Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Pharisees = "Separatists," a strict sect of the Jews, not mentioned in the Old Testament, but possibly the same as the Assideans mentioned in Maccabees. The sect was probably formed in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes with a view to resisting his Graxusing efforts. Their chief characteristics were intolerance and narrowness, and the overriding law by the authority of tradition; Christ accuses them of rendering the law of no elfect by their tradition, and of binding undue burdens on men's shoulders. Josephns, who was one of them, tones down their views, and represents them as forming a philosophical system, but at best they seem to have been a set of bigoted Chauvinists. The Mishna, or first part of the Talmud (which dates from the 2nd century A.D.), shows their influence, and rates highly the opinions of Hillel, Shammai and Gamaliel. "This interprets the law by the light of (1) the decisions of the Great Synagogue, (2) the decrees of prophets and wise men, (3) the legal decisions of proper authorities, and forms a whole system of elaborate casuistry. The Pharisees professed great reverence for the Rabbis, and formed an exclusive sect, who looked down upon the common herd of Jews. St. Paul bears witness to their talent for persecution.