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The Essenes-


Educational video from the Israeli Antiquities Authority about the connections between the teachings of the Essenes, the teachings of John the Baptist, and the teachings of Jesus-


The Dead Sea Scrolls and the connections to the 4 Gospels of the New Testament-


The Scriptorium at Qumran-


How were the Dead Sea Scrolls written: The Scribes who wrote the Scrolls

The languages of the Dead Sea Scrolls-

Hebrew and the Dead Sea Scrolls-

The Greek language and the Dead Sea Scrolls-

The Dead Sea Scrolls - The Thanksgiving Scroll

The book of Psalms-

The Book of Isiah-

The War Scroll-

The Genesis Apocryphon Scroll-

The Copper Scroll-

BBC Dead Sea Scrolls cover-up, Paul the Liar vs. James the Just, the Pierced Messiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Parallels in the DSS to Mark, and origins of Christianity-

The Essenes and the Romans-

Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed!

The Essenes and who the World calls Christ-

National Geographic, Riddles of the Dead Sea Scolls-

In Search of The Dead Sea Scrolls-

Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible, cover-up-

Dead Sea Scrolls, kabbalah & ancient Christians

Lost years of Christ-
YouTube - Memories of an Essene archivist

Christ and Essenes-

YouTube - Truth About the Bible:Other Inspired Books, Dead Sea Scroll, Nephilim, Paul

Qumran recreated-

Christianity comes from the Essenes

For many years, scholars had believed that Christianity was a very original and unique religion. They had thought the differences between modern Judaism and Christianity were originated within the Christian religion. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the literature of the ancient Essenes, The Sons of Light, or the Great White Brotherhood, in the late 1940s, this view was found to be completely wrong. The concepts of Baptism, Ritual meals( Last Supper), The Holt Spirit/Holy Ghost, Resurrection, the concept of a coming Messiah of the line of David, A messiah that would heal the sick and raise the dead, a Messiah that must die, and the concept of Armageddon in the Book of Revelations are but a few teachings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. These people, the Essenes, are where much of the core Christian beliefs originate. The Sermon on the Mount, considered by some to be the heart of Christian teachings, has been ideintified by scholars as the teachings of the Esssenes. The Beatitudes of Christ have direct parallels to the Beatitudes of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many of the parables spoken by Jesus exactly match parables and hymns in the Dead Sea Scrolls which were written and spoken by the Essenes at their monasteries. It is even in the Bible itself, Jesus the Nazarene. Through the study of linguistics and textual criticism, it can be found that the correct translation is Jesus the Nazarene, Jesus the Essene.

The fact that researchers didn't have access to the DSS for so many decades is infuriating. The amount of controversy, bickering, cover ups, and politics involved with research on the Scrolls is sad.

Jesus and the Essenes-
The Order of Nazorean Essenes

Direct Correlations between New Testament and Qumran Dead Sea Scroll teachings-
The Dead Sea Scrolls


Let's consider this man known as John the Baptist. What was his background? Where did he come from? Why was he baptizing everybody? The Gospels give us a few clues. He was a man of priestly descent who began his ministry in the Judean wilderness. The Judean wilderness is not a very big place, and it would have been incredible if John had not run into some of those Essenes living in and around Qumran. Now here is where the Qumran community and their scrolls can start shedding extra light on the Bible for us by filling in some historical and cultural background.

First, the Bible tells us that John the Baptist was an ascetic. He dressed simply and ate locusts and wild honey. From our literary sources like Josephus and Philo we know that the Essenes were also ascetics. We also know, from literary testimony, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the archaeological remains of Qumran, that the Essenes practiced many water baptisms for ritual purification. Water baptism is believed to have originated in Diaspora Judaism, that is, among Jewish communities outside of Israel. It was used in the initiation of Gentile proselytes. At Qumran, however, all members of the community were baptized with water for ritual purification. The baptism with water, however, was only an outer, ritual cleansing; an inner, spiritual baptism was believed to take place at Qumran. Consider the inner and outer baptisms of the following passage from the Rule of the Community:

For it is through the spirit of true counsel concerning the ways of man that all his sins shall be expiated that he may contemplate the light of life. He shall be cleansed from all his sins by the spirit of holiness uniting him to His truth, and his iniquity shall be expiated by the spirit of uprightness and humility. And when his flesh is sprinkled with purifying water and sanctified by cleansing water, it shall be made clean by the humble submission of his soul to all the precepts of God (Rule of the Community [1QS] III).

In addition to this inner and outer cleansing, the Qumran Essenes also expected a future outpouring of the spirit of truth in which water baptism and spirit baptism would not represent two types of cleansing, but in which a single spiritual baptism would abolish sin entirely. This special baptism is described in the same scroll in relation to a certain man who "shall be plunged into the spirit of purification that he may instruct the upright in the knowledge of the Most High and teach the wisdom of the sons of heaven to the perfect of way. For God has chosen them for an everlasting Covenant and all the glory of Adam shall be theirs" (Ibid.).

There is one other point I would like to make about the Qumran community before we turn our attention once more to John the Baptist. Again in the same Dead Sea Scroll there is a citation of Isaiah 40:3, which says "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (NRSV). The verse is interpreted as describing the Qumran way of life; they are to separate themselves from the outside world, retreating into the desert and preparing the way of the LORD by their study of the Law. In all four Gospels Isaiah 40:3 is cited with reference to the ministry of John the Baptist, but with a different interpretation. In John's Gospel the citation of Isaiah 40:3 is attributed directly to the Baptist. Whether John was a member of the Qumran community or heavily influenced by them, when the word of the Lord came to him in the Judean wilderness he realized that Isaiah's prophecy did not describe studying the Law in isolation but proclaiming the arrival of God's chosen Messiah. At that point he began to proclaim the message of the Messiah's coming and of imminent judgment. He administered a water baptism of ritual purification and preached repentance. He anticipated that his baptizing ministry would reveal the identity of the Messiah. In John 1:31 the Baptist says, "I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel" (NRSV). This anticipation accords very well with the passage from the Rule of the Community we cited earlier about the man who would be plunged into the spirit and would instruct the upright, seal the covenant, and restore the glory of Adam.

