The Essenes: Essenism and Christianity


IT has become a common practice with a certain class ofThetheory which Gxwriters to call Essenism to their aid in accounting for any plains

distinctive features of Christianity, which they are unable to jjjJS?^ explain in any other way. Wherever some external power is outgrowth needed to solve a perplexity, here is the deus ex machina whose ism aid they most readily invoke. Constant repetition is sure to produce its effect, and probably not a few persons, who want either the leisure or the opportunity to investigate the subject for themselves, have a lurking suspicion that the Founder of Christianity may have been an Essene, or at all events that Christianity was largely indebted to Essenism for its doctrinal and ethical teaching1. Indeed, when very confident and sweeping assertions are made, it is natural to presume that they rest on a substantial basis of fact. Thus for instance we are told by one writer that Christianity is 'Essenism alloyed with foreign elements'2: while another, who however approaches the subject in a different spirit, says; 'It will hardly be doubted that our Saviour Himself belonged to this holy brotherhood. This will especially be apparent, when we remember that the whole Jewish community at the advent of Christ was divided

1 De Quincey's attempt to prove oeived in a wholly different spirit from

that the Essenea were actually Chris- the theories of the writers mentioned

tians (Warks vi. p. 270 sq., rx. p. 253 in the text; but it is even more un

sq.)> wuo used the machinery of an tenable and does not deserve serious

esoteric society to inculcate their doc- refutation,

trines 'for fear of the Jews,' is con- * Gratz in. p. 217.

into three parties, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, and that every Jew had to belong to one of these sects. Jesus who in all things conformed to the Jewish law, and who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, would therefore naturally associate Himself with that order of Judaism tested by which was most congenial to His nature1.' I purpose testing

these strong assertions by an appeal to facts.

Our Lord For the statements involved in those words of the last

have be- extract which I have italicized, no authority is given by the

anTsect? WI*iter himself; nor have I been able to find confirmation of

them in any quarter. On the contrary the frequent allusions

which we find to the vulgar herd, the iZiarrai, the t<zm kaarets,

who are distinguished from the disciples of the schools8, suggest

that a large proportion of the people was unattached to any

sect. If it had been otherwise, we might reasonably presume

that our Lord, as one who 'in all things conformed to the

Jewish law,' would have preferred attaching Himself to the

Pharisees who 'sat in Moses' seat' and whose precepts He

recommended His disciples to obey8, rather than to the Essenes

who in one important respect at least—the repudiation of the

temple sacrifices—acted in flagrant violation of the Mosaic


Theargu- This preliminary barrier being removed, we are free to

the silence investigate the evidence for their presumed connexion. And

~fth®New here we are met first with a negative argument, which

ment an- obviously has great weight with many persons. Why, it is

asked, does Jesus, who so unsparingly denounces the vices and

the falsehoods of Pharisees and Sadducees, never once mention

the Essenes by way of condemnation, or indeed mention them

by name at all? Why, except that He Himself belonged to

this sect and looked favourably on their teaching? This

question is best answered by another. How can we explain

the fact, that throughout the enormous mass of talmudical and early rabbinical literature this sect is not once mentioned by

1 Ginsburg Estaies p. 24. 3 Matt, xxiii. 2, 3.

2 See above, p. 345.

name, and that even the supposed allusions to them, which

have been discovered for the first time in the present century,

turn out on investigation to be hypothetical and illusory? The

difficulty is much greater in this latter instance; but the

answer is the same in both cases. The silence is explained by

the comparative insignificance of the sect, their small numbers

and their retired habits. Their settlements were far removed

from the great centres of political and religious life. Their

recluse habits, as a rule, prevented them from interfering in

the common business of the world. Philo and Josephus have

given prominence to them, because their ascetic practices

invested them with the character of philosophers and interested

the Greeks and Romans in their history; but in the national

life of the Jews they bore a very insignificant part1. If the

Sadducees, who held the highest offices in the hierarchy, are

only mentioned directly on three occasions in the Gospels8, it

can be no surprise that the Essenes are not named at all.

As no stress therefore can be laid on the argument from The posi

silence, any hypothesis of connexion between Essenism 'and menu for

Christianity must make good its claims by establishing one or ? °°nnex'' ° J ° ion may be

both of these two points; first, that there is direct historical twofold, evidence of close intercourse between the two; and secondly, that the resemblances of doctrine and practice are so striking as to oblige, or at least to warrant, the belief in such a connexion.

1 This fact is folly recognised by is so imperfect and has no chance of several recent writers, who will not be being extended, the greatest prudence suspected of any undue bias towards is required of scienoe, if she prefers to traditional views of Christian history. be true rather than adventurous, if she Thus Lipsius writes (p. 190), 'In the has at heart rather to enlighten than to general development of Jewish life surprise'(p. 461). Even Gratz in one Essenism occupies a far more sub- passage can write soberly on this subordinate place than is commonly ject: 'The Essenes had throughout ascribed to it.' And Eeim expresses no influence on political movements, himself to the same effect (i. p. 305). from which they held aloof as far as Derenbourg also, after using similar possible' (in. p. 86). language, adds this wise caution, 'In 3 These are (1) Matt. iii. 7; (2) any case, in the present state of our Matt. xvi. 1 sq.; (3) Matt. xxii. 23 Bij., acquaintance with the Essenes, which Mark xii. 18, Luke xx. 27.

1. Absence
of direct
of a con-

Two individual cases alleged.

If both these lines of argument fail, the case must be considered to have broken down.

1. On the former point it must be premised that the Gospel narrative does not suggest any hint of a connexion. Indeed its general tenor is directly adverse to such a supposition. From first to last Jesus and His disciples move about freely, taking part in the common business, even in the common recreations, of Jewish life. The recluse ascetic brotherhood, which was gathered about the shores of the Dead Sea, does not once appear above the Evangelists' horizon. Of this close society, as such, there is not the faintest indication. But two individuals have been singled out, as holding an important place either in the Evangelical narrative or in the Apostolic Church, who, it is contended, form direct and personal links of communication with this sect. These are John the Baptist and James the Lord's brother. The one is the forerunner of the Gospel, the first herald of the Kingdom; the other is the most prominent figure in the early Church of Jerusalem.

(i) John the Baptist was an ascetic. His abode was the desert; his clothing was rough; his food was spare; he baptized his penitents. Therefore, it is argued, he was an Essene. Between the premisses and the conclusion however there is a broad gulf, which cannot very easily be bridged over. The solitary independent life, which John led, presents a type wholly different from the cenobitic establishments of the Essenes, who had common property, common meals, common hours of labour and of prayer. It may even be questioned whether his food of locusts would have been permitted by the Essenes, if they really ate nothing which had life (efi^-vxov1). And again; his baptism as narrated by the Evangelists, and their illustrations as described by Josephus, have nothing in common except the use of water for a religious purpose. When therefore we are told confidently that'his manner of life was altogether after the Essene pattern9,' and that 'he without doubt baptized his converts into the Essene order,' we know what value to attach to this bold assertion. If positive statements are allowable, it would be more true to fact to say that he could not possibly have been an Essene. The rule of his life was isolation; the principle of theirs, community1.

