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Pots Of Gold ? a Treasure Trove of Truth
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Some Scrolls were left in jars, between 21 and 27 inches tall, specially made in the monastery pottery. They preserved whole scrolls which otherwise would have disintegrated into the fragments, large and small, which have presented such a jigsaw puzzle for the editors.
One whole scroll of Isaiah shows our present version is remarkably unchanged in two thousand years and gives a fair assurance the rest of the Bible text has remained faithful down the centuries.
More recently an extraordinarily close association between the Essenes and the authors of Daniel has been recognised. It is probably impossible to explain these unique signatures without accepting the identity of Onias III as the Teacher of Righteousness. Forming a plausible bridge between the Dead Sea sect and the Temple where the Book of Daniel was officially proclaimed after the liberation of Judea in 165 BC .
Daniel uses the term maskilim, ‘the wise’ to describe its authors and rabbim, ‘the many’, for the congregation, both distinctive Essenic terms. The calendar referred to in Daniel 9 is the unique version used in Essene scriptures, Enoch, Jubilees, and the Melchidezek fragments. Also in this chapter we find a prayer with strong echoes of an Essene text, the Words of the Heavenly Lights.
Perhaps most tellingly of all, an apparently original source for a part of Daniel has been found among the scrolls, as well as three, probably earlier, variant versions of a ‘Pseudo-Daniel.’ All these different discoveries declare an Essene hand in the composition of the Book of Daniel. Daniel was very popular among the sectarians; no less than eight different copies have been identified.
Theodotian provided our authoritative Greek translation of Daniel, in the second century AD. His translation was preferred by the Church as more authoritative than older versions ― even though Theodotian belonged to the heretical sect of the Ebionites. The Ebionites were an early Christian sect believed to have strong links with the Essenes.
It is a note by Theodotian in the margin of his translation which identifies the Messiah of this famous passage in Daniel (9. 26 NJB) as Onias III :
‘an Anointed One put to death without his ….city and sanctuary ruined by a prince who is to come. The end of the prince will be catastrophe and, until the end, there will be war and all the devastation decreed.’
There is a word missing in connection with the death of the Anointed One. Theodotian supplies ‘fault.’ This fits both the history of Onias and the myth of Christ. The other details also fit Onias’ history precisely. The city of Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple Sanctuary defiled by the ultimate sacrilege of sacrificing pigs to a Greek image of Father Zeus.
We have a graphic account of Onias’ downfall, the great reverence in which he was held and the extreme desolation visited on Jerusalem following his death, in the Second Book of Maccabees. We are also given an account of what the Catholic Church recognises as the first Intercession by a saint. Against all the odds Onias gives the Jewish army a decisive victory over the awesome Syrian forces. It is a vision in which Onias appears in a light richly reminiscent of the transfiguration story in the Gospels, where Christ appears with Moses and Elijah. Except Onias’ story is more than two centuries earlier and quite possibly provided the inspiration for the Gospel account.
This is the eulogy to Onias, ‘the former high priest, that paragon of men, modest of bearing and gentle of manners, suitably eloquent and trained from boyhood in the practice of every virtue…’ (2 Macc. 15. 12)
The reference to ‘the Prince of the Covenant’ in Daniel (11. 22 ) is believed to refer to the same figure, the Anointed One. Taken in context, it could hardly be a plainer recognition of Onias as the Anointed One, the Messiah, of the Essenes. We are told the Teacher of Righteousness proclaimed the New Covenant ‘in the land of Damascus’ ― on his way into exile in Antioch where he was finally assassinated. This New Covenant was a key element in the Essene legacy which Christianity inherited, the foundation of the New Testament.
Scrolls scholars have been supposedly searching for the historical identification of the Teacher of Righteousness for more than fifty years. This is the Holy Grail of Scrolls research, especially if it can provide the vital link, the ‘smoking cross,’ to the mythology of the Gospels.
The Teacher was recognised by the Essenes as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah and there have always been suspicions, mostly not clearly articulated, that the Essenes’ historical Messiah might lie behind the portrait of Christ, the mythical Messiah we seem to find in the Gospels. Onias’ name has been tentatively suggested from the beginning.
We have Theodotian’s clear association of Onias with Messianic status in the Book of Daniel, written just at the time of Onias’ death. This even includes a unique reference to a Messianic ‘covenant’ which chimes precisely and resoundingly with our knowledge of the Teacher and his sect. We have convincing evidence the Essenes were indeed closely connected with the Temple and the authorship of Daniel at this early date. We even have persuasive evidence Theodotian was associated with the Essenes and had inside knowledge.
More detailed examination will show Onias’ story fits very well with the crucial scraps of information we have of the Teacher of Righteousness. Above all, if Onias is recognised as the founder and Messiah of the Essenes, we find an explanation for much of the character of the sect, not least their extraordinary priest-dominated structure and the very elevated opinion they had of themselves : as superior to the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem. This opinion seems to have been shared by their contemporaries, including the pre-eminent historian of the times, Josephus. The Essenes called themselves ‘the true Zadokites,’ followers of the true High Priest. Because they were.
Yet scholars have not rushed to venture upon these stormy waters, assailed as they would be by waves of horrified hordes, the collective wrath of orthodoxy.
All of this evidence will be questioned and dismissed, much as those with an ulterior agenda have dismissed the evidence for Evolution, Global Warming, the Holocaust … The evidence for Onias as the historical Messiah does not undermine the Christ of the Gospels. On the contrary. It complements the Gospel portrait, running on a parallel track. It should be welcomed. This evidence gives credibility to the Gospels’ spiritual truth, by providing the historical foundation. The absence of a sound historical foundation has fatally undermined the Gospels’ message, making it simply unbelievable for many millions of modern minds. Inquiring minds tuned to the new spirit of the new age.
It is not just the Christians who will be reluctant after two thousand years to meet the real Christ, in the flesh as it were, stepping out of the safe pages of the Gospels. Where he can be safely interpreted, safely ignored. The Jews still await their promised Anointed One but if he does come, will they welcome him any better than they did last time ? Truth and especially prophets and have always spelt uncomfortable trouble. After millennia of insisting Jesus was not the one, are they going to be pleased to hear they missed their Messiah after all ? A Messiah recognised by their own scriptures.
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