Who were the Sadducees?

No literature from the Sadducees has survived, so we have little historical information about them. What we do know is that like the Pharisees, the Sadducees comprised a sect of Judaism around the time of Jesus who usually appeared in opposition to Jesus in the gospels. They were part of the wealthy power elite of Jerusalem and they dominated the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court that convicted Jesus. They were conservative in their interpretation of the Law, and unlike the Pharisees, only accepted the Torah, not oral tradition, as scripture. They rejected a belief in the resurrection of the dead in contrast to Jesus and the Pharisees.

Editor’s note: You can remember this last fact about the Sadducees by a very old and bad joke. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the afterlife–so they were “Sad – you – see”. Ugh! -MH

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.