Seldom has a discovery like that of the Dead Sea Scrolls awakened so much interest outside academic circles. A few have...



Seldom has a discovery like that of the Dead Sea Scrolls awakened so much interest outside academic circles. A few have viewed with alarm the implications for Christianty, though their alarms have been muted somewhat by their journalistic haste in getting into print. Others have written about the fascinating discovery of the writings of this desert sect, antedating and contemporary with, early Christianity, as if it were a true-life detective story, as of course in many ways it is. But others still have found in the now amplified history of the Essenes made possible by the new light shed on their works and ways by the Dead Sea Scrolls, a clearer understanding of Christianity itself, its uniqueness and commanding power revealed still more clearly by a fuller knowledge of what it shared in common with this earlier desert religion. Mr. Howlett, in The Essenes and Christianity, makes a strong contribution within this last category. He skilfully blends what is known about the Essenes with what has just been learned, compares it closely with Christianity as its early followers understood and practised it, and concludes that in many ways Christianity is an outgrowth of the Essene sect. ""Theologically Christianity was a spiritualization of Essenism, as Essenism had been a spiritualisation of Pharisaism. Psychologically it took its rise from the conviction that Jesus of Nasareth was in fact the Massiah. Sociologically and ecclesiastically Christianity adopted many essential forms, the structure and practices of the Essenes. These were important factors which enabled Christianity to survive. But the Dead Scrolls, by throwing light on the origin of our religion, makes us see more clearly that it is grounded in fact, not in fancy, and without the stamp of Jesus' peculiar genius upon it, it might in truth have been but another Essenism, suffering the same fate. This is a most significant and important book to all who would keep abreast of the rapid strides now being made in establishing the fact and the truth of Christianity as it grew in and out of its native soil.

Pub Date: April 17, 1957


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1957