LETTER WRITTEN SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE CRUCUFIXION
ADDRESSED TO STUDENTS AND FRIENDS OF THE GREAT SCHOOL
by Publishers 3
from an "Essene" in Jerusalem to his brethren in Alexandria
- Page 9
The Order of the Essenes among the Jewish People - Page 38
In 1947, a Bedouin boy called Muhammad the Wolf was pursuing a stray goat on the western shore of the Dead Sea. He noticed a cave in a cliff and threw a stone into it. There was the sound of breakage; he then climbed into it to investigate and found several tall jars in which there were rolled manuscripts. Thus was found the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In the intervening eighteen years more caves and many more documents have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. Through the work of archaeologists, paleographers and Biblical scholars it has been established that these manuscripts were written between 100 BC and 100 AD. Among these many documents are the oldest copies of certain books of the Old Testament. There are also copies of the Apocrypha, or rejected books of the Bible, and manuals of devotion and discipline of the Qumran Sect or Order of Essenes.
time is coming when everything that is covered up will be
we are leaving the Piscean Age, the Age of 'I believe', and
The full impact of these discoveries has not yet been felt by the various Christian denominations. But among disinterested scholars these manuscripts have almost revolutionized their thinking about the true origins of Christianity and the sources of certain of the books of the New Testament. It has also thrown new light upon the Old Testament and upon the accuracy of certain versions of this work. Furthermore, it has pointed up sharply the connections between Jesus and the early Christians and that Order which was known as the Essenes. It is now thought to be quite certain that John the Baptist was an Essene and it is quite probable that Jesus was an Essene or that his parents were members of that Order.
A further interesting development has been to authenticate certain documents and versions of the Old Testament which formerly were believed to be spurious or inferior to the orthodox and accepted versions of the Bible.
The Greek Septuagint is a Greek version of the Old Testament which was prepared in Alexandria before the birth of Christ by seventy Jewish scholars – or so goes the tradition concerning this work. This version of the Old Testament has always been considered to be inferior to the Masoretic Hebrew Text. The oldest copy of the Masoretic Text dates from about 700 AD and up until 1947 was the oldest copy in existence of either the Old or New Testaments.
Examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed that the Septuagint corresponds with the copies of various books of the Old Testament found in the Dead Sea caves. It is now considered that the Septuagint version of the Bible is closer to the original writings and the Masoretic Text represents later revisions and changes which did not exist in the originals.
A small Samaritan community living at Nablus in Jordan has long cherished a unique version of the Pentateuch written in a style similar to an ancient Paleo-hebrew script. As the oldest copy of this version dates from the Eleventh Century AD, Biblical scholars have long had doubts as to its authenticity. The community itself, however, believes that this version dates from the time of Moses. Now it appears that the documents from Qumran have given a remarkable vindication to this tradition, for from the Fourth Cave have come fragments of the Pentateuch written in a Paleo-hebrew script whose texts correspond in all essential points with the Samaritan version.
At the end of the last century there was found in a Karaite synagogue in Cairo a manuscript which became known as the Damascus Document. It was dated to about the Tenth Century AD and seemed to describe a sect similar to the Essene, which was located in Damascus. Fragmentary copies of this document have been found in the Qumran Caves and it has been established that the original of the Damascus Document dates back at least to the Second Century BC.
In view of these developments it would seem a good time to examine another document which relates directly to the Essenes and to the person of Jesus. This document was first discovered sometime in the 1870’s in a building in Alexandria. It was written in ancient Latin and translated into modern German.
The document itself has disappeared; its age is not known nor is it known in what tongue the original writing was made. German and Swedish versions of this document were printed and published in the Nineteenth Century. Also an English version. It was republished by John E. Richardson in 1907 and again by the Holmes Book Company in 1919. It has since been out of print.
