This name was applied in the time of Jesus to a portion or sect of the Jews, who were usually at variance with the other leading sect, namely, the Pharisees, but united with them in opposing Jesus and accomplishing his death, Mt 16:1-12; Lu 20:27. The name would seem to be derived from a Hebrew word signifying the just; but the Talmudists affirm that it comes from a certain Sadoc, or Sadducus, who was the founder of the sect, and lived about three centuries before the Christian era. The Sadducees disregarded all the traditions and unwritten laws which the Pharisees prized so highly, and professed to consider the Scriptures as the only source and rule of the Jewish religion. They rejected the demonology of the Pharisees; denied the existence of angles and spirits; considered the soul as dying with the body, and of course admitted no future state of rewards and punishments, Mt 22:23. While, moreover, the Pharisees believed that all events and actions were directed by an overruling providence or fate, the Sadducees considered them all as depending on the will and agency of man. The tenets of these freethinking philosophers were not, in general, so acceptable to the people as those of the Pharisees; yet many of the highest rank adopted them, and practiced great severity of manners and of life. Many members of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees, Ac 23:6-9; and so was the high priest in the time of Christ seems to have added bitterness to their hatred of Christianity, Ac 4:1; 5:17.
The origin of this Jewish sect cannot definitely be traced. It was probably the outcome of the influence of Grecian customs and philosophy during the period of Greek domination. The first time they are met with is in connection with John the Baptist's ministry. They came out to him when on the banks of the Jordan, and he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Mt 3:7.) The next time they are spoken of they are represented as coming to our Lord tempting him. He calls them "hypocrites" and "a wicked and adulterous generation" (Mt 16:1-4; 22:23). The only reference to them in the Gospels of Mark (Mr 12:18-27) and Luke (Lu 20:27-38) is their attempting to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection, which they denied, as they also denied the existence of angels. They are never mentioned in John's Gospel.
There were many Sadducees among the "elders" of the Sanhedrin. They seem, indeed, to have been as numerous as the Pharisees (Ac 23:6). They showed their hatred of Jesus in taking part in his condemnation (Mt 16:21; 26:1-3,59; Mr 8:31; 15:1; Lu 9:22; 22:66). They endeavoured to prohibit the apostles from preaching the resurrection of Christ (Ac 2:24,31-32; 4:1-2; 5:17,24-28). They were the deists or sceptics of that age. They do not appear as a separate sect after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Mt 3:7; 6/1'>16:1,6,11-12; 22:23,34; Mr 12:18; Lu 20:27; Ac 4:1; 5:17; 23:6-8. Matthew (as distinguished from Mark) does not usually explain Jewish usages, taking for granted that his readers are familiar with them. His deviating from his wont to explain "the S. say there is no resurrection" is cleared up by what Josephus (Ant. 18:1, section 4) states "the doctrine of the Sadducees is that the soul and body perish together; the law is all that they are concerned to, observe; this doctrine however has not many followers, but those of the highest rank, ... almost nothing of public business falls into their hands." See also his B. J., ii. 8, section 14. Thus the Jews might easily be ill informed as to the dogmas of a sect, small in numbers, raised above those masses to whom Matthew addresses himself, and to whom therefore his information would not have been superfluous.
Another undesigned coincidence, confirming the sacred writers accuracy, is that the opposition to Christ in the Gospels is almost exclusively on the part of the Pharisees (Mt 23:29,32; Joh 11:57; 18:3) and His denunciations are mainly against these; but in Acts on the part of the Sadducees (Ac 4:1; 5:17; 23:6,8). Why so? Because the resurrection of the dead (the doctrine denied by the Sadducees), which was scarcely understood during the Gospels' period (Mr 9:10), became the leading doctrine of Christianity in connection with the apostles' witness for Christ's resurrection at the time described in Ac 1:22; 2:32; 3:12; 4:2 (Greek "preached in the person of Jesus the resurrection from the dead"), Ac 4:10; 5:31; 10:40; and was therefore bitterly opposed by the Sadducees.
John never mentions them, and no writing of theirs has come down to us. They denied the oral and upheld the written law. Rabbi Nathan (first mentioned in the Aruch, a rabbiical dictionary, A.D. 1105) states that Antigonus of Socho (mentioned in the Mishna, Avoth 1, as having received the oral law from Simon the Just, last of the great synagogue). had two disciples, who in turn taught disciples his saying "be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of reward, but serve without view of reward"; and that the disciples reasoned, "if our fathers had known that there is another world, and a resurrection of the dead, they would not have spoken thus"; so they separated themselves from the law (and denied there is another world and a resurrection); "so there arose two sects, the Zadokites from Zadok, and Baithusians from Baithos." But this does not justify the modern notion that Zadok himself misinterpreted Antigonus' saying; still the Sadducees might claim this Zadok as their head.
