The Minor, Trivial Stuff Thread 2 (?)


#1

There was this old thread back in the days when I was still an annoying, smart-alecky brat. (I’m still an annoying, smart-alecky brat, for the record.) I’ll admit, I kinda like the concept, so why not have another go at it? I don’t really care anymore whether this thread will have a long life or not; I’m now pretty sure that there are a few posters out there who could carry on in the event I drop out of this. Yes, you know who you are. I’m countin’ on you. :smiley:

Quoting myself:

To give many people a break from the oft-heated (fiery!) debates of this subforum, I’d like to open this thread. Now by “minor stuff” I mean the small, ‘trivial’ things related to the Bible that never make it in serious high discussion …]

Yeah, stuff like “What did people wear in those days?” or “What did houses look like?” or “How did people bury the dead?” or something along those lines. Ask anything - maybe I can’t answer every question, but well, I’ll try. (People who know better than I am - there are a lot of you out there, I know - are also free to drop by and answer.)


#2

So trivial as those questions Patrick? Maybe not…and I enjoy people with spirit even if they call it by less flattering names!

My first thought in response is probably tangential. Don’t some of those trivial details help with meditation withing a scene, a parable, and event in the gospels! So not so trivial?

Second thought…what about the silent gospel, the one that is written in so few words, the first 30 years of the Savior’s life! Silent, yet it shouts out to us the sacredness of the ordinary life, of the daily ‘routine’. God, Son of God, came down to earth as a helpless infant who needed to be fed and changed, burped, by His Mother. And she, the woman chosen out of all humankind to be mother of God’s Son, cooked and cleaned, washed clothes, went to market, drew water from the well. Thirty years! A testimony of the sacredness of daily life well-lived, unobtrusively, with challenges and uncertainties (she pondered).

In this spirit, I once wrote:
The Gospel way

Jesus and Mary, you lived with Joseph in holy ordinariness, loving others as yourselves and God above all. You lived in prayer and penance, in wondering and in faith, in obedience and chastity. You lived in daily labour offered to God in simplicity and love. Please guide me along this gospel path, so that the God delights in my life and finds it a useful tool to bring closer the coming of the kingdom.

I thank God for the “ordinary” yet precious gifts I have received…of Creation and redemption…of persons whom I cherish…of my life, personality and individual identity…of my soul, mind, and body…of the little treasures God has given me for His delight and for others’ benefit.

I desire to love God above all and others with God’s love. I confess my sinfulness, accepting forgiveness and grace, knowing that God is my strength and virtue. I can only serve in faith and faithfulness as you did, knowing that God loves me in my lowliness.

Jesus and Mary, please unite me with you in loving, prayerful service. Through God’s merciful love and your merits, I offer each moment of my life in its ordinariness. Please make me worthy of your kinship, so that I honour God while serving others, even if the effects are hidden from me. For in my trust and self-surrender, God may flood grace in living gospel through me for the sake of the kingdom.

I praise and thank God, who stoops with tender, loving humility to touch, transform, and share His life, His Son, His Spirit of love and truth, with anyone as ordinary as I am!

And another time:

Jesus and ordinary life

Jesus, God and man, for most of Your life You lived amongst us in unobtrusive labour. Through Your witness, we are encouraged to value the mundane tasks and events that dominate our lives, despite the discouragement that sometimes accompanies them.

Let us not overlook the value and message of the silent gospel of Your years of ‘ordinary’ service, overshadowed as they are by the drama of those last three years. It is surely a powerful silent witness that You, God incarnate, spent thirty years apparently ‘marking time’ in ordinary activity…as helpless infant…as refugee…as child of a poor family…as village tradesman. Thus is the ordinary, unrecognized and unrecorded routine of our daily lives elevated and sanctified while yet in obscurity, when it is lived in accordance with divine will.

In response to Your quiet example and Your inspired Word, we desire grace to live and work lovingly amongst others, obeying Your will as expressed in our vocations and our individual natures. The brief account of Your infancy and childhood emphasizes this lesson. Although at twelve You revealed Your unique nature, You returned to humble daily activity.

