During the middle of the first century B.C.E. many Jews took different stances on important religious matters. These disagreements mainly concerned the Temple, Torah and the Messiah. These arguments caused groups to form, which were the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and Christians. Each group took different stances on these important matters of the time.
The major way Jews related to God was through sacrifice, which was conducted in the Temple. The Sadducees, who were the party of upper classes, believed that Temple sacrifice was the most important aspect of Judaism and emphasized it the most of any other group. The Essenes, who were a group that withdrew into the desert to wait for the end of the world, also believed that sacrifices were very important but believed that they were conducted by the wrong priests and that they were in fact the correct priests. Their belief was that until they were restored to the temple the sacrifices would not be effective.
While the Christians, who were followers of Jesus also wanted reform. They felt that the Temple had become corrupt and were upset with the way the officials were running things and wanted change. Then there were the Pharisees, who were religious leaders that believed in Temple sacrifice but did not regard it as nearly as important as following the Torah.
Torah is the Jewish word for Law. In its final form the Torah, or Jewish cannon consisted of three parts: the Law, Prophets and Writings. The Torah was most important to the Pharisees who accepted all three parts. They tried to apply the Torah to every aspect of their daily life and when they could not they turned to Rabbis who would make decisions based on what was written in the Torah. The Essenes...