Hypocrites or Heroes? The Paradoxical Portrayal of the Pharisees in the New Testament

What It's About

It is easy to dismiss the Pharisees as Jesus' implacable adversaries, the hypocrites with whom he frequently debated and who even plotted his downfall. That picture, however, ignores other gospel passages which show Jesus on friendly terms with them. This study explores every New Testament reference to the Pharisees, paying special attention to Jesus' encounters with them, and offers a feasible resolution of the seeming discrepancies. Unlike those proposed by some scholars, this solution preserves the integrity of the gospel texts and also explains other paradoxical aspects of Jesusí ministry.

This subject is of more than academic importance. Since much of the gospel record of the actions and teachings of Jesus falls within the context of his encounters with the Pharisees, some knowledge of these people with whom he so frequently engaged is an essential prerequisite to understanding Jesus himself. This study's historical reconstructions of the origin of the Pharisee movement, of its characteristics at the time of Jesus and of Jesus' relationship with the Pharisees themselves provide not only a clearer picture of the social and religious environment in which the Christian faith originated, but also fresh insight into Jesus who is central to that faith.

How It Came to Be Written

The book was a 'spin-off' from my MA dissertation. My research for that led me to the wholly unexpected conclusion that Pharisaism was the normative Judaism of first-century Palestine and that Jesus and some of his first disciples were themselves Pharisees. Internet research revealed that I was not the first person to come to these conclusions - a handful of established scholars had also done so. At least I was not alone!

Bearing in mind that there are over 200 mentions of the Pharisees in the New Testament, they clearly constitute one of the most important subjects in it and yet it is surprising how little is known about them. I wanted to explore the subject further and considered doing a PhD with the Pharisees as my dissertation topic. But my health was poor at the time and I was also facing a family crisis regarding care for my father and my father-in-law, both in their late 90s. Afraid that I might not be able to complete my dissertation in the limited time that a University would allow, I decided not to register, but nevertheless to undertake the research and write the dissertation that I would have submitted (subject, of course, to the requisite approvals) had I opted to pursue that route. And, if the resulting document seemed to command sufficient interest, I would try to publish it. In fact my health improved and the family crisis conveniently held off until Octobe 2014 by which time the 'dissertation' was finished apart from a few final tweaks. Wipf and Stock was only the second publisher that I approached and now the book is in print.

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To download an extract from the book click here. Used with Permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Technical Details and How to Get a Copy

Title: Hypocrites or Heroes?
Subtitle: The Paradoxical Portrayal of the Pharisees in the New Testament
Author: Roger Amos
Foreword: Pieter Lallemann, Academic Dean and Tutor in New Testament, Spurgeon's College, London
Publisher: Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon, USA
ISBN 13: 978-1-4982-2027-9
Pages: 242; paperback
Retail price (USA): $27
Publication Date: 22 April 2015
Available from: Wipf and Stock; Amazon and Ingram in the USA and from Adlibris.com, Bertrams, Blackwell, Book Depository, Coutts, Gardners, Mallory International, Paperback Shop, Eden Interactive Ltd, Aphrohead and Amazon.co.uk in the UK

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© Roger Amos 2015