Jesus an Essene

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#1
"The Jews, long before the time of Jesus, were divided into three sects, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. It is almost impossible in reading of the last not to be forcibly struck with the remarkable resemblance between their doctrines, precepts and practices, and those of Jesus and the early Christians. Jesus is recorded to have frequently rebuked and denounced both the Sadducees and Pharisees, but it is not related that he once mentioned the Essenes by name. Yet we are informed by both Philo and Josephus that at the period in which John the Baptist and Jesus were born the Essenes were scattered over Palestine, and that they numbered about four thousand souls. It should be mentioned that peculiar importance is to be attached to the testimony of both Philo and Josephus respecting the mode of life pursued by the Essenes, as these authors were fully acquainted with it. They speak also with great respect and reverence of this sect, as surpassing all others in virtue. Josephus informs us that they led the same kind of life as the Pythagoreans in Greece, and that by their excellent virtue they were thought worthy even of divine revelations, while Philo says they were honoured with the appellation of Essenes because of their exceeding holiness."

https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/jae/jae03.htm
 





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#3
- Great numbers of Essenes were known at Mareoritic Lake, Egypt. "Most of the Therapeuts were men who had abandoned their property, giving it away as an encumbrance to their pursuit of peace and rest, and there were few among them who had not, in addition to the renunciation of wealth, also abandoned brethren, wives, and often numerous families."

-"The Essenes, as we have seen, were scattered all over Judea, and a warm-hearted missionary of this sect might well gain disciples to the cause. A word would often be sufficient to a prepared mind, and confirm in it the resolution which was perhaps already half-formed."

-"So thoroughly was the idea of wealth associated with wickedness and future misery, and that of poverty with virtue and eternal happiness, that we find the most important utterances of Jesus pregnant with this teaching."

-"The rewards promised by Jesus to the good, and the prospect of suffering which he held out to the evil, correspond very closely with the ideas which the best of the Jewish sects are stated to have believed. They taught that good souls have their habitation beyond the ocean in a region that is neither oppressed with storms of rain or snow, nor with intense heat; but that this place is such as is refreshed by the gentle breathing of a west wind, that is perpetually blowing from the ocean; while they allotted to bad souls a dark and tempestuous den, full of never-ceasing punishments."

-"These men," says Josephus, "are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration... nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, insomuch, that among them all there is no appearance of poverty or excess of riches, but every one's possessions are intermingled with every other's possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren."

-"Those who desired to be enrolled among the Essenes, were made partakers of "the waters of purification," and we find that even Jesus did not disdain to be baptized by John... the similarity between the right of initiation practiced by the Essenes, and that adopted by Christians, is certainly too striking not to be suggestive of the idea that they had a common origin."
 





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#4
It's interesting as well, that both the Essenes and the disciples called themselves "Covenanters" and the early disciples called themselves "Followers of The Way" (Deuteronomy 9:12, 9:16, 11:28, etc. & John 14:6). "Covenanters" being a shortened form for the "Nazrim ha-Brit", the meaning of which is "Those True to The Covenant".

"The Covenant" being the same as "The Way" as that is what the Covenant is called throughout the Law - "The Way" and Jesus saying he was a living example of "The Way" (how everyone should be) or a living example of "The Covenant" in action.

Deut. 9:12 And the "I AM" said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted [themselves]; they are quickly turned aside out of The Way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

Deut. 9:16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the "I AM" your God, [and] had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of The Way which the "I AM" had commanded you.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am The Way, the Truth, and the Life: not one man cometh unto the Father, except by me.
 





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#5
Deut. 9:12 And the "I AM" said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted [themselves]; they are quickly turned aside out of The Way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

Deut. 9:16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the "I AM" your God, [and] had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of The Way which the "I AM" had commanded you.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am The Way, the Truth, and the Life: not one man cometh unto the Father, except by me.
Those Deuteronomy/Deviam 9 passages don't say Ehyeh ("I am"), they just say YHWH (יהוה) and the use of the term "the way" is not the same as Jesus' in John quote. Simplistically Deuteronomy isn't distinguishing "the way" (דֶּרֶךְ) with the same sentiment, דֶּרֶךְ (derek) in Hebrew signifies a direction, journey or habit. The above verses state this in conjunction with Torah itself - aka the commandments that it is engulfed in.
This stands in contrast to how John uses ἡ ὁδὸς (hē hodos) for "The way".

