A minority group in 1st-cent. CE Judaism. They were traditionalists in faith and practice. It was important in their eyes to be faithful to the terms of membership of the Jewish nation by observances of the written Law and participation in the Temple cult, but they held that this was compatible with submission to the Roman occupying power. They opposed armed conflict and preparations for it.
Sadducees rejected the Pharisees' concept of the oral law as being no less valid than the written. They were therefore loyal adherents to what had been established by Ezra at the time of the Return from Exile in Babylon (5th cent. BCE). Compromises with the Romans meant that the high priesthood was a government appointment and the Temple was overseen by the Roman military. Thus, though at a price, Israel was enabled to maintain its relationship with God and atone by sacrifices for its sins. But novel beliefs in the immortality of the soul or resurrection of the body were rejected by Sadducees. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE the Sadducees no longer existed. According to one theory, they were Zadokites who had controlled the Temple for several centuries.