The Pharisees were an important Jewish group which flourished in Palestine from the late second century B.C. to the late first century A.D.
Virtually all our knowledge about the Pharisees is derived from three sets of sources: the works of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War (ca. A.D. 75), The Antiquities of the Jews (ca. A.D. 94), and Life (ca. A.D. 101); the various compilations of the rabbis (ca. A.D. 200 and later); and the NT. Other works, parts of the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, or the Dead Sea Scrolls, may also contain information concerning the Pharisees. But since the Pharisees are never explicitly mentioned in these works, their use in constructing a picture of the Pharisees is heavily dependent on prior assumptions which are at best speculative.
It should be noted, however, that even the use of the explicit sources is problematical. Most of the NT is written from a point of view that is antagonistic to the tenets of Pharisaism. The rabbinic traditions about the Pharisees are also shaped by polemical forces and are often anachronistic. The value of Josephus's information (traditionally regarded as the most helpful) is diminished by recent studies which suggest that Josephus was not a Pharisee before A.D. 70 and that his eventual conversion was motivated more by political realities than by careful study of the different Jewish sects. It certainly cannot be denied that Josephus's descriptions of the Pharisees are superficial. In short, therefore, our sources provide neither a complete nor a straightforward picture of the Pharisees.
Various etymologies have been proposed for the name "Pharisee." The only one to receive general approval is that which derives the name from the Aramaic passive participle peris, perisayya, meaning "separated." The consensus is that the Pharisees regarded themselves, or were regarded, as the "separated ones." From what or whom they were separated is not as clear. The Hasmonean rulers, the Gentiles, the common people, and non-Pharisaic Jews in general have all been suggested as possibilities. Present evidence seems to favor the last two options.
Nature and Influence
The fundamental issue in Pharisaic studies is the twofold question of the nature of the group and its influence within broader Judaism. Two basic positions have been taken on this question. The traditional view holds that the Pharisees were the creators and shapers of late second temple Judaism. They were not so much a sect as a dominant party within Judaism. According to the traditional view, although not all Pharisees were legal experts, Pharisaism was the ideology of the vast majority of the scribes and lawyers. Thus, as a group the Pharisees were the guardians and interpreters of the law. Jewish institutions associated with the law, such as the synagogue and the Sanhedrin, were Pharisaic institutions. While disagreeing over whether the Pharisees were primarily politically or religiously oriented, proponents of the traditional view agree that the Pharisees commanded the loyalty of the masses in both spheres. Indeed, most proponents of the traditional view would accept Elias Bickerman's dictum: "Judaism of the post-Maccabean period is Pharisaic."
The second point of view is a relatively recent development. Proponents of this position argue that when the inherent limitations and tendencies of our sources are taken into account, the Pharisees come across not as the creators and shapers of Judaism but merely as one of its many expressions. In essence, according to this view, the Pharisees were a rather tightly knit sect organized around the observance of purity and tithing laws; on most other issues the Pharisees reflected the range of views present within Judaism. Since Josephus and the Gospels carefully distinguish between the Pharisees and the scribes, scholars of this persuasion argue that it is better not to confuse Pharisaism with the ideology of the scribes. Pharisaism must be seen as a movement which drew from all walks of life. There were Pharisees who were political and religious leaders, but their positions of influence were due to other factors besides sectarian affiliation. Proponents of this second view posit that the Judaism of Christ's day was much more dynamic and variegated than the traditional view allows and that the Pharisees were only one of several sects that influenced the development of Judaism.
Of course, not all scholars subscribe to one of these two views; many hold mediating positions. Nevertheless, these two views constitute the foundations upon which the modern study of Pharisaism is based.
The origin of the Pharisaic movement is shrouded in mystery. According to Josephus, the Pharisees first became a significant force in Jewish affairs during the reign of Hyrcanus I (134-104 B.C.). In an earlier work, however, Josephus places the rise of the Pharisees much later, during the reign of Salome Alexandra (76-67 B.C.). Some scholars who view the Pharisees as the shapers of late second temple Judaism have sought to trace the beginnings of the group back to the time of Ezra and beyond. But such reconstructions are speculative at best. It is more likely that the Pharisees were one of several groups to grow out of the revival and resistance movement of the Maccabean period (ca. 166-160 B.C.).
Whatever its origins, the Pharisaic movement seems to have undergone a two-stage development. During the reign of Salome Alexandra the Pharisees as a group were heavily involved in politics and national policy making. Sometime after this, possibly when Herod the Great rose to power (37 B.C.), the Pharisees withdrew from politics. Individual Pharisees remained politically involved, but there was no longer any official Pharisaic political agenda. This seems to have been the situation during the time of Christ.
