Ancient sources such as Philo of Alexandria and Josephus Flavius tell us that the Essenes were a Jewish sect strictly following what they believed to be in keeping with the covenant and oneness of God. Perhaps their best known settlement was at the Qumran located along the Dead Sea. They are often cited as the community which authored of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some speculate that Jesus himself may have been an Essene.
The following are Jesus’s words as quoted from the Essene Gospel of Peace, a manuscript which exists in Aramaic in the Secret Archives of the Vatican and in old Slavonic in the Royal Library of the Habsburgs (now the property of the Austrian government). It was translated by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely. Back in the 1980s i wrote Mr. Szekely for permission to use this and other quotes for a booklet i had written on the mystical perspectives of the Bible. He wrote back gladly granting me permission.
The quote below focuses mainly on the reasons for a lacto-vegetarian diet (a vegetarian diet which includes milk products). I have made the excerpt brief for this blog entry. However, the entire book is now available freely online for anyone to read at thenazareneway.com.
But they answered him: “Whither should we go, Master, for with you are the words of eternal life? Tell us, what are the sins which we must shun, that we may nevermore see disease?”
Jesus answered: “Be it so according to your faith,” and he sat down among them, saying:
“It was said to them of olden time, ‘Honor thy Heavenly Father and thy Earthly Mother, and their commandments, that thy days may be long upon the earth.’ And next was given this commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ for life is given to all by God, and that which God has given, let not man take away. For I tell you truly, from one Mother proceeds all that lives upon the earth. Therefore he who kills, kills his brother. And from him will the Earthly Mother turn away, and will pluck from him her quickening breasts. And he will be shunned by her angels, and Satan will have his dwelling in his body. And the flesh of slain beasts in his body will become his own tomb. For I tell you truly, he who kills, kills himself, and whosoever eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death. And their death will become his death. For the wages of sin is death. Kill not, neither eat the flesh of your innocent prey, lest you become the slaves of Satan. For that is the path of sufferings, and it leads unto death. But do the Will of God, that his angels may serve you on the way of life. Obey, therefore, the words of God: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb, bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is breath of life, I give every green herb for meat.’ Also the milk of everything that moveth and that liveth upon each shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given unto them, so I give their milk unto you. But flesh, and the blood which quickens it, shall ye not eat.”
And Jesus continued: “God commanded your forefathers, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ But their heart was hardened and they killed. Then Moses desired that at least they should not kill men, and he suffered them to kill beasts. And then the heart of your forefathers was hardened yet more, and they killed men and beasts likewise. But I say to you: Kill neither men, nor beasts, nor yet the food which goes into your mouth. For if you eat living food the same will quicken you, but if you kill your food, the dead food will kill you also. For life comes only from life, and from death comes always death. For everything which kills your foods, kills your bodies also. And everything which kills your bodies, kills your souls also. And your bodies become what your foods are, even as your spirits, likewise, become what your thoughts are.”