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This book focuses on the relationship of Jesus to the Essenes, but it cannot be considered History, Theology or Religion. This is the story by a psychologist who uses hypnotism to help people explore "past lives." She has taken a critical and controlled approach to check for extraneous factors or fraud. It is well-presented as an objective scientific experiment.
The topic arises out of the discovery of a past personality of one of her patients, who in this life comes forth under hypnosis as an Essene, who becomes a teacher of Jesus. This in itself is not particularly remarkable. She does report on studies she did on Qumran and related topics as matters arose from her conversations with Suddi.
One thing that struck me is that with various aspects of Jewish life and tradition, including information from the Tanakh (Jewish Scriptures), she often expresses ignorance of things Suddi refers to, which are somewhat common knowledge, and clearly in the scriptures. This seems to add authenticity to the discussions and "reports" from Suddi. It is curious, however, what she indicates Suddi knows about, or terms he does or does not recognize, in regard to the times he lives and culture and technology he knows.
Suddi is, of course, limited to the use of the English of Katie, the subject of this regression therapy that discovered Suddi as a former life or personality of Katie. The words he knows or does not know seem random and inconsistent. You would think if there is a term, he could access the meaning and usage of the term from Katie's mind, in the same way he has accessed her knowledge of English in order to communicate with the therapist.
In the discussions Suddi explains much about the technology and astronomy or other knowledge collected, stored and taught in the Essene community, which he names Kum-ran, obviously meant to be the Qumran we now know. All very interesting, but with some puzzling aspects. Cannon reflects on implications of the possibility that Jesus might have been an Essene, taught by the masters there. She indicates this conflicts with the traditional ideas of Jesus and beginnings of Christianity.
Ironically, most of the differences between what she reports from Suddi and what she assumes is Christian or biblical seems often to be due to her ignorance of the Bible or the history of Christianity. I was likewise surprised to see some reviewers commenting on how all this, such as the breadth of knowledge of the Essenes, undercuts the whole foundation of Christianity. Well, perhaps it does threaten entrenched institutions built around a cultural and abstract intellectual concept of religion in Cultural Christianity.
But there is no threat in learning that Jesus related to the largest and best-organized messianic community in his land at the time. That seems quite natural. There is a danger is jumping to sweeping irrational conclusions from new insights like the Dead Seas Scrolls, or certain interpretations of them. I don't know if there is danger in considering the possibility that a human personality could live through life in more than one historical character and physical person. It certainly isn't consistent with established "received" religion in institutional Christianity.
I am wary of esoteric methods, however, objectively conducted and scientifically evaluated, that claim to access historical personalities through hypnosis. Dr. Cannon does go to great lengths to verify what is "revealed" through conversations with Suddi, the Essene student/teacher who becomes the teacher of Jesus on behalf of the Essene community.
This is interesting reading. I enjoyed reading it critically, and with an open sense of ultimate judgement. But this is not the Bible. It is not the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not the Essene commentaries on the Old Testament. And there is certainly nothing in the Qumran scrolls that resembles or purports to be an alternate version of ANY New Testament writing. The texts of the Old Testament are exactly the same, accompanied by clearly interpretive commentary.
This is light reading, in the general sense, not history, or theology. It is a good study in one aspect of psychology, and worth considering in that arena.
See related reviews and articles on this site:
Maturing Dead Sea Scrolls Scholarship
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Written 27 November 2006
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 07 December 2006
Reviewed on Amazon 3 March 2009
Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.