Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ESSENES

Pre-Christian Jewish groups of ascetics, not mentioned either in the Bible or the Talmud but referred to by Philo (20 B.C.-C. A.D. 40), Josephus (A.D. 37-c. 100), and the elder Pliny (A.D. 23-79). The name probably means "the pious ones." They seem to have begun in the second century before Christ, to have gone out of existence in the second century after Christ, and to have always remained in Palestine. The numbered about four thousand, according to Josephus, in the late first century A.D. They were an exclusive society, engaged mainly in agriculture. In general they renounced marriage, without denying its value, and recruited their ranks by adopting young children. They practiced the strictest community life, and also a vigorous caste system. Along with considerable superstition, they believed in Yahweh and in immortality. They had been almost forgotten in religious history, until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. A.most certainly it was a community of Essenes that produced the treasure of literature found at Qumran, near the Dead Sea. (Etym. Greek hosioi, the saintly or religious; or Aramaic, the silent ones.)

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Islamic roots of terrorism must be addressed 1 hours ago
Each of us is destined to marry Jesus Christ 18 hours ago
From simple husband to ascetical priest 24 hours ago
St. Augustine's warning to pastors September 18
Side effects of the Pill? Oh, don't worry. September 17

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Cardinals criticize Kasper proposal, escalating debate on remarriage/Communion CWN - 18 hours ago