Two Other Ancient Jewish Sects

In my previous post I talked about two of the known Jewish sects from the days of Jesus in Palestine.  The idea that there are specifically four sects comes to us from the late-first-century Jewish historian Josephus, whose many volumes of writings (e.g., on the Jewish War and on Jewish Antiquities – the latter a history of the Jewish people from biblical times up to his own day) are our principal source of information about Judaism at the time.  In ...

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

In my previous several posts I discussed the discovery and contents of the Nag Hammadi Library.  A lot of people on the blog know about all that, since it is a major topic of discussion among scholars of early Christianity.  But the reality is that among the general populace, no one really knows about it.  People may have heard about the “Gnostic Gospels,” but they don’t realize that there is such a *thing* as the Nag Hammadi Library (or, obviously, ...

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Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Yesterday I talked about the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for understanding Jesus and the milieu out of which earliest Christianity grew. My basic point is that if Jesus was a Jew, then to understand him, you have to understand Jews in his world. And the Dead Sea Scrolls provide us valuable information to that end.

I am not saying that the Dead Sea Scrolls are representative of what all or even most Jews thought at the time. They clearly ...

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Qumran and Masada

As I anticipated, my last day in Israel was the real climax.   We did three things of note (and several other things not of note):  the ruins of Qumran, Masada, and the Dead Sea itself.

I was disappointed with how our tour dealt with Qumran.  At the visitors’ center they now have a rather ridiculous little film to introduce the site, but it consists almost entirely of a dramatization, in which an imaginary member of the Essene community describes his experience ...

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Was Jesus an Essene?

QUESTION:

I was wondering how big of an influence you think the Essenes had on Jesus and his teachings, and if there’s any evidence that he and John The Baptist were students of that philosophy. Jesus’ apocalyptic teachings seem to align with them a lot.

RESPONSE:

Great question!  When the Dead Sea Scrolls (= DSS) were discovered in 1947, it was quickly realized that this was a library of documents produced by the Jewish group known from other ancient authors (such as Josephus ...

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