Was Jesus taught by Pharisees?
At first the answer to this question seems trivial. Jesus hated them so obviously he wasn't one of them. But that doesn't mean he couldn't at some time have been studying under them especially since they controlled the education system in Israel in his time, right from the elementary schools to the Academy of Sages. As I stated in the previous post, money wasn't an object, because Mary was probably rich,and even if she wasn't she had at least one rich relative who would have wanted to help her out.
Jewish legend says a Jesus of Nazareth studied under a Rabbi but they had a falling out because of an offhand remark Jesus made to him. The Rabbi exclaimed how beautiful an Inn was, Jesus misunderstood and thought he was referring to the Innkeeper and protested that her eyes were too narrow. The Rabbi took offence and excommunicated him. Jesus apologized many times, but the Rabbi refused to take him back so Jesus gave up and started teaching on his own. When the Rabbi later wanted to take him back, Jesus said it was too late.
Could this legend be referring to the Jesus of Nazareth of Christianity?
Well, offhand we could say no. The legend is set in the time of King Jannaeus, who reigned about 103-76 B.C.E. before Jesus was even born. However, the Talmud does have a habit of referring to Jesus in code (He's often called Balaam for instance) and they may have changed the year of the incident to disguise the real name of the Rabbi.
If it was the Jesus of the New Testament that would explain why he was so hard on people who wouldn't forgive:
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV)
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
It would also explain his severe hatred of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. If you read some of his diatribes against them with this perspective, you could almost see how he could have had a single person in mind. For instance, look at this speech:
Matthew 23:1-7, 13-33 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
Even if this particular Jesus was different to Jesus of Christianity, the Jesus of the New Testament could still have been taught by the Pharisees. He certainly seemed to know some of their teachings:
Matthew 23:16 (NIV)
"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.'
Matthew 15:4-6 (NIV)
For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to 'honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
We can also say he knew the Old Testament quite well, because he knew that the law about washing hands and dishes did not come from the Old Testament.
Mark 7:1-8 (NIV)
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"
He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
If you think about it, all three of these things are pretty obscure and not something an ordinary person would know about.
But those aren't all the teachings he mentions. He's taken a lot of the teachings of the Pharisees, (which weren't written down at that time) and passed them down to his disciples. We know this because this Oral Law of the Pharisees was written down in the Talmud after the destruction of the Temple.
‘Abodah Zarah Folio 19a:7-9
That delighteth greatly in His commandments, was explained by R. Eleazar thus: 'In His commandments,' but not in the reward of His commandments. This is just what we have learnt. 'He used to say, Be not like servants who serve the master on the condition of receiving a reward; but be like servants who serve the master without the condition of receiving a reward.'
Compare that to
Luke 17:7-10 (NIV)
"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.' "
Yebamoth 63b: 64-65
Do not worry about to-morrow's trouble, for thou knowest not what the day may beget. To-morrow may come and thou wilt be no more and so thou hast worried about a world which is not thine.
Luke 12:25 (NIV)
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
Baba Bathra 10b: 7-8
A similar remark was made by Joseph the son of R. Joshua. He had been ill and fell in a trance. [After he recovered], his father said to him: 'What vision did you have?' He replied, 'I saw a world upside down, the upper below and the lower above.' He said to him: 'You saw a well regulated world.'
Luke 16:25 (NIV)
"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
Matthew 19:29-30 (NIV)
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Baba Bathra 11a: 3-8
Our Rabbis taught: It is related of King Monobaz that he dissipated all his own hoards and the hoards of his fathers in years of scarcity. His brothers and his father's household came in a deputation to him and said to him, 'Your father saved money and added to the treasures of his fathers, and you are squandering them.' He replied: 'My fathers stored up below and I am storing above, as it says, Truth springeth out of the earth and righteousness looketh down from heaven. My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. My fathers stored something which produces no fruits, but I have stored something which does produce fruits, as it is written, Say ye of the righteous [zaddik] that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. My fathers gathered treasures of money, but I have gathered treasures of souls, as it is written, The fruit of the righteous [zaddik] is a tree of life, and he that is wise winneth souls. My fathers gathered for others and I have gathered for myself, as it says, And for thee it shall be righteousness [zedakah]. My fathers gathered for this world, but I have gathered for the future world, as it says, Thy righteousness [zedakah] shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.'
Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV)
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Nedarim 22a: 6-7
He who speaketh [a vow] is worthy of being pierced by the sword, but that the tongue of the wise [i.e., absolution] health. Nor do we suggest the following, viz., what was taught, R. Nathan said: One who vows is as though he built a high place, and he who fulfils it is as though he sacrificed thereon.
Matthew 5:34-37 (NIV)
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Nedarim 22a: 12-14
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: He who loses his temper is exposed to all the torments of Gehenna, for it is written, Therefore remove anger from thy heart,' thus wilt thou put away evil from thy flesh. Now 'evil' can only mean Gehenna, as it is written, The Lord hath made all things for himself yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Matthew 5:22 (NIV)
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
There are many many more examples.
Now in the time of Jesus there were two different kinds of Pharisees- those who followed the School of Hillel and those who followed the School of Shemaiah.If Jesus WAS taught by one of these, which would it have been?
