Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

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Essenes, Esoteric legends about
(2,214 words)

The Essenes were a distinct group of Jews which, until the 20th century, was known only from a few descriptions in Greek and Latin texts. They are described by Philo in Hypothetica (11.1-18) and Every Good Man Is Free (12.75-13.91). Josephus writes of the Essenes in passages of several of his books. The most detailed description is found in The Jewish War (2.119-161). A shorter passage on them is included in Jewish Antiquities (18.18-22). Pliny the Elder wrote briefly about the Essenes in his Natural History (5.73). Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1947, …

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Hammer, Olav and Snoek, Jan A.M., “Essenes, Esoteric legends about”, in: Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism. Consulted online on 27 February 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1873-8338_dgwe_DGWE_110>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004141872, 20061031



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