The Pharisees of Christ’s Time and Present Day Talmudic Judaism
I want to try to avoid dealing in opinions as much as possible on this topic.
This means quoting from sources which, hopefully, are not mere opinion. The New
Testament has a lot to say about the Pharisees, and about the Jews of Christ’s era.
But we have to go to sources other than the New Testament for information on the relationship of the
Pharisees to modern day Talmudic Judaism. I want to use authoritative Jewish sources.
My point is to ask what the classical founders of the theology which has taken over the majority
of Protestant Christian denominations and churches meant by “Israel” and the “Jews,” who they
said are now a people of God, along with the “church.”
The false doctrine of the dispensationalists that physical Israel remains God’s people and
the “church” is also a people of God, which can never be Israel needs to be refuted annd whown
to be wrong. Otherwise, we are not in love with the truth of Jesus Christ. ”
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thessalonians 2: 9-12
In his book, Dispensationalism (1966), Charles Ryrie says “The
essence of Dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel
and the church.” (page 3, “Dispensationalism”)
J. Dwight Pentecost is another dispensationalist theologian who in his book Things To Come ( 1965) says “The church
and Israel are two distinct groups with whom God has a divine plan. The church is a mystery, unrevealed in the Old Testament. (page 193, J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, Zondervan, 1965).
The dispensationalists say that Israel must always be physical Israel, i.e., the Jews, in the Bible.
they say “the missing link in Christian understanding on the subject of “Pharisees” is best supplied by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1943): The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single piece of that literature … and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.
Concerning the Pharisees, the 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia says: With the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees. Henceforth, Jewish life was regulated by the Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older priestly tradition (Abot 1:1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future.”
“Rabbi Louis Finklestein was chosen in 1937 by the Kehillas (Jewish communities) of the World as one of the top 120 Jews best representing “a lamp of Judaism” to the World…In his two-volume work “The Pharisees.” Rabbi Finklestein writes: Pharasaism became Talmudism … But the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew … studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies. From Palestine to Babylonia; from Babylonia to North Africa, Italy. Spain, France and Germany; from these to Poland. Russia and Eastern Europe generally, ancient Pharasaism has wandered.”
“In Rabbi Finklestein’s history of the Jews, he states: The Talmud derives its authority from the position held by the ancient academies. (i.e. Pharisee) The teachers of those academies, both of Babylonia and of Palestine. were considered the rightful successors of the older Sanhedrin . . . At the present time, the Jewish people have no living central authority comparable in status to the ancient Sanhedrins or the later academies. Therefore, any decision regarding the Jewish religion must be based on the Talmud as the final resumé of the teaching of those authorities when they existed. [page 2] (The Jews — Their History, Culture, and Religion , Vol. 4, p. 1332, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1949). ”
“Note the Foreword to the first English translation of the Babylonian Talmud by the late Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, J.H. Hertz, who, like Rabbi Finklestein, was one of the 120 Jews chosen in 1937 by the Kehillas of the World as best holding up the “lamp of Judaism:” The beginnings of Talmudic literature date back to the time of the Babylonian Exile in the Sixth pre-Christian Century … When a thousand years later, the Babylonian Talmud assumed final codified form in the year 500 after the Christian era, the Roman Western Empire had ceased to be.”
In Christ’s time the Pharisees were the leaders of most of the Jews. There were a small number
of Jews who were faithful to the Lord, such as the two mentioned in Luke 2: 25 and 2: 36, Simeon and
Anna, and others. In modern times, as the sources quoted above say, Talmudic Judaism is derived from
the religion of the Pharisees of the First Century.
The important question is which group of Jews are the dispensationalists refering to as Israel and the Jews? Is
it the Talmudic Jews who follow the Pharisees, or is it that very small Remnant of Jews who were faithful to God during the period Christ was on earth?
In Romans 11: 17 who is the olive tree to which the believing Gentiles are grafted in? Is is the religion of the Pharisees?
Paul teaches that there are two Israels. In Romans 9: 6-8 he explains that “..they are not all Israel, which are
of Israel…they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God.” In Galatians 4: 25-26 he contrasts the “…Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children to the other Jerusalem “…which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all.”
Paul does not tell us in Romans 11 which Israel is the olive tree into which believing Gentiles are grafted in. We have
to interpret that from what Paul says elsewhere. Would Paul say Gentiles are grafted into the Israel which is the religion of the Pharisees? Or, to the Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all?
And – the dispensationalists do not tell us which Israel they believe is now one of God’s peoples, along with the dispensationalist “church.” Since they seem to acknowledge that the people of their Israel remain unsaved – bcause they insist Romans 11: 26 refers to physical or unsaved Israel – it could be that they mean Israel as Talmudic Judaism, the religion of the Pharisees.
But Christ in Matthew 16: 6 “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
In Matthew 23: 33 he says to the Pharisees “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
In John chapter 8 Christ has even worse things to say to the Pharisees. In John 8: 44-45 he says to them “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”