The Sadducees

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

In the Bible, the Sadducees were another influential religious group during the time of Jesus. Like the Pharisees, they were one of the Jewish sects or parties that existed in the first century AD. However, the Sadducees differed from the Pharisees in terms of their beliefs, practices, and social standing.

The Sadducees were primarily composed of the priestly aristocracy and the wealthy elite. They held significant influence in the religious and political affairs of Judea, particularly within the Temple hierarchy in Jerusalem. The Sadducees accepted only the authority of the written Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) and did not recognize the oral traditions and additional regulations upheld by the Pharisees.

The Sadducees rejected certain theological beliefs held by other Jewish groups, such as the:

belief in the resurrection of the dead,

the existence of angels, and the

concept of an afterlife.

They focused more on maintaining the Temple rituals and collaborating with the Roman authorities to preserve their own privileged status and stability in society.

In the New Testament, the Sadducees are often portrayed as adversaries of Jesus. They challenged him on matters of theology and sought to discredit him. For instance, they questioned him about the resurrection and posed hypothetical scenarios to challenge his teachings. Like the Pharisees, the depiction of the Sadducees in the New Testament should be understood in the specific context of Jesus’ interactions with certain individuals and groups, rather than as a comprehensive representation of all Sadducees.