We are used to seeing the bad guys as the Pharisees. Pharisee as a word has come down to mean stuck up legalists who don’t care who they step on if they can just prove how holier they are than the rest of us.
Yet here it’s a Pharisee (Gamaliel) urging prudence and arguing that God’s will shows itself in practical events and situations whereas its the Sadducees who are out for the blood and screaming letter of the law.
I wonder how much of this is an internal matter in the Sanhedrin? The Christians didn’t have a label yet — it was just these rabble rousing disciples of Jesus. And the teachings sounded an awful lot like that of the Pharisees: resurrection, love, mutual aid. Maybe there was a fear that if the Christians sided with the Pharisees the Sadducees would lose influence.
It just seems to me that when I do an internet search on Pharisees — they come up as — at least for their day — fairly open-minded fair-minded types compared to the law and nothing else attitude of Sadducees.
The Pharisees were the group that ultimately formed and informed the Rabbinic Judaism we have today. In the face of the sorts of issues we wrestle with here — Old Testament vs. New, Pharisee versus Christian it would be nice to have a Jewish voice here as a corrective. Most Jews I’ve met have been reformed and not Orthodox — but they seem far less legalistic than many Christians I’ve known.
When a Christian goes out of their way to avoid eating kosher food because kosher is legalistic and not in keeping with the liberty of the gospel, are they not being as or more legalistic than a Jew who keeps the kosher food laws?