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The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea$
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Joan E. Taylor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554485

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554485.001.0001

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Conclusions: The Essential Essenes

Conclusions: The Essential Essenes

(p.195) 8 Conclusions: The Essential Essenes
The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea

Joan E. Taylor

Oxford University Press

Reading for the historical Essenes in the wide range of sources available, it is clear that the Essenes were a powerful legal society or school at the heart of Second Temple Judaism, supported by the Herodian dynasty and highly esteemed. Opponents of the Hasmoneans of the 2nd-1st centuries bce, they had risen in influence and appear as ‘Herodians’ in the Gospel of Mark, testing Jesus. Their main features are summarised: a large number of adherents, widespread distribution throughout Judaea, Jerusalem activity, public offices, practical labour, communality, legal autonomy, strict entrance procedures, celibacy or ascetic sexual practices in marriage, shared money possessions, including clothing; election of leaders; emulation of priestly modes; an extreme focus on purity; a strong focus on predictive arts and knowledge of healing (by plants, minerals and esoteric wisdom), and so on.

Keywords:   Essenes, Herodians, Jerusalem, Judaea, celibacy, predictive arts, healing

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