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We may trace the origin of these doctors back to the
thele doctors back to the ofthe fcribes time of Ezra (a), who is himself called a fcribe, which is a word of the same import as that of doctor.
The term " fcribe, is indeed of a more extensive signification in boly fcripture, because there were several sorts of fcribes. We find for instance in Deuteronomy, according to the version of the seventy, some officers named fcribes (6). But by this word are most commonly meant the Jewish doctors, and this is the sense which it generally bears in the New Testament. Hence JESUS CHRIST said of the fcribes as well as of the Pharisees, that they Late in Moses's chair (c). It appears from the first book of Maccabees (d), that there was, in the time of its author, a company of fcribes; and from the second, that there were several degrees of dignity and subordination among them (e). Such a regulation as this was necessary, after the gift of prophecy had ceased among them, because the high-priests, having the greatest slrare of the administration in their hands, could have no leisure or opportunity of applying themselves to explain the law, and inItruct the people.
The names that were given these doctors, were at first very plain; for they were termed only fcribes or interpreters of the law. But a little before our Saviour's time, they affected higher titles, as those of Rabban, and Rabbi, which, in their original fignification, imply greatness and multiplicity of learning; and that of Ab, or Abba, i. e. father, which they were extremely fond of. The word fcribe was the title of an office, and not of a sect (f). We learn indeed from the gospel history, that the greatest part of them sided with the Pharisees, and adhered to their opinions and tenets. But it is also probable, on the other hand, from sec veral passages of the New Testament, that some of them were of the fect of the Sadducees.'
The profession of the scribes, as they were doctors, was to write copies of the law, to keep it correct (*), and to read and explain it to the people. In doing this, they did not all follow the same method. For be. sides the allegorifts or searchers before mentioned, fome stuck to the literal Jense of the law. These are supposed to have been the same as are termed in the gospel, doĉtors of the law, or lawyers, and seemed to be diftinguished from the Pharisees and the rest of the scribes. But in this there is no certainty, and it is manifest on the contrary, from several passages of scripture (8), that the doctors of the law were the scribes, and even such of them as received the traditions, as the Pharisees and most doctors at that time were wont to do. Lastly, fome made it their business to explain the traditions, which they called the oral law (t), that is, the
(a) Ezra vii. 6.
(6) Deut. XX. 5, 9. reapp.censis.
(d) i Macc. vii. 12.
(f) Luke xi. 45. Acts xxiji. 9. . (*) This afterwards gave rise to the Maljorites, that is, those that criticized upon the letter of scripture, upon the oumber of verses, words, letters, and ponts; concerning which, fee Dr. Prideaux Connect.
(8) Luke v. 17. vii. 30. xiv. 3.
ooked up to the law jtvely than the which Jesus
law delivered by word of mouth; which, as they pretended, had been · conveyed from Moses down to them from generation to generation by
the tradition of the elders. They had a great regard for these traditions, looked upon them as the key of the law, and giving them the preference even to the law itself. Hence this blasphemous maxim : The words of the feribes are more lovely than the words of the law of God. But it is evident from the frequent reproaches which Jesus CHRIST made to the fcribes and Pharisees upon this point, that under pretence of explaining the law by their traditions, they had actually made it of none effect (h). Which will be found undeniably true, by any one that will be at the pains of consulting the Thalmud (II).
Of the Jewish Seets. T HE last article we have insisted upon, leads us naturally to
I give an account of the Jewish sects. The whole body of the Jewish nation may be divided into two general foils, the Caraïtes (*), and the Rabbanists. The Caraïtes are those that adhere to the plain and literal sense of holy scripture, rejecting all manner of traditions. They may properly be called textuary. The Rabbanists, otherwife called the Cabalists, or Thalmudists, are those that, on the contrary, own and receive the oral or tradition.ciry law. As there is no express mention of the former in scripture, all that we know of them is from some of their writings, or from the Thalmudists their adversaries, or else from the relations of travellers. But if the name be not ancient, yet we may safely venture to affirm, that the thing itself is of a very long standing. There are authors that pretend to discover some footsteps of them in the gospel ; but, as we have already observed, this is too
groundless dition. It consists of two parts, one of which contains the opinions, rites and ceremonies of the Jews ; the other ihe mystical expofitions of the law. This Cabala is of a very ancient date, and was ihe occation of most of the he. refies iyong Christians.
(6) Matth. xv, 2, 3, 6. Mark vii, 7, 8, 9.