Indeed when John baptized Jesus the Spirit descended on Jesus and he was proclaimed the Son of God. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we are told that the Spirit descended like a dove on him after he came up out of the water. Scholars have suggested that this may be an allusion to the creation account in Genesis 1:2 which states that the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters. The point that Matthew, Mark, and Luke would then be making is that with the inauguration of Jesus' ministry a new age began. Up until recently, there has been no concrete support for this interpretation of Jesus' baptism; no evidence, that is, that anybody would allude to Genesis 1:2 in describing the future age. A recently released Qumran Scroll from Cave 4 called "the Messianic Apocalypse," however, has filled this gap. In a verbal allusion to Genesis 1:2, this scroll states that "Over the Meek will His Spirit hover." The author of this Scroll described the future redemption of God's people in terms of the original creation account. The Spirit would hover over the Meek in the new creation just as it had hovered over the waters in the original creation. The writers of the first three Gospels alluded to Genesis 1:2 in exactly the same way. Just as the Spirit was involved in the Genesis creation, so it was involved in the inauguration of Jesus' ministry which was the beginning of a new era, a new age. The Messiah had finally arrived.

We know from the preaching of John the Baptist that he expected the Messiah to baptize with Holy Spirit and with fire, ushering in the long-awaited judgment day. But Christ did not immediately send the baptism of the Holy Spirit and he certainly did not immediately bring the fire of judgment. This ran contrary to John's theology; John began to doubt whether Jesus really was the Messiah after all. Matthew writes: "When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?' Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me'" (Matt. 11:2-6, NRSV). Luke records this incident also. Jesus' answer harks back to three passages from the book of the prophet Isaiah: 29:18 and 19; 35:5,6, and 61:1. These Old Testament verses describe the deaf hearing, the blind seeing, the lame walking, and the poor receiving good news. However, none of these three passages mentions the raising of the dead. In fact the doctrine of resurrection is barely mentioned at all in the Old Testament. It is most clearly described in Daniel 12:2 and Isaiah 26:19, but the Old Testament nowhere states that the Messiah would be the one to raise the dead. Nevertheless Jesus portrayed this as one sign of his Messiahship; upon hearing that Jesus was healing people and raising the dead, John would understand that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, fulfilling his expected role. But where, outside of the New Testament, can we find any evidence that people expected the Messiah to raise the dead? In the very same Dead Sea Scroll from Qumran cave 4 which we quoted just a moment ago. That scroll states that when the Messiah comes then "he will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the poor announce glad tidings." Let's consider the significance of all this.

Both Jesus and John shared the expectation that the works of the Messiah would include healing the sick, raising the dead, and proclaiming the gospel to the poor. That is why Jesus could cite his works as proof that he was indeed the Messiah. That expectation was shared not only by John and Jesus but by at least some members of the Qumran community. Of course the early Church shared this belief, as Matthew and Luke independently testify by recording this saying. There is obviously some connection here. Even if John the Baptist was never an Essene and even if there was no direct influence from the expectation of the Scrolls to the belief of the early Christians, at the very least this demonstrates that belief in a Messiah who raises the dead formed part of the religious landscape of first-century Palestinian Judaism. The early Church did not just make this up.

We might note also that the Messianic Apocalypse says: "The heavens and the earth will obey His Messiah, the sea and all that is in them." Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (NRSV). Remember also what Jesus' disciples said after Jesus had calmed the storm on the Lake of Galilee: "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him" (Mark 4:41, NRSV)? The shared Messianic beliefs of the Qumran Essenes, the disciples of Jesus, and the authors of the Gospels cannot escape our notice.

The parallels between Gospels and the Qumran Scrolls on this point, however, are not yet exhausted. The text of Isaiah 61:1 also crops up in Luke chapter 4, where Jesus stands in the synagogue, reads the passage, and proclaims that he fulfills the prophecy. Again, Jesus was not the only person who interpreted Isaiah 61:1 messianically. A Qumran Scroll from Cave 11 applies the passage to the heavenly figure of Melchizedek who is hailed as Messiah and in some sense God. Melchizedek is not said to be Yahoweh, of course, but El and Elohim, a lesser term for God which can be applied to angels and kings as well as the one Lord of Israel. Melchizedek is said to sit in judgment and to forgive sins. Of course in the New Testament all of these things are said to apply not to Melchizedek but to Jesus. But the messianic expectations of the Qumran community and the messianic beliefs of the early Church were obviously very close; they used the same language and even the same Scriptures.

Before we move on and consider in more detail the ministry of Jesus, I would like to make one more observation about the similarities of Qumran's messianic expectations and the beliefs of the early Church. I'm thinking about the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel announces to Mary the upcoming conception of Jesus in fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7. He says "And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33, NRSV). Now if we consider the entire passage in 2 Samuel 7, we will see that the immediate and obvious fulfillment of Nathan's prophecy to David was the birth and rule of David's son Solomon. And the most natural meaning of verses 16 and 17 is that David's descendants would always rule in Israel. But there is another meaning of this passage, according to Luke and Gabriel. After all, David's line did cease to rule in Israel in 586 B.C. We are told in the New Testament that this is a prophecy of the Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus, son of David and Son of God. This messianic interpretation of 2 Samuel 7, not surprisingly, pre-dates the Gospel of Luke. This passage is interpreted messianically in the Qumran Scrolls also. In a commentary on the Last Days, one Qumran Scroll from Cave 4 has this to say. The passage I'm about to read begins with four citations from 2 Samuel 7:11-14 and is followed by an interpretation and a citation of Amos 9:11 which, of course, is also found in the New Testament.

The Lord declares to you that He will build you a House. I will raise up your seed after you. I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father and he shall be my son. He is the Branch of David who shall arise with the Interpreter of the Law to rule in Zion at the end of time. As it is written, I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen. That is to say, the fallen tent of David is he who shall arise to save Israel.

One eminent commentator, Raymond Brown, has this to say about the Scroll just quoted and Luke chapter 1:

We note that the Qumran interpretation takes out select lines from II Sam 7, just as Luke apparently did. It has shifted the focus of Nathan's promise from a continual line of kings to a single Davidic king, the messianic 'shoot' who will arise in the last days, even as Luke has applied the Samuel passage to Jesus. The 'forever' of both Qumran and Luke is, then, not an endless series of reigns by different kings, but an eschatological redemption. And so there is nothing distinctively Christian in Gabriel's words in vss. 32-33 of Luke, except that the expected Davidic Messiah has been identified with Jesus.Reference2

What this commentator is saying, in other words, is that the Christian identification of Jesus as the Davidic Messiah promised in 2 Samuel 7 is in full accord with Jewish messianic expectation. And that, of course, is just the type of thing the New Testament tells us about the Old Testament prophecies which point to Jesus.

