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Re: Some more Essene Research FYI

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  • pmcvflag
    Hey Darkchylde Well, again it is interesting stuff (though not really about Gnosticism). I wonder though.... the two sections you offer are so much against
    Message 1 of 37 , Aug 16, 2006
      Hey Darkchylde

      Well, again it is interesting stuff (though not really about
      Gnosticism). I wonder though.... the two sections you offer are so
      much against each other that they are hard to reconcile. The first
      one is obviously more academic, but I think it is hard to support
      since there do seem to be Hellenistic aspects to the texts in
      question (though I suppose that doesn't mean the people at the time
      may have realized that). Of course, the fact that scholars have long
      been moving away from the notion that the DSS are really a set of
      Essene text gives us so little to go on that one could debate
      whether the first piece is as historical as it looks on the surface.
      The second is obviously sensationalist, and while I agree the
      Hellenist aspects are there the author jumps into the kind of Da
      Vinci Code things that I don't think we can really
      call "information" so much.

      Either way, since the Essenes themselves are not "Gnostic" I guess
      the question that comes up is what this IMPLIES about Gnosticism.
      Would you care to offer any ideas up?


      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, verna ward <imdarkchylde@...>
      > Essene Origins -- Palestine or Babylonia Excerpts and
      Definitions and Addendums: Scholars have proposed two basic
      theories concerning the origins of the people who wrote the Dead Sea
      Scrolls. One theory suggests that the Essenes originated in
      Palestine -- the other in [Neo]-Babylonia. The Damascus Document
      figures prominently in the formulation of both theories ... In the
      Palestine-origin theory the Essene movement was a reaction against
      the Hellenization of Palestinian Judaism. This process of
      Hellenization began almost imperceptibly in the third century B.C.
      In the first part of the second century B.C. however the forces of
      Hellenization gained new ground both culturally and politically.
      Then in 172 B.C. Onias III -- the legitimate High Priest -- was
      murdered in Jerusalem: Onias was a Zadokite or a priest who was
      descended from Zadok (the high priest of King David and and
      originator of the line of High Priests of the Temple in Jerusalem).
      Instead of Onias
      > the Syrian overlords appointed Meneleus -- a highly Hellenized
      Jew who was not of the Zadokite line. To many of the faithful
      Meneleus could only be a usurper ... Matters were made still worse
      by the increasingly forced Hellenization and religious oppression of
      the Syrian overlord King Antiochus IV. In 165 B.C. Judea finally
      revolted. Under the brilliant military leadership of Judas Maccabeus
      the revolt was successful and an independent Jewish state was once
      again established ... Thus began the Hasmonean [Dynasty] of Jewish
      kings -- first Judas himself (165-160) -- then his brother Jonathan
      (160-143) and lastly his brother Simon (143-134) ... As matters
      turned out the Hasmoneans brought not a return to orthodoxy but
      increased Hellenization. Even Judas himself signed a treaty of
      friendship with the Roman Senate and employed partly Hellenized Jews
      as his ambassadors. Finally in 152 B.C. Jonathan had himself
      appointed High Priest -- another usurpation; for many Jews
      > this act was a great provocation and the strongest reason for
      abhorring the Hasmoneans ... According to the Palestinian theory
      of Essene origins it was in this atmosphere that the Essene movement
      began. [Those] Jews (1)disgusted with what they believed to be the
      pollution of their ancestral religion and (2)revolted by the
      usurpation of the High Priesthood by a non-Zadokite rallied behind a
      man they called Moreh Tzedek (Teacher of Righteousness). No doubt he
      was of the Zadokite line and a legitimate claimant to the title of
      High Priest ... The faithful retreated to the desert to (1)live a
      life of ritual purity (2)observe the ancient law (3)follow the old
      calendar that marked the holy times and (4)await the day when the
      Teacher of Righteousness would be accepted by all Jews as High
      Priest and would [thence] return once again to Jerusalem. This is
      the Palestinian theory of Essene origins ... The Babylonian
      theory of Essene origins traces the beginning of this strange
      > sect to Jews in Babylonia who had been deported there after the
      destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C. Many of these Jews --
      deported from their Judean homeland -- perceived the Babylonian
      Exile as divine punishment. Some of this group -- whom we may call
      Essenes -- [were] returned to Palestine [Cyrus Edict 538 BC] at what
      they must have regarded as a propitious moment -- the victory of
      Judas Maccabeus and the renewal of an independent Jewish state. Once
      arrived there however they were bitterly disappointed by the
      Hellenized forms of Judaism that controlled the state. After an
      initial attempt to bring their erring brethren to the truth they
      retreated to the isolation of Qumran -- near the northern end of the
      Dead Sea. Led by Moreh Tzedek the Essenes believed that adherance to
      their precepts was the one sure refuge against the coming messianic
      judgement ... Much of the support of this Babylonian-origin theory
      comes from the Damascus Document -- especially its
      > historical allusions. The document (1)alludes to leaving the land
      of Judah and going to the land of the north (Damascus) and that (2)
      the Essene movement had been in existence long before the Teacher of
      Righteousness had appeared on the scene. The conclusion arrived at
      in this theory is that the Damascus Document was originally written
      by Jews living in the Diaspora -- in this case the Babylonian
      Exile ...
      > http://ancientneareast.tripod.com/DeadSeaScrollsShanks.html
      faith of the occident, or the western world, consists substantially
      of a synthesis of beliefs and doctrines which had their origin in
      many lands and among various peoples and which were combined and
      proclaimed in what we may call the New Testament. Dispersed among
      the New Testament is this synthesis of religious beliefs amidst
      Biblical Judaism. The creeds, disciplines, and dogmas on which
      almost all the churches of Europe and the Americas and many of those
      in Asia are based, purport to derive their authority from these
      Gospels and Epistles; and all these multifarious communions proclaim
      that theirs is the religion established by Jesus, whom they revere
      as the Christ.
      > The principal concepts of the Christian Gospels, which have
      played so crucial a role in occidental life, can be traced to their
