Did John the Baptist live at Qumran? See the Dead Sea Scrolls? Write any of them? These questions have gripped scholars because the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal remarkable similarities between the Essenes and John's teachings and practices:
- John the Baptist came from a family of priests; many of the Essenes were priests who disagreed with the temple authorities.
- John was called to prepare the way of the Lord; the Essenes main purpose for living in the wilderness was to prepare the way for the Lord.
- John baptized people as a sign of repentance and inner cleansing; the Essenes practiced ritual cleansing in water as a sign of the souls cleansing.
- John the Baptist didn't participate in the normal lifestyle of his people; the Essenes lived an isolated, ascetic existence.
Despite the remarkable similarities, John was never identified as an Essene, was not a member of any community, and cannot be placed definitively at Qumran. He proclaimed his message publicly rather than seeking the shelter of a monastic setting like that of Qumran.