Theology Thursdays: The Dead Sea Scrolls, Prophecy and Messiah III
Prophecy is described in the scriptures in terms of a "sure word." Look into 2 Peter 1: 19 (in several translations). Genesis 15: 13-14 reads: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years..." The word "surety" means:
1. The condition of being sure, especially of oneself; self-assurance.
2. Something beyond doubt; a certainty.
3. A pledge or formal promise made to secure against loss, damage, or default; a security.
4. One who has contracted to be responsible for another, especially one who assumes responsibilities or debts in the event of default.
How many of us are really sure about anything that we claim to know? Better yet, how many of us even know what "knowing" is?
In his book, Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive???, Minister Jabril Muhammad writes, "How do we know anything, whether true or false? How do we tell one from the other? That question is a lot bigger than many think. Get a good dictionary and look up the word 'epistemology.' Whether you think so or not, you should know what is involved in that term in order to win over the enemies of truth in argument. You say no? Well Allah really went into the nature of knowledge with His Messenger."
Is there really such a thing as a divide between the "religious" and the "secular" in terms of epistemology? Or, are such discussions that divide reality into "religious" or "secular" categories based upon a flawed premise regarding the nature of life?
I just recently attended a conference at the invitation of Dr. Lenora Fulani and the Committee For A Unified Independent Party. I spoke on a panel, "Is There Room for Radicalism in American Politics?". The event has been re-broadcast several times on C-SPAN. Dr. Lenora Fulani and her colleague Dr. Fred Newman have spent a considerable amount of time thinking and writing about epistemology. Their view is that modern epistemology has run its course and actually prevents development.
In the book, Postmodern Psychologies, Societal Practice, and Political Life Dr. Fulani writes:
As An African-American child growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania, I (not surprisingly) never heard the word epistemology, rarely heard the word identity, and frequently heard the word race. My race faced mistreatment, poverty, and poor education, and I decided that I was going to become a psychologist so that I could help people and so that together we could change the world. As an undergraduate I was immediately disappointed by what psychology had to offer, and disturbed (outraged, really) by the official assessment of the African-American community as a tangle of pathology. I soon became a militant Black Nationalist and immersed myself in black psychology. I still never heard anyone speak about epistemology, although just about everyone was talking about race, and we nationalists spoke about identity all the time. I rapidly developed one.
It was becoming a political activist, a Marxist, a social therapist, and a builder of a multiracial development community that taught me about epistemology and its links to race and identity. Having learned what it is I strongly urge that we get rid of it!
Many people who would claim a "religious" or "secular" identity or point of view would agree and disagree with Dr. Fulani's words for different reasons. But really, anybody who is challenging or just simply discussing or learning a dominant, establishment viewpoint - whether in religion, culture, academics, politics or economics is forced to deal with the subject of epistemology, whether they admit it or not.
Epistemology is central to any discussion of theology and religion. It is critical to entering a discussion of prophecy and its fulfillment in a manner that produces agreement among the religious (whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish or otherwise...), the atheists, and the agnostics.
Let's refer to some of what Minister Jabril Muhammad has put forth related to this subject. In his book, This Is The One he writes:
What are we saying when we are certain, sure, convinced or positive that such and such is true?
In Modern Guide To Synonyms, edited by S.I. Hayakawa, page 609, we read under "sure" and its synonyms:
"These words all mean free from doubt or uncertainty. Sure and certain are used interchangeably in most contexts, but certain may emphasize the indisputable character of what is referred to, implying that whatever is certain is subject to reasonable debate. Sure is more indiscriminately used. Both words, but especially sure, may serve as polite substitutes for a hopeful but less-than-certain attitude."
This won't entirely do. However, the next word, "positive:"
"is somewhat more emphatic than sure or certain in stressing the absolute absence of doubt and the incontestable nature of one's conviction."
Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms, page 136 tells us that:
:...certainty, certitude, assurance, conviction are comparable when denoting a state of mind in which one is free from doubt."
...Allah, the Author of the Holy Qur'an, says of the Holy Qur'an that:
"...surely it is the certain Truth. (Muhammad Ali's translation)
"...verily it is Truth of assured certainty. (Yusuf Ali's translation)
This can be found in the 69th chapter of the Holy Qur'an, verse 51.
Chapter 102 of the Holy Qur'an contains verses which the scholars consider as disclosing three degrees of certainty of knowledge. Read 102:5-8 and footnote 2792 of Muhammad Ali's translation and footnote 6259 in Yusuf Ali's translation.
In footnote 5673 to 69:51, Yusuf Ali wrote:
"All Truth is in itself certain. But as received by men, and understood with reference to men's psychology, certainty may have certain degrees. There is the probability or certainty resulting from the application of man's power of judgment and his appraisement of evidence. This is 'lim-ul-yaqin, certainty by reasoning or inference. Then there is the certainty of seeing something with our own eyes. 'Seeing is believing.' This is 'ani-ul-yaqin, certainty by personal inspection. See cii. 5,7. Then as here, there is the absolute Truth, with no possibility of error of judgment or error of the eye (which stands for any instrument of sense-perception and any ancillary aids, such as microscopes, etc.). This absolute Truth is the haqq-ul-yaqin spoken of here."
How sure can we be about what religious seminaries and traditional theologians and religious scholars have taught us about prophecy? How many of us know what they know or have been exposed to what they have been exposed to regarding exactly how they determine whether the requirements or details of prophecy written of in scripture have been fulfilled or not? We can't say it doesn't matter as a great many prophecies point to the latter days. They speak of politics, war, race, love and family life. What is the process by which recorded history, mathematics, science, archaeology, anthropology, news accounts and linguistics are all used, to one degree or another, to arrive at a decision that something written or spoken thousands of years prior, or just one day prior, has in fact occurred. How many of us think of this when we are listening to teaching and preaching in a church, synagogue or mosque?
