The Dead Sea Scrolls-2


On this page we are placing excerpts from different books and lectures on the Dead Sea Scrolls. No we are not going to place the story of their discovery on this page. We have become so tired of reading that story and we theorize that the reason that story is repeated in almost every paper and book on the scrolls is that every author thinks no one has heard the story before.

It has been said that if you just read the introduction and conclusion of each book or paper then you have read the whole point of view of the author. We will try to give you more than just the introduction and conclusion but no promises.

#1. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah by W.J. Martin, M.A., Ph.D.  The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 6 Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1

At the conclusion of the Campbell Morgan Lecture for 1953 – a lecture of supreme

significance for the present time – Professor R. V. G. Tasker referred to our appreciation of the

light archaeological, linguistic and textual studies can throw upon the Old Testament. It is with

the last of these, namely textual studies, that this lecture has to do.

The greatest advance in our knowledge of the text of the Old Testament and its transmission has been brought about, not by the work of scholars, but by a chance find by Arab shepherds in 1947 of a collection of manuscripts in a cave near the Dead Sea in Palestine. The manuscript,1 which forms the

subject of this lecture, is the one that has rightly attracted the most attention.

Throughout I shall refer to it simply as the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, although I am well aware that some

scholars are beginning to refer to it as the Qumran scroll, from the name of an ancient

settlement near the cave, but the unrivalled importance of our manuscript and the fact that it

alone contains the whole book of Isaiah makes it well able to maintain its identity under any

designation. I retain the title for yet another reason: out of my high regard for those American

scholars who first used it and who gave the academic world the means of studying the scroll

with a promptness and in an exemplary and magnanimous manner all too rare in the world of


The nature of the find was so sensational and the claimed date of the manuscripts so incredibly

early that it is now easily understandable why some scholars felt that there must somewhere be

a discrepancy in the evidence and that a minute examination of the documents would bring to

light some facts to lower the date to a period with some already familiar landmarks. True we

had documents from pre-Christian times, but, apart from the fragmentary Greek papyrus of Deuteronomy in the Rylands Library from the second century B.C., none of the

Old Testament.

The earliest manuscript of any note belonged to the tenth century. Moreover

the early documents came almost exclusively from one country, Egypt, which enjoys a climate

conducive to the preservation of perishable material such as papyrus and leather. The

provenance of the Dead Sea Scrolls was not likely in itself to indicate for the documents a high


Among the objections raised to the early date of the Scrolls was the fact that guiding lines

were used above the letters.5 From the little we know of the methods of scribes in antiquity we

have no grounds for assuming that this is incompatible with an early date. It is hardly likely

that the scribe in the interest both of symmetry and the best utilisation of space would fail to

avail himself of the services of the ruler or some other lining device such as was used as early

at least as the third millenium.

Caroline R. Williams describing the tomb of Per-Neb (c. 2700 B.C.)

speaks of “lines mapping out the composition by defining the height of the dado and marking

out the borders, the different registers, and the spaces for the long vertically written

inscription,” and again (p. 7) “That a ruler was generally used for the vertical and horizontal

lines seems from their appearance unquestionable.”6 The Kilamuwa inscription (c. 825 B.C.)

has lines above the letters. A fragment of Leviticus, probably much older than the Dead Sea

Scrolls, has guiding lines.7

Although we could not assign with certainty the meaning linear

“ruler” to any word in the Old Testament, there are references in the Talmud both to the

instrument and to the practice of ruling. Rabbi Minjamin said: “The ruling of the Mezuza (the

parchment scroll containing Deut. 6, 4-9 and 11, 13-21 attached to the upper part of the

right-hand door-post of Jewish homes) is a decree of Moses from Sinai.” This is, of course,


In ancient times the human and material elements in transmission were each on occasion

adverse to accurate transmission. The human element, inherently incapable of perfectibility,

was often prone to fall short of accuracy in the making of copies, and the material was

exposed to the ravages of time and the accidents which are the lot of all perishable things.

