Jewish orientation or school, sometimes referred to as a sect, lasting from 1st century BCE until 1st century CE.
Model of the second Temple of Jerusalem. Photo: James Emery.
The Sadducees are also known as Zadokites, a term that differs only in terms of transcription.
The Sadducees considered only the Torah as binding, not the interpretations and the Law developed by scholars since that time. Yet, this didn't mean that they represented a simple form of religion and jurisprudence.
By relying on the oldest sources of the religion, the Sadducees proved to be very strict in their jurisprudence, and were devout users of the death penalty.
The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection and immortality, and they denied angels and spirits.
The forerunners of the Sadducees were the Jewish aristocracy. For centuries their position was not challenged. They emerged as a defined group through the challenge of the Pharisees around 100 BCE, and there was a constant conflict between the groups over all aspects of Jewish religion and practices.
The Pharisees claimed authority over Judaism through learning and piety, while the Sadducees claimed this from birth and social position.
The Sadducee group consisted of aristocratic Jews, high priests and merchants. They were in control over the Temple of Jerusalem, its organization and its position in society. But they also represented the most Hellenized part of the Jewish population, and had good relations with the Roman rulers.
6th century BCE: Ezekiel selects the descendants of the Old Testament priest Zadok, who worked under the reigns of David and Solomon, as the trustees of the Temple of Jerusalem.
1st century BCE: The Sadducees emerge as a group, naming themselves after Zadok. Over the next 170 years they would be central in the ongoing conflict between themselves and other Jewish groups, as well as the conflict between Jews and the Romans.
70 CE: As the Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed, the school of the Sadducees is struck so hard that it ceases to exist. The school of the Pharisees, on the other hand, would survive.