Well,they did have different entrance requirements. Jewishencyclopedia says:
The first bet ha-midrash [High School] of which there is authentic record is the one in which Shemaiah (Sameas) and Abtalion (Pollion) taught, and which Hillel, when a youth, could attend only after having paid admission-fee to the janitor. Whether or not this charge of a fee, so contradictory to the maxim of the men of the Great Synagogue, "Raise many disciples," was a political measure of the time, it seemingly stands in connection with a principle pronounced by the Shammaites, that "only those who are wise, humble, and of goodly, well-to-do parentage should be taught the Law." On the other hand, the Hillelites insisted that "all, without exception, should partake of the privilege, inasmuch as many transgressors in Israel, when brought nigh to the Law, brought forth righteous, pious, and perfect men.
So on that basis, chances are that Jesus would have gone to the School of Hillel. The probability is even higher if you look at the character of the founders of the Schools and what their Schools' philosophies were. Jewishencyclopedia says:
The "School (literally, "house") of Hillel" and the "School of Shammai" are names by which are designated the most famous antagonistic schools that flourished in Palestine during the first century, and which more than others contributed to the development of the oral law.
The Hillelites were, like the founder of their school, quiet, peace-loving men, accommodating themselves to circumstances and times, and being determined only upon fostering the Law and bringing man nearer to his God and to his neighbor. The Shammaites, on the other hand, stern and unbending like the originator of their school, emulated and even exceeded his severity. To them it seemed impossible to be sufficiently stringent in religious prohibitions. The disciples of Hillel, "the pious and gentle follower of Ezra", evinced in all their public dealings the peacefulness, gentleness, and conciliatory spirit which had distinguished their great master; and by the same characteristic qualities they were guided during the political storms which convulsed their country. The Shammaites, on the contrary, were intensely patriotic, and would not bow to foreign rule. They advocated the interdiction of any and all intercourse with those who either were Romans or in any way contributed toward the furtherance of Roman power or influences.
So the Philistine that tried to trap Jesus on the matter of taxation was probably a Shammaite:
Matthew 22:15-21 (NIV)
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
So Jesus seemed to agree with the teachings of the school of Hillel on this matter as well as others. This can be seen if you look at the teachings of Hillel. Jewishencyclopedia says:
The saying of Hillel which introduces the collection of his maxims in the Mishnaic treatise Abot mentions Aaron as the great model to be imitated in his love of peace, in his love of man, and in his leading mankind to a knowledge of the Law. In mentioning these characteristics, which the Haggadah then already ascribed to Moses' brother, Hillel mentions his own most prominent virtues. Love of man was considered by Hillel as the kernel of the entire Jewish teaching. When a heathen who wished to become a Jew asked him for a summary of the Jewish religion in the most concise terms, Hillel said: "What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary". With these words Hillel recognized as the fundamental principle of the Jewish moral law the Biblical precept of brotherly love. Almost the same thing was taught by Paul, a pupil of Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel; and more broadly by Jesus when he declared the love of one's neighbor to be the second great commandment beside the love of God, the first. It may be assumed without argument that Hillel's answer to the proselyte, which is extant in a narrative in the Babylonian Talmud, was generally known in Palestine, and that it was not without its effect on the founder of Christianity.
It has been remarked that Hillel did not, like Jesus, state the love of God to be the principal commandment of the Jewish teaching; but it must not be forgotten that Jesus gave his answer to a scribe, whereas Hillel answered the question of a prospective proselyte, to whom it was necessary first of all to show how the teachings of Judaism are to be practised by him who wishes to accept them. That the love of God had also a central position in Hillel's conception of religion needs not to be proved; this position had long been assigned to it in Judaism—since the Scripture passage in which this precept is joined immediately to the confession of the unity of God had been made the principal portion of the daily prayer. Moreover, the Pharisaic scribes who approved of Jesus' answer evidently belonged to Hillel's school. Hillel seems to have connected the precept of brotherly love with the Biblical teaching of man's likeness to God, on which account he calls the love of man "love of creatures"; and it is worthy of note that the term "creatures" for men was then already the common property of the language.
So you can see the similarity between what Jesus taught and what Hillel taught and it is not unreasonable to assume that he could have learned these teaching in the School of Hillel and then passed these teachings to his disciples. It's what a Rabbi would do, and his disciples did call him a Rabbi sometimes.
Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
So for the most part, it wasn't the teachings he was hostile to, it was the teachers. You can see this from
Matthew 23:1-3 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
So he could very well have been taught by a Rabbi in the school of Hillel who he disapproved of. Which Rabbi? I'll try and find out for my next post.
Of course maybe he wasn't taught by Pharisees at all, maybe he was taught by Essenes. That will be another post as well.
First Post in this series: Who Taught Jesus? A Priest?
Talmud Passages are from http://www.come-and-hear.com/tcontents.html
Note the numbers given are not passage numbers, they are footnote numbers- I put them in so the passage would be easier to find.
All NIV Bible quotes are from:
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
taken from http://www.biblegateway.com
Jewishencyclopedia passages are from http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/