Were the Pharisees a Conversionist Sect? Table

Fellowship as a Strategy of Conversion

 

©Jonathan D. Brumberg-Kraus, 2002

            Very few would dispute that early Christianity in its various streams was fundamentally a conversionist movement.  The leaders of early Christianity were noted for their own conversion experiences (i.e., Paul), and measured the success of their mission by the number and ethnic diversity and geographical range of converts.[1]  However, though early Christian literature represents the Pharisees as perhaps their greatest religious rival - in the conflict stories and other anti-Pharisee polemic in the Gospels, in Paul's dramatic disavowal of his former life as a Pharisee - most have dismissed Matthew's claim, that Pharisees "traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte" (Mt 23:15) as polemical hyperbole.  Yet if the Pharisees did not try to make proselytes, why were early Christians so threatened by them as rivals?

            It is because the Pharisees in fact actively sought "converts" to Pharisaism, though their primary target group was not Gentiles, as Matthew's use of the term "proselyte" implies. The terms "proselyte" and "proselytism" usually refer to a conversion from one ethnic community to another.  That is, proselytes to Judaism have "converted" from being Gentiles to being members of the Jewish ethnic group. Likewise in Pauline Christianity, one "converts" from being a Gentile or a Jew into a new kind of community in which "there is neither Jew nor Gentile."  The Pharisees however seemed to have confined their active efforts to win new followers to ethnic Jews.  What distinguishes the Pharisees from their early Jewish Christian rivals was not only their "target group," but also the means by which they won followers.  While early Christians preached publicly to provoke many internal psychological conversion experiences among their audiences, the Pharisees sought to win potential followers' commitment to their distinctive way of observing Jewish law - to performing distinctively "Pharisaic" actions and behaviors.

            Table fellowship was the principle practice used by the Pharisees to win adherents to their religious movement in the first century C.E.  The Pharisees' gathering together to eat properly tithed food in a state of ritual purity, and the procedures for acquiring food and maintaining households or other spaces fit for such gatherings, were strategies to influence non-Pharisees to conform to a Pharisaic way of life. According to Gerd Theissen, these practices were a programmatic "intensification of Jewish norms," which distinguished the Pharisees from other Jewish renewal movements in first century Palestine.[2] The Pharisees' characteristic behavior of eating tithed, ordinary food in a state of ritual purity had special, symbolic importance in the competition for followers among various Jewish renewal movements of the first century.[3]  According to Marcus Borg's study, that is precisely how the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus and his followers understood the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a "holiness movement" actively competing against the "mercy movement" of Jesus.[4]   Christian polemic against Pharisaic table fellowship, particularly in Luke's Gospel, suggested that the early Christian evangelists feared Pharisaic table fellowship practice as an attractive alternative to a Christian way of life.  Thus they did whatever ever they could to ridicule or condemn it.[5]  However, simply because early Christian traditions perceived the Pharisees as rivals for adherents, does not necessarily mean the Pharisees intentionally missionized others, or promoted the radical re-orientation of beliefs, social commitments, and practices conventionally understood by the term "conversion."

            There are indications in the sources on the Pharisees that begin to address this point. Contemporaries of the first century Pharisees described them as a group that amassed a remarkable popular following among the Jews of Roman Palestine.  Josephus, who himself claimed to be a follower of the way of the Pharisees, stressed how the Pharisees had "the support of the [Jewish] masses," e.g., Ant. 13:298.[6]  While the popularity of the Pharisees does not prove conclusively that they conducted any sort of missionary campaign (Mt 23:15 is the only explicit contemporary reference to such a mission), one could reasonably hypothesize that their popularity was the result of active missionizing. Josephus does not provide us with a description of such efforts, so we must turn to the New Testament and rabbinic literature for more precise descriptions of the ways the Pharisees influenced the Jewish masses to follow their way.  How the Pharisees got so popular is precisely the question an analysis of their "strategy of conversion" tries to answer.

            Whether or not one calls this process a "strategy of conversion" depends ultimately on how "conversion" is defined.  Two considerations are particularly pertinent. First, must conversion be from one ethnic group to another? Or could "conversion" refer to a shift from one religious movement to another within the same ethnic group?  Secondly, is "conversion" viewed primarily as an internal, intensely personal psychological experience, or as a radical re-orientation of one's external patterns of behavior and social commitments?

            The sources in the New Testament and Tannaitic literature stress the behavioral aspects of becoming a Pharisee.  They indicate that the Pharisees sought to bring other Jews to conform to their distinctive practices concerning the preparation and conduct of table fellowship.  Moreover, conformity to these distinctive practices were the prerequisites for different levels of membership in Pharisaic "associations" (havurot). Non-members were by definition Jews whose tithing and purity practices were unreliable (amme ha-aretz  [lit. "the people of the land"]); Jews who tithed their food reliably made up the first tier of members (the ne'emanim [lit. "reliable" or "faithful ones"]; Jews who both tithed reliably and observed certain purity rules were full-fledged members (haverim [lit., "members," "fellows"]).[7]  These traditions of course tell us little or nothing about the psychological state of mind, the internal conversion experience of the Jew who "takes upon himself" to become a ne'eman or a haver  - a Pharisee.  But they can begin to tell us how the whole complex of Pharisaic table fellowship practices managed to get non-Pharisee Jews to behave like Pharisees, and to reinforce their identity as and commitments to a distinct social religious group within first century Judaism. This is the point I shall emphasize in my analysis of selected early rabbinic texts from the Mishnah on table fellowship.

            Finally, the firsthand testimony we have of people who claimed to have been Pharisees, or to have followed the way of the Pharisees, e.g., Paul and Josephus, respectively, represent "Pharisaism" as a religious-philosophical movement that one can convert from or to.  Paul seems to have converted from being a "Pharisee as to the law" (Phil. 3:5).[8]  This has led to speculation that perhaps there was some continuity between Paul's post-conversion Christian mission to the Gentiles, and his earlier zealous Jewish (Pharisaic?) mission against early converts to Christianity.[9]  And if Paul himself had not been a proselytizing Pharisee before his conversion, at least his post-conversion opponents in Galatians (e.g., in Gal 2:12) could be "plausibly identified as Jewish missionaries who are of the Pharisaic persuasion.[10]  Josephus claims that he chose to "govern his life according to the school of thought [hairesis] of the Pharisees, which has points of resemblance with that which the Greeks call the Stoic," after he has tried out four ways of life: the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and being a disciple of the wilderness ascetic, Bannus (Life 12).  Regardless of whether Josephus' claim is factual or a conventional literary invention, or whether his choice of the Pharisees was not a true and complete "conversion experience," one thing is clear.[11]  Josephus characterizes the Pharisees as one among several haireseon to which one could convert, even if he himself did not take that step.[12]  Moreover, both Paul and Josephus' description of themselves as Pharisees stress that the designation applies to their outward behavior: Paul says he was "as to the law a Pharisee" (Phil. 3:5); and Josephus says he chose to "govern himself [politeusthai, lit., to conduct himself in public] according to the school of thought of the Pharisees" (Life 12).[13]  Therefore, if one takes seriously the cumulative testimony of Josephus, Paul, the Synoptic Gospels and their prior Christian traditions, one would have to agree that the Pharisees' near contemporaries perceived them as a popular religious-philosophical movement in 1st century Judaism; whose "mission" seemed to consist of getting other Jews to participate in their distinctive practices of table fellowship, tithing, and ritual purity; and which was a community to (or from) which people could convert.  And, to judge by the claims for its popularity among the Jewish people, and by the pains its Christian opponents took to refute it - the Pharisaic movement seemed to have achieved some measure of success in its mission.

            Despite perceptions by both Jewish and Christian contemporaries that the Pharisees were a proselytizing group, most historians who address the question of Jewish missionary activity in the Second Temple period tend to dismiss them.[14]  Four main reasons account for their doubts.  First, scholars suppose that both the Gospels and Josephus reflect their own Tendenzen rather than the real "historical Pharisees." Thus, Matthew projects bad leadership qualities on the Pharisees in order to emphasize in contrast the leadership qualities that make a good Christian scribe.[15]  Or Luke paints the Pharisees as both sympathetic and opposed to the first followers of the Way in order to emphasize on the one hand, the continuity of Christianity with Judaism, and on the other, the superiority of the Christian hairesis to the Pharisaism. Josephus depicts the Pharisees as a popular movement for his own political reasons: to convince his Roman patrons to recognize the Pharisees as the new leaders of Jewish Palestine.[16]  But even if these writers had specific reasons for portraying the Pharisees as proselytizers or populists, their tendentious expositions may well be based on credible pictures. It is remarkable that texts with such divergent interests all agree that the first century Pharisees were a popular and influential rival for adherents.