The Pharisees were divided over the issue of Roman rule. Josephus tells us that a Pharisee named Zaddok was instrumental in forming a "fourth philosophy" which was violently opposed to Roman rule. Elsewhere, however, Josephus records that at a later time certain well-placed Pharisees sought to forestall the Jews' rush toward revolt against the empire. It is impossible to tell which tendency reflected the conviction of the majority of the Pharisees.
After the Jewish revolt of A.D. 70 many scholars with Pharisaic leanings gathered at the city of Jamnia to form a school for the preservation and redefinition of Judaism. There is evidence that the Jamnia school was not exclusively Pharisaic. Nevertheless, it can be safely said that the Pharisees were the single most powerful sectarian element at Jamnia. Thus they played an important role at the beginning of the century-long process which transformed second temple Judaism into rabbinic Judaism.
The Pharisees were strongly committed to the daily application and observance of the law. This means they accepted the traditional elaborations of the law which made daily application possible. They believed, moreover, in the existence of spirits and angels, the resurrection, and the coming of a Messiah. They also maintained that the human will enjoyed a limited freedom within the sovereign plan of God.
Yet there is little evidence to suggest that these were distinctively Pharisaic beliefs. To the best of our knowledge these beliefs were the common heritage of most Jews. To some scholars this fact is proof that the Pharisees were the dominant religious force in Judaism; to others it is only another indication that the Pharisees' distinguishing mark was nothing but the scrupulous observance of purity and tithing laws.
The Pharisees and Jesus
The NT does not present a simple picture of the relationship between the Pharisees and Jesus. Pharisees warn Jesus of a plot against his life (Luke 13:31); in spite of their dietary scruples they invite him for meals (Luke 7:36-50; 14:1); some of them even believe in Jesus (John 3:1; 7:45-53; 9:13-38); later, Pharisees are instrumental in ensuring the survival of Jesus' followers (Acts 5:34; 23:6-9).
Nevertheless, Pharisaic opposition to Jesus is a persistent theme in all four Gospels. This opposition has been explained differently by those who hold differing views on the nature and influence of the Pharisees. Those who see the Pharisees as a class of political leaders posit that Jesus came to be understood as a political liability or threat. Those who understand the Pharisees as a society of legal and religious experts suggest that Jesus became viewed as a dangerous rival, a false teacher with antinomian tendencies. To the extent that there were Pharisaic leaders and scribes, both these factors probably played a part. Yet other scholars point out that according to the Gospels the disputes between Jesus and the Pharisees centered primarily on the validity and application of purity, tithing, and sabbath laws (e.g., Matt. 12:2, 12-14; 15:1-12; Mark 2:16; Luke 11:39-42). In the light of this evidence it would seem that at least part of the Pharisaic opposition to Jesus was occasioned by the obvious disparity between Jesus' claims about himself and his disregard for observances regarded by the Pharisees as necessary marks of piety. In the end, the Pharisees could not reconcile Jesus, his actions and his claims, with their own understanding of piety and godliness.
The Pharisees were separatists (Heb. persahin, from parash, "to separate"). They were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the "pious"), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (B.C. 145). The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39; 18:12). Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-8; 26:4, 5).
There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a "generation of vipers." They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7: 39; 18: 11, 12). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1-4). From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.
Of the three major religious societies of Judaism at the time of the New Testament (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes), the Pharisees were often the most vocal and influential. The origin of the Pharisees is uncertain, but their movement is believed to have grown from the Assideans (i.e. the "pious"), who began in the time of the Maccabean Revolt (see The Maccabees) against the Greek/Syrian ruler Antiochus IV, or "Antiochus Epiphanes," around 165 B.C. It was during that roughly 4 centuries between the end of the Old Testament record and the birth of Jesus Christ, prior to the rise of the Roman empire (see Ancient Empires - Rome), that the idolatrous Greek influence was at its peak in Jerusalem (see Ancient Empires - Greece, The Ptolemies and The Seleucids). The first direct mention of the Pharisees was by the Jewish/Roman historian Flavius Josephus in describing the three sects, or schools, into which the Jews were divided in 145 B.C.
The name Pharisee in its Hebrew form means separatists, or the separated ones. They were also known as chasidim, which means loyal to God, or loved of God - extremely ironic in view of the fact that by His time, they made themselves the most bitter, and deadly, opponents of Jesus Christ and His message.
The Pharisees perhaps meant to obey God, but eventually they became so devoted and extremist in very limited parts of The Law (plus all that they themselves added to it), that they became blind to The Messiah when He was in their very midst. They saw His miracles, they heard His Words, but instead of receiving it with joy, they did all that they could to stop Him - eventually to the point of getting Him killed because He truthfully claimed to be the Son of God.
Jesus Christ had strong words about the Pharisees, and what awaits some of them:
"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes [see Lawyers] and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20 RSV).
