Pope Benedict on Jesus and the Essene calendar - clear this up for me will you?


#1

Ok, so i’m a bit late to this info since it was many years ago, but i’m reading tidbits online that say Pope Benedict connected Jesus to the Essenes in terms of when and how he celebrated the last supper - see here:

It is likely that Jesus followed the calendar of the Essenes of Qumran, possibly explaining some contradictions within the Gospel accounts of the Passover, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this observation Holy Thursday in his homily during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In his address, the theologian commented on the historical investigations on the manuscripts of Qumran, found in the Dead Sea in 1947.

“In the narrations of the Evangelists, there is an apparent contradiction between the Gospel of John, on one hand, and what, on the other hand, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us,” said Benedict XVI.

The Pope continued: "According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely at the moment in which, in the temple, the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His death and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.

“This means that he died on the eve of Passover, and that, therefore, he could not have personally celebrated the paschal supper, at least this is what it would seem.”

The Holy Father said that according to an interpretation of the texts, “still not accepted by all,” Jesus “celebrated Passover with his disciples probably according to the calendar of Qumran, that is to say, at least one day earlier – he celebrated without a lamb, like the Qumran community who did not recognize the Temple of Herod and was waiting for a new temple.”

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, explained that in Jesus’ time the calendar of the Essenes was more traditional that the one more recently adopted by the priests of Jerusalem. He said that this doesn’t signify that Jesus formed part of the Essenes.

The new lamb

Benedict XVI, however, said that it does imply that Jesus “celebrated Passover without a lamb, no, not without a lamb: Instead of the lamb he gave himself, his body and his blood.”

The Pope continued: "And he himself was the true temple, the living temple, the one in which God lives, in which we can find ourselves with God and adore him.

“His blood, the love of he who is at the same time Son of God and true man, one of us, this blood has the power to save. His love, this love in which he gives himself freely for us, is what saves us.”

Benedict XVI urged those present to “ask the Lord to help us to understand ever more deeply this marvelous mystery, and to love it more and more.”

The Pope added: "And within it, to love him more and more. Let us ask him to attract us more and more to him with holy Communion.

“Let us ask him to help us not to keep our lives for ourselves, but to surrender them to him, and in this way, to work with him so that all people find life, the authentic life that can only come from he who is the way, the truth and the life.”

I haven’t read his books on Jesus, and unfortunately in this time in my life I don’t have the ability to.

So my question is, does Pope Benedict speak to this issue in this books (volume 1 and 2) and does he come to any sort of conclusion?

From my understanding he comes short of declaring that he thought our Lord WAS an Essene (or John the Baptist for that matter), but I read so many things online using Pope Benedict’s words to make the connection that our Lord and John WERE Essenes completely.

For example, i read things like “Essenes were vegetarians, and John was one to - he didnt eat locusts in the insect sense, but the flower sense.”

Anyway since this is something that arose a number of years ago, I was thinking the Pope either made himself clear since then, or the Church or Catholic Apologetics had clarified this idea?

The spiritualists, athiests and other internet kooks seem to have had a field day with this…


#2

no one? :slight_smile:


#3

It’s possible, I don’t know, but there was no One Official Judaism in Christ’s earthly
days as far as I’m aware. There were the Sadducee, the Pharisee, the Essene too.
I think the Faith back then was fluctuating and did not settle down into a more stat-
ic Judaism until Rabbi Akiva’s time after Christianity had arrived. There were many
groups, many ideas, any one to which Jesus could have prescribed, and we can
gather what his beliefs and practices *as a Jew *were based on the Gospels.


#4

Given this and other questions you’ve had, why don’t you read Jesus of Nazareth I and II for yourself and draw your own conclusion? Surely the local library has them or can get them. They’re fairly accessible reading and quite enjoyable–and the depth of the Holy Father Emeritus’ knowledge comes out, not just on systematic matters, but also in textual and historical matters. Overall it is a profound work of both scholarly and spiritual reflection and worth your time to read.

Also, I would point out this piece of the article you quote:

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, explained that in Jesus’ time the calendar of the Essenes was more traditional that the one more recently adopted by the priests of Jerusalem. He said that this doesn’t signify that Jesus formed part of the Essenes.

