Why are the Pharisees Absent in the Passion Narratives…Except in Matthew’s Guards at the Tomb Story?

Image result for image of pharisees

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

–Matthew 27

How odd.  The Pharisees are not mentioned at all during the passion of Jesus in any of the Synoptic Gospels…except in Matthew’s “Guards at the Tomb” tale, a story that is absent in Mark, Luke, and John.   Why?

Pagel (1995, 75-76) The Pharisees become adversaries of the Christian community only in the time of Matthew (80-90 CE).  They are inserted into the Jesus story here because they are the chief opponents of Matthew’s church and surely skeptical about the claims of Jesus’ resurrection.

Dear Reader, these books are not historically reliable! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

2 thoughts on “Why are the Pharisees Absent in the Passion Narratives…Except in Matthew’s Guards at the Tomb Story?

  1. Pagel’s commentary is, well, Pagel’s commentary. I mean, it’s a theory.

    But, here’s another theory. And, let me just emphasize theory

    Matthew writes his account, having some other source that Luke or Mark didn’t have. And, this source informs Matthew that the “Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

    So, Matthew records that in his gospel.

    One of the questions to ask, if one has not already decided that the pericope is a fiction, is “why the Pharisees”?

    Maybe it’s because they believed in a resurrection “at the Last Day”, and (as per the text) didn’t want somebody doing something to deceive the people regarding the resurrection. On the other hand, the Sadducees weren’t trying to protect any particular doctrine. To them, the resurrection was nonsense, and if Jesus body were stolen and a resurrection story started, that would be fine with them, because it would totally undermine the Pharisees view.

    So, if Matthew had some other source not available to Mark or Luke, then this pericope involving specifically the Pharisees (for the reasons I’ve suggested) makes perfect sense.

    But, I don’t think you can conclude that this pericope isn’t historical just because after the Temple was destroyed, the Sadducees virtually disappeared, and the Pharisees had become engaged in the still-ongoing theological battle with Christians. That might be a good explanation if it can be shown that this pericope isn’t historical, but, if Pagel is trying to say “it must not be historical, because I can offer some other explanation”, then, I wouldn’t buy into what Pagel is saying at all.

    If there were something “supernatural” involved in the pericope, then sure, I could understand Pagel immediately wanting to offer some other explanation. But, Pagel seems to have already – and arbitrarily – decided the pericope isn’t historical.

    I am very wary of that type of historic reconstruction. It may well be that the gospels should not be considered “historically reliable”, but, that does not mean there is nothing historically accurate in any of them.

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    1. I have never said or implied that there is NOTHING historically accurate in any of them. I have only said that the Gospels are not historically reliable.

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