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The Dead Sea Scrolls : an Introduction
If we do not recognise the astrology behind our major religions we have no sensible explanation for these great faiths beyond blind faith and the experience of millions that faith is rewarded. But we have no credible explanation for religion and this has lost Christianity in particular many fine minds and many souls have gone astray, lacking any spiritual direction or values in their lives.
Without recognising the role of the Essenes in the foundation of Christianity we have no credible history for a great faith whose origins are unmistakeably rooted in a time when civilisation was at a peak and literacy and history were flourishing. Naturally this lack of a rational, credible explanation has cost Christianity dear in the last century and it has been unable to answer those who have demanded more than the mere faith or force of habit which has sustained people over the preceding ages.
Our own age is marked by unprecedented literacy and educational standards are commonplace now which were beyond the grasp of even royalty, even the best scholars, for most of our history. It is right we should question what has always been unquestioned. And it is right we should find answers.
Some of the evidence for the Essene origins of Christianity appear on Page 13 and the Notes attached to the illustrations. More will follow on this Page shortly. This subject is one of the principal treasures of this site and of Heaven on Earth and supporting material is not lacking. It is an exciting and colourful subject and it will bring us to know the real historical Messiah who laid the foundations of Christianity over two thousand years ago.
This can only lead us to appreciate better the mythical figure of Jesus Christ who represents this historical Messiah in a way which brings out in the strongest light the spiritual significance, power and truth of this extraordinary phenomenon. The Messiah did come. He did change the world, in a sense single-handedly and we can expect him to return any day now. And he was the Son of God. But he also told us we are all the children of God. This time we need to be a little more ready to believe him.
These revelations do not change our view of religion except they will make our understanding much stronger. And much clearer.
The Historical Messiah Behind the Myth
Beyond myths of incredible miracles, the Dead Sea Scrolls show the deposed High Priest and King of the Jews, Onias III, was recognised as the Messiah both by the Book of Daniel and the ancient Dead Sea sect.
Widely revered, this Teacher of Righteousness sacrificed himself willingly to satisfy the wrath of the ‘Wicked Priest’ in Jerusalem. On the holiest of all days, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), set aside for the redemption of sin. I t was Onias who laid the foundations for the Christian faith and inspired the wonderful spiritual message and symbolism of the sacred Gospels.
The Dead Sea Scrolls show the magi, the Essene masters of astrology and the Kabbalah of the Tree of Life, had a greater, more credible role in the birth of Christianity.
The magi who attend the Birth of Jesus and prophesy so accurately his future are not really three ‘kings.’ These Persian magi are now properly translated as astrologers in many Bibles. Many Christians forget this celebration of the role of astrologers, preferring to quote the Old Testament where spurious astrology is treated with the same hostility as spurious religion.
Any great tradition can become the refuge of scoundrels : religion, nationalism, science, astrology, clairvoyance… But to dismiss any of these traditions because of the exploits of its rogues is a mistake and the New Testament rejects the Old Testament prejudice against astrologers.
In Revelation (22.16) Christ is actually called ‘the bright and morning star,’ a clear planetary reference, usually to Venus, sometimes Saturn. Heaven on Earth insists the Bible’s spiritual message should never be taken too superficially, too literally.
This reassessment of the importance of the Kabbalah (Tradition) of the Tree of Life and the Dead Sea Scrolls is not a challenge against faith. It is an explanation of those spiritual mysteries in modern, rational language. It is an attempt to make these spiritual facts of life accessible to all those who find Christ, God, and the world religions generally, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Tao, impossible to believe in. These revelations confirm the original sacred messages of faith. They do not necessarily endorse current interpretations of this original wisdom.
Revealing the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Kabbalah of the Tree of Life may give us a more mature understanding of what God wants. Rising from our knees and taking more responsibility for our lives and our world.
The Dead Sea Scrolls show the ancient Essene sect founded Christianity. The early Christians (the Nazarenes) copied the Essene sect in so many details, they must be closely connected. St Paul and other New Testament writers used the very phrases of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Sermon on the Mount is taken from a Dead Sea Scrolls original. Yet access to these scrolls would have been strictly limited to the Essene members, mortally sworn to secrecy.
There is no objective historical evidence for the life of Christ in the 1st century AD though we do have detailed accounts including John the Baptist and other charismatic religious leaders, even a ‘Messiah’ or two. The earliest Christian writer, St Paul, knows nothing of the Gospel stories and appears to quote a much older credo.
The Dead Sea Scrolls story gives us an historical Messiah endorsed by Scripture and lacking nothing in holiness, dignity and drama. The evidence suggests he was also the source of the Christian inspiration.
This history provides a credible evolution for the Christian faith, replacing the incredible, miraculous origins which served an earlier age. The sacred myth and message of the Gospels will serve us better if it is not confused with a literal history.
A Summary of the Evidence
Simply put the case for the Essene origins of Christianity are twofold. Firstly we simply have no other credible history for Christianity. Extensive material will shortly appear to explore this simple statement which so many have already accepted, opting out of the faith of their fathers. Others, perhaps worse in some cases, refuse to submit their faith to any reasonable discussion.
The second case is the overwhelming evidence that the early Christians copied not only the principal ideas of the Essenes but in many respects their organisational structure, their unique communal style, sharing all goods in common and even their system of discipline. This is quite extraordinary and difficult to explain for two supposedly rival groups who proclaimed rival Messiahs in one small nation. It is not difficult to explain why one group should have changed its mission and message slightly from a strictly exclusive sect to a public proclamation and evangelical direction.
