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Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins
New Light on Ancient Texts and Communities

By Simon J. Joseph

Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins
This edition is not available yet, but we welcome you to place a pre-order.
Hardback, 240 pages $39.95
Published: 1st April 2018
ISBN: 9781481307765
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All History, Church History, Historical Theology, New Testament, Second Temple

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves near Qumran in 1947 sparked near endless speculation about the possible connections between the Essenes—purportedly the inhabitants of the settlement—and the birth, nature, and growth of early Christianity. Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins sheds new light on this old question by reexamining the complex relationships among Qumran, the historical Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian origins within first-century Palestinian Judaism.

Author Simon J. Joseph’s careful examination of a number of distinctive passages in the Jesus tradition in light of Qumran-Essene texts focuses on major points of contact between the Qumran-Essene community and early Christianity in four areas of belief and practice: covenant identity, messianism, eschatology, and halakhah (legal interpretation), placing the weight of his argument for continuity and discontinuity on the halakhic topics of divorce, Sabbath, sacrifice, celibacy, and violence.

Joseph focuses on the historical, cultural, chronological, and theological correspondences as convergence. This not only illuminates the historical Jesus’ teachings as distinctive, developing and extending earlier Jewish ethical and halakhic thought, it also clarifies the emergence of early Christianity in relationship to Palestinian Essenism. By bringing this holistic analysis of the evidence to bear, Joseph adds a powerful and insightful voice to the decades-long debate surrounding the Essenes and Christianity.

"The Essenes—variously defined—have been invoked to understand Jesus and the rise of Christianity for centuries. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, an invaluable resource for study became available, but claims in regard to Jesus’ relationship to the community at Qumran have continued to burgeon uncritically. Simon Joseph’s skillful treatment puts the systematic comparison of Jesus and the Scrolls on a sound and productive footing. The result is a sensible evaluation of Jesus in relation to those behind the production of the Dead Sea Scrolls, comparatively assessing teaching in regard to divorce, celibacy, violence, Sabbath, and sacrifice."

—Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion, Bard College

"Simon Joseph shows his in-depth acquaintance with the ancient literature of and about the Essenes of the last centuries of the pre-Christian era and the scholarly literature about them. His knowledge of the extensive scholarly literature about the Qumran library is impressive even for a specialist in the field. I heartily recommend Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins to anyone who seeks to master this highly important area of New Testament study."

—James A. Sanders, Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University

Simon J. Joseph teaches in the Department of Religion at California Lutheran University. He is the author of Jesus, Q, and the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Judaic Approach to Q, The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition, and Jesus and the Temple: The Crucifixion in Its Jewish Context. Dr. Joseph is also an elected member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS).

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 240 pages
 9in x 6in

  HIS019000, REL006220, REL015000
 Baylor University Press

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