We observe Your favoured human Mother, in her option to reject or cooperate with divine will for her life. Her acceptance carried with it some treasured secrets, but largely the ordinary life of human motherhood and home duties commonplace in the lives of multitudes of women throughout the centuries. Surely, her faith and hope were frequently tested in remembrance of divine promise in the face of ‘ordinary’ realities. Ultimately, however, her choice led to mental and emotional martyrdom.

Jesus, along with every human, in the desert You faced the choice to employ or misuse, the life, the gifts, and the trust reposed in You. You could embrace or refuse the alluring, deceptive temptations of the devil—gaudy and dramatic with ambition, sensuality and worldliness. Rejecting these temptations, You remained faithful to the God’s will, despite hardship, disappointment and sorrow.

Following almost thirty years of humble obscurity, You began public ministry, openly teaching and exemplifying the truths of the eternal Father, and fulfilling the covenant. Even as You took up Your divine ministry, You remained loving, obedient, wise and trusting. You accepted the realities of Your humanity, not vicariously, but fully, sacrificing this humanity in the culmination of every human deprivation and suffering. Your entire being became ‘a living wound’. [Isaiah] Following annihilation in Your humanity, You resurrected, to consummate Your defeat of sin and death for humankind.

You are witness that each person must accept divine will in the realities and actualities of our personal existences as we follow You our Way to life. Jesus, grant us to shoulder our daily cross lovingly, cheerfully and creatively, regardless of how arduous or ineffectual our lives may seem to ourselves. Grant us to bear our cross , in ordinary times and in crises, with perseverance, hope and peace, so that You may use us to open heaven to others who live within our influence. Thank You, Jesus, key of our salvation and holiness!

Do you wish you hadn’t asked, Patrick!


#3

What is known about the oldest - or most ancient use - of the practice of casting lots? Where does it seem to have originated from?

Also was casting lots seemingly more a methodology of avoiding arguments by using an object (i.e., card, coin, dice, stick, etc…) to find an obvious impartial decision on a matter, more-so than superstition?


#4

I think lot-casting or sortition is one of those things that are so old and so widespread that we don’t know where exactly it came from or who did it first. Aside from the Israelites, the Romans practiced it; Germanic tribes practiced it; Africans practice it; the Chinese practice it. It’s really one of those universal things. The thing about lot-casting is that in ancient cultures, it can serve both a mundane purpose such as a simple game (lottery), a fair form of selection (sortition), or even a religious ritual to find out what the will of a god/another supernatural entity was (cleromancy). Very often you’ll find the latter. In fact, you might say that there’s some overlap between these three functions; they’re not clearly distinguished.


#5

What did people eat in ancient Phoenicia?


#6

Well, we do know that the Phoenicians liked saffron. :wink: They probably ate what most other peoples around them ate at the time: fruits like grape or olives, vegetables cucumber, cereals like wheat or barley (in the form of porridge or bread or beer), yogurt and stuff. And seafood of course; considering they were a seafaring people it was an essential element of their diet.


#7

Military tactics of the Roman Army are always interesting…and the tactical and political background of Pilate…


#8

ALSO…is the Pope’s seat comfortable, or not?

What are Cardinal’s caps made out of?

What did Greece think of the Persians, a big enemy, when they released all the Jews from Babylon? Did Greece see Israel and Persia as alies and then go after Israel??? They had just finished with the Spartan-Persian war after all…(Amazing how biblical history and secular history go together, and you have an “aha!” moment)

How big are Micheal’s wings?
How tall is the Devil?
What do each of the choirs of angels look like???
How many years ago was the fall?

How old were Adam and Eve when they fell?

What is the name of your guardian angel?
What is the name of your anti-guardian demon? (See Screwtape Letters)

Read the Dolorous passion. It is sooo interesting, to spiritually pray with but also to read for fun. So much to learn in there about the day.


#9

Why did Paul travel so much? I know he was on his way to Damascus one day, but prior to that, had he traveled to Greece, Rome, or other far-away places as he did in his later years?


#10

He was clearly some sort of leader…but was it more of a religious leader or secular leader?Was he more military or law enforcement?


#11

Sounds like a good healthy diet (especially barley beer).


#12

Apparently the Romans started a lot of the movements that survive to this day on a military drill square, one of which was starting marching on the left foot.


#13

This should be avoided (naming one’s guardian angel).

