Difference Between Sadducees and Pharisees

Key Difference – Sadducees vs Pharisees

Sadducee and Pharisee are terms that are encountered in the works of Josephus and the Bible between which a key difference can be identified. These are Jewish sects that were already in place before the advent of Christianity and were considered as religious parties in the times of Jesus. Not surprisingly, both were opposed to what Jesus had to say. Despite this similarity and the fact that both these sects were fundamentalists, there are many differences between Sadducee and Pharisee that will be talked about in this article.

What is Sadducee?

Sadducee was a Jewish sect; in fact, a socio-political group that was prominent during 3rd and 2nd century BC and which was characterized by its elite and priestly class. This group of Jews disappeared after the destruction of the Temple, and even the literature written by prominent writers of this group got destroyed with this destruction. Sadducees enjoyed authority as they were the priestly class that also included the aristocrats. The members of this class held important and powerful positions in the society, and they also had a majority in the ruling council. During this period, Israel was ruled by Roman Empire and Sadducees agreed to whatever decisions were taken by Rome. This attitude was not liked by the common people, and they did not think highly of the Sadducees.

Sadducees believed only in the written Law of Moses and did not approve Oral Torah. They did not believe in after life and opposed priesthood to be given to any other class of people other than themselves. They were conservatives as they opposed oral Torah.

Difference Between Sadducees and Pharisees

What is Pharisee?

Pharisee was a socio-political group among the Jews that was made up of common people. This class of people was prominent during the Hasmonean Dynasty and in direct opposition to the Sadducees because of differences in social and political status. Pharisees gave equal respect to the Oral Torah and believed in after life, resurrection and the existence of angels. This group was made up of the masses, and it represented the views of the poor man. The group had business people among its members who were in touch with the common man. Because of the weight of the oral Torah among the group, this group became prominent after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The modern Judaism traces its roots to this group or class of people that was referred to as Pharisee.

Sadducees vs Pharisees

What is the Difference Between Sadducees and Pharisees?

Definitions of Sadducees and Pharisees:


Characteristics of Sadducees and Pharisees:

Social Political Group:

Sadducees: Sadducee is a social political group among the Jews during the times of Jesus.

Pharisees: Pharisee is another distinct social political group among the Jews during the times of Jesus.


Sadducees: Sadducees were in a majority in the ruling council.

Pharisees: Pharisees were in a minority.

After Life:

Sadducees: Sadducees did not believe in after life.

Pharisees: Pharisees believed in after life and resurrection.

Growth in Status:

Sadducees: Sadducees were conservatives who believed in the supremacy of the temple only and their prominence waned with the destruction of the temple.

Pharisees: Pharisees rose in stature after the destruction as they believed in oral Torah too.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem” by Sebastiano Conca – 1. Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork2. Unknown. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Brooklyn Museum – Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees (Malheur à vous, scribes et pharisiens) – James Tissot” by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008, 00.159.209_PS2.jpg. [Public Domain] via Commons

  • patricia bennett

    Numerous debates of the past … SEEM … to be playing a part in the lives of the people of today.