Floyd Parker, «The Terms "Angel" and "Spirit" in Acts 23,8», Vol. 84 (2003) 344-365
In any discussion of the Sadducees, there will always remain a certain amount of doubt due to the paucity of sources about them. Based on what data has survived, the older theory that the Sadducees rejected the extravagant beliefs about angels and spirits provides the most convincing solution to the problem of Acts 23,8. The Sadducees’ reasons for rejecting these views were twofold: 1) angels were integrated into the apocalyptic world view that they rejected; and 2) angels often served as God’s servants to administer predestination or providence. Thus, when Paul claimed that a heavenly being had appeared to him in a manner and with a message that appeared to be predestinarian in nature, the Sadducees were unwilling to entertain the idea that an angel or spirit had appeared to him. Certainly new theories will arise in an attempt to grapple with this issue, but to re-appropriate the words of Jesus in Luke 5,39, "the old is good enough".
Information concerning the identity and beliefs of the Sadducees is fragmentary. Since none of their own writings survive, scholars must rely on material about them preserved by their religious rivals, the Rabbis, the Christians, and, most importantly, Josephus. Nevertheless, the few statements about them from these disparate sources fit together to provide a fairly consistent portrait of the group. For instance, these texts agree that the group had a foothold in the governing class, rejected the oral Torah of the Pharisees, denied final judgment, and denied the resurrection as well as all other forms of afterlife.
However, the enigmatic statement concerning Sadducean belief recorded in Acts 23,8 is a piece of the puzzle that does not fit well with established findings. In this gloss, the author informs his reader: le/gousin mh_ ei]nai a)na/stasin mh/te a!ggelon mh/te pneu=ma. The first part of the phrase, "they say there is no resurrection", poses no problem, for the Sadducean denial of the resurrection is well established by the principle of multiple attestation (Josephus, BJ 2.163-65; Ant. 13.297-98; 18.16-17; San 90b; Mark 12,18-27). In fact, almost identical wording is used to describe their views in Luke 20,27 (le/gontej a)na/stasin mh_ ei]nai). The second part of the phrase, "neither angel nor spirit", is where problems abound and our exploration begins.
Four broad positions have emerged in an attempt to account for the meaning of "angel" and "spirit" in this passage1. These views are that the Sadducees rejected: 1) belief in the existence of angels and spirits altogether2; 2) excessive speculation in the area of angelology, but