First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, governed Galilee, after his brother Archelaus; and he ruled for 24 years. After the expulsion of Archelaus, the kingdom of the Jews was divided into four parts, and Galilee was given to Herod. He was a most unkind and cruel man, and showed a murderous disposition toward the citizens. He was a murderer of the nobility, and a savage toward his associates, a robber toward the inhabitants; and in the extermination of the people he spared neither his own children nor strangers, nor his own people. He ignored and dishonored everything; for he abolished the priesthood of the Jews and destroyed their laws and ordinances. And when he espoused the wife of his brother Philip, contrary to the law, and Saint John the Baptist reproached him for it, he wanted to kill him; but he feared the people, for John, as the evangelist states, was regarded by many as a true prophet. However, he caused him to be seized and imprisoned, and not long before the death of Christ he caused him to be beheaded. This is the Herod to whom Jesus was sent by Pilate, and by whom he was mocked and sent back to Pilate, because Jesus, as Luke writes, would not answer Herod’s questions. Finally he was ordered to come to Rome by Caius the emperor, and was found guilty of many penal offenses, and was banished to Lyons, in Gaul. There he ended his life in misery; but his wife, who was a sister of Agrippa, and whom Caius loved very much, was given her freedom and was given permission to return home; but she followed her husband into exile, saying she did not want to leave her husband after having lived happily with him. And afterwards Caius gave the country of Galilee to Herod Agrippa, who from that time on held three fourths of the divided region.[Herodes Antipas, son of Herod the Great, by Malthace, a Samaritan, obtained the tetrarchy of Galilee and Perea, on his father’s death, while the kingdom of Judea devolved upon his elder brother Archelaus. He married Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip, after she had divorced her first husband. He had been previously married to a daughter of the Arabian prince Aretas, who left him in disgust at this new alliance. Aretas then immediately invaded the dominion of Antipas, and defeated the army that was opposed to him. In 38 CE, after the death of Tiberius, Antipas went to Rome to solicit from Caligula (Caius) the title of king, which had just been bestowed upon his nephew Herod Agrippa; but through the intrigues of Agrippa, who was high in the favor of the Roman emperor, Antipas was deprived of his dominions and sent into exile at Lyons in 39 CE. He was subsequently removed to Spain where he died. It was Antipas who imprisoned and put to death John the Baptist, who had reproached him for his (in John’s opinion) unlawful connection with Herodias. It was before him also that Jesus was sent by Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem, as belonging to his jurisdiction, on account of his supposed Galilean origin.]

In the land of Judea there were three sects of Jews, separated from the common life and thought of the others.

One of those sects was the Pharisees, which originated in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and which in these times (as we may infer from the Gospels) was, by reason of its profound sanctity, held in high esteem by the Jews at Jerusalem. They were called Pharisees, that is the ‘separated’ ones, because they were much more rigid than the rest in their spiritual practices and their diet. They wore parchment inscriptions on their foreheads, while on their left hands they wore the Ten Commandments, written in commemoration of the Law. They also wore a wide band of thorns, designed to prick them as a reminder of the divine commandments. They attributed God and his divine Providence to their forebears and ancestors, and acknowledged no contradictions.[That is, between the law itself and oral traditions. They devised ways to harmonize apparent inconsistencies between the Law and the Prophets, assigning to the oral traditions a place of authority side by side with the written law, regarding the former as an interpretation of the latter.] They believed in a future judgment (of reward or punishment), and in the immortality of the soul; hoped for, and predicted the resurrection of the dead. They were very much opposed to our Lord Christ, and were accessories in his death.

The Pharisees formed one of the most conspicuous and powerful sects among the Jews in the time of Jesus. Under foreign rule, and more especially under the Syrian (i.e., Macedonian) government, which left no means unemployed in order to effect an amalgamation of the different nationalities under its sway, it was natural that there should arise among the Jews a party which opposed this influence, and labored to preserve the national integrity. The Pharisees were this party, and as their name implies, separated themselves from the rest. Much of their influence with the people was no doubt due to their political position. On Herod’s accession 6000 of them refused to take the oath of allegiance, and were consequently put down with a strong hand. It was the Pharisees who organized desperate resistance against the Romans, which finally led to the dispersion of the whole nation. As the Pharisees were national in politics, so they were orthodox in religion; and in opposition to the other two sects, the Sadducees and the Essenes, they stood among the people as the true expounders of the Law. In the time of Jesus, however, their orthodoxy was considered by some to have devolved into mere formalism.

The principal points of difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees were the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the future reward or punishment; the doctrine of the divine Providence acting side by side with the free will of man; and the doctrine of an oral tradition descending from Moses and involving the same authority as the written law—all of which doctrines the Pharisees accepted and the Sadducees rejected. Teaching that God had given to Moses on Mount Sinai an oral explanation of the proper application of the written Law, and had commanded him to transmit this explanation by work of mouth, the Pharisees ended by placing the oral explanation above the written law. And thus they preferred the tradition to the law itself. They were also particular in avoiding anything that the law declared unclean.