"He answered them, "And why do you transgress the Commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.' But you say, 'If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.' So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the Word of God." (Matthew 15:3-6 RSV) [see The Ten Commandments and The Ten Commandments Now?].
"How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:11-12 RSV)
(Note: Just as yeast causes bread to rise, yeast was sometimes used as a symbol of sinful pride which made people haughty and "puffed up.")
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:2-9 RSV)
(Note: A perhaps somewhat surprising statement - the Pharisees were correct according to their limited perspective, and were to be obeyed by the Jews under their authority. But, they were not to be emulated in their way of life - they were Hypocrites.)
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in." (Matthew 23:13 RSV).
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" (Matthew 23:23-24)
The lesson from the Pharisees' example is that self-righteousness is not righteousness, and that God's true people are to live according to all of God's Word, not just certain parts that are most convenient or to one's own liking.
The Sadducees were members of a Jewish sect founded in the second century BC, possibly as a political party. They ceased to exist sometime after the first century AD. The word Sadducee is possibly from the Hebrew Tsdoki צדוקי [sˤə.ðo.'qi], from which comes the alternate name Zadokites and other variants
The Hebrew name, Tsdoki, indicates their claim that they are the followers of the teachings of the High Priest Tsadok, often spelled Zadok, who anointed Solomon king at the start of the First Temple Period. F. Bruce claims that this explanation is unlikely since they make their début in history as supporters of the Hasmonaean high priests. He therefore suggests that 'Sadducees' (Heb. צַדּוּקִים) is a Hebraization of the Greek word συνδικοι sündikoi ('syndics', 'members of the council') and that it marks them out as the councillors of the Hasmonaeans; although they themselves came to associate the word with the Heb. צַדִּיק, 'righteous'.
Rabbinic tradition suggests that they were not named after the High Priest Zadok, but rather another Zadok (who may still have been a priest), who rebelled against the teachings of Antigonus of Soko, a government official of Judea in the 3rd century BCE and a predecessor of the Rabbinic tradition.
While little or none of their own writings have been preserved, the Sadducees seem to have indeed been a priestly group, associated with the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem. Possibly, Sadducees represent the aristocratic clan of the Hasmonean high priests, who replaced the previous high priestly lineage that had allowed the Syrian Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes to desecrate the Temple of Jerusalem with idolatrous sacrifices and to martyr monotheistic Jews. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the ousting of the Syrian forces, the rededication of the Temple, and the installment of the new Hasmonean priestly line. The Hasmoneans ruled as "priest-kings", claiming both titles high priest and king simultaneously, and like other aristocracies across the Hellenistic world became increasingly influenced by Hellenistic syncretism and Greek philosophies: presumably Stoicism, and apparently Epicureanism in the Talmudic tradition criticizing the anti-Torah philosophy of the "Apikorsus" אפיקורסוס (i.e., Epicurus) refers to the Hasmonean clan qua Sadducees. Like Epicureans, Sadducees rejected the existence of an afterlife, thus denied the Pharisaic doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead.
The Dead Sea Scrolls community, who are probably Essenes, were led by a high priestly leadership, who are thought to be the descendents of the "legitimate" high priestly lineage, which the Hasmoneans ousted. The Dead Sea Scrolls bitterly opposed the current high priests of the Temple. Since Hasmoneans constituted a different priestly line, it was in their political interest to emphasize their family's priestly pedigree that descended from their ancestor, the high priest Zadok, who had the authority to anoint the kingship of Solomon, son of David.
Most of what is known about the Sadducees comes from Josephus, who wrote that they were a quarrelsome group whose followers were wealthy and powerful, and that he considered them boorish in social interactions (see Josephus's Wars of the Jews, Book II, Chapter VIII, Paragraph 14). We know something of them from discussions in the Talmud (mainly the Jerusalem), the core work of rabbinic Judaism, which is based on the teachings of Pharisaic Judaism.
Sadducees rejected the Pharisaic tenet of an oral Torah, and created new interpretations based on a literal understanding of verses. In their personal lives this often meant an excessively stringent lifestyle from a Jewish perspective, as they did away with the oral tradition, and in turn the authentic Jewish understanding of the Torah. An example of this problematic approach is the interpretation of, "an eye for an eye". The Jewish understanding for centuries was that the value of an eye was to be sought by the perpetrator rather than actually removing his eye too. In their view the law was now to be taken literally. In other words, the Sadducees wished to change the Jewish understanding of the Torah.
R' Yitchak Isaac Halevi suggests that while there is evidence of a Sadducee sect from the times of Ezra, it emerged as major force only after the Hashmenite rebellion. The reason for this was not, in fact, a matter of religion. He claims that as complete rejection of Judaism would not have been tolerated under the Hasmonean rule, the Hellenists joined the Sadducees maintaining that they were rejecting not Judaism but Rabbinic law. Thus, the Sadducees were for the most part a political party and not a religious sect (Dorot Ha'Rishonim).
