- Die Pharisäer: Ihr Verständnis im Spiegel der christlichen und jüdischen Forschung seit Wellhausen und Graetz (review)
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 18, Number 3, Spring 2000
- pp. 152-153
- View Citation
- Additional Information
152 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 As a group, these essays are full of fresh insights, clearly and persuasively stated, and adhering to high standards of critical, balanced discourse. Louis H. Feldman Yeshiva University Die Pharisaer: Ihr Verstandnis im Spiegel, der christlichen und jiidischen Forschungseit Wellhausen und Graetz, by Roland Dienes. Tiibingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997. 642 pp. DM 180.00. As its subtitle indicates, this book is not'so much a study ofthe Pharisees in the setting of Second Temple Judaic culture as it is a study of the role that the Pharisees have played in the European and American historical imagination since the late nineteenth century. By focusing upon ways in which modem historians and theologians have read and interpreted the ancient Christian and Jewish sources on the Pharisees, Professor Deines hopes to learn as well how an apparently "academic" controversy overthe nature and influence of an ancient Jewish religious community-cum-political party serves as a subtext ofa modem debate among Christians and Jews over the continuing legitimacy of Judaism as a religion conceived to stem from primarily Pharisaic origins. This book began as a doctoral dissertation under the direction of one of the great contemporary scholars of Second Temple Judaism, Professor Martin Hengel of the University of Tiibingen. It is, accordingly, characterized by extensive learning, painstaking attention to details, and an encyclopedic effort at documenting every possible publication of relevance to the question. The bibliography alone is an unparalleled source of literature on the interpretation of the Pharisaic role in early Judaism, while the extensive footnotes guide professional readers expertly through the maze ofsecondary scholarly discussion ofeach and every issue relevant to the project. A summary ofthe book's structure indicates its comprehensive character. The first two chapters, focusing on the foundations ofthe modem critical discussion, document the rather different contours that the Pharisaic question took among Christian and Jewish scholars working within the scientific-historiographical paradigms developed in the nineteenth-century German university. The first chapter begins with the foundational stUdy of the great biblical historian, Julius Wellhausen, whose essay on "Die Pharisaer und die Sadducaer" of 1874 set the terms of the modem historicalcritical discussion among New Testament scholars. Deines documents how a rather unreflective anti-Judaism shaped the ways in which Wellhausen and his major successors (E. Schiirer and W. Bousset) fleshed out ancient depictions of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Josephus to interpret the nature ofthe Judaism that ultimately made necessary the redemptive moment represented by Jesus of Nazareth. As a kind of counter-salvo, ChapterTwo moves behind Wellhausen to the earliest attempts ofJewish Book Reviews 153 scholars such as 1. M. Jost, A. Geiger, and N. Krochmal to wrestle with the Pharisaic question in purely inner-Judaic terms. Deines here points out how the discourse on Jews and Judaism in German culture dramatically shaped the way Jewish historians-and the great Heinrich Graetz in particular-would position the Pharisees in ancient Judaism in relation to the teachings of Jesus. This portion of Deines' story will likely be more or less familiar to most professional historians ofthe period, although the wealth ofdetail is highly instructive. In my view, Deines' most important contribution comes in the subsequent chapters that expertly position a variety of prominent and not-so-prominent scholars, Jewish and Christian, in a series ofsubtle historiographic and theological controversies. Not every reader will have thought through, for example, the many links between the discussions of the liberal Protestant theologian, Adolf van Harnack, and the liberal rabbi, Leo Baeck, that grace Chapter Three's narrative. Similarly, many scholars, such as this reviewer, trained in the I970s to disregard the work ofthe maligned "Strack-Billerbeck" compendium of Rabbinic sources relevant to the New Testament, will find important instruction in Chapter Four regarding the larger theological context---of such thinkers as G. Dalman and F. Weber-in which this work takes on its intellectual coherence. Chapter Five moves its focus to the English-language scholarship produced by British and American scholars whose work still serves as classic models of attempts to rethink the Pharisees outside the normative framework ofChristian theology. The longneglected R. T. Herford here receives his due along with the...