This book offers a multidisciplinary appraisal of the Pharisees: who they were, what they taught, and how they've been understood and depicted throughout history. For centuries, Pharisees have been well known but little understood-due at least in part to their outsized role in the Christian imagination arising from select negative stereotypes based in part on the Gospels. Yet historians see Pharisees as respected teachers and forward-thinking innovators who helped make the Jewish tradition more adaptable to changing circumstances and more egalitarian in practice. Seeking to bridge this gap, this book provides a multidisciplinary appraisal of who the Pharisees were, what they believed and taught, and how they have been depicted. Topics include: the origins of the Pharisees; the meaning of the name
Pharisee; Pharisaic leniency, relative to the temple priesthood, in judicial matters; Pharisaic concerns for the Jewish laity; Pharisaic purity practices and why they became popular; varying depictions of Pharisaic practices and beliefs in the New Testament; Jesus's relationship to the Pharisees; the apostle Paul and his situation within the Pharisaic tradition; the question of continuity between the Pharisaic tradition and Rabbinic Judaism; the reception history of the Pharisees, including among rabbis, church fathers, Rashi, Maimonides, Luther, and Calvin; failures of past scholarship to deal justly with the Pharisees; representations, both positive and negative, of the Pharisees in art, film, passion plays, and Christian educational resources; and how Christian leaders can and should address the Pharisees in sermons and Bible studies. The volume concludes with an address by Pope Francis on correcting the negative stereotypes of Pharisees that have led to antisemitic prejudices and finding resources that "will positively contribute to the relationship between Jews and Christians, in view of an ever more profound and fraternal dialogue.