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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Is Freemasonry A Revival Of Essenism

Is Freemasonry A Revival Of Essenism Cover No.

A common vehicle for attacking Freemasonry is to identify it with some "ism," no matter that the "ism" may never have existed as a discrete, definable belief structure.

Essenism is a term that means whatever the user wants. It can refer to the Essenes who flourished near the west shore of the Dead Sea from about 150 BCE to the end of the first century CE and who some authors such as Thomas de Quincey defined, without solid proof, as the first Christians.

Or it can refer to the mystical beliefs of something termed Essene Nazorean Christianity, as practiced by such contemporary group as the Essene Church of Christ, the Essene Nazorean Church of Mt. Carmel, the New Covenant Church of God (B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh) and the Restored Essene Church. It could be said that many, calling themselves Essenes, have no real claim to the name other than an interest in either history or health.

The term essenism can also refer to a denial of the divinity of Jesus. The "essene theory" was an early eighteenth century attempt to invent "natural" explanations for scripture. Authors such as Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1784-1792), Karl Heinrich Venturini (1800), August Friedrich Gfrorer (1831-38), Charles Christian Hennell (1840), and Richard von der Alm [pseudonym of Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany] (1863) promoted the idea that Jesus had been controlled by the Essenes.

The "Essene Epistle" first appeared in German, printed in Leipzig 1849 and financed by an unidentified "German Brotherhood". The Dead Sea Scrolls clearly demonstrate that this epistle was a hoax. Its influence has nonetheless been enormous, with several new editions in print. It is used by the half-islamic Ahmadiyya movement as evidence for some of their beliefs. Several later books, such as Jeshoua the Nazir and The Gospel of Peace were clearly dependent on the "Essene Epistle" for their ideas and style.

The beliefs and practices of "Essenism" range from extreme vegetarianism to channelling spirits. Both the Spiritualism of Edger Cayce and such books by Dr. Edmond B. Szekely as the Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ play a role in these beliefs.

Current Essenism utilizes a number of texts. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, allegedly discovered in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet in the late 1800s by a Catholic priest, is claimed by some, without proof, to be the source of the four Gospels although much of it appears to be a direct plagiarisation of the 1611 King James Version.4 As with The Life of St. Issa by Notovitch, no hard evidence for the existence of source manuscripts exist.

Unrelated to current claimants to the Essene mantle, the Mandaeans are a small remnant of the ancient Nazoreans who live mostly in Iran and Iraq. Well documented by academics, they believe Jesus was a Nazorean but their texts, edited by Ramuia around 640 CE, contain "a number of negative interpolations against the Romanized version of Christ, Christianity and Islam." 5 They do not accept converts. It has been postulated that there were different kinds of Essenism. At Qumran, there was a group of Pharisees and Essenes, and another group of Sadducees with Essenes. The Pharisee-Essene group eventually became Mandaean, and the Sadducee-Essene group became Christian. This is only an hypotheses.

None of this has anything to do with Freemasonry. The belief held by some freemasons and non-masons that there is a link between Freemasonry, through the Knights Templar, to the Essene community in Qumran is the product of several recently published popular books such as The Hiram Key, reinforced by wishful thinking.

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