Schiffman also cites interpretations of the purity regulations which closely parallel Sadducean views recorded by the spiritual heirs of the Pharisees, who authored the Talmud. that there was an internal schism among those called "Sadducees" - some who rejected Angels, the Soul, and Resurrection - and some which accepted these teachings and the entirety of the Hebrew Bible.
In regard to criminal jurisdiction they were so rigorous that the day on which their code was abolished by the Pharisaic Sanhedrin under Simeon ben Shetah's leadership, during the reign of Salome Alexandra, was celebrated as a festival. The Sadducees are said to have insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth", which pharisaic Judaism, and later rabbinic Judaism, rejected. On the other hand, they would not inflict the death penalty on false witnesses in a case where capital punishment had been wrongfully carried out, unless the accused had been executed solely in consequence of the testimony of such witnesses.
According to the Talmud, they granted the daughter the same right of inheritance as the son in case the son was dead.(see chapter Yeish Nochalin of the Babylonain Talmud, tractate Bava Batra) Emet L' Yaakov explains that the focus of their argument was theological. The question was whether there is an afterlife (see above), and if there is, can the dead person be in the line of inheritance as if they were alive.
According to the Talmud, they contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering ("omer") to Shavuot (Pentecost in Christian reference) should, according to Leviticus 23:15-16, be counted from "the day after Sabbath," and, consequently, that Shavuot should always be celebrated on the first day of the week (Meg. Ta'an. i.; Men. 65a). In this they followed a literal reading of the Bible which regards the festival of the firstlings as having no direct connection with Passover, while the Pharisees, connecting the festival of the Exodus with the festival of the giving of the Law, interpreted the "morrow after the Sabbath" to signify the second day of Passover.
In regard to rituals at the Temple in Jerusalem:
They held that the daily burnt offerings were to be offered by the high priest at his own expense, whereas the Pharisees contended that they were to be furnished as a national sacrifice at the cost of the Temple treasury into which taxes were paid.
They held that the meal offering belonged to the priest's portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar.
They insisted on an especially high degree of purity in those who officiated at the preparation of the ashes of the Red Heifer. The Pharisees, by contrast, opposed such strictness.
They declared that the kindling of the incense in the vessel with which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was to take place outside, so that he might be wrapped in smoke while meeting the Shekhinah within, according to Lev. xvi. 2; whereas the Pharisees, denying the high priest the claim of such supernatural vision, insisted that the incense be kindled within.
They opposed the popular festivity of the water libation and the procession preceding it on each night of the Sukkot feast.
They opposed the Pharisaic assertion that the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures have, like any holy vessel, the power to render ritually unclean the hands that touch them.
They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the eruv, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath.
In dating all civil documents they used the phrase "after the high priest of the Most High," and they opposed the formula introduced by the Pharisees in divorce documents, "According to the law of Moses and Israel".
Ben Sira, one of the Deuterocanonical books, is believed by many scholars to have been by a Sadducee. (Note, the Talmud says clearly he was rejected by the Sadducees.)
 Reliability of claims
None of the writings we have about Sadducees present their own side of these controversies, and it is possible that positions attributed to "Sadducees" in later literature such as Josephus are meant as rhetorical foils for whatever opinion the author wishes to present, and do not in fact represent the teachings of the sect.  Yet, although these texts were written long after these periods, many scholars have said that they are a fairly reliable account of history during the Second Temple era.
 Legendary origin
Josephus relates nothing concerning the origin of the Sadducees; he knows only that the three "sects" — the Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees — dated back to "very ancient times" (Ant. xviii. 1, § 2), which point to a time prior to John Hyrcanus (ib. xiii. 8, § 6) or the Maccabean war (ib. xiii. 5, § 9).
Among the rabbis of the second century the following legend circulated: Antigonus of Soko, successor of Simeon the Just, the last of the Men of the Great Assembly, and consequently living at the time of the influx of Hellenistic ideas (i.e., Hellenization), taught the maxim, "Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of a reward, but be rather like those who serve without thought of receiving a reward" (Avot 1:3); whereupon two of his disciples, Zadok and Boethus, mistaking the high ethical purport of the maxim, arrived at the conclusion that there was no future retribution, saying, "What servant would work all day without obtaining his due reward in the evening?" Instantly they broke away from the Law and lived in great luxury, using many silver and gold vessels at their banquets; and they established schools which declared the enjoyment of this life to be the goal of man, at the same time pitying the Pharisees for their bitter privation in this world with no hope of another world to compensate them. These two schools were called, after their founders, Sadducees and Boethusians.
