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Headword: Ἐσσαῖοι
Adler number: epsilon,3123
Translated headword: Essenes, Essaioi
Vetting Status: high
Jews, ascetics, who greatly surpass Pharisees and scribes in their mode of life;[1] progeny of Jonadab, [who was the] son of Rechab the righteous. They are fond of one another and more pious than others: they turn away from pleasure as from an evil, but they regard moderation and self-control and the capacity not to succumb to passions as virtue[s]. And marriage is despised among them, but taking to themselves other people's children while they are still young and teaching them, they consider them as kin, and stamp them with their own customs. And they reject all baseness and practice every other virtue. They cultivate moral speech, and are generally assiduous in contemplation. And hence they are called Essaioi, with the name signifying this, that is, [they are] contemplators.[2]
Essaioi very much excel and are very much superior to the Pharisees in their mode of life.[3]
Greek Original:
Ἐσσαῖοι: Ἰουδαῖοι, ἀσκηταί, Φαρισαίων καὶ γραμματέων τὴν ἄσκησιν ἐξ ἐπιμέτρου διανεστηκότες, πρόγονοι Ἰωναδάβ, υἱοῦ Ῥιχὰβ τοῦ δικαίου. φιλάλληλοι καὶ τῶν ἄλλων εὐλαβεῖς πλεῖον: οἳ τὴν μὲν ἡδονὴν ὡς κακίαν ἀποστρέφονται, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην καὶ ἐγκράτειαν καὶ τὸ μὴ τοῖς πάθεσιν ὑποπίπτειν ἀρετὴν ὑπολαμβάνουσι. καὶ γάμος μὲν παρ' αὐτοῖς ὑπερορᾶται, ἀλλοτρίους δὲ παῖδας νέους ἔτι προσλαμβανόμενοι καὶ διδάσκοντες ὡς συγγενεῖς ἡγοῦνται καὶ τοῖς ἤθεσιν ἑαυτῶν ἐντυποῦσι. καὶ πᾶν αἰσχρὸν ἀποβάλλονται καὶ πᾶσαν ἄλλην ἀρετὴν ἐξασκοῦσιν. οἳ ἐπιμελοῦνται τῆς ἠθικῆς λέξεως, θεωρίᾳ δὲ τὰ πολλὰ παραμένουσιν. ἔνθεν καὶ Ἐσσαῖοι καλοῦνται, τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ ὀνόματος, τουτέστι θεωρητικοί. ὅτι Ἐσσαῖοι ὑπέρτεροι σφόδρα καὶ λίαν ὑπερκείμενοι τῶν Φαρισαίων κατὰ τὴν πολιτείαν.
[1] cf. epsilon 1632.
[2] George the Monk, Chronicon 1.328.7-10, 329.11-17, 344.19-21. The Essaioi or Essenoi are mentioned by Philo, Josephus, Pliny, and later authors (see Catholic Encyclopedia entry by E.P. Graham at web address 1, Jewish Encyclopedia entry by Kaufmann Kohler at web address 2). Various etymologies of the name have been proposed, starting with Philo's suggestion of a derivation from Greek ὅσιος (Every Good Man is Free 12). However, no plausible proposed etymology would explain why George the Monk makes a semantic connection between the name Essaioi and contemplation (θεωρία ).
[3] Quoted from phi 94.
Stephen Goranson, "Essenes," Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East (1997) v.2, pp. 268-9
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: children; Christianity; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; religion
Translated by: George Brooks on 22 August 2002@08:37:42.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 22 August 2002@11:27:47.
Catharine Roth (modified notes, with input from Jeffrey B. Gibson) on 1 March 2003@17:08:06.
Catharine Roth (augmented notes, added links) on 3 March 2003@00:48:23.
Catharine Roth on 3 March 2003@00:49:27.
Catharine Roth (reduced notes) on 5 March 2003@10:53:31.
Catharine Roth (added bibliographical item) on 1 May 2003@00:14:12.
Catharine Roth (added another link) on 23 April 2005@12:02:18.
Catharine Roth on 23 April 2005@12:03:03.
David Whitehead (tweaks to translation; restorative cosmetics) on 24 April 2005@07:34:13.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 16 November 2005@08:15:12.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 1 December 2005@08:27:10.
David Whitehead on 30 October 2012@07:42:16.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 5 November 2012@00:11:25.
David Whitehead on 5 November 2012@03:08:27.


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