Josephus’ description of the Essenes in Life, Antiquities of the Jews and The Judaean War, was utilised also by Porphyry and Hippolytus. There are significant overlaps with Philo. Josephus also uses the Essenes as a model of excellence, at the centre of Jewish life: an important, ancient and powerful legal society or school (like the Pharisees and Sadducees) that had independent legal authority. Employing the rhetoric of masculinity, Josephus emphasises their high degree of self-control, manifesting the pinnacle of Jewish ideals. They were honoured by the Herodian dynasty, especially for their expertise in predictive arts, and the Essene Gate led directly into the Herodian palace compound in Jerusalem. Josephus indicated that the Essenes were experts also in pharmacology and healing. They esteemed the Temple so much that they had an area of special purity within it for their sacrifices. These features of Josephus’ portrayal have been little recognised in previous discussions.
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