 New Testament/Greek Scriptures
The Sadducees are mentioned in the New Testament/Greek Scriptures of the Christian Bible. The Gospel of Matthew indicates that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Matthew 22:29, 31-32 says:
29 In reply Jesus said to them: “You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God ...  ... 31 As regards the resurrection of the dead, did you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”
The Acts of the Apostles likewise indicates that Sadducees did not share the Pharisees’ belief in a resurrection; Paul starts a conflict during his trial, by claiming that his accusers were motivated by his advocacy of the doctrine of the resurrection (in an aside, Acts 23:8 asserts that “The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three”).
The End of the Sadducees
Being associated closely with the Temple in Jerusalem, after the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the Sadducees vanish from history as a group. There is, however, some evidence that Sadducees survived as a minority group within Judaism up until early medieval times. In refutations of Sadducean beliefs, Karaite Sages such as Ya'akov al-Qirqisani quoted one of their texts, which was called Sefer Zadok. Translations into English of some of these quotes can be found in Zvi Cahn's "Rise of the Karaite sect".
From the Hebrew Encyclopedia
Name from High Priest Zadok.
Name given to the party representing views and practises of the Law and interests of Temple and priesthood directly opposite to those of the Pharisees. The singular form, "Ẓadduḳi" (Greek, Σαδδουκαῖος), is an adjective denoting "an adherent of the Bene Ẓadoḳ," the descendants of Zadok, the high priests who, tracing their pedigree back to Zadok, the chief of the priesthood in the days of David and Solomon (I Kings i. 34, ii. 35; I Chron. xxix. 22), formed the Temple hierarchy all through the time of the First and Second Temples down to the days of Ben Sira (II Chron. xxxi. 10; Ezek. xl. 46, xliv. 15, xlviii. 11; Ecclus. [Sirach] li. 12 , Hebr.), but who degenerated under the influence of Hellenism, especially during the rule of the Seleucidæ, when to be a follower of the priestly aristocracy was tantamount to being a worldly-minded Epicurean. The name, probably coined by the Ḥasidim as opponents of the Hellenists, became in the course of time a party name applied to all the aristocratic circles connected with the high priests by marriage and other social relations, as only the highest patrician families intermarried with the priests officiating at the Temple in Jerusalem (Ḳid. iv. 5; Sanh. iv. 2; comp. Josephus, "B. J." ii. 8, § 14). "Haughty men these priests are, saying which woman is fit to be married by us, since our father is high priest, our uncles princes and rulers, and we presiding officers at the Temple"—these words, put into the mouth of Nadab and Abihu (Tan., Aḥare Mot, ed. Buber, 7; Pesiḳ. 172b; Midr. Teh. to Ps. lxxviii. 18), reflect exactly the opinion prevailing among the Pharisees concerning the Sadducean priesthood (comp. a similar remark about the "haughty" aristocracy of Jerusalem in Shab. 62b). The Sadducees, says Josephus, have none but the rich on their side ("Ant." xiii. 10, § 6). The party name was retained long after the Zadokite high priests had made way for the Hasmonean house and the very origin of the name had been forgotten. Nor is anything definite known about the political and religious views of the Sadducees except what is recorded by their opponents in the works of Josephus, in the Talmudic literature, and in the New Testament writings.
Josephus relates nothing concerning the origin of what he chooses to call the sect or philosophical school of the Sadducees; he knows only that the three "sects"—the Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees—dated back to "very ancient times" (ib. xviii. 1, § 2), which words, written from the point of view of King Herod's days, necessarily point to a time prior to John Hyrcanus (ib. xiii. 8, § 6) orthe Maccabean war (ib. xiii. 5, § 9). Among the Rabbis the following legend circulated: Antigonus of Soko, successor of Simon the Just, the last of the "Men of the Great Synagogue," and consequently living at the time of the influx of Hellenistic ideas, taught the maxim, "Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of wages [lit. "a morsel"], but be rather like those who serve without thought of receiving wages" (Ab. i. 3); whereupon two of his disciples, Zadok and Boethus, mistaking the high ethical purport of the maxim, arrived at the conclusion that there was no future retribution, saying, "What servant would work all day without obtaining his due reward in the evening?" Instantly they broke away from the Law and lived in great luxury, using many silver and gold vessels at their banquets; and they established schools which declared the enjoyment of this life to be the goal of man, at the same time pitying the Pharisees for their bitter privation in this world with no hope of another world to compensate them. These two schools were called, after their founders, Sadducees and Boethusians (Ab. R. N. v.).
