This article offers a new approach for reconstructing the original form and meaning of Jesus’s legal woe sayings in Matt 23:16-26 (and the parallel in Luke 11:3944) as part of a broader Jewish intersectarian discourse. A close analysis of this unit alongside an early rabbinic source embedded in Mishnah tractate Yadayim 4:5-8 reveals that Jesus’s condemnation of the Pharisees was not unique. His arguments concerning oaths, tithes, and ritual purity belong to a pre-Matthean stratum, and they match a familiar rhetorical pattern condemning the Pharisees’ lenient and compromising approach. According to this pre-Matthean tradition, Jesus drew his argument and depiction of the Pharisees from the current intersectarian debate concerning the essential principles of torah observance. Jesus is portrayed as exploiting current anti-Pharisaic accusations, familiar also from Qumran literature and directed originally against the Pharisees’ distorted conceptions of purity and holiness, as he attempts to uncover their moral faults.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.