However interestingly it might be worth noting that Taoism (also transliterated as "Daoism") is named after "The Tao" (道) which means "The Way". Taoism itself long predates Christianity and expresses itself more coherently. The concept of Tao/Dao itself explicitly parallels the concept of Logos ("The Word") found back in John 1:1 (λογος). The term Logos itself (and in it's application in Christian theology) is straight out of neo/Platonism - in that out of God (The One/The Monad) is the Logos or universal intellect which is the first emanation which decides to create the universe (later identified with the concept of "Demiurge", in Neoplatonism).
Ironically it's impossible to separate Gnosticism from mainstream Christianity because the early Church left Gnosticism and Platonism in their own book. On on top of that the aforementioned "Demiurge" concept was later used in Gnostic-Christianity but in a different meaning (turning the creator of the physical world into an evil false-deity).
Kind of brings to mind Nietzsche's statement that "Christianity is Platonism for the people", there's merit for that statement (afterall Christian theologians and philosophers famously built Christian rhetoric, argument and apologetic from the logic of many neoplatonists - many Christian theologians and philosophers being "Christian-neoplatonists" themselves)

In Platonism the Logos ("The Word") is known to incarnate (so-to-speak) or be archetypal reflected in and extracted from legends such as Dionysus. Seeing how Platonism (which Christianity borrowed from) was itself derived from the Greek pagan religions, it remains mightly ironic for people who are sola scriptora and throw around the empty rhetoric of pre-Protestant forms of Christianity being "pagan" (such as the rhetoric of several users on this forum in other threads such as here: https://vigilantcitizenforums.com/threads/exchistians-who-converted-to-hinduism.6415/post-238226 and this whole thread: https://vigilantcitizenforums.com/t...ichrist-then-why-do-you-trust-the-bible.6419/
It just so turns out that there is no line you can draw between "Abrahamic" and "Pagan", not because they're the same but because they have an intimate history (as evident from all Abrahamic texts, whether it be Bible or Qur'an - common message being that Pagans should reject polytheism and embrace the one God).

As for the concept of "The Way" (as espoused in Taoism), well this is reflected back in Judaism especially with the concept of "Torah" itself being not merely a textual (Pentateuch and/or Tanakh) or tradition (Oral Torah aka Talmud) thing but also being a cosmic thing, aka that Torah itself is also the natural order of the Universe itself. Direct connection with Taoism there and it's very beautiful.

edit: I forgot to mention with the last sentence there, that this also parallels the concept of a "Book of Life" in both Christianity and Islam (of which the Qur'an makes a massive point of our duty to study nature - as science itself, according to the Qur'an, proves God).
Basically though this, in various forms of Christian and Islamic philosophy, the universe itself can often be regarded as a kind of "additional-scripture".
 





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#6
-"...But the lawyers, scribes, and Pharisees were not peculiar in their concealment of recondite verities from the people, the Essenes were also distinguished for a similar practice. One of the promises required from every proselyte who joined the Essenes was that he would neither conceal anything from those of his own sect, nor discover any of their doctrines to others, not though any one should compel him to do so at the hazard of his life. It is certainly strange, and more than strange, that though Jesus is represented as denouncing the lawyers for withholding from the people "the key of knowledge," it is recorded that he himself did the very same thing."

-"Obedience to those in authority was a fundamental maxim with the Essenes, because, as Josephus informs us, they believed no one obtains the government without God's assistance. This idea corresponds with the narrative which relates the unwillingness of Jesus to offend the secular power when collecting tribute money; and with his precepts to "render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's;" and also with the apostolic assurance that "the powers that be are ordained of God." An Essene was, in fact, to show fidelity to all men, but specially to those in authority."

-"No one," says Philo, "not even immoderately cruel tyrants, nor of the more treacherous and hypocritical oppressors, was ever able to bring any real accusation against the multitude of those called Essenes or Holy." Such being the case, we need hardly wonder to find it is recorded that Pilate said to the chief priests and the people concerning Jesus, "I find no fault in this man."

-"...Among those men you will find no makers of arrows, or javelins, or swords, or helmets, or breastplates, or shields; no makers of arms or of military engines; no one, in short, attending to any employment whatever connected with war, or even to any of those occupations even in peace which are easily perverted to wicked purposes; for they are utterly ignorant of all traffic, and of all commercial dealings, and of all navigation, but they repudiate and keep from everything which can possibly afford any inducement to covetousness."

-"These sentiments attributed to Jesus, are, in reality, the sentiments of the poor Essenian Jews, who placed the sum of human virtue in passive meekness and rigid self-denial, in poverty, bodily and mental suffering, and a total dereliction of all worldly concerns. The essence of religion they believed to consist in peace, quietness and tranquility; and they were so negligent of all earthly affairs, that if the world had been peopled with Essenians, it would soon have come to an end."