The Sadducees were the second sect, but not of the same sanctity nor held in as high esteem as the Pharisees. They did not believe in divine Providence, but said that God is an observer of all things, and that it rested in the will of man to do good or evil. They denied the incarnation and the existence of angels, and believed that the soul died with the body. They accepted solely the five books of Moses. The Sadducees were serious and strict, but not spiritual among themselves. Because of their seriousness they were called Sadducees, that is, ‘the just.’[The origin of the term Sadducees is obscure. The best theory is that the sect was derived from Zadok, the famous high priest whom Solomon appointed to succeed the deposed Abiathar. The Sadducees were a small party of limited influence, and a rationalistic turn of mind. They were men of position, and probably of wealth—world-minded, and with a superficial interest in religion. They were forerunners of the modern reform Jews. Their theology embraced four principal tenets: (1) Denial of the divinity, and consequent authority of the oral law; (2) acceptance of the teachings of Moses alone, and rejection of the later books of the Old Testament; (3) death of the soul with the body, in consequence of which they denied the resurrection, the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, and belief in angels or spirits; (4) that man had the most absolute moral freedom, for upon this was dependent the moral quality of his actions. They were also, according to the gospels, determined foes of Jesus. Annas and Caiaphas were Sadducees.]

The Essenes were the third sect. In all respects they led the lives of monks or hermits; and avoided wedlock, not because they disapproved of it or attached no importance to childbearing, but to avoid the lasciviousness of women, believing that none of them are faithful to their husbands. They associated with each other in friendship, disparaging wealth and holding their possessions in common as brothers, as though they were sharers in one common patrimony. They did not respect anointing, considering it uncleanly; for they always wore clean white clothing. They had curators and stewards who administered their common property; but no certain abode, dwelling in any place. They did not change their clothes nor shoes until entirely torn or worn out by time. They were opposed to spiritual exercises and divine worship. They did not speak of profane matters before sunrise. At sunrise they prayed, and until the fifth hour they labored. After that they assembled in their white linen clothes, washed in cold water, and went to their meals, of which they did not partake without a prayer having been first offered to God. Grace was repeated after the meal. They operated their establishment with great industry, and no clamor, disturbance, or noise was heard while they worked, for they observed strict silence. They considered an oath perjury, and admitted no one to their sect except on one year’s probation, when the applicant took an obligation of piety toward God, justice toward his fellow men, and obedience to the authorities; if placed in a superior position, he agreed never to employ his authority unjustly against those below him. Their court was attended by no less than 100 persons. Its judgment was final and conclusive. They held the day of rest inviolate; made no fire, nor cooked on that day, nor moved any vessel from its place; nor evacuated their digested food. On other days, when about to free themselves of digested food, they dug a hole into the earth with an axe, and covered themselves round about with their lowered garments so that they might not offend the divine rays of the sun with indecency. Having eased themselves, they filled the hole with the earth they had dug up. While he lived, Herod Antipas honored these Essenes or Essei.

This is an abridgment from the Works of Flavius Josephus, the historian of the Jews (See Vol. V, chap. VIII, pars. 2-13, pp. 75-84; translation of William Whiston; Thomas Tegg, London, 1825). The Essenes are not mentioned in the Old Testament, for they lived in isolated communities, and thus Jesus and his apostles did not encounter them. They represent the mystic and ascetic forms of Judaism, while the Pharisees represented the orthodox, and the Sadducees the rationalistic forms. Their name has never been sat (in office)isfactorily explained. Some believe it means "the retiring," or "the Puritans;" others, "the healers." In Josephus’s day they lived in small colonies or villages at long distances from the towns, principally in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, although some lived in the cities. They believed in an unconditional Providence and the immortality of the soul, but not in the resurrection of the body; in future rewards to the righteous and the future punishment of the wicked. Their celibacy, sun-homage, and abstinence from sacrifice, were their non-Jewish qualities derived from the Zoroastrian religion; to these must be added their magical rites and intense striving after purity. In their life they were noted for their kindness to the sick and the poor. They opposed slavery; made medicines from herbs which were healing; and were modest and retiring in manner. According to Philo their general conduct was directed by three rules – "the love of God, the love of virtue, and the love of man." They disappear from history after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The last sentence of this paragraph is not found in the German edition of the Chronicle. In fact, it is followed by another sentence, also not found in the German edition, which the current editor cannot quite make sense of. It runs in Latin thus: nec inhonestus ?mo de eis in scripturis habetur. Hoc de prophetis Judeorum (‘Nor is he considered (?mo) in the writings about them disgraceful. This thing concerning/from the prophets of the Jews.’).