There is some difficulty in determining how far the Essenes separated themselves locally from their fellow-countrymen.
In Judaea the Essenes before the time of Christ lived a fully organized monastic life (see Schiirer, Jewish People, Ii.
There are also certain obvious points of resemblance between the Essenes and the early Christians.
Certain circles in Judaism, as the Essenes in Palestine (Josephus, B.J.
A precocious student of the Law, he made trial of the three sects of Judaism - Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes - before he reached the age of nineteen.
For a specially Jewish view of the Essenes see Kohler's article in the Jewish Encyclopaedia.
On the one hand it might be maintained that the Essenes out-Pharisee'd the Pharisees.
But Alexander's conquests brought the Jews into contact with Hindu and Greek mysticism; and this probably explains the growth of the ascetic Essenes some two centuries before the Christian era.
The contemplative asceticism of the Essenes of Judaea may be mentioned, and, somewhat later, the life of the Therapeutae on the shores of Lake Moeris.
But on the other hand the Essenes avoided marriage, which the Pharisees held in honour; they offered no animal-sacrifices in the Temple; they refrained from the use of oil, which was customary among the Pharisees (Luke vii.