[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

DSS- Gnostic parellels?

Does anyone care to comment on the similarities between Josephus' 
rendering of the Essene doctrine compared to early Manichaeistic thought?


1) (Jospehus- Wars 2:8.11) [regarding the doctrine of the Essenes] "... 
bodies are corruptible, and that matter they are made of is not 
permanent; but that souls are immortal, and continue forever; and that 
they come out of the most subtle air, and are united to their bodies as 
in prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement".

                compared to...

2) (Barnstone- The Other Bible- pg 674) [regarding the doctrine of Mani] 
".... every personal and public rite had but one end in view: escape from 
the trap of the body and the dark material world in order to rise through 
the spheres and merge one's divine luminous particles, the soul, redeemed 
and returned to the realm of light"

Mani proclaimed himself the 'twin spirit"; the Essenes [assuming, of 
course that the scribes of the Qumran scrolls were in fact Essenes] 
elaborate quite extensively upon the 'two spirits in man' in 1QS:

               a. Essenes: " For God has established the two spirits in 
                             equal measure..." [1QS]
               b. Essenes: " He created man... and made for him two spirits..
                             of truth... and of error..." (1QS)
               c. Manichaeists: " ... and those two souls, or two spirits
                                  the one good and the other evil..."
                                [de haeresibus ad Quodvultdeum- Augistine]

It is generally acknowledged that Josephus had possibly first hand 
knowledge of the 'sect' of Essenes'... at very least he appears (from the 
volume of text he devoted to the Essenes) to have more knowledge of the 
Essenes than of the other prevailing sects of 1st century Palestine.  If 
this would be the case, and Josephus rendering of the doctrine of the 
Essenes is to some degree accurate, then it is clear that at least some 
form of Essene thought survived beyond the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 
ce.  Any thoughts???

Vernon Chadwick
Charlotte, NC