Throughout the entire Second Temple Period (515 B.C. – A.D. 70) there were no greater rabbis than Rabbis Hillel (50 B.C.- A.D. 10) and Shammai (c. 50 B.C. – A.D. 30). Many of their biblical and Oral Law opinions became subjects of discussion and have been preserved in the Mishnah. Hillel, who came from Babylon, was interested in bringing the Jewish people back to a more orthodox interpretation of Scripture as opposed to Shammai, who granted a broad range of permissiveness. These two rabbis and their opposing Pharisaic schools of biblical interpretation became well established by the time of Christ. They debated some 350 times on issues that most modern Christians would consider insignificant. Yet some issues did affect how legalistically people lived their daily lives in order to be considered holy before God. When Jesus went to the temple at the age of twelve, He most likely challenged not only the priests and the teachers of the Law, but probably also encountered Hillel, Shammai, or their disciples. The lives of Hillel, the great rabbi of classical Judaism, and Jesus overlapped as did the life of Shammai. Although Hillel was still teaching at the time of Jesus’ birth, his disciples continued his theology during the life of Christ. He was known for his kindness, humanity, and humility. Once when an aspiring convert asked him to sum up the whole Torah, and he said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That sums up the whole Torah.” An amazing similarity to what Jesus said only a couple of decades later.
. See 02.01.19 for the School of Hillel.
. See 02.01.20 for the School of Shammai.
. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 9-10.
. Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 93.
. Boteach, Kosher Jesus. 25, in a summary of the Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 31a.