Mat 16:6,11 & 12 Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." …..(11) How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (12) Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus warned his followers to beware, look out for, and avoid the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is not simply a warning but also a prophecy. If they were not going to be confronted with the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees there would be no reason for the warning. Therefore, one can count on the fact that his followers were confronted with the doctrine of the Pharisees. Further, it is obvious from the warning that they would be tempted and deceived by the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It follows that one must be aware of the warning in perpetuity. One of the main premises of this blog is that Orthodox Christian Doctrine is off the mark and my diagnosis is that it has been affected by the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees which is just like leaven. It automatically permeates the body of Christ.
A very informative book that I recommend everyone have in their personal library is entitled Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen. The reason I like it so much is that it categorizes the teachings of first through third century Judaism in a systematic theology format. In other words it gives a good picture of the teachings or doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees which Jesus referred to. The Talmud is comprised of writings that are meant to exegete and interpret the scripture. It gives a clear understanding of what the Jews taught about everything from God to man. It includes but is not limited to such categories as the soul, God, Prophecy, man, sin, repentance and, revelation etc.
One of the first teachings to look at is their doctrine of scripture or revelation to humans. Just like in Christian systematic theology, the Talmud gives a doctrine of scripture. One of the points made in the Talmud is that of all the prophets Moses is pre-eminent. It is referred to as specularia and is based upon Numbers 12:6-8. In this view the other prophets are not as important as Moses. I have written several posts about specularia in the past.
The Epistle to the Hebrews establishes a new specularia. It has Jesus preempting Moses. What does that mean? Well, since we have shown over and over again in this blog that Jesus redefined the phrase Word of God this is one place where Christian Orthodoxy should take some instruction. The Word of God, according to Jesus and his followers, is the gospel and Jesus, and... the scripture is the scripture. Identifying scripture as the word of God puts the Old specularia, the preeminence of Moses in place. This is the reason that there is so much legalism in evangelical Christianity.It is my firm belief that while Jesus taught a new hermeneutic that saw him as the Messiah-- the early church fathers actually incorporated the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and it has spread like leaven. Leaven is a perfect metaphor for the way that the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees have impacted orthodox Christian doctrine.