The Last Supper and the Essenes

by David Flusser

The discovery of the Essene Dead Sea Scrolls caused a revolution in research both of early Christianity and of Judaism. Many scholars thought that even the Sacrament of the Eucharist is Essene in origin. Is it not written in Josephus (Wars II, 129) that before their meal the Essenes purify themselves in cold water and “after this purification, they assemble in a private apartment which none of the uninitiated is permitted to enter; being now pure themselves, they repair to the refectory as to some sacred shrine”? But even if an Essene influence on the Christian sacrament should be accepted, a new question arises: if Christian sacred meals are influenced by the Essenes, does it mean that already Jesus’s last supper in Jerusalem was an Essene ceremony? Continue reading