But the Zadok from whom the Sadducees are named may be rather the famous Zadok who superseded Abiathar under Solomon (1Ki 2:35); "the house of Zadok," "the sons of Zadok," "the seed of Zadok" are named with preeminent honour in 2Ch 31:10; Eze 40:46; 42:19; 44:15; 48:11; so they became a kind of sacerdotal aristocracy, including the high priests' families; compare Mishna, Sanhed. iv. 2, which ordains that only priests, Levites, and Israelites whose daughters might marry priests, were "clean" so as to be judges in capital trials; also Ac 5:17, "the high-priest, and all that were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees." Besides their reasonable denial of an oral law, which the Pharisees maintained was transmitted by Moses, the Sadducees denied the resurrection because it is not explicitly stated in Moses' Pentateuch, the legislator's sanctions of the law being primarily temporal rewards and punishments (Ex 20:12; 23:25-26; De 7:12-15; 28:1-12,15-68).
Christ (Mt 22:31-32; Lu 20:37) however shows that even Ex 3:6,16 suffices to prove the resurrection; and Hebrew 11 quotes the patriarchs as examples of a faith which looked beyond the present for eternal rewards. Job (Job 19:26), Isaiah (Isa 26:19), Daniel (Da 12:2), and David (Psalm 16; Psalm 17) express the same faith, the germ of which is in the Pentateuch (See RESURRECTION.) The Pharisees, though wrong in maintaining oral tradition as obligatory, yet preserved in respect to the resurrection the faith of the fathers. In Ac 23:8 "the Sadducees" are said to disbelieve in "angel or spirit"; but angels are often introduced in the Pentateuch, which the Sadducees admitted (Ge 16:7; 19:1; 22:11; 28:12; Ex 23:20; Nu 22:23); and Josephus and the Mishna do not mention their disbelief of angels.
Probably it is only their disbelief of angelic communications to men in their time, such as the Pharisees suggested (Ac 23:9) may have been made to Paul, that the Sadducees denied. Josephus states, "the Pharisees say that some things are the work of fate (he should have said God's providence; he uses the Roman mode of expression), but others in our own power to be or not to be; the Essenes, that fate rules all things. The Sadducees make all things in the power of ourselves as the causes of our good things, and meeting with evils through our own inconsiderateness" (Ant. 18:1, section 3; B. J. 2:8, section 14).
The Sadducees, though giving paramount authority to Moses' Pentateuch, did not as Epiphanius asserts (Haer. 14) reject the other Scriptures; for Josephus would certainly have mentioned it were it so. After the fall of Jerusalem the Sadducees doctrine disappeared, the afflicted Jews instinctively turning for consolation from the sad present to the bright hope of an eternal future life. The Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Herodians of Jesus' day represent the three schools antagonistic to vital Christianity in our days: infidelity; superstition, spiritualism and spiritual pride; worldly compromise. This "leaven" (see Le 2:11; 1Co 5:8) Jesus warns against; called "doctrine" in Mt 16:12, "hypocrisy" in Lu 12:1, "the leaven of Herod" Mr 8:15; Antichrist's antitrinity, the three frogs out of the mouth of the dragon, the false prophet, and the beast (Re 16:13-14).
Probably the name 'Sadducee' is derived from the name Zadok, a notable priest in the time of David and Solomon (2Sa 8:17; 15:24; 1Ki 1:34). His descendants long played the leading part among the priests, so that Ezekiel regarded them as the only legitimate priests (Eze 40:46; 43:19; 44:15; 48:11). The name indicates the fact that is most decisive for the right understanding of the Sadducees. About the year 200 b.c., when party lines were beginning to be drawn, the name was chosen to point out the party of the priests. That is not saying that no priest could be a Pharisee or a Scribe. Neither is it saying that all the priests were Sadducees. In our Lord's time many of the poor priests were Pharisees. But the higher priestly families and the priests as a body were Sadducees. With them were joined the majority of the aristocratic lay families of Jud
Next to the Pharisees, the Sadducees were the most prominent sect of the Jews. The Pharisees made proselytes, but the Sadducees were much more exclusive, and therefore remained fewer in number. They did not believe in the resurrection, nor in angels, nor in spirits: they held that the soul perished with the body. Mt 22:23; Ac 4:1-2; 23:8. Though strict in regard to the written law of Moses, they repudiated the traditions of the elders, or what is called the oral law. They believed that God punished a man's sins during his life, and that man's will was free, and he had power to restrain his passions. In consequence of this they were severe judges. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples against their doctrines, and denounced them as the 'offspring of vipers.' The tenets of the modern rationalists have much in common with the Sadducees.
(followers of Zadok),
a religious party or school among the Jews at the time of Christ, who denied that the oral law was a revelation of God to the Israelites. and who deemed the written law alone to be obligatory on the nation, as of divine authority. Except on one occasion.
Christ never assailed the Sadducees with the same bitter denunciations which he uttered against the Pharisees. The origin of their name is involved in great difficulties, but the most satisfactory conjecture is that the Sadducees or Zadokites were originally identical with the sons of Zadok, and constituted what may be termed a kind of sacerdotal aristocracy, this Zadok being the priest who declared in favor of Solomon when Abiathar took the part of Adonijah.