-ACEGC


#5

True, but to be honest, I plan to read them, but with two young children and working 10+ hours a day, has left me precious little time, instead I turn to wonderful people like the people here to help me. Forgive me please if I ask too much!!


#6

You always give me such wonderful, reassuring answers.


#7

Yes, he talks about it in Jesus of Nazareth, Volume 2, Chapter 5, section 1, pages 106-115.

He lays out the theory, but he ultimately does not find it convincing. He says:

In reply it must be said that the traces of tradition to which she [Annie Jaubert, the first to put forth this theory] refers are too weak to be convincing. The other difficulty is that Jesus is unlikely to have used a calendar associated principally with Qumran. Jesus went to the Temple for the great feasts. Even if he prophesied its demise and confirmed this with a dramatic symbolic action, he still followed the Jewish festal calendar, as is evident from John’s Gospel in particular. True, one can agree with Jaubert that the Jubilees calendar was not strictly limited to Qumran and the Essenes. Yet this is not sufficient to justify applying it to Jesus’ Passover. Thus it is understandable that Annie Jaubert’s theory—so fascinating on first sight—is rejected by the majority of exegetes.

Ratzinger, J. (2011). Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (111). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Pope Benedict is very much the type of scholar who tries to see things from other perspectives. He does a great job of articulating the theory on its own terms and lists the strengths. But the above indicates that he doesn’t quite buy into it.


#8

Thank you so much for your response!… but it begs the question then, why did Pope Benedict in a homily say:

The Pope made this observation Holy Thursday in his homily during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In his address, the theologian commented on the historical investigations on the manuscripts of Qumran, found in the Dead Sea in 1947.

“In the narrations of the Evangelists, there is an apparent contradiction between the Gospel of John, on one hand, and what, on the other hand, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us,” said Benedict XVI.

The Pope continued: "According to John, Jesus died on the cross precisely at the moment in which, in the temple, the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His death and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.

“This means that he died on the eve of Passover, and that, therefore, he could not have personally celebrated the paschal supper, at least this is what it would seem.”

The Holy Father said that according to an interpretation of the texts, “still not accepted by all,” Jesus “celebrated Passover with his disciples probably according to the calendar of Qumran, that is to say, at least one day earlier – he celebrated without a lamb, like the Qumran community who did not recognize the Temple of Herod and was waiting for a new temple.”

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome, explained that in Jesus’ time the calendar of the Essenes was more traditional that the one more recently adopted by the priests of Jerusalem. He said that this doesn’t signify that Jesus formed part of the Essenes.

The new lamb

Benedict XVI, however, said that it does imply that Jesus “celebrated Passover without a lamb, no, not without a lamb: Instead of the lamb he gave himself, his body and his blood.”

The Pope continued: "And he himself was the true temple, the living temple, the one in which God lives, in which we can find ourselves with God and adore him.

“His blood, the love of he who is at the same time Son of God and true man, one of us, this blood has the power to save. His love, this love in which he gives himself freely for us, is what saves us.”

Benedict XVI urged those present to “ask the Lord to help us to understand ever more deeply this marvelous mystery, and to love it more and more.”

The Pope added: "And within it, to love him more and more. Let us ask him to attract us more and more to him with holy Communion.

“Let us ask him to help us not to keep our lives for ourselves, but to surrender them to him, and in this way, to work with him so that all people find life, the authentic life that can only come from he who is the way, the truth and the life.”

Is this a case where the internet misquotes the Pope, or takes his words out of context?? Was this homily given before the release of Volume 2? Did he address it in volume 1.

Confused by what you wrote and what was said in the homily??


#9

Ok so it looks like what Pope Benedict spoke about in his homily in 2007 as a possibility of Jesus following a Essene calendar, he kind of refutes in his later 2011 book, is this true?

From what I read on the web, it is accepted in archaeology circles that Jesus celebrated his last supper in an Essene section of town??

I am confused (which by the way is a constant state of mind for me)

Help! :slight_smile:


#10

Since you gave the year, I was able to track down the homily. I would go there rather than an article about the homily:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20070405_coena-domini_en.html

It does seem like he’s shifted his position, though. Of course, in Jesus of Nazareth he says it is “is rejected by the majority of exegetes.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that he rejects it, I suppose. But he does say it is “fascinating on first sight.” So perhaps this is just the case of him finding it compelling in 2007, but less so in 2011. Even biblical scholarship doesn’t stay the same all the time.

