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Yeshua in Context » Background to Gospels, Sadducees » Sadducean Scribblings #2

Sadducean Scribblings #2

Steve Mason (Josephus, Judea, and Christian Origins) lists some agreements about the Sadducees between the Gospel of Luke and Josephus. Here is my summary and paraphrase of his list:

(1) The chief priests headed up the Judean aristocracy, the highest authorities in the land besides the Romans.

(2) The chief priests exercised power through a sort of Senate called the Sanhedrin headed by the high priest.

(3) The chief priests had the Temple guard at their disposal and could arrest and even execute people (though executions could get them in trouble with Rome).

(4) The chief priests were powerful, but the will of the populace was a political concern and the Pharisees could exert popular pressure on them.

(5) Luke and Josephus tell us more about what the Sadducees did not believe than what they did.

(6) Luke, more so than Josephus, assumes that the Sadducees were the major influence in the circles of the chief priests.

(7) The Sadducees were essentially a skeptical philosophy and they denied the afterlife, the influence of angels in human events, and the value of the traditions of the elders (promoted by the Pharisees).

(8) The Pharisees were sort of a middle ground between the people and the Sadducees — they were also elitist in some ways, but closer to the people’s desires and sentiments.

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3 Responses to "Sadducean Scribblings #2"

  1. Bill Meyer says:

    From what I understand – the Sadducees ruled the temple and dominated the Temple service – simply because they were the priest order. Unfortunately they were the Helenists of their time.

    The Pharisees dominated the Synagogue – because they were learned laymen (teachers, not priests) – who rose in prominence during the time that there was no Temple, and when the priest service was not practiced.

    With the rebuilding of the Temple by Herod, he had political ambitions, and the Sadducees supported his ambitions. The Pharisees and the Sadducees and the followers of Yeshua interact in this background, with some being followers of more than one of the groups beliefs.

    In essence it is the priests (Sadducees) vs the rabbi’s (Pharisees) vs the Netzarim (followers of Yeshua) with some holding to doctrines accross the spectrum.

  2. yeshuain says:


    Actually. no, the Pharisees did not dominate the synagogue. E.P. Sanders’ Judaism: Practice and Belief and Shaye J.D. Cohen’s From the Maccabees to the Mishnah give much evidence that the Pharisees and then the rabbis did not dominate the synagogue world until . . . get this . . . the sixth or seventh century.

    1. Bill Meyer says:

      Interesting. I did not know that. What group was the most prominent in the Sanagogues during the time of Yeshua?

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