(i) John the Baptist

not an Es

1 See Colossians p. 86.

* Gratz in. p. 100.

In this mode of life John was not singular. It would appear External that not a few devout Jews at this time retired from the world biances to and buried themselves in the wilderness, that they might devote ^obn in themselves unmolested to ascetic discipline and religious meditation. One such instance at all events we have in Banus the master of Josephus, with whom the Jewish historian, when a youth, spent three years in the desert. This anchorite was clothed in garments made of bark or of leaves; his food was the natural produce of the earth; he bathed day and night in cold water for purposes of purification. To the careless observer doubtless John and Banus would appear to be men of the same stamp. In their outward mode of life there was perhaps not very much difference8. The consciousness of a divine mission, the gift of a prophetic insight, in John was the real and all-important distinction between the two. But here also the same mistake who was is made; and we not uncommonly find Banus described as an ^se Essene. It is not too much to say however, that the whole tenor of Josephus' narrative is opposed to this supposition*. He

1 rd Kolvuvijtikov, Joseph. B. J. ii. Oqtus yap ipbnriv alpfifftaBai Ttjv iplarqv,

8. 3. See also Fhilo Fragm. 632 inrip el -n-daas KaranaBoipu. aK/payuyijaas

Toc Koiv<M><f>t\ovs, and the context. yovr ipavrbv Kal roWd rovriBels rai rpeis

- Ewald (vi. p. 649) regards this Sir)\Bov. Kal nriSi -rijv ivreOBev inrei

Banns as representing an extravagant plav iKa.v"-r\v inavrip vopiaas elmi, rvtib

development of the school of John, /uvbs rva Havovv ovoua *ara Tijk tpoplav

and thus supplying a link between the Siarplpeiv, iaBrjfri niv drA SivSpur x/xi

real teaching of the Baptist and the nevov, rpofyty Si rijv avropdrus <pvonivqv

doctrine of the Hemerobaptists pro- rpoff<pepinevov, \j/vxpi p Si CSari rriv ijiU

fessing to be derived from him. pav Kal rr/v vixra roWdxit \ovbpevov

3 The passage is so important that rpbi ayvelav, fijXurijs eyevbnr/v aired.

I give it in full; Joseph. Fit. 2 repl Kal Siarptyas nap' ai/ry imavrois rptU

CxKalSeKa Si Irij yevbp^vos ^/SovAiJ&jv :i Kal rtp> iri6vpiav te\eidaas els rijv Tto\i V

leap riniv alpiaeuv ipreiplav \apeiv. inriarptipov. ivveaKalSeKa 6' trr i (xur

rptii S' elalv a&rai' Qapiaaliav niv ij ijp^anijv re ro\iredeaBai T# Qapiaaiur

rpumi, Kal ZaSSovKaiuv i Sevripa, rplrrj alptaei KaraKo\ovBur K.t.x. Si ri 'EffOTjvuc, nadus ro\\axis tlrapitv.

says that when sixteen years old he desired to acquire a knowledge of the three sects of the Jews before making his choice of one; that accordingly he went through (Sirj\6ov) all the three at the cost of much rough discipline and toil; that he was not satisfied with the experience thus gained, and hearing of this Banus he attached himself to him as his zealous disciple (%7}\iott)<; iyevoftrjv avrov); that having remained three years with him he returned to Jerusalem; and that then, being nineteen years old, he gave in his adhesion to the sect of the Pharisees. Thus there is no more reason for connecting this Banus with the Essenes than with the Pharisees. The only natural interpretation of the narrative is that he did not belong to any of the three sects, but represented a distinct type of religious life, of which Josephus was anxious to gain experience. And his hermit life seems to demand this solution, which the sequence of the narrative suggests.

General Of John himself therefore no traits are handed down which

suggest that he was a member of the Essene community. He was an ascetic, and the Essenes were ascetics; but this is plainly an inadequate basis for any such inference. Nor indeed is the relation of his asceticism to theirs a question of much moment for the matter in hand; since this was the very point in which Christ's mode of life was so essentially different from John's as to provoke criticism and to point a contrast1. But the later history of his real or supposed disciples has, or may seem to have, some bearing on this investigation. Towards the close of the first and the beginning of the second century we

robaptists. meet with a body of sectarians called in Greek Hemerobaptists*, in Hebrew Toble-shacharith1, 'day' or 'morning bathers.' What

1 Matt. ix. 14 aq., xi. 17 sq., Mark iy CSan. But, if the word is intended

ii. 18 sq., Luke v. 33, vii. 31 sq. as a translation of Toble-ihacharith

9 The word iiiiepoparrurral is gene- 'morning-bathers,' as it seems to be,

rally taken to mean 'daily bathers,' it mast signify rather 'day-bathers';

and this meaning is suggested by Apost. and this is more in accordance with

Const. vi. 6 otrivei, Kaff' U&amiv iiiUpav the analogy of other compounds from

iia> nil /SarWowrai, oiK ioSioixriv, ib. 23 V/iipa, as rinepofkos, iinepoSp6nos, iuup*

dvrl KaB-q/xtpivod tv /wvov Soiii pimff/ia, CKOros, etc.

Epiphan. Haer. xvii. 1 (p. 37) el id) n Josephus (B. J. ii. 8. S) represents

dpa Ko.6' iKaarqv >)/i^pav /SarWfoir6 Tis the Essenes as bathing, not at dawn.

were their relations to John the Baptist on the one hand,

and to the Essenes on the other? Owing to the scantiness

of our information the whole subject is wrapped in obscurity,

and any restoration of their history must be more or less

hypothetical; but it will be possible at all events to suggest

an account which is not improbable in itself, and which does

no violence to the extant notices of the sect.

(o) We must not hastily conclude, when we meet with («) Their

relation to

certain persons at Ephesus about the years A.d. 53, 54, who are John the

described as 'knowing only the baptism of John,' or as having ap 1S'

been 'baptized unto John's baptism2,' that we have here some

early representatives of the Hemerobaptist sect. These were John's dis

Christians, though imperfectly informed Christians. Of Apollos, Ephesus.

who was more fully instructed by Aquila and Priscilla, this is

stated in the most explicit terms*. Of the rest, who owed

their fuller knowledge of the Gospel to St Paul, the same

appears to be implied, though the language is not free from

ambiguity4. But these notices have an important bearing on

our subject; for they show how profoundly the effect of John's

preaching was felt in districts as remote as proconsular Asia,

even after a lapse of a quarter of a century. With these

disciples it was the initial impulse towards Christianity; but

to others it represented a widely different form of belief and

practice. The Gospel of St John was written, according to all Professed

tradition, at Ephesus in the later years of the first century. a° °later


bnt at the fifth hour, just before their rative, but is distinctly stated in ver.

meal. This is hardly consistent either 25, as correctly read, eUSaaKev dxpifSiZs

with the name of the Toble-shacharith, To. repl Tov 'Ii;aoO, not rod Kvplov as in

or with the Talmudical anecdote of the received text.

them quoted above, p. 348. Of Banus * The rurtiwravtes in xix. 1 is slightly

he reports (Vit. 2) that he 'bathed ambiguous, and some expressions in

often day and night in cold water.' the passage might suggest the oppo

1 See above, p. 348 sq. site: but nalhjra; seems decisive, for

3 The former expression is used of the word would not be used absolutely

Apollos, Acts xviii. 24; the latter of except of Christian disciples; comp.

