Skip to comments.Scholar: The Essenes, Dead Sea Scroll 'authors,' never existed
Posted on 03/13/2009 8:18:50 AM PDT by TaraP
Scholarship suggesting the existence of the Essenes, a religious Jewish group that lived in the Judea before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, is wrong, according to Prof. Rachel Elior, whose study on the subject will be released soon.
Elior blasts the predominant opinion of Dead Sea Scrolls scholars that the Essenes had written the scrolls in Qumran, claiming instead that they were written by ousted Temple priests in Jerusalem.
"Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls. But they didn't exist, they were invented by [Jewish-Roman historian] Josephus. It's a history of errors which is simply nonsense," she said.
In his book "The Jewish War," Flavius Josephus describes the Essenes as an ascetic, mystical religious sect that lived in abstinence from worldly pleasures, including sex.
The Essenes are commonly believed to have written the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in a Qumran cave in 1947 and are considered the most significant archaeological discovery of the past century.
The scrolls consist of numerous religious documents including preserved copies of the Hebrew Bible, untouched from as early as 300 BCE.
Many scholars claim that the Essenes were the first Christians, or were related to John the Baptist and to Jesus Christ. Prof. James Charlesworth, a senior Bible scholar who also specializes in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus and the Gospel of John, believes John the Baptist lived among the Essenes for at least a year and drew some of his central ideas from them.
(Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
I wonder if he thought that maybe, just maybe, that was a nickname for the 'ousted temple priests'?
I have a vague recollection of an old joke in which a scholar asserts that Shakespeare’s plays were not actually written by Shakespeare, but by another man with the same name.
I had a similar thought; that Essenes was the name taken by the ousted temple priests, or a name applied to them...
Since those in Jerusalem celebrated Purim and the scroll writers did not, I would think this theory has problems. None of the theories are 100%, but assuming the scroll writers were either Essene or Essene-like is the best option...imho
I’ve always understood that they where priests of the Maccabe tradition, versus, the Herodian appointed priests, so ‘ousted priests’ would fit.
In addition, Philo Judeaeus is named as a minor second source for the existence of the sect. Philo apparently dates from 25 BC. That places him as Christ's contemporary. While he wrote little about them, it would seem the name was a familiar one at the time (in Greek, Essenos).
Exactly how this author comes to suggest they never existed is a question in itself. There may be little evidence of their existence, but that isn't confirmation of their later invention.
“... before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE”
Why does the author use the term “CE” instead of “AD”? Isn’t that the new secular progressive term to steer people away from a historical biblical perspective? I’ve always gone with BC and AD and I don’t think I’ll ever change.
Anno Domini is good enough for me. Common Era can be for someone else.
Actually, my understanding was that the Essenes WERE dissident Temple priests, sorta. The notion I’m referring to was that the Essenes were trying to revive the schools of prophecy which had written most of the Old Testament. They had found the dominant Temple priests unreceptive, and so, just like the more ancient prophets, set up camp in the wilderness.
Unstated but tempting to assume in this notion is that they did consider themselves eligible to be temple priests, but rejected, or that they actually were temple priests who then were dismissed or left in protest.
Anyone know anything about the Essenes which can support this notion or not? It’s actually a notion I probably picked up from my mother when I was a kid, so it’s nothing I can support. (She was studying theology, but often mentioned stuff from her classes which was pretty much bleeding-edge theoretical at the time... which was the 1970s. (gasp!!! — but she did have a very good head on her shoulders and knew how to recognize nonsense.))
I figure this is year 233 CE, 2009 AD.
Well, who we are going to believe, Flavius Josephus, who lived during this time or someone a few thousand years later with a degree......hmmmmm
Some writers believe CE is more scholarly. I once heard the question asked to Lawrence Schiffman (sp?), a Jewish Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar, and he did not really understand the notation either since you just can’t get around the fact our calendar is structured around Christ’s Birth.
Yeah. Same thing with happened with the works of Homer.
by some Brit propagandist
around Shakespeare’s time?***
I remember reading about a Brit in the 1800s who claimed that the origional Holy Land was in England and Edinburogh was the real Jerusalem. He claimed that Constantine altered the history to the mid east.
Poor Constantine. Without him who could we blame for all the religious woes in Christianity. /Sarc.
BEC= Before Common era.
If it bothers you use these diefinitions...
CE =Christ Entered
BCE=Before Christ Entered.
So, Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays? Shakespeare did? Amazing!
I guess it would make sense, then, that the Essene’s weren’t a Jewish sect founded by dissident priests. Instead they were a Jewish sect founded by dissident priests. Scholarship astounds me!
< /sarc >
In fairness, I think part of the rejection of BC is supposedly that Christ wasn’t born in 1 AD, but 4-10 years earlier. Of course, this was known for hundreds of years before anti-Christian bigots took over the universities, but only was acted upon after the takeover.
What is funny is that both terms still use year “0” (appointed year of Jesus’ birth) as the pivot year, so they are still acknowledging the birth of Jesus as the changing of all Western time and history.
Silly, silly academicians, trying so hard to be “above it all.”