The May 7-9 event, titled “Jesus and the Pharisees: An Interdisciplinary Reappraisal,” was presented at a news conference on Wednesday at the Jesuit-sponsored Pontifical Biblical Institute, located adjacent to the Gregorian. The scholarly meeting will culminate on May 9 with a private audience for participants with Francis.
Historically speaking, the two main survivors within Palestinian Judaism of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE by the Romans were the early followers of Jesus, who became the Christians, and the Pharisees, who today are seen as having laid the intellectual, legal and ritual basis for modern Judaism. Other groups, such as the Temple elite, the Sadducees and the esoteric Essene sects disappeared soon after the Temple’s demise.
Presenting the logic of the May conference, Father Etienne Vetö, director of the Gregorian’s Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies, emphasized a link between negative stereotypes of ancient Pharisees and contemporary anti-Semitism.
Popularly, he said, the term “pharisee” is often used to mean “hypocritical, self-righteous, morally rigorous, attentive to appearances in religion, ritualism, even enemies of Jesus,” Vetö said, “but history and Biblical research show this common view is really incorrect.”
“There’s a lot at stake for our understanding of Christianity and present-day Judaism, which finds its roots in the Pharisaic movement,” he said. “Anti-semitism is related to an historically incorrect view of the Pharisees.”
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
It’s hosted this month by Jim West. But don’t tell him it’s any good. That kind of thing goes to his head.
Via Atlas Obscura: “Is This Duck Kosher? It’s Complicated“:
THE BASICS OF JEWISH DIETARY law—the laws of kashrut—are fairly well-known: no pork, no shellfish, no milk and meat together. But there are many, many more laws than that, some of which are unclear, some of which are localized and don’t necessarily apply to all countries, and many of which have never really been settled. The case of the Muscovy duck is one of the most fun.
The rules of kashrut have a couple of issues that destabilize the entire process of figuring out what Jews can and cannot eat. One of these fundamental issues is that the laws don’t necessarily follow any larger philosophy. Jewish scholars have long divided the laws of Judaism into a couple of different categories. Mishpatim—the –im and -ot endings of words signify plurals in Hebrew—are laws that are self-evident to the survival of a society, like “don’t murder” or “don’t steal.” The edot are laws usually surrounding holidays, symbolic rules designed to memorialize events or bring a community together, like wearing a yarmulke or not eating bread on Passover. And then there are the chukim.
The chukim are laws that make no sense. They are sometimes phrased in ways to make following them more palatable; for example, that these are laws passed down directly from God, and it is not necessary that we understand them. The rules of kashrut are sometimes, but not always, placed in this category.
Sorry I’m a little late with this one. Please go visit Christopher L. Scott’s eponymous blog for this month’s offerings.
The Monday Morning Theologian has the honors this month. Enjoy!