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Introduction To ADAM II - A Guide For The Walk Home - Jewish Group: Sadducees
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Sadducee in Hebrew is, Tzedokim, and in Greek, Saddoukaion, or more commonly, Sadouk, meaning, "just or righteous one." The title, and hence its meaning, is derived from the Hebrew name, Zadok. Young separately identifies nine in the Old Testament, with Zadok, the loyal High Priest in David's time, being the most prominent ( II Sam.8:17; I Ki.1:25-26; 2:26-27,35). Though many scholars believe him to be the one preferred by the Sadducees as the origin of their party, still, some identify a priestly descendant also called Zadok, or Sadok, who appeared ca. 300 B.C., as being the father of their movement. Whichever the case, these followers (and evolving party within the Judean religion) were subsequently called, Zadokites, or Sadokites in Hebrew, or Sadducees in Greek.

Though the origin of the Sadducee is not as clear as that of the Pharisee, they appear on the scene during the 3rd century B.C., and become quite strong prior to the outset of the Maccabaean period (See Appendix, Inter-Testament Timeline), even controlling the Great Assembly, or the then evolved, Council of the Seventy Elders. It must be said that the exact nature of the Great Assembly prior to its evolution into the ruling body of the Seventy Elders is not quite certain. As discussed above under "Pharisees," it is believed to have its roots in the priestly scribes of the Levite tribe returning from the Babylonian captivity, who are seen in Nehemiah reading and teaching the Torah to the congregation, with Ezra himself being their leader (Neh.8). Whether they evolved into a legislative body between their return and the beginning of Greek rule, or simply identified in each of those generations collectively as the Great Assembly (Knesset Gedolah), it is not known; however, to these had been given the responsibility of copying and preserving scripture. As a result of their familiarity with scripture, disputes and perceived contradictions over specific texts were brought to them for their resolution, hence, we can see how their authority began to evolve. (See above discussion on the Scribes.)

As Jewish life in Palestine began to settle into daily routine after the rebuilding of their Temple (515 B.C.), and without the ruling monarchy of the previous Solomonic Temple times (now no longer a nation), the question of what direction, both politically and religiously, the Hebrew people should advance under the then ruling Persian empire became a serious subject of debate. From this debate, differing opinions developed and polarization of views evolved into several distinct groups or sects.

The first, we have previously discussed, was the Pharisee and their scribes who saw the need for clarification and adaptation of Mosaic law to the changing culture of their times. Consequently, additional interpretations were catalogued and codified for strict observance for Jewish ceremonial life to remain separate from other nations and their cultures. (These traditional interpretations and writings eventually evolved into what was first known as the Mishnah, and even later giving rise to the well known, Talmud.)

Unlike these Separates (Pharisees), the Sadducees, being conservative in their views, i.e., holding a limited view and interpretation toward scripture, did not hold to these new interpretations and traditions evolving under the Pharisees for control of the people. Their view was that only Scripture (the Mosaic law itself) held sole authority over the people in both their religious and daily life. Therefore, a major tenet of their beliefs was the absolute freedom of the individual's will toward good and evil. A person's destiny lay within each's own control and the fortunes or misfortunes of life were of their own making. Thus, greater discretion was left to the individual as to how they would assimilate into their environment in changing times, first under Persian rule, but more particularly, the Greek culture (Hellenism) after Greece came to power under Alexander the Great (331 B.C.). (This also helps one to understand why they were less merciful toward one who had fallen upon hard times or at odds with the law of the day.) It is easy to see then, with this view, how the Sadducee took to the Greek's culture and philosophy of reason when they came upon the scene. A considerable merger of Judean theology and Greek philosophy began to occur and its influence can be seen even within Christian theology and Jewish thought today. (See "Gnosticism.")

Temple sacrifice had resumed following Palestinian resettlement. Since the Sadducees were of the priestly order (usually wealthy and more the aristocrat than the Pharisee, though some Pharisees were priests), and since the Temple was controlled by the High Priest, they naturally concerned themselves primarily with the administration and duties of its institution. When the Greeks came to power, it is obvious that there would occur a clash between the Pharisee and Greek culture, but not so much so with the Sadducee. Therefore, the Sadducees, who were more willing to conform and assimilate to their culture, were shown more favor. Close connections developed between the priestly Temple rulers and the occupying foreign powers and continued until the time of the Maccabaeans who revolted at Modin in 167 B.C. (Josephus).

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