Topics for Discussion: from Sanders Judaism, Chapter Two:


When did the three "parties" emerge?


Following the success of the Maccabean revolt:

A Hasmonean Coin

A Hasmonean Coin

Until then the groups were united in their support of the traditional religion against the reforms of the radical Hellenists.

After the revolt, disagreements became more pronounced. All the groups upheld the Torah, but they disagreed about its correct interpretation, and about who was authorized to interpret it.

Israel under the Hasmoneans

The Hasmonean Kingdom

The previous leadership--the priests descended from Zadok"--were now replaced by the Hasmonean priestly family.

The Sadducees were the supporters of the former leadership.

The Pharisees may have opposed any expansion of priestly authority, especially the usurpation of kingship, which belonged to the House of David.

The political stakes were now much higher than before. For the first time in centuries, Judea was a fully independent state with control over army, taxes, foreign policy, etc.

Josephus does not mention the parties before this time.


The roots of the division were probably much earlier

Ezra had been both a Zadokite priest and a "scribe," a teacher of the Torah.

Two models of religious authority appear to have coexisted throughout the Persian period:


Judaism during the Persian era (550-c.300 B.C.E.):

Scant documentation about this period.

Apparently it was a peaceful, uneventful time.

Centrality of the Temple and priesthood.

Probable influence of Persian religious ideas and institutions:


Hellenistic era (c. 300-198 B.C.E.):

Map of Hellenistic World 240 B.C.E.

The nature and historical origins of "Hellenism."

Ptolemies and Seleucids

Material, cultural and religious manifestations.

Map of Hellenistic World 240 B.C.E.


Summary of Disputes Among the Three Parties:

Sect: Sadducees Pharisees Essenes
Social Class: Priests, aristocrats Common people ?
Figures of Authority: Priests "Disciples of the Wise" "Teacher of Righteousness"
Attitude to Hellenism: For Selective Against
Attitide to Hasmoneans: Opposed usurpation of priesthood by non-Zadokites Varied?

Opposed usurpation of monarchy?


Personally opposed to Jonathan ("Wicked Priest")?

  1. Free will
  2. Angels
  3. Afterlife

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. None

  1. Mostly
  2. Yes
  3. Resurrection

  1. No
  2. ?
  3. Spiritual Survival (?)
Attitude to Bible: Literalist Sophisticated scholarly interpretations "Inspired Exegesis"
Attitude to Oral Torah: No such thing Equal to Written Torah "Inspired Exegesis"
Practices: Emphasis on priestly obligations (for priests) Application of priestly laws to non-priests (tithes and purity rules) "Inspired Exegesis"
Calendar: ?

Luni-solar (perhaps only under popular pressure?)

Luni-solar Solar: 364-day year


Miscellaneous Topics related to the Sanders Text:

Page 13
"Relatively new Pharisaic traditions."
"Sadducee special traditions."
Essenes: attribution of views to Law of Moses.
"monastic... isolated...remote"
Page 16
Ben Sira
Page 18 (see also 24, 26, etc.)
Page 22
The Hellenism of Hasmonean monarchs
"until a true prophet should arise."
Page 24
Theory of Essene origins
Fragment of 'Miqsat Ma'asei Torah' (4QMMT) from Qumran
Two Messiahs
Page 25-6
Sadducee : grammatical issues.
Page 26
Sadducee scholarship ?


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