What was the big deal in the 1st century for the Jews?

What do we do about Rome?

“How are these godless pagans oppressing God’s people?” Jews are back in the promised land, so why are these pagans in charge and what are we supposed to do about it?

“Not surprisingly, there were disagreements among the Judaisms of the day about what to do with that. So you have different groups, advocating different strategies:

  • Collaboration: priestly classes, assigned by Rome, the Temple system, Sadducees, Sanhedrin, Jewish leadership, growing wealthy, had power. Believed the issue with Rome was political.
  • Provocation: the fourth philosophy, later known as zealots, strategy to provoke Rome into open warfare would allow God to intercede in a war-like way to deal with the Roman problem in Israel. Believed the issue with Rome was political.
  • Separation: Essenes went into the dessert and advocated separation, they separated out completely from culture and dedicated themselves to ritual purity in the hopes that when God would come he would reward the sons of light and punish the sons of darkness. Believed the issue with Rome was spiritual.
  • Separation: Pharisees, the most well known of Jesus’ opponents, they advocated separation but doing so within Jewish culture (didn’t leave the culture, but separated themselves within it).”

“More on the Pharisees:

  • their name comes from the idea of being separate
  • their theology was that the most important thing about God and therefore the most important thing about God’s people was to be holy (i.e. Leviticus: be holy as I am holy)
  • how did they deal with Rome? Simple, be holy. Negatively meant to be separate from everything that is unclean and defiling. Positively meant to be super zealous in the adherence to the law (613 commands of Torah) and the oral traditions that grew up around the 613 commands of Torah. The strictest of obedience to the law.
  • How do you be holy in real life? Stay away from everything that is unclean
  • The Pharisees had the same goals as Jesus of Nazareth: wanted Israel to repent. The way the Pharisees wanted Israel to repent was separating themselves and advocating a strict ritual purity.”

Vox, Mike Erre Podcast #2 (starts at 17:00min)

Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50

“…a monitor of legal observance who distance themselves from sinners” (p. 308).

“[Pharisees] enjoyed advanced status and positions of power and privilege” (p. 311).

“[To numerous scholars], Simon is a stereotype of the Lukan Pharisee, and the Pharisees a caricature of those who reject God’s purpose… [the author, Joel Green, militates against this view for Simon]… Other factors disallow the interpretation of Simon as a stereotypical Pharisee who, because he is a Pharisee, is thereby understood within the narrative as someone who opposes the will of God. Thus, the Third Gospel’s presentation of the Pharisees is more variegated than is usually thought. They are consistently portrayed negatively when they appear in the company of scribes (a.k.a. legal experts, lawyers, teachers of the law), as in 7:30, but from a historical viewpoint this is not surprising. ‘Scribes’ have been identified as off-duty priests, and Luke lays the blame for the death of Jesus above all at the feet of priests and others of the Jerusalem leadership associated with the temple (and not the Pharisees). Outside of the company of scribes, however, Luke’s portrait of the Pharisees is capable of more nuance” (p. 307).

The Gospel of Luke, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) by Joel Green (1997)

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