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  • noun

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a member of an ascetic Jewish sect around the time of Jesus

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While Pliny and other non-Jewish authors describe a single isolated community living near the Dead Sea, which seems to support the Essene hypothesis, Josephus and Philo tell of a less isolated community settled throughout the country, thus indicating that Essenism was a more widespread movement.
In contrast, the Enochic/Essene hypothesis understands Essenism as the parent movement, of which the Qumran community was a radical, dissident, and marginal offspring.
It is not especially remarkable (if also not proven) to link John the Baptist and his ritual with Essenism.
The Beloved Disciple therefore stands as a linking figure in a three-pointed configuration of associations between the Baptist (and later Jesus), the Sadducean hierarchy, and an Essenism close to that of Qumran.
Excavations at Qumran show that the site of the monastic `headquarters' of Essenism there was uninhabited from about 40-37 BC to somewhere between 4 BC and AD 6.