Resistance to Christianity

Chapter 3: The Judean Sects

Originally, the term “sect” did not carry any pejorative connotations. It designated certain political and religions factions that involved a part of the population.

One can confirm the existence of a Samaritan sect, which issued from the separation between the kingdoms of the North and the South, ever since the era of Alexander and Greek domination. Hellenization encouraged this sect by allowing it to build a temple distinct from the one in Jerusalem. Its members only knew and recognized the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and the Book of Joshua/Jesus, whose influence on the mythic genesis of the Messianic Savior was revealed in a sermon by Origen, written in the first half of the Third Century. The Samaritan Bible differed from the Masoretic text (subsequently established) and is close to the manuscripts discovered at Qumran.

The Sadducees

It is believed that the sect of the Sadducees appeared about 300 years before the Christian era and was inscribed in the political line of Yahwehist centralism. Pre-dating the exile (586-536 [B.C.E.]), but actually drafted in the Fourth Century [B.C.E.], the Book of Ezekiel describes priests who are consistent with the idea that one has of the Sadducees, “the Son of Sadoq” (or Tsadoq). Combining the role of prophet and the function of the priest, Ezekiel unified in the same ministry two religious attitudes that had often been opposed: the popular agitator and the temple functionary.

A priest who claimed to have ordained Solomon (Kings 1, 38), Tsadoq evokes the idea of justice in accordance with the Semitic practice of wordplay known as themoura, “a Kabalistic practice by which, on the basis of a logical table of permutations, one replaces one Hebrew letter with another. When applied to Biblical texts, these replacements permit one to multiply their hidden meanings (or what are held to be such).”[1]

Here, the key word is tsedeq, “justice,” which would be used by the Judeo-Christian sect of Melchizedek. One also finds it in the Essene cult of the Master of Justice, in the name they conferred upon themselves, “Sons of Tsadoq,” and even in the quality of “Justness,” ascribed to Jacob, who was later held to be an apostle by the Christian and Catholic evangelic legends.

The Sadducees believed in the unitary doctrine of the State and monotheism. A sacerdotal ruling class, the Sadducees made the Temple of Jerusalem the axis of its temporal power and the privileged place in which God manifested his will to guide his people. High functionaries of the divine judgment, the Sadducees especially devoted themselves to quarrels concerning precedence and rivalries for power.

Tasked with accomplishing the sacrifices of the Temple and with watching over the observance of the rites with which YHWH punctuated everyday existence, the Sadducees were hardly different in mindset from the Prince-Bishops of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance who, living in opulence and debauchery, only professed their faith in order to better assure themselves of the prerogatives of the Church and its sacred authority.

Good conservatives, the Sadducees absorbed revolt into change and apostasy into prophetic proclamations. Quite attached to their privileges, which they claimed came from an all-powerful God, they didn’t hesitate to collaborate with invaders or to ferociously repress the Jews who didn’t accommodate themselves to them.

The Pharisees treated the Sadducees like they were Epicureans, which the Pharisees thought to be an insulting term. The Christians accused the Sadducees of not believing in anything, a reproach that – following a malicious turn of events – Celsus and his contemporaries addressed to the Christians, with whom (as late as the Second Century) they still confused with the Orthodox Jews who had disappeared after 70 [C.E.]. The Sadducees, it is true, rejected the three great Pharisee teachings that were later reprised by the Christians: the expectation of a Messiah; the immortality of the soul; and – evoked for the first time in the Book of Daniel in 165 [B.C.E.] – the resurrection of the body.

The Sadducees’ support of Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ politics of Hellenization provoked the Maccabean insurrection. In 169 [B.C.E.], the pillaging of the Temple and the massacre of the factions hostile to the Greek party, followed two years later by the instauration in Jerusalem of the cult of the Olympian Jupiter, triggered a popular nationalist and religious upheaval that was led by a certain Mattathias. The movement participated in great prophetic agitations that demanded strict obedience to Mosaic law by everyone.

Killed in 166 [B.C.E.], Mattathias was succeeded by his son, Judah, surnamed Maccabee. Under his leadership, the rebellion grew and in 164 [B.C.E.] forced Antiochus IV Epiphanes to abrogate the measures he’d taken against the religion. Despite the amnesty and the re-establishment of the cult, Judah pursued the fight against the occupiers. Because his prosecution also struck the partisans of Hellenism, his fanaticism alienated him from a faction of the Jews who were sensitive to the freedoms of Greek thought and the merits of rational critique. The death of Judah in 160 [B.C.E.] during the course of combat brought down a pitiless repression.