This is doubly important, in 2 Samuel 7:14 God promised to be a father to this Davidic descendent, and this descendent would be a son to Him. This means, in other words, that the Messiah would be regarded as the Son of God. Some scholars used to think that prior to Christianity, no one would have thought of the Hebrew Messiah as the Son of God. They regarded that designation as a Christian invention. But this opinion, which has been revised in the last few years, is negated by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Another recently-published fragment from Qumran Cave 4 clearly calls the Messiah Son of God and Son of the Most High who will judge the earth in righteousness. Again, the early Christian interpretation of Old Testament prophecy was not unique and it was not just made up. It legitimately grew out of the Jewish soil of first-century Palestine. The more we look at these Dead Sea Scrolls, the more we can appreciate the message of the New Testament.

Jesus and the Essenes

Now let's consider the ministry of Jesus himself. We want to do more in this essay than note some parallels between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. We also want to appreciate the humanity of Jesus and how the human Jesus related to his cultural and religious environment. First, and most obviously, Jesus was heavily influenced by the ministry of his cousin John the Baptist. He sought John's counsel in the Judean wilderness and was baptized by John. Like John, the first recorded words of Jesus in public were "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (NRSV). Compare Matthew 3:2 with Matthew 4:17. In addition, Jesus' first recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, accords very well with the ethical teachings of John the Baptist as recorded in Matthew and Luke. The ties between John the Baptist and Jesus are strongly emphasized in the Gospels. According to the Gospel of John, some of the Baptist's disciples followed Jesus and became his disciples. Think about that for a minute. Could some of Jesus' disciples have been Essenes? The New Testament tells us about Pharisees who believed in Jesus and became Christians. But what about Essenes? Philo tells us that there were more than four thousand Essenes in Palestine and Syria. There were around two hundred of them at Qumran alone. Josephus tells us that they were to be found in every city. Jesus would have encountered Essenes on many occasions as he travelled through Israel; it would be difficult to imagine that Jesus never had anything to do with them.

I would like to describe five points of similarity between Jesus and the Essenes, possibly indicating that he was influenced by them in his own ministry. Then I would like to describe five points of disagreement with the Essenes, and we will be able to see how some of Jesus' teachings become more understandable against the background of the teaching and practice of the Essenes.

The first point of similarity is personal piety. The Essenes were famous for their religious devotion. Philo believed the word "Essene" meant "holy." Josephus writes, "And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary; for before sunrising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising" (Wars, 2.8.5). This testimony accords well with what we know from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Consider this passage from the Rule of the Community:

With the coming of day and night
I will enter the Covenant of God,

and when evening and morning depart
I will recite His decrees....

Before I move my hands and feet
I will bless His Name.

I will praise Him before I go out or enter,
or sit or rise,
and whilst I lie on the couch of my bed.

I will bless Him with the offering
of that which proceeds from my lips
from the midst of the ranks of men,

and before I lift my hands to eat
of the pleasant fruits of the earth.

I will bless Him for His exceeding wonderful deeds
at the beginning of fear and dread
and in the abode of distress and desolation (1QS X).

Jesus would have been very impressed with this degree of piety and devotion. We know that on more than one occasion Jesus spent all night in prayer. It has even been suggested that Jesus was familiar with the Hymns of the Dead Sea Scrolls because of similarities in style and content. For example, consider the following statements from the latter. Hymn 9: "I thank Thee, O Lord, for Thou has not abandoned the fatherless or despised the poor." Hymn 18: "Blessed art Thou, O my Lord, who hast given to Thy servant the knowledge of wisdom that he may comprehend Thy wonders in Thy abundant grace!" Matthew 11:25: "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will" (NRSV). Prayer and humility was one thing that the Essenes and Jesus had in common. In addition to what we have mentioned so far, the Dead Sea Scrolls frequently use the term "the poor" to describe the Qumranites. Jesus said to his disciples, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20, NRSV).

The second point of similarity is the teaching about the New Covenant. The Dead Sea Scroll known as the Damascus Document talks about "the men who enter the New Covenant in the land of Damascus." The Qumranites believed that entering their Community meant entering into the New Covenant which God had made with them. In both 2 Corinthians and Hebrews we find the concept of the New Covenant, and this understanding went back to Jesus himself. When Jesus poured the cup of wine at the Last Supper, he said, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

The third point of similarity concerns teaching about the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament talks about God's Spirit, but the technical term "the Holy Spirit" does not appear in the Old Testament. It occurs only three times in the apocrypha and is very rare in the rabbinic literature. However, there are two places where we find this term used in abundance. One is the New Testament and the other is the Dead Sea Scrolls. The New Testament's teaching on the Holy Spirit of course goes back to Jesus himself. He promised to impart the Spirit to all his disciples in the creation of the new community which would be the Church. Similarly, the Qumranites believed that every member of their community was endowed with the Holy Spirit. One liturgical fragment from Qumran states: "For Thou hast shed Thy Holy Spirit upon us, bringing upon us Thy blessings" (Heavenly Lights V).

A word of clarification: I'm not trying to say that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not true because somebody else made it up. I really do believe that Jesus imparts the gift of the Holy Spirit and that it resides in every member of the Christian community. What I am trying to say is that Jesus may have been influenced by his contemporaries in the way he conceived and described this reality. Again, Jesus spoke the language of his contemporaries, thought in the same way, was very much part of the same culture as other first-century Jews. If he was not influenced by the vocabularies and beliefs and modes of expression of his contemporaries, he would not have been human. Demonstrating the relationship between Jesus and his religious contemporaries shows not only his humanness, but also his genuineness. In other words, what Jesus said and did makes sense in his cultural context and is not to be explained by the popular notion that the Gentile Church made up a lot of its beliefs and attributed them to Jesus. From this standpoint it is important to note how well Jesus' teachings as described in the Gospels cohere with Jewish ideas. On the other hand, conducting these very same studies allows us to appreciate the genius and originality of Jesus. Jesus was profoundly influenced by friends and acquaintances and teachers and dialogue partners, but he treated the Hebrew Bible as authoritative and made full use of his unique relationship with his Father to set himself up as an authority in spiritual matters. Jesus agreed with his many of his contemporaries on many points but sharply disagreed with them on others. We will get to that shortly, but for now let's consider the fourth point of similarity between Jesus and the Essenes.

