Religious sect active in Palestine during the NT period. The Pharisees are consistently depicted in the Gospels as Jesus’ antagonists. It is commonly held that the Pharisees represented mainstream Judaism early in the 1st century and that they were characterized by a variety of morally objectionable features. Accordingly, most Bible dictionaries and similar works of reference depict the Pharisees as greedy, hypocritical, lacking in a sense of justice, overly concerned with fulfilling the literal details of the Law, and insensitive to the spiritual significance of the OT. These and other characteristics are furthermore viewed as giving shape to Judaism more generally.
Elwell, Walter A. ; Beitzel, Barry J.: Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Book House, 1988, S. 1670