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There are a few quotes where Sadducees try showing to the Rabbis how the Jews are bad people.

For example, Yoma 56b: " אמר ליה ההוא צדוקי לר' חנינא השתא ברי טמאים אתון דכתיב טומאתה בשוליה": "A Sadducee told R' Chanina, now you're definitely impure, as it says 'your impurity is on your hem'".

Eiruvin 101a: " א"ל ההוא צדוקי לרבי יהושע בן חנניה חדקאה דכתיב בכו טובם כחדק": "A Sadducee told R' Yehoshua ben Chananya [you're a] thorn, as it says 'the best of you is like a thorn'".

As I understood their philosophy, they considered themselves to be "the real Jews". If they took Tanach literally, it seems as much embarrassing themselves as embarrassing the Rabbis.

What was their claim?

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Also recall that nearly all we know about them is from Pharisee writings, and the Pharisees had no incentive to show the Sadducees in anything but a terrible light. – Double AA Jan 15 '14 at 6:31
@DoubleAA, what about Josephus? – Yishai Jan 15 '14 at 17:39
@Yishai He's a Pharisee IIRC. And I said nearly. – Double AA Jan 15 '14 at 17:46
Many times "Tzedoki" is a censor's substitute for "Min", which often referred to christians. – Menachem Jan 15 '14 at 19:44
@Menachem I thought that they also consider themselves the true successors to Jews? – Shmuel Brin Jan 15 '14 at 19:47
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, the Sadducees did believe they were Jewish.

However, the confounding factor in the quotes you provide is probably this: That in many gemaras, because of medieval censors, "Christian" or rather "Min" (Christian sectarian) was replaced with "Sadducee".

See for example the London manuscript of Yoma 56b that you cited above. I have drawn a red arrow to the word מינא: enter image description here

So too in the Munich manuscript on the same daf in Yoma (I've included the right margin, so use that to locate this snip in this larger image): enter image description here

The idea behind replacement theology is that God has removed himself from the Jewish people for being so awful, and has therefore replaced them with a new nation, namely the Christians, in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant.

As such, verses speaking about how awful the Israelites were such that God has abandoned them are precisely the sort of verses they would cite to prove the replacement theology. It would not be self-criticism to cite these verses. These verses would presumably not be targeting the new nation within the new covenant.

Thus, in Eruvin 101a, Michah 7:4 reads טוֹבָם כְּחֵדֶק, יָשָׁר מִמְּסוּכָה; יוֹם מְצַפֶּיךָ פְּקֻדָּתְךָ בָאָה, עַתָּה תִהְיֶה מְבוּכָתָם, "The best of them is as a brier; the most upright is worse than a thorn hedge; the day of thy watchmen, even thy visitation, is come; now shall be their perplexity." That only the prophet, who is כְּאָסְפֵּי קַיִץ, "the last of the summer fruits", is righteous. But among the people, even the "best" is really a briar. Rabbi Yehoshua reverses the ascribed meaning, such that the righteous do exist and their merits protect us. Or alternatively (and this is polemics, mind you) they send the other nations of the world to Gehinnom.

And in Yoma 56b, it is all about sin and rejection by God. The verse in Eicha 1:9 reads, טֻמְאָתָהּ בְּשׁוּלֶיהָ, לֹא זָכְרָה אַחֲרִיתָהּ, וַתֵּרֶד פְּלָאִים, אֵין מְנַחֵם לָהּ; רְאֵה יה אֶת-עָנְיִי, כִּי הִגְדִּיל אוֹיֵב, "Her filthiness was in her skirts, she was not mindful of her end; therefore is she come down wonderfully, she hath no comforter. 'Behold, O LORD, my affliction, for the enemy hath magnified himself." This is a reference to the sending of the Judeans into exile. The Christian says השתא ברי טמאים אתון, you are surely impure. As Rashi explains, the intent is ודאי טמאים אתון ואין שכינה ביניכם שורה בטומאה, you are certainly impure and the Shechina does not dwell amongst you to dwell in impurity. In other words, this is a rejection of God among the Jews. The response of Rabbi Chanina is that God dwells amongst them even though they are impure. Thus, אמר ליה תא חזי מה כתיב בהו השוכן אתם בתוך טומאתם אפילו בזמן שהן טמאין שכינה שרויה ביניהן. He said to him, go see what is written about Him (in Vayikra 16:16), השוכן אתם בתוך טומאתם, Who Dwells with them amidst their impurity. Thus, the figurative impurity does not represent a total rejection of Israel.

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Don't Christians also think they are "Jewish"? – Double AA Jan 16 '14 at 1:09
yes/no. they thought that the original Jews had been pushed away (thus impure such that God wouldn't dwell among them, as in the quote), and that they were the replacement chosen nation. alternatively, it could be any sectarian group (thus "min"), as the Christian censors indiscriminately replaced the word min with tzedukki or the like, for how are they to know. regardless, we can now understand the reference to "you" (as the former Jewish people) and the verses as the prophets' criticism of the historical Jews. A separate question: how Christians deal with critical verse. apply to selves? – josh waxman Jan 16 '14 at 1:35
+1 good answer. Learning these sort of facts always makes me so angry. So essentially you are saying that the christians are bringing verses to show that Judaism and Jews have failed and are things of the past? If you could write one or two sentences just tying the sources and their implications back in to the question clearly, I think your answer would be perfect! – Baby Seal Jan 16 '14 at 3:11
@BabySeal, done. – josh waxman Jan 17 '14 at 0:24
If I could +2 I would :D awesome. – Baby Seal Jan 17 '14 at 1:51

As to their claim:

Avot D'Rebbi Natan explains the origins of the Sadduccees and the Boethusians. Zadok and Boethus were students of Antigonus of Socho. He taught that "one should be like a servant who serves the master withoutexpecting a reward..."

