Recall that Scripture says that the Sadducees “say there is no* resurrection*,” meaning a reanimation **of the body **by reuniting it with one’s soul. (Mark 12:18) The confusion with many, it seems, is that people often come to the conclusion that the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife, and this is not correct.
The word “resurrection” does not occur in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is a word of Greek origin, “anastasis,” and it means “to bodily stand up.” It is NOT in reference to life after death as an immortal soul.
So limited is the word to corporeal reanimation that some of the Greeks who heard St. Paul speak at the Areopagus came to laugh at him when he mentioned “resurrection.” In Roman-Greek society the belief was that a resurrection was unnecessary due to the soul being immortal. This spiritual afterlife was considered a “release” from the physical body, and thus a physical reanimation of the body seemed unnecessary and illogical:
Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers* engaged him in discussion. Some asked, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” Others said, “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities,” because he was preaching about ‘Jesus’ and ‘Resurrection.’…
When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff…–Acts 17:22-32.
Belief in the afterlife does not include “resurrection” or the raising of the physical body to life for all religions that embrace the concept of “life after death.” The Sadducees did believe in life after death in Sheol, though the concept was of a shadowy existence. They were not annihilationists by any means. Due to their strict belief in “Torah-only” interpretation they did not embrace the concept of “resurrection” since it is not mentioned until the prophets (whose writings came after the Torah was composed)–and then again not by the name “resurrection.”
The New Testament speaks of the Sadducees denying the physical raising of the body, “resurrection,” and therefore since Jesus said they were wrong for denying the “resurrection,” this proves that resurrection of the physical body is a teaching of Christ. In Mark 12:26, Jesus said that the dead are definitely “raised.”