Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


(ĕs`ēnz), members of a small Jewish religious order, originating in the 2d cent. B.C. The chief sources of information about the Essenes are Pliny the Elder, Philo's Quod omnius probus liber, Josephus' Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews, and (possibly) the Dead Sea ScrollsDead Sea Scrolls,
ancient leather and papyrus scrolls first discovered in 1947 in caves on the NW shore of the Dead Sea. Most of the documents were written or copied between the 1st cent. B.C. and the first half of the 1st cent. A.D.
..... Click the link for more information.
. The sect consisted of adult males and celibacy was encouraged. The Essenes lived as a highly organized community that held possessions in common. Ceremonial purity entailed scrupulous cleanliness, the wearing of only white garments, and the most strict observance of the Sabbath. The Essenes believed in the immortality of the soul. Their practice, common among many Jewish groups, of purification through ritual immersion may have been a significant influence on the development of the rite of baptism in the early Christian church. They condemned slavery and prohibited trading because it led to covetousness and cheating; they avoided luxury, abhorred untruthfulness and forbade oaths, with the one exception of the oath a new member took after two years of probation. In this oath, the member pledged piety toward God, justice to men, honesty with fellow Essenes, preservation of the sect's secrets, and proper transmission of its teachings. The Essenes subsisted by pastoral and agricultural activities and handicrafts; they avoided the manufacture of weapons. There is evidence of Persian and Hellenistic influences in the sect's thought. The Essenes' belief in several Messiahs is thought by some to have been a major influence in the development of Christianity. The sect ceased to exist sometime in the 2d cent. A.D.


See D. Howlett, The Essenes and Christianity (1957); A. Dupont-Sommer, The Essene Writings from Qumran (tr. 1961, repr. 1967); M. A. Larson, The Essene Heritage (1967); G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls (1978); P. R. Davies, Behind the Essenes: History and Ideology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (1987).



members of a social and religious movement in Judea during the late second and first centuries B.C. The Essenes were among the forerunners of Christianity. According to the classical authors Philo of Alexandria, Pliny the Elder, Josephus Flavius, and Hippolytus, they lived apart in communes, usually holding property in common and working and living collectively. Their teaching condemned war, slavery, and commerce, rejected blood sacrifices, and introduced a special series of ritual purifications. Some Essenes led celibate lives. The movement represented a passive protest by the masses of Judea against internal and external oppression. After the First Roman War (in Russian, the Judean War of 66–73) part of the sect joined with Judeo-Christian communities. A new source for the study of this group was provided in 1947 by the discovery of manuscripts from the Qumran Essene community in the Dead Sea area.


Amusin, I. D. Rukopisi Mertvogo moria. Moscow, 1960.
Amusin, I.-D. Teksty Kumrana. Moscow, 1971.
Kosmala, N, Hebräer-Essener-Christen. Leiden, 1959.
Wagner, S. Die Essener in der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion. Berlin’ 1960.


References in periodicals archive ?
From the scrolls found at Khirbet Qumran, an archaeological site in western Jordan, we have learned about a Jewish sect, believed to be Essenes, who saw its members as the "children of light" who would oppose the "children of darkness" in the end-of-time battle.
Dayagi-Mendels maintains that since fermentation occurs so quickly in a desert climate it is likely the Essenes were drinking wine rather than grape juice.
Utilizing writings of Josephus, Philo, Pliny, the Scrolls, New Testament texts, and some Rabbinic texts, he presents an overview of the names and identities of Essenes, Sadducees, and Pharisees.
According to an emerging theory, the Essenes may have actually been Jerusalem Temple priests who went into self-imposed exile in the second century B.
That is not to say that all spas are spiritual, but the rubs and wraps and anointments have deep spiritual roots, and the founding father's passion was an ideal set by ancient, ascetic desert-dwellers known as the Essenes.
The ancient Essenes, the healers of Jesus' time, believed that the cosmic order of the universe permeated everything that was in existence: all of creation, all activity, energy, consciousness, knowledge, thoughts and feelings.
Rice peppers her novel with references based on historical research: the Roman appointment of Jewish high priests, the separatist Jewish community of the Essenes, Judah the Galilean's tax revolt.
Around the time of his birth, another group of apocalypse-minded Jews called the Essenes lived together in ascetic community.
And the chapter, "Jesus is not a sadist," is fully refuted by the hunchbacked dwarf's transformation of Gehenna from the Essene death chamber in which non-Essenes were exterminated, into the Christian Hell in which the Religious Right's detractors, including moderate Christians, are tortured by flamethrowers for all eternity (Mark 9:47-49).
The wives of those Essenes who married, according to Josephus, wore a dress in the bath (Antiquities 2.
Research so far leads scholars to believe that the scrolls may still shed much new light not just on the Qumran Community or the Essenes in general but on the history of Judaism.