While the latter factor has often caused major disasters involving total loss, it is probable that,

taking all in all, the human has wrought the greater havoc. Certainly in the field of Old

Testament transmission the fact of the preservation and existence of such a large corpus of

writings would seem to vouch for the lesser evil of the material factor…

Large numbers of the variants in our Scroll (it would be misleading to call them variant

readings) are by their nature void of significance. The mere counting of variants is the

unmistakable badge of the tiro in the field of textual criticism. Variants go by weight not by

number, they are evaluated not enumerated. To the class of insignificant variants belong in the

first place the orthographical, that is, those that involve differences in spelling only. Such

variants surprise only print-conscious readers, prone to forget the vicissitudes of their own

spelling until the printing-presses imposed on them the present mechanical uniformity. In a

modern text there is not much grist of this kind left for our above mentioned tyro (his identity

has remained unchanged, despite the change, deliberate but still correct, in spelling).

Both “Ihoauerd” and “louerd” would seem to us now outlandish modes of spelling “lord”, but they

evidently did not perplex a man of the thirteenth century. Of all such variants textual criticism

takes little or no cognizance. The lavish use of vowel-letters (consonants used to indicate

vowels; Hebrew script originally possessed no special signs for these) contributes largely to the

multiplication of such variants. On this point some scholars seem to have completely lost sight

of the fact that vowel-letters are in origin not intrusive but residual: they arose in the first

instance through certain of these letters losing their consonantal value, this in turn leading to

changes in the vowel-pattern; for instance, through the crasis of the vowels thus brought into

contact, disyllables emerged as monosyllables. The spelling with the retention of the “extinct”

consonant was hence the product of etymology and not of phonetics. Thus began a system that

later could acquire, often disregarding the dictates of philology, the dimensions we now see in

our present manuscript.

We can eliminate on the score that they too are devoid of significance, those variant forms

that give practically, if not precisely, the same meaning as the forms which they replace.

Under this heading come in the first place synonyms or near synonyms…

The very discussion of such questions indicates how complete is the re-orientation which has

taken place. We no longer ask what is the relation of our Manuscript to a recension of 100

A.D. Our Scroll takes us so far beyond this point, that questions, which a short while ago held

a central place in the problem of transmission, have now little more than antiquarian interest.

This manuscript has added not only one new and earlier point, on the line of transmission, it

has indirectly provided still another two: that of its model, and that of the archetype from

which came the liturgical and the lay families of manuscripts.

There is now nothing to prevent anyone who feels so inclined from believing that if this line were projected backwards it would end in an autograph similar in all essentials to the text that has been transmitted to us. Sir Frederick Kenyon, that great scholar, whose range of vision in the field of manuscripts was unequalled, indicated unerringly the central problem when he said: “The great, indeed

all-important, question which now meets us is this – Does this Hebrew text, which we call

Massoretic, and which we have shown to descend from a text drawn up about A.D. 100

faithfully represent the Hebrew text as originally written by the authors of the Old Testament

books?”35 He believed even then that an affirmative answer was possible. Little did he or

anyone dream that a day would come when a witness of such ancient lineage and high

credentials would appear with evidence to convince many that his question will no longer

brook the answer no.
#2. The Dead Sea Scrolls and St. John’s Gospel by Leon Morris, B.Sc., M.Th., Ph.D.

The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No. 12 Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1

The Pharisees, being sensible men, did not bother themselves with perpetuating ideas they

knew to be wrong. Anticipating the excellent practice of our modern scientists they discarded

ideas that were shown to be false (or that they held had been shown to be false), and

concentrated on those that were true. They held that the distinctive ideas of the Sadducees and

the Essenes were erroneous, so they piously eschewed propagating them. This would be of no

more than passing interest to us were it not for the fact that in time the Pharisees became the

dominant party within Judaism. Jewish writings became to all intents and purposes Pharisaic

writings. The Rabbinic literature by and large sets forth Pharisaic ideas. We see other Jewish

groups not as they saw themselves, but through Pharisaic eyes. None of their writings were

copied by the Pharisees, which is both understandable and unfortunate. New Testament

scholars have had to be content with a monolithic Judaism.

