Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How do you make a Pharisee?

Did you know that you can get a drink in north Germany called a Pharisee? Essentially it is a cheeky cup of coffee, with the rum hidden in the coffee beneath the whipped cream -- it is pretending to be one thing and it is manifesting itself as another. I sometimes use this as an illustration in class when we deal with Christian caricatures of "Pharisees" and I am looking to establish that everyone understands the Pharisee = hypocrite motif in Christian history, ahead of engaging, of course, in some proper historical exploration of who the Pharisees really were.

The Pharisäer got its name, according to legend, like this:
A peasant by the name of Peter Georg Johannsen celebrated the baptism of his seventh child in 1872. Amongst the guests was the reverend Bleyer, who had strictly forbidden that his fold should imbibe alcohol. No true baptism was complete without some alcohol to celebrate the baptised, however, so the cheeky farmer had an idea: he mixed rum with sugar, poured hot coffee on the mixture and put whipped cream on top, thus preventing the rum from evaporating and giving this neat trick away through its aromatic smell. The reverend just got plain coffee with the whipped cream on top. The guests got merrier and merrier by the minute, and a good deal noisier, too. Fate took its due course, and eventually the reverend got hold of a 'wrong' cup. On realising what had been going on, he exclaimed:

Oh ihr Pharisäer!
This version of the legend is told on a nice BBC page, Pharisee - a Coffee with Spirit that also tells one how to make a Pharisäer. And the same page links too to the birthplace of the drink, in Nordstrand -- see Pharisäerhof Nordstrand.


Wieland Willker said...

I was born in that part of Germany and can affirm that what Mark wrote is all true.

I think, though, that most theologians today are Sadducees.

Bill Heroman said...

I just hope they wash the inside of the cup.

Leon said...

The fact that historical Jesus scholars take such pains to distinguish Jesus from the Pharisees shows there is still little understanding of who the Pharisees really were and, for that matter, who the historical Jesus really was. This is not a matter of ignorance and knowledge. This is a matter of a lack of desire to see what the evidence points to.

Leon Zitzer