In reading this account of the Crucifixion and Resuscitation of Jesus we cannot look to the sciences of Paleography or Archaeology for verification of its authenticity. We can only search for internal evidences of truth and reliability, and compare these documents’ references to the Order of Essenes with that which has been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In this connection it is most interesting to note that this latter document states that Jesus spent his last days among his Essene Brethren on the Shores of the Dead Sea. This location and description reads very much like the monastery or settlement at Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea.
It is quite possible that future discoveries may at some time corroborate the incidents which are related in this very interesting document.
November 1965 - The Publishers
A brief explanation is due the reader before he proceeds to a perusal of the most interesting letter, which follows the Preface to this little volume.
The English translation of the ancient Latin copy of the letter was made by a German. It is evidenced on every page of his translation that he was not sufficiently acquainted with the English language to make a good English translation.
This suggestion has reference to the literary form of his work as a translator, and not to the substance of the text. There can be no doubt that he has preserved the meaning of the original manuscript with remarkable fidelity.
But in many places he has made use of English expressions which are crude and quite out of keeping with our present understanding of cultured literary form.
For this reason, I have deemed it advisable to revise his rendition of the text in such a manner as somewhat to remove the rough corners of his work, and present to the reader the exact substance of the Ancient Letter in a little better English form.
In no sense have I changed its meaning, and in many places have refrained from substituting my own method of expression where his rendition is more or less crude and lacking in elegance of diction. My revision of his translation, therefore, is not as complete as it might have been made had his method of expression been discarded entirely.
My purpose has been to place the exact substance of the Ancient Letter before the reader in such language as to make it entirely intelligible, and at the same time preserve as much of the translator's own form of expression as possible. I believe I have succeeded.
No changes whatsoever have been made in the "Closing Remarks of the German Translator", nor in "Part II". My revision, therefore, is confined entirely to the "Letter" of the Essene in which he tells his brethren in Alexandria the true story of the Crucifixion, and gives them the facts and incidents connected therewith, as he witnessed them.
The following additional facts concerning the German translation may be of interest to the reader in this connection: It was published in this country in 1873.
For reasons which the intelligent reader will doubtless understand as he proceeds, the book was withdrawn from publication at once upon its appearance. The plates were destroyed, and it was supposed that all the published copies of the book were likewise disposed of.
Fortunately, however, one copy found its way into the possession of a prominent Mason in the state of Massachusetts. There it remained securely until accidentally discovered by his daughter some time during the early summer of the present year, 1907.
This lady, knowing my interest in things Masonic, kindly sent me the copy for examination. I, at once, recognized its remarkable nature and supreme value and importance.
Immediately was started an inquiry through a number of the most prominent book houses and publishing concerns, to ascertain if other copies of the little book could be found. At the same time inquiry was made to ascertain if the official copies of the book were still on file in the Congressional Library.
To my surprise, not another copy of the book can be found, after some four months of diligent search.
The most remarkable phase of the matter seems to be that the official copies of which were deposited with the Librarian of Congress, in compliance with the Law of Copyrights, have also disappeared. At any rate, in reply to inquiry, the report comes back that no such book is to be found in the Congressional Library.
If this be true, it would then appear that the copy from which the following revision was made is, without doubt, the only copy in existence.
To be sure, the Latin MS, from which the translation into English was made, is still in existence, and is in the hands of the Masonic Fraternity in Germany, where, no doubt, it will remain securely guarded from Anti-Masonic vandalism.
The vital nature of the document cannot fail to impress itself upon the intelligent reader and student of religious history. And it is sincerely to be hoped that it will not suffer another eclipse.
A member of the Abyssinian Mercantile Company discovered in Alexandria an ancient house, formerly occupied by Grecian friars, in whose library to oblivion abandoned, was found an old parchment. A French literate, accidentally present, at once commenced deciphering it; but a missionary, in the ardor of fanatical orthodoxy, tried all means to destroy the antique document. But the efforts of the Jesuit missionary do not seem to have been successful as a copy of the Latin original was written, which copy, through the Free-Masons, found its way into Germany.
It has been proved from the archeological discoveries made on the spot, that the house where the parchment was found was owned and occupied by the Order of the "Essenes". Further, that the document found was the only remains of literature from the once well filled library of this scientific and religious order or Brotherhood.
