The Sadducees And The Pharisees. Essay

1262 words - 5 pages

In this essay I will compare two of the religious groups in Judaism, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. In this I will discuss their position in society, religious beliefs, traditions and practices with reference to the New Testament and the writings of Josephus.The Sadducees were a Jewish group of the Second Temple period. They were the priestly, aristocratic party in Judaism, whose interests centred in the Temple,And are known on the basis of three sources: the writings of the first century historian Josephus, the New Testament and rabbinical writings. No extant writings can be traced to the Sadducees themselves. Two main hypotheses predominate regarding the origin and meaning of the word Sadducee. The first suggests they derived their name from a Hebrew word meaning "just" or "righteous", thus their name meaning " the just ones". The other proposes they were descendants of Zadok, a high priest who served during the reigns of David and Solomon and who "became the father of the Jewish priesthood" . This would give them the right to worship in the Temple and would subsequently give them predominance as Jewish priests. They were centred in Jerusalem, which would be expected if indeed they were the priests of the Temple. They were the priestly, aristocratic party in Judaism whose interests centred in the Temple.In contrast the Pharisees were a Jewish religious party whose membership was largely lay. Sources on the Pharisees include Josephus, Talmud and much reference in the New Testament, who, along with the Sadducees are often to refered to as opponents of Jesus. They were not based in Jerusalem and were perceived to be more liberal than the Sadducees. They were a larger party despite only numbering 6,000. The roots of the Pharisees lies in lay "scribes" (lawyers), "who emerged in the postexilic Hellenistic period" Scholarly opinion has usually dated the Sadducees to the same time as the Pharisees, both emerging after the Maccabean revolt, on differing sides. The Sadducees supported Hellenization under Antiochus 5 Epiphanes, and revived these interests in support of the Hasmonean dynasty, being in a world of Hellenization and with their interests essentially political in favour of status quo. In contrast, the Pharisees are described as Jews more interested in "repulsing the inroads of Hellenistic influence" .The differences that arose between the Sadducees and the Pharisees were far greater than their background and position in society. They disagreed on many issues concerning interpretation of the Law and its implications on daily life. The Sadducean halakha differed somewhat to that of the Pharisees, Josephus informs us of this difference, "the Sadducees are more heartless than any other Jews....when they sit in judgement"Josephus also comments on the differing way each group treated their elders. He wrote that the Pharisees acted with respect and deference toward their elders whereas the Sadducees disputed with elders and teachers of the path of...

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