Friday, July 16, 2010

Those Hypocritical Pharisees?

One of the areas where academic Biblical Studies struggles to make any kind of impact on popular impressions derived from the New Testament is over the motif of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  As I have mentioned previously, in How do you make a Pharisee?, the motif is immortalized in the Pharisäer, a cheeky cup of coffee, with the rum hidden in the coffee beneath the whipped cream, a drink that is pretending to be one thing and manifesting itself as another.

A good example of the ease with which the term "Pharisee" is still used to mean "hypocrite" appears in a recent letter to The Guardian on the subject of homosexuality and the clergy,
Is it any wonder thoughtful young adults turn their backs on such an illiberal institution? Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus even raise the subject of homosexuality. Yet in his name today's Lambeth Palace pharisees are marginalising many of the most spiritual members of their flock.
The battle for the reputation of the Pharisees is something that is worth fighting, though, and David Bivin has a fresh contribution in an article in The Jerusalem Perspective Online, The "Hypocrisy" of the Pharisees.


Doug Chaplin said...

Mark, I've offered a response that got too long for a comment – I don't just think it's a matter of better popularistaion.

Ken said...

Interesting... Just a couple of days ago, I expressed a very similar opinion with a friend. I agree wholeheartedly!