Secret Initiation of
Jesus at Qumran
The Essene Mysteries of
John the Baptist
By Robert Feather
Published by Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
paperback, 16-page colour
At first glance a book on
ancient texts written by a metallurgist sounds as appetising as
iron filings, but Robert Feather’s book on the Essene mysteries
of John the Baptist has all the twists and turns of an Indiana Jones
movie script, including cover-ups, intrigues, and a missing headless
The Secret Initiation of Jesus at Qumran follows
Robert Feather’s earlier book, The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran, but stands eloquently in its own right.
Feather continues the story of the secretive, devout Jewish sect known as the Essenes, who lived at Qumran around the time of Jesus.
In this book he presents a persuasive and powerful argument illustrating the strong link between the Essenes and the teachings of the Christian scriptures. He demonstrates, very clearly, with evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and other research, that both John the Baptist and Jesus were intimately involved with this community.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who has studied this fascinating community, and other works on this subject, that there appears to have been a clever cover-up of this vital and revealing information.
Robert Feather takes us on a fascinating journey to Qumran to reveal these hidden and secret facts. Assisting Feather in his research was Jozef Milik. Milik was a former Catholic priest, and one of the scholars who worked on deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s.
In his interviews with Feather, Milik reveals that
during the excavation a headless skeleton,
believed to be that of John the Baptist, was uncovered. These remains
conveniently “disappeared” but
the actual burial site is still clearly
visible, and there is an old photograph of the remains.
Like all good investigators, Feather does not rely on hearsay and documentation alone, he actually takes us to the gravesite and provides compelling photographs of the area, never published before.
Without giving away too much, Feather discovers another grave nearby that may be much more interesting. It is marked by a carved stone of thorns, a stone carving of a male profile, and a cross. The photographs he provides are compelling.
Like most reputable scholars, Feather agrees that the man we call Jesus definitely existed in physical form, and he cites a great deal of evidence to support this, most surprising of all from the Jewish rabbinical literature.
However, what is less understood is the origin
of Jesus’ teachings and so Feather takes us on a mystical
journey to Qumran to uncover their
The ancestors of the Essenes returned from exile in Babylon around 586 BCE where they had managed to preserve their beliefs and way of life. They found sanctuary in the forbidden reaches of the Dead Sea.
Around the end of the first century BCE, their successors witnessed the restoration of the Second Temple by Herod but felt the temple was compromised by the influence of the Romans and the whims of Herod, who was a vassal of Rome. The Essenes therefore decided to turn away from Jerusalem and focus all their attention on the expected coming of the Messiah.
The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John agree that John the Baptist lived in the desert and preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He anticipated an imminent eschatological event and saw himself as preparing the way for a messiah. The Qumran Essenes shared this vision, but they also shared the ceremony of ritual immersion.
At Qumran, cleansing by entry into ritual water seems to have been practiced for an initiate who had completed his first year of probation, for spiritual cleanliness and for repentance.
These echo the rituals performed by John the Baptist,
states Feather, and therefore, if,
as the Bible states, John the Baptist immersed Jesus in the running
water of the River Jordan, then it would have been his initiation
into the Essene’s
Feather points out that the River Jordan is only a short distance from the Essene enclave and was possibly used by them for this practice.
However, the one question that intrigues us, is where did the Essenes get their teachings?
It is clear that much of the Dead Sea Scrolls are in some kind of code or secret language.
Feather points out that until recently it has not been easy to show a direct, continuous physical link extending back from the time the Essenes settled at Qumran (around 150 BCE) to the Egyptian New Kingdom 18th-dynasty period of Akhenaton circa 1350 BCE.
However, Feather’s research into the Copper
Scroll of Qumran provides a substantive
case for the Essenes being heirs to a priestly line that went back
to the First Temple in Jerusalem, linked through the remaining 400
year gap, via Moses and Joseph, to the Egypt of Akhenaton.
This proposition seems, at first glance, to be far too much of a stretch and might be subject to ridicule were it not for the facts that the first Christians, followers of Jesus, travelled to Egypt and built their first churches near or around sacred Akhenaton locations.
Feather also provides evidence that the Qumran
Essenes were physically present at
Amarna, Akhenaton’s capital
in Egypt, and carried out rituals
in these sacred places.
Early followers of Jesus were very active in Egypt. Feather cites ample evidence through the Nag Hammadi Codices, Jewish tradition and of course, the Gospels themselves, that there was a clear link between Jesus and Egypt.
Perhaps even more intriguing is the evidence of a huge cover-up.
Clearly the very thought that Jesus and John the Baptist were Essenes, that the Essenes themselves trace their origins back to Akhenaton, and that the origins of all three Western religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, spring from an Egyptian Pharaoh, is too fearful a proposition for the Establishment.
In the extensive appendices, Feather provides letters written in the 1950s when British researcher John Allegro broadcast some of these findings on the BBC and from there in the New York Times.
This includes letters from the Jerusalem Team attacking
Allegro’s position, denouncing the “facts” and implying Allegro had “misread the texts” and had then “built
up a chain of conjectures which the
materials do not support.”
The virulent attack on anyone or any evidence that supports the Essene connection seems to be far too extreme. Why, we ask, would anyone hide a skeleton? Why would highly intelligent scholars attack and suppress these facts? What does the church, the synagogue and the mosque have to fear?
Ultimately it is this question that needs to be explored.
So many books have been written by well-intentioned researchers that attack the essence of the wisdom. It is easy to get lost in facts and use them to bludgeon the truth rather than to reveal it.
For example, how many books assert that Jesus, the human, physical person did not exist, or was perhaps a floating spirit, or the dream from a magic mushroom, or my personal favourite, a four-foot midget, with a hunchback, and one eyebrow?
We can use “facts” to support almost
any theory, but surely it is only when
these facts give us meat, substance and wisdom that they become
Robert Feather embraces the gold. He asserts these
facts bring “monumental gains” for Christianity. He
points out that by embracing the truth
we can heal the wounds between Christians and Jews, and given
the current situation in the Middle East, also allow us to embrace
our Muslim brothers.
This information reveals the essence of spirituality
to be love, kindness and equality
including both genders and all people. Isn’t that what we
are all struggling to create? Yes, indeed all three religions spring
from Abraham, but who and what was this line is more the question.
Surely it is time for us to return to true fundamentals, and revise the wisdom of Akhenaton and his queen Nefertiti, who was his co-ruler.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who
is a serious student of the “whys” in life. The facts
not only liberate us from ancient lies
that teach us to control and repress others, but even more importantly,
they liberate the characters of Jesus, John the Baptist and Akhenaton
and allow them to become three-dimensional people, just like us.
This gift, this freedom, then allows us all to strive towards our own inner spiritual liberation, knowing that deep inside we are all the same.
Robert Feather takes us on a magical and gentle journey into these facts. He is thorough and yet uncompromising in his research and sensitivity. The extensive appendices, glossaries and notes contain many little gems of wisdom.
A “must-have” for
any serious researcher.
– Reviewed by Lesley
Crossingham in New Dawn No. 95