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
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
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.