The ascension to power by Johann Hyrcan the First (134-104 [B.C.E.]) marked the beginning of the Asmonean dynasty. Hyrcan made himself odious to the Samaritans by seizing their country. He destroyed the Temple on Mount Gerizim; he annexed Idum to the south of Judea and Judaicized cosmopolitan Galilee. His son Aristobulus succeeded him, but died a year later, in 103 [B.C.E.]. His widow married Alexander Jonathan (103-76 [B.C.E.]), who arrogated the title of king for himself.

According to Flavius Joseph, a new party intervened in the quarrel between pontifical and monarchial power – that old quarrel between the temporal and the spiritual. The Pharisees confronted the Sadducees, who, thanks to an alliance with the despots of the day, had maintained their privileges.

The Pharisees came out against the attribution of the royal title to Alexander Jonathan. He soon thereafter crucified 800 Pharisees; the throats of their women and children were cut before their eyes.

From the same tormented matrix would come a third sect, that of the Sons of Tsadoq, or the Men of the Community, whom the Greeks called the “Essenes.” Hostile to the Sadducees and the Pharisees, they were also violently opposed to Jerusalem, the Temple and the practice of sacrifices.

Collaborators with all the occupiers of Palestine, the Sadducees did not survive the war of the Zealots, which ended with the sacking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 [C.E.]. At the end of the First Century, only the Pharisees possessed a monopoly on Jewish orthodoxy.[2]

The Pharisees

The Hebrew word peroushim means “separated, placed apart” and alludes to the schism that led to a nationalist and holy war against the Greek occupation by Mattathias and his son, Judah Maccabee in 163 [B.C.E.]. Better known by their Hellenized name “Pharisees,” these sectarians extolled the strict observance of Mosaic laws and opposed the Sadducees’ hypocrisy with popular fervor.

Vituperators of the dissolute morals of the sacerdotal caste, the Pharisees – precursors of the reform movements that castigated the morals of the Roman Church – celebrated the virtues of ascetic morality, emphasized the importance of solidarity, encouraged piety and rallied a crowd of oppressed people, whose feelings of frustration, disorder and envy they channeled.

In their struggle against the Sadducees’ domination, the Pharisees used two institutional weapons that proved their organizational power: the Rabbinate and assemblies of the faithful or synagogues, which were the model for the churches of the future.

Whatever his trade, the rabbi (“my master”), a secular pedagogue, dispensed religious instruction among the working classes. After the defeat of 70 [C.E.] and the disappearance of the Sadducees, there were rabbis who imposed modernity on the Jewish religion, fixed the canon of sacred texts, defended orthodoxy, and condemned the heresies of the minim (dualists or Gnostics) and the noisrim or Nazarenes.

The synagogues (the source is the Greek word synagoge, which means “meeting”) were the houses for priests, studies and meetings. The Essenes would imitate them by calling theirs “communities” (from the Greek word ekklesiai: “church” designates the place and “Church” the assembly that meets therein).

When bloody repression by Alexander Jonathan, allied with the Sadducees, fell upon them in 100 [B.C.E.], the Pharisees in large part left Judea and went to Galilee. There they were rivals with the Nazarenes in the second half of the First Century before the Christian era. In the cities of the Diaspora, their influence would not cease to grow until the great anti-Semitic waves of 70 and 135.

When Pompey seized Jerusalem in 63 [B.C.E.], thereby inaugurating a Roman domination that would last until 324 [C.E.], the Pharisees, in their turn, chose to collaborate with the occupiers.

In the same period, under the pontificate of Johann Hycran II, a dissident Rabbi (the head of an Essene community and known by the name Master of Justice) was put to death with the consent, if not on the instigation, of the Pharisees. The Essenes declared a hatred of the Pharisees that was equal to that which they felt for the Sadducees and Judaism in general. Not only would the execution of the Christ or the Essene Messiah lend its dramatic aura to the crucifixion of Jesus (as it reported by the evangelic legends), but it would also accredit the opinion of a death clamored for by the Pharisees.