I would like to draw our attention to a particular phrase which Jesus used on at least two occasions. In John chapter 4, Jesus told the woman at the well that he could give her "living water." This is how he described this living water: "Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" (v. 14, NRSV). A few chapters later, we read of Jesus in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast coincides with the coming of the rainy season in Israel. During this week-long celebration the priests would carry water from the pool of Siloam to the temple area to symbolize the coming of the rain, to remember the water from the rock in the wilderness, and to express their messianic hopes. Consider these verses from John chapter 7: "On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water'" (vv. 37,38, NRSV). If you have cross-references and footnotes in your Bible, you'll notice that Jesus is not actually quoting an Old Testament verse here. He presents the statement as Scriptural truth and as supported by the Scriptures. He likely had several passages in mind. But consider this important parallel from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The following excerpt comes from one of the hymns that was written by the so-called Teacher of Righteousness:

But Thou, O my God, hast put into my mouth
as it were rain for all those who thirst
and a fount of living waters which shall not fail.

When they are opened they shall not run dry (1QH8; Hymn 14).

This parallel is closer to Jesus' words than any Old Testament verse. In fact the entire hymn is filled with the symbolism of water. Again this is evidence that in his teaching and way of expressing himself Jesus was likely influenced, even if only indirectly, by the Qumran Essenes.

The last point of contact between Jesus and the Essenes which I would like to mention involves the Last Supper. This point comes from one of the essays in Charlesworth's book on Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The essay is by Rainer Riesner and it describes in painstaking detail the archaeological and literary evidence for locating the upper room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper was eaten and where the Spirit was first given on Pentecost. Riesner discusses the evidence that the upper room was located on the southwest hill of Jerusalem. If we will recall the Gospel accounts, Jesus gave his disciples specific directions on how to find the place where they were to eat the Last Supper. These arrangements for their passover meal required careful planning since the climate in Jerusalem was growing increasingly hostile towards Jesus. Our Lord advised his disciples to enter the city, and as soon as they entered the city they were to meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. They were to follow him to a house and advise the owner of the house that they were there to eat the passover with their teacher. They would then be taken to an upper room which would already be prepared.

The description of the man carrying the pitcher of water strongly suggests that they would meet him near the pool of Siloam near the southeast gate of the city, where water would be drawn for the festival. Riesner describes a graded street which runs from Siloam up to the southwest part of Jerusalem. Now the southwest gate of the city was named "The Essene Gate" after the Essenes. This and several other archaeological and literary clues suggests that this was the Essene quarter. The conclusion of the matter is that Jesus ate the Last Supper in the Essene part of town, an important point of contact. For that matter, thinking about the specific day on which they celebrated their passover meal, there is some evidence that Jesus and his disciples followed the solar calendar observed by the Essenes, not the lunar calendar observed by the Pharisees. This issue has been hotly debated by scholars and I'm not about to make a dogmatic stand on this one, but I do want to mention that the possibility is there and that if true it would establish yet another point of contact with the Essenes.


Edited by Immortal4life

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The Essenes interest me too, apparently they would infuse their regular day to day work with their spiritual practice so it would energise them so they could work all day long without tiring and seeing as we all spend so much time at work it could be very valuable to learn how they did this.


Which of the vids do you think is the best? I would like to watch them all but you have linked quite a few.

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Historical info on the Order of Jesus-

Philo's first account of the Essenes: (24.)


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"They do not offer animal sacrifice, judging it more fitting to render their minds truly holy. They flee the cities and live in villages where clean air and clean social life abound. They either work in the fields or in crafts that countribute to peace. They do not hoard silver and gold and do not acquire great landholdings; procuring for themselves only what is necessary for life. Thus they live without goods and without property, not by missfortune, but out of preference. They do not make armaments of any kind. They do not keep slaves and detest slavery. They avoid wholesale and retail commerce, believing that such activity excites one to cupidity. With respect to philosophy, they dismiss logic but have an extremely high regard for virtue. They honor the Sabbath with great respect over the other days of the week. They have an internal rule which all learn, together with rules on piety, holiness, justice and the knowledge of good and bad. These they make use of in the form of triple definitions, rules regarding the love of God, the love of virtue, and the love of men. They believe God causes all good but cannot be the cause of any evil. They honor virtue by foregoing all riches, glory and pleasure. Further, they are convinced they must be modest, quiet, obedient to the rule, simple, frugal and without mirth. Their life style is communal. They have a common purse. Their salaries they deposit before them all, in the midst of them, to be put to the common employment of those who wish to make use of it. They do not neglect the sick on the pretext that they can produce nothing. With the common purse there is plenty from which to treat all illnesses. They lavish great respect on the elderly. With them they are very generous and surround them with a thousand attentions. They practice virtue like a gymnastic exercise, seeing the accomplishment of praiseworthy deeds as the means by which a man ensures absolute freedom for himself."


Philo's second account of the Essenes: (25.)


"The Essenes live in a number of towns in Judea, and also in many villages and in large groups. They do not enlist by race, but by volunteers who have a zeal for righteousness and an ardent love of men. For this reason there are no young children among the Essenes. Not even adolescents or young men. Instead they are men of old or ripe years who have learned how to control their bodily passions. They possess nothing of their own, not house, field, slave nor flocks, nor anything which feeds and procures wealth. They live together in brotherhoods, and eat in common together. Everything they do is for the common good of the group. They work at many different jobs and attack their work with amazing zeal and dedication, working from before sunrise to almost sunset without complaint, but in obvious exhilaration. Their exercise is their work. Indeed, they believe their own training to be more agreeable to body and soul, and more lasting, than athletic games, since their exercises remain fitted to their age, even when the body no longer possesses its full strength. They are farmers and shepherds and beekeepers and craftsmen in diverse trades. They share the same way of life, the same table, even the same tastes; all of them loving frugality and hating luxury as a plague for both body and soul. Not only do they share a common table, but common clothes as well. What belongs to one belongs to all. Available to all of them are thick coats for winter and inexpensive light tunics for summer. Seeing it as an obstacle to communal life, they have banned marriage. They view women as selfish, excessively jealous, skillful in seduction and armed, like actors with all sorts of masks designed to flatter and ensnare men, bewitching and capturing their attention and finally leading them astray. They believe that where children are involved, women become audacious, arrogant, swollen with pride, shamelessly violent and employ attitudes dangerous to the good of the common life. The husband, bound by his wife's spells, or anxious for his children from natural necessity, is no more the same to the others, but becomes a different man; instead of a freeman, he becomes a slave."


Flavius Josephus' first account of the Essene philosophy: (26.)


