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A note on the Qumran sectarians, the Essenes and Josephus

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Chapter Summary

The basis of the Essenes hypothesis lies in the similarities between the communal life laid down in the sectarian rules and the communal life ascribed to the Essenes by some of the Greek and Latin authors who referred to them. It is easy to show that all the extant literary sources apart from Josephus provide only a partial picture of first-century Judaism. The only ancient author to mention Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and Judaeo-Christians as well as Essenes, was Josephus. Josephus described the three old philosophies in order to claim that a fourth group had made a major historical impact on first-century Judaea. The details which have led scholars to identify the Qumran sectarians with other Jewish groups can be most plausibly explained by the common origin of all such groups in first-century Judaism.

Keywords: Essenes; Josephus; Judaism; Pharisees; Qumran sectarians; Sadducees; Zealots



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