One of the most compelling factors is the extensive use within the New Testament of material which not only reflects Essene ideas but actually repeatedly borrows the very phrases from the Scrolls. The Essenes were an extremely secretive, private sect. Membership required a two year probation after which successful candidates not only gave all their property to the sect but swore to keep its secrets unto death.
If any member was expelled for disobedience he might die for want of food because he remained bound by his oaths to eat only the community’s special diet. It is this diet which has led commentators to suggest John the Baptist may have been an Essene, with mention of his eating locusts and wild honey in the desert.
It is inconceivable in these circumstances the early Christians, the Nazarenes, should have had access to the sacred scriptures of the Dead Sea sect if they were not essentially one and the same organisation, recognising one Messiah.
The Sermon on the Mount
The sublime promises of the Sermon on the Mount have always been the crowning joy and the heart of the Christian message. The Beatitudes. Many scholars have accepted the Sermon on the Mount is a close copy of the scripture of the Essenes.
The original version of the Essenes was probably written two centuries earlier. It bids fair and sounds likely to be the words and the inspiration of the Teacher of Righteousness, the founder of the Essenes who they recognised as the long-awaited Messiah. We shall find they weren’t the only ones who recognised him in this role.
“And they who have died in grief shall arise in joy, and they who were poor for the Lord’s sake shall be made rich; and they who are put to death for the Lord’s sake shall awake to life.”
The Christian version gains style in its later translation of the same theme.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
St Matthew Ch.5, v.3-12.
This particular source book is called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. It was a great favourite among the early Christians and is much used and quoted by St Paul. The Gospels also quote liberally from this source. Here we can see only too clearly how Matthew worked.
“I was sold into slavery and the Lord of all made me free; I was taken into captivity, and his strong hand succoured me. I was beset with hunger, and the Lord Himself nourished me. I was alone and God comforted me; I was sick and the Lord visited me; I was in prison and my Lord showed favour to me; in bonds and he released me.”
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Joseph 1,5-6.
“For I was hungry and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in, naked and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me.”
Gospel According to St Matthew Ch.25 v.35.
Matthew repeats these lines again and again in an emphatic play upon his theme, he must have like the idea so much.
The gospel of forgiveness permeates throughout the Testaments and there occurs the first known conjunction, copied in Mark 12, 29-31, of the precept of Deuteronomy, 6.5. to ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,’ and that of Leviticus, 19,18, to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Jesus bespeaks the Essenes quoting Moses.
Other Christian apocryphal scriptures which we have discovered were originally Essene texts, actually mention the Messiah, the Christ. But he is not Jesus because he is much earlier. This Christ is the Teacher of Righteousness. Were the early Christians so luke-warm they would accept another Messiah, the Messiah of the Essenes, as interchangeable with their own, if the two were not actually identical ?
The early Christians clearly accepted the Messiah of the Essenes, the Teacher of Righteousness, as identical with their own Christ, Jesus, because they freely adopted the scriptures of this earlier Christ. This is explained by the Essenes’ conviction that the Teacher would return as the world Messiah of this later date, the first years of Our Lord.
The Messiah recognised by the Nazarenes could only be the reincarnation of the Teacher, according to the true tradition of Judaism maintained by the Essenes. Who else should he be – another Moses returned ?
The Nazarenes got everything from the Essenes, not only their scriptures. In Enoch the Essenes designate the Messiah in the same four titles he receives in the New Testament: “the Christ”, “the Righteous One”, “the Elect One”, “the Son of Man”. We can only say we know now where the New Testament deliberately copied from
Enoch is the closest sacred text to the time of Onias, parts of it being written before Daniel, after about 200 BC, that is during the life of Onias and presumably under his direction. Yet Enoch is recognised as an Essene text because it was inherited and developed by them, probably because the original authors went with them into exile, with Onias.
The Son of Man is a familiar phrase from the prophets but never before has it been referred to the Messiah. So in the time immediately after the murder of Onias, both the orthodox Jewish Book of Daniel and the Essenes’ Book of Enoch tell of the Messiah who has come and been rejected and killed. The ancient commentary on Daniel tells us this was Onias III but it’s only stating the obvious. It couldn’t be his father because his father wasn’t a martyr and there are no other serious candidates, no other eligible ‘anointed ones’.
This is material written some years ago in India. Now scholars are recognising yet another extract from the Dead Sea scrolls as a prototype for the Beatitudes :
[Blessed is] …with a pure heart
and does not slander with his tongue.
Blessed are those who hold to her [Wisdom’s] precepts
And do not hold to the ways of iniquity.
Blessed are those who rejoice in her,
And do not burst forth in ways of folly.
Blessed are those who seek her with pure hands,
And do not pursue her with a treacherous heart.
Blessed is the man who has attained Wisdom,
And walks in the Law of the Most High.
He directs his heart towards her ways,
And restrains himself by her corrections,
And always takes delight in her chastisements.
He does not forsake her when he sees distress,
Nor abandon her in time of strain.
He will not forget her [on the day of] fear,
And will not despise [her] when his soul is afflicted.
For always he will meditate on her,
And in his distress he will consider [her?]
From ‘The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English’ translated by Geza Vermes
More material will appear here in due course.