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THE ESSENES...THE STORY OF CHRISTIAN ORIGINS

The religious faith of the occident, or the western world, consists substantially of a synthesis of beliefs and doctrines which had their origin in many lands and among various peoples and which were combined and proclaimed in what we may call the New Testament. Dispersed among the New Testament is this synthesis of religious beliefs amidst Biblical Judaism. The creeds, disciplines, and dogmas on which almost all the churches of Europe and the Americas and many of those in Asia are based, purport to derive their authority from these Gospels and Epistles; and all these multifarious communions proclaim that theirs is the religion established by Jesus, whom they revere as the Christ.

The principal concepts of the Christian Gospels, which have played so crucial a role in occidental life, can be traced to their ultimate sources. Over the last 15 years scores of old as well as modern books and hundreds of articles in encyclopedias were first read by way of orientation; but, since recondite knowledge is to be had only by a minute study of the sources, this soon became an industry. More than four years were consumed in the intensive study of ancient Egyptian, Persian, Brahmana, Gaina, Buddhist, Judaistic, Essene, and Christian literature. Quotations were copied and organized for easy reference. All the major streams of thought were then carefully analyzed. Important elements from various ancient cultures were discovered to have converged, first, in the Pythagorean thiasoi and then in the Essene Order, whence the Christian Gospel emerged, which, in turn, proceeded to penetrate the emotions and to achieve dominion over the Graeco-Roman world.

THE ESSENE RELIGIOUS SYNTHESIS

The Essenes, lately the object of so much attention, play a central role in our drama. They were an extraordinary group of Jewish communist-celibates who, in their formative stage about 170 B.C.E., absorbed the metaphysics and the eschatology of the Zoroastrians, and then, some sixty-five years later, by becoming Pythagoreans, incorporated into their system much of the discipline and soteriology of Attis, Dionysus and the mystery-cults of Greece and Asia Minor. Upon all this, they engrafted a Christology which combined a Persian with a Messianic Judaic concept, which, in a period of crisis, they personalized in their martyred Teacher of Righteousness, whom they expected to return upon the clouds about 35-30 B. C., accompanied by myriads of angels to conduct the Last Judgment. If you were to invest study into these areas it would be your conclusion, based on the evidence and facts available for your inspection, that Jesus was an Essene who, convinced that he was himself the incarnate Christ destined to redeem and judge mankind, left the Order of the Essenes (strict Pharisees) for the purpose of creating a mass-movement.

The certainty finally emerges that Christianity was a highly composite doctrine which combined many of the age-old religious concepts first developed by Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, India, Buddhists, and Greeks, as well as by Jews, Phrygians, Syrians, and other inhabitants of Asia Minor. It was congenitally related to all of these; and when any of them accepted Christianity, they were simply recovering what was, at least in part, originally their own.

This religious synthesis explains the ease at which Gentile Christianity became a world religion, yet had its roots in a Jewish movement.

In the light of worldwide anti-Semitism this is amazing to say the least.

We at Bet Emet feel that the realization of this fact must induce among all sectarians a definite humility, which should in turn, contribute toward eliminating those doctrinal differences which divide our society into a multiplicity of groups shut off from each other by ideological barriers, as if we all lived in hermetically sealed compartments, incapable of fellowship or communion.

THE CORE OF ESSENE TEACHING IN RELATIONSHIP TO SALVATION

Mature Essenism taught the following concepts as synthesized from Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Buddhists, and Greeks, as well as by Jews, Phrygians, Syrians:

This was the Essene-Christian faith, which is also the religion of the occident.

This gospel consists primarily of four basic elements: soteriology, eschatology, ethics, and the Messianic concept. If one is to be honest with the material available in relationship to Christian doctrine and dogma, he must first consider the sources of this Essene soteriology, that is to say, its doctrine concerning the incarnate godman who dies for humanity and whose body and blood must be consumed sacramentally so that the Elect may become divine and immortal. As you see salvation did not come from faith and obedience, but though mystic rituals involved in the eating allegorically the flesh of a godman and the symbolic drinking of the blood of this godman. The trail leads us first to the Nile, where civilization and organized religion began in the dim reaches of tile prehistoric past.

The first officially authentic Essene scriptures were published shortly after an Arab goatherd, following one of his animals, stumbled into a cave near the Dead Sea, where a treasure-trove of ancient documents was found, several of which were virtually intact. By a strange succession of fortunate incidents, these were quickly published, and that made available to the world.

This set off one of the most intensive archeological hunts in history; scholars and scientists hastened to the Judaean desert in search of additional Scrolls. In this, they were signally successful: remnants, large and small, of hundreds of Essene scriptures were recovered, all of which had been secreted in sealed jars about 69 A.D. Material was found in at least five caves, of which that in Cave 4 alone constituted a corpus of original Essene scripture sufficient, should it be translated and published, to fill two volumes the size of the King James version of the Bible.

