Triangulating on John the Baptist from Christianity and Essenism?

Triangulating on John the Baptist from Christianity and Essenism? November 5, 2021

Recently I have been listening to the audiobook of John Bergsma’s book Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls: Revealing the Jewish Roots of Christianity. Although there are specific details in Bergsma’s argument that I am not persuaded by, he nicely highlights the many convergences between Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. At various times similarities between John the Baptist, Jesus, the Gospel of John, and the Pauline churches are noted.

Scholars debate whether John the Baptist’s time in the wilderness involved a time at Qumran or some other form of direct contact with the Essenes. That they share certain emphases in common is nonetheless clear, and it isn’t necessary to determine the precise circumstances of the contact in order to conclude that there is some.

My question in this post is this (and I have made a poll because I really do want to find out what others think): Are the points that Jesus and the Essenes shared in common most likely mediated through John the Baptist?

It seems to me that, while apparently no one has been interested to do it or thought to do it, we ought to be able to take those points that Jesus and the group at Qumran shared in common and allow that information to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about John the Baptist. After all, when elements connected with the Dead Sea Scrolls pop up in John’s Gospel, scholars often suggest that the connection might be a result of the unnamed disciple of John’s being the author of that work, and when such elements pop up in Luke, Luke’s focus on John at the beginning of his Gospel and mention of disciples of John in Ephesus in Acts are mentioned.

So what do you think? Is this a methodologically sound principle? Please answer in the poll, and then even if it is a clear “yes” or “no” I’d still welcome your comments to say why!



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