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Faithlife

Essenes and Law

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Habermaus gives the differences between how Jesus' teachings are different from the Essene Law:    

(1)     Jesus opposed legalism, whereas the Essenes held strictly to it

(2)     Jesus also opposed ceremonial purity, while the Essenes, again, adhered meticulously to it.

(3)     Jesus associated with common people and “sinners,” whereas such activity was appalling to the Essenes.

(4)     The sinlessness of Jesus is in contrast to the Essene teaching that even the Messiah would be purified from sin by suffering.

(5)     Jesus combined several messianic aspects, while the Qumran community was looking for two (or even three) different messiahs.

(6)     Jesus did not teach a strong hierarchy among his followers, while the Essenes imposed strict social rules.

(7)     Jesus’ group was open, but the Essene community was closed.

(8)     Jesus’ ministry was public, while the Essenes were very private.

(9)     Jesus’ teachings were oral, whereas the Essenes emphasized writing and copying.

(10)     Jesus’ manner of teaching was clear, not obtuse as in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

(11)     Jesus had no formal training, in contrast to those from the Qumran community.

(12)     Healing was a major part of Jesus’ ministry, but this aspect was not emphasized at Qumran.

(13)     The teaching of love was Jesus’ major ethical message, but does not appear in Essene teachings.

(14)     Jesus’ ethics are closer to Rabbinic literature than to Qumran.

(15)     Jesus had a more positive admiration for the Old Testament prophets than did the Essenes.

(16)     Jesus did not emphasize angelology as much as did the Qumran community.

(17)     Jesus’ central teaching was the Kingdom of God, whereas the Essenes give little or no place to the concept.

(18)     For Jesus, salvation was straightforward, while the Essenes had an elaborate initiation system.

(19)     Jesus taught that salvation would also be extended to the Gentiles while the Essenes were more exlusivistic.

(20)     Jesus was missionary-minded, while the Essenes were not.

(21)     According to Josephus, the Essenes taught the immortality of the soul, in contrast to the Christian teaching of the resurrection of the body.


Source: Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus : Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub. Co., 1996). 78./, January 1, 2006

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