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"The Essenes are Jews by race, but are more closely united among themselves by mutual affection, and by their efforts to cultivate a particularly saintly life. They renounce pleasure as an evil, and regard continence and resistance to passions as a virtue. They disdain marriage for themselves, being content to adopt the children of others at a tender age in order to instruct them. They do not abolish marriage, but are convinced women are all licentious and incapable of fidelity to one man. They despise riches. When they enter the sect, they must surrender all of their money and possessions into the common fund, to be put at the disposal of everyone; one single property for the whole group. Therefore neither the humiliation of poverty nor the pride of possession is to be seen anywhere among them. They regard oil as a defilement, and should any of them be involuntarily anointed, he wipes his body clean. They make a point of having their skin dry and of always being clothed in white garments. In their various communal offices, the administrators are elected and appointed without distinction offices. They are not just in one town only, but in every town several of them form a colony. They welcome members from out of town as coequal brothers, and even though perfect strangers, as though they were intimate friends. For this reason they carry nothing with them ashen they travel: they are, however, armed against brigands. They do not change their garments or shoes until they have completely worn out. They neither buy nor sell anything among themselves. They give to each other freely and feel no need to repay anything in exchange. Before sunrise they recite certain ancestral prayers to the sun as though entreating it to rise. They work until about 11 A.M. when they put on ritual loincloths and bathe for purification. Then they enter a communal hall,where no one else is allowed,and eat only one bowlful of food for each man, ! together with their loaves of bread. They eat in silence. Afterwards they lay aside their sacred garment and go back to work until the evening. At evening they partake dinner in the same manner. During meals they are sober and quiet and their silence seems a great mystery to people outside. Their food and drink are so measured out that they are satisfied but no more. They see bodily pleasure as sinful. On the whole they do nothing unless ordered by their superiors, but two things they are allowed to do on their own discretion: to help those 'worthy of help', and to offer food to the needy. They are not allowed, however, to help members of their own families without permission from superiors. They are very careful not to exhibit their anger, carefully controlling such outbursts. They are very loyal and are peacemakers. They refuse to swear oaths, believing every word they speak to be stronger than an oath. They are scrupulous students of the ancient literature. They are ardent students in the healing of diseases, of the roots offering protection, and of the properties of stones. Those desiring to enter the sect are not allowed immediate entrance. They are made to wait outside for a period of one year. During this time each postulant is given a hatchet, a loincloth and a white garment. The hatchet is used for cleanliness in stooling for digging and covering up the hole. Having proved his constinence during the first year he draws closer to the way of life and participates in the purificatory baths at a higher degree, but he is not yet admitted into intimacy. His character is tested another two years and if 'ne proves worthy he is received into the company permanently.


They are sworn to love truth and to pursue liars. They must never steal. They are not allowed to keep any secrets from other members of the sect; but they are warned to reveal nothing to outsiders, even under the pain of death. They are not allowed to alter the 'books of the sect, and must keep all the information secret, especially the names of the angels. The name of the Lawgiver, after God, is a matter of great veneration to them; if anyone blasphemed the name of the Lawgiver he was sentenced to death. Those members convicted of grave faults are expelled from the order. In matters of judgement Essene leaders are very exact and impartial. Their decisions are irrevocable. They are so scrupulous in matters pertaining to the Sabbath day that they refuse even to go to stool on that day, They always give way to the opinion of the majority, and they make it their duty to obey their elders. They are divided into four lots according to the duration of thier discipline, and the juniors are so inferior to their elders that if the latter touch them, they wash themselves as though they had been in contact with a stranger. They despise danger: they triumph over pain by the heroism of their convictions, and consider death, if it comes with glory, to be better than the preservation of life. They died in great glory amidst terrible torture in the war against the Romans. They believe that their souls are immortal, but that their bodies are corruptible. They believe the soul is trapped in the body and is freed with death. They believe that there is a place 'across the ocean' where just souls gather, a place reserved for the immortal souls of the just. The souls of the wicked, however, are relegated to a dark pit, shaken by storms and full of unending chastisement. Some of the Essenes became expert in forecasting the future."


Josephus' second account of the Essenes: (27.)



"The Essenes declare that souls are immortal and consider it necessary to struggle to obtain the reward of righteousness. They send offerings to the Temple, but offer no sacrifices since the purifications to which they are accustomed are different. For this reason, they refrain from entering into the common enclosure, but offer sacrifice among themselves. They are holy men and completely given up to agricultural labor."


Pliny the Elder's account of the Essenes (28.)


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"To the west (of the Dead Sea) the Essenes have put the necessary distance between themselves and the insalubrious shore. They are a people unique of its kind and admirable beyond all others in the whole world; without women and renouncing love entirely, without money and having for company only palm trees. Owing to the throng of newcomers, this people is daily reborn in equal number; indeed, those whom, wearied by the fluctuations of fortune, life leads to adopt their customs, stream in in great numbers. Thus, unbeleivable though this may seem, for thousands of centuries a people has existed which is eternal yet into which no one is born: so fruitful for them is the repentance which others feel for their past lives!"

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Which of the vids do you think is the best? I would like to watch them all but you have linked quite a few.


I usually put the ones I thought were most relevant, the closest to the top. Also there is a short description above each one so you can decide based on that as well

Edited by Immortal4life

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It seems that JC didn't stick to the Essene diet, if he was one.


I am not so sure about that. Perhaps you would like to elaborate more?


Anyways most claims can be boiled down to one particular claim, that Jesus and the Essenes were not exactly the same, therefore Christian theology did not come from the Essenes.


However, differences in application can not change the fact that the theologies are related, or that one came from the other. Why? Because of course they are not exactly the same. The Essene version was the monastic version. When their Messiah came however, his mission was to make the teachings more public. Anytime, in any religion, that a monastic order makes their teachings available to the public, there are going to be modifications and alterations made, because non-monastic people have a very different lifestyle. This could be a very extensive topic, getting into many issues, like the disputes between Paul and James the Just and brother of Jesus, whether the teachings can be made available to Gentiles or Jews only, etc.


Perhaps another comparison would be interestingEastern religions...There are high level priest classes, like Lama's etc. Like in Buddhism, where true Buddhism does not allow eating meat. But in some classes, householder classes, guardian classes, warrior classes, they do eat meat. The Shaolin temple for example.... some alleged Shaolin monks eat meat. Now, people can argue all day about whether they are still true Chan Buddhist monks, fake monks, imposter monks planted by the chinese government, but no is going to be so ridiculous as to say Shaolin beliefs don't come from Chan Buddhism , or Buddhism, just because some monks eat meat now.


But I still don't believe Jesus ate meat anyways.


