Theology Thursdays: The Dead Sea Scrolls, Prophecy and Messiah II
What divine laws, principles and scriptures indicate that it is impossible for Black people to be blessed with a warner or messenger raised from among them by the Supreme Being? Is it really "heretical" (in the negative sense of that word) in terms of theology, to believe that such an event is possible or has already taken place? Or is it simply that public theologians have not considered the possibility, for reasons that range from an honest oversight to that of racist denial? According to God's pattern of raising messengers and warners in the past, what scenarios, characteristics, qualifications or attributes of the Black experience in the Western hemisphere make Black people taken from Africa ineligible to receive that which other oppressed, even enslaved people are described as receiving on the pages of scripture? Can Muslim, Christian and Jewish theologians prove that the God that they believe in has departed from his pattern of selecting oppressed people and placing a message and warning into the mind, heart, ear and mouth of at least one person from among the oppressed? Do such theological arguments that deny Black people a messenger, warner and even "messiah" correspond with prophecies in all three major religions that a last messenger, warner and/or herald is to appear right before a final judgment or greatest of all wars takes place? If so, when did that change occur and where is it described in the Torah, Gospel and Holy Qur'an? Are the "Elijah" and "Messiah" that Jews are waiting for; the returning Jesus Christ expected by Christians; and the returning "Jesus, the Messiah" and promised "Mahdi" expected by Muslims going to overlook what happened in Africa and the United States Of America from 1555 to the present day - when speaking and acting out of God's judgment of the history of nations, and the rulers in power today?
Do any of the above questions reveal a "blindspot" in the thinking and presentations in most theological seminaries, around the world?
It is interesting to see how some attempt to get around the principle or law contained within the Holy Qur'an in Surah 35:24 and Surah 10:47 when placed opposite the direct question of whether or not the United States Of America and or Black people in America are to receive a divine warner. Surah 10 verse 47 (Nooruddin translation) reads: "And for every nation there is a Messenger. So when their Messenger (of God) comes, the issue between them is judged with all fairness, and they are not done injustice to." Regardless to what Muslims of varying perspectives may say of the prophethood of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad it is a legitimate and fair question to ask them whether or not, or when, the United States Of America would receive a messenger or warner. Furthermore, another appropriate question to raise is whether or not Black people in America are in fact a new people or even a "nation inside of a nation" as many social scientists have written; and as such, should they expect a "messenger" or warner? A third question that could be posed is whether or not the United States Of America and Black people, as a nation inside of her, would receive the same "messenger" or "warner."
Surah 32 verses 2 and 3, as we noted last week, cannot be referring to Muhammad of 1,400 years ago if one accepts the fact that both Ishmael and Abraham came to the people of Mecca before Muhammad and both delivered a message and warned them. Verse 2 and 3 (Maulana Muhammad Ali translation) say: "The revelation of the Book, there is no doubt in it, is from the Lord of the worlds. Or do they say: He has forged it? Nay, it is the Truth from thy Lord that thou mayest warn a people to whom no warner has come before thee that they may walk aright."
In Message To The Blackman the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote:
If Allah would warn America and the poor slaves who have been blinded and made deaf and dumb by their masters, should not that messenger be one of the so-called Negroes instead of a so-called Negro trying to learn from what Muhammad said to the Arabs nearly 1,400 years ago...
"Warning a people whom no warner has come before that they may walk aright." It is directed at the American so-called Negroes in North America.
What the Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated on this subject takes nothing away from Muhammad of 1,400 years ago. Yet, many ignored what the Holy Qur'an states about every nation or people receiving a messenger and warner and ascribed motives and an exegesis of scripture to the Black leader that are not only inaccurate but which still skirt the issue of America's place as arguably the most powerful nation in the last 6,000 years - in scripture and prophecy. The view of Muhammad of 1,400 years ago held by a great many Muslims should not be incompatible with the recognition that messengers and warners are promised to every nation and people. This of course, would apply to those nations which have appeared over the last 1,400 years.
