DID JOHN THE BAPTIST EAT LIKE A FORMER ESSENE? LOCUST-EATING IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST AND AT QUMRAN JAMES A. KELHOFFER Saint Louis University James H. Charlesworth has argued that John the Baptist’s eating locusts and honey characterizes the legendary wilderness prophet as a former Essene: During the beginning of his [John’s] attempt to enter the Community, he would have sworn an oath to obey Torah according to the interpretation of the priests (1QS 1.16 – 20; 5.1 – 6.1; 6.13 – 23). He ate only honey and wild locusts. That would indicate that he did not accept food from others. The description of what John ate has a decidedly Qumran or Essene ring to it. That is, locusts and honey were acceptable foods for the Qumranites and the Essenes. 1 Charlesworth uses a particular interpretation of CD 12:11b – 15a to support this characterization of John as a former Essene: No-one should de fi le his soul 12 with any living being or one which creeps, by eating them, from the larvae of bees to every living 13 being ( d[ µyrwbdh ylg[m hyjh çpn lk ) which creeps in water. And fi sh: they should not
Dead Sea Discoveries – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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