In the blog category Pagan vrs Christian, I frequently quote from a collection of ancient Essene writings. The Essenes were a mystic Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. Some (including myself), believe they are the same group that we now refer to as the early Christians.
Why is this important? Essene and Pagan beliefs have a lot in common and knowing this can make it easier for an individual with a Christian foundation to understand and embrace Wicca, Which and Pagan ways.
Below are 7 eye-opening links between the Essenes and early Christians that offer strong evidence these two groups are one and the same!
While many people now readily accept the Essene / Christian connection, some still insist the Essenes were just an isolated sect living in the desert with no real connection to the early Church. After considerable study on this topic, I became convinced the Essenes and early Christians were the same people. Below you’ll find a partial list of the parallel beliefs and practices I found. There is a great deal more, but the top 7 listed here make a strong case by themselves. Read them… then YOU decide!
Top 7 Parallels Between Christians & Essenes
- Josephus Flavius, a famous 1st century historian, records that “there were three (Jewish) sects, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.” There is no mention of Christians in any of his historical writings. The Bible agrees there were indeed three main sects in that time… the Pharisees, Sadducees and Christians, but it makes no mention of the Essenes!
- In the writings of Josephus, he gives a lengthy description of the Essenes and their customs. Josephus wrote that the Essenes were a very unique sect… and there were no others like them. Yet the Bible records members of the early Christian church observing the exact same ‘unique’ customs that the Essenes did.
- Today, many believe the Essenes were simply a small group who lived in the Dead Sea area, and kept to themselves. However the first century historian Josephus wrote that the Essenes “…do not live in any particular town, but in EVERY town the Order has its respective ‘house’. …In this ‘house’ the members take their abode when they arrive on their travels, and they are supplied with all they want.” It is well documented that the Christians spread far and wide… and the Bible contains many passages that describe the disciples traveling from town to town and resting at the ‘house’ of a member from the ‘church’.
- One of the most unique ‘customs’ of the Essenes was that they shared all their possessions. Josephus wrote “The laws of the (Essene) Order regulate that everyone that enters into the Brotherhood gives up all his property and wealth.” The Bible records that those in the early church also followed this custom. Acts 4:32 states “Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything he possessed was his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all.” (AV Version)
- The Essenes required a person to commit to a three year study period, prior to acceptance into the Brotherhood. The Bible records that Paul (who wrote a large part of the New Testament) withdrew for a three year period just prior to beginning his preaching. Many believe this was Paul’s three year period of study, just as the other apostles had spent three yeas studying with Jesus.
- In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes record that a man who had studied with them for a three year period, had betrayed them and was spreading ‘lies’ about their faith. This person is simply referred to in these writings as ‘The Liar’. The Bible and several other historical manuscripts record that there was much disagreement between Paul and some of the disciples and leaders of the early church. Paul was teaching that observance of certain Jewish customs or ‘laws’ was not a requirement for salvation. The friction was caused primarily by a difference of opinion rather than a lie. Paul defends himself in the New Testament, claiming… “I am NOT a liar!”
- Many claim that the Essenes lived a celibate life, and that few if any were married. However, Josephus records “The Essenes consider that everybody who does not marry, hereby affects the propagation and destination of mankind, as men would soon cease to exist otherwise.” They believed you should marry, “not from lust, but to fulfill the command of Jehovah, ‘Be fruitful, increase and fill the earth’.” All Jewish sects seemed to share this same belief. Marriage was expected of everyone who was physically able… and it was a requirement for anyone who wished to become a Rabbi (teacher) or hold a high position in the Jewish community. (But that’s a topic for another posy!)
If you enjoyed reading this historical evidence on the parallels between Christians and Essenes, you are encourage to share it. These writings may not be received well by some Christians, but most should be willing to review it if you simply ask for their opinion or help in proving or disproving the information. Others will find comfort in knowing that the disciples and initiates of the Essene Brotherhood, AKA Early Christians, honored the Earthly Mother as most other nature-based traditions do.
As I stated above, these 7 links are enough to build a strong case for Christians and Essenes being one and the same sect. I’ll add to this list as time permits.
Peace and health be with you,