Although little taken with the kings chosen by the Romans (such as Herod the Great), the Pharisees estimated that sovereigns govern by reason of a divine will and supported the principle that it was necessary “to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”

The Pharisees took the side of Rome in its struggle against the Zealots, whom one of their most celebrated sectarians, the historian Flavius Joseph, called lestoi, “bandits” and “terrorists.” Wasn’t it with the consent of the Roman authorities that, a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, the great rabbi Johanan Ben Zaccai and the Pharisees left the town? That exodus, voluntarily undertaken in order to avoid a confrontation of which the Pharisees disapproved, would, in a falsified version, enter into the apologetic novel known as Acts of the Apostles (end of the Second Century). In it, the Pharisees have become Christians, and thus they are accredited with nourishing no hostility towards Rome (from the second half of the Second Century on, the politics of the diverse Christianities strove to obtain a certificate of good citizenship from Roman imperial power). They took refuge at Pella, in Macedonia. Like the Sadducees, the Pharisees made a pact with the powers-that-be in order to better situate their religion beyond terrestrial contingencies. The Catholic Church would not do otherwise all the way through the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. On the other hand, the Pharisees drew upon themselves the hatred and scorn of the Zealots and the Essene factions that were favorable to them.

The Pharisees popularized the practice of the midrash or biblical commentary. The so-called sacred texts were re-copied, revised without scruple as a function of on-going polemics, read in public, explained, glossed, corrected by the evolution of mindsets, brought up to date, nay, even suppressed, as was the case with the Book of Tobias. A whole literature – targum, midrash, mishna, Talmud – was thus forged in the fires of the assemblies and the necessity of extracting from these texts a moral rule applicable to the community or the entirety of the believers.

The Pauline current, which Marcion would impose around 140 [C.E.] in order to counter the Judeo-Christian communities that claimed Peter and James for themselves, took a large part of its doctrine from the Pharisees’ teachings: notably, the beyond in which the dead would be individually resurrected after a Last Judgment that would divide them up into the blessed, elected to a celestial Eden, and the damned, hurled down into Gehenna; the existence of the angels, agents and intercessors of the Divine Grace; the end of the world, in which a Messiah, sent by God, annihilates the terrestrial kingdoms in order to substitute the Kingdom of God for them; and the imminence of the times in which the power of the Savior will be revealed.

Like the Essenes, the Pharisees practiced the Holy Communion or Eucharistic banquet, but they defended a more personal religion, less austere, one better accorded with human weaknesses. Although attached to sacrifices and to the meticulous rigors of the observances, they were much more accommodating, which elicited the reproach of being lax from the Essenes, who themselves refused the sacrifices of the Temple in order to substitute for them the sacrifice of existence and the maceration of the body.

The Pharisees were ardent proselytizers but, unlike the Essenes, the Nazarenes and the Elchasaite Christians (who were mentioned in a letter from Pliny the Younger to [Emperor] Trajan), they were rather inclined to discourage neophytes. Another paradox: like the Christian Jews in the Epistle attributed to Barnabas (90? 100? 110?), they did not remove the obstacles of circumcision, the Sabbath, the rites of purification or prohibited foods.

Placing emphasis on active solidarity, the Pharisees made the synagogues places of mutual assistance and encounter. In them they developed in a kind of social security system that provided assistance to the poor, the elderly, widows and the sick. The Churches (first the Judeo-Christian ones, then the de-Judaicized ones) claimed for themselves the charitable politics of the Pharisees, investing in them in order to establish themselves more easily in the working-class [populaire] milieus.

The Zealot Movement

The Zealots constituted a national guerrilla front that brought together (in a shared hatred for the Roman occupation) diverse religious tendencies in Palestine and across the Diaspora, and were not a religious sect, properly speaking.

Herod, who was king from 37 to 4 [B.C.E.], did not fail to re-build the Temple, appease religious scruples and assure himself of the favor of the Sadducees and Pharisees. Nevertheless, an agitation that no doubt issued from the Essene and Baptist milieus (Dositheans and Nazarenes) ravaged the State under his control.

Speaking about the revolt led by Judah of Gamala, Flavius Joseph mentions a bandit by the name of Ezekias: “There was also a certain Judah, son of Ezekias, the formidable head of the brigands, who had only been taken by Herod with the greatest of difficulties.”[3]

Judah of Gamala (or Galilee) seems to have been the leader of the revolt that took place in the year 6. The crucifixion of his father, Ezekias, took place around 30 [B.C.E.].

The endemic state of the revolt became worse after the death of Herod in 4 [B.C.E.]. “Trouble exploded on all sides in the countryside [...]. A slave of the deceased king put on a diadem and, traveling the region with the brigands whom he had assembled, burned the royal palace at Jericho, as well as many of the luxurious residences.”[4] A shepherd, Athronges, also put on a diadem and traveled the country, killing Romans and the King’s people. In response, the Roman General Varus was sent in with two legions and four regiments of cavalrymen.