Those who argue against a warner or messenger arising in the United States ignore the pattern of history that is clearly identified in the Holy Qur'an. Surah 35:24 reads in part, "...And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them." Or, they must believe that Allah has discontinued a pattern of giving to people messengers and warners raised from among themselves. But could they demonstrate that from the Holy Qur'an? And are they clear on the differences between messengers, warners and prophets?
All of this is related to the peculiar manner in which the Black experience in Africa and America, over the last 500 years, is handled by Christian, Jewish and Muslim theologians.
In the book This Is The One aspects of the contents of which the great scholar C. Eric Lincoln referred to as "seminal" in nature; Minister Jabril Muhammad writes the following:
Scholars of the scriptures agree that they are full of prophecies about the coming of God. Anyone who can read can see that such statements about a great God to come is mentioned throughout the book. And even those of us who can't read have heard that God is coming. Well then, how did the prophets see this coming God? What will He look like? What is He coming for? What is He going to do? And to Who? And why? When will He come? Where is He coming from? Where will He arrive? By what means will He make His presence known? How will He get in touch with us?
The only way we could hope to learn all of this is through some man the God makes into His Messenger. Why a messenger? This is His way. This was His way in the past. We should expect Him to do the same when He comes.
The "coming of God" is an enormous subject. But one way to approach the subject is through a study of the event described in the book of Genesis in the 15th chapter and 13th to 15th verses which read (in the Contemporary English Version): "Then the LORD said: Abram you will live to an old age and die in peace. But I solemnly promise that your descendants will live as foreigners in a land that doesn't belong to them. They will be forced into slavery and abused for four hundred years. But I will terribly punish the nation that enslaves them, and they will leave with many possessions."
Genesis 15:13-15 (NIV) is a prophecy of God judging and punishing a nation for enslaving another people.
In the book of Joel in the 3rd chapter and second and third verses it reads, "2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. 3 They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink."
Of these verses the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote in Message To The Blackman, "America has fulfilled this to the very letter and spirit with her slaves (the so-called Negroes) under the type of Israel. The Egyptians did nothing of the kind to Israel when they were in bondage to them."
Joel 3:2,3 is a prophecy of God judging nations for scattering a people and trading and selling them.
The picture of the coming of God is given in the book of Exodus. God comes to a land where a people are enslaved and he reveals Himself in a special way to one man. He makes that man His messenger and warner to both the enslaved people and the government that has oppressed them. That man is named Moses. He is soon provided a helper - a man named Aaron who shares his mission, as messenger and warner. Aaron is Moses' spokesperson to the people according to the plan of God. God tells Moses in advance about Aaron's function by him. Exodus 4:14 reads, in part, "What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know he is a good speaker. He is already on his way here to visit you, and he will be happy to see you again. Aaron will speak to the people for you, and you will be like me, telling Aaron what to say. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will tell each of you what to do."
Some view Genesis 15:13-15 as a history that is an instructive example for Black people in America but not a prophecy that they are playing a huge part in fulfilling. Others believe that Genesis 15:13-15 is a prophecy that was not fulfilled 4,000 years ago and is being fulfilled today in the Western hemisphere. Still, others believe that Genesis 15:13-15 is a prophecy that was fulfilled in recorded history 4,000 years ago but which is being repeated today in the Western hemisphere. Those in the latter two categories frequently cite Deuternomy 18:18 as a prophecy pointing to a man who would be raised up like Moses. Some expect that this modern Moses would have a modern Aaron as his spokesperson, leading a nationalist movement from within and out of another country.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are an important aspect to the study of prophecy for a minority of people who are interested in their contents. Quite a controversy developed over whether Jewish or Catholic scholars should handle the scrolls exclusively. John D. Rockefeller Jr. is said to be a primary source of funding for much of the earliest work (until 1960) and study of the scrolls, including those parts that include some of the oldest copies of portions of the book of Exodus and Leviticus. Important aspects of the Rockefeller involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls can be read in The Meaning Of The Dead Sea Scrolls available in the BlackElectorate.com Bookstore.