            Secondly, an emerging body of scholarship, exemplified particularly by Scott McKnight's book, A Light Among the Gentiles, suggests that the evidence for an active Jewish mission in the these centuries is at best inconclusive.  Earlier scholarly assumptions about the extent of Jewish proselytizing activity in the first few centuries C.E. have been greatly exaggerated.[17]  Though several Jewish sources, including rabbinic texts, indicate that Judaism was open to converts, "passive proselytism," rather than an active preaching mission, characterized the stance of many Jewish groups toward Gentiles.  In other words, while Jewish groups had the mechanisms for making Gentiles into Jews, e.g., the early rabbinic traditions concerning the ger, the non-Jewish proselyte, nothing in those rules suggested they were part of an active mission to win massive numbers of converts.[18]

            Third, many critics argue that we really do not have enough good data on the "historical Pharisees" to say much of anything about them, let alone pronounce judgement as to their proselytizing activities.  Specifically, attempts to use rabbinic sources to corroborate the testimony of the Gospels, Josephus, and Paul are hampered by the currently fashionable scepticism about the historical reliability of talmudic and midrashic material.[19] Yet, according to Neusner's influential study, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism,

 

the Gospels' picture conforms to the rabbinical traditions about the Pharisees, which center upon the laws of tithing and ritual purity, defining what and with whom one way eat, that is, table fellowship.[20]

And many scholars now follow Jacob Neusner's thesis that pre-70 rabbinic traditions of the Pharisees corroborates the Gospels' depiction.[21] 

            Those who accept this general picture quibble over the particular evidence upon which it is based. Thus, scholars tend to be quite reluctant to identify the Tannaitic literature's haverim and havurot with the Gospels' Pharisees.[22]   While it seems clear that not all mentions of haverim and havurot in the Mishnah and Tosefta refer to groups that tithed meticulously and observed rituals of purity like Pharisees, some, particularly those preserved in M. and T.Demai, do.[23] It is therefore likely that some Pharisees were haverim or ne'emanim, but not all haverim and ne'emanim were Pharisees.[24]  The distinguishing characteristics of the haverim and ne'emanim were their tithing, purity rituals, and their rules for table fellowship. The synoptic gospels depict these characteristics, too, as distinguishing the Pharisees from their own Christian groups.

            Finally, the notion of "proselytizing Pharisees" contradicts particular theological constructions that appear in both Christian and Jewish writings.  According to the synoptic gospels as well as some of their modern theological heirs, the Pharisees were proponents of the Law, and so a movement within Judaism intended to limit the access of divine salvation.  Borg, for example, makes a good case that the gospels used the Pharisees' restrictive qualifications for table fellowship in particular as the foil to Jesus' open invitation to the tax collectors, sinners, women, and other people on the margins of Pharisaic Judaism to enter into the Kingdom.[25]  A few quotations from the gospels demonstrate the evangelists' polemical characterizations:

 

And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he [Jesus] was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?'"(Mk 2:16 and par. Mt 9:11; Lk 5:30)

 

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him [Jesus] saw it [a woman anointing Jesus], he said to himself,  "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Lk 7:39)

 

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Mt 23:13-14 and par. Lk 11:52)[26]

 

He [Jesus] said also to the man who invited him ["a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees" (Lk 14:1, RSV)], "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you." (Lk 14:12-14)

 

Some contemporary studies, even those quite sensitive to theological anti-Judaism in the early Christian critique of the Pharisees, argue that early Christian openness to "strangers" (ultimately including Gentiles) was a marked moral improvement over the "tendencies toward exclusivism" which "Palestinian Judaism prior to 70 C.E. suffered."[27]  Gerd Theissen argues that the Pharisees' laws restricting contact with gentiles and their property, and separatist table fellowship, are emblematic of more general ethnocentric tendencies in first century Judaism, although he observes they were not as extreme as the militant or isolationist position of resistance fighters and Essenes vis à vis gentiles.[28]  This ethnocentrism was not some sort of perverse desire to restrict divine salvation to Jews alone.  Rather, as Theissen points out, "Jewish xenophobia" was a natural response to Roman colonial occupation and the threat of assimilation in the dominant Hellenistic culture.[29]  Still, this picture of a pervasive ethnocentrism of Jewish sects in the Second Temple period accentuates the "unique" inclusiveness of the one Jewish sect that actively sought to bring salvation to the gentiles: early Jewish Christianity.

            Hence, other critics, especially Christians, cannot imagine a proselytizing campaign on the part of either Christians or Pharisees that targets only ethnic Jews.  Or, ethnocentric restrictions of the gospel to Jews, Gentiles only grudgingly, in early Christian literature (e.g., Matt. 10:5b-6; 15:24) can only belong to the time period of Jesus.[30]  However, both interpretations are patently motivated by theological concerns.  The first vindicates the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament that YHWH never intended to reveal Himself only to one ethnic group, the Jews.  The second interpretation is prompted by the theological concern for recovering the authentic, authoritative words and practices of the "historical Jesus."  According to the methodological approach known as the "criterion of dissimilarity," Jesus traditions that restrict the earliest mission to Jews (e.g., Matt. 10:6; 15:24) must be authentic, since they are diametrically opposed to the early church's pre-occupation with Gentile evangelization. The criterion of dissimilarity is based on the theological premise that Jesus' religious message was absolutely unique.  The application of this principle to Matt. 10:6; 15:24 is not only based on a logical contradiction,[31] but also reinforces the Christian theological construction that Jews are exclusive and ethnocentric.[32]

            Conversely, some Jewish scholars tend to dismiss early Christian accounts of Jewish proselytizing on the a priori assumption that is somehow un-Jewish, or at least un-"ethical" to send missionaries out to make mass conversions.[33]  Such "mass propaganda," according to W.G. Braude, was a "Christian invention."[34]  Many Jewish historians, particularly those of the earlier generation of scholars, thereby retroject into their first century reconstructions later Jewish reactions to Christian evangelizing. Their view that Jews did not proselytize are prpbabley rooted in two aspects of modern Jewish experience.  The first is resentment to being the object of Christian missionary propaganda.  The second is the relic of earlier modern Jewish fears of appearing too aggressive.  My own experience in interfaith dialogue has shown me that many Jews have the gut feeling that "Jews don't proselytize."  Hence, many Jews, liberal as well as Orthodox, are uncomfortable with the Reform movement's contemporary call to seek to convert "unaffiliated Gentiles," the ba'al teshuvah movement (the dramatic "conversion" of secularized Jews to religious orthodoxy), and evangelical "Jews for Jesus": "It's not Jewish for Jews to evangelize!"

            Ultimately, such prejudices prevent scholars from seriously considering the possibility that Pharisees proselytized.  Since various ancient sources with different perspectives on the Pharisees agree that the group engaged in purity rituals, tithing, and table fellowship, and that they had a popular following, the question of their mission needs reconsideration. 

            In my view, the relationship between these practices and a conversionist agenda becomes clear when they are contextualized in terms of the early church's concerns.  As I asked before, what did the composers of the Gospels have to fear from the Pharisees? That a programmatic policy of tithing, purity rituals, and table fellowship would steal away potential converts?  How could these early Christians possibly have viewed the observance of tithing and purity rules, and restrictive table fellowship, as competition to their mission?  The answer is that the particular behaviors of tithing, observance of purity laws, and table fellowship themselves functioned as means of proselytizing.

            The majority of scholars have not yet turned their attention to the patterns of behavior that might have been used to "proselytize" other Jews to join Pharisees.  This failure has in part been caused by limited notions of what constitutes proselytizing mechanisms. For example, relying on definitions of conversion that stress its psychological over social behavioral dimensions, McKnight dismisses "marriage, political and economic advantage," as "'methods'" of proselytizing "not worthy of consideration in a study on missionary activity."[35]  However, as I argue below, marriage and economic advantage play a crucial part in the Pharisees' strategy for winning converts to their distinctive tithing, purity, and table fellowship practices.

            The greater problem has been the tendency of modern historians to apply Protestant conceptions of conversion to Hellenistic Judaism. Most discussions of proselytism in Hellenistic Judaism depend on a definition of conversion biased by Christian religious experiences.  Specifically, many contemporary sociological analyses of early Christian and Jewish groups use Bryan Wilson's model of conversionist sects from his typology of sectarian movements.[36] For Wilson, "conversion" in a conversionist sect is a radical, individual, personal psychological transformation.   Wilson admits that this ideal type is drawn from modern Protestant Christianity, and would be inappropriate for other historical contexts.

            Against Wilson's understanding of conversion, Wayne Meeks argues in a study of Pauline Christianity that conversion is not simply an internal emotional transformation of an individual, but the "radical re-socialization" of an individual from one group to another.[37]  The convert thus internalizes the new social identity of the group being entered.  Meeks claims that this construct makes the model of a conversionist group with sectarian tendencies applicable to the Greco-Roman intellectual cultural milieu in general, and to Pauline Christianity in particular.[38]  Alan Segal, also in a study of Paul, arrives at a similar conclusion.  He prefers a definition of conversion that stresses the believer's social commitment to be part of a new group and not just a radical, rapid, internal, psychological conversion experience. For Segal:

Commitment in the ancient world was formed in the same way it is formed in the modern world. There was an instrumental aspect, where a person develops a willingness to carry out requirements of the group.  These instrumentalities can start out as symbolic or ritual actions in which commitment is cemented  and developed, but end in moral or evaluative dimensions where a person continues to uphold the beliefs of the group outside the ritual context.   Behind this is, in [Rosabeth] Kanter's words, a cost-benefit ratio in which the individual invests his or her psychological energy into the group. This seems to be the strategy of rabbinic conversion where the ritual qualifications yield a highly cohesive group and a strong commitment to continue acceptable moral behavior.  The special laws and other rituals, rather than many conversion experiences, would have been the basic tool for enforcing the commitment.[39] 

These definitions of conversion suggest that belonging to a group is measurable by one's commitment to practice the characteristic behaviors that distinguish it from other groups.  In regard to the Pharisees, someone who previously did not tithe, separate terumah, and observe certain purity rules, as a result of contact with Pharisees, has undergone "radical re-socialization"; such an individual has been "converted" to be a Pharisee.  The Pharisaic observances and rules governing the admission of participants to table fellowship with them are the "basic tool" for re-socializing non-Pharisees to their new, distinctive social identity.[40] Hence, people who chose to follow Pharisaic rules, to "be as to the law a Pharisee," could plausibly be viewed as converts to Pharisaism.