'certain disciples,' Acts xix. 1. vi. 1, 2, 7, ix. 10, 19, 26, 38, and fre

3 This appears from the whole nar- quently. 1 John i. 8. together, where the second describes a

Again and again the Evangelist impresses on his readers, either directly by his own comments or indirectly by the course of the narrative, the transient and subordinate character of John's ministry. He was not the light, says the Evangelist, but came to bear witness of the light1. He was not the sun in the heavens: he was only the waning lamp, which shines when kindled from without and burns itself away in shining. His light might well gladden the Jews while it lasted, but this was only 'for a seasonV John himself lost no opportunity of bearing his testimony to the loftier claims of Jesus*. From such notices it is plain that in the interval between the preaching of St Paul and the Gospel of St John the memory of the Baptist at Ephesus had assumed a new attitude towards Christianity. His name is no longer the sign of imperfect appreciation, but the watchword of direct antagonism. John had been set up as a rival Messiah to Jesus. In other words, this Gospel indicates the spread of Hemerobaptist principles, if not the presence of a Hemerobaptist community, in proconsular Asia, when it was written. In two respects these Hemerobaptists

The facts distorted the facts of history. They perverted John's teaching,

of history . , . _

distorted and they misrepresented his office. His baptism was no more a

y em' single rite, once performed and initiating an amendment of life; it was a daily recurrence atoning for sin and sanctifying the person1. He himself was no longer the forerunner of the Messiah; he was the very Messiah*. In the latter half of the first century, it would seem, there was a great movement among Spread of large numbers of the Jews in favour of frequent baptism, as the baptist one purificatory rite essential to salvation. Of this superstition PnnciPles< we have had an instance already in the anchorite Banus to whom Josephus attached himself as a disciple. Its presence in the western districts of Asia Minor is shown by a Sibylline poem, dating about A.D. 80, which I have already had occasion to quote3. Some years earlier these sectarians are mentioned by name as opposing James the Lord's brother and the Twelve at Jerusalem4. Nor is there any reason for questioning their existence as a sect in Palestine during the later years of the Apostolic age, though the source from which our information comes is legendary, and the story itself a fabrication. But when or how they first connected themselves with the name of John the Baptist, and whether this assumption was made by all alike or only by one section of them, we do not know. Such a connexion, however false to history, was obvious and natural; nor would it be difficult to accumulate parallels to this false appropriation of an honoured name. Baptism was the funda- A wrong mental article of their creed; and John was the Baptist of0fJohn's world-wide fame. Nothing more than this was needed for the name' choice of an eponym. From St John's Gospel it seems clear

3 John v. 35 iKeivos jjy i \6xyos i result conditional upon the first, see

Kaii/ievos Kal tpalvar K.t.\. The word 1 Pet. ii. 20 el atmprdvovtts rai reXa

Kalti v is not only 'to burn,' bat not ^ifA/uevoi vroneyiiri..M ayaBorouihrrri

unfrequently also ' to kindle, to set on Kal raffxovrei irroiuytiri, 1 Thess. ir. 1

fire,' as e.g. Xen. Anab. iv. 4. 12 ol ih Set repirartty Kai apiaKeiv Qii#. aXXoi ivaar&ma rCp (kcuov\ so that 6 * See John i. 15—34, iii. 23—80,

Kaid/uvos may mean either 'which v. 33 sq.: oomp. x. 41, 42. This

burns away' or 'which is lighted.' aspect of St John's Gospel has been

With the former meaning it would de- brought out by Ewald Jahrb. der Bib!.

note the transitoriness, with the latter Wissensch. m. p. 156 sq.; see also

the derivative character, of John's Oeschichte vn. p. 152 sq.; die Johari

ministry. There seems no reason for neischen Schriften p. 13. There is

excluding either idea here. Thus the perhaps an allusion to these 'disciples

whole expression would mean 'the of John' in 1 Joh. v. 6 ova iv ny Man

lamp which is kindled and burns away, nbvov, dXX' iv ry Man Kox iy r<p alfum •

and (only so) gives light.' For an ex- Kal rb rrev/ui x.r.X.; oomp. Acts i. 5,

ample of two verbs or participles joined xi. 16, xix. 4.

1 Apost. Const. vi. 6; comp. § 23. of the Clementine Recognitions is ap

See p. 386, note 2. parently taken from an older Judaizing

2 CUm. Recogn. i. 54 'ex discipulis romance, the Ascents of James (see

Johannis, qui...magistrum suumveluti above, pp. 87, 126). Hegesippus also

Christum praedicarunt,' ib. § 60 ' Ecce (in Euseb. 11. E. iv. 22) mentions the

nnus ex discipulis Johannis adfirma- Hemerobaptists in his list of Jewish

bat Christum Johannem fuisse, et non sects; and it is not improbable that

Jesam; in tantum, inquit, ut et ipse this list was given as an introduction

Jesus omnibus hominibus et prophetis to his account of the labours and mar

majorem esse pronuntiaverit Johan- tyrdom of St James (see Euseb. H. E.

nem etc.': see also § 63. ii. 23). If so, it was probably derived

3 See Colossiarw, p. 96. from the same source as the notice in

* Clem. Recogn. I.e. This portion the Recognitions.

that this appropriation was already contemplated, if not completed, at Ephesus before the first century had drawn to a close. In the second century the assumption is recognised as a characteristic of these Hemerobaptists, or Baptists, as they are once called1, alike by those who allow and those who deny its justice*. Even in our age the name of 'John's disciples' has been given, though wrongly given, to an obscure sect in Babylonia, the Mandeans, whose doctrine and practice have some affinities to the older sect, and of whom perhaps they are the collateral, if not the direct, descendants8.

1 They are called Baptists by Justin Mart. Dial. 10, p. 307 A. He mentions them among other Jewish sects, without however alluding to John.

s By the author of the Recognitions (1. c.) who denies the claim; and by the author of the Homilies (see below, p. 391, note 3), who allows it.

3 These Mandeans are a rapidly diminishing sect living in the region about the Tigris and the Euphrates, south of Bagdad. Our most exact knowledge of them is derived from Petermann (Herzog's Real-Encyklopiidie 8. w. Mendaer, Zabier, and Deutsche Zeitschrift 1854 p. 181 sq., 1856 p. 331 sq., 342 sq., 363 sq., 386 sq.) who has had personal intercourse with them; and from Chwolson (die Ssabier u. der Ssabismus i. p. 100 sq.) who has investigated the Arabic authorities for their earlier history. The names by which they are known are (1) Mendeans, or more properly Mandeans, N"13D Mondays, contracted from X"m N13D Mandii dichuye 'the word of life.' This is their own name among themselves, and points to their Gnostic pretentions. (2) Sabcans, Tsabiyun, possibly from the root ]12 V ' to dip' on account of their frequent lustrations (Chwolson i. p. 110; but see above, p. 81, note 3), though this is not the derivation of the word which they them

selves adopt, and other etymologies have found favour with some recent writers (see Petermann Herzog's Rcal-Eneykl. Suppl. Xviii. p. 342 s.v. Zabier). This is the name by which they are known in the Koran and in Arabic writers, and by which they call themselves when speaking to others. (3) Sasoreans, S'HISJ Natsuruye. This term is at present confined to those among them who are distinguished in knowledge or in business. (4) 'Christians of St John, or Disciples of St John' (i.e. the Baptist). This name is not known among themselves, and was incorrectly given to them by European travellers and missionaries. At the same time John the Baptist has a very prominent place in their theological system, as the one true prophet. On the other hand they are not Christians in any sense.

These Mandeans, the true Sabeans, must not be confused with the false Sabeans, polytheists and star-worshippers, whose locality is Northern Mesopotamia. Chwolson (i. p. 139 sq.) has shown that these last adopted the name in the 9th century to escape persecution from the Mohammedans, because in the Koran the Sabeans, as monotheists, are ranged with the Jews and Christians, and viewed in a more favourable light than polytheists. The name however has generally been ap- as Christ had twelve leading disciples,

(6) Of the connexion between this sect and John the (b) Their Baptist we have been able to give a probable, though t0 the necessarily hypothetical account. But when we attempt toEssenesdetermine its relation to the Essenes, we find ourselves entangled in a hopeless mesh of perplexities. The notices are so confused, the affinities so subtle, the ramifications so numerous, that it becomes a desperate task to distinguish and classify these abnormal Jewish and Judaizing heresies. One fact however seems clear that, whatever affinities they may have had originally, and whatever relations they may have contracted They were afterwards with one another, the Hemerobaptists, properly distinct, speaking, were not Essenes. The Sibylline poem which may be gf0°°g^°ta" regarded as in some respects a Hemerobaptist manifesto contains on examination many traits inconsistent with pure Essenism1. In two several accounts, the memoirs of Hegesippus and the Apostolic Constitutions, the Hemerobaptists are expressly distinguished from the Essenes'. In an early production of Judaic Christianity, whose Judaism has a strong Essene tinge, the Clementine Homilies, they and their eponym are condemned in the strongest language. The system of syzygies, or pairs of opposites, is a favourite doctrine of this work, and in these John stands contrasted to Jesus, as Simon Magus to Simon Peter, as the false to the true; for according to this author's philosophy of history the manifestation of the false always precedes the manifestation of the true3. And again, Epiphanius speaks of

plied in modern times to the false so John had thirty. This, it is argued,

rather than to the true Sabeans. was a providential dispensation—the

1 See Colossians p. 96 sq. one number represents the solar, the

2 Hegesipp. in Euseb. H. E. iv. 22, other the lunar period; and so they Apost. Const. vi. 6. So also the illustrate another point in this writer's Pseudo-Hieronymus in the Indicuhu theory, that in the syzygies the true de Haeresibus (Corp. Haere//. I. p. 283, and the false are the male and feed. Oehler). male principle respectively. Among

* Clem. Hom. ii. 23 'Iudm?j Tis these 30 disciples he places Simon

iyiviro ^iiepo/Sart«rt7Js, fa Kal rod xvplov Magus. With this the doctrine of the

fj/iuv 'Ii^oO Kara rbv rrjs avfvylai \(ryov Mandeans stands in direct opposi

iyiviro rpioSos. It is then stated that, tion. They too have their syzygies,

them as agreeing substantially in their doctrines, not with the

Essenes, but with the Scribes and Pharisees1. His authority

on such a point may be worth very little; but connected with

other notices, it should not be passed over in silence. Yet,

whatever may have been their differences, the Hemerobaptists

and the Essenes had one point of direct contact, their belief in

But after the moral efficacy of lustrations. When the temple and polity

8truction were destroyed, the shock vibrated through the whole fabric of

Temple Judaism, loosening and breaking up existing societies, and

preparing the way for new combinations. More especially the

cessation of the sacrificial rites must have produced a profound

effect equally on those who, like the Essenes, had condemned

them already, and on those who, as possibly was the case with

the Hemerobaptists, had hitherto remained true to the orthodox

ritual. One grave obstacle to friendly overtures was thus

removed; and a fusion, more or less complete, may have been

there may the consequence. At all events the relations of the Jewish

h&V6 D66S

a fusion, sects must have been materially affected by this great national crisis, as indeed we know to have been the case. In the confusion which follows, it is impossible to attain any clear view of their history. At the beginning of the second century however this pseudo-baptist movement received a fresh impulse from the pretended revelation of Elchasai, which came from the farther East*. Henceforth Elchasai is the prominent name in the history of those Jewish and Judaizing sects whose proper home is east of the Jordan8, and who appear to have reproduced, with various modifications derived from Christian and Heathen sources, the Gnostic theology and the pseudobaptist ritual of their Essene predecessors. It is still preserved in the records of the only extant people who have any claim to be regarded as the religious heirs of the Essenes. Elchasai

but John with them represents the resurrection of the dead, but also

true principle. in their unbelief and in the other

1 Haer. xvii. 1 (p. 37) tea Tuy ypan- points.' nariuv Kui 4><zpiaaW <ppovouaa. But - See above, p. 80 sq., on this Book

he adds that they resemble the Sad- of Elchasai.
ducees ' not only in the matter of the s See above, p. 354 sq.

is regarded as the founder of the sect of Mandeans1.

(ii) But, if great weight has been attached to the supposed (ii) James

_ the Lord's

connexion of John the Baptist with the Essenes, the case Brother

of James the Lord's brother has been alleged with still more confidence. Here, it is said, we have an indisputable Essene connected by the closest family ties with the Founder of Christianity. James is reported to have been holy from his invested birth; to have drunk no wine nor strong drink; to have eaten ^^ cna\ no flesh; to have allowed no razor to touch his head, no oil to factensanoint his body; to have abstained from using the bath; and lastly to have worn no wool, but only fine linen*. Here we have a description of Nazarite practices at least and (must it not be granted ?) of Essene tendencies also.

But what is our authority for this description? The writer from whom the account is immediately taken, is the JewishChristian historian Hegesippus, who flourished about A.d. 170. He cannot therefore have been an eye-witness of the facts which he relates. And his whole narrative betrays its legendary But the character. Thus his account of James's death, which follows comes1 immediately on this description, is highly improbable andfrom

melodramatic in itself, and directly contradicts the contem- worthy

sources. porary notice of Josephus in its main facts*. From whatever

source therefore Hegesippus may have derived his information,

it is wholly untrustworthy. Nor can we doubt that he was

indebted to one of those romances with which the Judaizing

Christians of Essene tendencies loved to gratify the natural

curiosity of their disciples respecting the first founders of the

1 See Chwolson i. p. 112 sq., n. account of Elchasai or Elzai in Hip

p.543sq. The ArabicwriterEn-Nedim, polytns (liner, iz. 13 sq.) and Epipha

who lived towards the close of the nius (Haer. xix. 1 sq.). But the deri

tenth century, says that the founder vation of the name Elchasai given by

of the Sabeans (i.e. Mandeans) was Epiphanins (Haer. xix. 2) Svva/us KeKa

EUchaiaieh (^wurcOl) who taught XwwA"? (*D3 ^Pl) is different and pro

t_" bably correct (see above, p. 81).

the doctrine of two coordinate princi- , Hegesippns in Euseb. H. E. ii. 23.

pies, the male and female. This no- , See above> 125 gq tice, as far as it goes, agrees with the

Church1. In like manner Essene portraits are elsewhere preserved of the Apostles Peter8 and Matthew* which represent them as living on a spare diet of herbs and berries. I believe also that I have pointed out already the true source of this description in Hegesippus, and that it is taken from the 'Ascents of James4,' a Judaeo-Christian work stamped, as we happen to know, with the most distinctive Essene features*. But if we turn from these religious novels of Judaic Christianity to earlier and more trustworthy sources of information—to the No Essene Gospels or the Acts or the Epistles of St Paul—we fail to the true discover the faintest traces of Essenism in James. 'The hisof James torical James,' says a recent writer, 'shows Pharisaic but not or of the Essene sympathies8.' This is true of James, as it is true of the disciples, early disciples in the mother Church of Jerusalem generally. The temple-ritual, the daily sacrifices, suggested no scruples to them. The only distinction of meats, which they recognised, was the distinction of animals clean and unclean as laid down by the Mosaic law. The only sacrificial victims, which they abhorred, were victims offered to idols. They took their part in the religious offices, and mixed freely in the common life, of their fellow-Israelites, distinguished from them only in this, that to their Hebrew inheritance they superadded the knowledge of a higher truth and the joy of a better hope. It was altogether within the sphere of orthodox Judaism that the Jewish element in the Christian brotherhood found its scope. Essene peculiarities are the objects neither of sympathy nor of antipathy. In the history of the infant Church for the first quarter of a century Essenism is as though it were not.

1 See above, p. 80.

2 Clem. Hom. xii. 6, where St Peter is made to say aprip nbvi p Kox Aaiiur Xpu/uu, Kai cTraWus Xaxdiws; comp. XV. 17 uSaroj nivov Kal Aprov.

3 Clem. Alex. Paedag. ii. 1 (p. 174) arepnAtinv Kox aKpoSpiuv Kal \axiw dvev Kpiuv niti\i/j.jiavi.v.

* See above, p. 126, note.

6 Epiphanius (Haer. xxx. 16) men

tions two points especially, in which the character of this work is shown: (1) It represented James as condemning the sacrifices and the fire on the altar (see above, pp. 350—353): (2) It published the most unfounded calumnies against St Paul.

6 Lipsius, Schenkel'i BiUl-Lexieom, p. 191.

But a time came, when all this was changed. Even as early Essene

as the year 58, when St Paul wrote to the Romans, we detect visible be

practices in the Christian community of the metropolis, which f°re tn?

may possibly have been due to Essene influences1. Five or six the Apo

... stolic age. years later, the heretical teaching which threatened the integrity

of the Gospel at Colossae shows that this type of Judaism was already strong enough within the Church to exert a dangerous influence on its doctrinal purity. Then came the great convulsion—the overthrow of the Jewish polity and nation. This was the turning-point in the relations between Essenism and Christianity, at least in Palestine. The Essenes were extreme sufferers Conse

T> i. • iiii qnences of

in the Roman war of extermination. It seems probable that the Jewish

their organization was entirely broken up. Thus cast adrift, war'
they were free to enter into other combinations, while the
shock of the recent catastrophe would naturally turn then-
thoughts into new channels. At the same time the nearer
proximity of the Christians, who had migrated to Peraea during
the war, would bring them into close contact with the new
faith and subject them to its influences, as they had never been
subjected before*. But, whatever may be the explanation, the
fact seems certain, that after the destruction of Jerusalem the
Christian body was largely reinforced from their ranks. The
Judaizing tendencies among the Hebrew Christians, which
hitherto had been wholly Pharisaic, are henceforth largely

2. If then history fails to reveal any such external con- 2. Do the

rfiSGiii* nexion with Essenism in Christ and His Apostles as to justify blanees

the opinion that Essene influences contributed largely to the theory of6

characteristic features of the Gospel, such a view, if tenable ata con- „

. . . . . nexion?

all, must find its support in some striking coincidence between

the doctrines and practices of the Essenes and those which its

Founder stamped upon Christianity. This indeed is the really

important point; for without it the external connexion, even if

proved, would be valueless. The question is not whether

1 Bom. xiv. 2, 21. 2 See above, p. 77 sq.

Christianity arose amid such and such circumstances, hut how

far it was created and moulded by those circumstances.

(i) Observ- (i) Now one point which especially strikes us in the Jewish ance of tbe . . . , *., ..... »

sabbath, historian s account of the Essenes, is their strict observance of

certain points in the Mosaic ceremonial law, more especially

the ultra-Pharisaic rigour with which they kept the sabbath.

How far their conduct in this respect was consistent with the

teaching and practice of Christ may be seen from the passages

quoted in the parallel columns which follow:

'Jesus went on the sabbath-day through the corn fields; and his disciples began to pluck the ears of

corn and to eat1 But when the

Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which it is not lawful to do upon the sabbath-day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did...? The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath-day...'

'It is lawful to do well on the sabbath-days'(Matt, xii.l—12; Markii. 23—iii. 6; Luke vi. 1—11, xiv. 1—6.

1 Gratz (m. p. 233) considers this narrative an interpolation made from a Pauline point of view (' eine panlinistische Tendenz - interpolation '). This theory of interpolation, interposing wherever the evidence is unfavourable, cuts up all argument by the roots. In this instance however Gratz is consistently carrying out a principle which he broadly lays down elsewhere. He regards it as the great merit of Baur and his school, that they explained the origin of the Gospels by the oonflict of two opposing camps, the Ebionite and the Pauline. 'By this master-key,' he adds, 'criticism was first put in a position to test what is historical in the Gospels, and

'And they avoid...touching any work {fiftmrrtaBai (pyaiv) on the sabbathday more scrupulously than any of the Jews (8ui<f>opioTara 'lovSaluv ariy

what bears the stamp of a polemical tendency (was einen tendentiosen polemisohen Charakter hat). Indeed by this means the element of trustworthy history in the Gospels melts down to a minimum' (in. p. 224). In other words the judgment is not to be pronounced upon the evidence, but the evidence must be mutilated to suit the judgment. The method is not new. The sectarians of the second century. whether Judaic or anti-Judaic, had severally their 'master-key.' The master-key of Mansion was a conflict also—the antagonism of the Old and New Testaments. Under his hands the historical element in the New Testament dissolved rapidly. The mas

See also a similar incident in Luke xiii. 10—17).

'The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured; It is the sabbathday; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. But he answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk....Therefore the Jews did persecute Jesus and sought to slay him, because he did these things on the sabbath-day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work, etc.' (John v. 10—18; comp. vii. 22, 23).

'And it was the sabbath-day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his

eyes Therefore said some of the

Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbathday'(John ix. 14,16).

ruv); for they do not venture so much as to move a vessel1, nor to perform the most necessary offices of life '(B. J. ii. 8. 9).

(ii) But there were other points of ceremonial observance, in (") Lus


which the Essenes superadded to the law. Of these the most and other remarkable was their practice of constant lustrations. In this nijj ob. respect the Pharisee was sufficiently minute and scrupulous in servances.

ter-key of the anti-Marcionite writer of the Clementine Homilies was likewise a conflict, though of another kind—the conflict of fire and water, of the sacrificial and the baptismal systems. Wherever sacrifice was mentioned with approval, there was a 'Tendenz-interpolation' (see above, p. 352 sq.). In this manner again the genuine element in the Old Testament melted down to a minimum.

1 Gratz however (in. p. 228) sees a coincidence between Christ's teaching and Essenism in this notice. Not to do him injustice, I will translate his own words (correcting however several misprints in the Greek): 'For the connexion of Jesus with the Essenes compare moreover Mark xi. 16 Kal O6k %<puv

b li/fl-oGj tva Tis SievtyKr) ffKevos 8iA rod Upov with Josephus B. J. ii. 8. 9 4XX' oi55t aKevis Tl fietaKivrjffai Bappovffi v (ol 'Effaar<x).' He does not explain what this notice, which refers solely to the scrupulous observance of the sabbath, has to do with the profanation of the temple, with which the passage in the Gospel is alone concerned. I have seen Gratz's history described as a 'masterly' work. The first requisites in a historian are accuracy in stating facts and sobriety in drawing inferences. Without these, it is difficult to see what claims a history can have to this honourable epithet: and in those portions of his work, which I have consulted, I have not found either.

his observances; but with the Essene these ablutions were the predominant feature of his religious ritual. Here again it will be instructive to compare the practice of Christ and His disciples with the practice of the Essenes.

'And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled (that is to say, unwaahen) hands; for the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft (7rvy/ij), eat not....The Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciciples according to the tradition of the elders?...But he answered...Ye hypocrites, laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men....'

'Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this

defileth the man Let them alone,

they be blind leaders of the blind...'

'To eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man' (Matt. xv. 1—20, Mark vii. 1—23).

'And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner (roC dpltrrov). And the Lord said unto him: Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter...Ye fools...behold all things are clean unto you' (Luke xi. 38—41).

'So they wash their whole body {airo\ovovrai To aaina) in cold water; and after this purification (ayveiav)... being clean (Ka8apoC) they come to

the refectory (to dine) And when

they have returned (from their day's work) they sup in like manner' (B. J. ii. 8. 5).

'After a year's probation (the novice) is admitted to closer intercourse (irp6o-eicriv tyyuiv Tj d*airjj), and the lustral waters in which he participates have a higher degree of purity (Kai KaOaparripav Toy rpot uyviiav v&ariov /jftaAa/i,8avfi, § 7).'

'It is a custom to wash after it, as if polluted by it'(§ 9).

'Racked and dislocated, burnt and crushed, and subjected to every instrument of make them eat strange food (TM rw do-wi; #•>y)... they were not induced to submit' (§ 10).

'Exercising themselves in...divers lustrations (8ia<f>6poic ayt«iW...tViriudoTpi/Sov/ifvoi, § 12).'

Avoid- Connected with this idea of external purity is the avoidance

strangers. of contact with strangers, as persons who would communicate ceremonial defilement. And here too the Essene went much beyond the Pharisee. The Pharisee avoided Gentiles or aliens, or those whose profession or character placed them in the category of 'sinners'; but the Essene shrunk even from the probationers and inferior grades of his own exclusive community. Here again we may profitably compare the sayings and doings of Christ with the principles of this sect.

'And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with the publicans and sinners they said unto the disciples, Why eateth your Master with the publicans and the sinners... (Mark ii. 15 sq., Matth. ix. 10 sq., Luke v. 30 sq.).

'They say...a friend of publicans and sinners' (Matth. xi 19).

'The Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them' (Luke xv. 2).

'They all murmured saying that he was gone to be a guest with a man that is a sinner' (Luke xix. 7).

'Behold, a woman in the city that was a sinner...began to wash his feet with her tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head and

kissed his feet Now when the

Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he had been a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner' (Luke vii. 37 sq.).

In all these minute scruples relating to ceremonial observances, the denunciations which are hurled against the Pharisees in the Gospels would apply with tenfold force to the Essenes.

(iii) If the lustrations of the Essenes far outstripped the (iii) Asenactments of the Mosaic law, so also did their asceticism. I have elsewhere given reasons for believing that this asceticism was founded on a false principle, which postulates the malignity of matter and is wholly inconsistent with the teaching of the Gospel1. But without pressing this point, of which no abso

lAnd after this purification they assemble in a private room, where no person of a different belief (r<Sx irepoio^av, i.e. not an Essene) is permitted to enter; and (so) being by themselves and clean (avroi KaBapoi) they present themselves at the refectory (denrxijtijpiov), as if it were a sacred precinct' (§ 5).

'And they are divided into four grades according to the time passed under the discipline: and the juniors are regarded as so far inferior to the seniors, that, if they touch them, the latter wash their bodies clean (mro\ovfa-8ai), as if they had come in contact with a foreigner (KaBtmep dXXo<pi!X<B avnipvpivrai, § 10).'


1 See Colossians p. 87.

lutely demonstrative proof can be given, it will be sufficient to call attention to the trenchant contrast in practice which Essene habits present to the life of Christ. He who 'came Eating eating and drinking' and was denounced in consequence as 'a ing. glutton and a wine-bibber1,' He whose first exercise of power

is recorded to have been the multiplication of wine at a festive entertainment, and whose last meal was attended with the drinking of wine and the eating of flesh, could only have excited the pity, if not the indignation, of these rigid abstainers. And again, attention should be directed to another kind of abstinence, where the contrast is all the more speaking, because the matter is so trivial and the scruple so minute.

'My head with oil thou didst not 'And they consider oil a pollution

anoint' (Luke vii. 46). (njXiSa), and though one is smeared

'Thou, when thou fastest, anoint involuntarily, he rubs his body clean

thy head' (Matt. vi. 17). (o-jufctriu To o-a>/ia, § 3).'