The Church teaches that only the names of three angels are known: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.


#14

The Roman historian Tacitus calls Pilate a procurator, and that’s what he was traditionally known as. But in 1961, a limestone block was discovered in the ruins of a theater at Caesarea Maritima (‘Caesarea-on-the-Sea’, the capital of Roman Judaea - no, it wasn’t Jerusalem ;)). The had a dedicatory inscription to the emperor Tiberius engraved in it, and it mentions Pilate by name - what’s interesting is that there, Pilate is given the title praefectus, ‘prefect’.

So there’s a bit of a discrepancy. Which of the two titles are correct?

Most scholars think that the likely scenario was that the Roman governors of Judaea were known as ‘prefects’ from AD 6 (when the province of Judaea was formed out of the territories Herod Archelaus originally ruled over) up until AD 41. From AD 41 up to AD 44, Herod Agrippa was made ‘King of the Jews’ by the emperor Claudius (Herod the Great was technically the last ‘King of the Jews’; his sons like Antipas or Archelaus were really not kings but tetrarchs, ‘rulers of a fourth’) and Judaea regained nominal autonomy. When Agrippa died, the province returned to Roman control, and governors once again ruled the area. Scholars think that it’s likely that the ‘procurator’ title was used from AD 44 onwards, and that Tacitus, who was writing in the late 1st century, simply gave the title (anachronistically) to Pilate.

I’m quoting from a paper by E.P. ‘Ed’ Sanders entitled Jesus in Historical Context.

Judea in Jesus’ Day: What about Judea and, especially, its largest city, Jerusalem? It had a quite different fate [from that of Galilee] after Herod died. Here we encounter the other two ruling officials in Jesus’ day: the high priest Caiaphas and the Roman prefect Pilate. To explain how and why they governed Judea while Antipas governed Galilee, we have to go back to Herod’s death. When Herod died, Judea, Samaria, and Idumea were combined in a political unit called “Judea”; they were governed by another of Herod’s sons, Archelaus. He started out, as did Antipas, governing this region as his father had done before him. But things did not go well. Archelaus was probably less able than Antipas, and he certainly governed a more difficult region, since the Jews in Jerusalem were extremely touchy. But Archelaus seems also to have been clumsy. He did not know when to yield to the will of the populace and when to repress dissent. Both the Judeans and the Samaritans complained, and Augustus deposed him after ten years, in 6 CE. Augustus decided not to give this region to another of Herod’s sons, but to rule it directly, and he sent Coponius, a Roman of the equestrian order (thus, of some position in life), with a small number of troops, to govern Samaria, Judea, and Idumea. When this decision was made, there was a small uprising, but it was put down, and the Romans settled in to rule part of Palestine-for the first time. They had conquered Palestine seventy years earlier, but had not governed any of it before, except for a very brief period after the initial conquest when they imposed military control before deciding on which Jews would rule the country.

How did these first Roman governors in Palestine conduct their administration? Coponius and his successors lived in one of Herod’s palaces in Herod’s most agreeable city, Caesarea on the Mediterranean, which was heavily gentile. There they had most of the amenities of home. There, too, were the Roman troops, about 3,000 of them, not enough to put down a serious uprising, but enough for minor riots limited to only one City. There were, we recall, more than 20,000 troops in Syria. In addition to the cohorts settled in Caesarea, there was a garrison in a fort next to the temple complex in Jerusalem, but its soldiers seldom had police duties. A few other very small garrisons were established in existing forts in other parts of the country. Those troops, too, had no regular police duties.

Jerusalem was a center of pilgrimage, and pilgrimage was a very popular activity in the ancient world. Three times a year, throngs of Jews from everywhere-Mesopotamia, North Africa, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy-came to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the festivals, a kind of combination of state fair, silent worship, butchery of animals, eating red meat-a rare treat-and drinking wine. The population of Jerusalem suddenly swelled about tenfold (from 30,000 or so to over 300,000). Then and only then did the Roman prefect bring more troops to the city. On these occasions, they did assume some police duties, which were concentrated on the largest assembly point in Palestine, the courts of the temple. Soldiers patrolled the roofs of the colonnades that surrounded the enormous temple complex. Civil unrest was a well-known feature of large assemblies, and the Romans took due precautions. But 3,000 soldiers could not stop a serious effort by 300,000 to revolt. Real trouble required Roman troops from Syria.

