Jewish Movements of the Second Temple Era

Comparative Chart

Sect: Sadducees Pharisees Essenes
(probably = the Qumran Sect that composed the "Dead Sea Scrolls")
General
Meaning of Name: Descendants of Zadok, members of the old (pre-Hasmonean) High Priestly family "Separatists"
--probably because their special dietary restrictions and purity rules limited their social interactions with outsiders
Unknown.
--Possibly "healers" because of their reputation for performing miraculous cures
Factors related to their political and social class
Social Class: Aristocratic priests Common people N/A
Figures of Authority: Priests Scholars and Scribes

They challenged the importance of the priesthood, limiting it to the performance of Temple rituals.

The "Teacher of Righteousness"

The apparent founder of the sect was probably a Zadokite priest who rejected the Jerusalem leadership

Factors related to their reliance on the Bible or other sources of tradition
Attitude to Bible: Literalist:
As a hereditary leadership they did not have to justify their authority, and did not have to develop special skills in interpreting it.
Sophisticated scholarly interpretations:

This was proposed as an alternative to priestly authority: Leadership had to earned through knowledge and ability, not inherited.

"Inspired Exegesis"
--distinctive intepretations of their own sect, especially those of the "Teacher of Righteousness"
Attitude to "Oral Torah": Accepted only what was explicitly written in the Torah Believed in authority of "ancestral traditions" even if they had no basis in the Torah. The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate their distinctive Biblical interpretations and rules, similar in purpose--but not in content-- to the Pharisees' "Oral Torah."
Practices: Based directly on the TorahAccepted many additional laws and interpretations based on the "Oral Torah" and their own interpretations.
"Inspired Exegesis"
Emphasis on priestly rituals and obligations (which enhanced the priests' holiness and and authority) Extention of priestly laws (e.g., purity of food) to non-priests Accepted many additional laws and interpretations based on their own interpretations.
  "Luni-solar" calendar Solar calendar
Beliefs:
Rejection of ideas that have no clear basis in the Bible, such as life-after-death.

Assertion of human freedom and accountability for their actions.


Acceptance of some non-Biblical beliefs that had been accepted by the people, e.g., Physical resurrection of the dead.

Believed in limited free will: "Everything is in the power of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven."


Believed in spiritual survival after death.

Dualistic determinism: Humanity has been divided into "Children of Light and Children of Darkness," who will soon clash in an apocalyptic war.

General patterns:


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