The French literate, who first conceived the importance and historical worth of the manuscript, tried hard to enrich the French Academy with the original, but, owing to the intrigues of the Jesuit mission in Egypt (bent on destroying a document so detrimental to their doctrine), he was not so successful; although the interference of the influential Abyssinian merchants and Pythagorical Societies, from whom the copy above spoken of came into the possession of the modern institution of Freemasons, and a society in Germany now possesses, without doubt, the only copy in existence.
As regards the discovered antique document, it consisted of a letter which the so-called "Terapeut" (the elder), the highest esteemed member of the Brotherhood, had written to his brethren in Alexandria, in the name of the Brotherhood in Jerusalem. This letter was written by him only a few years after the death of Jesus, giving a full description of the life, doctrine and death of Jesus, who the letter proves to have belonged to and been a member of their Brotherhood.
Rumors of his miracles, and finally of his martyrdom, had also reached Alexandria, and as the brethren there had a conviction that he was their brother, preached their doctrines, used their sign of recognition, and lived in accordance with their rules, they manifested a desire to be informed on the subject, as to the real truth of the matter.
To obtain this information, their leader, or "Terapeut", had written a letter to his colleague in Jerusalem, who in reply, wrote the letter from which we obtain a clear and truthful account of this important and interesting subject. This is a fact, which never has been doubted by those familiar with ancient history, that the Essenes always spoke and wrote the strictest truth; and this, added to their moral and scientific lives, puts an end to any doubt as to the correctness and genuineness of the information given in the ancient discovered letter.
Although not at first organized among the Jews, this Order existed already in the days of the "Maccabai"; and with them it assumed more of a national outward form, and at the same time maintaining most of the ancient pythagoraeical doctrines. Most of the members were agriculturists and gardeners, and assembled together to promote virtue and wisdom among themselves. Furthermore, they devoted themselves, especially in higher degrees, to the art of healing, induced thereto through their studies of nature and art, and were well acquainted with the effects of most the known plants and minerals for recruiting the human system. This knowledge they made useful by healing and comforting the sick.
According to their moral standing and ability, they were divided into four classes or degrees. In the first degree were especially adopted children (The "Essenes" hardly ever married), but in case an adult wished to me admitted into their Order, it was necessary to go through a very severe moral trial for the term of three years.
It was strictly prohibited for a member of high degree to divulge any of the secrets of his degree to any of lower rank.
The punishment for such a trespass was expulsion from the Brotherhood. Nothing but a strictly moral life, wisdom, godliness, and excellency in science, entitled one to the higher degrees. In their domestic life they exercised hospitality and benevolence, kept the rules of the Order strictly, and never took any interest or part in politics or revolutions. Thus they showed a thoroughly peaceable disposition.
Their greeting and sign of recognition was, "Peace be with you." At their meals they broke the bread and passed the cup, and worshipped "Jehovah"; but never made any sacrifice in the temple, but performed their ceremonies in their homes. They knew no higher virtue than to suffer and die for their belief.
Accordingly, death did not terrify them, as they believed the spirit a prisoner in the body, to be released through death, then to return to the celestial glory. Deceit and profanity were considered grave sins (as well as quarreling and vengeance), and looked upon with abhorrence.
This order, of which the present Freemasonry is the modern issue, was at the time of Jesus widely diffused through Palestine and Egypt, and had their colonies scattered all over the country. They always kept up a congenial fraternal feeling in their meetings, and gave each other information about the affairs of the Brotherhood. They counted among their members men of all professions and stations in society, and although comprising a great many learned men and rich persons (who sometimes found it in their interest to keep this secret), they never excluded the poor or persons in moderate circumstances.
Thus we have all reasons to credit this letter, dictated by the love of truth, and written by a man who had been an eye-witness to most of the important transactions in the life and death of Jesus, who, as a member of their Order, was embraced by them with all the fraternal devotion of the Order.
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