During the forty-five or so weeks of each year that the Roman knight and his troops were not in Jerusalem, who policed the city and who was responsible for local government? The high priest, assisted by other aristocrats, many of whom were also priests. Police duties were the responsibility of the high priest’s guards. The high priest during Jesus’ adulthood was the very successful Joseph Caiphas, who held office for seventeen years, longer than any other high priest of the Roman period.


#15

I don’t know; you’ll have to ask him. :stuck_out_tongue:

What are Cardinal’s caps made out of?

I think Wikipedia is at least reliable in this regard.

In the Catholic tradition, the zucchetto is most commonly made of silk or polyester fabric. The design utilises eight triangular panels that are joined to form a hemispherical skullcap. Jutting from the centre of the zucchetto at the top is the “stem”, known as stirpis or stirpes. It is made of a twisted loop of silk cord and is meant to make the handling of the zucchetto easier. …]

The zucchetto has a lining of thin leather (chamois) as an insulator; this was also meant to help keep the shape of the zucchetto. Inside the trim there is a strip of velvet to ensure a secure and comfortable fit. Most modern zucchetto designs include a cloth lining, and the modern trend is toward a zucchetto of ordinary synthetic cloth lined with a simple natural cloth lining.

What did Greece think of the Persians, a big enemy, when they released all the Jews from Babylon? Did Greece see Israel and Persia as alies and then go after Israel??? They had just finished with the Spartan-Persian war after all…(Amazing how biblical history and secular history go together, and you have an “aha!” moment)

Nah. Judea - or Yehud, as it was called - wasn’t really a Persian ‘ally’, in that they were not two states on equal (or nearly-equal) footing. It was a province under the Achaemenid Empire - in other words, it was Persian territory. The Jews exiled in Babylon were allowed to return to Yehud, but that doesn’t mean they were really granted independence. (Note that Zerubbabel was just a ‘governor’.) So what really happened was, when Alexander the Great conquered the Persians, Yehud, being Persian territory, also ended up being part of the Macedonian Empire. Then when Alexander the Great died and his generals carved up his lands for themselves, Yehud happened to be part of the territory that became the Seleucid Empire. If anything, the Greeks would have probably seen Judea as ‘Persian land’.

So Judea really just passed from one empire to another - the Neo-Babylonians, the Persians (Achaemenids), the Macedonians, the Seleucids. They only got semi-independence (and when the Seleucid Empire crumbled, actual independence) as a state under the Maccabees, who founded a kingdom of their own - the Hasmonean dynasty, with a little help from the Romans. The Hasmoneans - who happened to be kings and high priests - expanded their territory by conquering nearby lands like Idumaea (biblical Edom) or Ituraea. However, the Romans exploited the same power vacuum that enabled the Jewish state to exist, and by 63 BC, the kingdom became a protectorate of Rome. (A ‘protectorate’ is one country ‘protecting’ a much weaker country in exchange for obligations on the protectorate’s part.) There was a very brief lull in the Roman grip on Judea (caused by the deaths of Pompey and Julius Caesar), but this very short independence was soon crushed. Then by 37 BC, Herod the Great (an Idumaean) was declared ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman Senate; the territory the Hasmoneans ruled over thus passed into his hands.

During his reign, Judea was no longer just a protectorate, but a Roman client state. In other words, the ruler (in this case, Herod) was required to give tribute, not allow any unrest to happen within his borders and contribute military service to Rome, and Rome would in return provide him security and allow him semi-independence to rule his territory in whatever way he liked. You might compare it with how the countries of Eastern Europe functioned before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They had to contribute to the Soviet Empire in various ways, but countries like Poland or Hungary or Czechoslovakia all had their own governments, and Moscow directly in these countries only very occasionally.

Then when Herod the Great died, Hasmonean Judea was divided into his three sons: Archelaus (who got the lion’s share), Antipas, and Philip. These three sons of his were not given the title ‘king’, but were instead dubbed as tetrarchs, ‘rulers of a fourth’ (yes, it’s a mystery why it was divided into fourths when there are only (recorded) three sons! :D) The three sons ruled their tetrarchies in pretty much the same conditions as their father had: they were granted semi-independence in return for contribution to Rome.

