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See also: Pharisaism


An illustration of a Pharisee from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

Alternative forms[edit]


From Late Latin Pharisaismus, from Pharǐsaeus (Pharisee) + -ismus (-ism); compare French Pharisaïsme, Italian Fariseismo (archaic), farisaismo.



pharisaism (countable and uncountable, plural pharisaisms)

  1. The doctrines and practices, or the character and spirit, of the Pharisees.
    • 1988, Anthony J. Saldarini, Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees in Palestinian Society: A Sociological Approach, Wilmington, Del.: M. Glazier, →ISBN, page 138:
      Since Paul lived and worked in the greater Syrian area as a Pharisee, it is somewhat probable that Pharisaism had some influence there and that some Pharisees lived outside Jerusalem and Judea. [] Paul never says where he made contact with Pharisaism, in Tarsus, Syria, or Jerusalem. [] The evidence concerning Pharisaism is so slim that we do not know how Paul came to know about Pharisaism, why he was attracted to it, and what being a Pharisee entailed.
    • 2002, J. Andrew Overman, “Kata Nomon Pharisaios: A Short History of Paul's Pharisaism”, in Janice Capel Anderson, Philip Sellew, Claudia Setzer, editors, Pauline Conversations in Context: Essays in Honor of Calvin J. Roetzel (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series; 221), London, New York, N.Y.: Sheffield Academic Press, →ISBN, page 192:
      Serious and substantial doubts about Paul's former life as a Pharisee, or even any contact with pharisaism on his part, have been raised.
  2. (chiefly Christianity) Rigid observance of external forms of religion without genuine piety; hypocrisy in religion; a censorious, self-righteous spirit in matters of morals or manners.
    • 1645 [indicated as 1646], [Henry Hammond], “Of Feasting”, in A Practicall Catechisme, Oxford: [s.n.], →OCLC, book III, section III, page 303:
      [T]he Phariſee faſted twice every weeke, and that never cenſured in him as a peice of Phariſaiſme, or hypocriſie, or fault of any kind; but as commendable, if he had not boaſted of it.
    • 1915, John Oman, “The Judgment of the Churches”, in The War and Its Issues: An Attempt at a Christian Judgment, Cambridge: At the University Press, OCLC 561696232; 2nd edition, Cambridge: At the University Press, 1916, OCLC 22245117, page 59:
      But denunciations do not go far, and the only living and effective protest would be a society itself delivered from all pharisaisms and idolatries.
    • 1935, Philip Leon, The Ethics of Power, or, The Problem of Evil, London: George Allen & Unwin, →OCLC, page 152:
      The codes of some modern pharisaism comprise mostly some virtues and moral rules selected from the codes of the Christian pharisaisms which they oppose []

Related terms[edit]