Rabbinic Judaism is inchoate until two centuries after Christ
Philo of Alexandria, the first-century Jewish philosopher referred to above, describes a similar group in Egypt he calls ‘Theraputae’ because of their expertise in health or medicinal matters, including presumably curings.4 For its part, the New Testament does not refer to Essenes at all, nor does the Talmud, not at least qua Essenes.
This may be explained by the fact that all groups of this kind are simply being referred to retrospectively, as we have noted, as minim (‘sects’) or Saddukim (‘Sadducees’) after the Pharisees cum Rabbis took control of Jewish life in the wake of the failure of the Uprising against Rome. In using these notations, no attempt was made to draw fine distinctions, if in fact these were even appreciated by the time the Talmudic materials were finally redacted in the ‘Oral Law’ or Mishnah in the second and third centuries CE.
The Early Christians were the Essenes, Nazarenes, or Ebionites, “the Poor”
The surprising absence of references to ‘Essenes’ per se in the New Testament is even more easily explained. The New Testament refers to Pharisees, Sadducees (sometimes ‘Scribes’), Herodians, and even to a certain extent Zealots – these, as in the case of Simon the Zealot, within Jesus’ following, not outside it. The same goes for the term Sicarii, probably reprised by names like Judas Iscariot and his father, Simon Iscariot (thus – John 6:71) and straightforwardly transliterated into Greek in Acts 21: 3 8. The reason Josephus’ Essenes are missing from this list is that this is the group that the New Testament is itself. That said, the New Testament is developing additional terminology to describe itself, that of ‘Nazoraeans’/‘Nazirites’/‘Nazrenes’ or, as some like Hippolytus would have it, ‘Naassenes’, a seeming combination of Nazrenes and Essenes.7 Though this complicates the situation, for Hippolytus these last are basically synonymous both with Essenes and another group always mentioned as connected to James, ‘the Ebionites’ or ‘the Poor’.
James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls , Robert H. Eisenman
MIshnah Rabbinic Judaism is a constructed memory and redaction of earlier traditions made by opponents of Messiah Judaism in Response to Roman and Christian displacement ( of the remaining anti-Messiah Jews )
6. Zev Gerber states the following in his review of Neusner’s Comparative Midrash, as a description of Neusner’s argument:
“…the rabbis chose a repertoire of scriptural verses distinctive of its self-understanding and self-realization for the dignity and continuity of Israel against the realia of the Roman Catastrophe and the triumph of a diverse group of believers, early Christianity.”
Neusner often makes the point that rabbinic literature should be seen as an ideological response to the environment of the rabbis, not as a straight narration of what actually happened. The above quote gives an example of what Neusner means by this: the rabbis’ midrash addresses (at least in part) the Roman catastrophe and Christianity.
“Neusner is the main skeptic about the utility of rabbinic material [to understand the pre-70 Pharisees]. He concludes from the Tannaitic corpus that ‘none of the masters prior to Gamaliel I was personally known to post-70 authorities,’ indicating that ‘no one after 70 could claim to have heard precisely what they said.’ Moreover, Neusner contends that the 70 C.E. calamity in Jerusalem disrupted the transmission of traditions, since Pharisees died and their political conditions were dramatically altered. Consequently, for Neusner, the rabbis tried to portray pre-70 Judea using the few traditions they had, and they sometimes ‘invented what they needed.’ Neusner definitely believes that ideology played a role in the rabbinic portrayal, for there is a tendency in Tannaitic literature to elevate Hillel (whose party was dominant after 70) at the expense of Shammai, undercutting Shammai’s first century predominance in Pharisaism that the literature sometimes acknowledges. In addition, Neusner views pre-70 Pharisaic beliefs, ideas, and values as ‘not easily accessible,’ for they have been revised by post-70 rabbinic masters with their own theological agenda: to assert that Israel can serve her creator despite the destruction of the temple. ..”
Neusner and the Historicity of Rabbinic Literature, James Pate
If Christian (Essene) Judaism was a Minority view according to Redactive Rabbinic Judaism, how did their customs travel as far as Ethiopia?