695. The Sadducees

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The time when the Sadducees appeared as a party among the Jews is unknown. It is generally supposed that they had their origin about the same time as the Pharisees. The derivation of the name is a matter of dispute. Some derive it from the Hebrew tsedek, “righteousness,” and suppose that the name was given because of their piety. Others say that the Sadducees were organized by Zadoc, a scholar of Antigonus Socho, president of the Sanhedrim, and a disciple of Simon the Just. This Zadoc died B.C. 263, and from him the name Sadducee is thought to be derived. Others seek a derivation from Zadok the priest, who lived in the time of David. See I Kings 1:32.
The vital point of difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees was in their opinion of the Law. The Sadducees rejected the traditionary interpretations of the law, to which the Pharisees attached so much importance. They did not believe in any Oral Law as a supplement to the Written Law, but they took the Hebrew Scriptures, with the authoritative explanations which were developed in tilt, course of time, as the only rule c’ faith and practice. They sculpted those, traditional explanations of the law which could be deduced from the Scriptures, but rejected all which the Pharisees, without authority, had added. In some respects they were more rigid interpreters of the law than the Pharisees. A number of illustrations of this are given by Dr. Ginsburg, in his article on “Sadducees,” in Kim's Cyclopedia.
The Sadducees denied the doctrine of the resurrection because they considered there was no proof of it in the Hebrew Scriptures. Whether they also denied the soul’s immortality, as is commonly represented, is a point on which critics are not agreed. The statement in Acts 23:88For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:8), is sometimes adduced as proof of this denial: “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” It is claimed, however, that this does not show that the Sadducees did not believe in angelic or spiritual existence, but that they did not believe in any manifestation of the angels or spirits to human beings in their own day. Reuss, in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie, s., v. Sadducaer, suggests that the ninth verse gives a key to the interpretation of the eighth. The Pharisaic scribes there admit the possibility of a spirit or an angel having spoken to Paul. The Sadducees might easily deny the reality of such appearances in their day without denying the actual existence of such beings, or the accounts of their appearances which are given in the Old Testament. This opinion is adopted by Twistleton in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, and also by Dr. Milligan in Fairbairn's Imperial Bible Dictionary.
The Sadducees were not so numerous as the Pharisees, nor were their doctrines so acceptable to the people. They were an ancient priestly to aristocracy, having considerable wealth and great political power. From Acts 5:1717Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, (Acts 5:17), compared with 4:6, it has been inferred that many of the kindred of the high priest at that time, as well as himself, were of the Sadducean party, and that probably the priestly families in general belonged to them. They were too cold and austere in their manners to make many converts, and disappeared from history about the close of the First Century of the Christian era.