"But," says the disinterested Christian, "what has that to do with us today? What a group of Pharisees did two thousand years ago is over and done with!"
However, the missing link in Christian understanding on the subject of "Pharisees" is best supplied by the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1943):
The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single piece of that literature and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.
Concerning the Pharisees, the 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia says:
With the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees. Henceforth, Jewish life was regulated by the Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older priestly tradition (Abot 1:1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. (See Exhibit 264 herein.)
Historically speaking, scripture believers had accepted Christ as the Messiah foretold. They were no longer "Jews," but called themselves "Christians." They were persecuted as such by the Pharisees. The word "Pharisee" comes from the word "separated." (See Exhibit 300.)
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