Jewish Sects Of The Second Temple Period

Jewish Sects

When most Christians think of Judaism, they often fail to consider that over the centuries many changes have taken place within the Jewish community. The religion practiced by the Patriarchs in the book of Genesis is different from that of a devout Jew under the Law of Moses. Also, the practices of the Jews during the post-exilic period is very different from the rabbinic Judaism that followed the destruction of the Second Temple.

Nearly every Bible student is familiar with as least two of the sects, or parties, of the Jews that are mentioned in the New Testament, i.e., the Pharisees and the Sadducees. A careful reading of the Gospels reveals two other powerful parties—the Herodians and the Zealots. From ancient Jewish sources and secular history, we learn of two more sects—the Essenes and the Sicarii. In this series of sermons we examine the six main Jewish sects of Second Temple Period (i.e., the period in ancient Israel between the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 516 B.C. and its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70).

Our Lord, in the days of His flesh, would have interacted with all of these groups. The spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to throughout all of Judea would have brought further interaction between the disciples of Christ and the leaders of these various Jewish sects. Unfortunately, many Christians have a tendency to characterize all Jews based upon the actions of the Pharisees that our Lord dealt with in Jerusalem. This is just as unfair as characterizing all Muslims by the actions of members of terrorist groups like ISIS or the Taliban.

The majority of Jewish people in the first century were not members of any of religious sect. These ordinary people were known as am-ha-aretz, the “people of the land.”

Jewish Sects of the Second Temple Period, a new book by David Padfield, contains a series of sermons that were preached in Zion, Illinois in 2017. These outlines include much more information than was presented in the lessons—this is for the benefit of students who are not afraid to delve into the weightier matters of Biblical studies. These outlines include additional source material to which many Bible students do not have ready access (like the writings of Philo, Josephus, and the Mishnah).

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