The unhistorical character of this legend is shown by the simple fact, learned from Josephus, that the Boethusians represent the family of high priests created by King Herod after his marriage to the daughter of Simon, the son of Boethus ("Ant." xv. 9, § 3; xix. 6, § 2; see Boethusians). Obviously neither the character of the Sadducees nor that of the Boethusians was any longer known at the time the story was told in the rabbinical schools. Nor does the attempt to connect the name "Sadducees" with the term "ẓedeḳ" or " ẓedaḳah" (= "righteousness"; Epiphanius, "Panarium," i. 14; Derenbourg, "Histoire de la Palestine," p. 454) deserve any more consideration than the creation by Grätz ("Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 88, 697) and others, for the purpose of accounting for the name, of a heretic leader called Zadok. Geiger's ingenious explanation ("Urschrift," pp. 20 et seq.), as given above, indorsed by Well-hausen ("Die Pharisäer und die Sadducäer," p. 45), is very generally approved to-day (see Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., ii. 408); and it has received striking confirmation from the special blessing for "the Sons of Zadok whom God has chosen for the priesthood" in the Hebrew Ben Sira discovered by Schechter (see Schechter and Taylor, "Wisdom of Ben Sira," 1899, p.35). In the New Testament the high priests and their party are identified with the Sadducees (Acts v. 17; comp. ib. xxiii. 6 with ib. xxii. 30, and John vii. 30, xi. 47, xviii. 3 with the Synoptic Gospels; see also "Ant." xx. 9, § 1).
The views and principles of the Sadducees may be summarized as follows: (1)
Representing the nobility, power, and wealth ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 4), they had centered their interests in political life, of which they were the chief rulers. Instead of sharing the 'Messianic hopes of the Pharisees, who committed the future into the hand of God, they took the people's destiny into their own hands, fighting or negotiating with the heathen nations just as they thought best, while having as their aim their own temporary welfare and worldly success. This is the meaning of what Josephus chooses to term their disbelief in fate and divine providence ("B. J." ii. 8, § 14; "Ant." xiii. 5 § 9).(2)
As the logical consequence of the preceding view, they would not accept the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection (Sanh. 90b; Mark xii. 12; Ber. ix. 5, "Minim"), which was a national rather than an individual hope. As to the immortality of the soul, they seem to have denied this as well (see Hippolytus, "Refutatio," ix. 29; "Ant." x. 11, § 7).(3)
According to Josephus (ib. xiii. 10, § 6), they regarded only those observances as obligatory which are contained in the written word, and did not recognize those not written in the law of Moses and declared by the Pharisees to be derived from the traditions of the fathers. Instead of accepting the authority of the teachers, they considered it a virtue to dispute it by arguments.(4)
According to Acts xxiii. 8, they denied also the existence of angels and demons. This probably means that they did not believe in the Essene practise of incantation and conjuration in cases of disease, and were therefore not concerned with the Angelology and Demonology derived from Babylonia and Persia.
Their Views and Principles.(5)
In regard to criminal jurisdiction they were so rigorous that the day on which their code was abolished by the Pharisaic Sanhedrin under Simeon b. Shetaḥ's leadership, during the reign of Salome Alexandra, was celebrated as a festival (Meg. Ta'an. iv.; comp. Ket. 105a). They insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Ex. xxi. 24; Meg. Ta'an. iv.; B. Ḳ. 84a; comp. Matt. v. 38). On the other hand, they would not inflict the death penalty on false witnesses in a case where capital punishment had been wrongfully carried out, unless the accused had been executed solely in consequence of the testimony of such witnesses (Mak. i. 8; Tosef., Sanh. vi. 6, where "Bocthusians" stands for "Sadducees").(6)
They held the owner of a slave fully as responsible for the damage done by the latter as for that done by the owner's ox or ass; whereas the Pharisees discriminated between reasonable and unreasonable beings (Yad. iv. 7).(7)
They also insisted, according to Meg. Ta'an. iv., upon a literal interpretation of Deut. xxii. 17 (comp. Sifre, Deut. 237; Ket. 46; see also the description of the custom still obtaining at weddings among the Jews of Salonica, in Braun-Wiesbaden's "Eine Türkische Reise," 1876, p. 235), while most of the Pharisaic teachers took the words figuratively. The same holds true in regard to Deut. xxv. 9: "Then shall his brother's wife . . . spit in his [her deceased husband's brother's] face," which the Pharisees explained as "before him" (Yeb. xii. 6; see Weiss, "Dor," i. 117, note).(8)
They followed a traditional practise of their own in granting the daughter the same right of inheritance as the son's daughter in case the son was dead (Meg. Ta'an. v.; Tos. Yad. ii. 20; B. B. viii. 1, 115b).(9)
They contended that the seven weeks from the first barley-sheaf-offering ("'omer") to Pentecost should, according to Lev. xxiii. 15-16, be countedfrom "the day after Sabbath," and, consequently, that Pentecost should always be celebrated on the first day of the week (Meg. Ta'an. i.; Men. 65a). In this they obviously followed the old Biblical view which regards the festival of the firstlings as having no connection whatsoever with the Passover feast; whereas the Pharisees, connecting the festival of the Exodus with the festival of the giving of the Law, interpreted the "morrow after the Sabbath" to signify the second day of Passover (see Jubilees, Book of).