The great value of the Dead Sea scrolls for New Testament studies is that for the first time we

are able to read the views of a Jewish sect other than the Pharisees from within. Whatever be

the dates of composition of these documents they let us see something of a sect which was in

existence at the time the Christian movement began, and to see it in the sect’s own writings.

Not surprisingly some of the terms and ideas in the scrolls are found also in the New

Testament. This has led to the most diverse estimates of the relationship between the two.

Some stress the resemblances. They think of Christianity as nothing more than a natural

development of the type of religion we see reflected in the scrolls.1 Some even think of the

scrolls as Christian documents.2 Others concentrate their attention on the differences. They

think that there is no significant connection between Christianity and the scrolls.3 We cannot complain of lack of variety in the views put forward.

By common consent there is no part of the New Testament with more points of contact with

the scrolls than the Gospel according to St. John,4 and it is with these contacts that we shall

concern ourselves in this lecture. We shall examine some of the common terminology and

ideas, and try to estimate the significance of the scrolls for the understanding of the Fourth


There are some resemblances of style and general approach. The style of John is notoriously

different from that of the Synoptic Gospels. It is more like that of part, at any rate, of the

scrolls than is that of the Synoptic Gospels. Cross finds this resemblance so striking that he

thinks of the origins of John’s style as being found among the sectarians.5 The estimate of style

is a subjective thing, but I think that Cross goes too far here. The sectarians wrote in Hebrew

or Aramaic and John in Greek, albeit a Greek which shows Aramaic influence…

What shall we say then of the relation between the Fourth Gospel and the scrolls? In the first

place, that there is a tremendous gap106 between them. In this lecture we have been concerned

to consider only those points where there is some relation, and this may easily give the

impression that the two are closer than in point of fact they are. But to read the whole of the

Qumran documents, including the detailed regulations in the Manual of Discipline and the

Rule of the Congregation, the curious exegesis of the various commentaries, the martial

regulations of the War Scroll, and all the rest, is to be transported into a different world.

It is true that in some of the Thanksgiving Psalms we come in contact with a spirit not out of

harmony with that of the men of the New Testament, but this fleeting glimpse of better things

serves only to underline the fact that basically the sect is concerned with different purposes

from those that underlie Christian service. This great gap should not be overlooked.

Yet when full allowance has been made for it the coincidences of language and thought are

striking. There are far too many of them for us to assume that they are accidental, the result of

mere chance. It is asking too much to assume that at roughly the same time, and in roughly the

same part of the world two different groups of men independently evolved the same

terminology and thought of the same ideas. It is much more likely that there was some point of


Yet the relationship can hardly be one of direct dependence. We have seen how at point after

point, even where John and the covenanters are using similar language and dealing with similar

concepts, there are vast differences. Again it is too much to assume that John had the Qumran

writings before him, and that as he borrowed their language and concepts he systematically

distorted their sense.

What the relationship was we cannot be sure at this distance in time. But it was surely indirect.

We may conjecture (though I stress that it is no more than conjecture) that the connection

came through John the Baptist. W. H. Brownlee has pointed out that “Almost every detail of

the Baptist’s teaching in both the Synoptic and the Fourth Gospels has points of contact with

Essene belief”107 (he identifies the Qumran sect with the Essenes). Now the Gospels tell us

that John’s parents were old when he was born (Lk. 1. 18), and that “the child… was in the

deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Lk. 1. 80).

What being “in the deserts” means is difficult to establish. If it means that John was brought up there then the conclusion seems inescapable that he was brought up by some such sect as the men of Qumran (Josephus tells us that the Essenes adopted other people’s children and brought them up). While we have no evidence for this there is nothing at all improbable in it. John’s parents were old and may well have died while the child was young, leaving no one to look after him. Alternatively, realizing their age and incapacity, they may have handed him over. The connecting link in either case would be the very high regard the Qumran men had for those of priestly stock. If this is not what happened at least being “in the deserts” means that John was in those parts where the sectarians lived, and he would have some knowledge of them. Either way he would have some knowledge of the teaching of the sect, in the one case a full and complete knowledge, in the other case a partial knowledge.

