Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GKC Wrap-Up, Phase 2: The Woman At The Water-Cooler

Phase 1, here.

It’s coffee-break, I’m at the water-cooler with my friend. She’s lovely, Jewish, a few years older and curious about the preacher’s kid, happy to ask the occasional provocation, and to oblige a few of my own in return. Today she asks, “Do Mennonites talk about the Pharisees at all?”

The Pharisees? Oh, for sure. Can’t have Jesus without the Pharisees.

“So how do you describe them? What do they represent to you?”

I provide the rote description: anal-retentive legalists whose lengthy arcana of behavioral restrictions discouraged potential seekers of God. Is that accurate?

“Well, not from our point of view, no. We think they’re the heroes.”

Come again?

“Absolutely. You talk about ‘lengthy arcana,’ but that’s precisely what they liberated us from. They pared down the Torah from an unimaginable burden to something that could be lived out and practised, even during generations of extreme pagan oppression. Thanks to them, our culture, our religion, our faith remains alive to this day.”

Huh. No kidding?

“Mm. Wup — look at the time. Fill your cup?”

"Wait: 'heroes'? Seriously?"

2 comments:

Joel said...

Religion 101 at Calvin College was a real eye-opener for me. I learned any number of interesting things in that class that were quite different than what I had been told for years at Sunday School

One of the interesting things I learned was that in real life Pharisees weren't quite the villains they appeared as in the New Testament. Or at least not all of them. In Jesus's time, there was already an ongoing debate between liberal pharisees and conservative pharisees. Most of Jesus's teachings, although the New Testament portrays them as new ideas coming completely out of nowhere, were actually already being voiced by the liberal pharisees at the time. (The one exception was Jesus's stance on divorce--the one issue in which he was more in line with the conservative Pharisees than the liberal Pharisees).
Also, compared with all the other sects in Judaism at the time, the Christian tradition owes much more to the Pharisees than any other sect. For example, the belief in the resurrection of the dead was something the Pharisees believed in, but the Saducees did not.

Sorry for the info dump above--just my two cents based on what I learned in school some many years ago.

Darrell Reimer said...

Dump away, my friend. No comment from me, just yet.