PEOPLE AND PLACES OF BIBLICAL TIMES SCS

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ESSENES

a sect of Judaism which existed between 200 BC and 100 AD, described by first century authors like Philo, Josephus and Pliny; they are generally, but not conclusively associated with the archaeological site at Khirbet Qumran because of the scrolls found in caves above this site in 1947. The scrolls reflect a group marked by a community lifestyle, loyalty to the Teacher of Righteousness, attention to the final days and the expectation of two messiahs: a political ruler and a priestly leader.

PHARISEES

in Hebrew, "separated ones"; a largely lay sect of Judaism most likely derived from the Hasidim ("the pious ones"), who first supported the Maccabees' cause against Greek persecutions of the Second Century BC, but later separated themselves in opposition to the claims of John Hyrcanus to the high priesthood (140 BC). The Pharisees were a reform-minded group, known for their devotion to the precepts of the written Torah and to the oral Torah of the great scribal teachers [see Talmud], for their belief in the resurrection of the dead, and their hope for a coming messiah to restore Israel's freedom and glory.

QUMRAN

an archaeological site on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, which is considered by some (following the theory of R. DeVaux) to be the remains of a settlement of Essene-related Jewish believers; the site is particularly important because of the numerous fragments of biblical and non-biblical writings discovered in near-by caves.

SADDUCEES

a largely priestly and wealthy aristocratic sect within Judaism originally descended from the priestly family of Zadok in the days of David and Solomon and an important ruling party in Judaism during the period 150 BC - 70 AD; they were opposed to the Hasidim of the second-first century BC and known for their concern for the temple and its cult, their cooperation with foreign rulers (Greek and Roman) and support for the Hellenization of Judaism, as well as for their emphasis on the Torah over the Prophets and Writings.

SANHEDRIN

although of uncertain origins, this 70-member senate of priests and laymen under the leadership of the high priest in Jerusalem exercised extensive responsibility in deciding legal and religious cases of Torah violations, in the period of rule by Roman procurators.
80.

SCRIBES

originally an educated class of civil servants first appearing during the reign of Solomon (961 BC) and considered to be responsible for the growth of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. From the post-exilic times into the New Testament period, the scribes were lawyers and theologians of the Mosaic Law who guided the Jewish community by both instruction and personal example. Their popular authority often rivaled that of the high priest, and while some scribes were Sadducees, the majority inclined to Pharisaism.

SYNAGOGUE

from the Greek "to bring together"; a meeting house where Jewish believers, beginning sometime in the post-exilic period, gathered for prayer, devout reading of the scriptures, meditation and instruction on the Torah.

TEMPLE

the center of the theocratic nation of Israel under priestly leadership, where both legal business and cultic rites were conducted; first built under Solomon (959 BC), destroyed by the Babylonians (586 BC), rebuilt under Zerubbabel (515 BC), fully reconstructed by Herod the Great (20-11 BC) and finally destroyed by the Romans (70 AD).

THE TWELVE

A special group of Jesus' disciples whose number (12) is evidently a sacred number made complete by the election of Matthias (Acts 1/15-26) to echo the twelve tribes of Israel. This group is not considered a perpetual institution, since the condition of membership could not be met except by the first generation of Palestinian Christians. The Twelve are in the first place disciples, yet they are specially chosen by Jesus to be his constant companions, to be sent to proclaim the kingdom and to have authority to expel demons (Mk 3/13-15) and to cure illnesses (Mt 10/1-4). The name apostle is given to the Twelve several times in the gospels, either explicitly or in contexts where it is clear that the Twelve are meant.

ZEALOTS

a politically active group within first century Judaism with roots among those known as leistes ("bandits") or sicarii ("terrorists"); the Zealots extended the Pharisees' principle of separation from foreign influences to its political conclusion, calling for the ouster of Roman rule and fostering a series of revolts, culminating in the Jewish Wars of 66-72 AD. It is also likely that their thinking influenced the futile Bar-Kochba (Koseba) revolt of 132 AD.

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