Last week we introduced the idea from Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written with an eye to the future instead of the past. Here (From the Farrakhan The Traveler article volume 22 number 15) is how Minister Jabril Muhammad reacted to the content of some of Dr. Schonfield's presentations regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, published in book form:
In 1965 I heard an interview of Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield concerning his book, The Passover Plot, which had just been published. I intend to return to a few major points he made in his book as they have a direct bearing on the mission of Minister Farrakhan, even though I have no reason to think that Dr. Schonfield had Minister Farrakhan in mind when he wrote his book.
Instead, I'll briefly discuss something from an earlier book he wrote which was titled Secret of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Based on aspects of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I felt that there was something about those scrolls that had some bearing on Black people in America. From time to time, I would look in books on the Dead Sea Scrolls only to discover that what was being passed off as insightful scholarship was no more than "claptrap."
One day, while browsing in a used bookstore, I came upon a small book written by Dr. Schonfield on the scrolls. Even though the few pages I looked at contained nothing I understood, I decided to buy it anyway.
It was only a few dollars. Over the next few weeks, I tried to make sense out of what he wrote but had to put it aside because the language was too technical. I read all but the last chapter.
Time passed. It's now early 1973. I'm several chapters deep into a book that I had begun writing the year before. I'm taking up a point about the place of the Blackman and women in God's plan. Our true identity was kept as a secret, from ourselves and from nearly everyone else, by both God and Satan until the proper time. It also involved the manner of its revelation.
It was then that I remembered the first word of the title to Dr. Schonfield's book. It was "secret." I had not looked at that book in years. I had read all but the last chapter of his book, but got tired of it. I now wondered if he wrote what he thought the secret was in the final chapter that I had not read. So I picked it up. Dusted it off. Read it.
I incorporated the essential points he made on this secret into what I was writing. However, I criticize him for not taking the next step, which, according to him, was the subject and the secret of the scrolls. He ought to have at least attempted to identify these secret people of the scrolls. He could have made a call, urging the scholars of the world to honestly look into this vital subject - maybe even hold a world conference (Smile).
It's now 1976. I decided to see if he would take that next step or at least honestly discuss this subject. I wrote him through his publisher. Not long after, I received a letter from him from the island of Malta. I wrote four.
He wrote three. My fourth letter contained a question for his response. It included a direct question about the identity of God's chosen people he wrote about in his book, whose identity was kept as a secret. It's now 2002.
He has yet to respond.
In the last chapter of his book, Dr. Schonfield concluded, in so many words, that the writers of the scrolls wrote them to serve the needs of a future people who would be living at the time when God Himself would manifest Himself to the whole of humanity.
He further concluded that these writers foresaw that God would claim a particular people as His own, whom the scroll writers called the Elect. God would be especially merciful to those proving to be faithful to the purpose of His visit to them.
Dr. Schonfield wrote that the scrolls writers were, "on the lookout for the coming Teacher of Righteousness of the End of the Days and of a Messiah from Aaron and Israel." [Emphasis mine.]
This scholar further stated that these writers "in many things are speaking in terms of future events and no historical circumstances that we know will fit all the explanations. We cannot, therefore, propose that James the Just, or Jesus, or John the Baptist, was the Teacher of Righteousness at the End of the Days as understood by the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
"We have to consider why the opposing personalities are not named. We are familiar with them only from the description of the part they play. This could be because they serve as symbols of primeval forces and are not real people at all. We have taken account of the Cosmic Drama. But if these End Time figures are to be understood of individuals who have walked the earth and behaved as related, it is difficult to see why their identity, known to their contemporaries, should be required to be disguised. Is it not preferable to suppose that these persons cannot be named because they have not yet appeared?"
Dr. Schonfield is now dead. But his thinking remains active among many, including those who studied under him. Have they considered answering the fundamental question that Minister Jabril Muhammad posed? It will be interesting to know if they have taken under consideration the history of Blacks in America.
