The Essenes were a Jewish sect that existed during the first century AD, primarily known from references in historical accounts and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a distinct religious community that lived in various locations, including Qumran near the Dead Sea.
The Essenes were known for their strict adherence to religious practices and their focus on spiritual purity. They practiced communal living, with shared property and a common way of life. They placed a strong emphasis on:
strict observance of the Sabbath, and the
study of sacred texts.
The Essenes engaged in ritual immersion, or baptism, as a form of purification. They believed in an imminent apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and evil and anticipated the coming of a messianic figure.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the mid-20th century, provided valuable insights into the beliefs and practices of the Essenes. These scrolls contained religious texts, commentaries, community rules, and various other writings. The texts reveal a rich and complex religious worldview, including interpretations of biblical texts, liturgical practices, and community regulations.
It is important to note that the Essenes are not directly mentioned in the New Testament, but their teachings and practices may have influenced the broader Jewish context during the time of Jesus and the early Christian movement.