If we take Barbara Thiering’s view to be correct it places Jesus into a community of Essene monks. The Essenes fell into two categories village Essenes and monastic Essenes. The village Essenes lived in the communities and the monastic ones lived in enclosed monasteries. There was a large community at Qumran in the time of Jesus and he was born into that community. His father Joseph was a leading figure in the community. According to Barbara there are a lot of subtle details about the virgin birth. Joseph and Mary were both important in the community. Although it was male dominated women also took prime roles. Intercourse was strictly controlled, the monks being allowed out of the monastery at particular times of the year to copulate and have a child. This was not allowed in the community because it would de-sanctify it. So they went to a house on the shores of the Dead Sea (‘Egypt’ in the pesher interpretation). The problem with the birth of Jesus was that it was during the period of betrothal before Joseph and Mary were actually married. This became a big issue for the legitimacy of Jesus claim to the high position and was a key factor in his dispute with John.
The monastic Essene community had many rituals including those associated with regular bathing and with prayer times. They used to pray at regular intervals throughout the day and stood in different positions in their temple to do this marking off the hours. There are references to this in the gospel stories. Much of the pesher code defines precise times around the hour divisions. The Essenes were very time oriented not only during the day but also over the years. They had a very precise calendar system and were always trying to tie this to biblical prophecies forecasting the end times, etc. They had to adjust this calendar many times to make it fit. The uprising in 70 AD (culminating in the famous incident at Massada where hundreds of people chose to die rather than be captured) was linked to a forecast of the end times (multiples of 40 years). The calendrical references appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
One of the key things about the Essenes was their ability to heal through spiritual means. The village Essenes would have been seen as local healers. It is therefore no surprise that Jesus was renowned for his healing. He understood the spiritual principles of healing – a lot to do with the mind over matter arguments presented earlier.
Another key reason for the dispute between Jesus and John was their different views of gentiles. Jesus wanted to open up the movement to gentiles whereas John was very much more of the belief in a pre-ordained ‘elect’ who were chosen by God. This comes across in the gospels on the surface – it is quite clear that Jesus wanted to break the mould of traditional thinking within his sect. He was very much on the liberal wing. If we build into this his advanced spiritual understanding it is consistent with a modern spiritual view that everyone is divine in nature and has the potential to develop their own spirituality – including the spiritual gifts, such as healing, that go with it.
The Jesus that emerges from this is one who is a leader of a high profile monastic order, one that was highly respected in Jerusalem and had ties into the ruling family. The New Testament stories, both on the surface and in the pesher, include interactions with the Hasmodean rulers of Palestine. Jesus was a liberal thinker and wanted to change the order to make it more universal and take it to Rome and other places in the middle-East. To me this is a much more credible story than that of a random carpenter’s son who came from nowhere. He had been brought up and trained within the community, which was, in many ways, like a platonic school. His ideas came out of a highly educated mind which was also highly in tune with spirit.
The disciples, also, according to Barbara, were senior individuals within the community, not the simple fishermen we are led to believe.
Although all of this sounds very ‘off the wall’ it actually makes a lot more sense than the traditional literal interpretation of the New Testament, and is profoundly satisfying. It ‘stacks up’ with a general understanding of human behaviour and makes sense of a lot of the nonsense that appears in the surface stories of the New Testament.
There is so much more detail in Barbara’s books that gives a good explanation for a lot of the miracles. That is not to say that miracles of that type did not occur, but the specific ones mentioned conceal a precise history, such as baptism of new initiates in the Dead Sea masquerading as Jesus walking on the water or fishing stories about breaking nets.
One difficult aspect of Barbara’s work for Christians is her claim that Jesus did not die at the crucifixion but survived for many years afterwards and travelled with Luke to Rome and other places. Also that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had three children.
Incidentally the crucifixion was a key event that had to happen for Jesus to establish his authority. According to Barbara he was crucified but then resuscitated using the large amount of aloes (a well-known purgative) to remove the poison administered prior to his ‘death’.
The outcome of all of this for me is to allow me to fully respect the amazing work that Jesus did and allows me to respect even more his spiritual status amongst the great masters of the higher planes.
I find it very disappointing to think how his teachings were distorted, in my view, after his death. His original teachings were Gnostic in nature. As evidenced by the Nag Hammadi books, some of which can be traced back to the Essene community in Qumran. These indicate a spiritual approach of developing the inner spiritual self – very in line with modern spiritual teaching outside the mainstream religions.
I know this chapter has meandered amongst the byways of Christian history but its aim is to give you a flavour of the life of Jesus as I believe it to have been. One that fits in very well with my current spiritual beliefs.