In this careful study, Gunter Stemberger reexamines the sources, history, and teaching of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes—the three most prominent religious groups of first-century Judaism. Stemberger challenges old assumptions by asking the questions:
- What did we know from our sources?
- How reliable is the historian Josephus?
- Are the rabbinic texts direct witnesses to the history and teaching of the Pharisees?
- Was there any relationship between the Sadducees and Essenes?
- Can one really speak of “religious parties/sects” in first-century Judaism?
The conclusions Stemberger reaches will spark debate among students and scholars of Judaism and New Testament backgrounds.