      ultimate sources. Over the last 15 years scores of old as well as
      modern books and hundreds of articles in encyclopedias were first
      read by way of orientation; but, since recondite knowledge is to be
      had only by a minute study of the sources, this soon became an
      industry. More than four years were consumed in the intensive study
      of ancient Egyptian, Persian, Brahmana, Gaina, Buddhist, Judaistic,
      Essene, and Christian literature. Quotations were copied and
      organized for easy reference. All the major streams of thought were
      then carefully analyzed. Important elements from various ancient
      cultures were discovered to have converged, first, in the
      Pythagorean thiasoi and then in the Essene Order, whence the
      Christian Gospel emerged, which, in turn, proceeded to penetrate the
      emotions and to achieve dominion over the Graeco-Roman world.
      > THE ESSENE RELIGIOUS SYNTHESIS The Essenes, lately the object
      of so much attention, play a central role in our drama. They were an
      extraordinary group of Jewish communist-celibates who, in their
      formative stage about 170 B.C.E., absorbed the metaphysics and the
      eschatology of the Zoroastrians, and then, some sixty-five years
      later, by becoming Pythagoreans, incorporated into their system much
      of the discipline and soteriology of Attis, Dionysus and the mystery-
      cults of Greece and Asia Minor. Upon all this, they engrafted a
      Christology which combined a Persian with a Messianic Judaic
      concept, which, in a period of crisis, they personalized in their
      martyred Teacher of Righteousness, whom they expected to return upon
      the clouds about 35-30 B. C., accompanied by myriads of angels to
      conduct the Last Judgment. If you were to invest study into these
      areas it would be your conclusion, based on the evidence and facts
      available for your inspection, that Jesus was an Essene who,
      > convinced that he was himself the incarnate Christ destined to
      redeem and judge mankind, left the Order of the Essenes (strict
      Pharisees) for the purpose of creating a mass-movement.
      > The certainty finally emerges that Christianity was a highly
      composite doctrine which combined many of the age-old religious
      concepts first developed by Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians,
      Persians, India, Buddhists, and Greeks, as well as by Jews,
      Phrygians, Syrians, and other inhabitants of Asia Minor. It was
      congenitally related to all of these; and when any of them accepted
      Christianity, they were simply recovering what was, at least in
      part, originally their own.
      > This religious synthesis explains the ease at which Gentile
      Christianity became a world religion, yet had its roots in a Jewish
      movement. In the light of worldwide anti-Semitism this is amazing
      to say the least.
      > We at Bet Emet feel that the realization of this fact must
      induce among all sectarians a definite humility, which should in
      turn, contribute toward eliminating those doctrinal differences
      which divide our society into a multiplicity of groups shut off from
      each other by ideological barriers, as if we all lived in
      hermetically sealed compartments, incapable of fellowship or
      Essenism taught the following concepts as synthesized from
      Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Buddhists, and Greeks,
      as well as by Jews, Phrygians, Syrians:
      > That the human race is divided into two groups which are
      forever separated, the Elect and the unrighteous, the Children of
      Light and the Children of Darkness
      > That the former may be redeemed for everlasting glory in
      heaven, but only through divine intervention; that a god-man (Angel-
      Messiah) must appear as a human being on earth, and, in fact, had
      appeared, to bring salvation to humanity
      > That all of the Elect who accept him and become his disciples
      will be redeemed; that all others are doomed to super eternally in
      hell fire
      > That the Children of Light are made manifest through their
      celibacy, saintly brotherhood, and communal poverty and
      > That the god-man is the Soter, i.e., the divine sacrifice who
      gives his life for many and whose flesh and blood are consumed by
      his communicants so that they too may become divine and immortal
      > That in his first manifestation the savior proclaims his
      revelation; that after his death, he returns to the Father for a
      period while his followers preach his gospel; that before the end of
      the then existing generation he would certainly return in a grand
      Parousia to judge all mankind and establish the kingdom of heaven.
      > This was the Essene-Christian faith, which is also the religion
      of the occident. This gospel consists primarily of four basic
      elements: soteriology, eschatology, ethics, and the Messianic
      concept. If one is to be honest with the material available in
      relationship to Christian doctrine and dogma, he must first consider
      the sources of this Essene soteriology, that is to say, its doctrine
      concerning the incarnate godman who dies for humanity and whose body
      and blood must be consumed sacramentally so that the Elect may
      become divine and immortal. As you see salvation did not come from
      faith and obedience, but though mystic rituals involved in the
      eating allegorically the flesh of a godman and the symbolic drinking
      of the blood of this godman. The trail leads us first to the Nile,
      where civilization and organized religion began in the dim reaches
      of tile prehistoric past.
      > The first officially authentic Essene scriptures were published
      shortly after an Arab goatherd, following one of his animals,
      stumbled into a cave near the Dead Sea, where a treasure-trove of
      ancient documents was found, several of which were virtually intact.
      By a strange succession of fortunate incidents, these were quickly
      published, and that made available to the world.
      > This set off one of the most intensive archeological hunts in
      history; scholars and scientists hastened to the Judaean desert in
      search of additional Scrolls. In this, they were signally
      successful: remnants, large and small, of hundreds of Essene
      scriptures were recovered, all of which had been secreted in sealed
      jars about 69 A.D. Material was found in at least five caves, of
      which that in Cave 4 alone constituted a corpus of original Essene
      scripture sufficient, should it be translated and published, to fill
      two volumes the size of the King James version of the Bible.
      > Then, however, strange things began to occur. In the beginning,
      and for several years, no portion of this treasure, deposited in the
      Jordanian Museum in Jerusalem, has been published, or even made
      available to scholars. Of the 8 men, appointed to collate, arrange,
      publish, and translate these documents, 4 were Roman Catholics; and
      only John Marco Allegro, the English researcher, was without