In 6, the census organized by Quirinus, the legate of Syria, gave the signal for a general insurrection that was conducted for religious reasons, because “only God can count his people” (which is how the census taken by David is described in the Book of Samuel, 2:24), but was especially caused by the miserable lot of the disadvantaged classes. The insurrection was led by Judah of Gamala, to whom Flavius returns several times.

“Then, a Galilean by the name of Judah pushed his compatriots to revolt by reproaching them for agreeing to pay taxes to the Romans and for supporting mortal masters, beyond God . . .”[5]

“There was also a certain Judah, son of Ezekias, the formidable leader of the brigands, who had only been taken by Herod with the greatest of difficulties. This Judah united around Sepphoris, in Galilee, a troop of desperate people and made an incursion against the Royal Palace. Having seized all the weapons that they found there, he equipped those who surrounded him and carried off all of the riches that he had collected from the place. He terrorized the entire neighborhood with raids and pillaging, aiming for a great fortune and even the honors of royalty, because he hoped to attain this dignity, not by the practice of virtue, but by the very excess of his injustice. . .”[6]

“But a certain Judah the Gaulonite [Galilean] from the town of Gamala joined with a Pharisee named Saddok, and precipitated sedition. They claimed that the Census would lead to nothing less than complete servitude, and they called upon the people to reclaim their liberty. They said that if it should happen that they succeeded, this would be due to the fortune they’d already acquired, and if they were thwarted from seizing the goods that remained for them to take, at least they would have obtained the honor and glory of having shown the grandeur of the soul. Moreover, God preferred the success of their projects; so, in love with great things, they spared no expense in realizing it. . . .

“Here were born seditions and political assassinations, sometimes of fellow citizens, immolated by the fury that caused them to fight against each other and by the passion to never give in to their adversaries, and sometimes of enemies; famine pushed them to the most shameful extremities; the seizure and destruction of towns, until this revolt delivered the very Temple of God to the fire of the enemy. So great was the influence of changing national institutions and overthrowing them that they lost what they had attained, since Judah of Gamala and Saddok – by introducing and awakening among us a fourth philosophical sect and by surrounding themselves with many adherents – filled the country with immediate troubles and planted the roots of the evil that would later strike it, and this thanks to their previously unknown philosophy (of which I have wanted to speak a little), principally because it was the youth’s interest in this sect that was the ruin of the country.

“The fourth philosophical sect had Judah the Galilean as its creator. His sectarians in general were in agreement with the doctrines of the Pharisees, but they also had an invincible love of freedom, because they judged that God is the only leader and the only master. The most extraordinary forms of death, the torture of parents and friends leave them indifferent, provided that they do not have to call any man by the name of master. As many people have witnessed the unshakable firmness with which they submit to all of these evils, I can say no more, because I fear, not that one would doubt what I have said about this subject, but on the contrary that my words would give too weak of an idea of the scorn with which they accept and support sorrow. This madness began to strike our people under the government of Gessius Florus, who, by the excess of his violence, caused them to revolt against the Romans. Such are the philosophical sects that exist amongst the Jews. . .”[7]

Flavius Joseph’s text calls for several remarks. The movement of the Zealots or the “zealous servants of the law of Moses” was not born under the government of Gessius Florus, that is to say, in 65; it emerged from the failure of Judah of Gamala, who was called the Galilean, as was the Messiah Jesus ([Flavius] Joseph is unaware of his existence), and who also wanted to become king of the Jews.

The name of the Pharisee, Sadoq, whom Flavius Joseph (himself a Pharisee) held in mediocre esteem, evokes the idea of justice, as does the Essenes’ Master of Justice and the Judeo-Christians’ Jacob/James. Finally, the grouping together of diverse religious tendencies that the historian calls the “fourth sect” – does it not suggest the idea of a religious syncretism in which each combatant, not recognizing any authority other than that of God, is the brother of and witness for Adonai, Kyrios, the Savior?

In 45, Cuspius Fadus – named the governor of Judea by Emperor Claude – had to face an insurrection led by the Messiah Theudas (aka Judah or Thomas), who was followed by a great many poor people. In the manner of Elie and Elisee in Hebrew mythology, he promised his troops they would take Jerusalem and cross the River Jordan without getting their feet wet. By promising to lead his flock into the holy land, he repeated the gesture of Joshua. Fadus suppressed the revolt. Theudas was decapitated, his partisans massacred.