Since we are talking about a homily and a book he decidedly wrote under his given name, we’re not talking about any exercise of papal infallibility here. The timing of the Last Supper presents some genuine interpretive difficulties. There is a range of opinions a Catholic in good standing can have. Not every scriptural issue has only one dogmatically defined answer.


#11

You know, now that I read it, I think the Pope was offering this interpretation up as a possibility, not a known thing, and mentioning it because Jesus offered himself up in place of a Lamb.

You know, mass media and anti-catholic sites will latch onto anything and twist and spin it.


#12

A very knowledgeable priest once told me that the Cenaculum was located in an Essenic neighborhood of Jerusalem, based on the reference to a man carrying a water jar on his head. Men normally did not do that in Roman Judaea, except among the Essenes.

So if our LORD was using their calendar, that is not a surprise to me.

Of course, it is equally possible that knowing that HE would be spending Pesach dead, that HE had the meal early with HIS followers and so that it was not really a Passover.

ICXC NIKA


#13

I think this is the case, and he could only have the meal in the Essene part of the town for whatever reason?

Anyway, why would they have a lamb, as HE was to be the Lamb? No?


#14

Well, Essenes did not use lambs, as they avoided the Temple. The Paschal lamb could only die in the Temple.

As to the Essenic neighborhood, maybe He had a disciple there who let HIM use his place for the feast. HE wasn’t from Jerusalem, after all, and Roman Jerusalem wasn’t the modern USA; you couldn’t just rent a hall.

ICXC NIKA


#15

People have been trying to label Jesus as an Essene for 2,000 years, but nothing really sticks.

For one, the Essenes didn’t preach their beliefs, and that’s what Jesus was famous for.

The Essenes wore simple white garments, Jesus’ cloak was so impressive that the Roman soldiers bid on it.

The Essenes did not drink wine, but Jesus made drinking wine a part of his basic ritual.

As for making the last supper in an “Essene” part of town, that is WHY out there. Just because a male carried a water jug doesn’t make him an Essene. It makes him a slave, or a very thirsty man on the outs with his wife.

and so on


#16

One other question that leaves me head scratching:

The Essenes called themselves Sons of Light, and our Lord uses this term a few times… Is there a connection there?


#17

Keep scratching that head! Methinks you have something there!!:slight_smile:

FWIW, I never claimed that Our LORD was an Essene. And it would seem that none of His immediate followers were, either, since the Essenes lived by the Dead Sea, seventy miles or several days’ travel from HIS home grounds in the Galilee.

But there is no reason why HE would not have disciples from among them.

ICXC NIKA


#18

Also:

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 10. - And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you. The name of the man who should meet them was omitted - purposely, think Theophylact and others, lest the place of meeting should be prematurely known to Judas. Bearing a pitcher of water. This would be an unusual sight in an Oriental city, where the water is drawn by women. It is probable that the “man” whom the Master foretold John and Peter would meet, was the master of the house, who, according to the Jewish custom on the 13th of Nisan, before the stars appeared in the heavens, had himself to go to the public fountain to draw the water with which the unleavened bread for the Passover Feast was kneaded.


#19

Also:

usccb.org/

  • [14:13] A man…carrying a jar of water: perhaps a prearranged signal, for only women ordinarily carried water in jars. The Greek word used here, however, implies simply a person and not necessarily a male.

#20

Fr. Mitch Pacwa backs this up. Men did not normally carry the water then, as they do not in many parts of the world today. From what little is known of them, the Essenes were predominantly celibate males, who had no women to carry the water. As well, the upper room was reportedly in the Essene section of Jerusalem. I note that, if one looks at the time line, the Essenes and their beliefs appeared on the scene shortly (about 150 years) before the Incarnation, and disappeared not that long after the Ascension and destruction of the Temple. That in itself may be somewhat telling. They had many beliefs which were reflective of the teachings of Christ - although some differed. I note that they held to an unbloody sacrifice, a prophecy of the Holy Eucharist, if one will. Though the scriptures do not specifically mention them, and many details have been lost, their existence is well known via contemporary historical sources.


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