      denominational affiliation. When he quickly translated and published
      the Copper Scroll and the few fragments entrusted to him; and then
      when he declared that the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, executed
      by the Jewish priests about 70-68 B.C., may have been crucified, he
      was denied all further access to the Scroll material.
      > As year after year passed away without the appearance of any
      more Essene scripture, although from time to time elaborate promises
      were made that they would soon be available, many began to question
      the reasons for the delay and the concealment.
      > Since then, ample time has elapsed for the preparation and
      publication of all Essene material. But not one line of the hundreds
      of pages found in the caves has been released until the last few
      > Although additional Essene scriptures failed to appear, there
      was a plethora of books and articles dealing with the cult and its
      Scrolls during the years following 1950. Dozens of books and
      hundreds of articles, expressing every conceivable point of view,
      have appeared. It is probable that a complete bibliography of all
      material printed in this field might comprise somewhere between
      1,500 and 2,000 titles.
      > During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish force overran
      Jerusalem and captured the Jordanian Museum. To the best of our
      knowledge, nothing has been published concerning the fate or the
      whereabouts of the Essene Scrolls—the most precious concentration of
      ancient literature ever discovered in modern times.
      > Until recently no outsider, of course, knew the contents of
      these documents; but it seems difficult to doubt that there was a
      constructive conspiracy to conceal them and to prevent their
      publication. All discussion concerning the Scrolls seems to have
      been silenced for years and only recently all the contents of the
      scrolls have been made public.
      > The motive for this concealment, we believe, is not far to seek.
      Although the evidence linking pristine Christianity to the Dead Sea
      Covenanters is already very substantial, there are still men of
      stature who deny the existence of such a relation. ship. With the
      release of the later documents, it was established beyond all doubt
      that Christianity grew out of Essenism.
      > The concealing the Essene scriptures for years was an concerted
      effort by Christian religious authorities in hopes of preventing or
      forestalling the the verification made from them that pristine
      Christianity developed from an esoteric Jewish cult which had
      forsaken Judaism as we understand it and gravitated toward a
      Pythagorean, Buddhist, Iranian apocalyptic sect. We believe,
      secondly, that the whole orthodox or so-called Christian world, with
      its material assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars, wishes to
      preserve the myth of its unique origin, founded on the inspired
      message of a god-man whose only source of doctrine or inspiration
      was the creator of the universe. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove
      > The vested interests of those religious communities are
      therefore at stake; they will not, if they can prevent it, permit
      the publication of authentic materials which may eventually reduce
      their influence and credibility and, more importantly, cause a
      decline in their wealth and income. Thankfully, they forestalled the
      publication of these scrolls but could not prevent it.
      > Since most people read only what reinforces the persuasions they
      have already accepted, we realize that few indeed among those
      already committed to some creed will be motivated to read these
      articles. Edwin Franden Dakin once remarked that the greatest
      miracle in the world is the capacity of humanity to believe—without
      evidence. Most people are nurtured by their delusions. However, true
      education or enlightenment cannot exist except among those who
      follow St. Paul's dictum to try all things and in the end retain the
      > In these articles and web-pages, therefore, we have sought the
      truth concerning Gentile Christianity and how it borrowed from all
      religions by examining their own sacred scriptures: our position
      being that if these are internally unassailable, they probably
      constitute a solid foundation for faith. However, if they are filled
      with discrepancies, contradictions, and presentations which are
      mutually exclusive; if they are patently false or even ridiculous on
      their face, how can those who rely on them for ultimate truth
      confirm themselves in their belief except by refusing to examine the
      most obvious facts? How can divine infallibility be claimed
      for "revelations" which bear every earmark of forgery or folk-myth?
      > We have submitted the evidence and conclusions found in the
      following pages to critics everywhere who would assuredly be
      delighted to demonstrate their error or fallacy; but, since they
      cannot deny the words of their own official Scriptures, no one has
      been able to impugn anything we have written. It is one thing to
      deny something; but it is entirely another thing to refute it.
      Emotion and zeal is a poor substitute for facts and evidence!
      > We are well aware of how desperately suffering humanity craves
      the consolation of religion, and we do not for a moment deny that
      millions obtain this from delusions which are as unfounded as they
      are irrational and untruthful. Again, what we don't know will not
      hurt us...until we die and find out we were wrong!
      > We believe, however, that it is possible for an increasing
      number of men and women to develop and embrace a system of ethics
      and intellectual superstructure which will create a happy and
      successful life without the fear of imagined specters or a
      dependence upon false dogmas. Many are they who have done so. We at
      Bet Emet look forward to a time when a large portion of the human
      race will obtain the moral and intellectual elevation which will
      enable them to live according to truths revealed by God and not by
      the false religious beliefs of men desiring power and authority over
      the people. Shalom.
      > ---------------------------------
      > Get your email and more, right on the new Yahoo.com
    • lady_caritas
      ... it ... to ... Baptist ... Heh. Neither is the treatment of his mother, Elizabeth. The author writes, John was begotten by means of a womb worn with
      Message 37 of 37 , Sep 9, 2006
        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
        > I'm glad to hear that Layton didn't include TT *lol*. BTW, I just
        > thought I would also add an interesting note for the group (maybe
        > will come up in the Essene conversation as well) that in addition
        > the sects you mention are attacked the treatment of John the
        > is not very sympathetic either.

