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Jesus of Nazareth

—A Landmarks of Faith Seminar—

Jesus of Nazareth Seminar

Scroll and Synagogue:
Jewish Religion in the Time of Jesus

Booklet  See notes below.

Lecture #2b:

Or click here for more listening options at Internet Archive.

Jesus of Nazareth Lecture #3a ⇨
⇦ Jesus of Nazareth Lecture #2a


Lecture #2b Notes

PHARISEES (Continued)

The different kinds of Pharisees, according to the Pharisees themselves:

  • The Shechemite Pharisee was a hypocrite.
  • The Mortar Pharisee had strangely exaggerated clothes.
  • The Dashing Pharisee was always hiding away from a false sense of humility.
  • The Blood-letting Pharisee was so careful not to look on a woman he was always running into walls.
  • The Duty Pharisee did everything for duty’s sake.
  • The Fear Pharisee did everything for fear’s sake.
  • The Love Pharisee did his duty out of love.

Oral Law: Originally unwritten explanations of how to obey the written Law of Moses.

Matt. 15:9: ...teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Matt. 12:2: When they saw this, the Pharisees said to him,...your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.

Deut. 23:25: When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you will not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

Matt. 12:7: If you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6), you would not have condemned the innocent.

Matt. 5:17: Do not suppose that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets...For amen I say to you, until the heaven and the earth pass away, a single letter or a single stroke will certainly not pass away from the Law, until all comes to pass.


Who were the two Simons among Jesus disciples? Simon (Shimon) Peter, and Simon (Shimon) the Zealot.

(Summary of Zealot beliefs: (1) They desired to serve no one but God alone, (2) they were against slavery, (3) they believed death was better than slavery, (4) they felt Rome had no right to the land.)

Acts 5:37: After this...Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him...

(Pax Romana:  the Roman peace, enforced by the power of Rome’s military might.)

Matt. 22:17: Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar or not?

Secular taxes:

  • 1) Crop tax: 1/10 of the grain crop and 1/5 of the wine, fruit, and oil--a tithe (and more) to Caesar!
  • 2) Land (real estate) tax.
  • 3) Income tax.
  • 4) Annual poll tax: 1% of your income every year (Matt. 22:17).
  • 5) Customs: import and export taxes at seaports or national boundaries.
  • 6) Local taxes: tolls on certain roads and bridges, to enter certain cities, to shop in the market, for the synagogue and school, for public baths, etc.
  • 7) Taxes on animals and vehicles.
  • 8) A salt tax.
  • 9) A sales tax.
  • 10) Emergency taxes.

Religious taxes:  could be enforced by Roman troops.

  • 1) Tithe: 10% of all income.
  • 2) Second tithe: another 10% for certain festivals and for the poor.
  • 3) Corners of the field: left for the poor (about 2%).
  • 4) Firstfruits brought to the Lord: firstlings of the flock, first of the dough, first of the fleece, firstfruits, etc. (about 3-5%).
  • 5) Annual Temple tax (Matt. 17:24).
  • 6) Freewill offerings

Matthew 18:17: If he refuses to listen to you, let him be to you as a Gentile and a taxgatherer.

Luke 19:7: They all began to grumble, saying, He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.

First Jewish Revolt against Rome:  a destructive war in which Jerusalem was leveled and the Temple destroyed (AD 66-70).


Discovery: Palatial homes of the priests and the wealthy in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus.

Luke 10:30-31: There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among thieves, and they stripped him and beat him and left him half-dead. Now by chance, a certain priest was going down...

Sadducean persecution of the early church included the crucifixion of Jesus, the arrest of Peter and John in the Temple (Acts 4) and again later with a whipping (Acts 5), the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), the authorization of Saul to imprison believers in Damascus (Acts 9), and the filing of charges against Paul before the procurator (Acts 24:1).

Hellenized: strongly influenced by Greek and Roman culture and society.


Luke 1:80: And the child [John the Baptist]...lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Discovery: Hundreds of scrolls in caves near the Dead Sea, dating from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD.

Qumran: the ruins of an Essene community center found near the discovery sites of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Wondrous Child: Even professional seers will come to him on their knees. For all their longevity and age, he will surpass both his father and his ancestors. He will be possessed of counsel and shrewdness and will know what men keep secret. His wisdom will go forth to all the peoples. He will know the secrets of all the living, and all their schemes against him will be brought to an end. The sin of all the living will be great, but it is his plans that will succeed, as he is the chosen of God. His birth and the very breath that he breathes have been established by God, whose plans endure forever (4QMess [4Q534]).

A Messianic Vision: The heavens and earth will obey his Messiah.... Those seeking the Lord will be strengthened by his [coming].... In this, will not all those who are distressed find the Lord? The Lord will visit the pious, and the righteous he will call by name. And over the poor his Spirit will hover, and the faithful he will support with his strength.... He will release the prisoners, make the blind see, and raise up those bent [in the dust].... He will heal the wounded and resurrect the dead and announce glad tidings to the poor (4Q521).

Possible connection of John the Baptist with the Essenes:

  • 1) Some of his message was quite similar; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! (Isa. 40:3).
  • 2) The connection between ritual immersion in water and repentance: No one is to go into water in order to attain the purity of holy men. For men cannot be purified except they repent of their evil (Manual of Discipline [v,7-]). John came proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).
  • 3) Much of John’s focus, as theirs, was on the endtimes arrival of the Messiah. The one coming after me is greater than I, of whom I am not worthy to carry his sandals; he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11).
  • 4) The insight that being a physical descendant of Abraham was not enough to ensure a right relationship with God. God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham (Matt. 3:9).


Luke 2:25:  Those looking for the consolation of Israel

Luke 2:38: All those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem

John 1:25: Why are you baptizing, if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?

The Prophet
The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among will listen to him (Deut. 18:15).

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet... (Mal. 4:5).

a) Priestly Messiah
b) Kingly Messiah

Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote of the common Jewish belief found in their sacred scriptures...that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world (Josephus, Wars 6.5.4 § 312).

Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote: The majority firmly believed that their ancient priestly writings contained the prophecy that this was the very time when the East should grow strong and that men starting from Judea would possess the world (Tacitus, Histories 5.13).

John 6:15: Jesus therefore, perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew...


Matt. 6:10: Your kingdom come...

Matt. 4:17: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near (see also Luke 4:43).

Matt. 11:14: He himself is Elijah, who was to come.

Luke 17:20: The kingdom of God is not coming in such a way that it can be seen; nor will they say, Look, here it is! or, There it is! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

John 3:5: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (also John 3:3).

John 18:36: My kingdom is not from this world...

Luke 7:19-23: Are you the Coming One, or should we wait for another?

Matt. 13:31-32: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field...when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree.... The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it is all leavened.

Matt. 13:44-45: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure.... The kingdom of heaven is pearl of great value.

Acts 2:34-36: For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: The Lord said to my lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet (Psalm 110:1). Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah.

Luke 24:26: Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?

Matt. 16:28: There are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming into his kingdom.

Acts 2:33: Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

Col. 1:13: For he delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (See also Acts 8:5, 14:22; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20, 15:24; Col. 4:11; Rev. 1:6,9, 5:10).

Acts 2:16: But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: And it will be in the last days, God says, that I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind...

1 Tim. 6:15: Our Lord Jesus Christ...who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. (See also 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 17:14, 19:16.)

Copyright © 1999-2002, 2008, 2012, 2020 by Jeffrey J. Harrison.
Many of the Scripture verses quoted have been translated or modified by the author to bring out details of the original Greek or Hebrew text. Otherwise: Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, ©Copyright the Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.
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