Jewish Religious Groups

/ 11th December, 2015

Let’s go back two centuries before Christ. There was ‘Hellenisation’ – the cultural and religious influence of all things Greek. A group of strict Jews emerged who resisted any Greek influences – especially religious influences. They were called ‘the separate ones’ or Pharisees. By the time of Jesus there were perhaps 6000 Pharisees dedicated to keeping the Jewish Law down to its finest detail. The Jewish Kingdoms needed their scribes too. Scribes are mentioned in the reigns of King David and King Solomon. They became important in the world where few could write.  In Jerusalem, a group of priestly families claimed direct descent from Zadok: ‘Zadokites’, or Sadducees. The Sadducees were priests, some Chief Priests, and one the High Priest. They were the upper class in Jewish society with cosmopolitan lifestyles open to Greek and Roman influences. Zealot means ‘fanatic’. About what were Jewish Zealots fanatical? Their Jewish faith and the right to practice it and live in a Jewish land free from foreign oppressors. To the Romans they were terrorists; to other Jews they may have been admired as religious freedom fighters and patriots. They aimed to rid the country of pagan Roman rule once and for all—even by using violence. They were sometimes known as ‘sicarii’ – daggermen, after the daggers they concealed in their clothing.

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