Did Jesus belong to any of the three groups?

There is no reason to think that Jesus was a Sadduccee. He was not a priest. His belief in angels and the resurrection of the body, as well as the eschatological expectation attributed to him in the Gospels, is much closer to the theology of the Essenes and the Pharisees. But the New Testament never mentions the Essenes, and there is no recollection that Jesus belonged to such a specific community. 310

On Jesus’ relationship with the Gentiles and their ways of thinking, there has been much speculation, but there is too little information to go on

It is much more likely that Jesus did not belong to any of the sects existing within Judaism at the time. He was simply one of the common people. Recent research has attempted to situate him in various contemporary contexts: a charismatic rabbi from Galilee, an itinerant Cynic preacher, and even a revolutionary zealot. He does not fit into any of these categories.

As regards the Pharisees, who are frequently mentioned in the Gospels, their relationship with Jesus is usually one of opposition, because of his position of non-conformance to their observances

During this period in Palestine, even in regions Centennial escort service where the greater part of the population was Jewish, Hellenistic influence was strong, but not equally felt everywhere. The influence on Jesus of the culture of the Hellenistic towns like Tiberias on the shore of lake Galilee and Sepphoris (6-7 kilometres from Nazareth) is still uncertain, since the Gospels give no indication that Jesus had any contact with these towns. Neither do we have any evidence that Jesus or his closest disciples spoke Greek in any significant measure. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus has little contact with Gentiles, he orders his disciples not to preach to them (Mt 10:5); he forbids imitation of their lifestyle (6:7,32). Some of his sayings reflect a Jewish attitude of superiority towards the Gentiles, 311 but he knows how to distance himself from such attitudes and affirms instead the superiority of many of the Gentiles (Mt 8:10-12).

What was the attitude of Jesus’ early disciples to the Jewish religious environment? The Twelve and others would have shared Jesus’ Galilean mentality, although the environs of the lake of Galilee where they lived were more cosmopolitan than Nazareth. The Fourth Gospel reports that Jesus drew disciples from John the Baptist (Jn 1:35-41), that he had Judean disciples () and that he converted one entire Samaritan village (4:39-42). The group of disciples, then, could very well reflect the pluralism that existed in Palestine at that time.

68. The first period of direct Roman rule in Judea came to an end in 3940. Herod Agrippa I, friend of the emperor Caligula (37-41) and of the new emperor Claudius (41-54), became king of all Palestine (41-44). He gained the support of the Jewish religious leaders and gave the appearance of being religious. In Ac 12, Luke attributes a persecution to him, and also the death of James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee. After the death of Agrippa, which Ac -23 dramatically recounts, a second period of Roman rule began.

It was during this second third of the first century that the disciples of the risen Christ greatly increased in numbers and were organised into “churches” (“assemblies”). It is likely that the structures of certain Jewish groups influenced primitive Church structures. It may be asked whether the Christian “presbyters” or “elders” were modelled on the “elders” of the synagogues, and whether the Christian bishops (“overseers”) were modelled on the Qumran “overseers”. Does not the designation of the Christian community as “the way” (hodos) reflect the spirituality of the Qumran groups, gone into the desert to prepare the way of the Lord? From a theological viewpoint, some have thought that traces of Qumran influence are to be found in the dualism of the Fourth Gospel, expressed in terms of light and darkness, truth and falsehood, in the battle between Jesus, the light of the world, and the powers of darkness (Lk ), and in the battle between the Spirit of Truth and the prince of this world (Jn ). Nevertheless, the presence of common themes does not necessarily imply dependence.