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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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Qumran Communion

Qumran Communion

John Miller considers the evidence that the Last Supper was an Essene Passover

Jesus met with his disciples at a secret location in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He said that he had longed to share “this Passover” with them, marking it as something out of the ordinary. We have usually interpreted “this Passover” as a special one, because it was the “last” supper. But are we right to do so? Let’s look first at the man carrying the water pot who led the disciples to the upper room. What man in first-century Palestine would carry his own water pot? One without slaves or a wife, so quite likely an Essene, for the Essenes did not own slaves and they were celibate. There was an established Essene community in Jerusalem. Known as “the people of The Way”, they disagreed radically with the Temple authorities, as did our Lord. Most scholars connect them with the Essenes who founded the desert settlement at Qumran some 150 years before Christ. So Jesus celebrated “this Passover” in an Essene house, entry to which required a password (Mark 26: 18). A password had also been required to release for him the donkey used for the triumphal entry to Jerusalem. So it seems that Jesus had a hidden following in Jerusalem already. Was he an Essene, or had he merely engaged with the Essene community previously? This could explain the strange silence of the New Testament on the subject of Essenes, as if the Gospel writers wished to conceal or play down any connection between such a subversive group and the Christian movement. ___ This is an extract from the April 2014 edition of Reform. Subscribe to Reform

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