I just read an interesting little article by William C. Varner, which discusses Jesus and his reactions to the Pharisees, as recorded in the Gospels. Varner points out that while, at times, Jesus seems to be directing his wrath toward the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as a whole, there are also passages in the New Testament where Jesus appears to be specifically targeting a certain type of Pharisee. Varner distinguishes between two schools of Pharisaic thought that predate the time of Jesus: that of Shammai, who were literalists, and that of Hillel, who were progressives. Orthodox Judaism of today patterns itself after the Pharisaic school of Hillel. It appears Jesus was opposed mainly to the Shammai Pharisaic school, and not so much to the Hillel Pharisaic school. Varner concludes that this understanding is important for both Jews and Christians, since Jews can thus better understand why Jesus was so upset with certain Pharisees, while Christians can better understand that Jesus was not, in the main, targeting the whole Pharisaic tradition. As a preface, Varner notes there were actually about twenty-four different “Judaisms,” including Pharisaic Judaism, during the era of the Second Temple. According to some Christian and Jewish scholars, these varieties extended beyond mere sects, but were actually diverse enough to be regarded as separate religions in some cases.
Your thoughts on this are appreciated.