The Bible mentions fasting 74 times, and Jesus himself fasted frequently, sometimes for as long as 40 days. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed in Palestine in the early 20th century, a most remarkable document written in Aramaic and dating from the 3rd century AD came to light. Translated into English in 1937 by Edmond Szekely under the title The Essene Gospel of Peace, this ancient text recounts in detail some of the most important healing work performed by Jesus among the people of Palestine. Unfortunately, none of this information ever found its way into the Bible, despite the fact that this gospel was recorded several hundred years earlier than other gospels that appear in the Bible.
Fasting was commonly practiced among the ancient Essenes, among whom Jesus lived and studied during his formative years. Unfortunately, since all mention of this period of Jesus’ life was deliberately excluded from the New Testament, this aspect of his work remains virtually unknown among Christians today even though it was common knowledge to Jesus’ disciples. The sages of the ancient world were well aware of the inseparable link between the state of the body and the state of the mind, for they knew that toxic blood forms a breeding ground not only for disease and degeneration of the human body but also for the darkening and degradation of the human spirit. They knew the law that modern physicians and philosophers alike have forgotten: that whatever pollutes the body also pollutes the mind. That’s why so many sacred scriptures of the ancient world prescribe fasting or detox as the first steps on the path of spiritual self-cultivation.