Somewhere along the chain of oral transmission1, Antigonus' teaching was misinterpreted to be saying that we don't get a reward in the afterlife, for there is no afterlife2. The students broke into two sects, stemming from their respective teachers. Their beliefs seem to be uniform.

Notice that the end of his saying has a phrase in AdR"N that is not present in Avos 1:3,

... That your reward be multiplied in the World to Come.

The reason for this addition is evident, based on the misinterpretation.

As to the verses that they seemingly bring against all Jews, including themselves:

Another belief of these two sects was that the Five Books of Moses were the sole Divine Authority, (see 10:6). Both of the verses that Sadduccees cite in your question are not from the Five Books of Moses. They are from Lamentations and Michah, respectively, neither of which were accepted by the Sadduccees as binding as a source for Law or tradition.

So it would seem that the Sadduccees were citing verses that did not reflect badly on themselves, but only on the Pharisees, who use the 19 books of Nach to derive many traditional practices. They were essentially saying that if the books of Nach are binding and authoritative, Like the Five Books of Moses, than you must be impure, and you must be at best thorns, etc.

1. The commentator in the left column of the page I cited from AdR"N argues with R' Obadia of Bar Tenura about whether this was Zadok and Boethus themselves or their students.

2. Evidently the saying was misconstrued to be a statement of fact (we are servants who serve Gd without reward), rather than a motto (we should be like).

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I didn't know that they didn't believe in Nach – Shmuel Brin Jan 15 '14 at 20:36
@ShmuelBrin They didn't believe it to be a Divine authority to derive laws from. I don't think they believed them to be made up. I'm going to try to clarify that further. – Baby Seal Jan 15 '14 at 20:49
@ShmuelBrin there I've edited I hope its more clear. – Baby Seal Jan 15 '14 at 20:55

According to Dr. Lawrence Shiffman, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were themselves a Sadducce group.

The Scrolls literature gives us a great deal of insight into how the Dead Sea Sect viewed themselves.

For example, in the Damascus Document, CD, the sect refers to their own founding as God's establishment of a "faithful house in Israel" - the earliest Hebrew form of the phrase, "Bayit ne'eman b'yisrael." (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus_Document)

Furthermore, from 4QMMT, Miqsa'at Ma'aseh HaTorah, also known as the halakhic letter, it is clear that they view themselves in direct continuity with the laws of Moses, the prophets, and they exhort the other Jews to follow in the example of the righteous Kings of Israel.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus_Document)

From this it is clear that the Sadduccees thought of themselves as Jewish, and of their opponents as Jewish. However, they saw themselves as in possession of the truest expression of God's will, exemplified in their adherence to the Solar Calendar of the Book of Jubilees.

That means they were very similar to other Jews - they thought they were right, and that other groups were wrong.

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Not the earliest instance of "Bayit Neeman" though. – Double AA Jan 17 '14 at 8:17
It answers the title, not the body. – Shmuel Brin Jan 17 '14 at 17:43
Reading through this and the following answer, and with all respect to Dr Shiffman, even though the Essenes might have shared some halachic views with "normative Sadducees", they were more like an extremely fundamental branch of Sadducees. They were against the non-Zadokite priesthood ruling in Judea, and broke off from the main Sadducee Party, as it were. The Sadducees were collaborators with all the Hasmoneans until Queen Alexandra, who, at least according to Josephus' version, made the Pharisees the dominant party according to King Alexander Yannai's deathbed wish. – Gary Apr 3 at 1:53
Also, unlike the Sadducees, the Essenes absolutely used Nach to make laws for their Community, further differentiating themselves from the "Sadducee Party". They regarded them extremely highly - using them as a basis for the Peshers and quoting them frequently in the Damascus Document and other writings of theirs. There were enough differences for Josephus to describe them as the third major division of Jews, and spend some ink describing their peculiarities that set them apart – Gary Apr 3 at 2:07

Yes, in fact for many years they were the majority of members in the sanhedrin . (see Talmud bavli Kiddushin 66a, Talmud Yerushalmi Berachot 7:4, and Megillat Ta'anit ch. 10)

The sadducees did not strictly read tanach litterally, often conflicts in the Talmud are instances where the saducees were making fun of the pharasee interpretations.

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I never knew they were a part of the Sanhedrin, whoa! Where can I read more about this? – Baby Seal Jan 15 '14 at 8:00
So how did they interpret these verses, and how did we? – Shmuel Brin Jan 15 '14 at 17:32
@BabySeal the Encyclopedia of talmudic sages by R. Gershom – avi Jan 16 '14 at 8:10
@BabySeal done. aishdas.org/avodah/vol10/v10n087.shtml – avi Jan 18 '14 at 18:05

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