Then, however, strange things began to occur. In the beginning, and for several years, no portion of this treasure, deposited in the Jordanian Museum in Jerusalem, has been published, or even made available to scholars. Of the 8 men, appointed to collate, arrange, publish, and translate these documents, 4 were Roman Catholics; and only John Marco Allegro, the English researcher, was without denominational affiliation. When he quickly translated and published the Copper Scroll and the few fragments entrusted to him; and then when he declared that the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, executed by the Jewish priests about 70-68 B.C., may have been crucified, he was denied all further access to the Scroll material.

As year after year passed away without the appearance of any more Essene scripture, although from time to time elaborate promises were made that they would soon be available, many began to question the reasons for the delay and the concealment.

Since then, ample time has elapsed for the preparation and publication of all Essene material. But not one line of the hundreds of pages found in the caves has been released until the last few years.

Although additional Essene scriptures failed to appear, there was a plethora of books and articles dealing with the cult and its Scrolls during the years following 1950. Dozens of books and hundreds of articles, expressing every conceivable point of view, have appeared. It is probable that a complete bibliography of all material printed in this field might comprise somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 titles.

During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish force overran Jerusalem and captured the Jordanian Museum. To the best of our knowledge, nothing has been published concerning the fate or the whereabouts of the Essene Scrolls—the most precious concentration of ancient literature ever discovered in modern times.

Until recently no outsider, of course, knew the contents of these documents; but it seems difficult to doubt that there was a constructive conspiracy to conceal them and to prevent their publication. All discussion concerning the Scrolls seems to have been silenced for years and only recently all the contents of the scrolls have been made public.

The motive for this concealment, we believe, is not far to seek. Although the evidence linking pristine Christianity to the Dead Sea Covenanters is already very substantial, there are still men of stature who deny the existence of such a relation. ship. With the release of the later documents, it was established beyond all doubt that Christianity grew out of Essenism.

The concealing the Essene scriptures for years was an concerted effort by Christian religious authorities in hopes of preventing or forestalling the the verification made from them that pristine Christianity developed from an esoteric Jewish cult which had forsaken Judaism as we understand it and gravitated toward a Pythagorean, Buddhist, Iranian apocalyptic sect. We believe, secondly, that the whole orthodox or so-called Christian world, with its material assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars, wishes to preserve the myth of its unique origin, founded on the inspired message of a god-man whose only source of doctrine or inspiration was the creator of the universe. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove otherwise!

The vested interests of those religious communities are therefore at stake; they will not, if they can prevent it, permit the publication of authentic materials which may eventually reduce their influence and credibility and, more importantly, cause a decline in their wealth and income. Thankfully, they forestalled the publication of these scrolls but could not prevent it.

Since most people read only what reinforces the persuasions they have already accepted, we realize that few indeed among those already committed to some creed will be motivated to read these articles. Edwin Franden Dakin once remarked that the greatest miracle in the world is the capacity of humanity to believe—without evidence. Most people are nurtured by their delusions. However, true education or enlightenment cannot exist except among those who follow St. Paul's dictum to try all things and in the end retain the good.

In these articles and web-pages, therefore, we have sought the truth concerning Gentile Christianity and how it borrowed from all religions by examining their own sacred scriptures: our position being that if these are internally unassailable, they probably constitute a solid foundation for faith. However, if they are filled with discrepancies, contradictions, and presentations which are mutually exclusive; if they are patently false or even ridiculous on their face, how can those who rely on them for ultimate truth confirm themselves in their belief except by refusing to examine the most obvious facts? How can divine infallibility be claimed for "revelations" which bear every earmark of forgery or folk-myth?

We have submitted the evidence and conclusions found in the following pages to critics everywhere who would assuredly be delighted to demonstrate their error or fallacy; but, since they cannot deny the words of their own official Scriptures, no one has been able to impugn anything we have written. It is one thing to deny something; but it is entirely another thing to refute it. Emotion and zeal is a poor substitute for facts and evidence!

We are well aware of how desperately suffering humanity craves the consolation of religion, and we do not for a moment deny that millions obtain this from delusions which are as unfounded as they are irrational and untruthful. Again, what we don't know will not hurt us...until we die and find out we were wrong!

We believe, however, that it is possible for an increasing number of men and women to develop and embrace a system of ethics and intellectual superstructure which will create a happy and successful life without the fear of imagined specters or a dependence upon false dogmas. Many are they who have done so. We at Bet Emet look forward to a time when a large portion of the human race will obtain the moral and intellectual elevation which will enable them to live according to truths revealed by God and not by the false religious beliefs of men desiring power and authority over the people. Shalom.