 

 Separatist and Non-Separatist Tendencies

            The main objection to a Pharisaic "mission"--their alleged "exclusivism"--has been inappropriately measured against the norms of Christian "inclusivism," whose underlying assumptions are rarely examined. Those Jewish havurot who prescribed that servants, Samaritans, or even amme ha-aretz (under certain conditions[41]) be invited into table fellowship groups that tithed and set aside priestly portions from their food,[42] are not considered inclusive because they explicitly excluded Gentiles.[43]  In contrast, early Christian "inclusivism" is exemplified above all by the extension of its originally Jewish mission to Gentiles. This emphasis, combined with the overly psychologized definition of the conversion process discussed above, plays down the significance of the convert's external, social transfromation.[44]  Since this combination of psychological transformation and the elimination of ethnic boundaries is the predominant message of the Gospels and Paul together, it is not surprising that the Christian paradigm of conversion shapes the discussion of the Hellenistic Jewish missionary activity: the "bad" exclusive Pharisees, who wanted only their own kind to swell their ranks, are contrasted with the "good" inclusive Christians, who regarded ethnic distinctions irrelevant but who also made the Gentiles the centerpiece of their mission .  This exaggerated polarization of the Pharisees' exclusivism and the Christians' inclusivism obscures the phenomenon that exclusivist and inclusivist tendencies often co-exist in the same group, particularly in conversionist sects.[45]  Thus, despite the separatism implied by their so-called "exclusivist" tithing, purity, and table fellowship practices, and even by their name itself ("Pharisee" comes from the Hebrew word "perushi" "one who is set apart"[46]), the Pharisees demonstrated markedly non-separatist tendencies.  The table fellowship rules distinguished between members and non-members of the Pharisees' "club," but did not discourage non-members from joining the club.  On the contrary, the rules were designed to entice non-members to join, as I shall show.

            I am not alone to call attention to the non-separatist tendencies of the first century Pharisees. E.P. Sanders stresses that the Pharisees' tithing and purity rules did not isolate them from extensive contact with non-Pharisees.[47]  Similarly, Gerd Theissen contrasts the characteristic engagement of the Pharisees with other Jews, to the isolationism of the Essenes, or to the radical anti-collaborationist tendencies of the Zealots, in their competition over determining who represented the most authentic and legitimate form of first century Palestinian Judaism.[48]  Finally, Anthony Saldarini characterizes the Pharisees as a "reformist sect," to stress that they "engage[d] in political and social activities" with the broader society, as opposed to "introversionist sects" like the Essenes, who retreated from it.[49] Saldarini further distinguishes the reformists from "conversionist sects" like the early Christians.  The conversionist sect seeks a change in the person, not the world, "seeks emotional transformation now, with salvation presumed to follow in the future after evil has been endured [emphasis mine]."[50]  Conversionist sects form a new community because they are alienated from society.[51]  But this definition of conversionist sects is ultimately unhelpful; it overlooks the ambiguous, and not completely alienated relationship conversionist sects have toward society at large - that is, their pool of potential converts!  A revised understanding of the conversionist type may well be applicable to the Pharisees.[52] 

            Shaye Cohen articulates the basic problem underlying the applicability of various sectarian models to the Pharisees:

The crucial historical question is the relationship of the Pharisees to general Jewish society.

 

On the one hand, as these scholars have shown, the Pharisees did

 

not promote a radically "exclusivist ideology" like other sects.

 

But on the other hand, their name Pharisees ("separatists") and their

 

emphasis on the laws of purity and table fellowship...imply that the Pharisees were a distinctive group that abstained from normal social intercourse with other Jews.[53]

Cohen himself mentions the evidence for "the rabbinic association of haberim (if indeed this is a relic of Pharisaic times) [and] their relatively small numbers (six thousand in the days of Herod)" as other examples of the Pharisees' sectarian tendencies; he concludes that

[p]erhaps, then, they were pietists who, in order to attain a higher level of purity and religiosity, separated themselves to some extent from their co-religionists, but who saw themselves, and were seen by others, not as exclusive bearers of the truth but as virtuosi and elites.[54]

            Why did the Pharisees demonstrate both non-exclusivist and separatist tendencies?  Wayne Meeks, advancing Wilson's discussion of sectarian movements, suggests that a tension between separatist and missionary tendencies is an integral feature of conversionist sects.[55]  This is especially relevant to an evaluation of Pharisaic behavior.  Conversionist sects, as all sectarian movements in Wilson's theory, define themselves as a separate community over against the broader society and the religious establishment.  On the other hand, as groups seeking the conversion--the "radical re-socialization" of non-members into their beliefs and practices--they cannot afford to isolate themselves too much from the broader society.[56]  Missionaries who isolated themselves too much from their potential converts "would need to go out of the world," to find them.  But such activity would deny the group the very missionary vocation that is also a part of its group identity.  Pauline Christians could hardly have preached the Gospel "to the ends of the earth" had they isolated themselves in the Judaean desert like the Qumran Essenes.  The Pharisees' apparently conflicting tendencies of separatism and popular appeal could likewise reflect the inherent tension of a conversionist sect both trying to win adherents and to maintain its distinctive boundaries and social identity.[57]

Conversionist tendencies in Rabbinic Traditions of the Pharisees

            Our discussion to this point has been based primarily on an analysis of early Christian texts and Josephus concerning the Pharisees' conflicting separatist tendencies and populist results.  The picture is underscored by the rabbinic texts on the table fellowship havurot of tithers and terumah-separaters.  These documents also permit us to interpret these practices as the symbolic actions of a conversionist sect.

            When the behavior-oriented model of conversionist sects is applied to rabbinic evidence for the Pharisees, a striking, almost paradoxical feature of Pharisaic behavior becomes clear.  The very behaviors of tithing, purity laws, and table fellowship that separated a Pharisee from other Jews were the same behaviors that engaged other Jews in these behaviors. Tithing and the observance of purity rules not only "cemented in-group commitment in the ritual context" of table fellowship, that is, promoted the group's separatist consciousness. Members of the in-group also "upheld them outside the ritual context" in ways that necessarily engaged non-Pharisees to assume the same behaviors.[58]  In other words, they were a means of "outreach."

            From this perspective, excessive skepticism regarding the identification of the Gospels' "Pharisees" and rabbinic literature's haverim and ne'emanim is irrelevant.  I focus on the patterns of behavior they have in common.  Hence, in traditions of the Pharisees about haverim and ne'emanim, we have evidence of some aspects of the Pharisees' behavior that could have been reasonably construed by their near contemporaries Matthew, Luke, and Josephus as proselytizing.

            Rabbinic evidence in the Mishnah especially shows that members of Pharisaic havurot maintained their distinctiveness from non-members by means of their tithing, purity, and table fellowship rules, as well as used these same rules to engage non-members actively in Pharisee-like behaviors.[59]  These distinctive Pharisaic practices simultaneously perform two functions characteristic of conversionist sects.[60]  First, they define the qualifications for two group "rituals of inclusion": Birkat ha-Zimmun (lit., "the blessing of invitation") and induction into the group as a haver or ne'eman.[61]  Birkat Ha-Zimmun was a verbal invitation (in a call and response form) to those who had participated in a Pharisee meal of tithed food, to be included among the other participants in thanking God for the opportunity to share God's table. Initiation to the havurah consisted of sequence of induction ceremonies in which a member first took on the obligation before the group to tithe like a Pharisee (to be a ne'eman), and then took on the additional obligation to observe purity rules (to be a haver).[62]   Second, specific Pharisaic practices are the group's forms of regulated interaction with the broader society.  Pharisaic practices thus separate the group enough from the broader Jewish society so that there is something distinctive into which to convert.  And, they are means to bring others: wives, amme ha-aretz, business associates, relatives, etc. to join them in their way of life.

            These forms of interaction correspond to two of W. Meeks' five typical traits which conversionist sectarian movements have to demarcate their members' distinctive identities, their "group boundaries,": "membership sanctions," i.e., processes for including new members and "excluding non-conformists;" and "reports of specific kinds of interaction with the macrosociety."[63]  Just as Meeks adapted the theoretical sociological typifications of sectarian movements to the particular characteristics of the Pauline Christians, so his categories can be adapted to the particular characteristics of the Pharisees.  In particular, this discussion expands what Meeks calls "membership sanctions" to cover the processes of inclusion that our sources suggest the Pharisees had.

