Christianity 201

April 20, 2018

The Duplicity of the Sadducees

Today’s author is here at C201 for the first time today, though I have encountered his writing before. David Ettinger has been widely published including “various LifeWay publications, Single Parent magazine (Focus on the Family), Zion’s Fire magazine, and Real Life magazine.” David was born and raised in a Jewish family in New York, and converted to Christianity in 1986.

What’s reproduced below begins about a third into the article, so if you’d like to know more about the Sadducees, I strongly encourage you to click the title below.

A Brief Look at the Sadducees

This is the second in a short series of brief blogs on some of the “players” who had a major role in the four Gospels: the Sadducees, Pharisees, and, to a lesser degree, the Essenes. The first was “The Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes: The Precursor.”

Religious Beliefs
Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not accept all of the Hebrew Scriptures, but only the first five books known as the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Ironically, in this way they were similar to the lowly-regarded Samaritans (read my blog, “A Brief Look at the Samaritans”).

Furthermore, they did not believe in the concept of an afterlife, which at that time was gaining great popularity in Judaism, particularly among the Pharisees (and is clearly taught in the Book of Daniel). They also rejected the belief of angels, demons, resurrection from the dead, and apocalyptic predictions of the last days. They likewise did not accept the oral law as developed by the Pharisees.

What they did advocate was the animal sacrifices at the Temple and the role of the priesthood.

The Sadducees and Jesus
Perhaps the most famous confrontation between Jesus and the Sadducees concerned their questioning Him on an issue regarding marriage and, especially, the resurrection of the dead. This, of course, was disingenuous on the part of the Sadducees because they did not believe in the resurrection; their goal was to discredit Jesus, not to discover truth.

In Matthew Chapter 22, the Sadducees ask Jesus the following:

Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her? (vv. 23-28).

The question is preposterous and Jesus exposes the duplicity of the Sadducees while at the same time shaming them most deservingly. The Lord replied:

You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living (vv. 29-32).

One would think that after being taken so soundly to the theological woodshed the Sadducees would reflect, reconsider, and repent. However, as Jesus elucidated, the Sadducees did “not know the Scriptures” nor did they know “the power of God.” They were ignorant on both counts, and had no desire to overcome their spiritual shortcomings.

The Sadducee “Legacy”
It is no wonder that absolutely NONE of the writings of the Sadducees have been preserved. All we know about them is what we read in the Bible and extra-biblical sources. They were theologically limited, have left nothing in writing for the generations to come, and denied both the messiahship and Deity of Jesus Christ.

This is the lamentable legacy of a sect of men who lived at the same time of Christ, interacted with Him, witnessed the miracles He performed, but in the end denied Him.



November 29, 2010

Messiah Watching with the Pharisees

Joe Amaral is a Canadian Bible teacher who covers much of the material familiar to followers of American Ray VanderLaan; in other words, the historical and cultural Jewish context of the world into which Jesus Christ was born.

On one of the DVDs available from his ministry, First Century Foundations, he notes that while we tend to dis the Pharisees for their chronic undermining of Jesus’ authority, there is a sense in which they were just doing their job.   As religious leaders, if Jesus was truly the Messiah, they had to be the first to know.

Joe Amaral teaches that according to extra-Biblical material from the times, we know that there were four signs that were to be manifest in someone claiming to be the Messiah:

  1. The healing of a man born blind.   No wonder so much space in John 9 is given to this story.    Verse 32 notes:  “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.”
  2. The casting out of a demon in someone who was mute.   The pattern at the time was to ask the demon, “What is your name?”   Someone who was mute or deaf and mute would not be able to answer.
  3. The healing of a leper.   While the instructions to “show yourself to the priest” indicates that the law allowed for the possibility of the disease going into remission, as a rule, it did not.   Jesus healed ten lepers in the same moment.
  4. The raising from the dead someone who had been dead for four days.   There was a belief at the time that the spirit “hovered” around the body for three days.   Jesus took his time journeying to the home of Mary and Martha and in so doing, the raising of Lazarus took place on the fourth day.

There is real blessing in understanding the world at the time of Christ that is available through deeper investigation.

You can learn more about Joe Amaral at First Century Foundations.   Today’s notes are from the video Messianic Miracles.

You can learn more about Ray VanderLaan and the Faith Lessons video series at Follow the Rabbi.