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RE: Cult vs Sect

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  • Lewis Reich
    ... As Mahlon has noted, even if this verse refers to Pharisaic efforts to sway other Jews to their views, that would not necessarily show that there was no
    Message 1 of 36 , Aug 1, 1998
      On 30 Jul 98, at 13:01, Jacob Knee wrote:

      > Re: Matthew 23:15: 'oe to you scribes and Pharisees, that you cross land and
      > sea to make one proselyte.'
      >
      > Martin Goodman has the great idea that proseytos - refers to _other Jews_ -
      > who are being encouraged to adopt 'pharisaic halaka'.
      >
      > His argument is really impressive and very ingenious - it in no way relies
      > upon - but fully coheres with - view of Matthew as basically engaged in
      > intra-Jewish polemic.

      As Mahlon has noted, even if this verse refers to Pharisaic efforts to sway
      other Jews to their views, that would not necessarily show that there was no
      significant Pharisaic effort to proselytize non-Jews.

      However ingenious, I am rather skeptical of this approach. There is no
      indication anywhere, to the best of my knowledge, that Pharisees made any
      substantial effort to propagandize or proselytize among other Jews (although
      we do have some evidence for this for the Essenes). Given what I have read of
      the nature of the Pharisaic program, and my impression of the Pharisaic
      enterprise, such an effort would make very little sense.

      The model of the Pharisees as a pietist table fellowship who adopted stricter
      rules modeled on the Temple rules for priests for themselves provides no
      sense of why Pharisees would feel impelled to "convert" other Jews to their
      ways. In addition, since the Pharisees do not seem to have had a program that
      they wished other Jews to adopt, why would they seek "converts"? My
      impression of the Pharisees' is that they were interested in regularizing and
      systematizing traditional ways of doing things that had been handed down as
      various kinds of traditions. Their innovation was to regard themselves as
      arbiters of these traditions. In this, they were in conflict with Saduccees and
      priests who did not respect the traditions the Pharisees adduced. However,
      there was no reason to "convert" other Jews, who were apparently the ones
      who were observing these varying traditions.

      Lewis Reich
      LBR@...
    • Bob Schacht
      ... stricter ... Lewis, What is the basis for this model? It is not the impression I get from reading Josephus. ... Josephus description of the partisan
      Message 36 of 36 , Aug 1, 1998
        At 06:46 PM 8/1/98 -0400, Lewis Reich wrote:
        >...The model of the Pharisees as a pietist table fellowship who adopted
        stricter
        >rules modeled on the Temple rules for priests for themselves provides no
        >sense of why Pharisees would feel impelled to "convert" other Jews to their
        >ways.

        Lewis,
        What is the basis for this model? It is not the impression I get from
        reading Josephus.

        > In addition, since the Pharisees do not seem to have had a program that
        >they wished other Jews to adopt, why would they seek "converts"?

        Josephus' description of the partisan strife between pharisees and
        sadducees allows one to suspect that they sought strength in numbers.

        >My impression of the Pharisees' is that they were interested in
        regularizing and
        >systematizing traditional ways of doing things that had been handed down as
        >various kinds of traditions. Their innovation was to regard themselves as
        >arbiters of these traditions.

        I thought this was the role claimed by the "scribes" or "lawyers"
        (GRAMMATEIS, if I remember the correct spelling). Were they Pharisees, too?

        > In this, they were in conflict with Saduccees and
        >priests who did not respect the traditions the Pharisees adduced.

        Exactly.

        >However,
        >there was no reason to "convert" other Jews, who were apparently the ones
        >who were observing these varying traditions.
        >

        If they aspired to be the arbiters, they would need to convert the others
        at least enough to accept their role as arbiters. How else are they going
        to arbitrate?

        Bob
        "Is it not extraordinary to the point of being a miracle, that so loose
        and ill-constructed a narrative in an antique translation of a dubious
        text should after so many centuries still have power to quell and
        dominate a restless, opinionated, overexercised and undernourished,
        twentieth-century mind?"
        Malcolm Muggeridge _Jesus Rediscovered_ (1969), writing about
        the KJV New Testament -
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