Originally Posted by Bobbye
Yes, John the Baptist was living in the Qumran caves with the Essenes PRIOR to his appearance at the Jordan to baptize Jesus. John was six months older than Jesus, placing him at 30 years of age (or closer to 31); whereas, Jesus began His earthly ministry at 30 years of age -- immediately after His baptism in the River Jordan in accordance with the Old Testament practice:i.e., "The priests were first washed and then anointed." If you study "the molten sea" (as mentioned in the Old Testament), you will find this practice.
Of course, there were no "New Testament" writings until some 30-40 years after The Resurrection. Any good refence Bible will list the date of the N.T. Writings ("external evidence"). In fact, the Book of Revelation was given to John and penned when he was between 90 -100 years of age. (Some scholars believe that he possibly lived to the age of 110.)
P.S. By the way, "Christianity" cannot predate Jesus Christ. "They were first called 'Christians' at Antioch" -- after the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost (Book of Acts). "Christianity" is Jesus Christ! "Christianity" or "little Christs." (Note: "ian" is a diminutive which, when added to the end of a word, means "little" or "smaller" in regard to the noun to which it is added. Some would challenge the term "little Christs." However, seventh grade grammar rules will eliminate such confusion.)
What is the strength of evidence for John Baptist being among the Essenes? I have heard the claim before but only as a probability without historical foundation. Is there anyjhing stronger?
Circumcision and baptism were the initiatory rites for the admission of Hebrew children into their established religion and congregation of Israel. These two rites were inseparable from the earliest periods.
The impression prevails that immersion baptism received its original form, and derived its observance from the apostle John, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan, but it is evident that the baptism by John was the induction to a new faith and not a new practice. Jesus, born a Jew, had received the initiatory rites in infancy, and understood them well.
Maimenides, a great authority among Jews and Christians, as a wise interpreter of the law -- says, (Issue Biah Cap. 13) "Israel was admitted into the covenant by three things: by Circumcision, by baptism, and by sacrifice.
Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is said, none uncircumcised shall eat the passover. Baptism was in the wilderness, before the giving of the law, as it is said, "Thou shalt sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments:" and sacrifice as it is said, "and he sent the young men of the Children of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings, they offered them for all Israel."
The origin of baptism dates from the time of Jacob, when he received into the church the young women of Sichem, and other heathens who lived with him. Jacob said to his family, (Gen 35. 2,) and to all that were with him "put away from you the strange Gods and be ye clean, and change your garments."
Eben Ezra, also a great authority, applies the words "(be ye clean)" to the washing and purification of the body; -- hence the origin of baptism.
It is certain that goyim who become converts to the religion of the Jews, were admitted by circumcision, and baptism was inseparably joined to it.
"Whenever," says Maimenidos, "a Heathen is willing to be joined to the covenant of Israel, and place himself under the wings of the Divine majesty, and take the yoke of the law upon him voluntarily, Circumcision, Baptism, and Ablution are required."
This practice continued to the reign of Solomon; but at that period, other nations became proselytes in such vast numbers that they were received by baptism or washing only. Some time elapsed, thirty days, between circumcision and baptism, in order to give time for the wound to heal; the child was then brought to a running stream, called "gathering of the waters," and plunged in.
The Triumviri, the Judicial consistory charged with this duty, placed the candidate in the water, instructed him in some of the weightier obligations of the law, and plunged him in, so that every part of the body was immersed, not the tip of a finger was left exposed; hence 'immersion baptism.'
If an Israelite, says Maimenides, finds a Heathen infant and baptizes him for a proselyte, he becomes a member of the church, and baptism was always administered by persons regularly ordained, or appointed for that purpose, and witnesses and written testimony were necessary to prove the fact. Proselytes however were unwillingly made at all times, for many were tenacious of their old customs, and fell again to idolatry, so that finally Baptism was gradually abandoned, and it is only now practiced when a christian female desires to become a Jewess, and then under very considerable restrictions and ceremonies.
By these we see that the rite of baptism dates from the time of Jacob, and by the wisest interpreters of the law was pronounced a Jewish rite to follow after circumcision.
In Solomon's Temple a large molten sea of brass was placed on the backs of 12 brazen oxen, these oxen being symbolical of the 12 tribes of Israel. (1 Kings 7:23-26,44; 2 Kings 16:17; 25:13; 1 Chron. 18:8.)
This brazen sea was used, as you have said, for performing immersion baptisms. The word baptize is of Greek origin, and would not have ebeen employed by the Israelites who would have employed some equivalent word, such as wash.
In describing the molten sea the Old Testament record says, "The sea was for the priests to wash in." (2 Chron. 4:2-6.) This is tantamount to saying that the priests performed baptisms in it.
It is clear that the molten sea was for baptisms and that the laver was for washings by the priests by which they became ritually pure, a necessary condition to serve in the temple..
Isaiah's call to ancient Israel"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well"was an invitation to partake of and implement the cleansing ordinances of the temple. (Isa. 1:16-17.)
The saints at Antioch were not called Christians, but Christianos, or followers of Christ. Your explanation of the diminutive 'ian' is amusing but, I think, not trustworthy.
Yet, the point is that if a group taught that which Christ taught prior to the date of his preaching, what they teach is Mashiachanity, Christianity, or some such equivalent term, therefore it is not unsafe to condlude that as Christian principles were taught and fostered as Qumran, they were Christians whose faith prefigured the coming of Mashiach.
What did Jesus teach that the Essenes did not?