Die Pharisaer: Ihr Verstandnis Im Spiegel der Christlichen Und Judischen Forschungseit Wellhausen Und Graetz, by Roland Dienes

By S, Martin | Shofar, April 30, 2000 | Go to article overview

Die Pharisaer: Ihr Verstandnis Im Spiegel der Christlichen Und Judischen Forschungseit Wellhausen Und Graetz, by Roland Dienes


S, Martin, Shofar


Die Pharisäer: Ihr Verständnis im Spiegel der christlichen und jüdischen Forschung seit Wellhausen und Graetz, by Roland Dienes

As its subtitle indicates, this book is not so much a study of the Pharisees in the setting of Second Temple Judaic culture as it is a study of the role that the Pharisees have played in the European and American historical imagination since the late nineteenth century. By focusing upon ways in which modern historians and theologians have read and interpreted the ancient Christian and Jewish sources on the Pharisees, Professor Deines hopes to learn as well how an apparently "academic" controversy over the nature and influence of an ancient Jewish religious community-cum-political party serves as a subtext of a modern debate among Christians and Jews over the continuing legitimacy of Judaism as a religion conceived to stem from primarily Pharisaic origins.

This book began as a doctoral dissertation under the direction of one of the great contemporary scholars of Second Temple Judaism, Professor Martin Hengel of the University of Tübingen. It is, accordingly, characterized by extensive learning, painstaking attention to details, and an encyclopedic effort at documenting every possible publication of relevance to the question. The bibliography alone is an unparalleled source of literature on the interpretation of the Pharisaic role in early Judaism, while the extensive footnotes guide professional readers expertly through the maze of secondary scholarly discussion of each and every issue relevant to the project.

A summary of the book's structure indicates its comprehensive character. The first two chapters, focusing on the foundations of the modern critical discussion, document the rather different contours that the Pharisaic question took among Christian and Jewish scholars working within the scientific-historiographical paradigms developed in the nineteenth-century German university. The first chapter begins with the foundational study of the great biblical historian, Julius Wellhausen, whose essay on "Die Pharisäer und die Sadducäer" of 1874 set the terms of the modern historical-critical discussion among New Testament scholars. Deines documents how a rather unreflective anti-Judaism shaped the ways in which Wellhausen and his major successors (E. Schürer and W. Bousset) fleshed out ancient depictions of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Josephus to interpret the nature of the Judaism that ultimately made necessary the redemptive moment represented by Jesus of Nazareth. As a kind of counter-salvo, Chapter Two moves behind Wellhausen to the earliest attempts of Jewish scholars such as I. M. Jost, A. Geiger, and N. Krochmal to wrestle with the Pharisaic question in purely inner-Judaic terms. Deines here points out how the discourse on Jews and Judaism in German culture dramatically shaped the way Jewish historians -- and the great Heinrich Graetz in particular -- would position the Pharisees in ancient Judaism in relation to the teachings of Jesus. …

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