Membership rules: rituals of inclusion and exclusion

            The Mishnah reports traditions of the Pharisees that prescribe at least two distinctive ritual contexts in which observance of tithing, purity, and table fellowship rules reinforce the separate group identity of participants. First, Saul Lieberman has argued that the Pharisaic havurah of the Mishnah and Tosefta had a formal initiation process analogous to that described in the community rules found at Qumran.  The terms haver and ne'eman, as well as the descriptions in the rabbinic texts for "taking upon oneself to be a haver or ne'eman " (e.g., m.Demai 2:2-3) would then refer to stages in this process. First, a novice takes on the tithing obligations of a ne'eman; he then can "graduate" after a certain allotted time period to the status of a haver, by taking on additional requirements to observe purity rules.[64]  These obligations are defined, in the language of the Mishnah at least, in terms of contact with non-members.  For example, one who takes on the obligations to be a ne'eman, will not be a guest in the home of an am ha-aretz (m.Dem 2:2); and a haver sells neither wet nor dry produce to an am ha-aretz, does not buy wet produce from an am ha-aretz, is not a guest in an am ha-aretz 's home, and does not in his home host an am ha-aretz wearing his own clothes (m.Dem 2:3).  If as Lieberman argues, the ne'eman and haver represent ranks in membership status, then the more rules one observes that restrict contact with non-members--e.g., purity rules in addition to tithing rules--the higher one's status  in the group.  Hence, the degrees of qualifications for induction to the Pharisaic havurah are separatist rules that cement one's identity as a member of the elite in-group.

            The other Mishnaic notice of a ritual that specified one's commitment to tithing and separating terumah as a prerequisite for participation in it Birkat ha-Zimmun. Since "the Blessing of Invitation" is recited at the end of a shared meal, participation in it--like participation in the meal itself--required conformity to Pharisaic tithing regulations.  Indeed, Joseph Heinemann has argued that the recitation of Birkat ha-Zimmun was the distinctive practice of the Havurot who ate tithed food in a state of ritual purity.[65]  The language of the Mishnah makes Birkat ha-Zimmun an explicit ritual of inclusion.  One member of the group literally "invites" the other members to join him in praising God for providing the meal.  Thus, according to the M. Ber. 7:1, when three or more people (even a table server or a Samaritan) have eaten together

 

demai-produce, or First Tithe [ma'aser rishon] from which the Heave-offering [terumato] had been taken, or Second Tithe [ms'aser sheni] or dedicated produce [hekdesh] that had been redeemed,

 

one of them is required to "invite [le-zamen]" the others to recite Birkat ha-Zimmun.  The blessing is also a ritual of exclusion, since the Mishnah explicitly excludes non-Jews, Jewish women, slaves, or minors from participation in it.[66]    

            Birkat ha-Zimmun  further sacralizes the group identity of the table fellows by mentioning God as if present "Himself" as host of the meal.[67]  Moreover, according to the same mishnah, m.Berakh 7:3, the greater the number of people who participated in the common meal, the more names of God they are invited to mention by their table-fellow.[68]  The logic of increasing the number of God's attributes proportionally to the greater number of participants suggests that the more people at Pharisaic table fellowship, the "more" of God (the God of Israel who is the universal God of the heavens, too) is made manifest in the world.[69]  This mythic correlation of large numbers of table fellows as the more extensive manifestation of God's presence in the world would suit a group with conversionist aspirations.[70] 

            Both Birkat ha-Zimmun and the rituals for inducting haverim and ne'emanim into table fellowship clubs employed tithing, purity, and table fellowship rules to distinguish and separate members from the amme ha-aretz and to cement their in-group identity.  Moreover, Birkat ha-Zimmun explicitly sanctioned this special group status with divine authority by correlating God's presence with three or more tithers and terumah-separators assembled for a common meal.

 

Regulation of interaction with the broader society

            The Pharisees regulated their interaction with non-Pharisees not only so as to provide themselves a distinctive identity grounded in concretely different behaviors, but also actively to engage others in adherence to their distinctive practices.  The very nature of the Mishnah's tithing and purity rules for haverim and ne'emanim had to be applied in everyday economic and social interactions with non-Pharisees. Hence the distinctive behaviors that characterized Pharisees were reified not only for the members of the in-group, but also for and by the non-Pharisees with whom they did business, were married, or were otherwise related.  Pharisees would have to buy and sell produce to non-Pharisees in order to have the occasion o be scrupulous about tithed produce and to discriminate between ne'emanim, haverim, and amme ha-aretz, according to the Mishnah (e.g., M.Dem.2:2-3).[71]  McKnight does include the promise of economic advantage among his enumeration of "methods of proselytizing," though he plays down its importance.

            However, the ne'eman or haver's observance of tithing and purity rules both differentiates himself from his non-Pharisaic associates, and implicitly invites non-Pharisees into sharing the categories that make a Pharisee a Pharisee.  The Pharisee has to behave in the manner of the in-group even when outside its confines, such as when buying or selling food in an unfamiliar town or dividing one's inheritance with non-Pharisee relatives   For example, when someone concerned about buying tithed produce enters a town where he knows no one, he is supposed to announce:

 

'Who here is a ne'eman? Who here tithes?'  If someone says to him, 'I am,' he is not a ne'eman.  If he said, 'Such and such a person is a ne'eman,' that one is a ne'eman. (M.Dem. 4:6)

This mishnaic tradition suggests that Pharisees travelling from town to town "invited" local residents to identify themselves as members of their group, and used their answers to distinguish between those faithful to Pharisaic tithing practices (ne'emanim), and those not. Furthermore, in the perspective of this mishnah, a Pharisaic ne'eman was not simply someone who himself "preached" that he was a Pharisee, but someone who had a reputation among others, Pharisees and non-Pharisees alike, of being a Pharisee.[72]  Or in the case of dividing one's inheritance with non-Pharisaic relatives, the Mishnah requires the Pharisee make the division in a way that not only reinforces his distinctive identity as a haver, but also requires his am ha-aretz brother to acknowledge his criteria for the division. M.Dem. 6:9 reads:

 

a haver and an am ha-aretz, who inherited from their father who was an am ha-aretz could say to him, 'You take the wheat that's in such and such a place, and I'll take the wheat that's in such and such a place; you take the wine in such and such a place, I, the wine in such and such a place;' but he should not say, 'You take the wheat, and I the barley; you take the wet produce, and I the dry produce.'

 

Note that the haver is not supposed to say, 'You take the wet, I'll take the dry produce," but rather 'you take the wine here, and I'll take the wine there,' even though that would mean inheriting property more susceptible to impurity.  This procedure would cause the haver substantial effort and aggravation and perhaps even financial loss.

            The Mishnah refers to other occasions of ordinary interaction between Pharisees and non-Pharisees that not only reinforce the Pharisee's distinctive identity, but also engaged non-Pharisees into accepting Pharisaic categories.  For example, Pharisees might use the promise of closer business relations to persuade non-Pharisees to tithe like a Pharisee.  Thus, according to the Mishnah, one could accept an invitation to eat a Sabbath meal even from a potential client whose tithing was suspect(m.Dem.4:2):[73]

 

If one person requires his associate by a vow to eat at his home, but the latter does not trust him regarding tithes, he eats with him on the first Sabbath, even though he does not trust him regarding tithes, as long as the former said to him, 'These are tithed.'  On the second Sabbath, even if the former vowed to derive no benefit from him, he should not eat until he has tithed 

Or, when the wife of a non-Pharisee (eshet am ha-aretz) entered a haver's house, either to prepare food (m.Tohar.7:4), or to take care of the haver's children and livestock (m.Tohar.8:5), both the haver and his wife had to be aware that the non-Pharisaic status of the wife of the am ha-aretz could affect the purity of their home. It even appears that the wife of a haver (the eshet haver) was responsible for observing whether the wife of the am ha-aretz touched anything in their home so as to make it unclean, if she let non-Pharisee women use her household utensils in her own home.[74]  Thus, even though it is not clear that women shared the level of Pharisaic group identity ritualized in table fellowship meals, wives of haverim reinforced their husbands' in-group identities; they probably also internalized some of that identity themselves.  These women participated in the same kind of practices, that is, made the same kind of distinctions between Pharisee and non-Pharisee (haver and am ha-aretz), between clean and unclean (tahor and tame'), that gave their husbands a distinctive group identity.  Thus the Pharisees, precisely by their interaction with non-Pharisees, engaged in the verbal and physical distinctions that reinforced their separate identity.  But at the same time, the Pharisees' engagement with non-Pharisees was an implicit invitation to non-Pharisees to accept their categories, to make distinctions like a Pharisee - in effect, to act like a Pharisee.

            My interpretation of the evidence in the Mishnah suggests further that there are grounds for distinguishing complete commitment to the Pharisees' sect from a more distanced attraction, from being merely a "follower of their hairesis" [te auton hairesei katakolouthon] as Josephus claimed.  The Mishnah seems to uphold two tiers of participation in the Pharisees' program.  One was gathering together for shared meals. Hosting such meals was properly the prerogative of the haveror the ne'eman (m.Demai 2:2-3).  The other was insuring that the homes or buildings where the meals took place, and that the food itself was fit for such banquets. Not everyone who participated in the second tier of commercial and social relations that insured tithed pure food in pure buildings got to participate in the communitas, the rituals of social bonding in the Pharisaic meals themselves.  In other words, those who were not "complete Pharisees" could nonetheless be distinctively associated with the Pharisees' program. The wives of Pharisees shared their husbands' status vis à vis ordinary Jews (i.e., an eshet haver was distinct from an eshet am ha-aretz), even if they did not participate in every aspect of the Pharisees' program (e.g., table fellowship). A ne’eman was not as scrupulous as a haver in regard to purity and tithes, but still participated actively in both tiers of the Pharisees' program. 