-"Conquest of the passions was a primary doctrine among the Essenes. So Jesus makes the rash display of anger a deadly sin, which placed man in the greatest imminence, and the utterances of hasty revilings as putting him in danger of hell-fire."

-"The Essenes considered pleasures an evil, and this opinion was enforced by Jesus in the parable of the sower who went forth to sow. The seed which fell among thorns, we are told by him, are "they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."

- "...in the sacred feast of the Therapeuts, young men were selected from the other members with all possible care, on account of their excellence, to wait on the rest as servants, not on compulsion, nor in obedience to imperious commands, but as "acting as virtuous and well-born youths ought to act who are eager to attain to the perfection of virtue."
 





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#7
Those Deuteronomy/Deviam 9 passages don't say Ehyeh ("I am"), they just say YHWH (יהוה) and the use of the term "the way" is not the same as Jesus' in John quote.
The Covenant is called "The Way" in Deuteronomy chapter 9 verses 12, 16 and 11:28 and 13:5 and 31:29. The disciples called themselves the followers of The Way. - source

YHWH / יהוה translated into English -

Exodus
3:13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, [when] I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What [is] His name? what shall I say unto them?
3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, "I AM" hath sent me unto you.
3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The "I AM" God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this [is] My name for ever, and this [is] My memorial unto all generations.
 





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#8
-"The Essenes, again, were particularly averse to oaths on ordinary occasions; whatever they said was strictly to be credited. Swearing in order to be believed they regarded as worse than perjury, for they affirmed that he who could not be trusted without swearing by God, was already condemned."

-"When they partook of food together a priest always said grace before meat, and it was unlawful for any one to taste of the food before this was done."

-"Josephus describes the Essenes as considering it a good thing to be clothed in white raiment, and he speaks of them as frequently using white veils; while Philo remarks of the Therapeuts, that, when they assembled on religious occasions, they came together clothed in white garments."

-"Though the Essenes were numerous in Judea, they had no hereditary or family connections. They were recruited from without."

-"Their renunciation of all worldly ties may have borne in mind the example of the old Levites, who, in their entire devotion unto the service to which they were set apart, are thus referred to in the person of Levi, their ancestor: "Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children."

-"...they were Jews by birth, and they manifested a greater affection one to another than did members of the other sects...The very affection which the brotherhood we are speaking of felt towards each other, was strictly limited to the male sex. The Essenes, at least the great bulk of them, did not marry, and they esteemed continence as the highest virtue. They did not deny the fitness of marriage in others, for the due preservation of the race, but they avoided it themselves, and, as a rule, all who joined them had to be single. Josephus, indeed, tells of one order who agreed with the rest as to their way of living, and in their customs and laws, but differed from them on the point of matrimony, as thinking that by not marrying they cut off the principal part of human life, which is the prospect of succession."

-"Matthew 19:12 clearly shows that some of the Jewish, as well as the heathen ascetics of that period, thought it a great merit to become eunuchs, in order to secure themselves more effectually from temptation to lead an impure life, and, consequently, obtain an exalted position in Paradise, like that of the chaste priests whom Æneas met in the Elysian Fields. There can be little doubt that this further instruction which Jesus gives his followers, is only a delicate and circuitous mode of enjoining the same practice. It is well known that the early Christians understood these hard precepts in a literal sense, and some of the more zealous and austere literally obeyed them, which has been done even here and there by a fanatic in later times."

-"There can be no doubt," says a writer well versed in Jewish history and usages, "that Jesus refers to the Essenes in Matthew xix.12, when he speaks of those who abstain from marriage for the kingdom of heaven's sake; since they were the only section of the Jews who voluntarily imposed upon themselves a state of celibacy, in order that they might devote themselves more closely to the service of God. And Corinthians 1:7 can hardly be understood without bearing in mind the notions about marriage entertained by this God-fearing and self-denying order."
 





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#9
-"In moving from place to place it was the custom of the Essenes to carry nothing superfluous with them. The very language of Jesus to his disciples is just what an experienced follower of this sect may be conceived to have given to new converts when setting out on their journeys... [they] did not require extensive wardrobes; in fact, they were not allowed by "the rules of their order," a change of garments, of sandals or of shoes, till the old habiliments were worn to pieces or destroyed by age. "They do not own two cloaks or a double set of shoes," was said of them long after the time of Jesus."

-"Philo, speaking of the Essenes, says:—"There is no one who has a house so absolutely his own property, that it does not in some sense also belong to everyone: for besides that they all dwell together in companies, the house is open to all those of the same notions, who come to them from all quarters." Josephus tells us the same thing:—"They have," he says, "no certain city, but many of them dwell in every city, and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go into such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them."

