Who were the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests, and elders?

By Joel Schorn| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Scripture and Theology

"By what authority are you doing these things?" (Mark 11:27-28). With this and similar questions the gospels relentlessly portray Jesus' opponents—the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees—as bad guys who resisted Jesus at almost every turn and conspired to have him killed.

The gospel accounts, however, tend to lump these folks together and offer very little information about who they were. Understanding them better helps us to grasp why the New Testament depicts them as such villains.