Four views of Judaism

In Jesus’ day, there were varying philosophies within the Jewish faith.  While some Jews embraced the Roman rulers, others resisted with violence.  And whereas some Jewish believers lived a simple, isolated lifestyle, others enjoyed a lifestyle of wealth and influence. 

Four predominant religious groups emerged:  Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.  During his ministry, Jesus’ likely interacted with them all, touching the hearts of some, and sparking violent hatred among others.


Descended from Hasidim freedom fighters of the Maccabee era

Middle-class merchants numbering about 6,000

-Believed in entire Old Testament as law
-Accepted oral interpretation of the Old Testament
-Believed study of Torah was the highest act of worship
-God’s desire was for his people to keep the law
-Believed in bodily resurrection and life after death

-Supported synagogues for Torah study and interpretation
-Strict, detailed obedience to oral and written law
-Accepted Rome as a necessary evil as long as they were allowed to practice their beliefs


Descended from Solomon’s high priest, Zadok, and became a faction around 200 B.C.

Priests who were wealthy, aristocratic, and often Hellenistic

-Only accepted the Torah as God’s law
-Rejected oral traditions
-Believed the Temple was the only path to God
-Did not believe in bodily resurrection

-Ran the Temple and all its ceremonies
-Dominated the Sanhedrin-the religious ruling council
-Lived a Hellenistic, affluent lifestyle
-Received Roman support


Registered Maccabees’ claim to the high priesthood in approximately 170 A.D.

Possibly dissident Sadducees or Pharisees; preferred isolation in wilderness to participation in Temple services led by corrupt priests.

-They needed to withdrawal from corruption
-Believed true priests descended only from Zadok
-Believed in rigid adherence to the Torah
-Believed they had been chosen to prepare for imminent arrival of kingdom of God

-Worked at copying and studying the Torah
-Lived in isolated communities
-Share property and communal meals
-Practiced ritual cleansing


A movement formed against a Roman census in 6 A.D. and led by Judas the Galilean

Extreme Pharisess and religious Jews living primarily in Galilee

-Theology resembled that of Pharisees, however, they believed only God could rule
-Slavery was the worst evil
-Taxes were due only to God
-Hated the rule of Romans

-Practice terrorism against Romans
-Refused to pay taxes
-Adhered carefully to Torah interpretation





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