Josephus and the Jewish Sects

Albert I. Baumgarten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


"Sect", in modern usage, implies an aberrant or deviant group, in explicit dissent from some orthodox or established "church". That is not what Flavius Josephus intended in his discussion of the Jewish sects: Pharisees, the Sadducees, or the Essenes. For him, these three "philosophies" were the heart of legitimate Judaism: the "Fourth Philosophy" was an aberrant and deviant accretion. Furthermore, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were close to the seats of power, and sometimes in power. Even when they were not in power, they behaved more like modern political parties (disagreeing with the policy and actions of their rivals, but not seceding from the central institution of their time-sitting together in the same Sanhedrin, Acts 23:6-9). This chapter proposes redefining the term sect so as to be appropriate to Josephus's haireseis or philosophies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Josephus
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781118325162
ISBN (Print)9781444335330
StatePublished - 31 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Essenes
  • Flavius Josephus
  • Fourth philosophy
  • Jewish sects
  • Pharisees
  • Sadducees


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