Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The Sadducees were the aristocratic high priests of the Temple and political rulers of the Jews at the time of Christ. The Jewish Encyclopedia entry indicates that during the influence of Hellenism they degenerated into worldly-minded Epicureans. The name was probably coined by the Hasidim. They opposed the Pharisees who promoted privation in this world.

The Encyclopedia entry indicates:

Representing the nobility, power, and wealth..., they had centered their interests in political life, of which they were the chief rulers. Instead of sharing the 'Messianic hopes of the Pharisees, who committed the future into the hend of God, they took the people's destiny into their own hands, fighting or negotiating with the heathen nations just as they thought best, while having as their aim their own temporary welfare and worldly success. This is the meaning of what Josephus chooses to term their disbelief in fate and divine providence...As the logical consequence of the preceding view, they would not accept the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection..., which was a national rather than an individual hope. As to the immortality of the soul, they seem to have denied this as well....they denied also the existence of angels and demons. This probably means that they did not believe in the Essene practice of incantation and conuuration in cases of disease, and were therefore not concerned with the Angelology and Demonology derived from Babylonia and Persia.

The Sadducees disappear from history with the destruction of the Temple, though the Samaritans echo their views and are frequently identified with them.

According to the Encyclopedia:

In the amoraic period the name "Ẓadduḳi" signifies simply "heretic," exactly like the term "min" = "gnostic"; in fact, copyists sometimes replaced, it may be intentionally, the word "min" by "Ẓadduḳi," especially when Christian gnostics were referred to. However, in many cases in which "Ẓadduḳim" stands for "minim" in the later Talmud editions the change was due to censorship laws, as is shown by the fact that the manuscripts and older editions actually have the word "minim." Thus the Ẓadduḳi who troubled R. Joshua b. Levi with Biblical arguments..., the one who bothered R. Ishmael with his dreams..., and the one who argued with R. Ḥanina concerning the Holy Land in the Messianic time...and regarding Jesus..., were Christian gnostics; so were also the two Ẓadduḳim in the company of R. Abbahu.... But the Ẓadduḳim who argue in favor of dualism...are gnostics or Jewish heretics, as are also those spoken of as "a vile people"...."Birkat ha-minim," the benediction against Christian informers and gnostics, is called also "Birkat ha-Ẓadduḳim"...."The writings of the Ẓadduḳim"...are gnostic writings, the same as "Sefarim Ḥiẓonim".... So it is said of Adam that he was a Ẓadduḳi, that is, a gnostic who did not believe in God as the Giver of the Law...."The Ẓadduḳim and informers"...are Christian gnostics. In Hor. 11a a Ẓadduḳi is declared to be a transgressor of the dietary and other Mosaic laws, nay, an idolater. On the other hand, the Ẓadduḳim who conversed with Rab Sheshet..., with..., and with R. Judah...seem to have been Manicheans.

Were all gnostics and manicheans descended from Judaism, or were these particular gnostics and manicheans just a portion of the heretical landscape of the early days of the Church?

The Encyclopedia entry for Zaddukim directs the researcher to "See Sadducees", indicating that the terms are interchangeable.

The "Tree of Light" website, a website devoted to the Hanukkah musical drama by the same name, indicates that "The Sadducees" is the English equivalent of "Tz'dukim (Zaddukim)". The same website also indicates that the "Sect Of The Essenes, Ultra-Orthodox" is the English equivalent of "Hasidim", adding to the confusion.

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