Antigonus of Sokho

For the Tanna era sage, see Hanina ben Antigonus.

Antigonus of Sokho (Hebrew: אנטיגנוס איש סוכו) was the first scholar of whom Pharisee tradition has preserved not only the name but also an important theological doctrine. He flourished about the first half of the third century BCE.

According to the Mishnah, he was the disciple and successor of Simon the Just (Hebrew: שמעון הצדיק).

Antigonus is the first noted Jew to have a Greek name, a fact commonly discussed by scholars regarding the extent of Hellenic influence on Judaism following the conquest of Judaea by Alexander the Great.

Sadducees and Boethusians

Traditional Jewish sources connect Antigonus with the origin of the Sadducees and Boethusians. These sources argue that the Sadducee group originated in tandem with the Boethusian group during the Second Temple period, with their founders, Tzadok and Boethus, both being individual students of Antigonus of Sokho.[1]

Surviving quotation

His sole surviving quotation ran: "Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of reward; rather, be like servants who do not serve their master for the sake of reward, and let the awe of Heaven be upon you" (Artscroll translation)[2] It sums up the Pharisaic doctrine that good should be done for its own sake, and evil be avoided, without regard to consequences, whether advantageous or detrimental.

The conception dominant in the Hebrew Bible, that God's will must be done to obtain His favor in the shape of physical prosperity, was rejected by Antigonus' disciple (see below), as well as the view, specifically called "Pharisaic," which makes reward in the afterlife the motive for human virtue.

Without denying reward in the afterlife, Antigonus points out that men's actions should not be influenced by the lowly sentiment of fear of mortals, but that there is a divine judgment of which men must stand in awe.

The expression "Heaven" for "God" is the oldest evidence in postexilic Judaism of the existence of the idea of a transcendental Deity.

Tzadok, pupil of Antigonus and possibly founder of the Sadducees, misconstrued his teachings (the above motto) to mean that there is no afterlife.[3]

See also


  1. Avoth deRabbi Nathan 5:2
  2. Abot i. 3; see Heinrich Grätz, Geschichte der Juden, ii. 6, 239).
  3. Maimonides, Commentary to the Mishna, Fathers 1:3


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "article name needed". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

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