Archive for January 15, 2012

Of Scribes And Pharisees….

Posted: January 15, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Have you ever been accused of being a Scribe or a Pharisee? Were they all a bad bunch? Actually the Scribes were the doctors of the law of Moses; the Pharisees were a precise set of men, making profession of a more exact observance of the law: and upon that account greatly esteemed among the people.

The Pharisees or Perusim, (separatists) constituted the largest Jewish party following the return from the Babylonian captivity. They strongly embraced the concept of separatism from the non-Jewish people because of their superiority as God’s chosen people. The Pharisees were the “Puritans” of their time (Talmage, “Jesus the Christ, “pg. 66). They strongly held to the observance of the Oral Law as well as the Torah (the written law). “They attempted to direct their activities to the masses whom they sought to influence according to the traditional doctrines.” (Cecil Roth, The Concise Jewish Encyclopedia [New York City: New American Library, 1980], pg. 424)

The basic tenets of their beliefs were:

Pre-existence of Spirits
The reality of reward and punishment
The necessity for individual self-denial
The immortality of the soul
Resurrection of the dead
These Jewish beliefs were mostly abandoned as Christianity embraced them as fundamental tenets. “The Pharisee tradition became the norm for later [current] Rabbinic Judaism.” (Roth, pg. 424)

Perhaps it can be said the Pharisees often missed the mark completely because their blinds only enabled them to see the law but not the spirit of the law. Because in essence all laws are born out of love, hence it might be further said that they loved the laws but did not experience the love behind the laws.

Today we often see some leaders in our Church either adopting the role of  OT Pharisee or even that of a New age ‘Pharisee’ liberalising it’s laws and professing that only the Spirit of the law is more important.  What did Jesus have to say about this?  Let us see….

In Matthew 5:17-21 He says…

17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Be it a gentle love or be it a tough love the message is quite clear, for the Love of God, Love with all your heart, your mind and your soul.

Matthew 5:43-47

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.