Scala/Art Resource, NY

“Blessed are you who are poor,” Jesus tells his disciples during the Sermon on the Plain, in the Gospel of Luke (6:24). In the Gospel of Matthew, during the Sermon on the Mount, shown here, Jesus blesses instead the humble and the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3, 5). The Italian Renaissance master Fra Angelico (1387–1455) painted the scene on the wall of a monk’s cell in the mendicant Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence. Only two ancient Jewish sources recognize poverty as a moral value: the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Might Jesus have learned to cherish poverty from the Essene community that left their scrolls in caves near Qumran, beside the Dead Sea?