Szekely, Edmond Bordeaux (?-1980)
Szekely, Edmond Bordeaux (?-1980)
Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, the proponent of a modern spiritual pathway he ascribed to the ancient Essenes, was born in Hungary early in the twentieth century. He was the grandson of the poet Alexander Szekely. His father was the Unitarian bishop of Clug, Transylvania (now in Romania), and his mother was a French Roman Catholic. His primary education was at a parochial school, and as a young man he was sent to study in Rome. There around 1923, in the Vatican Archives, he reportedly discovered the lost gospel written in Aramaic, the language Jesus actually spoke. He also reportedly discovered a Hebrew fragment of the text in Monte Cassino. (Szekely left little information about the manuscripts and no one else has been able to locate them.) Szekely also claimed to have found a copy of the manuscript written in Old Slavonic in Vienna, but again few details have been left concerning the find or its present location.
Szekely published a section of the manuscript in 1937 as the Gospel of Peace by the Apostle John. It was later republished as the Essene Gospel of Peace, the name by which it is currently best known. Given the vague information on its discovery and the failure in locating the original manuscripts, critics have suggested that the ancient texts never existed and that the Essene Gospel is an entirely modern product of Szekely's imagination. In spite of these criticisms, many have found the book of great inspirational value.
Shortly after the publication of the Gospel, Szekely founded several communes in France which attempted to embody its teachings. However, as Hitler rose to power, Szekely left for the Americas. He settled in Tecate, Mexico, south of San Diego, and eventually became a Mexican citizen. He purchased a rural estate and opened the Essene School, built upon the idea that Jesus and the first Christians were Essenes. Here he began to systematically teach his principles for healthy living, which he termed biogenics. Keys to the system were vegetarianism and the use of whole fresh foods. His estate, Rancho la Puerta, became famous as a health spa, attracting many wealthy and famous people.
In 1958 Szekely opened the Golden Door, a health spa in Escondido, California, that became one of the most famous of the era. It was especially favored by Hollywood stars. From his base in the Essene School he founded the International Biogenic Society to perpetuate his health perspective and authored numerous books. He also founded the Academy of Creative Living, which published many of his books, including the second and third installments of the Essene Gospel of Peace (1974). He spent the last years of his life in Cartago, Costa Rica, where he died in 1980.
Following his death, his wife continued as head of the International Biogenic Society. It may now be contacted at P.O. Box 849, Nelson, BC, Canada VIL 6A5. A spiritual community emphasizing the Essene teachings was created in 1982 by his colleague Garry White in San Diego, California, as the First Christians' Essene Church (now the Essene Foundation ), headquartered at 2536 Collier Ave., San Diego, CA 92116. More recently, the Essene New Life Church founded by Rev. Dr. Charles A. Thomas in 1993 is headquartered at 110 Smith St., Ste. A, Mount Shasta, CA 96067-2636. It, and its associated Awareness Institute, is the only group to have a website, to be found at http://www.awarinst.com.
Berskov, Per. Strange Tales About Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.
Szekely, Edmond Bordeaux. The Gospel of Peace by the Apostle John. London: C. H. Daniels, 1937. Reprinted as The Essene Gospel of Peace. San Diego: Academy of Creative Living, 1971.
——. The Essene Way, Biogenic Living. Cartago, Costa Rica: International Biogenic Society, 1978.
——. Talks. San Diego: Academy of Creative Living, 1972.