The New International Encyclopædia/Sadducees

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The New International Encyclopædia
Sadducees
Edition of 1905. See also Sadducees on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

SADDUCEES (Gk. Σαδδουκαῖοι, Saddoukaioi, from Heb. Ṣaddūḳīm). The conservative and aristocratic party in the late Jewish commonwealth. The name is now generally derived from Zadok, high priest in Solomon's reign, from wliom the later high-priestly line was derived, and whose descendants, ‘the sons of Zadok,’ according to Ezekiel's programme, were the only legitimate priests. (See Levite; Priests.) Although this narrow restriction to the line of Zadok was not finally maintained, this family was the great majority in the later priesthood and formed its aristocratic and controlling element. This etymology agrees with the actual character of the Sadducees, who were the party of the priestly aristocracy as over against the democratic Pharisees (q.v.). The sharp distinction between the two was not made till the time of the Asmonean house in the second century B.C., but its origins go back to the fifth century, when, as we see in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah, a division began to arise between the priests who were the ministers of the cultus and hence a privileged and conservative class, and the Scribes (q.v.), who, although loyal to the cult and its ministers, were nevertheless interested in making the law the rule of life for the whole people. The Maccabean or Asmonean house (see Maccabees) was itself of priestly origin, but accomplished its work through the help of the patriotic and religious party, which now came to the fore. But the ambition and worldly interests of this dynasty, which united in itself the high-priesthood and the monarchy, soon alienated the rigorous or Pharisaic party, and in the latter part of the reign of John Hyrcanus (B.C. 135-105) the Court allied itself with the conservative priestly aristocracy. With this reign the distinction between the two parties as such began, and the remainder of the Maccabean history is characterized by the struggle between the two parties.

Pompey's destruction of Jewish independence gave the final advantage to the Pharisees, but the Sadducees, through their wealth and position, still remained a strong element, although small and divorced from popular sympathy. It is a mistake to regard them as diametrically opposed to the Pharisees. The latter were the party of keen religious development; the Sadducees were those who hung back from religious advance through motives of conservatism, caste and culture. Hence in the theological differences between these parties, the Sadducees stood closer to the Old Testament, while their opponents went far beyond the theology of the Canon. The chief differences were these: The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh (cf. Matt, xxii. 23 sqq.), or in the existence of spirits and angels (cf. Acts xxiii. 8), in opposition to the huge development of Pharisaic angelology. Josephus also records that they denied Providence, while the Pharisees were predestinarian, and this is an indication of the comparative religious indifference of the party and perhaps also of Greek influence. The view that the Sadducees accepted only the Pentateuch is an error, although it is probable that they did not assign much authority to the later books as an integral part of the Canon. The chief sources of knowledge for these parties are the New Testament and Josephus; the former vividly represents the acute differences between the two (cf. Acts xxiii. 6 sqq.), but withal shows how the two could work together, as in the trial of Jesus and the persecution of the Christian Church (cf. Acts v. 17). The Sadducees have left no literary productions. The classic study of the subject is Wellhausen, Pharisäer und Sadducäer (Greifswald, 1874). Consult also: Schürer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1886-90); Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine (Paris, 1868); Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus (London, 1896). See Pharisees.