Views on Temple Practises.(10)
Especially in regard to the Temple practise did they hold older views, based upon claims of greater sanctity for the priesthood and of its sole dominion over the sanctuary. Thus they insisted that the daily burnt offerings were, with reference to the singular used in Num. xxviii. 4, to be offered by the high priest at his own expense; whereas the Pharisees contended that they were to be furnished as a national sacrifice at the cost of the Temple treasury into which the "she-ḳalim" collected from the whole people were paid (Meg. Ta'an. i. 1; Men. 65b; Sheḳ. iii. 1, 3; Grätz, l.c. p. 694).(11)
They claimed that the meal offering belonged to the priest's portion; whereas the Pharisees claimed it for the altar (Meg. Ta'an. viii.; Men. vi. 2).(12)
They insisted on an especially high degree of purity in those who officiated at the preparation of the ashes of the Red Heifer. The Pharisees, on the contrary, demonstratively opposed such strictness (Parah iii. 7; Tos. Parah iii. 1-8).(13)
They declared that the kindling of the incense in the vessel with which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement was to take place outside, so that he might be wrapped in smoke while meeting the Shekinah within, according to Lev. xvi. 2; whereas the Pharisees, denying the high priest the claim of such super-natural vision, insisted that the incense be kindled within (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, 3; Yoma 19b, 53a, b; Yer. Yoma i. 39a, b; comp. Lev. R. xxi. 11).(14)
They extended the power of contamination to indirect as well as to direct contact (Yad. iv. 7).(15)
They opposed the popular festivity of the water libation and the procession preceding the same on each night of the Sukkot feast, as well as the closing festivity, on which the Pharisees laid much stress, of the beating of the willow-trees (Suk. 43b, 48b; Tos. Suk. iii. 16; comp. "Ant." xiii. 13, § 5).(16)
They opposed the Pharisaic assertion that the scrolls of the Holy Scriptures have, like any holy vessel, the power to render unclean (taboo) the hands that touch them (Yad. iv. 6).(17)
They opposed the Pharisaic idea of the 'Erub, the merging of several private precincts into one in order to admit of the carrying of food and vessels from one house to another on the Sabbath ('Er. vi. 2).(18)
In dating all civil documents they used the phrase "after the high priest of the Most High," and they opposed the formula introduced by the Pharisees in divorce documents," According to the law of Moses and Israel" (Meg. Ta'an. vii.; Yad. iv. 8; see Geiger, l.c. p. 34).
Decline of Sadduceeism.
Whether the Sadducees were less strict in regard to the state of impurity of woman in her periods (Niddah iv. 2), and what object they had in opposing the determination by the Pharisees of the appearance of the new moon (R. H. ii. 1, 22b; Tos. R. H. i. 15), are not clear. Certain it is that in the time of the Tannaim the real issues between them and the Pharisees were forgotten, only scholastic controversies being recorded. In the latter the Sadducees are replaced by the late Boethusians, who had, only for the sake of opposition, maintained certain Sadducean traditions without a proper understanding of the historical principles upon which they were based. In fact, as Josephus ("Ant." xviii. 1, § 3) states in common with the Talmudical sources (Yoma 19b; Niddah 33b), the ruling members of the priesthood of later days were forced by public opinion to yield to the Pharisaic doctors of the Law, who stood so much higher in the people's esteem. In the course of time the Sadducees themselves adopted without contradiction Pharisaic practises; it is stated (Shab. 108a) that they did so in regard to the tefillin, and many other observances appear to have been accepted by them (Hor. 4a; Sanh. 33b).
With the destruction of the Temple and the state the Sadducees as a party no longer had an object for which to live. They disappear from history, though their views are partly maintained and echoed by the Samaritans, with whom they are frequently identified (see Hippolytus, "Refutatio Hæresium," ix. 29; Epiphanius, l.c. xiv.; and other Church Fathers, who ascribe to the Sadducees the rejection of the Prophets and the Hagiographa; comp. also Sanh. 90b, where "Ẓadduḳim" stands for "Kutim" [Samaritans]; Sifre, Num. 112; Geiger, l.c. pp. 128-129), and by the Karaites (see Maimonides, commentary on Ab. i. 3; Geiger, "Gesammelte Schriften," iii. 283-321; also Anan ben David; Karaites).