            The perception that the Pharisees proselytized (e.g., Matthew, Luke), or that they won many adherents among the Jewish masses (Josephus), may refer to this phenomenon.  That is, people who participated in the lower tier of the Pharisaic program (e.g., wives of Pharisees who assured the purity of their homes; people who accepted the Pharisaic conditions regarding tithing, in order to do business with haverim and ne'emanim) might have been acknowedged by others or have considered themselves to be "Pharisees as to the law" (Phil. 3:4: kata nomon Pharisaios).[75]  Thus, if Josephus' expression  "following the Pharisaic hairesis" means something less than complete conviction,[76] or that Paul's expression "as to the law a Pharisee" has a similar thrust,[77] then such expressions appear to correspond to the lower tier of participation we have discerned from the Mishnah.  Or using Arthur Darby Nock's distinction between "convert" and "adherent," someone who "took upon himself to be a haver [a "full member"] would be a convert, and an adherent would be someone who went along with Pharisaic practices of tithing and/or purity, for the business, marital, or other social reasons we just discussed.[78]   

            It is unlikely that outsiders, and possibly even the adherents themselves, made such fine distinctions.  At best we have the Mishnah's idealized picture of members of the havurot ranked according to the degree of their conformity to tithing and purity rules, and a second tier of people associated with the first tier of members, who likewise manifest their connection by observing the same rules. Josephus and Paul refer to their Pharisaism also primarily in terms of the outward behavior, not internal conviction. Clearly then, one's commitment to Pharisaic behaviors, rather than dramatic psychological conversion experiences, are the true measure of one's belonging to the Pharisees' conversionist sect.

Conclusion: Pharisaic versus Christian Conversion

            In conclusion, the correctives offered by W. Meeks and A. Segal to the individualistic, psychological model of conversionist sects provide a plausible explanation of the Pharisees' conflicting tendencies for separatism and engagement with the broader Jewish society.  They also explain how the Pharisees used symbolic actions to proselytize non-Pharisees. But the categories Meeks and Segal employ are directed to conversionist sectarian tendencies of Pauline Christian communities. While the model is helpful for understanding the Pharisees as well, its application should not obscure the fundamental differences between the two.

            First, the Pharisees and Pauline Christian communities defined the groups of people eligible to be "re-socialized" to their particular religious communities quite differently.  The Pharisees restricted their active mission for potential "converts" to their "school" to those born as Jews.[79]  Pauline Christianity made a point of trying to win over Gentiles as well as Jews.  Secondly, Pauline Christianity and Pharisees used different strategies to win new adherents.  We do not have much evidence for Pharisees preaching to win converts,[80] while Paul's letters and Acts' accounts of the early Christian mission suggest that public preaching (or public reading of apostles' letters) was a characteristic mode of Christian expression.  This is not to be be explained simply by the historical accident that no Pharisaic speeches or writings were preserved.  Rather, as I have suggested, to take their distinctive program to the people, the Pharisees probably relied more upon symbolic public actions or indirect invitations to "be a Pharisee."  The Pharisees publicly conducted their distinctive group behaviors in order to win "converts" to their way of life. Public speeches, or written missionary tracts were more characteristic of the early Christian movements. Jesus told conversion-inducing parables, Paul preached a gospel of Christ, and wrote letters to be read publically in the house churches of Mediterranean coastal cities.[81] The Pharisees were more likely to try to attract followers by inviting them to participate in banquets of tithed food in a state of ritual purity, or to offer to do business with faithful tithers. The contemporary Jewish assessment of the difference between Judaism and Christianity though exaggerated, is apt: Jews do, Christians believe.  In other words, "the special laws and other rituals, rather than many conversion experiences," were the means of a "strategy of conversion."[82]  Though early Christians and Pharisees both wanted others to follow their ways, it seems that the Pharisees went about it less directly.  Thus modern observers rightly called this "passive proselytism," at least compared to Christian strategies of conversion. Nonetheless, it seems that the Pharisees' friends and foes alike understood the symbolic import of their indirect overtures to join them.

            The preceding analysis has argued that the Pharisees demonstrated some traits of a conversionist sect;  the argument holds as long as one does not identify the ideal type of this sect with the early Christian missionary groups who preached to the gentiles.  An investigation of Jewish proselytism in the Second Temple period should not decide the following questions beforehand: Who are the legitimate targets of "mission": Gentiles or other Jews?  What are the characteristic means of mission: preaching or the symbolic actions of "passive proselytization?"  And finally, what is the goal of the conversionist mission: internal psychological transformation or the public expression of solidarity with a new group?  If one begins a study with these questions open, one does not prejudge "proselytism" according to the criteria of some particular Christian expressions of it.  Thus, it was not the case that the early Christians proselytized and the Pharisees did not.  Rather, the Pharisees and early Christians were Jewish sects with different "strategies of conversion."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX: Language of Separation

            Wayne Meeks' assertion that a special in-group "language of separation" characterizes sectarian movements points to a resolution of one particular problem in the critical study of the Pharisees - the conflicting terminology for the Pharisees in our sources.[83] The Pharisees, as other sectarian movements, seemed to have had a special language emphasizing their separateness from other groups.  The Mishnaic sources suggest that they used the terms haver ("member," or "fellow") and ne'eman ("faithful one" or "trustworthy one") to distinguish themselves from those Jews who did not observe their distinctive tithing and purity rules, the amme ha-aretz ("people of the land").  Such self-designations are similar to those of other contemporary sectarian movements like the early Pauline Christians - who called one another adelphoi and adelphai ("brothers and sisters") or hoi pisteuontes ("the faithful" or "the believers"), as opposed to hoi exo ("those outside") or the apistoi ("non-believers").[84]  The term "Pharisee" ("separatist") itself does not however seem to be the term the Pharisees themselves used primarily to call themselves.  Rather, it seems to be the term that others used to distinguish their own identities from that of the Pharisees.  Thus, in the Mishnaic traditions that use the term perushim ("Pharisees) to refer to the first century movement that we are talking about, it is put in the mouth of the Sadducees and other opponents of the Pharisees ("We hold it against you, O Pharisees...").[85]  Similarly, Paul mentions the term "Pharisee" to stress that he no longer is a Pharisee (Phil 3:5,8).    Likewise, the synoptic Gospels and Acts use the term "Pharisees" for the most part to refer to the opponents of Jesus and Paul.  In other words, "Pharisees" was very likely the outsiders' term for the Pharisees, just as "Christianoi" was a name others gave to the disciples of Jesus.[86]  Haverim and ne'emanim are probably what the Pharisees called themselves and their supporters, amme ha-aretz what they called others.

            The Pharisees also had a language of separation for the things they separated, which gave them their distinctive identity.  In order to mark boundaries between clean and unclean, the Mishnah tells us that the Pharisees used the Biblical priestly terms tahor and tame' ("pure" and "impure.")  The New Testament sources confirm that Pharisees made such distinctions, when it attributes to them distinctions between kathara and akathara, the Greek equivalents for the Hebrew categories tahor and tame'.[87]   Similarly, to distinguish between foods fit or unfit for Pharisaic table fellowship, the Mishnah suggests that the Pharisees used the terms "_hullin" (non-priestly, properly tithed and "terumah-ed" food), "ma'aser" or "me'usarin" (tithed food or produce), "demai" (doubtfully tithed food), or "tevel" (certainly untithed food).  For a Pharisee, making these verbal, conceptual, and physical separations, would have been functionally equivalent to explicitly asserting one's identity as Pharisee.[88]  The language and activities of separation help "reify," make concrete, the distinctive identities of Pharisees and the "reality" of the statuses of the objects they separate as an expression of their identity.[89]

            An important characteristic of Pharisaic language of separation is that it is not as dualistic as the language of other sectarian groups.  The effect of the early Pauline Christian communities' use of "believer/non-believer,"  "flesh/spirit," "brother-sister/outsider" terminology was to reinforce a hostile "us/them" dualistic attitude vis à vis the world.[90]  Pharisaic language of separation is less dualistic.  Pharisaic language tends to set up distinctions along a continuum, e.g., the haverim (those strict about both purity and tithing rules), the ne'emanim (those strict about tithing rules), and amme ha-aretz (those who are not strict about purity or tithing rules).  Likewise, things separated are classified along a continuum of certainly to less certainly tithed and "terumah-ed": namely, from hullin (certainly tithed and gifted food or produce), to demai (doubtfully tithed food or produce), to tevel (certainly untithed food or produce).  These distinctions tend to stress the gray areas in-between.  Likewise, the ne'eman is neither a "full member of the club" (a haver), but certainly not an am ha-aretz (a non-member).[91]  Demai produce is neither absolutely fit (hullin or me'usarin), nor absolutely unfit (tevel) for Pharisees to eat or buy.  A person sensitive to the gray areas between produce fit and unfit for Pharisees, is more likely to be sensitive to the gray areas between people who are and are not Pharisees.[92]  Or perhaps this interest in the "in-between" categories is a purely a theoretical concern typical more of the second century Rabbis who redacted the Mishnah, than of the Pharisees.  However, if these traditions are reliable, it implies that the Pharisees used language of separation that reinforced the ambiguity and contingency of their communal boundaries, rather than a radical dualism between "the faithful" and the "unbelievers."  Even a non-tither, an am ha-aretz, is a potential Pharisee,[93] just as demai is treated as potential hullin  - each can be "converted" to a status fit for Pharisees. In contrast, outsiders from the Pauline Christian communities seemed consigned to eschatological punishment (i.e., I Cor 5:12-13).   In comparison, the Pharisees were not a radically separatist sect.