Keep all of this in mind and study as we move into the subject of a prophesied "second Moses", next week.
Consider the following large excerpt from Minister Jabril Muhammad's recent "Farrakhan The Traveler' column in The Final Call newspaper entitled: "Unveiling Prophesy: The identify of God's chosen people":
In Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Schonfield wrote: "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? These people have a certain kinship with such apocalyptic figures as the Lamb, the Beast of the Land and the Beast of the Sea, and the False Prophet."
Those persons, written of under symbolic names, as the Lamb, the Beast and the False Prophet, etc., who are described in the Book of Revelation are, no doubt, prophetic. They were foreseen by people living 2,000 and more years ago, to come in the future at the time of the change of the worlds.
According to Dr. Schonfield, these persons were written about in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and they seem to be or have a kinship to these figures in the New Testament. But their experiences and works are written in such a way so as to make a reader feel that he/she is reading of persons who lived before the time of these writers and their scrolls.
Dr. Schonfield, however, is not convinced that this is the case. He observes that when all allowances are made for the position that the writers of the scrolls are describing people of the past and "traced out everything that approximates to the descriptions given, nothing comes out just right. Some things stand. Others we are forced to discard. We cannot obtain a coherent story that tallies in every particular with any known historical situation."
His conclusion, which he is convinced meets all the requirements and solves the problem of what the scroll writers were really aiming at, is put this way:
"After carefully weighing all the evidence, I conclude that the Qumram Commentaries, influenced by legend and tradition, and by recent external events, are actually telling us about the future, and by no means a remote future. They are offering us interpretations, which are dramatic and prophetic portrayals of what is yet to come, while recognizing that the 'mystery of iniquity' is already at work. They are writing history in advance for the guidance of those Elect, faithful to the Law, who will be living in the 'Time of Testing.'
"We are not to seek for the Teacher of Righteousness of the End of the Days, and those opposed to him, in any individuals who have yet appeared, though some historical characters have helped to shape their likeness, and partial fulfillments have taken place."
Theologians use the word "type," which means a sign. When persons and/or events partly fulfill some prophecy they become prophetic signs of real persons and events yet to come. Those persons or events, which partly fulfill a prophecy, never meet all the terms of the prophecy. There are always important points, or details that do not occur in the type, or the sign. That which does fulfill all of the terms of the prophecy is called the "antitype," or simply, the fulfiller of both the word of prophecy and/or that which the type (sign) serves to direct our attention towards the real person(s) or events.
Dr. Schonfield made the point that Jews, Christians and others may have taken many of the prophecies, in the scrolls, as having been fulfilled in some of their teachers or others of the past. (This idea makes many uncomfortable.) He continued:
"This view does no violence to the evidence that parts of the exegetical story applied to events and situations in the remote and recent past. The story does not begin in the future; for the End Time, though prolonged, has begun; the Elect are suffering persecution, and evil has manifested itself in high places. The accounts are too vivid and circumstantial to be treated as fiction. The writers, basing their explanations of the Prophets on real experiences, sincerely believe that what they relate will come to pass. They are reading in some detail the Signs of the Times."
Remember, as Schonfield states, that the Dead Sea Scroll writers based their writings on the writings of the prophets. Remember, the prophets are the ones from whom the various books of the Bible come; even though the world now knows that the prophets' books are not in their pure form, as left by the prophets.
Dr. Schonfield continues: "When we look at some of the scrolls, the War of the Sons of Light, the too ample account of the form of government in the Manuel of Discipline, the fragments describing the position of the Messianic High Priest and the Messiah of Israel, the ordering of the Elect in Council, when we hear of vast treasure buried, presumably to be recovered to finance the messianic campaigns, of the fate of the good and evil protagonists (leading figures) in the Commentaries, then it seems to me, we are passing away from what was and is and moving into the realm of what is to be."
If the scrolls were written for the guidance of a particular people, yet to come, how much more valuable are the books (Bible) their writings were based on? What of the Qur'an, which verifies the Bible's truths? However, without the correct understanding of it, it is of no benefit to the very ones for whom it is intended.
Dr. Schonfield continues: "All these considerations, and many more, when we go over the records, tell in my opinion of a gigantic effort, of the most careful planning and preparation, so that the elect of the period of the Consummation (the end of the world) would be primed with everything they would need. Everything would be in the books, nothing neglected, and the books safely stored for their predestined purpose. This view accounts for much that otherwise would be obscure."
This principle has been taught worldwide, again and again by Minister Farrakhan, as well as his teacher for around 70 years.
Further down in his text this learned White scholar writes:
"It would appear that in the caves of the Khirbert Qumran area, we have stumbled upon books designed for the faithful in the last struggle with evil, books for the skilled to understand and not meant to be accessible before time ... ."
Who are these that he calls "the faithful?" It is clear that from his words that this scholar regards the time in which we live as the last days of this world's rule. If we are living in the time of the last or final war with evil, or the final war between God and those with Him, and the devil and those with him, where on earth are the elect people?
But it seems he could not bring himself to admit that the only people, on earth, who fit the description of this elect people are the Black people of America.
Order the book, The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are By Norman Podhoretz, available in the BlackElectorate.com Book Store.
And be certain or sure to join the WrittenTestimony.com website mailing list.
Thursday, January 30, 2003