How did Jesus relate to the Essenes?


A zealous group of priests decided to join forces in 150 BC. To separate from their religious leader. They became an order-like Jewish religious community called "Essenes". Their life was organized on the basis of community of goods (union of goods). They lived under the guidance of a man of priestly descent called the "teacher of righteousness."
They thought that God destined them for salvation and thus expected the triumph of the "sons of light" (themselves) and the downfall of the "sons of darkness" (sinful Jews, Gentiles, Romans). Its most famous member was John the Baptist. Jesus also had contact with them through him. But he did not live according to their way, but went his own way. They refused to visit a temple and were the first to describe slavery as human abuse. In contrast to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, they rejected violence against the Romans. They longed for a life without foreign rule. They lived in complete seclusion in small independent communities and practiced agriculture. Furthermore, they lived in consistent discipline and put their emphasis on prayers, work or on maintaining the community welfare. At the time of Jesus there were a good 4,000 Essenes. One of their monastic communities was that of Qumran.


  • MS Encarta Encyclopedia 2001 plus, articles »Essenes«, »Pharisees«, »Sadducees«, »Zealots«
  • Jörg Sieger: Groups that are mentioned in the Gospel
  • Bettina Lukaszyk, Ulrich Reh, Elfi Zimmer: learning circle Jesus der Nazarener, Speyer 1999, pp. 45-49