[1]Gal 1:11-24, Phil 3:4-9, Acts 9:1-19, 22:1-21, 26:12-23 (Paul's conversion);  I Thes 1:4-10, Acts 2 (success of the conversion mission).  While Luke may not portray the circumstances of Paul's conversion and commssion to convert others accurately, he emphasizes like Paul the importance of conversion for early Christianity. See Alan Segal, Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (New Haven: Yale U., 1990) p.6.

[2]G. Theissen, The Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978), pp. 77-99.

[3]Marcus Borg, Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1984), pp.93ff.

[4]Borg, Conflict, esp. pp.73-143.

[5]Luke emphasizes the Pharisees' distinctive table fellowship practices as the ideological points of contention that distinguished theirs from the Jesus movement's missionary program for Jewish renewal (Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, "Conventions of Literary Symposia in Luke's Gospel with special attention to the Last Supper" [Ph.D. Dissertation; Nashville: Vanderbilt], pp.179-181ff). Namely,  Jews should observe rules of ritual purity, tithing, and practice table fellowship only with other like-minded Jews who could be presumed to observe the same. 

            Luke's use of symposium conventions to highlight Jesus' opposition to the Pharisees' table fellowship has two effects.  First, it focuses the accounts of Jesus' meals with the Pharisees on the distinctive table fellowship practices as the points of contention between the Pharisees and Jesus. As the provocation or charges of the conventional argument, "agon," of literary symposia, Luke emphasizes (1) observance of rules of purity: "when the Pharisee saw that Jesus did not immerse himself [ebaptisthe] first before the meal, he was astonished" (Lk 11:38) or Simon the Pharisee's complaint that Jesus ought to "have known what sort of woman it was who touched [haptetai] him, that she is a sinner [i.e., was unreliable about observing rules of menstrual purity]," (Lk 7:39), also Lk 11:40-41; (2) tithing: "Woe to you Pharisees, for you tithe mint and rue and every herb..." (Lk 11:42); and (3) table fellowship only with like-minded associates: Jesus' charge to the "leading Pharisee" who invited him to a Sabbath meal,

'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends [filous] or your brothers [adelphous] or your kinsmen [sungeneis] or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you (Lk 14:12-14)

In this last example, one might even ask if these terms for associates reflect the Hebrew terminology ofhaverim used by the Mishnah to refer to members of table fellowship associations of non-priestly tithers and observers of ritual purity rules.

            Secondly, by using symposium conventions, Luke represents the Pharisees and the followers of Jesus as competing philosophical schools.  That is, they are not competing ethnic groups, but different ways of life advocated by one voluntary association over another.  I think Luke was right.

[6]Even though Josephus appends such comments to his discussions of the Pharisees' relationship to earlier Hasmonean rulers like John Hyrkanus and Alexandra Salome, many scholars agree with Morton Smith that Josephus retrojects the current (post - 70 C. E.) popularity of the Pharisees to this earlier period, in order to persuade his Roman audience (including his Flavian imperial patrons) to negotiate with the Pharisees.  See M. Smith, "Palestinian Judaism in the First Century," Israel: Its Role in Civilization, ed. Moshe Davis (New York: Harper and Row, 1956) pp. 75-76.  Following him are, e.g., Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (2nd ed.; New York: KTAV, 1979), p. 65, and to a lesser degree, Shaye J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Library of Early Christianity; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987), p. 163. For a critique and reassessment of Smith's theory, see Steve Mason, "Josephus on the Pharisees reconsidered: A critique of Smith/Neuser," Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses 17 (1988), pp.455-469.

[7]Provided one accepts that M. Demai 2:2-3 (and the other related tannaitic traditions about haverim, ne'emanim and amme ha-aretz  that I discuss later) refer to the table fellowship associations of the Pharisees. See below.

[8]Alan Segal, Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee (New Haven: Yale University, 1990), p. 12.

[9]S. McKnight, A Light Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), pp.151 n10, 152-153 n15, where he rejects this suggestion.

[10]S. McKnight, A Light Among the Gentiles, pp.104, 152 n11.

[11] Steve Mason, "Was Josephus a Pharisee? A re-examination of Life 10-12,: JJS 40 (1989), pp.31-45.

[12]Life 10.

[13]Mason, "Was Josephus a Pharisee?", pp.31-45, suggests, on the basis of a careful philological analysis of the Greek terms Josephus used to describe his association with the Pharisees and the other schools of thought, that Josephus' true conversion experience occurred under the  tutelage of Bannus.  In contrast, Josephus merely conformed to Pharisaic practice out of political expediency. I think Mason sets up a false dichotomy between inner conviction and outward practice.  Conversion consists of both a radical shift from one world view to another, and from one set of practices and way of life to another. However, some groups stress the outward shift of social commitments as the mark of conversion (i.e., the Pharisees) while others stress the dramatic shift of world view (i.e., Pauline Christians).  I discuss this below.  Nevertheless, Mason's interpretation of the terms tei hairesi pharisaikei politeusthai akolouthon, supports my view that there was a recognizable level of public practice that enabled one to be considered a follower of the Pharisees, regardless of one's inner conviction.

[14]See Amy-Jill Levine, (Dissertation) pp.384ff, on how scholars have tried to explain away Mt 23:15.

[15]Daniel Patte, The Gospel According to Matthew: A Structural Commentary on Matthew's Faith (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986), p. 331.

[16]M. Smith, "Palestinian Judaism in the First Century," pp. 75-76.

[17]Scott McKnight, A Light Among the Gentiles, p. 88.

[18]A-J Levine, pp.288-289; cf.S. McKnight, A Light, p.49, on "indirect proselytizing."

[19]E.g., Segal, Paul the Convert, pp. xiv-xv; S. Cohen, From the Maccabees, p.158; Anthony Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees in Palestinian Society (Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1988) pp.216-220.

[20]Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (2nd ed.; New York: KTAV, 1979), p.80.  Neusner (p.xiii) says in the preface that he perhaps overstated the Gospel evidence for the Pharisees when he wrote this chapter in 1973.

[21]E.g., Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees,;  Borg, Conflict, Holiness, and Politics, pp. 307, 139-140; and E. P. Sanders, Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah (London/Philadelphia: SCM/Trinity, 1990), p.167, though Sanders claims to disagree with Neusner.  However, it seems that all Sanders is saying is that Pharisees were interested in purity, but they were not exceptional among other Jews for being so (pp.245, cf. p.242).

[22]E.g., Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees, pp.216-220. Cf. S. Cohen, From the Maccabees, p. 158.

[23]E.g., m.Dem. 2:2-3[but not R. Judahs's description of a haver in 2:3]; 4:2; 6:9; t.Dem.2:15-24; 3:1-9; also m.Tohar.7:4; 8:5; m.Git.5:9.

[24]Similarly, Borg, Conflict, p. 307 n23 and the scholars cited there.

[25]Marcus Borg, Conflict, pp. 84,85,93.

[26]In Lk 11:52, this "woe" is addressed to the "lawyers" who are among the guests at a Pharisee's meal (see Lk 11:37,45).

[27]John Koenig, New Testament Hospitality: Partnership with Strangers as Promise and Mission (Overtures to Biblical Theology 17; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985) pp.20, 19 (emphasis mine). Though Koenig uses the general term "Palestinian Judaism prior to 70 C.E.," he concentrates especially on the gospel texts that compare the Pharisee's' table fellowship unfavorably with Jesus and his disciples.

[28]Gerd Theissen, Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978) pp. 80-83.  Theissen, p.85, however is careful to point out that the various strategies which 1st century Jewish movements used to segregate themselves from Gentiles inter-culturally, resulted in the intensification of intra-cultural differentiation between Jewish groups, e.g., resistance fighters vs. collaborators, Pharisees vs. amme ha-aretz, the Jesus movement vs. Pharisees, etc.

[29]Theissen, Palestinian Christianity, pp.76,92.

[30]A.J. Levine, The Social and Ethnic Dimensions of Matthean Salvation History: "Nowhere Among the Gentiles" (Matt 10:5b) (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1988).

[31]If one argues that Jesus restricted his mission to Jews, and that the Pharisees were opposed to a mission to gentiles, how would Jesus' message be "dissimilar" from his Jewish contemporaries'? 

[32]See Levine, Social and Ethnic Dimensions,  for a thorough discussion of these passages in Matthew's Gospel.

[33]E.g., W. G. Braude, Jewish Proselytizing in the First Five centuries of the Common Era (Providence, RI: Brown University, 1940), pp.7-8.  This sentiment is probably the rooted in two aspects of modern Jewish experience.  The first could be resentment toward being the object of Christian missionary mass propaganda.  The second motivation could be the relic of earlier modern Jewish fears of appearing as too aggressive

[34]Ibid.

[35]McKnight, A Light Among the Gentiles, p. 77.

