Essenism from the standpoint of Judaism was heterodox in two respects, the abandonment of animal sacrifices and the adoration of the sun.
The above evidence has left students in doubt as to whether Essenism is to be regarded as a pure product of the Jewish mind or as due in part to some foreign influence.
These and other points of divergences are not explained by Ritschl's interesting theory that Essenism was an organized attempt to carry out the idea of " a kingdom of priests and an holy nation " (Ex.
Granting then that some foreign influence was at work in Essenism, we have four theories offered to us - that this influence was Persian, Buddhist, Pythagorean, or lastly, as maintained by Lipsius, that of the surrounding Syrian heathenism.
Similarly Christian Essenism was syncretist in spirit, as we see from its best-known representatives, the Elchasaites, of whom we first hear about 220, when a certain Alcibiades of Apamea in Syria (some 60 m.
Ad Jac. 2), which probably shared most of the features of Ebionite Essenism as described by Epiphanius xxx.
Though there is insufficient justification for dividing the Ebionites into two separate and distinct communities, labelled respectively Ebionites and Nazarenes, we have good evidence, not only that there were grades of Christological thought among them, but that a considerable section, at the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd, exchanged their simple Judaistic creed for a strange blend of Essenism and Christianity.