- Eyal Regev
ExtractThe Pharisees (פרושים, Gk. Φαρισαῖοî) were one of the Jewish sects or philosophies in the late Hellenistic and early Roman periods, along with the Sadducees and the Essenes. Explicit references to Pharisees are found in Josephus, in the New Testament gospels and Acts of the Apostles, and in Rabbinic literature.Their name, which may derive from the Semitic root prš (“separate”), was adopted by a large group, of whom some (in rabbinic terminology, ḥaberim, “fellows”) were particularly zealous about purity and tithing, while others were less so. The name may also derive from another meaning of the same root—“to interpret”—since the Pharisees were known for their interpretations of scriptural laws. The Pharisees’ interpretations were challenged by other groups but popularly accepted.Josephus describes the Pharisees as a religious and political party that existed since the days of Jonathan the Hasmonean (AJ 13.17–173). They taught that there is life after death and that man controls his own destiny, though fate also plays a role in human fortunes. In an effort to provide his Greek and Roman readers with a point of reference, Josephus compares them to the Stoics (.
- Jewish Studies
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Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.