Turns out he was both.
In Rabbi Boteach’s Kosher Jesus, the author points to the fact that Jesus was a carpenter by trade, which only adds to the evidence that he was indeed a classically trained scholar — a Pharisaic rabbi.
Boteach goes on to explain that the title of rabbi, in those days, was a form of respect, not a formal ordination as we understand it today. Jesus working as a humble carpenter was in direct keeping with the custom of the time. Teaching was considered a sacred duty. Jews thought it exploitive to profit from people’s desire to hear and understand God’s instructions for living a prosperous, peaceful life.
It’s my experience that the fundamentals of Sunday school teach Christian children early on that the Pharisees and Sadducees are equally bad. They are two sides of the same coin — a spiritual wooden nickel. Two faces representing an imitation of the real goodness of God. So much so, that when Jesus came on the scene teaching with his parables, he stood in direct contrast to their teaching. Which, in turn, provoked them to hate him.
Boteach claims that everything from Jesus’s teaching style to his vocation points to indisputable evidence that he was indeed a Pharisaic rabbi.
But isn’t that a bad thing?