A lot of people say Jesus said it didn't matter what a person eats, or ate fish, etc. I don't think these simple phrases and passages alone can be taken as historical evidence. In Jesus' time we find that Jews could only eat meat that was sacrificed or prepared in the Temple. Jesus, being an Essene, did not recognize the authority of the temple. What Jesus really was against, was the legitimacy of the Temple and their practices. Jesus would not endorse meat eating, or say it is ok, and he is not saying food is irrelevant to spirituality. He is anti Temple-tradition. Anti-sacrifice. Anti-Saducee. Anti-Pharisee. Jesus, being against the temple, could not have eaten sacrificed meat, so therefore I don't think he really did eat meat.


Then we take a look at the bible. We find even in the modern version they couldn't cover up that Jesus was in fact a very strong and fierce person, willing to fight for his beliefs. You know about the story of Jesus making a big scene in the temple, freeing animals and overturning the tables of the money chargers? later biblical writers attempted to portray this as Jesus being so concerned about the Temple being pure and not allowing dishonesty or geed for money into the Temple. But come on, would Jesus do this because a few people were getting a few extra coins from their customers and being a little dishonest? Of cource not. This is just not reality. I take this story as a depiction between the theology of the Essenes, via Jesus, vs. the theology of the Temple Priests. This was primarily about animal sacrifice and eating meat.


A few other interesting things... ancient accounts portray James the brother of Jesus, as Vegetarian. The early Jewish Christians, so called Ebionites, were vegetarian.


Jesus taught compassion, and your spirituality is based on how you treat others, in fact, how you treat "the least among you", Jesus came to the aid of animals when no one else would.

The Essenes refused to sacrifice any animals,[11] and they shunned the temple at Jerusalem.[12] Jesus apparently held the same opinion, for he says in The Gospel of the Ebionites, also known as The Gospel of the Hebrews, "If you do not stop sacrificing, wrath against you will never abate."[13] The Gospel of the Hebrews can be accepted as a witness of what Jesus said, because many in the ancient church accepted it. The same people who accepted it were critically minded enough to reject several other books, but they accepted The Gospel of the Hebrews.[14] Therefore, it appears Jesus agreed with the Essenes that animal sacrifice should not be practiced. The Essenes had been forced out of the priesthood by the Sadducees, and so they refused to sacrifice at Jerusalem because sacrificing there would legitimize their enemies. This might also explain why James the brother of Jesus was a vegetarian.[15] Under ancient Hebrew custom, one could not eat meat unless it was sacrificed. But the only altar available in James' day was the temple of Jerusalem. Therefore he did not eat meat.


A second 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, which tells us that James the brother of Jesus secluded himself in the desert – a behavior all too commonly associated with the Essenes.



Was Jesus a Vegetarian?

By Keith Akers

For many vegetarians, Jesus’ message implies compassion toward all creation. How can we justify the torture and slaughter of billions of animals each year for food? And how can we tolerate such obvious cruelty in a religion whose founder preached mercy and compassion? Yet most modern churches reject vegetarianism with hardly a thought; vegetarianism is an idea which is at best tolerated, and at worst condemned as heresy.


Was Jesus a vegetarian? This issue is too complex to be answered with just a few Bible verses. In fact, it cannot be fully answered in a short article; my book, The Lost Religion of Jesus, has a more complete answer. The New Testament takes contradictory stands on this issue, sometimes seeming to condemn and sometimes seeming to support vegetarianism. Jesus feeds bread and fish to the five thousand (Mark 6:34-44) — seeming to approve of eating fish. But Jesus also speaks of compassion toward animals (Matthew 12:10-12, Luke 12:6-7, 13:15-16) — seeming to hint at vegetarianism. The same can be said of many other views in the Bible as well; one can defend almost any point of view one wants with appropriate Bible verses. But that leaves us with the question, where does the truth lie?


I. Vegetarianism in Early Christianity

There were many vegetarians in early Christianity, both in the leadership and among ordinary Christians. Augustine, while not vegetarian himself and while vehemently arguing against the idea that Christians must be vegetarians, nevertheless states that those Christians who "abstain both from flesh and from wine" are "without number" (On the Morals of the Catholic Church 33). His "heretical" Manichean opponents were entirely vegetarian. But the Christian vegetarians to whom Augustine is referring are clearly orthodox, indicating a widespread acceptance of vegetarianism both among heretics and the orthodox.


Many leaders of the early church were vegetarian. Eusebius says that James the brother of Jesus was a vegetarian, and in fact was evidently raised as a vegetarian (Ecclesiastical History 2.23). Why would Jesus’ parents have raised James as a vegetarian, unless they were vegetarian themselves and raised Jesus as a vegetarian as well? Eusebius also states (Proof of the Gospel 3.5) that all the apostles abstained from meat and wine. Other famous early Christians who were vegetarian, based on statements made by them or about them, included Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Arnobius, Tertullian, and Jerome.


II. The Controversy Over Vegetarianism

The letters of Paul give clear evidence of a controversy over vegetarianism. Paul believes that it is not necessary to be a vegetarian in order to be a Christian.


"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables," says Paul (Romans 14:1-2). Paul counsels patience between the meat-eaters and the vegetarians. But there is nothing wrong with eating meat as such — "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience" (I Corinthians 10:25).


Paul won this battle in the early church; while many Christians were vegetarian, most churches taught that it was not necessary to be vegetarian. However, some early Christians, such as the Jewish Christians, rejected Paul; they were vegetarian and thought that vegetarianism should be required of all Christians. It is these Jewish Christians who were in conflict with Paul over the vegetarian issue.


III. Who were the Jewish Christians?

For the Jewish Christians, Jesus did not come to found a new religion; his message was about simple living and nonviolence. Jesus did not overturn the Jewish law, but preached a return to the Jewish law (as he saw it) — a law which commanded simple living and nonviolence. For the Jewish Christians, Jesus was a prophet who was loyal to the law; but upon examining the Jewish law, Jesus reached radical conclusions. The Jewish Christians therefore believed in simple living, pacifism, and vegetarianism.


We know about the Jewish Christians — and among them, the Ebionites, the chief Jewish Christian group — on the basis of early church documents. The most useful of these are the Clementine Homilies, the Recognitions of Clement (two Jewish Christian writings) and the Panarion of Epiphanius (an attack on Jewish Christianity which, however, gives insight into their beliefs).


