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Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus Paperback – August 19, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (August 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592443133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592443130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
I hope to read more books like this down the road.
Migzillatron
Harvey Falk, a Jewish Rabbi, has written a work useful to the scholarly study of the Jewish Roots of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.
Edward J. Vasicek
Any Christian who is serious to understand the life and times of Jesus should read this book.
Phillip J. Pisciotta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Herblady22 VINE VOICE on February 17, 2004
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Harvey Falk, a rabbinic writer believes that Jesus can only be understood as an observant Jew who upheld most of the doctrine of the School of Hillel against the School of Shammai (although he broke with Hillel on the subject of divorce.) He sees Jesus as on a mission to encourage the gentiles to follow the Noahide laws (the seven commandments given to Noah which all righteous gentiles must follow according to Judiasm in order to achieve salvation.) He sees many condemnations of the Pharisees in the Christian Gospels as reflecting the often quite contentious disputes between the two schools.
Falk's style of writing is more likely to be familiar to Jews who have learned Talmudic defenses of halacha than to Christains. Falk goes both forward and back in rabbinic history to justify actions of Jesus. The book is extensively footnoted with reference to rabbinic texts.
Although I believe that Falk stretches things at times to indicate that Jesus and his followers always followed Jewish law (picking grain from the field on the Sabbath probably was not to forestall starvation,) he makes an excellent case that Jesus was primarily observant. (Although Christians often believe that healing the sick by prayer on the Sabbath was forbidden (Matthew 12:9-14), it was not explicitly forbidden by Jewish law and the text probably refers to a dispute between the schools of Hillel and Shammai on how high the "wall" should be around the laws of keeping the Sabbath.)
The book presents a vivid picture of the first century and its theological disputes. Falk looks at scriptures of Judiasm, Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls to convey the contemporary contraversies of that time.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By FT on July 26, 2004
I gave this book a high rating because it is a remarkable attempt to bridge the gap between Judaism and Christianity, and since it comes from the perspective of an orthodox Rabbi, the attempt is that much more welcome and appreciated. However, there is a big misgiving in the overall premise of the book: that Jesus was a good observant Jew who always meant to establish a separate religion for the gentiles.

It is not true that the historical Jesus went out on a mission specially addressed to gentiles. The mayority of scholars today who study Christian as well as Jewish texts, agree that Jesus was indeed an observant Jew who loved the Torah and the traditions of his people, the Jews, and he was most concerned with the preservation and practice of Judaism under the difficult circumstances of Roman oppression. His most public and well known act, overturning the tables of the moneychangers, happened right in the Holy Temple courts, and he is referred to in the Gospels as constantly engaging in discussions with other Jews, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees, about interpretation of the Jewish Law. He is never quoted as talking to Romans and Philistines or other gentiles about the importance of following the Noachide Commandments.

The Jesus Seminar, the discussion group made of scholars from various Christian denominations, has published extensively on the Jewishness of Jesus. Prof. Bartchy at UCLA is one non-denominational historian who discusses the Jewishness of Jesus and how what we know of the scope of Jesus' public life was always centered around Judaism and interpretation of the Law among his fellow Jews.

Perhaps understanding Jesus's life as something that was always (i.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Migzillatron on September 9, 2009
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I've read quite a few books on the subject of Jesus. However, this is the only one I've read that was written by an actual Orthodox Jew (not a former one). Not only was it written by an Orthodox Jew, but by one who views Jesus in a favorable light. I personally think any serious Bible student (Christian or Jewish) should read this.

I don't think I've read any other book that gives such a fair (IMO) examination of this topic. No, the author doesn't believe Jesus is god or the son of god, as most Christian authors would seem to portray him. But he also doesn't view Jesus as one who led people astray, as many other Jewish authors would seem to portray him.

I grew up in the church and never really even considered the fact that Jesus was Jewish (though it's pretty obvious). Even less did I ever imagine he may have been a Pharisee!

I hope to read more books like this down the road.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Korn on April 29, 2010
Rabbi Falk's main interest is to explain the seeming incongruity in the New Testament that portrays the young Jesus as a friend of the rabbis in the Temple but later in His life excoriating the rabbis in withering terms (cf. Matth. 23).

Rabbi Falk's very clever suggestion is that the rabbis represented different groups. The first group, with whom Jesus had cordial relations, were the followers of Hillel, who was noted for being fair minded and compassionate. (Falk brings proof from the Talmud that Hillel died right around the time of this famous Gospel scene.) The second group, whom Rabbi Falk believes Jesus opposed vehemently, were the school of Shammai who was reputed to be severe and intolerant, especially of potential converts to Judaism.

Rabbi Falk introduces complex Talmudic scholarship to show that these two schools were powerful rivals, and that around the time of Jesus Shammai's group siezed control. He speculates that Hillel's followers may have joined the Essene communities in the desert.

One of their central disputes concerned the question of how Jews should relate to non-Jews. Jesus favored the compassionate approach of Hillel and opposed the stringent approach of Shammai. Ultimately, acccording to Rabbi Falk, Shammai's view not only prevailed but doomed Jerusalem to destruction at the hands of the Romans.

After this tragedy, the reconstituted Sanhedrin in Yavneh adopted Hillel's general approach and repudiated Shammai, but it was too late to spare Jerusalem. According then to Rabbi Falk, this final decision of the rabbinical leaders vnindicated Jesus' favorable attitude to Hillel. Falk implies that Jesus would be perfectly content with rabbinical Judaism as it has been practiced ever since down to our day.
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