Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-3:1)

“Now there was a Pharisee,

Named Nicodemus,

A leader of the Jews.”

Ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων·

John uniquely introduced the Pharisees not as a group of people, but with an individual man who was a Pharisees (Ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων).  This Pharisee was named or called Nicodemus (Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ).  Nicodemus was probably a leader (ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων) of the Jewish Sanhedrin or council, but his exact role is not specified, other than as a Jewish leader.  This Nicodemus will appear three times in the Gospel of John, here and later in the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, chapter 7:50-51, and at the burial of Jesus with Joseph of Arimathea, chapter 19:39-42.  However, he was never mentioned in any of the other synoptic canonical gospels.  Could this be Nicodemus ben Gurion, a wealthy Jewish leader who was opposed to the Jewish rebel Zealots in the first century CE.  The Pharisees were the most devout Jews, but usually the theological opponents of Jesus.  These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.  However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion.  Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments.  Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees?  What do you think about the Pharisees?

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