Archelaus however was a lousy ruler by Rome’s standards; he was booted out, and his territory became a Roman province (Judaea), administered by a Roman governor - though in reality, the governor left daily government in the hands of native rulers and magistrates, like the high priest and his council in Jerusalem.


#16

Well, the immediate cause of his travels was, because he wanted to bring the gospel to other areas. All we know about St. Paul’s early life is what we find in his letters and in Acts: he was a Jew born to a devout Jewish family in Tarsus. According to Acts he studied in Jerusalem under the famous Rabban Gamaliel when he was younger and was a Pharisee and “the son of a Pharisee” (though he did work for the high priest, who was not exactly Pharisaic - perhaps he was on the fanatical side?) In Galatians (chronology the very first letter we have that he wrote - and thus, the oldest NT book), he confesses to being “extremely zealous … for the traditions of [his] fathers” to the point that he persecuted the fledgling Christian movement before he became a Christian himself. Nowhere is it recorded whether he traveled a lot as a young man.

Pre-Damascus Saul/Paul was really like this police force/agent for the high priests - with a staunch, nearly-fanatical anti-Christian sentiment. (Some have pointed out a difficulty: how could Paul, a self-proclaimed Pharisee, work for the high priests, who were probably Sadducees and not exactly on good terms with Pharisees? -But this is for another time.) There are even few people from time to time who muse that maybe, Saul was among the Temple police who arrested Jesus. We can’t know for sure (because there’s no source which explicitly confirms or denies it), but that’s an interesting speculation.


#17

Thats sort of like saying “How can a protestant and a Catholic work together against abortion?”
Answer-Because while minor theology differences exist, some actually quite big, it doesnt matter if an obvious enemy of both groups starts rising. They will join together.
UNLESS…was the relationship between Pharisees and Sadducee more complex?? I know they disagreed on some basic issue, like existence of afterlife.


#18

That’s the obvious answer, yes.

This is gonna be a bit lengthy, but I’m going to quote Ed Sanders, this time from his The Historical Figure of Jesus (pp. 44-47), where he describes the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sadducees.

The Pharisaic party seems to have originated fairly early in the Hasmonean period (before 135 BCE), consisted largely but not entirely of non-priests. [13: Josephus’ principal descriptions of the Pharisees are in *War 2.162-6; Antiq. 18.12-15. See further P&B, chs. 18 and 19.] At the time of Herod, there were about 6,000 Pharisees (Antiq. 17.42). Theologically, the Pharisees shared common Jewish orthodoxy (one God, the election of Israel, the divine origin of the law, and repentance and forgiveness). The Pharisees, like most other first-century Jews, also believed in some form of existence after death, an idea that is hard to find in the Hebrew Bible (the only clear reference is Daniel 12.2.) Moreover, they developed a substantial body of non-biblical ‘traditions’ about how to observe the law. Some of these traditions made the law more difficult, but some made it less repressive. For the most part, the Pharisees made special rules only for themselves and did not try to force them on everybody. (During the Hasmonean period they probably did try to enforce their views, but apparently not during the Herodian and post-Herodian periods.) In either case, the Pharisees were known for the precision with which they interpreted the law and the strictness with which they kept it. According to Josephus, they practiced ‘the highest ideals both in their way of living and in their discourse’ (Antiq. 18.15).

Since the Pharisees play an even larger role in the New Testament than does the high priest, I shall give two examples of Pharisaic non-biblical ‘traditions’ in order to put a little flesh on a very bare-bones description. One has to do with Sabbath law. The prophet Jeremiah had forbidden Jews to carry burdens out of their houses on the Sabbath (Jer. 17.19-27). This made festive dining very difficult, since the easiest way for friends to dine together was for each family to bring a cooked dish, and sabbaths were the only days when socializing was possible (because the demands of daily work were so heavy). The Pharisees decided that, when several houses were next to each other along an alley or around a court, they could make them all into one ‘house’ by joining them with a series of doorposts and lintels. They could then carry pots and dishes from one part of the house to another, and thus dine together on the Sabbath. The Pharisees knew that this and other symbolic actions that altered the sabbath limits – actions that are technically called ‘eruvin – had no support in the Hebrew Bible, but they made it a ‘tradition of the elders’ and observed it. Some Jews though that they were transgressing the law, since they carried vessels out of what most people would call a house.