Whichever be the truth he rebelled against Qumran’s distinctive message, for his recorded

teaching contradicts some of the essential ideas of the scrolls, even though it shows points of

contact. But he did have the terminology of the sect and some of its ideas.

Now John 1. 35ff. makes it clear that some of the first disciples of Jesus came out of the circle

that gathered round John the Baptist. This gives us a natural channel whereby some of the

sect’s terms and ideas may have flowed into Christianity. Especially would this be the case if

the unnamed disciple of John 1. 35, 40 was the beloved disciple (as has been widely held).

Thus the ideas and language of the covenanters would have come to the author of the Gospel,

but only at second hand, and that per medium of one who was no longer a member of the sect

even if he ever had been. He would not produce its teaching with anything like exactness. This

would account for the fact that the Evangelist reproduces Qumran language sometimes with

minute exactness, while at the same time his basic thought is poles apart from theirs.108

It remains for us to consider the importance of the scrolls for an understanding of the Fourth


#3. The Dead Sea Scrolls  by William Priestly

Archaeology, being “concerned with the recovery of the remains of ancient civilisations”1 is

an unusual science in that, although it “deals with concrete objects and employs exact

measurements”,2 the many possible interpretations of data make it a less exact science than

chemistry, for example. However, having recognised it limitations we can see that

archaeological finds have made many important contributions to our study of the OT.

Edwin Yamauchi writes that,

The historical facts of the Bible, rightly understood, find agreement in the facts culled from

archaeology, equally rightly understood, that is, the majority or errors can be ascribed to errors of

interpretation by modern scholars and not to substantiated ‘errors’ of fact presented by the biblical

historians. This view is further strengthened when it is remembered how many theories and

interpretations of Scripture have been checked or corrected by archaeological discoveries.3

One of the most significant archaeological finds is the library of the Qumran Community: the

Dead Sea Scrolls. It is certainly “one of the few great archaeological discoveries to have

excited public imagination and interest”.4 This is perhaps due to the challenges the find made

to Biblical scholarship, or perhaps because of the light these documents threw upon the early

history of Judaism and Christianity…

Although no manuscripts were found at Khurbet Qumran, there was evidence of links between

the caves and the buildings. When the ruins were excavated, identical pottery types to the

ones found in the caves were discovered. Coins were also found which “corresponded with the

period to which the palaeographers were assigning the manuscripts”.5 As more and more

evidence was unearthed “it became clear that Qumran was, after all, the home of the

community which had written the scrolls”…

However, even though some of the information from the scrolls appears to have been written

by members of the fellowship, we know relatively little about its beginnings, “since in its

writings the community displays little awareness of, or interest in its own evolution”.7

In looking at the DSS, scholars have tried to understand as much as possible concerning the

people who owned them. The excavators revealed that there had been several stages of

occupation. There originally was a small settlement at Qumran several hundred years before

the time of Christ, but that established by the Community founded by the ‘Teacher of

Righteousness’, was built some time in the middle of the second century BCE. From that time,

until the Romans captured it in 68 CE, it was almost continually occupied by this group that

had broken away from traditional Judaism.

Around the beginning of the first century BCE, the settlement was considerably enlarged.

Archaeological evidence has shown that the settlement was destroyed by fire around 30 BCE.

This may have been due to an earthquake that occurred in 31 BCE. Several hundred coins

found in the excavations date the limits of the main period of occupation from 135 BCE to 68

CE. The area seems to have been occupied briefly by two other groups, following the actual

break-up of the Community. It would appear that it was used as a Roman fort until 74 CE, and

again in the 2nd century by Jewish fighters…

The scrolls themselves teach us about the Qumran Community, and provide insights to both

the Old and New Testaments.

