Etymology of the term disputed.A Jewish ascetic monastic group mentioned by Philo Judaeus*, F. Josephus,* and Pliny* the Elder. Seem to have originated ca. 2d c. BC and existed into 2d c. AD Most important settlement on the W shore of the Dead Sea. Emphasized simplicity, piety, sacramental meals, fixed times for prayer. Taught dualism of light and darkness and had own solar festive calendar. Regarded themselves as people of new covenant. Classes: priests, Levites, mems., novitiates. The view that John the Baptist and Jesus were connected with Essenes is gen. rejected. See also Asceticism; Dead Sea Scrolls.
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