The two main religious sects of the Jews were known as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They had the same fundamental belief system that God was the creator of the universe and the Torah was the Word of God, however they became polarised around different teachings and interpretations of scripture. Sadducees generally came from the wealthier upper class and were fewer in number but because they were politically motivated they held the main positions of power within the priesthood.

When John saw those from the religious sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to observe the crowds be baptised, he condemned them by saying, “You brood of vipers! TJB 4:35

The major teaching differences between the sects were that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (the soul perishes at death), there were no angels or demons and only the Torah was considered to be ‘the Word of God’. Once the temple was destroyed in 70AD the Sadducee sect came to an end.

The Pharisees accepted that all the scriptures were inspired by God however they also gave equal weight to the oral traditions that had been passed down the generations. Jesus by definition would have been a Pharisee at that time. This however did not stop him clashing with them over the weight they placed on their man-made traditions.