Between 46 and 48, Tiberius Alexander, who succeeded Fadus, ordained the crucifixion of the two sons of Judah of Gamala: Simeon (Simon) and his brother Jacob (James).

Under Agrippa III, around 49, new clashes broke out between Jews and Zealots. Battles were fought beside the Temple. In 66, Caesarea was the theatre of battle between Jews and Greeks. Two years later, an incident brought fire to the powder. Eleazar, son of the great priest Anania and leader of the Temple’s guards, killed the third son or the grandson of Judah of Galilee, Menachem, one of the leaders of the Zealot movement (his name means “paraclete” [in Greek] and “comforter” [in Latin]). The general war against Rome and the independence of Israel were proclaimed in a great confusion, because Jews from rival factions killed each other in Jerusalem. This would last up to 70 [C.E.].

Flavius Joseph, who had been the governor of Galilee, said the following with full knowledge of the causes of the Vespasian campaign.

“After the taking of Jopata, all of the Galileans who had escaped from the arms of the Romans surrendered to them. They then occupied all the places, except for Gischala and Mount Itabyrios (Thabor). The holdouts were also in Gamala, the town of the Taricheans, situated above the lake, where the kingdom of Agrippa ended, and [there were holdouts] next to Sogone and Seleucia, and also [on the shores of] Lake Semechonitis. The lake’s width is sixty verstes and extends to the market town called Daphne, which is completely beautiful and has access to the sources from which comes the Little Jordan, [which flows] under the Temple of the Golden Cow (one of the golden cows in Jeroboam: I Kings 12, 29), before reaching the Great Jordan. By sending delegates to these places and putting his faith in them, Agrippa has pacified them.

“But Gamala did not submit, counting on its solidity, because the soil was rocky and the town stood on a foothill, like a neck and two shoulders, and thus had the appearance of a camel. Thus it was called Gamal, but the people of the country did not call it by its real name, Kamil (the Galilean pronunciation of Gamal), because they detested this animal (in Greek, kamelos).

“On its flank and in front, there were depthless precipices; behind, it was not very fortified, but the inhabitants had reinforced it with a deep moat. As far as dwellings, they had been built extremely close together at the center of the place, and there were [horizontal] wells drilled through, all the way to the end of the town.

“As strong as the place was, Flavius Joseph had it fortified even more by constructing solid ramparts and establishing conduits and tunnels, so that one could also circulate through it under the ground.”[8]

Situated to the east of Lake Tiberias (Genesareth), Gamala – despite its privileged situation – fell into the hands of Titus, son of Vespasian, after tough fighting.

In August 70, the Roman Decima Legio seized Jerusalem, sacked it and ruined the Temple. The Zealots’ desperate resistance was sustained until the fall of Masada, their last fortress, in 73.

In the first half of the Second Century, revolt broke out again under the leadership of the Messiah Bar Kokhba. Hadrian crushed it in 135, reducing the Jewish nation and State to nonexistence for the next nineteen centuries.

If Flavius Joseph spoke of the Zealots as if they were a sect, this was because the insurrection had been experienced like a veritable national and religious epic, a saga whose scattered fragments nourished midrashim of anger, despair and eschatology before being revised and faultily translated into Greek and implanted into the propaganda narratives (first Christian, then Catholic) that falsified their meaning.

Jews of all beliefs were among the Zealots. A Hellenized aristocrat, Flavius Joseph – a functionary of the Roman Empire – reproached them for their violence and fanaticism. (Nothing excludes the possibility that the fire that ravaged Rome in 64 [C.E.], to which Nero’s pogroms responded, was the work of a hardcore faction of the Zealots active in Rome’s Jewish community. In 49, troubles attributed to the Jews had exploded in Rome. Supposing that it isn’t an interpolation, the formula “impulsatore Christo,” which Suetone employs around 130 in his Life of the Twelve Caesars – “with the prompting of a Messiah,” with chrestos or Christos simply translating the Hebrew messiah – refers to those troubles.) But, with xenophobia and nationalist messianism helping out, these religious tendencies amalgamated themselves into an apparent unity, from which Judeo-Christianity would draw a kind of specificity after the defeat [of 70 C.E.].

The Pharisees expressed the hope for salvation, the imminent end of the world, the approach of the Last Judgment and resurrection.