To these sons of Zadok were afterward attached all who for any reason reckoned themselves as belonging to the aristocrats; such, for example, as the families of the high priest, who had obtained consideration under the dynasty of Herod. These were for the most part judges, and individuals of the official and governing class. This explanation elucidates at once
The leading tenet of the Sadducees was the negation of the leading tenet of their opponents. As the Pharisees asserted so the Sadducees denied, that the Israelites were in possession of an oral law transmitted to them by Moses, [PHARISEES] In opposition to the Pharisees, they maintained that the written law alone was obligatory on the nation, as of divine authority. The second distinguishing doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of man's resurrection after death. In connection with the disbelief of a resurrection by the Sadducees, they likewise denied there was "angel or spirit,"
and also the doctrines of future punishment and future rewards. Josephus states that the Sadducees believed in the freedom of the will, which the Pharisees denied. They pushed this doctrine so far as almost to exclude God from the government of the world. Some of the early Christian writers attribute to the Sadducees the rejection of all the sacred Scriptures except the Pentateuch; a statement, however, that is now generally admitted to have been founded on a misconception of the truth, and it seems to have arisen from a confusion of the Sadducees with the Samaritans. An important fact in the history of the Sadducees is their rapid disappearance from history after the first century, and the subsequent predominance among the Jews of the opinions of the Pharisees. Two circumstances contributed, indirectly but powerfully, to produce this result: 1st. The state of the Jews after the capture of Jerusalem by Titus; and 2d. The growth of the Christian religion. As to the first point, it is difficult to overestimate the consternation and dismay which the destruction of Jerusalem occasioned in the minds of sincerely-religious Jews. In their hour of darkness and anguish they naturally turned to the consolations and hopes of a future state; and the doctrine of the Sadducees, that there was nothing beyond the present life, would have appeared to them cold, heartless and hateful. Again, while they were sunk in the lowest depths of depression, a new religion, which they despised as a heresy and a superstition, was gradually making its way among the subjects of their detested conquerors, the Romans. One of the causes of its success was undoubtedly the vivid belief in the resurrection of Jesus and a consequent resurrection of all mankind, which was accepted by its heathen converts with a passionate earnestness of which those who at the present day are familiar from infancy with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead call form only a faint idea. To attempt to chock the progress of this new religion among the Jews by an appeal to the temporary rewards and punishments of the Pentateuch would have been as idle as an endeavor to check an explosive power by ordinary mechanical restraints. Consciously, therefore, or unconsciously, many circumstances combined to induce the Jews who were not Pharisees, but who resisted the new heresy, to rally round the standard of the oral law, and to assert that their holy legislator, Moses, had transmitted to his faithful people by word of mouth, although not in writing, the revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments.
SADDUCEES, a sect among the Jews. It is said that the principles of the Sadducees were derived from Antigonus Sochaeus, president of the sanhedrim, about B.C. 250, who, rejecting the traditionary doctrines of the scribes, taught that man ought to serve God out of pure love, and not from hope of reward, or fear of punishment; and that they derived their name from Sadoc, one of his followers, who, mistaking or perverting this doctrine, maintained that there was no future state of rewards and punishments. Whatever foundation there may be for this account of the origin of the sect, it is certain, that in the time of our Saviour the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead, Ac 23:8, and the existence of angels and spirits, or souls of departed men; though, as Mr. Hume observes, it is not easy to comprehend how they could at the same time admit the authority of the law of Moses. They carried their ideas of human freedom so far as to assert that men were absolutely masters of their own actions, and at full liberty to do either good or evil. Josephus even says that they denied the essential difference between good and evil; and, though they believed that God created and preserved the world, they seem to have denied his particular providence. These tenets, which resemble the Epicurean philosophy, led, as might be expected, to great profligacy of life; and we find the licentious wickedness of the Sadducees frequently condemned in the New Testament; yet they professed themselves obliged to observe the Mosaic law, because of the temporal rewards and punishments annexed to such observance; and hence they were always severe in their punishment of any crimes which tended to disturb the public tranquillity. The Sadducees rejected all tradition, and some authors have contended that they admitted only the books of Moses; but there seems no ground for that opinion, either in the Scriptures or in any ancient writer. Even Josephus, who was himself a Pharisee, and took every opportunity of reproaching the Sadducees, does not mention that they rejected any part of the Scriptures; he only says that "The Pharisees have delivered to the people many institutions as received from the fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses. For this reason the Sadducees reject these things, asserting that those things are binding which are written, but that the things received by tradition from the fathers are not to be observed." Beside, it is generally believed that the Sadducees expected the Messiah with great impatience, which seems to imply their belief in the prophecies, though they misinterpreted their meaning. Confining all their hopes to this present world, enjoying its riches, and devoting themselves to its pleasures, they might well be particularly anxious that their lot of life should be cast in the splendid reign of this expected temporal king, with the hope of sharing in his conquests and glory; but this expectation was so contrary to the lowly appearance of our Saviour, that they joined their inveterate enemies, the Pharisees, in persecuting him and his religion. Josephus says, that the Sadducees were able to draw over to them the rich only, the people not following them; and he elsewhere mentions that this sect spread chiefly among the young. The Sadducees were far less numerous than the Pharisees, but they were in general persons of greater opulence and dignity. The council before whom our Saviour and St. Paul were carried consisted partly of Pharisees and partly of Sadducees.