The second example is handwashing. The Mosaic law requires bathing to remove certain impurities before entering the Temple. The Pharisees added a purity rule. They washed their hands before Sabbath and festival meals. Probably handwashing before meals on holy days made the day a little more special. Eventually Jews began to wash their hands before all meals. [14: The history of handwashing is extremely complicated. See *JLJM, pp. 228-31, 262f.]

These small Pharisaic adjustments to the law reveal how carefully people thought about the law and about observing the will of God. The law in principle covers all of life. Pious first-century Jews thought through every detail, so as to observe God’s will in every possible way.

Because of their devotion and precision, the Pharisees were respected and liked by most other Jews. In the Hasmonean period, the Pharisaic party had been a major political force. It was so no longer. Under Herod, no one else had any political power, and those who sought it were promptly executed. The Pharisees lay low. In Galilee, Herod was succeeded by Antipas, who was no more inclined than his father to give authority to a group of pious religious teachers. And in Jerusalem, after Archelaus was deposed, the high priests were in charge, backed by the awesome power of Rome. The Pharisees continued to lie low. They worked, studied, taught and worshipped. Probably they increased in general popularity, but they had no actual power.


#19

(Continued)

To understand the Pharisees’ role in society in Jesus’ day, we can best fix our attention on the beginnings of the revolt against Rome a few decades after Jesus died. As relations between the procurator and the Jewish populace deteriorated, the aristocratic priests and laymen continued to plead for calm and moderation – with some success, but not enough. At the last minute, the chief priests called in the leading Pharisees to help. Even they could not calm the Jerusalem mob, and full revolt broke out. In the war itself, Pharisees played a leading part (as did the chief priests). These events show that the Pharisees had no public responsibility during the rule of Rome’s governors. The high priest and his advisers were the responsible parties in the eyes of Rome. The Pharisees, however, were still around and they still commanded public attention. Thus in a dire emergency the ruling aristocrats called on them. When conditions were right – when they were no longer held in check by Herod or Rome – the Pharisees stepped forward to play a substantial role in Israel’s political and military affairs. But during Jesus’ lifetime, they must be regarded as principally religious teachers and experts, deservedly popular and respected.

We know the titles of two other parties in first-century Palestine: the Essenes and the Sadducees. The Essenes are described by both Josephus and Philo; [15. *War 2.120-61; Antiq. 18.18-22; Philo, Every Good Man is Free 75-91; Hypothetica 11.1-18.] most scholars identify them as the group responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls. If this identification is correct, and I think it is, we know a great deal about the Essenes. The Essenes formed a small party, divided into at least two branches and numbering about 4,000 altogether. [16. Philo, *Every Good Man is Free 75; Josephus, Antiq. 18.20.] The party consisted of both lay people and priests, but the priests were dominant. When the Hasmoneans came to power in 142 BCE, they deposed the previous high-priestly family, the Zadokites. Some of the displaced aristocratic priests joined what became the Essene party, and they seem to have been largely responsible for governing it. Nevertheless, the laymen who were members also studied the Bible and the special rules of the party, and they could become as expert as the priests. The Essenes, as far as we know, played no direct role in Jesus’ life and work, and so I shall not offer a description. Those who are interested will find that the Essene literature is now relatively easy to study, thanks to good translations and a reliable body of introductory material. [17, Geza Vermes, *The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective, 1977; The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, tr. Geza Vermes, 3rd ed., 1987; Michael Knibb, The Qumran Community, 1987; Philip R. Davies, Behind the Essenes: History and Ideology in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1987. My own most recent account of the Essenes is P&B, chs. 16 and 17.]

I do wish, however, to employ the Essenes to make a point about the Pharisees. The Essene literature reveals intense study of the Hebrew Bible and a wealth of community rules in addition to those in the Mosaic law. The Essenes were far stricter than the Pharisees in almost every conceivable way. If the Pharisees were thought the ‘strictest’ observers of the law (as Josephus says), the word ‘strict’ bears the connotation of ‘most accurate’ rather than ‘most extreme’. [18. Josephus, *War 2.162; Life 191 and elsewhere.]