The Jewish Christians called themselves "the poor" — the term "Ebionites" is derived from a Hebrew word which means "the poor." They traced their poverty back to the primitive Christian community described in Acts 4:32-35 — a community which shares all of their possessions in common. Thus, although no one owns any private property, because the community cares for everyone "there was not a needy person among them" — just as in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says "You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24).


The Jewish Christians were also pacifists. The Recognitions speaks at several points of opposition to war and killing (1.70-71, 2.36, 3.42), echoing the statements of other early Christians, both Jewish and gentile, who were opposed to war, as well as the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9), "Do not resist one who is evil" (Matthew 5:39), and "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44).


The Jewish Christians were vegetarians. They opposed meat-eating and the sacrifice of animals in the temple. There are frequent passages in both the Homilies and Recognitions which attack animal sacrifice; the Homilies state that God did not want animals killed at all (3.45), and condemns those who taste or eat meat at all (7.4, 7.8). This opposition to animal sacrifice and support of vegetarianism is one of the most distinctive features of Jewish Christianity — mentioned by Epiphanius as well as in the Homilies and Recognitions.


Why did the Jewish Christians make such an issue over animal sacrifice? We must remember that in ancient times the temple in Jerusalem was not like a modern synagogue or church — it was the place where the Jews brought animal sacrifices, and thus resembled a butcher shop or slaughterhouse more than a modern place of worship. The priests in the temple were able to keep much of the meat from the sacrificed animals and thus benefitted economically from this practice. For the Ebionites, this was a religious sanction to kill animals, which had no place in their religion. Jesus says (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7), "I require mercy, not sacrifice," a saying which the Homilies and Recognitions cite as well. The Ebionite gospel quoted Jesus as saying, "I have come to abolish the sacrifices, and if you cease not from sacrificing, my wrath will not cease from you" (Panarion 30.16.5).


One of the problems which the Jewish Christians had was that, since they remained Jewish and therefore loyal to the law, they had to explain the passages in the "Old Testament" (the Jewish scriptures) which seemed to justify war-making and animal sacrifice. They argued that these commands were not truly in the law given to Moses, but were added by scribes who came after Moses. So we see that Jewish Christianity involved vegetarianism, but a lot more as well. It was a truly radical viewpoint — which eventually became heretical both to orthodox Judaism and to orthodox Christianity.


IV. The Confrontation in the Temple

The Jewish Christians are alone in early Christianity in placing heavy emphasis on the rejection of animal sacrifice. Yet the historical Jesus was clearly opposed to animal sacrifice, as we can see from one of the key events in Jesus’ life — the last week of his life, leading up to his crucifixion. According to all of the gospels, Jesus went into the temple and disrupted the animal sacrifice business:


"And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written: ‘my house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers." (Matthew 21:12-13; parallels at Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17)


Who were the ones who bought and sold in the temple, and why were they selling pigeons? The animals which are being sold are sacrificial animals, and it is these dealers in animals whom Jesus is angry with. The primary practical effect of this confrontation was to disrupt the animal sacrifice business — chasing out the animals to be sacrificed, or those who were selling them to be sacrificed. "Cleansing the temple" was an act of animal liberation.


Jesus calls the temple a "den of robbers," an allusion to Jeremiah 7:11; but this passage in Jeremiah follows only after Jeremiah describes murder, adultery, and blatant idolatry (Jeremiah 7:9), and ends by denying that God ever required sacrifices, anyway (7:22). If, of course, the animal sacrifice cult was a fraud--as the Ebionites believed--then the extortion of animals from the populace on religious pretenses was indeed literal robbery and a matter considerably more serious than the figurative "robbery" involved in overcharging.


The final result was that the Romans crucified Jesus. Pilate, the Roman governor, would hardly have crucified someone just because of a Jewish theological dispute. But if someone were causing a riot or disturbance in the temple precincts, this demanded Roman action. It is much more plausible that Jesus objected to the practice of animal sacrifice itself, and that his disruption of the temple business during the volatile Passover week was the immediate and most important cause of his death. It was this act, and its interpretation as a threat to public order, that led immediately to Jesus’ crucifixion.


V. The Jewish Christian understanding of Jesus

Why should we believe that the Jewish Christians had the best understanding of Jesus? There are several reasons. First and most importantly, Jesus was a Jew. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus nowhere indicates that he is founding a new religion. When asked what we must do to gain salvation, he replies, "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). The commandments which Jesus says are the greatest are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). This is exactly how Jewish Christianity saw Jesus: as building an ethic of compassion and sharing on the basis of the Jewish law. Who would have the best understanding of Jesus? Would it not be those of his own followers who, like Jesus, considered themselves Jews?


Secondly, Jesus and the primitive church were in a conflict with the temple priests. The most certain piece of historical knowledge we have about Jesus is that he was crucified, and he was undoubtedly killed after disrupting the animal sacrifice business in the temple. Jesus wants the temple destroyed; the priests in the temple want Jesus and the Jesus movement destroyed. Even after Jesus’ death, the priests keep up the struggle, hoping to either silence or kill the apostles (Acts 4-7). Why would Jesus have risked his life for something not essential to his message?


The Jewish Christians are virtually alone among early Christians in understanding why Jesus died. Jewish Christianity describes Jesus as if this attack on the temple was part of a deliberate plan. Jesus has come to abolish the temple sacrifices (Recognitions 1.54) — thus explaining perfectly both his own motivations and the motivations of those who sought to destroy him and his movement.


Vegetarianism was abandoned because of the popularity of the letters of Paul among early Christians. The early leadership of the church (James, Peter, and John) was Jewish, but they quickly got into a divisive battle with Paul (Galatians 1-2 and Romans 14). In the second century, the teachings of Paul became increasingly popular among Christians. The Jewish Christians detested Paul, considering him an apostate. But by the second century Jewish Christians were already in the minority and eventually Paul’s letters were accepted as part of the New Testament, masking the fact that in his day Paul was a highly controversial figure. Since Paul said vegetarianism was optional, the church followed his stand on this issue. Later editors of the New Testament further distorted and confused Jesus’ views on animals.


Jesus believed in simple living and nonviolence, and felt that this was part of the law of God. Jesus was undoubtedly vegetarian, since this was the original teaching of Jewish Christianity. Jesus did not bring a new theology, but rather a radical understanding of the law. For Jesus, the law commands nonviolence; we are not to shed blood, whether the blood of humans in warfare or the blood of animals in meat consumption or animal sacrifice. Jesus risked and gave his life to disrupt the wicked and bloody animal sacrifices in the temple. But the religion of Jesus has been lost from modern Christianity.


