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A sect of the Jews, not mentioned in the New Testament, dwelling principally in secluded settlements on the shores of the Dead Sea. They practiced an ascetic form of life, abstaining from marriage, wine, and animal food. They took no part in the temple worship, having priests and ministers of their own. Our principal sources of information about the Essenes are Josephus, Philo Judaeus, and Pliny the Elder. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls may be their records.