        Heh. Neither is the treatment of his mother, Elizabeth. The author
        writes, "John was begotten by means of a womb worn with age."


        > Less obvious, but possibly still significant....
        > "It is through water and fire that the whole place is purified -
        > visible by the visible, the hidden by the hidden. There are some
        > things hidden through those visible. There is water in water, there
        > is fire in chrism."
        > (side note.... considering the subject matter and the mention of
        > of the rituals mentioned in other valentinian texts, along with
        > scribal errors elsewhere in Philip, one could reasonably wonder if
        > the second use of the word "water" in this passage may not have
        > originally been "baptism")

        That's possible. Sure. Yet,... talking about "things hidden
        through those visible" preceding "water in water" compels me to draw
        an immediate association of hidden water through visible water. I
        don't know if that is any less meaningful than spelling it out.

        Since "chrism" is mentioned, it even might be expected to think of
        the water in terms of baptism. Chrism and water are mentioned as
        *both* being necessary for baptism elsewhere in GPh:

        "We are reborn by the holy spirit. And we are born by the anointed
        (Christ) through two things. We are anointed by the spirit. When we
        were born we were joined. No one can see himself in the water or in
        a mirror without light. Nor, again, can you see by the light without
        water or a mirror. For this reason it is necessary to baptize with
        two things – light and water. And light mean chrism."

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