted by Herod and the Romans, and in rebellion against them (indicating that Rome saw him guilty of a political crime and not a theological one).

Thus the corn-plucking incident, so far from telling against the view that Yeshua was a Pharisee, cannot be understood except on the hypothesis that Yeshua was one. His use of biblical precedent and of a Pharisee maxim in order to establish that exceptional circumstance warranted a breach of the law are entirely in accordance with Pharisee practice and principles, and do not justify an interpretation in terms of rebellion against the law. Yeshua's final remark, ". . . therefore the Son of Man is sovereign even over the sabbath," is generally held to mean the Yeshua was declaring his lofty independence from Jewish law and his right to abrogate its provisions at will. This, however, is not necessarily the meaning of the sentence. The expression "son of man" in Aramaic simply means "man" or "human being." The meaning could therefor be, "Human beings are more important than the sabbath," a sentiment with which all Pharisees would agree. Many of the puzzling "Son Man" sayings in the New Testament can be explained on similar line though a residue remains in which Yeshua uses the expression "Son Man" as a title expressive of his own role. As a title, it by no means implies divine status, but rather prophetic status; it is used throughout the book of Ezekiel in this sense.

The alleged conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees on the question of his association with "sinners and publicans" also requires some comment. The mistake usually made is to think that these people were not really sinners in any serious sense, but were merely lacking in respectability or apt to neglect the laws of ritual purity. In fact, neither respectability nor ritual purity were the issues; the "publicans" were gangsters, torturers and murderers who assisted the Roman tax farmers in extorting goods and money from their fellow Jews to the point where many committed suicide or became outlaws rather than face penury or slavery. Yeshua, however, fully confident in his nationwide campaign of "repentance," preparatory to a Messianic miracle of national redemption from Rome, approached these desperate sinners not because he loved their company, but in the hope of converting them from their evil ways. Those "publicans" or tax-gatherers who were touched by Yeshua's appeal did not remain publicans. An example is Zacchaeus (Luke 19), who renounced his whole way of life and undertook to restore all the loot he had gathered and also give half his possessions to charity. This is just the mode of restitution prescribed for repentant tax-gatherers in the Pharisee work the Tosefta. Some scholars have alleged that the Pharisees held out no hope of repentance to tax-gatherers. This is not true, but they certainly regarded repentance and restitution as very difficult for themes It may be that, in this instance, there was a genuine point of disagreement between Yeshua and the other Pharisees, Yeshua being confident of converting the tax-gatherers, while other Pharisee teachers thought that association with gangsters would be more likely to affect the would-be converter for the worse than the gangsters for the better.

It should be remembered that Yeshua would have been a most unusual Pharisee if he had never disagreed with other Pharisees. As explained earlier, amicable disagreement was an essential ingredient in Pharisaism, and the Pharisee literature is full of disagreements between the various sages of the movement. In some cases, the New Testament has created conflict between Yeshua and the Pharisees, not by altering "Sadducees" to "Pharisees" or by removing some essential element from the story, but simply by turning what was originally a friendly argument into a hostile confrontation.


Thus in various ways, Yeshua has been isolated in the Gospels from the movement and religion to which he belonged, the Pharisees. Yet, despite every effort to turn him into an isolated figure, a figure separated from his religion and whose religion has separated from him, his identity as a Pharisee remains indelibly stamped on him by his style of preaching. His use of parables (often thought by people unfamiliar with Pharisee literature to be a mark of his uniqueness) was typical of Pharisee preaching; and even his quaint expressions such as "a camel going through the eye of a needle," or "take the beam out of your own eye" are Pharisee expressions found in the Talmud. This is true, of course, only of the Yeshua found in the Synoptic Gospels (i.e. Mark, Matthew and Luke). This again is nothing more than artificial creations of "separation myths" intended to separate Jesus from his faith and his faith from him. This lays the groundword for the creation of a replacement religion that seems to be sanctioned by Jesus and missionized by Paul.

In the Fourth Gospel, that of John, Yeshua has become unrecognizable. He uses no parables, nor any idiosyncratic rabbinical expressions; instead he spouts grandiose Hellenistic mysticism and proclaims himself a divine personage. Here the authentic Yeshua has been lost in the post-Yeshua myth. It is not here that we find the genuine Yeshua, rooted in the Jewish religion of his time, and pursuing aims that were intelligible to his fellow Jews. In order to locate the historical Jesus one must look beyond the New Testament.

Let us continue to investigate if Paul was ever a Pharisee and we have been taught to believe. Shalom.