Was Christ Vegetarian-

The following arguments are to be found, for the most part, in Keith Akers' very useful, A Vegetarian Sourcebook, 1989. Another sourcebook I would also highly recommend for its scholarship is Lewis Regenstein's Replenish the Earth: The History of Organized Religion's Treatment of Animals and Nature--Including the Bible's Message of Conservation and Kindness Toward Animals, 1991.


"I require mercy, not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13 & 12:7)


This is a significant message when we remember that in the context in which this was said meat eating was commonly considered part of these sacrifices. Sacrificial offerings often entailed meat consumption and a strict reading of Leviticus 17: implies that, indeed, all meat consumption necessitated a sacrifice. Also, the noted confrontation of Jesus in the Temple suggests that he was not at all pleased by the desecration of the Temple by the money changers AND by "those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons" (John 2:14-15) since these animals were being sold for sacrifice before being eaten.


No Unequivocal Biblical Reference to Christ Eating or Buying Meat


Consider the verse where it is said that Jesus' disciples "were gone away unto the city to buy meat" (John 4:8). This translation from the King James version has been misunderstood as meaning literally "meat". In fact, the Greek word for "meat" from which the James translation based its choice for this word, simply meant nutrition in the generic sense. Hence, the Revised Standard Version now simply translates this same passage as "his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food".


Regenstein notes that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus depicted as eating meat and "if the Last Supper was a Passover meal -- as many believe -- there is, interestingly, no mention of the traditional lamb dish".


Did Christ at Least Eat Fish? (e.g., Luke 24:43)


Note that on the two occasions where he is said to have eaten fish, these were after his death and resurrection. Also, we should maybe keep in mind that fish was a well known mystical symbol among these early Christians. The Greek word for fish (Ichthys) was used as an acronym whose initials in Greek stood for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior". Given how the early Christians employed the term, there is therefore good historical evidence for the argument that all of the "fish stories" that managed to get into the gospels were intended to be taken symbolically rather than literally.


Biblical Breaks and Contradictions


We should not forget that the Bible is not complete and its many inconsistencies require thoughtful interpretation. For instance, we have the contradiction between Genesis 1:29-30 with Genesis 9:2-3. Some scholars interpret the first prescription for vegetarianism as the preferred diet, and suggest that it was only after God became grievously disappointed with human sin and flooded the earth did the second provision become permitted, and not without qualification (and maybe only as an expedient for the situation). To take another example, the New Testament makes repeated attacks on meat offered to pagan idols (Acts 15:20; Revelation 2:14), but Paul gives assurances that eating such flesh is all right if no one is offended (Corinthians 10:14-33). Paul, then, would seem to be contradicting Christ.


Examples of Early Christians


Not a few Christian scholars have concluded vegetarianism to be the more consistent ethic with respect to the spirit of Christ's teachings. For example, we have the Ebionites, Athanasius, and Arius. Of the early church fathers we have Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Heronymus, Boniface, St. Jerome, and John Chrysostom. Clement wrote, "It is far better to be happy than to have your bodies act as graveyards for animals. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts and vegetables, without flesh". One of the earliest Christian documents is the `Clementine Homiles', a second-century work purportedly based on the teachings of St. Peter. Homily XII states, "The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils". Many of the monasteries both in ancient times to the present practiced vegetarianism. For instance, Basilius the Great's order, Boniface's order, Trappists monks, etc. Also, we have the examples provided by the stories around some saints like Hubertus, Aegidius and Francis of Assisi.


Indirect Historical Evidence


Knowledge about how the Essenes, the Nazoreans and Ebionites lived suggests that Christ was probably a vegetarian. The Essenes were Jews who were remarkably similar to the early Christians as evinced in their deemphasis upon property and wealth, their communalism and in their rejection of animal sacrifices. The first Christians were known as the Nazoreans (not to be confused with Nazarenes), and the Ebionites were a direct offshoot from them. All three groups were vegetarian which is suggestive of the central role such a practice once played in Early Christianity.


Paul's need to constantly deal with these vegetarians is also evidence of how prevalent they were and not a few fellow Christians, it would seem, took issue with Paul. Paul, if he is consistent with his words, would have been vegetarian (Corinthians 8:13), notwithstanding his opposition to the Ebionites. According to Clement of Alexandria, Matthew was a vegetarian. Clementine `Homiles' and `Recognitions' claim that Peter was also a vegetarian. Both Hegisuppus and Augustin testify that the first head of the church in Jerusalem after the death of Christ, namely Christ's brother James the Just, was a vegetarian and raised as one! If Jesus's parents raised James as vegetarian then it would be likely that Jesus was also so raised.




Given the above points, it is reasonable to believe that vegetarianism would be consistent with, if not mandated by, the spirit of early Christianity, a spirit that advocated kindness, mercy, non-violence and showed disdain towards wealth and extravagance. Meat eating would hardly have been considered the way of the humility, non-extravagance and love for all of God's creation. Hence, the orthodox early church father, Christian Hieronymous, could not but be compelled to conclude:


The eating of animal meat was unknown up to the big flood, but since the flood they have pushed the strings and stinking juices of animal meat into our mouths, just as they threw quails in front of the grumbling sensual people in the desert. Jesus Christ, who appeared when the time had been fulfilled, has again joined the end with the beginning, so that it is no longer allowed for us to eat animal meat.


Postscript: What Happened After Christ?

Maybe an even more important question than that of whether or not Christ was a vegetarian, was why Christianity later abandoned its vegetarian roots. Steven Rosen in his book, Food for the Spirit, 1987, argues:


The early Christian fathers adhered to a meatless regime...many early Christian groups supported the meatless way of life. In fact, the writings of the early Church indicate that meat eating was not officially allowed until the 4th century, when the Emperor Constantine decided that his version of Christianity would be the version for everyone. A meat eating interpretation of the Bible became the official creed of the Roman Empire, and vegetarian Christians had to practice in secret or risk being put to death for heresy. It is said that Constantine used to pour molten lead down the their throats if they were captured.


Ironic indeed that pagan Rome here would have this longstanding influence upon Christianity.

In any case, I think we can all be thankful that it is a lot easier today to be a vegetarian. The occasional rudeness and social disapproval a vegetarian must tolerate is a pretty small inconvenience in comparison to Constantine's way of dealing with vegetarians.


To cite another sad example: in southern France a group of Albigensian vegetarians (a Cartharist religious group) were put to death by hanging in 1052 because they refused to kill a chicken!

Edited by Immortal4life

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