The Pharisees and the Saducees

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two groups of Jewish leaders that interacted with Jesus in the Gospel stories. This table is a summary of the beliefs of the two groups. It is clear that in many instances the Jesus tells these folks that they have got it wrong. He is not that direct but the message comes across. Both are focusing on an external righteousness whether it is the strict observance of the law or bringing the proper sacrifice. Both are missing the God in their zeal to be outwardly correct. 

Pharisees Saducees
The name Pharisee derives from the Hebrew root p-r-sh ("to separate"), possibly because Pharisees were distinguished from other Jews by their legal scrupulousness. It is not clear, though, whether they first called themselves "separatists" or whether that name was foisted on them by others. From the Hebrew seduaim, "Just/fight ones". Usually spelled Zadok but  sometimes Sadok was a patrilineal descendant of Eleazar the son of Aaron the high priest. Zadok means "Righteous, Justified."
Established as a group during the Hasmonean dynasty. Established as a group during the Hasmonean dynasty.
Laymen; could become rabbis and scribes. Hereditary Priests and aristocrats. Many say that the Hasmoneans were Saducees.
Popular with the average person. Favored by the elite. (Herod the Great married the last Hasmonean princess.)
Centered in the synagogues.  Centered in the temple and the Sanhedrin.
Main Goal: To obey the Torah and the traditions of the "traditions of the fathers." Main Goal: To keep Judaism centered on the sacrificial system at the temple.
Accepted all the Hebrew Scriptures including the Torah, Psalms and later writers. Additionally the Oral Law or the tradition of the fathers". Accepted only the Torah; the books of Moses.
Believed in resurrection, angels and demons. Did not believe in resurrection, angels and demons.

Survived after the destruction of the temple in AD 70. The Pharisees were responsible for the compilation of the Mishnah, an important document that underlies much of what is Judaism today. That is why many say the Pharisees laid the groundwork for modern-day Rabbinic Judaism.

Disappeared from history after the destruction of the Temple.


Based in large part on Rose Guide to the Gospels: Rose Publishing 2019 8/5/19 8/5/19