The extent of the find is quite staggering! Hershel Shanks writes that “caves 1, through 3 and

5, though 10, yielded 212 complete or fragmentary texts. Cave 11 contained 25 texts…

Fitzmyer has concluded that either 520 or 521 texts from cave 4 have been identified”.22

There are documents written in both Phoenician and Aramaic script, and a small amount in

Greek. There are some fragments from the Book of Daniel that show the change from Hebrew

to Aramaic, and Aramaic to Hebrew. Ernst Wurthwein writes, “Qumran experts are agreed

today that the texts in the Old Hebrew script come from the same period as the texts in the

square script. It is possible that this script which was preserved from the pre-exilic period

enjoyed a renaissance in the Maccabean period with its surge of nationalism”.23 The forms of

the letters represented in the texts are from “a period in the history of the alphabet”24 from

which we have few specimens and certainly none written on leather or parchment. There are

certain peculiarities in the spelling and grammar that perhaps reflects the pronunciation of

Hebrew at the time when the manuscripts were copied.

Palaeography, the study of the script employed by the scribes, can date “the earliest Qumran

fragments from about 200 B.C.,”25 but this is only the date of the copy of the manuscript. The

dating of the composition of the book itself is much more difficult to determine. Yet the copies

can and do have some historical and scholarly significance. It would be impossible to look at

all the texts represented by the fragments found in the Qumran caves within the limits we

have, especially as “there was no single form of the text which was regarded and transmitted as exclusively authoritative. These texts presented us for the first time with a large number of


Firstly, there are two Isaiah scrolls, one of which contains all sixty-six chapters of Isaiah dating

from 150 BCE. This scroll is made of leather strips sewn together and is approximately 24 feet

long . It is considerably worn and was obviously much used. There are places where mistakes

in the copying have been erased or crossed out, and even points where another hand has noted

omissions in the margin.

There are some points where this text differs from the Masoretic Text (MT) of Isaiah, but on

the whole, it has helped bring understanding on some minor difficulties of interpretation, but

“by and large the wording of the text is substantially the same as that of the Masoretes”.28 It is

an exciting find because it is approximately one thousand years older than the oldest Isaiah

manuscripts available before 1947, and the fact that it is not split into three parts (as some

have attempted to do with this book) shows that the unity of Isaiah (if it was ever disunited)

was established by scribes around 175 BCE.

The other Isaiah scroll, though more fragmentary, due to the leather having disintegrated, is

important because, unlike the ‘St. Mark’s Monastery Isaiah Scroll’, this one “does not differ

essentially from the Masoretic text any more than do its representatives in the late medieval


Another important book to the Qumran Covenanters was Daniel. F.F. Bruce writes, “there are

grounds for thinking that a century before the beginning of the Christian era at least one group

of Jews – the men of Qumran – gave serious thought to the study and interpretation of the book

of Daniel.”30 It is fortunate that in one of the manuscripts, we have both Daniel 2:4 and 8:1,

the passages that show the change from Hebrew to Aramaic and Aramaic to Hebrew

respectively. This shows that the change “was a characteristic of the text in its earliest extant

form.”31 There is also a fragment containing Daniel 3:23, which in the Septuagint contains “a

long addition; a prayer, a prose description of their deliverance and a hymn, commonly known

as the Benediate.”32 That this is not included in the Qumran fragment shows that the addition

would not have been part of the original…

There have also been comparisons made between such books as Zechariah and Ecclesiastes

and the sectarian literature of the Qumran community that have indicated earlier datings for

these books. Some finds, such as those pieces from the book of Leviticus, which are some of

the oldest fragments of Biblical books that we have, agree almost entirely with the Masoretic

Text of Leviticus, and support the authority of the MT. “Even when the Dead Sea fragments

of Deuteronomy and Samuel which point to a different MS family from that which underlies

our received Hebrew text do not indicate any differences in doctrine or teaching.