The Book of Ecclesiastes in its original form, that is, before its Epicurean spirit had been toned down by interpolations, was probably written by a Sadducee in antagonism to the Ḥasidim (Eccl. vii. 16, ix. 2; see P. Haupt, "Koheleth," 1905; Grätz, "Koheleth," 1871, p. 30). The Wisdom of Ben Sira, which, like Ecclesiastes and older Biblical writings, has no reference whatsoever to the belief in resurrection or immortality, is, according to Geiger, a product of Sadducean circles ("Z. D. M. G." xii. 536). This view is partly confirmed by the above-cited blessing of "the Sons of Zadok" (Hebrew Ben Sira, li. 129; see also C. Taylor, "Sayings of the Fathers," 1897, p. 115). Also the first Book of Maccabees is, according to Geiger (l.c. pp. 217 et seq.), the work of a Sadducee. Allusion to the Sadducees as "sinners" is found in the Psalms of Solomon (i. 1, iv. 1-10); they are "severe in judgment" (comp. "Ant." xiii. 10, § 6; xx. 9, § 1), "yet themselves full of sin, of lust, and hypocrisy"; "men pleasers," "yet full of evil desires" (ib. viii. 8; see H. E. Ryle and M. R. James, "Psalms of the Pharisees Commonly Called 'Psalms of Solomon,'" 1891, xlvi.-xlviii. and elsewhere; Kautzsch, "Apokryphen," pp. 128 et seq.). Still more distinctly are the Sadducees described in the Book of Enoch (xciv. 5-9, xcvii.-xcviii., xcix. 2, civ. 10) as: "the men of unrighteousness who trust in their riches"; "sinners who transgress and pervert the eternal law." Sadducees, if not in name, at least in their Epicurean views as opposed to the saints, are depicted also in the Book of Wisdom (i. 16-ii. 22), where the Hellenistic nobility, which occupied high positions likewise in Alexandria, is addressed.
In the New Testament the Sadducees are mentioned in Matt. iii. 7 and xvi. 1, 6, 11, where they are identical with the Herodians (Mark xii. 13), that is, the Boethusians (Matt. xxii. 23, 34; Mark xii. 18; Acts iv. 1, v. 17, xxiii. 6-8). In John's Gospel they simply figure as "the chief priests" (vii. 23, 45; xi. 47, 57; xviii. 3).
In rabbinical literature careful discrimination must be made between the tannaitic period and that of the Amoraim. The Mishnah and Baraita in the passages quoted above indicate at least a fair knowledge of the character and doctrines of the Sadducees (see, for instance, R. Akiba in Yoma 40b), even though the names "Boethusians" and "Sadducees" occur promiscuously (see Grätz, "Gesch." iii. 693, and Boethusians). In the amoraic period the name "Ẓadduḳi" signifies simply "heretic," exactly like the term "min" = "gnostic"; in fact, copyists sometimes replaced, it may be intentionally, the word "min" by "Ẓadduḳi," especially when Christian gnostics were referred to. However, in many cases in which "Ẓadduḳim" stands for "minim" in the later Talmud editions the change was due to censorship laws, as is shown by the fact that the manuscripts and older editions actually have the word "minim." Thus the Ẓadduḳi who troubled R. Joshua b. Levi with Biblical arguments (Ber. 7a; Sanh. 105b), the one who argued with R. Abbahu and Beruriah, (Ber. 10a), the one who bothered R. Ishmael with his dreams (ib. 56b), and the one who argued with R. Ḥanina concerning the Holy Land in the Messianic time (Giṭ. 57a; Ket. 112a) and regarding Jesus ("Balaam," Sanh. 106b), were Christian gnostics; so were also the two Ẓadduḳim in the company of R. Abbahu (Suk. 48b). But the Ẓadduḳim who argue in favor of dualism (Sanh. 37a [the original version of the Mishnah had "apikoresin" or "minim"], 38b-39a; Ḥul. 87 a) are gnostics or Jewish heretics, as are also those spoken of as "a vile people" (Yeb. 63b). "Birkat ha-minim," the benediction against Christian informers and gnostics, is called also "Birkat ha-Ẓadduḳim" (Ber. 28b, 29a). "The writings of the Ẓadduḳim" (Shab. 116a) are gnostic writings, the same as "Sefarim Ḥiẓonim" (Sanh. x. 1; "Sifre ha-Minim," Tos. Shab. xiii. 5). So it is said of Adam that he was a Ẓadduḳi, that is, a gnostic who did not believe in God as the Giver of the Law (Sanh. 38b). "The Ẓadduḳim and informers" (Derek Ereẓ Rabbah ii.; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa i.) are Christian gnostics. In Hor. 11a a Ẓadduḳi is declared to be a transgressor of the dietary and other Mosaic laws, nay, an idolater. On the other hand, the Ẓadduḳim who conversed with Rab Sheshet (Ber. 58a), with Raba (Shab. 88a), and with R. Judah (Ned. 49b) seem to have been Manicheans.