He [Philo of Alexandria] arrived during Passover and observed their [Jessaeans] customs, and how some of them kept the holy week of Passover (only) after a postponement of it, but others by eating every other day – though others, indeed, ate each evening.
– Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion 29.5.1
This post is all just speculation, but I decided to write it anyway. So in the above quote, Epiphanius (writing in the fourth century) thinks that the Essenes (Jessaeans) were the Nazarenes, or early Christianity. But, the “Essenes” were around long before Jesus. I know a lot of people think that there’s a link between the Essenes and Christianity, but I’m still not entirely sure.
“Essenes” (εσσηνοι) is a Greek word, unlike Pharisee and Sadducee. It’s weird, in my opinion, for a highly ascetic group of religious Jews to have a Greek name for the name of their sect. Another weird thing about the Essenes is that they were supposedly all celibate and didn’t marry.
Jesus is a Greek name as well though. Jesus also seemed to be celibate and didn’t marry. Jesus’ brother, James the Just, also seemed to be celibate. Epiphanius thought that the (Jessaeans) Essenes were the early Christians and/or the Nazarenes. What’s going on here? The Ebionites, on the other hand, said that only members of Jesus’ family should be overseers of the new religion.
Did Jesus even have any other family? Why don’t we know anything about them? What if Jesus’ “brothers” were only the other members of the Essenes – since it was an all-male branch of initiates? What if he did have other family, but they thought he was part of some crazy cult (Essenes/Nazarenes)? Or what if he had other family, but this didn’t fit well with the type of power structure (i.e. non-Jewish) that the proto-Orthodox church wanted?
And then there’s the Dead Sea Scrolls, thought to belong to the Essenes. With their “Gabriel’s Revelation” of a messiah being brought back to life in three days, their messainic banquets, a “new covenant” borne from “living water”. Their “Teacher of Righteousness” who they likened to Joshua son of Nun? Joshua, which is “Jesus” in Greek, and “Chrestos” (χρηστος) meaning “good” in Greek is similar to “Christ” (χριστος)? Why did the Essenes disappear right when Christianity started becoming popular? It’s all highly coincidental.
What if the “Notzrim” were actually the Essenes? Notzrim is a Hebrew word, not Essenes…