In his second letter to President Bush, Minister Farrakhan raises the issue of prophecy. He wrote to the President of the United States:
Ancient Babylon was a city that caused all who traded with her to wax strong, but, at a certain point, the neighboring nations turned against Babylon and she was destroyed and left as a sign. The Book of Revelation speaks of a mystery Babylon that ancient Babylon was a sign of. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, my teacher and guide, said that America is the fulfillment of that mystery Babylon.
Mr. President, you must study prophecy in order to beat it.
Look at the nations to the north and south of you. Are they pleased with you, your administration and your polices? Look at your friends in the Middle East. Are they really pleased with you, your administration and policies? Look at your European friends and your African and Asian friends. The prophecy teaches that, they will take your money and whatever you offer, but they will hate you and ultimately make you desolate.
President Bush could be provided with both a detailed history of ancient Babylon from respected historians as well as detailed commentaries and exegesis of scriptural scientists regarding the references to a "Mystery Babylon" contained in the Book Of Revelations, in the Bible. And he can very easily obtain excellent histories of the nation that he leads.
Acts chapter 17 verse 26 (New Living Translation) reads: "From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries."
How could any Christian theologian, in light of Acts 17:26 say that the divine creator of nations, who determines their rise and fall and even their boundaries missed the United States Of America, and inside of her, 35 million Black people - descendants of people who were enslaved and discriminated against for a time period that spans over 400 years? Today, America stands at an estimated 280 million people. Is it even reasonable from the perspective of an honest approach to theology to argue that the United States Of America isn't written of on the pages of scripture in divine prophecy? If it is unreasonable to think that America was missed by God and the prophets, then, where is she in the prophetic books? A belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour does not excuse a student of the Bible from dealing with prophecy.
Now, what is prophecy?
Can the truth of prophecy and its Source be proven to any reasonable person - even those who state they do not believe in a God or any religion?
And the key to doing so lies with 1) the use of mathematics and 2) the gathering, research and presentation of accurate recorded history and news accounts.
Surah 7:34 (Maulana Muhammad Ali translation) reads , "And every nation has a term; so when its term comes, they cannot remain behind the least while, nor can they precede (it)"
Three other translations read:
YUSUFALI: To every people is a term appointed: when their term is reached, not an hour can they cause delay, nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation).
PICKTHAL: And every nation hath its term, and when its term cometh, they cannot put it off an hour nor yet advance (it).
SHAKIR: And for every nation there is a doom, so when their doom is come they shall not remain behind the least while, nor shall they go before.
Is the United States Of America exempt from these verses?
Here is an important question for Muslim theologians: If America, like every other nation has a "term" and is in line to be judged by God unfavorably, then according to the Holy Qur'an, in an act of mercy and justice and in keeping with a natural pattern, should not a human being be expected to arise within America to warn the government and people of the impending "term?"
Surah 17:15 again, speaks directly to the process. Here again are three translations:
YUSUFALI: Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit: who goeth astray doth so to his own loss: No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We visit with Our Wrath until We had sent an messenger (to give warning).
PICKTHAL: Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt. No laden soul can bear another's load, We never punish until we have sent a messenger.
SHAKIR: Whoever goes aright, for his own soul does he go aright; and whoever goes astray, to its detriment only does he go astray: nor can the bearer of a burden bear the burden of another, nor do We chastise until We raise a messenger..
Is false history being used in the service of false theology to prevent the masses of people, particularly in America and the Middle East from knowing both the time and "term" related to the rise and fall of nations, especially the most powerful?
The Dead Sea Scrolls particularly write, according to some scholars of two or three teachers raised among an "elect" people chosen by God. They are vehemently opposed with lies, false teachers and wickedness from their own people and others. Several scholars who have handled and/or studied the Dead Sea Scrolls are absolutely convinced that these two or three men will appear just before or at the "end times," or "last days" or "latter days."
