From award-winning scholar John Bergsma comes an intriguing book that sheds light on the almost-forgotten Jewish sect of the Essenes, a radical religious group with striking parallels to the first Christians. The library of these devout worshippers is known to moderns as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the only surviving Jewish documents written before or during the lifetime of Jesus. Bergsma reveals how the Judaism of this sect influenced the beliefs, sacraments, and practices of early Christianity, eventually transforming the Roman Empire and Western civilization. Curious details and often-ignored oddities in the Gospel and other New Testament books suddenly make sense and come to life against the backdrop of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which reveal a kind of Judaism unknown to most readers today. Hardcover.