Living somewhere on the spectrum between the extreme and possibly violent zeal of the ardent Shammaite and the extreme and possible flexible caution of the ardent Hillelite, the Pharisee was passionately concerned about the ancestral traditions, particularly the law of Moses and the development of that into the oral law, and about the importance of keeping this double Torah not simply because it was required, or in order to earn the divine favour, but because a renewed keeping of the law with all one’s heart and soul was one of the biblically stated conditions (as in Deuteronomy 30) for the great renewal, the eschaton and all that it would mean. It was what constituted the appropriate and faithful response to the faithfulness of Israel’s God . . . The Pharisaic worldview was about the whole business of being human; of being Jewish human; of living in a Jewish community; of living in a threatened Jewish community; of living with wisdom, integrity and hope in a threatened Jewish community; of living with zeal for Torah, the covenant and above all Israel’s faithful God within a threatened Jewish community (195-96).
N.T. Wright: Who were the Pharisees?
January 24, 2014 by 4 Comments