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The Nuttall Encyclopedia
A religious communistic fraternity, never very numerous, that grew up on the soil of Judea about the time of the Maccabees, and had establishments in Judea when Christ was on earth, as well as afterwards in the time of Josephus; they led an ascetic life, practised the utmost ceremonial cleanness, were rigorous in their observance of the Jewish law, and differed from the Pharisees in that they gave to the Pharisaic spirit a monastic expression; they represented Judaism in its purest essence, and in the spirit of their teaching came nearer Christianity than any other sect of the time; "Essenism," says Schürer, "is first and mainly of Jewish formation, and in its non-Jewish features it had most affinity with the Pythagorean tendency of the Greeks."
Wood, James, ed. Entry for 'Essenes'. The Nuttall Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/nut/e/essenes.html. Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London. 1900.