The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the Synoptics, from the Greek for “seeing together,” because when they are printed side-by-side in columns their correspondences can be seen at a glance.


See Otto Betz, “Was John the Baptist an Essene?Bible Review, December 1990.



Edmund Wilson, The Scrolls from the Dead Sea (New York: Oxford, 1955), p. 104.


Pace Martin Goodman, “A Note on Qumran Sectarians, the Essenes and Josephus,” Journal of Jewish Studies 46 (1995), pp. 161–166.


David Flusser, “The Social Message from Qumran,” Journal of World History 1 (1968), pp. 107–115.


Josephus, Jewish War 2.122.


1QS 6.18-20.


1QH 18.29-30.


In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, it is the “poor in spirit” instead of simply the “poor,” as in Luke. I believe it can be shown that the two describe the same condition of material poverty. “Poor in spirit” does not mean dumb, but just the opposite: those who have been endowed with the spirit.”


Cf. E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1993), pp. 198–201.


From authors contemporaneous with the Essenes (Philo, Josephus and Pliny the Elder), we learn that there were two “orders” in this movement: one of celibates and one that led normal family lives. For example, Josephus writes, “Marriage they disdain” (Jewish War 2.120) but he also says, “There is another order of Essenes…they think that those that decline to marry cut off the chief function of life…They have no intercourse (with their wives) during pregnancy, thus showing that their motive in marrying is not self indulgence but the procreation of children” (Jewish War 2.160).

The existence of the two orders can be inferred also from the scrolls. It seems that the Manual of Discipline was written for the celibates and the Damascus Document for the married. See Joseph M. Baumgarten, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), vol. 1, pp. 122–125.


CD 4:20–21.


11QT 57.17-19.


Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Divorce Among First-Century Jews,” Eretz Israel 14 (1978), pp. 103–110; “Marriage and Divorce,” Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), vol. 1, pp. 512–513. But both the Temple Scroll (11 QT 59.4-5) and a newly published manuscript of the Damascus Document (CD 13.16-17) mention divorce.