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Scribing the Pharisees

Hyam Maccoby, 9 May 1991

Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah: Five Studies 
by E.P. Sanders.
SCM, 404 pp., £35, May 1990, 0 334 02455 2
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Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee 
by Alan Segal.
Yale, 368 pp., £22.50, June 1990, 0 300 04527 1
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... One of the preoccupations of New Testament studies since the 19th century has been to reconsider the bitter attacks on the Pharisees found in the Gospels, in the light the Jewish rabbinic writings. The portrayal of the Pharisees as hypocrites and persecutors, and of their religion as obsessionally ritualistic and legalistic, has played a great part in Christian anti-semitism throughout the ages ...

Who killed Jesus?

Hyam Maccoby, 19 July 1984

Jesus and the Politics of his Day 
edited by Ernst Bammel and C.F.D. Moule.
Cambridge, 511 pp., £37.50, February 1984, 9780521220224
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... According to the Gospels, Jesus was the victim of a frame-up. His aims were purely religious, and in pursuing them, he had fallen foul of the Jewish religious establishment, who, in order to get rid of him, concocted a political charge, and managed to hoodwink the Roman governor, Pilate, into believing it. When Pilate still showed reluctance to execute Jesus, they pressed the political charge until he was left with no option: ‘The Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend to Caesar; any man who claims to be king is defying Caesar” ’ (John 19 ...

Jesus and Cain

Edmund Leach, 2 December 1982

The Sacred Executioner: Human Sacrifice and the Legacy of Guilt 
by Hyam Maccoby.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 500 01281 4
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... I must declare an interest. Since Hyam Maccoby makes no attempt to disguise his prejudices, I will start by declaring my own. The first is respectable. I dislike phoney scholarship. Lunatic-fringe anthropology will always be with us and is sometimes great fun; it only becomes objectionable when it pretends to be something else ...

The day the golem went berserk

David Katz, 10 January 1983

Mystical Theology and Social Dissent: The Life and Works of Judah Loew of Prague 
by Byron Sherwin.
Associated University Presses, 253 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 8386 3028 6
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Judaism on Trial: Jewish-Christian Disputations in the Middle Ages 
by Hyam Maccoby.
Associated University Presses, 245 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 8386 3053 7
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... fascinating confrontations between Christians and Jews are brought to life in Judaism on Trial, Hyam Maccoby’s excellent edition of the main Jewish and Christian accounts. The Paris Disputation of 1240 was initiated by a letter from Pope Gregory IX to all the kings of Christendom, calling upon them to suppress the Talmud, which (it was claimed) the ...

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