The Sadducees were the third party for which we have a name. We know little about them, except that most Sadducees were aristocratic, did not believe in any form of life after death, and did not accept the Pharisees’ special traditions. Most scholars suppose that a lot of the high priests during the Roman period were Sadducees, but we have direct information from Josephus about only one: Ananus, who was high priest in 62 CE (when he illegally had James the brother of Jesus executed) and who was one of the leaders in the revolt against Rome, was a Sadducee. [19: *Antiq. 20.199.] The reader of the New Testament meets the Sadducees only a few times; it confirms their close association with the aristocratic priesthood and the fact that they did not believe in the resurrection. [20: They are mentioned with no description in Matt. 3.7 and 16.1-12. The passage about the resurrection is Matt. 22.23-33 // Mark 12.18-27 // Luke 20.27-40. For the same point, also see Acts 23.6-8. Acts 5.17 closely connects the high priest and the Sadducees, and their public responsibility for good order is implied in Acts 4.1.]

http://new.rejesus.co.uk/images/area_uploads/the_passion/st03_caiaphas.jpg


#20

most scholars identify them as the group responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls. If this identification is correct, and I think it is, we know a great deal about the Essenes. The Essenes formed a small party, divided into at least two branches and numbering about 4,000 altogether. [16. Philo, *Every Good Man is Free 75; Josephus, Antiq. 18.20.] The party consisted of both lay people and priests, but the priests were dominant. When the Hasmoneans came to power in 142 BCE, they deposed the previous high-priestly family, the Zadokites. Some of the displaced aristocratic priests joined what became the Essene party, and they seem to have been largely responsible for governing it. Nevertheless, the laymen who were members also studied the Bible and the special rules of the party, and they could become as expert as the priests. The Essenes, as far as we know, played no direct role in Jesus’ life and work, and so I shall not offer a description. Those who are interested will find that the Essene literature is now relatively easy to study, thanks to good translations and a reliable body of introductory material. [17, Geza Vermes, *The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective, 1977; The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, tr. Geza Vermes, 3rd ed., 1987; Michael Knibb, The Qumran Community, 1987; Philip R. Davies, Behind the Essenes: History and Ideology in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 1987. My own most recent account of the Essenes is P&B, chs. 16 and 17.]

I do wish, however, to employ the Essenes to make a point about the Pharisees. The Essene literature reveals intense study of the Hebrew Bible and a wealth of community rules in addition to those in the Mosaic law. The Essenes were far stricter than the Pharisees in almost every conceivable way. If the Pharisees were thought the ‘strictest’ observers of the law (as Josephus says), the word ‘strict’ bears the connotation of ‘most accurate’ rather than ‘most extreme’. [18. Josephus, *War 2.162; Life 191 and elsewhere.]

The Sadducees were the third party for which we have a name. We know little about them, except that most Sadducees were aristocratic, did not believe in any form of life after death, and did not accept the Pharisees’ special traditions. Most scholars suppose that a lot of the high priests during the Roman period were Sadducees, but we have direct information from Josephus about only one: Ananus, who was high priest in 62 CE (when he illegally had James the brother of Jesus executed) and who was one of the leaders in the revolt against Rome, was a Sadducee. [19: *Antiq. 20.199.] The reader of the New Testament meets the Sadducees only a few times; it confirms their close association with the aristocratic priesthood and the fact that they did not believe in the resurrection. [20: They are mentioned with no description in Matt. 3.7 and 16.1-12. The passage about the resurrection is Matt. 22.23-33 // Mark 12.18-27 // Luke 20.27-40. For the same point, also see Acts 23.6-8. Acts 5.17 closely connects the high priest and the Sadducees, and their public responsibility for good order is implied in Acts 4.1.]

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Interesting. I think the Essenes were awesome. They fled away from Jerusalem to avoid the high political and economic corruption in both religious and government sectors. They built a sort of “monastery” so to speak. Thety awaited the return of the Messiah and they thought his return was imminent. AND they did not persecute Christians. When Jesus came, they were FAITHFUL to God and ACCEPTED this New Covenant. They became Christian, just as God had intended for all Jews.


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