-""Those that are caught in any heinous sins, they cast out of their society; and he who is thus separated from them, does often die after a miserable manner; for as he is bound by the oath he hath been engaged in, he is not at liberty to partake of that food that he meets with elsewhere, but is forced to eat grass, and to famish his body till he perish."

-"Philo furnishes us with a most interesting account of the sacred entertainments of the Therapeuts, which, however, we can only epitomize. He represents them as assembling together in white garments—joyful, but grave, and as standing in rows before sitting down to meat. Raising their eyes and hands to heaven, they prayed to God that the entertainment might be acceptable, welcome, and pleasing. The women shared in these feasts, the greater number of whom, though old, were virgins, though not, as lie informs us, through necessity. The men sat on the right hand, and the women, apart from them, on the left. No soft cushions to recline on were allowed, but mats and rugs of the coarsest materials, made from papyrus, were permitted, on which the feasters were able to rest their elbows. No slaves ever waited on them, for they looped on the possession of servants or slaves as wholly contrary to nature. The attendants served the rest of the company of their own free will, but with eagerness and promptitude, anticipating all orders. The most excellent of their young men waited on such occasions, and care was taken that nothing in their appearance should even suggest compulsory or slavish obligation. Wine was not introduced in these feasts, but only the clearest water—cold water being offered to the generality, and hot water to those old men who were accustomed to a luxurious life. On the table was nothing that contained blood, but there was bread to eat and salt for seasoning. Hyssop was occasionally added as an extra sauce for the sake of those who were delicate in their eating. After the meal was concluded, one among them found some passage in the sacred Scriptures to read and explain; and while he did this the utmost stillness prevailed; no one even whispering or breathing hard. The person expounding did not aim at display, or try to obtain credit for cleverness and eloquence, but usually followed a slow method of instruction, dwelling and lingering over his explanations with repetitions, in order to imprint his views deeply in the minds of his hearers. The latter, fixing their eyes and attention on the speaker, indicated their interest and comprehension by nods and looks, and the praise which they were inclined to bestow upon him was manifested by a cheerful demeanor and the gentle manner in which they followed him with their eyes and the forefinger of the right hand.

What Philo calls the "nocturnal festival" succeeded the ceremonies and expositions which took place in the day, and was, if possible, of a still more sacred and spiritual character than the latter. It was celebrated the whole night. All stood up in the middle of the feast, and two choruses, one of men and the other of females, were formed, to each of which there was a leader chosen from the best singers of the band. Then they sang hymns to the praise and glory of God in different meters and times, sometimes all singing together, and at other times moving their hands and dancing in harmony, and uttering in an inspired manner songs of thanksgiving. Again, after each chorus had feasted separately by itself, drinking "the pure wine of the love of God," they united together, and the two became one chorus, forming an excellent concert and a truly musical symphony. We are told that on these occasions "the ideas were beautiful, the expressions beautiful, and the chorus-singers were beautiful," while we are assured the end was piety. Such is the description we have given to us of these ancient religious devotees in their solemn festivals, and which forcibly brings to our mind what Jesus and the apostles did at the termination of the eucharist. Two of the evangelists tell us that this solemn ceremony was followed by the singing of "a hymn," after which Jesus and those with him arose and proceeded to the mount of Olives."
 





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#10
-"Martyrdom has often appeared to be a desirable termination to a life of piety, and we learn that this sect esteemed death better than life if the former would contribute to their glory. When persecuted by the Romans on account of their religion, they endured the extremity of suffering rather than blaspheme their legislator, or partake of what was forbidden them to eat by the rules of their community. They were tortured, they were burnt and torn to pieces; but, says Josephus, they could not be made to shed a tear, for they "smiled in their very pains, and laughed those to scorn who inflicted the torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again."

-"The history of the Essenes is of more consequence than is generally supposed, as it shows that in a great degree they constituted an important body of reformers and freethinkers in the dogmatic and unelastic system of the Jewish Church. In an extended extract from Josephus, this historian says distinctly that the Essenes "did not offer sacrifices," a statement of the utmost importance, as showing the little value this virtuous sect placed upon the objectionable and tedious details of the Mosaic ritual."

-"One of the doctrines of the Essenes was "that all things are best ascribed to God;" and elsewhere he informs us that they believed every event of life is pre-arranged and controlled by fate or destiny."

-"The Jewish method of drawing lots was very similar to that pursued at the present day, except that marked stones or pebbles were used instead of paper... the belief in the virtue of this appeal to God survived in the Church founded by Jesus."

