Is Jesus an Essene?

The answer is “No.”

There was a spectrum of Jewish beliefs and practices near the turn of the era. There are many differences between those Jews who adhered to Essene beliefs (including both “normal” believers in Jerusalem vs. the “gang-ho” covenanters out at Qumran), and there were differences in beliefs within Pharisaism: the “school of Hillel” vs. the “school of Shammai.” There were also differences between Christians: those who had been Jews vs. new gentile converts regarding whether the deeds of the Torah were required for gentiles. So, we do not have sufficient focus in our sources to decide.

BUT, though Christianity was much closer on the spectrum to Essenes beliefs and practices vs. rabbinic beliefs and practices, there are a number of significant differences between the Essenes and Christianity.

The motto of the Essenes (The Rule of the Community) could be stated: “Hate your enemies”; vs. Jesus command: “love your enemies.” Importantly, for Christianity the Messiah has already come; for the Essenes the messiah is still anticipated; etc.

Eli Soriano of ANG DATING DAAN was asked if Jesus is an Essene and he answered no. I agree with some of his arguments but when Soriano said, “The teachings of the Essenic community such as Celibacy and purification by water rituals (among others) are contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even His apostles were not forbidden to marry by Jesus.”

Regarding the claim: “Celibacy and purification by water rituals … are contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” — Not fully true. Jesus was baptized with water by John, and Apostle Paul advocated celibacy for some (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 32, 35).

Regarding ancient sources, not only Josephus, but Pliny the Elder in his Natural History also writes about the Essenes. And Josephus gives only one paragraph about the Essenes; but he was describing the Essenes to a Roman audience and seems to have described the group isolated at Qumran (think celibacy), not the larger, more balanced Essene population in Jerusalem and the rest of the country.