Jesus, the Sadducees, and the experience.

I like to compare the Sadducees with Unitarians. In the mid-1700s, many Puritans in northern New England decided to reexamine their Christianity in the light of “modern thinking” and get rid of anything in it they couldn’t believe; anything which sounded too much to them like superstition or myth. They didn’t believe in miracles, couldn’t fathom the Trinity, doubted Jesus being God, thought hell and certain commands and practices barbaric; so out they went. And what’s left? Unitarianism: A religion with one God. But he doesn’t do anything. If he works at all, it’s only through science. Jesus is nice, but equal to any great thinker. Maybe you go to heaven when you die; some Unitarians still hold to the afterlife, but it’s the only supernatural thing they permit themselves. If that.

Sadducees are the ancient Unitarians. In the second century BCE, in the light of advanced, enlightened Greek philosophy, certain Jews simply ditched everything in the Hebrew religion they could no longer believe: Out went all the confusing books written after Deuteronomy. Out went miracles, angels, resurrection—’cause Plato taught we become pure spirit after we die, and humans have always liked that idea much better. Any miracles in their truncated bible were explained away as ancient superstition. Yes, they had anti-supernatural snobbery back then too.

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