Despite the pacifism with which one generally credits them, the Essenes participated in the Zealot movement. The Decima Legio would raze the site of Qumran. Among the texts discovered at Masada – in addition to the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira – was a specifically Essenean ritual, [namely] the Sabbath prayer [sung] in union with the angels of heaven.[10]

What about a Judeo-Christian presence of the Ebionite or Nazarene type [among the Zealots]? The works of Flavius Joseph mention many names that also appear in the exegetical and propagandistic literature; they pop up in the Hebrew or Aramaic midrashim of the First Century, and the Catholic texts of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Centuries. Thus it seems that, due to the ahistorical spirit of Judaism, the two Zealot leaders, Jacob/James and Simon, son of Judah of Gamala, “became” Jacob of Kepher Schanya, the leader of a the Nazarene community, executed between 41 and 42 on the orders of Herod Agrippa, and Simon the Essene, the enemy of Jochanaan (John the Baptist), respectively. The first of the two would later become James the Just and the second Simon/Peter, descended from Simon Cephas (Simon the Rock, Simon the Stone, Simon the Bald, Simon the Cruel, Simon the Unshakable?).

The agitator Theudas contains the doublon[11] Jude/Judas and Thomas. The evangelic legends call him “Athlete” (according to the Essene expression “athlete of virtue”) and “father of the Savior.” These four names would enter into the future communion of the apostles chosen for the patronage of diverse communities. Around the end of the Second Century, the assembly of the apostles would constitute the team members of the only hero of whom no trace exists outside of Hebrew mythology: Joshua/Jesus.

It would not be without interest to mention Brandon’s thesis, in which Jesus was a Zealot put to death along with other brigands or lestoi. Saul/Paul, an adversary of the communities or Churches that claimed James and Simon/Peter for themselves, erected Jesus as the exemplary value of his [Saul/Paul’s] soteriological and penitential system. In order to please Rome, he substituted for the terrorist a saint put to death, not by the Romans, but by the Jews, who did not pardon him, his pacifism, or the ecumenism of his God of Kindness. These are fictions that, well into the Twentieth Century, took up the reins for the canonical Gospels in order to support the statue of an historical Jesus by according a growing credit to the Zealot hypothesis, which suppose that Jesus was the brother of James and Simon, and thus the son of Judah of Gamala. (One can not fail to cite one of the two remarks that do not conform with the kindness of the Messiah and that have persisted through the composite redaction of the Gospels: “Moreover, bring here my enemies who have not wanted me to reign over them and cut their throats in my presence. After having spoken thus, Jesus put himself at the head of his followers in order to go to Jerusalem” Gospel attributed to Luke, 19, 27-28.)

Although Dubourg’s thesis of a Biblical Joshua (incarnated in many prophets) confirms the nonexistence of a historical Jesus as late as the second half of the Second Century (in 150, a work recognized by all the churches of the epoch under the title The Shepherd of Hermas does not mention him), it does not exclude the intervention – in the long struggle of dissident Jews against Rome – of a “new Joshua” with whom Theudas/Thomas (much later called the “twin brother of Jesus”) might have identified himself.

After 70, Rome imposed the peace of the cemetery on Palestine. The Sadducee aristocracy disappeared; the last Zealot party desperately resisted at Masada. The Samaritans and the Essenes entered the war on the side of the Judeans, were decimated and took refuge in the cities of the Diaspora. Only the Pharisees – friends of Rome and defenders of the peace – escaped the violence of the conquerors, only to fall to the animosity of the vanquished, that is to say, the Esseno-Christians, who themselves fell apart into a multitude of sects that repudiated the bloody God of Israel, contested Mosaic law and rediscovered pacifism, which had been briefly forsaken.

[1] B. Dubourg, L’Invention de Jésus, Paris, 1987, I, p. 266.

[2] M. Simon, Paris, 1960; E.M. Laperrousaz, L’Attente du messie, Paris.

[3] Flavius Joseph, Antiquités judaiques, XVII, 10.

[4] Flavius Joseph, La Guerre des Juifs, II, 4, 5.

[5] Ibid., II, 18.

[6] Flavius Joseph, Antiquités judaiques, XVII, 10.

[7] Ibid., XVIII, 1.

[8] Flavius Joseph, La Guerre des Juifs, II, 11.

[9] Translator’s note: Latin for “the Tenth Legion.”

[10] Y. Yadin, The Ben Sira Scroll from Masada, Jerusalem, 1965.

[11] Translator’s note: this French word can mean a two-sided coin, a “doubloon,” or a typographic double.

(Published by Fayard in 1993. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2013. All footnotes by the author, except where noted.)

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