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The sect of the Sadducees (Hebrew name Tseddukim) – which may have originated as a political party – was founded in the 2nd century BCE and ceased to exist sometime after the 1st century CE.

They chose this name to indicate that they were followers of the teachings of the High Priest Tzadok, who anointed Solomon king during the First Temple era (1 Kings 1:39). They seem to have indeed been a priestly group, associated with the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul (they debate the matter with Jesus in Luke 20:27-40), and they denied the existence of spirits and angels (Acts 23:6-10). However there is evidence that there was an internal schism among them – some who rejected Angels, the Soul, and Resurrection – and some which accepted these teachings and the entirety of the Hebrew Bible.

They rejected the rabbis' interpretation of the Torah, and are presented as having denied that any of the Bible, apart from the Torah, was authoritative. As to the Torah itself, the Sadducees are presented as interpreting it literally and rigorously on subjects it directly covers, while rejecting the Rabbinic traditions that mitigate the harsher penalties or aim at preventing unintentional rule-breaking.

The Sadducees are said to have insisted on the literal execution of the law of retaliation: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth", which Pharisaic Judaism, and later rabbinic Judaism, rejected. On the other hand, they would not inflict the death penalty on false witnesses in a case where capital punishment had been wrongfully carried out.