The first scholar of whom Pharisaic tradition has preserved not only the name but also an important theological doctrine. He flourished about the first half of the third century B.C. According to the Mishnah, he was the disciple and successor of Simon the Just. His motto ran: "Be not like slaves who serve their master for their daily rations; be like those who serve their master without regard to emoluments, and let the fear of God be with you" (Ab. i. 3; see Grätz, "Gesch d. Juden," ii. 6, 239). Short as this maxim is, it contains the whole Pharisaic doctrine, which is very different from what it is usually conceived to be. Thus the first known Pharisee urges that good should be done for its own sake, and evil be avoided, without regard to consequences, whether advantageous or detrimental. The naive conception dominant in the Old Testament, that God's will must be done to obtain His favor in the shape of physical prosperity, is rejected by Antigonus, as well as the view, specifically called "Pharisaic," which makes reward in the future life the motive for human virtue. It is impossible that Antigonus could have been influenced by Hellenic views: chronology forbids the supposition. The cause of this ethical superiority was simply that the Pharisees carefully nurtured the germs of higher morality sown by the Prophets of the Old Testament and brought them to full fruition. Particularly Jewish is the second phrase of his maxim; the fear of God is the Jewish correlate to general human morality mentioned in the first half of the motto. 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 development of the idea of a transcendental Deity. It is also a curious fact that Antigonus is the first noted Jew to have a Greek name.
Later legend connects Antigonus with the origin of the Sadducee sect.See Sadducees.L. G.