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Jesus takes the Sadducees head on regarding the Resurrection – Jewish Thursday

1437497_origThis Sunday, while pastor Malcolm was preaching and referring to Mark 12:31, my eyes wandered to another part of the text, Mark 12:18-27.

What caught my eyes was Jesus’ dispute with the Sadducees on the issue of the resurrection. I have referred my English readers to a series of entries that talk about sects within Second Temple Judaism, you can find it here. The specific sect, the Sadducees, can be found being described here.

The issue is that I found interesting that Jesus beats the Sadducees with their own Scriptures. The Sadducees rejected the resurrection because they only considered The Torah (the first five books of the Bible, or the Law for us Christians), as authoritative, and they saw the resurrection of the dead as a later development (they may have also rejected the resurrection due to them being landowners, and the resurrection meant that they would give those lands back to their original owners, cf. Lev. 27:24).

Jesus chastises the Sadducees for not knowing Scripture (the Sadducees were made up of the main priests of the Temple, so Jesus telling them that, really struck a chord!) and also not knowing the power of God. For the the Sadducees, God was the absent watchmaker, who just winded the world, and left it to its faith (they were strong believers in free-will). So God would not enter this realm for them.

However, Jesus answers their question by quoting “the book of Moses” (a term that could be applied to the whole of the Torah, but in this case, Exodus 3:6), the book, the only book, recognized by the Sadducees as authoritative to teach doctrine. Jesus answers them that the Patriarchs, are somewhere, alive, they are not dead, as the Sadducees would assume.

We can see how Jesus’ reading of Scripture differed from the Sadducees, and he corrected them, as some say, in their own game. Jesus is closer to the Pharisees in this case, who believed and affirmed not only the resurrection, but also that God still spoke to humans (contra those who affirm that the Jews believed that they had no prophets from the time of Malachi to the time of John the Baptist) and to there was a spiritual existence after death, cf. Acts 23:6-9.

I hope that this entry enriches your understanding of Scripture, and Second Temple Judaism, and Pastor Malcolm, after getting all of this through my head, I went back and paid attention. Nevertheless, thank you for bringing this text into my attention, and being able to read it fresh.

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