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Gnostics, Mani etc.

Perhaps I am missing something here that is important but I thought that it
was a generally accepted principle that it really isn't accurate to talk
about "Essene thought" per se surviving into the Middle Ages.  It seemed to
me that whatever it was the Essene's thought or wrote is better understood as
part of a continum of ideas or notions that predated the Essenes.  For
example, zoroastrian theology posed Mithras as the son of Ahura-Mazda, the
God of Light and Mithras was engaged in a war against the powers of darkness.
 As I understand it, zoroastrians held the seventh day of each week as sacred
to the sun-god and celebrated Mithras' birthday toward the end of December
and believed that life represented a war between the holy forces of light and
the power of darkness.  Supposedly, in the end Mitras would come to judge all
men and establish an everlasting reign of righteousness and peace.
 Similarly, the book of Enoch (170 - 66 B.C.E. ?) recounts the fall of Satan
and his cohorts, the consequent intrusion of evil and suffering in human life
and the redemption of mankind by a Messiah.  I also thought that Gnosticism
antedated Christianity and claimed theories of a Savior before C.E.  Of
course, these are not my original thoughts.  But isn't it more accurate to
see the Essenes as point along a line or a branch of a tree rather than as
the place of beginning?  Mark Dunn