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Pharisees and Sadducees

Ossuary, Yehosef bar Eglon
By November 18, 2015 Read More →

Ossuary, Yehosef bar Eglon

Ossuary, Jerusalem region, first century. Inscription: Yehosef bar Eglon. Since the nineteenth century, scholars of ancient Judaism have interpreted Jewish ossuaries in terms of the resurrection/redemption trope. Most prominently, they have associated ossuary burial with the Pharisaic and early Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead. Briefly, the practice of ossuary burial, as it developed in […]

Mishnah Parah 3:7: Purification at Sunset
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Mishnah Parah 3:7: Purification at Sunset

The Mishnah asserts that the Pharisees were able to compel the Sadducees to follow their rulings, even in the Temple, a matter of controversy among modern scholars. In this case, they insisted that the preparation of the ashes of the red heifer (Num. 19) be done by one whom they regarded as fully pure but […]

Mishnah Makkot 1:6: The Debate Over the Punishment of False Witnesses
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Mishnah Makkot 1:6: The Debate Over the Punishment of False Witnesses

This Mishnaic passage records a debate between the Sadducees and Pharisees on the treatment of men who gave false testimony in a capital case. Different interpretations of the biblical law resulted in different judicial rulings. Scheming witnesses 98 are not executed until a verdict [for death] has been rendered [against the accused]. For the Sadducees say- […]

Mishnah Eruvin 6:2: The Sadducees and the Law of Eruv
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Mishnah Eruvin 6:2: The Sadducees and the Law of Eruv

This passage indicates that although the Sadducees strictly observed the prohibition of carrying from domain to domain on the Sabbath, they did not accept the Pharisaic device of Eruv designed to make possible the joining of domains and thus permit carrying in a common alleyway. Rabban Gamliel said- Once a Sadducee lived with us adjoining […]

Mishnah Sotah 3:4: A Negative View of the Pharisees
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Mishnah Sotah 3:4: A Negative View of the Pharisees

The following passage shows that for some, Pharisaic extremism, or perhaps even hypocrisy, would be an object of ridicule. [Rabbi Joshua] used to say- A foolish pietist, a cunning wicked person, an ascetic woman,94 and the plagues of the Pharisees, these destroy the world. 93. Trans. S. Berrin. 94. Hebrew perushah, “ascetic,” can also be rendered […]

Mishnah Hagigah 2:7: The Pharisees and Ritual Purity
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Mishnah Hagigah 2:7: The Pharisees and Ritual Purity

This Mishnaic passage indicates that the Pharisees observed purity laws at a level which placed them between the common people and the priestly families who ate of the terumah offerings. The clothing of an ‘am ha-’arez 91 is the source of the highest level of defilement for the Pharisees. The clothing of Pharisees is the source […]

Mishnah Yadayim 4:6-8: The Pharisee-Sadducee Debate
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Mishnah Yadayim 4:6-8: The Pharisee-Sadducee Debate

The Mishnah records some of the points of law on which the Sadducees differed from the Pharisees. More than the philosophic issues which Josephus identifies, these halakhic standards defined and set one sect apart from the other. 4-6 The Sadducees say- “We complain against you, Pharisees, for you say that the Holy Scriptures defile the hands, […]

Acts 23: The Pharisees and Sadducees on Resurection
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Acts 23: The Pharisees and Sadducees on Resurection

Testimony from the New Testament affirms the beliefs of the Sadducees and Pharisees on resurrection of the dead. 6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the […]

Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, 11-17: More About the Pharisees and Sadducees
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Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, 11-17: More About the Pharisees and Sadducees

In this selection, Josephus gives us an idea of the numerical strength of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He asserts that the Pharisees had the greatest support among the multitude, and especially in the cities, so that the Sadducees had to bow to their wishes in order to hold positions of leadership. Here he attributes the […]

Josephus, War II, 119-66: Three Philosophical Schools
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Josephus, War II, 119-66: Three Philosophical Schools

Excerpted from Lawrence H. Schiffman, Texts and Traditions, Ktav, Hoboken 1998, p.267-268. Here Josephus elaborates on the three sects which he identifies amongst the Jews. We include here only the material on the Pharisees and the Sadducees, reserving his extensive discussion of the Essenes to be discussed below. In regard to the Pharisees and Sadducees, […]