-"When one was admitted a member of this order, and had obtained the apron, which, from its being used to dry oneself with after the baptisms, was the symbol of purity, he attained—(1.) To the state of outward or bodily purity by baptisms. (2.) From bodily purity he progressed to that stage which imposed abstinence from connubial intercourse. (3.) From this stage again, he attained to that of inward or spiritual purity. (4.) From this stage, again, he advanced to that which required the banishing of all anger and malice, and the cultivation of a meek and lowly spirit. (5.) Thence he advanced to that wherein he was fit to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, and to prophesy. (6.) Thence, again, he advanced to that state when he could perform miraculous cures and raise the dead; and (7.) Attained to the position of Elias, the forerunner of the Messiah."

-"The Roman Pliny says:"Lying on the west of (the Dead Sea) are the Essenes, a people that live apart from the world, strange and different to all others on the earth. They have no women, being averse to love. They are without money, and dwell in places planted with palm-trees... Their number is increased daily by strangers in large numbers, who, tired of a life of trouble, follow their example."

- "Philo, speaking of the Essenes, says, "There is not a single slave among them, but they are all free, aiding one another with a reciprocal interchange of good offices, and they condemn masters, not only as unjust, inasmuch as they corrupt the very principle of equality, but likewise as impious, because they destroy the ordinances of nature, which generated all equally, and brought them up like a mother; as if they were all legitimate brethren, not in name only, but in reality and truth."
 





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#11
-"Both Josephus and Philo refer to the usage of the Essenes or Therapeuts, of timing the period of their devotions by the rising and setting of the sun. Thus, the former historian tells us that the Essenes would not speak a word about worldly matters until after the appearance of the earth's luminary, but that they put up, before it appeared, certain prayers which they had received from their forefathers, as if they made supplication for its rising; while Philo, in referring to the devotions of the Therapeuts, says that when the sun was rising these worshippers were in the habit of raising their hands to heaven, beseeching God that the happiness of the coming day might be real happiness, and that their minds might be filled with heavenly light...

...We have testimony of an unexceptionable character that the Christians of the second and third centuries paid the same respect as the devotees just named to the material source of light and heat. Thus, Clement of Alexandria, who taught in that city about A.D. 189, writing of his co-religionists and their devotions of that period, says: "In correspondence with the manner of the sun's rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east...

...The similarity of the usage of the Essenes and Therapeuts with the practice of the early Christians in turning towards the east in prayer, is too striking to be accidental. It prevailed so generally with the latter, that the Pagans supposed, as Tertullian, who wrote about 200 A.D., tells us, that the sun was the god of the Christians, because, he says, "It is well known that we pray towards the east." Elsewhere he remarks, "We shall be counted Persians, perhaps, though we do not worship the orb of day painted on a piece of linen cloth, having himself everywhere in his own disk."

-"Arabia has always been noted for its frankincense, myrrh, and other sweet-smelling drugs. So, also, was Gilead, a mountainous country lying east of the River Jordan. It was a company of Ishmaelite merchants, trading from there in balm, myrrh, and other resinous substances, who, on their way to Egypt to dispose of their precious loads, bought Joseph from his brethren." :)

-"The fact has been mentioned that the Essenes were accustomed to exact an oath from every proselyte who joined them, that they would preserve inviolate all the secrets of their order even at the risk of their lives. It is interesting to learn from one of the earliest records of Christianity that the first teachers of this religion also bound their neophytes by similar solemn obligations not to divulge the mysteries of their religion. That early Christianity, like Essenism, partook of the nature of a select and secret society, seems apparent, from a passage in the "Apostolic Constitutions," in which it is directed that during the celebration of "the Lord's body and precious blood," that "the door be watched, lest any unbeliever or one not initiated come in."

-"Josephus records that every Essene, when he was admitted into full union with his community at the end of his long noviciate, had to bind himself by tremendous oaths to "hate the wicked," and "to reprove those that tell lies."

-"The disciples mentioned in the Gospels, there is good ground to believe, were of the sect of the Essenians, for the following reasons:—first, they were neither Pharisees nor Sadducees,—secondly, they were chiefly of the lower orders,—thirdly, the society formed by them, as described in the Acts, resembles closely the societies of the Essenians, as described by Josephus,—and lastly, the name of Essenians never occurs once in the New Testament, whilst the Sadducees and Pharisees are frequently alluded to, and as frequently abused. This is singular, except on the supposition that the disciples were Essenians themselves; and tends to the belief that they were the originators of the new religion, under the name of Ebionites and Nazarenes, and the writers of the Gospels, in which they had introduced all their own religious views, and teachings, and movements, and acts."