*Note: Expanded definitions from the ones previously posted. These updated and expanded definitions will be posted on the "People" page under the "Beyond the Bible" tab.
• Pharisees- Greek 'Pharisaioi' is 'separate ones.' In Hebrew means "separatists." According to Josephus, there were three major sects within Judaism at the time of Jesus: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. There were also the "Zealots, and probably many lesser sects. Even though they tolerated each other's existence, each saw itself as the most authentic expression of Jewish identity" (MacCulloch, p.72).
They helped to develop an elaborate system of oral laws to apply to the written law of Moses to Jewish life after the destruction of the temple and the Roman conquest of Israel. Thus, they were known for devotion to the law, written and oral. The law was rigorously applied to everyday life. Scribes, experts in the law, belonged predominantly to this group. Many people, having lost respect for priesthood due to corruption, looked to the scribes, who were often pious and disciplined (Lockyear, p.830). While relatively small in number (due to their exclusivity), they nevertheless enjoyed prestige and respect of the people and could affect both popular opinion and national policy at times.
"If they [Pharisees] despised the Herods and the Romans, they hated Jesus' doctrine of equality and claims of messiahship with equal fervor" (Green, p.475). Other sources say that while the Pharisees were not always unfriendly to Jesus (and Mark has them taking no part in his death), Jesus criticized them severely precisely because their religious leadership was so serious. Originally helping to save Judaism (a noble thing), it had degenerated over time and become too rigid/exclusive.
• Sadducees- Greek 'Saddoukaioi' means 'followers of Zadak,' perhaps 'righteous.' According to Josephus, there were three major sects within Judaism at the time of Jesus: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. There were also the "Zealots, and probably many lesser sects. Even though they tolerated each other's existence, each saw itself as the most authentic expression of Jewish identity" (MacCulloch, p.72).
Priestly, wealthy, aristocratic class, centered in Jerusalem. "They enjoyed privileged positions in society and managed to get along well under Roman rule" (Lockyear, p.936). They were the most flexible/allowing in regards to relations with outsiders. In contrast to the Pharisees (in Mark), as the priestly party connected with the Temple, the Sadducees are more directly involved in the death of Jesus, probably due to the fact that they were much more politically minded. Despite their central role in Jesus' death, they did not enjoy the influence among the people that the Pharisees did.
"They accepted as scripture only the first five books of the Old Testament, followed only the letter of the law, rejected the oral legal traditions, and were opposed to teaching not found in the Pentateuch, such as the resurrection of the dead." (Senior et al., Matthew 3:7).
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong