It is because of the several similarities between the teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the bible that many scholars believe that both John the Baptist and Jesus were in fact Essenes. They claim that the teachings of both reflected Essene beliefs and that the two in fact lived among the community during their growing years. As proof they point the life styles of both John the Baptist and Jesus. They say this accounts for the missing years of Jesus- total absence of any information about him between the age of twelve and till the time he began his ministry. During his childhood, John the Baptist we know was raised not far from the Essene monastery. There are other reasons why some scholars believe that John the Baptist was an Essene.
The Essenes considered themselves as a group that belonged to a “covenant of repentance.” John the Baptist too preached repentance: “Repent,” he sermonized “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As in the case of John the Baptist, little is known about Jesus from twelve to thirty. Based on the fact that Jewish tradition required that a student must be thirty before he qualifies as a rabbi it is believed that both John the Baptist and Jesus who was only a few months younger than his cousin spent time in the wilderness until they qualified. It was John who began to preach first. Jesus soon followed. This also explains why the gospels are silent about Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty
John The Baptist Was In The Desert From Boyhood Until The Day Of His Showing In Jerusalem
According to the gospels, John the Baptist was in the desert from boyhood until the day of his showing in Jerusalem. The gospels are also silent about Jesus’ life from the age of twelve to thirty. Both Jesus and his relative John were about the same age. John, a few months older than Jesus, was the first to preach. Jesus followed shortly thereafter.
Both Mark and Matthew (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6), say that John the Baptist adhered to a diet of ‘locusts and wild honey’. He probably followed the Dead Sea Scroll instructions on how to prepare locusts, which said that the creatures had to be baptized with fire or with water. “This is the typical diet of a vegetarian who took seriously the injunction in Genesis that God had originally created the plants of the earth as man’s food, and had only reluctantly permitted him later to kill animals for meat. (Genesis 1:29, 9:3) Jesus’ first disciples came from John the Baptist (John 1:35-51; Acts 1:21-22)”.
John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, close to the Jordan River, not far from where the Essenes lived. This a phrase that John the Baptist was often found to use: “I baptize you with water… but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” The reason for this could have been his familiarity with the Dead Sea Scroll instructions. He was a vegetarian probably because the Essenes were vegetarian. One of their earliest scriptural texts, the Zadokite Document proclaims: “Let not a man make himself abominable with any living creature or creeping thing by eating them.”
Based on extensive research some scholars have come to the conclusion that Jesus was the chosen one of the Essenes. They say that the Dead Sea Scrolls even describe Jesus (1).
The Essenes abstained from animal sacrifice. Jesus shared a similar view regarding this subject. In The Gospel of the Ebionites, also known as The Gospel of the Hebrews he is reported to have said: “If you do not stop sacrificing, wrath against you will never abate.” This is a sentiment that his brother James shared. And like John the Baptist and Jesus, James too secluded himself in the desert for a while; a behavior common with the Essenes.
Both Jesus And The Essences Accepted Enoch And The Jubilees As Scripture
The Essenes accepted Enoch and the Jubilees as scripture. Scholars say that Jesus also accepted Enoch and the Jubilees as scripture because of his Essene association. Another reason to suspect that Jesus was an Essene is his criticism of two sects of Judaism: the Sadducees and the Pharisees. But he never criticized the Essenes. Another hint that Jesus was an Essene is that he preferred to be baptized by one who was thought to be Essene: his cousin John the Baptist.
In addition, the Resurrection Scroll – a part of the Dead Scroll – states that a messiah will “Liberate captives, make the blind see, make the crippled stand straight… heal the injured, raise up the dead, and preach good news to the poor”. Jesus’ messianic expectations are comparable to this. Consider the incident when men from John the Baptist asked Jesus “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus answered, “Go tell John what you see and hear: The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news preached to them.” By quoting from the Dead Sea Scrolls Jesus made it apparent that he was familiar with Essene scriptures.
Another indication of Jesus’ familiarity with the Dead Sea Scrolls is the similarity between the War Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls and his End of Times prophecies. The War Scroll states “The congress of gods and the armies of men will battle. They will cause a large amount of destruction… and there will be a time of great tribulation for those whom God will save”. Jesus’ End of Times prophecy states “Then they will deliver you up to be persecuted, and they will kill you… And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies… Then there will be great tribulation.”
The Essenes looked forward to the battle between Good and Evil, a final reckoning. It appears that every single day they fought such a battle before they moved to the desert and wanted all those who sought selfish pleasures to be punished in the final Armageddon. This was foretold in the War Scrolls.
While some scholars believe that both Jesus and John the Baptist were contenders for the title of Righteous Teacher, the similarity between the two and the characteristics of the Righteous Teacher described in the Dead Sea Scrolls are overshadowed by the differences (2).
It will not be unreasonable to say that the Dead Sea Scrolls give some substance that the “community of Jewish Christians” who gathered around James was from the community that had earlier settled in Qumran. This belief is further supported by the writing of Hegesippus, an early Christian writer, that because of his exceeding virtue, ‘James was named the Righteous’ and when the scribes wanted him to speak to the group that would gather for the Passover, they addressed him as ‘Thou Righteous One, to whom we are all bound to listen’ (3).
Eisenman has put together proof that the Dead Sea Scrolls are the work of the community of James. In his James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher, written 25 years ago he has shown minute similarity between the Pesher’s description of the destruction of its hero – The Righteous Teacher – and the murder of James as described by Josephus (4).
Some say that it was because of Jesus’ connection with the Essenes that James his brother also became associated with the community and it is because of this that the early Christians were from this community.
Another piece of evidence that links James the brother of Jesus to the Essenes is found at the conclusion of the apocryphal nativity gospel called Protevangelion – also know as the apocryphal nativity gospel – which tells us that James the brother of Jesus secluded himself in the desert – a behavior all too commonly associated with the Essenes.
Although the Essene movement began during the pre-Hasmonean times there was much in common between James the brother of Jesus and his early Christian followers who were predominantly from the community. The followers of James readily accepted the end-of-the-world theory of Jesus and a brand new Utopian world that would emerge thereafter. During the early stages of Christianity James was a leader in his own right and was not eclipsed by the importance of Jesus. Hegesippus and the other early writers were of this view.
It is reasonable to conclude that both Jesus and James were themselves Essenes or at the least influenced by the Essenes. Like Jesus and James, the Essenes were against the Sadducees. There is also considerable similarity between the teachings of Jesus and James and the Essenes. For several reasons it appears that James was the Righteous Teacher of the sect and the first Christians were from this sect. They were without doubt at the forefront of the early Christian movement and the revolt that followed the death of James that in 69 CE almost all of them were killed by the Romans.
From what we have seen it is not unreasonable to say that Jesus and James were leaders of the Qumran sect. Therefore it is quite likely that they were involved in the burial of both Jesus and James.
(2) Baigent, Michael. (2000.). The Essenes And The Dead Sea Scrolls. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.cornerstonesociety.com/Insight/Articles/essenes.pdf
(3) Gaster, Theodor H. (1976). The Dead Sea Scriptures. Doubleday. New York.
(4) Eisenman, Robert.(n.d.). “New Testament Code” retrieved 2011, from http://www.roberteisenman.com/articles/ntc_review-gould.pdf
(Fig 1) John the Baptist http://www.stjames-manotick.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/John-The-Baptist-Painting.jpg
(Fig 2) The War Scrolls https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=war+scroll&oq=war+scroll&gs_l=img.3..0l2j0i5i30j0i8i30j0i24l5j0i10i24.52900.55705.0.5922.214.171.124.0.0.0.127.992.6j4.10.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.10.986.aIZDCe0WsSw#imgrc=xKOuYWD1oaGqlM%3A