Celibacy. And yet it has been stated that 'the Saviour of the world

showed what is required for a holy life in the Sermon

on the Mount by a description of the EssenesV

But much stress has been laid on the celibacy of the Essenes; and our Lord's saying in Matt. xix. 12 is quoted to establish an identity of doctrine. Yet there is nothing special in the language there used. Nor is there any close affinity between the stern invectives against marriage which Josephus and Philo attribute to the Essene, and the gentle concession 'He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.' The best comment on our Lord's meaning here is the advice of St Paul*, who was educated not in the Essene, but in the Pharisaic school. Moreover this saying must be balanced by the general tenour of the Gospel narrative. When we find Christ discussing the relations of man and wife, gracing the marriage festival by His presence, again and again employing wedding banquets and wedded life as apt symbols of the highest theological truths,

without a word of disparagement or rebuke, we see plainly that

we are confronted with a spirit very different from the narrow

rigour of the Essenes.

(iv) But not only where the Essenes superadded to the (iv) Avoid... . , . , . ,. anoeofthe

ceremonial law, does their teaching present a direct contrast Temple

to the phenomena of the Gospel narrative. The same is true

also of those points in which they fell short of the Mosaic

enactments. I have already discussed at some length the

Essene abstention from the temple sacrifices1. There can, I

think, be little doubt that they objected to the slaughter of

sacrificial victims altogether. But for my present purpose it

matters nothing whether they avoided the temple on account

of the sacrifices, or the sacrifices on account of the temple.

Christ did neither. Certainly He could not have regarded the

temple as unholy; for His whole time during His sojourns at

Jerusalem was spent within its precincts. It was the scene of

His miracles, of His ministrations, of His daily teaching*. And

in like manner it is the common rendezvous of His disciples

after Him*. Nor again does He evince any abhorrence of the

sacrifices. On the contrary He says that the altar consecrates

the gifts4; He charges the cleansed lepers to go and fulfil the

Mosaic ordinance and offer the sacrificial offerings to the

priests8. And His practice also is conformable to His teaching.

He comes to Jerusalem regularly to attend the great festivals, Practice

where sacrifices formed the most striking part of the ceremonial, and His

and He himself enjoins preparation to be made for the sacrifice dlS01Ples

of the Paschal lamb. If He repeats the inspired warning of the

older prophets, that mercy is better than sacrifice8, this very

qualification shows approval of the practice in itself. Nor is

His silence less eloquent than His utterances or His actions.

1 See p. 350 sq. 20, 59, x. 23, zi. 56, xviii. 20.

* Matt. xxi. 12 sq., 23 sq., xxiv. 1 sq., 'Luke xxiv. 53, Acts ii. 46, iii. 1 sq.,

xxvi. 55, Hark xi. 11, 15 sq., 27, xii. v. 20 sq., 42.

35, xiii. 1 sq., xiv. 49, Luke ii. 46, xix. * Matt, xxiii. 18 sq.: comp. v. 23, 24.

45, xx. 1 sq., xxi. 37 sq., xxii. 53, 'Matt. viii. 4, Mark i. 44, Luke v. 14.

John ii. 14 sq., v. 14, vii. 14, viii. 2, 6 Matt. ix. 13, xii. 7.

Throughout the Gospels there is not one word which can be

construed as condemning the sacrificial system or as implying a

desire for its cessation until everything is fulfilled.

(v) Denial (v) This last contrast refers to the ceremonial law. But

surrection not less ^de *a *ne divergence on an important point of

£^he doctrine. The resurrection of the body is a fundamental

article in the belief of the early disciples. This was distinctly

denied by the Essenes1. However gross and sensuous may

have been the conceptions of the Pharisees on this point, still

they so far agreed with the teaching of Christianity, as against

the Essenes, in that the risen man could not, as they held, be

pure soul or spirit, but must necessarily be body and soul


Some sup- Thus at whatever point we test the teaching and practice approved whatever was true in the doctrine of the Pharisees, if any occasion had presented itself when His approval was called for. But it is the merest assumption to postulate direct obligation on such grounds. It is said however, that the moral resemblances are more particular than this. There is for instance Christ's precept 'Swear not at all...but let your com- Prohimunication be Yea, yea, Nay, nay.' Have we not here, it is oaths. urged, the very counterpart to the Essene prohibition of oaths1? Yet it would surely be quite as reasonable to say that both alike enforce that simplicity and truthfulness in conversation which is its own credential and does not require the support of adjuration, both having the same reason for laying stress on this duty, because the leaders of religious opinion made artificial distinctions between oath and oath, as regards their binding force, and thus sapped the foundations of public and private honesty*. And indeed this avoidance of oaths is anything but a special badge of the Essenes. It was inculcated by Pythagoreans, by Stoics, by philosophers and moralists of all schools*. When Josephus and Philo called the attention of Greeks and Romans to this feature in the Essenes, they were simply asking them to admire in these practical philosophers among the 'barbarians' the realisation of an ideal which their own great men had laid down. Even within the circles of

posed co- . . ,

incidences of our Lord by the characteristic tenets of Essenism, the theory

sidered. of affinity fails. There are indeed several coincidences on which much stress has been laid, but they cannot be placed in the category of distinctive features. They are either exemplifications of a higher morality, which may indeed have been honourably illustrated in the Essenes, but is in no sense confined to them, being the natural outgrowth of the moral sense of mankind whenever circumstances are favourable. Or they are more special, but still independent developments, which owe their similarity to the same influences of climate and soil, though they do not spring from the same root. To this latter class belong such manifestations as are due to the social conditions of the age or nation, whether they result from sympathy with, or from repulsion to, those conditions. Simplicity Thus, for instance, much stress has been laid on the avertherly sion to war and warlike pursuits, on the simplicity of living, love" and on the feeling of brotherhood which distinguished Christians

and Essenes alike. But what is gained by all this? It is quite plain that Christ would have approved whatever was pure and lovely in the morality of the Essenes, just as He

1 See Colossians p. 88.

1 Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 6 Roy rd friflb inr' oaths ((Sp*ovs <ppiKdSeii) to fulfil certain

aSrruv Itxvpirepov tpKov' Tb Si invietr conditions; and he twice again in the

ovroij reprforatOi, xtip^y " Ttj* triopKtai same passage mentions oaths (4/xroow<,

i>ro\a.nfi&yovrts' ffirj ybp KartyvuxiBal Toiovtois SpKois) in this connexion.