The scrolls focus on a unique relationship between a preeminent teacher and a subordinate or two who carry on or continue the work of the premier teacher. The most critical parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to some schoars are those sections that deal with the relationship between one, two, or three figures and a community. Here is what one scholar, Sarah Klitenic wrote:
...the Teacher of Righteousness (T Of R) is one who dispels the 'precepts of righteousness' which one must follow in order to reach salvation. God speaks through the Teacher so that those listening to the Teacher follow God's words and receive His salvation. Moreover, the Teacher speaks God's words when he interprets divine scripture; the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls) knows the Teacher as 'Interpreter of the Law' in documents such as The Community Rule, the Damascus Document, the Commentary on Habakkuk, and Midrash on the Last Days. The fact that the Teacher is the authority on the Law reflects his role in the community because the Law is pivotal to the Community. In the Thanksgiving Hymns, for instance, the Teacher refers to himself as having the waters of the Covenant confirmed in his heart for those who seek it, for God has 'hidden Thy Law [within (him)].' In this passage, the Teacher of Righteousness not only knows the Law, but his knowledge of the Law is given to him by God. As in Numbers 12:6-8 when Moses receives the Law mouth to mouth from God, the Teacher also receives the law from the mouth of God in 1 Qp Hab II 2-3. The community respects the T of R's legal understanding and uses his interpretations for redemption...
...the Teacher of Righteousness extracts principles to regulate the Community as God aids him in interpreting scripture. Through these regulations, a proper order is established and the eschaton is realized.
But, the Teacher of Righteousness does not take part in the end of days himself. Instead, he prepares the way for the eschatological messiahs. He sets the standard for interpretation of scripture which the Priestly Messiah, who takes the Teacher's place in interpretation of the Law, relies on at the end of days. The following passage will first help the reader understand the messianic expectation of the community:
"The king is the congregation; and the bases of the statutes are the Books of the Prophets whose saying Israel despised. The star is the Interpreter of the Law who shall come to Damascus; as it is written, A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num xxiv, 17). The scepter is the Prince of the whole congregation and when he comes he shall smite all the children of Seth" (Num. xxiv, 17). [CD VII, 15-20]
Here, two messiahs emerge at the end of days: the Interpreter of the law, or Priest-Messiah, and the Prince of the whole congregation, the Davidic Messiah. These figures are also referred to throughout the DSS as the messiahs of Aaron and Israel. They are not equal counter-parts: the Priest-Messiah has precedence over the Davidic Messiah in all legal matters: 'As they teach him so shall he judge'. This precedence can be seen in passages from the community rule; 'When the table has been prepared for eating, and the new wine for drinking, the Priest shall be the first to stretch out his hand to bless the first-fruits of the bread and new wine.'
Here, the Messiah of Aaron takes precedence because he is the eschatological high priest who teaches righteousness at the end of days. Although the Prince of the Congregation presides over the battle liturgy (1 QM XV, 4; XVI, 13; XVIII) and the eschatological banquet (1 QSa II, 12-21), the Messiah of Aaron is more important for understanding the Teacher of Righteousness because he is the one who continues the Teacher's message. The arrival of the Messiahs Aaron and Israel marks the eschatological turning point; once they arrive, the Messiah of Aaron interprets the Law. His legacy in the community is the basic interpretation of the Law that functions at the end of days.
Two "messiahs" are to appear at the end of days? Some Dead Sea Scrolls scholars say it is the "Teacher Of Righteousness" and the "Messiah Of Aaron"; others say it is the "Messiah of Aaron" and a "Davidic Messiah." Think again over J. Edgar Hoover's mission to prevent the rise of a "messiah" from among Black people. Then consider what motivated the great depth to which John D. Rockefeller Jr. was involved with funding the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and who gained access to them. Many people say that the Rockefeller family is one of a group that "rule the world." They are most frequently known for their influence in business and politics. Has an important part of their power also derived from their lesser-known influence in in other fields like medicine, academics, astronomy, and theology?
The release of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the public may have threatened that.
Learn all that you can about the controversy to keep the scrolls in the hands of a tiny minority. You can start with "The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity"
Thursday, January 23, 2003