Re: [John_Lit] Secular Sadducees?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2001 7:05 AM
Subject: [John_Lit] Secular Sadducees?
> To some extent, in the modern sense of the word, I find it
> odd that the Sadducees could be designated "religious."
> A group that did not believe in the resurrection, life after death,
> seems more "secular" to me than "religious." I note that they are
> frequently mentioned as part of the political structures of Judaism,
> and not frequently, if at all, as "religious."
> I have even heard a modern Jew say that one could be atheistic
> and still be a "good" Jew.
> I sense that they were assumed to have a religious dimension to them
> because they "accepted" the written Torah, but that, in itself, seems
> more of a ethnic marker. After all, with very little effort, Jesus
> was able to silence them, even to the extent that the Pharisees
> needed to come to their rescue (Matt. 22:34).
> My interest is not so much in seeking to justify one position or the
> other, but simply to ask if others have come across works that
> examine a similar idea to the one I've expressed above, namely, an
> exclusively "secular" Sadducee party.
In modern society we have a tendency to divide things political from
things religious. In 1st century Judea the significant religious subsets,
the P'rushim (Pharisees) and the Zadokim (Sadducees) were the
poltical parties. We know a great deal about the pharisees (the
Democrats) but know very little about the Sadducees (Republicans)
outside of Josephus whose reporting may be prejudiced. I would
not say they were not religious or they were "secular" since the High Priest
himself was the head honcho Sadducee. The primary division between
the two was the acceptance by the Pharisees of an oral Torah while
the Sadducees recognized only the written Torah.
The Pharisees were liberal and the "party of the people" with focus
on education and the common plight. The Sadducees were the
"elite" collaborators of Rome, controlled the treasury and
Temple enterprises...not much different between the two parties
The Sadducees relied on the temple, hence when the temple was
destroyed only the pharisees survived replacing the temple with the Talmud.
There are some scholars, despite Josephus, that are not convinced
of the position of the Sadducees on messianism or a life
after death but a belief in God and the drive to follow "God's Laws"
can exclude a hereafter and still be "religious."