<paai rbv irurtodnevov Sixa 9eoB, Philo * On the distinctions which the

Omn. prob. lib. 12 (ii. p. 458) Tov <pi- Jewish doctors made between the va

\o6tov Selyfiara rapixovrai / lidity of different kinds of oaths, see

avunorov K.t.\. Accordingly Josephus the passages quoted in Lightfoot and

relates (Ant. xv. 10. 4) that Herod the Schottgen on Matt. v. 33 sq. The Tal

Great excused the Essenes from taking mudical tract Shebhuoth tells its own

the oath of allegiance to him. Yet tale, and is the best comment on the

they were not altogether true to their precepts in the Sermon on the Mount,

principles; for Josephus says (B. J. ii. 3 See e.g. the passages in Wetstein

8. 7), that on initiation into the sect on Matt. v. 37. the members were bound by fearful

Pharisaism language is occasionally heard, which meets the Essene principle half-way1. Comma- And again; attention has been called to the community of

goods. goods in the infant Church of Christ, as though this were a legacy of Essenism. But here too the reasonable explanation is, that we have an independent attempt to realise the idea of brotherhood—an attempt which naturally suggested itself without any direct imitation, but which was soon abandoned under the pressure of circumstances. Indeed the communism of the Christians was from the first wholly unlike the communism of the Essenes. The surrender of property with the Christians was not a necessary condition of entrance into an order; it was a purely voluntary act, which might be withheld without foregoing the privileges of the brotherhood8. And the common life too was obviously different in kind, at once more free and more sociable, unfettered by rigid ordinances, respecting individual liberty, and altogether unlike a monastic rule. Prohi- Not less irrelevant is the stress, which has been laid on

slavery, another point of supposed coincidence in the social doctrines of the two communities. The prohibition of slavery was indeed a highly honourable feature in the Essene order3, but it affords no indication of a direct connexion with Christianity. It is true that this social institution of antiquity was not less antagonistic to the spirit of the Gospel, than it was abhorrent to the feelings of the Essene; and ultimately the influence of Christianity has triumphed over it. But the immediate treatment of the question was altogether different in the two cases. The Essene brothers proscribed slavery wholly; they produced no appreciable results by the proscription. The Christian Apostles, without attempting an immediate and violent revolution in society, proclaimed the great principle that all men are equal in Christ, and left it to work. It did work, like leaven,

1 Habit Metsia 49 a. See also Light- 458) Bod\&s re rap ai/roii ovSi eii amy

foot on Matt. v. 34. dXX' e\e6Bepoi rarres K.t.\., Fritgn. a.

9 Acts v. 4. p. 632 Oi'k avSparoSov, Jos. Ant. znii.

* Philo Omn. prob. lib. § 12 (ll. p. 1, 5 o0re 5oi\av ireniSeiowi icrijav.

silently but surely, till the whole lump was leavened. In the matter of slavery the resemblance to the Stoic is much closer than to the Essene1. The Stoic however began and ended in barren declamation, and no practical fruits were reaped from his doctrine.

Moreover prominence has been given to the fact that riches Respect are decried, and a preference is given to the poor, in the poverty, teaching of our Lord and His Apostles. Here again, it is urged, we have a distinctly Essene feature. We need not stop to enquire with what limitations this prerogative of poverty, which appears in the Gospels, must be interpreted; but, quite independently of this question, we may fairly decline to lay any stress on such a coincidence, where all other indications of a direct connexion have failed. The Essenes, pursuing a simple and ascetic life, made it their chief aim to reduce their material wants as far as possible, and in doing so they necessarily exalted poverty. Ascetic philosophers in Greece and Rome had done the same. Christianity was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming the equal rights of all men before God, of setting a truer standard of human worth than the outward conventions of the world, of protesting against the tyranny of the strong and the luxury of the rich, of redressing social inequalities, if not always by a present compensation, at least by a future hope. The needy and oppressed were the special charge of its preachers. It was the characteristic feature of the 'Kingdom of Heaven,' as described by the prophet whose words gave the keynote to the Messianic hopes of the nation, that the glad tidings should be preached to the poor*. The exaltation of poverty therefore was an absolute condition of the Gospel.

The mention of the kingdom of heaven leads to the last The

point on which it will be necessary to touch before leaving this of^ee mg wrongly subject. 'The whole ascetic life of the Essenes,' it has been to the Baid, 'aimed only at furthering the Kingdom of Heaven and the Essenes. Coming Age.' Thus John the Baptist was the proper representative of this sect. 'From the Essenes went forth the first call that the Messiah must shortly appear, The kingdom of heaven is at hand'1. 'The announcement of the kingdom of heaven unquestionably went forth from the Essenes'*. For this confident assertion there is absolutely no foundation in fact; and, as a conjectural hypothesis, the assumption is highly improbable.


1 See for instance the passages from prophecy again in Matt. xi. 5, Luke

Seneca quoted in Philippians p. 307. vii. 22, and probably also in the beati

* Is. lxi. 1, eiaf(t\laaa6ai lniaxoii, tude iw.Kip/.oi oJ rruxoi K.t.\., Matt. v.

quoted in Luke iv. 18. There are 3, Luke vi. 20. references to this particular part of the

TheEs- As fortune-tellers or soothsayers, the Essenes might be

senes not . , .,

prophets, called prophets; but as preachers of righteousness, as heralds

tune-tell- of thhe kingdom, they had no claim to the title. Throughout ers- the notices in Josephus and Philo we cannot trace the faintest

indication of Messianic hopes. Nor indeed waa their position at all likely to foster such hopes*. The Messianic idea was built on a belief in the resurrection of the body. The Essenes entirely denied this doctrine. The Messianic idea was intimately bound up with the national hopes and sufferings, with the national life, of the Jews. The Essenes had no interest in They had the Jewish polity; they separated themselves almost entirely Messianic from public affairs. The deliverance of the individual in the expeota- shipwreck of the whole, it has been well said, was the plain watchword of Essenism4. How entirely the conception of a Messiah might be obliterated, where Judaism was regarded only from the side of a mystic philosophy, we see from the case of Philo. Throughout the works of this voluminous writer only one or two faint and doubtful allusions to a personal Messiah are found5. The philosophical tenets of the Essenes no doubt differed widely from those of Philo; but in the substitution of the individual and contemplative aspect of religion for the national and practical they were united; and the effect in obscuring the Messianic idea would be the same. When therefore it is said that the prominence given to the proclamation of the Messiah's kingdom is a main link which connects Essenism and Christianity, we may dismiss the statement as a mere hypothesis, unsupported by evidence and improbable in itself.

1 Griitz Oesch. ill. p. 219. Lipsius, 'has absolutely nothing to do

3 ib. p. 470. with the Messianio prophesy.' 'Of all

8 Lipsius Schenkel's Bibel-Lexikon this,' says Keim, 'there is no trace.'

s. v. Essaer p. 190, Keim Jesus von * Keim, I. c.

Nazara I. p. 305. Both these writers ex- s How little can be made out of

press themselves very decidedly against Philo's Messianic utterances by one

the view maintained by Griitz. 'The who is anxious to make the most poj

Essene art of soothsaying,' writes sible out of them, may be seen from

Gfrdrer's treatment of the subject, the de Execrationibus (i. p. 429). They

Philo i. p. 486 sq. The treatises which deserve to be read, if only for the nega

bear on this topic are the de Praemiu tive results which they yield. et (i. p. 408, ed. Mangey) and