Biblical Archaeology Review 39:4, July/August 2013

Biblical Views: The Pharisees—Good Guys with Bad Press

By Roland Deines

Nearly everybody seems to know enough about the Pharisees to label someone else’s behaviour as “pharisaic,” but nobody ever claims to be a Pharisee himself. Pharisees are, almost always, the “bad guys.” They are hypocrites whose outside appearance does not match their true inner nature. If you order a “Pharisäer” in a coffee shop in northern Germany, you will get a strong black coffee topped with whipped cream and a lot of sugar. Nothing special at first glance. But after the first sip you know why it is called a “Pharisäer”: Hidden under the cream and mixed into the coffee is a generous serving of very strong rum.a Legend has it that this recipe was conjured up on the small northern Frisian island of Nordstrand to hide alcohol consumption at weddings from the local pastor who strongly opposed it. On one occasion he was offered the wrong cup of coffee and, detecting the cover-up, commented simply, “You Pharisees!”

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