By honoring Abraham, Isaac, and Jaob the Sadducees were uncounsiouly professing belief in an afterlife.

Saturday, 11/19/11

Our Gospel tells a story about the Sadducees, who were a group of people who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Before looking at the battle of wits to which they challenged Jesus, let’s get a fix on who the Sadducees were. In a twisted way they derived their name from a heroic priest at the time King David was dying. Even though David had promised his crown to Bathsheba’s son Solomon, an upstart son named Adonijah, with the army around him, was declaring himself the new king.

From his deathbed David sent orders to the priest Zadoc to anoint Solomon king. Zadoc was certain that if he did that Adonijah would kill him, but in obedience to David he anointed Solomon at the spring of Gihon. To everyone’s surprise the universal shout of “Long live King Solomon!” turned the tables against Adonijah, and he fled for his life. From that time on, from 967 B.C. it was a fixed rule that only a direct descendent of Zadoc could serve the Jews as their chief priest. Then, eight hundred and fifteen years later, in 152 B.C., Jonathan, the younger brother of Judas Maccabeus, declared himself chief priest, even though he was not descended from Zadoc.

The conservative Jews refused to accept Jonathan; and they hated his companions who used his position to enrich themselves. Those young men were saying, “In a way our Jonathan is a descendent of Zadoc. Zadoc was chief priest, and Jonathan is chief priest, so Jonathan is his descendent in that high office.” They went on to say, “We, as companions of the new Zadoc, Jonathan, are modern day Zadocites.” Our Bible has changed their assumed title of Zadocites to Sadducees.

The Sadducees, who were in it for the money, felt they could legitimately be considered as Jewish if they accepted just the first five books of the Bible; and since there is nothing about an afterlife in those books, they denied the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus asked them if, in accordance of the first five books of the Bible, they called themselves the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They said they did. He pointed out that unconsciously they were acknowledging life after death, because they were thinking of the Patriarchs not as decayed ashes but as living heroes. The crowds saw his point, and they laughed at the Sadducees.

Jesus then told us that procreation ended in this life , that there would be no new people born in heaven. We will live as angels.

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