[36]Bryan Wilson, Magic and the Millenium: the Sociological Study of Religious Movements of Protest Among Tribal and Third World Peoples (London: Heinemann, 1973). Some modern historians of Hellenistic Judaism and Christianity who use Wilson's typology of sectarian movements are Robin Scroggs, "The Earliest Christian Communities as Sectarian Movement," Christianity, Judaism and Other Grco-Roman Cults (ed. J. Neusner; 4 vols.; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975) v.2, pp.1-23; Wayne Meeks, "'Since then you would need to go out of the world:' Group Boundaries in Pauline Christianity,"  Critical History and Biblical Faith: New Testament Perspectives (ed. T.J. Ryan; Billanova, PA: College Theology Society, 1979), pp.4-29; S. Cohen, From the Maccabees, pp. 241, 124-173; Saldarini Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees, pp.72, 286-287. Though Meeks  restricts his application of the conversionist sect type to Pauline Christianity, he addresses the overly individualistic and psychological biases of Wilson's conversionist type of sect in a way useful to my study (see below).  On the other hand, Cohen uses Wilson's typology to disqualify the Pharisees from being any kind of sectarian movement, while Saldarini opts for Wilson's "reformist" sect over the conversionist and other types of sects as the type that fits the Pharisees best.  Too rigid adherence to Wilson's definitions prevented Cohen and Saldarini from seeing the applicability of the general category "sect," and the particular type "conversionist sect" to the Pharisees, at least in certain respects.

[37]Meeks, "Out of the World," pp.7, 24, follows Peter Berger's discussion of conversion in "The Sociological Study of Sectarianism," Social Research 21 (1954), pp. 482-483.  Even if Berger's model too is based on Christian experience, its advantage over Wilson's is its focus on the re-orientation of the new convert's social commitments rather than her or his psychological and emotional transformation.

[38]Meeks, "Out of the World," p.8 credits Arthur Darby Nock's work on conversion in the Hellenistic world for his concept of religious conversion (Conversion [Oxford: University Press, 1933]).  Nock (according to Meeks, "Out of the World," p.24) distinguishes between the "'conversion' expected by Christianity, Judaism, and a few philosophical schools from the mere 'adhesion' demanded by most of the initiatory cults of the Greco-Roman world." (emphasis mine). While Nock's distinction between true conversion and "mere" adhesion might be based partly on a Christian bias, it could also  correspond to different degrees of social commitment to first century religious associations.  The Pharisees in particular might have had both converts and adherents - as I shall argue below.

[39]Alan F. Segal, Paul the Convert, p.104; and see p. 74 on the "social commitment" of the convert.

[40]Cf. ibid, p.104.

[41]M.Dem.2:3: "One who accepts on himself the obligations to be a haver ... does not host an am ha-aretz in his own home, in the latter's own clothes. Presumably, the haver could host the am ha-aretz if he wore clothes which the haver provided him.  Imagining how this might work in real life seems awkward at first.  However, it might not have been so different from the way some fancy restaurants today will provide men with sportcoats to meet their dress code that "gentlemen must wear jackets."  M.Dem. 4:2 refers to the reverse situation, when a haver may accept the invitation to a Sabbath meal from someone who is not a reliable tither.  See my discussion of these passages below.  Here, I only call attention to the fact that the rabbinic texts show that the haverim were not as exclusive vis à vis non-Pharisees as the gospels depicted them to be.

[42]See M.Ber. 7:2, m.Dem. 2:3.  According to m.Ber.7:3, women, minors, and slaves, too were also excluded from participation in the ritual "benediction of invitation," Birkat ha-Zimmun, which was recited at a meal whose participants tithed and "terumah-ed" their food.  But this does not necessarily mean that Jewish women, minors, and slaves per se could not and did not participate in Pharisaic table fellowship, or at least in the typically Pharisaic behaviors of tithing and maintenance of purity laws that were the prerequisites of Pharisaic table fellowship.  See my discussion of Birkat ha-Zimmun and the engagement of non-Pharisees in Pharisaic behaviors below.

[43]Borg, Conflict, pp. 137-139; Koenig, New Testament Hospitality, pp. 19-20 and passim.

[44]Segal, Paul the Convert,  pp.73-75 and my discussion above.

[45]Meeks, "Out of the World," p.7. 

[46]S.Cohen, From the Maccabees, p. 159, and see Appendix, below.

[47]E.P.Sanders, Jewish Law, pp. 236-242.  Cf. S. Cohen, From the Maccabees, p. 162.

[48]Theissen, Early Palestinian Christianity, pp. 77-99.

[49]Saldarini, Pharisees, pp. 286-287,  cf. p.72. 

[50]Ibid., p.72.

[51]Ibid.  According to Saldarini's interpretation of Bryan Wilson's typology of sectarian movements (Magic and the Millenium, pp. 16-26), each sect type has a more or less negative or positive relation to broader society. The conversionist sect thus has a relatively negative attitude toward broader society, since it feels "alienated" from society.  I disagree (following Meek's view discussed below), because conversionist sects on the contrary need to maintain a relatively open, i.e., positive, stance toward broader society (in contrast to Wilson's other sect types), in order to draw large numbers of outsiders in.

[52]See below.

[53]Cohen, From the Maccabees, p. 162 (my emphasis). 

[54]Ibid. (my emphasis).

[55]Meeks, "Out of the World," p.7.

[56]Ibid., p.8  Meeks develops this point from Bryan Wilson's discussion of sectarian movements in Magic and the Millenium.

[57]A. J. Levine suggested to me that these observations on the Pharisees as a conversionist sect would also fit Saldarini's reformist model for the Pharisees.  The conversionist and reformist sects of Wilson's theory are indeed similar in regard to their ambiguous relationships to broader society.  However, Saldarini does not use the reformist model to demonstrate the particular strategies the Pharisees used to "reform" Jewish society.  Meeks, on the other hand, adapts the conversionist model to demonstrate how certain behaviors constitute a strategy of conversion (albeit among Pauline Christians), and is thus more helpful for my purposes.

[58]Segal, Paul the Convert, p.74. 

[59]This is not to suggest that the rabbinic sources are objective accounts of the Pharisees without biases of their own. On the contrary, the Mishnah in particular has "homogenized" the representatives of the previously distinctive group of Pharisees into the first of an unbroken chain of hakhamim ("sages") or "rabbis" who provided the legal precedents and bolstered the authority of the rabbis who composed the Mishnah. The Mishnah's Tendenz is to transform the sectarian practices of a small, though influential, Jewish group, i.e., the Pharisees, into norms applicable to the broader Jewish society, at least in the land of Israel. Yet despite this Tendenz, the composers of the Mishnah recognize and depict haverim and ne'emanim, who tithed and terumah-ed their food and observed priestly purity rules, as a group distinct from themselves.  See Cohen, From the Maccabees, p.58.

[60]As defined by Meeks, "Out of the World," p. 8.

[61]M.Ber. 7:1-3 and m.Dem. 2:2-3 (and par. in the Tosefta), respectively.

[62]See below.

[63]Meeks, "Out of the World," p.8.  The other three are (3) "special language emphasizing separation; (4) "rules and rituals of purity;" and (5) "the development of autonomous institutions."  See Appendix below for the discussion of the Pharisees' special language of separation.

[64]S. Lieberman, "The Discipline of the So-Called Dead Sea Manual of Discipline," JBL 71 (1952), pp. 199-206.  Cf. S. Cohen's summary of the haburah rules (From the Maccabees, pp. 118-119).

[65]Joseph Heinemann, "Birkat Ha-Zimmun and Havurah Meals," JJS (1962), pp. 23-29.

[66]The evidence for whether or not Pharisaic table fellowship groups numbered women among them is ambiguous.  Luke's Pharisee Simon is upset that a potentially impure woman crashes his Pharisaic banquet (Lk 7:39). On the other hand, m.Pesah.7:13 describes a situation in which a woman, a "bride," is eating in one house where two havurot are having separate Passover meals.   However, the Passover meal may have been an exceptional Pharisaic meal at which women and children were welcome;  or  the phrase, "the bride turns her face and eats," may be an appended tradition that did not originally refer to the Passover situation spelled out at the beginning of the mishnah; or, the term havurot may not refer specifically to Pharisaic groups which ate their communal meals (including Passover meals) from tithed food in a state of ritual purity.  I am inclined to believe that Pharisaic table fellowship was for men only. Birkat ha-Zimmun articulates in a ritualized form the sense of group solidarity Pharisaic table fellowship was supposed to encourage.  Thus, even if women were present, they were not encouraged to feel included by means of this ritual. Finally, like other ancient "philosophical eating clubs," the Pharisees probably would have shared the bias of popular Greco-Roman intellectual culture - namely, they tended to idealize all-male philosophic table fellowship. See my discussion in "Conventions of Literary Symposia," pp.30-32.

[67]The religious function of many rabbinic blessings, and Birkat ha-Zimmun in particular, is to invoke the presence of God for otherwise ordinary human activities: eating, smelling, seeing, recovery from sickness, marriage, etc. Blessings that allude to what God created in the beginning ("...who creates the fruit of the vine") or how God sits on his throne in heaven with his heavenly entourage put the natural human activities of convivial eating and drinking in a supernatural, mythic context. Blessings are abbreviated myths, ritual shorthand to evoke the longer Biblical myths of creation, revelation, and redemption -- of the past, present, and future kingdom of God. Contra Neusner, (From Politics to Piety, p. 89),  when first century Jews engaged in Pharisaic table fellowship and pronounced blessings, they were telling myths.

