The Pharisees and Jesus

Robert Graves, working from Greek and Latin sources, and Joshua Podro, working from Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac sources, completed a detailed restoration of the original Nazarene Gospel in 1952. Here is a sample of their findings.

The authors here argue that in Matthew XXIII, 2, Jesus was enjoining his disciples to strict observance of the Pharisaic Oral Law; that, in the first century, this Law forbade the commitment to writing of individual commentaries on the written Law and the Prophets; that consequently the Greek Logia (written collections of Jesus's sayings) and the four Gospels based on them are piracies and polemical distortions, by Paulines, Gnostics and others, of the single authentic oral tradition in Aramaic taught by the original Apostles at Jerusalem and carefully memorized by their catechumens; finally, that all the surviving external and internal evidence of the process of Gospel-making supports this view.

It is asking much of Christian readers, however well balanced in their historical judgment, to believe that ecclesiastical differences between the original Jewish church and the Greek churches of the Diaspora can have given the Pharisees so wholly undeserved a notoriety as Jesus's enemies and murderers or so completely misrepresented his attitude to them. But the authors make out a strong case for the Pharisees' defence.

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