(1) The Thalmud is a coilection of the Jewish doctrines and traditions. There are two of them ; that of Jerusalem, which was compoled by Rabbi Judah, the fon of Simeon, about the year of Chril: 300, and that of Babylon published about the year soo. Each of them consists of riro parts, one of which, called the Mifnah, is the text of the Thalniud, or traditions ; and the other, named Gemara, is the supplement or comment upon them. See Dr. Prideaux Con, P. I. B. 5. under the year 446.
(*) The Hebrew word Cara fignities to read, and Rabban a doctor that receives the traditiorary law. It is iupposed that the founder of this tect was a Jew', called Anan, who lived about the middle of te eighth century. See Lupin. Hift. of the canon, &c. B. l. chap. 8. fcct. 4.
groundless and uncertain to be relied on. To reconcile the different opinions of the learned upon this head, the fcribes or Jewish dcfiors may very fitly be divided into two classes, namely, such as owned and receive ed the traditions, and lided with the Pharisees; and thote that adhered to the facred text, and were afterwards called Caraïtes. As these were not distinct from the body of the Jewish nation, or the assembly of the doctors, it is no great wonder that they should not be mentioned in the New Testament under the name of any particular feet. Besides, as they did not corrupt and alter the law of God by their traditions, as the fcribes and Pharisees did; JESUS CHRIST had therefore no occasion of mentioning them. When their adversaries, the followers of oral traditions, in order to represent them as odious as possible, confound them with the Sadducees, do they not in effect own that their antiquity is very great? In Origen (i), and Eufebius (k), we find the Jewish doctors divided in two classes, one of which adhered to the text and letter of the law, and the other received the traditions of the elders. It is then very probable that the Caraïtes and traditionary fcribes are both of the same antiquity, and that their disputes begun, when traditions came in vogue, that is, about a hundred years before the birth of Christ. The Caraïtes disagreed with the rest of the Jews in some particulars, as in the keeping the fabbath, of the new moons, and other festivals ; but the main difference between them consisted in these particulars : 1. In that, as hath been already observed, they entirely rejected all traditions in general, and stuck to the text of scripture, that is, to the canonical books of the Old Testament, explained in a literal sense. 2. In that they thought scripture ought to be explained by itself, and by comparing one passage with another, without having recourse to the Cabala, or traditions. 3. They received the interpretations of the doctors, provided they were agreeable to the facred writings; but withal, left every one at liberty to examine those explanations, and either to embrace or reject them, as he thought fit. The charge of faducisin, which hath been brought by the Jews against the Caraïtes, is entirely groundless, since it is evident from their writings, that they believed the immortality of the foul, and the resurrection. There are still at this day great numbers of Caraïtes dispersed in several parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. .
The most ancient feet among the Jews, was that of of the Sadducees; so named from Sadoc, the founder of it, who lived above two hundred years before Jesus CHRIST (1). What the main points and most essential branches of their doctrine were, is evident from scripture, wherein we are told, that they did not believe there is any resurrection, neither angel nor spirit (m). The Jews imagine that Sadoc fell into these errors, by misapplying the instructions of Antigonus his master, who taught, that men ought to practise virtue disinterestedly,
ceto the facaderpretations Cupte to the Camomparing on
. (i) Origen in Matth. p. 218. Ed. Hul.
(k) Euleb. Præp. Evang. I. 8. c. 10.
(1) Dr. Prideaux places the rise of this sect, An. 263. before Christ. Con. P. II. Anno 263.
(m) Acts xxiii. 8. Matth, xxii. 23. Mark xii. 18. Luke xx. 27.
See and without any view to a reward. Josephus asserts (n), that they denied the immortality of the foul; but he ascribes to them several other opinions, which there is no mention of in the sacred writings : as, “ that " they did not allow of any fatality at all in what case foever; but main“ tained, that every man has it in his own power to make his condition “ better or worse, according as he takes right or wrong measures." Which hath given some persons occasion to believe, that they denied a providence, but this hath been advanced without any folid proof; for as they professed to follow the law, they could not well entertain such an impious notion, even though they had received only the five books of Mofes, as foine authors have asserted, without any good grounds. Josephus relates indeed that they rejected all traditions, and were persuaded that only the written law was authoritative and binding ; but he doth not say that they rejected the prophets, and the other canonical books of Scripture. What hath given rise to this opinion, is, that JESUS CHRIST cites a passage out of Exodus to prove the resurrection to the Sadducees (o), instead of chusing some others which occur in other parts of scripture, and seem to contain more express and positive arguments for that truth. But this cannot be reckoned any manner of proof, because Jesus CHRIST may have had particular reasons for pitching upon that place, rather than any other. All that can be inferred from it, is, that though the Sadducees rejected the traditions of the Pharisees, they notwithstanding allowed of the mystical interpretations of feripture, since otherwise they could not have apprehended the force of Jesus CHRIST'S argument, which cannot well admit of any other sense than a mystical one. Perhaps not being used to this way of arguing, they were put to filence by it (p). However it be, we may from hence learn how great was the hatred of the Pharisees against the Sadducees, since they immediately took council against Jesus Christ, how they might put him to death, because he had filenced and convinced the latter, as if they had envied them for the knowledge of an article, which they themselves acknowledged and received. Another reason may be assigned for this consultation, which is, that the Sadducees being highly in favour with the great and powerful, as Jofephus assures us (9), the Pharisees were afraid these should join with the people, who admired the doctrine of Jesus CHRIST.