            The Tosefta's parallel discussion of Birkat ha-Zimmun and Birkat ha-Mazon (the grace after meals) traditions draws an analogy between a guest's conventional praise of his human host's hospitality and the requirement to recite a grace after the meal to God -- blessing God "the householder."  The version of Birkat ha-Zimmun currently found in most prayerbooks makes God's role as the real host of the meal even more explicit: "Let us bless our God from whose [food] we ate she-akhalnu mishelo]."

[68]When there are three one says "let us bless;" when ten one says, "Let us bless our God;" when one hundred one says "Let us bless YHWH our God;" when one thousand one says, "Let us bless YHWH our God the God of Israel;" when ten thousand one says, "Let us bless YHWH our God, the God of Israel, the God the hosts who sits between the cherubim, for the meal which we have eaten." The rest respond accordingly, i.e., when ten thousand have eaten together, they reply, "Blessed is YHWH our God, God of Israel, God of the Hosts who sits between the cherubim, for the food which we have eaten" (m. Ber 7:3).

[69]The multiplicity of the names of God as well as the images of crowds in the names themselves: "the God of [the entire people] Israel," "God of the armies [the numerous heavenly entourage]" suggests multitudes of earthly and heavenly creatures making God's presence manifest in both the lower and upper worlds.

[70]We find a similar sentiment in Luke's Christian, clearly conversionist, perspective that the Kingdom of God is most present when all the tables are full at God's house (Lk 14:23).  However, a group who entertains fantasies of vast numbers of people joining its table fellowship is not necessarily conversionist.  The relatively small, radically separatist community of Qumran organized itself in groups of hundreds and more ( 1 QS 6:3-7; 1 QSa 2:17-18).  Unlike the Pharisees, their table fellowship practices in isolation from broader Jewish society were not practically set up to involve the participation of large numbers of non-members.  Only by supernatural intervention, not pragmatic missionary efforts, would the Qumran community swell its ranks as high as the numbers it fantasized.

[71]S. McKnight, A Light to the Nations, p.68,77.

[72]I am not claiming that this tradition as described was actually practiced by Pharisees.  Mishnaic language tends to serve the organizational and mnemonic purposes of its second and third century rabbinic redactors, rather than to reflect the actual words of first century Pharisees.  That something was prescribed, does not mean it was actually performed.  On the other hand, I accept the implicit import of this mishnaic tradition.  Namely, the Pharisees (who taught and handed down such tithing rules as this one preserved in m.Demai), intended that Pharisees who wanted to do business with other tithers in towns unfamiliar to them make some kind of public declaration.

[73]So H. Albeck (Shisha Sidre Ha-Mishnah. Seder Zera'im [5th ed.; Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv: Mosad Bialik/Dvir, 1978], p.80, in his comment on m.Dem.4:2.

[74]M.Tohar. 7:4.  See also m.Git. 5:9:

The wife of a haver may lend a sifter or sieve to the wife of an am ha-aretz, and may winnow, grind, and sift corn with her; but once she pours water [on the flour] she should not go near her, since one does not help sinners commit sins.

Here it is not clear if the borrowing occurs in the wife of the haver's home.  What is clear however, is that the wife of the haver is not only supposed to make sure she herself is not made impure by the wife of the am ha-aretz's wet flour, but also that she should not contribute in any way to the latter's own sin (from a Pharisaic perspective) of potentially contaminating the priest's portion of hallah that had not been separated out. So Albeck, Mishnah. Seder Nashim, p.289.  Hence, the wife of the Pharisee too is to behave like a Pharisee outside the confines of the in-group.

[75]Cf. Paul, Philip. 3:4: "kata nomon Pharisaios."

[76]As Mason, "Was Josephus a Pharisee?" pp. 31-45, argues. See notes above.  Moreover, my interpretation is consistent with Mason's of the connotation of politeuesthai te Pharisaion hairesei - to enter into public life as a Pharisee. (p. 44)

[77]A. Saldarini, Pharisees, p.137. There's a misprint here. I think Saladarini meant to say that both Josephus and Paul say little about what it meant for them to be a Pharisee,

because both habitually thought of themselves as Jews against the larger horizon of the Greco-Roman world where inner Jewish distinctions, such as membership in the Pharisees, was largely important [sic]. (emphasis mine)

[78]See above.

[79]That is not to say that the Pharisees did not permit Gentiles to become Jews.  Mechanisms for this type of process have been preserved in the early rabbinic traditions regarding the ger. To determine what extent such traditions go back to the Pharisees  is beyond the scope of this paper.  But regardless whether these traditions do or do not come from the Pharisees, they were not mechanisms for an active missionary campaign. See McKnight, Light.  Pharisaic gerim  -- people defined by their non-observant, not their ethnically non-Jewish backgrounds.

[80]But see Henry A. Fischel, "Story and History: Observations on Greco-Roman Rhetoric and Pharisaism," in Idem., ed., Essays in Greco-Roman and Related Talmudic Literature (New York: KTAV, 1977) pp.443-472. Fischel argues that later Tannaitic literature preserved at least some of the rhetorical genres (e.g., chriae, very short stories emphasizing the virtue and wisdom of the sage, often vis à vis opponents) probably used by Pharisees.

 

Although there is considerable difference between Pharisees and Tannaim, it is usually assumed that in some aspects of their function and teaching continuity prevailed.  The formation of literary genres described in this article may have occurred as early as a generation after the death of a hero, if not in his very lifetime after the achievement of fame.

 

Chriae demonstrating the Pharisaic sage's wisdom at the table may have been used by Pharisees also to propagandize the virtues of their type of table fellowship.  For example, Rabban Gamaliel's midrashic interpretation of the three symbols of Pesah - Pesah, Matzah, Maror (probably arrayed before him on the table): "Whoever has not said these three things..." (M.Pesah 10:5) could have originated as Pharisaic propaganda.

[81]This is only to point out that the media of Christian conversionist efforts were primarily public speeches and written documents, while the media of the Pharisees were primarily unwritten, unspoken actions -- the symbolic actions of table fellowship.  I am certainly not claiming that everything that Christians wrote in the first century had a conversionist purpose.

[82]Segal, Paul the Convert, p.74.  Segal describes here a "rabbinic strategy of conversion"  (as opposed to a Pauline early Christian strategy), but he doesn't attribute it to the Pharisees.  It's my point extend it specifically to the Pharisees. For a discussion how Paul stressed many conversion experiences as the sign of the power of the Christian gospel (i.e., I Thess.1:4-10), and how Luke emphasized the importance of Paul's dramatic internal religious transformation--his conversion--as a model for Gentile converts, see Segal, Paul the Convert, pp. 3-33.

[83]Meeks, "Out of this World," pp. 8-9.

[84]Ibid.  See 1 Cor 5:12,13; 1 Thess 4:12; Col. 4:5 for "hoi exo" (also, Mk 4:11); 1 Thess 1:9 for "hoi pisteuontes;" 1 Cor 6:6; 7:12-15; 10:14:22-24; 2 Cor 4:4 for "apistoi."

[85]M. Yad 4:6-8.  Here, the mishnah appears to preserve a tradition of scholastic dispute between the Pharisees and Sadducees very similar in form to the traditions of disputes between Pharisees and Sadducees in the synoptic Gospels, e.g., Mt 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40; Act 23:6-8ff; as well as the those used by Josephus (War 2.8.14 and Ant. 18.1.3-4).

[86]Acts 11:26: "And for the first time, in Antioch, the disciples were called Christians [chrematisai christianoi]."  Cf. Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) ad loc. cit., pp.367-368.

[87]E.g., Lk 11:39-40. It is harder to determine the exact Hebrew equivalent behind the Greek terms koinon and koinoo ("common" and "make common"), though they seem to refer to improperly consecrated priestly food (e.g., untithed food - from a Pharisee's point of view) rather than the ritually unclean, cf Acts 10:14, koinon kai akatharton  However, what are koinais chersin in Mk 7:2?  How can hands be untithed?!  On the other hand koino is contrasted with katharizo in Acts 11:9, suggesting that koinon is the opposite of ritually clean or pure. See J.D. Derrett, "koinos..." Filologia Neotestimentaria (1992), pp.? for a discussion of the problem.

[88]Thus, it is the same thing to be a ne'eman as to tithe, as implied in the question one asks in an unfamiliar city, if one seeks to do business with a ne'eman: " Who here is a ne'eman, who here tithes [me'aser]" ( m.Demai 4:6). M.Demai offers many other examples of how the separation of tithes and priestly gifts, or the invitation to eat with or do business with a haver or ne'eman, involved a verbal declaration that used the distinctive terminology, e.g., m.Demai 4:2, 5; 5:1-2; 6:11; 7:1-6.

[89]Cf. Meeks, "Out of this World," pp.8-9, quoting P. Berger and T. Luckmann, "'Reification,' [...] tends toward 'a total identification of the individual with his socially assigned typifications.'" 

[90]Meeks, "Out of the World," p.9. 

[91]See Lieberman, "Discipline," pp. 199-206.  

[92]If I still need to make argument explicit, I claim that there is a structural homologue between making distinctions between various grades of people who tithe or do not, and various grades of produce that are tithed or are not.  A Pharisaic variation on the motto "you are what you eat" might be "you are what you tithe."  People who do not make Pharisaic distinctions are not Pharisees; people who do, are.

[93]E.g.,as implied in M. Demai 4:2; 7:1; or 2:3.