If we may believe the same historian, the Sadducees were extremely harsh and il natured (r.). But as he was a Pharisee, we cannot safely rely on the account he gives of the Sadducees; and perhaps what may be inferred from this roughness of theirs, which he charges them with, is, that they were stricter in point of morality than the Pharisees, whose reiigioni consisted in mere outside. And indeed we do not find that Jesus CHRIST ever upbraided them upon this account, for he only tells them they erred, not knowing the scriptures, whereas he treats the Pharifves with the utmost severity. Several reasons may be assigned
- (2) Joseph. Antiq. xiii. 9. 18. xviii. 2.
(0) Matt. xxi. 32, ) Ibid. ver. 34.
(?) Jos. Antiq. I. xii. c. 18. (5) Id. de Be!l. Jud, 1. j. c. 18.
for this different deportment of our Saviour towards those two feets. 1. There is this difference between error and vice, that error is only in the understanding, and often involuntary ; whereas vice is in the will, and proceeds from a corrupt heart. 2. Of all vices, there are none of a more pernicious consequence, or more difficult to root up, than those which the Pharisees were infected with. Pride is the bane of all religion and piety; and hypocrisy is one of the most dangerous kinds of Atheism. 3. The Sadducees were exact observers of the law, whereas the Pharisees adulterated it by their traditions. So that the doctrine of the Pharisees, was only a set of impious notions, concealed under a fhew and specious pretence of religion. The acknowledging of a resurrection, and the immortality of the soul, was indeed a great step towards the conversion of the Pharisees to christianity : But then, on the other hand, their traditions and vices were much greater obstacles to their embracing that blessed religion, than the errors of the Sadducees could be. And these errors were not reckoned very dangerous among the Jews, since the Sadducees were admitted to all places of trust and prost, and performed the divine service in the temple, as well as the rest. The high-priest Caiaphas was of that sect (s), as well as Ananus, who, according to Josephus, caused St. James to be put to death (t). It is certain, that in the time of Jesus Christ the Sadducees were very numerous, and made a considerable figure (u). But after the establishment of the gospel, and especially since the resurrection of JESUS CHRIST, the error of the Sad ducees was reckoned of a very pernicious consequence; for which reason St. Paul reproves so sharply Hymeneus and Philetus for denying the resurrection (x), and insists largely on the proof of it, as of a fundamental article of the Christian religion (y). It is supposed, with a great deal of probability, that the
Of the HeHerodians, of whom we find mention in the gospel (z), dif
į rcdians. fered but little from the Sudducees. Accordingly, St. Mark (a) "<<< seems to call that the leaven of Herod, which Jesus Christ stiles the leaven of the Sadducees (b), because the greatest part of them were of Herod's fide. There are some who imagine, that it was a sect which professed to believe that Herod was the Metliah. But this is very uncertain and improbable. What may molt safely be depended upon, is, that the Herodians in general were a set of people that were great sticklers for Herod, who like the generality of the grandees, was a Sadducee, and which consequently were in a different intereit from that of the Pharisees. These last notwithstanding joined with the Herodians, when they wanted to ensnare Jesus CHRIST. Josephus speaks of Jews, that were friends and favourers of Herod (c).
The Pharisees were so called from a Hebrew Word (d) com o that signifies separated, or set apart, becaufe they pretended to a greater degree of holiness and piety than the rest of the
Jews, (s) Acts v. 17.
(t) Jos. Antiq. l. xx. c. 8.
(c) Jos. Antiq. I. xiv. c. 28.
It is arise of je from the lens b
Herod but little that thes. (b), bo