Finally a fragment that concerns us as Evangelical Christians is from a MS written in a third

century BCE cursive hand, containing portions of the 12 Minor Prophets. The part in question

contains Micah 5:2, where the prophet names the birthplace of the Messiah as being

Bethlehem. That this copy of the book of Micah can be dated over two hundred years earlier

than the birth of Christ totally refutes scholars claims that it was written after His birth. This

find has been described as “one of the greatest manuscript discoveries of all time”.40 As can

be seen from the above examples, the scrolls of Qumran have indeed aided us in our Biblical


The DSS also tell us some things concerning the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the

Hebrew Bible. Biblical fragments have been found in the Qumran caves, which have a

Hebrew text that is closer to the LXX than to the MT. This tells us that around the turn of the

century there were various Hebrew texts in existence, and the LXX may have come from “a

different Hebrew Text belonging to what we may call the Proto-Septuagint family”.42 This

would explain some of the differences between the MT and the LXX.

Most notable, however, are two scrolls that were part of the original find in cave 1. The first of these is the Habakkuk Commentary that is a verse by verse exposition of chapters one and two of this book.

There are many historical allusions in this scroll, though they assume understanding of events

at the time and they are “exasperatingly vague references”.43 It has been possible to

understand some of what this scroll says and it is “of special religious and historical

significance, because like the Manual of Discipline and other Qumran texts, it is a source of

new information about a religious movement in pre-Christian Judaism”…

There has also been much debate about the archaeological find at the Dead Sea, many scholars

have put pen to paper to express their views and complaints about fragments that remain

unpublished over forty years after the discovery of the first scrolls. Opinions vary from such as

that expressed by M. Burrows, who writes: “for the interpretation and theology of the Old

Testament they have relatively little value”.46.

to those who agree with Edwin Yamauchi that the flood of literature that has emerged following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls is eloquent testimony to the importance which scholars have attached to this remarkable phase of archaeology.

No work dealing with the Bible generally can now be regarded with any seriousness if it fails to

take into account the significance of the Qumran discoveries for its own particular area of study.47

Although some of the finds at the Dead Sea merely confirmed previous theories, there have

been some finds at Qumran that have given new understanding and information to our study of

the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. “The covenanters rendered a service to Biblical

scholars by making and preserving manuscripts of the Bible, even though most of these have

survived only in small scraps”.

#4. The Dead Sea Habakkuk Scroll by Professor F. F. Bruce, M.A., D.D.

The Dead Sea Habakkuk Scroll (1Q p Hab.) is one of the four scrolls from Qumran Cave I

which were obtained in June 1947 by the Syrian Monastery of St. Mark in Jerusalem and

subsequently (February 1955) purchased by the state of Israel.

The scroll, which contains 13 columns of Hebrew writing, consists of two pieces of soft

leather sewn together with linen thread between columns 7 and 8. The columns are about 10

centimetres wide; the scroll was originally about 160 centimetres long. The first two columns,

however, are badly mutilated, as is also the bottom of the scroll; this produces an undulating

break. along the bottom when the scroll is unrolled. The present maximum height of the scroll

is 13.7 centimetres; originally it may have been 16 centimetres high or more.

Palaeographical estimates of the age of the scroll vary by some decades, but a date around the

middle of the first century B.C. or shortly afterwards is probable.

The scroll contains the text of the first two chapters of Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk, as

we know it, consists of two documents: (a) ‘The oracle of God which Habakkuk the prophet

saw’ (chapters 1 and 2), and (b) ‘A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth’

(chapter 3). Our scroll quotes one or several clauses from the former document, and supplies a

running commentary on the words quoted; but it does not contain the text of the second

document, nor, does it make any comment on it. It is plain from the scroll that it never

reproduced or expounded the third chapter of Habakkuk, for the original ending is clear for all

to see. The omission of all reference to the ‘prayer of Habakkuk’ is not due to any idea that

such a psalm was unsuitable material for a commentary of the kind that is supplied for the

‘oracle’ of Habakkuk (commentaries of this kind on the Psalter and other biblical poems have

been found at Qumran); it is due, more probably, to the fact that Habakkuk’s ‘prayer’ was considered to be a separate work, quite distinct from his ‘oracle’.

After quoting a section of the text of Habakkuk, our commentator says: ‘Its interpretation

concerns…’―and then proceeds to give its meaning as he sees it, mainly in terms of persons

and events of his own time, or of the times immediately preceding and following his own. The

Hebrew word rendered ‘interpretation’ here is pesher, and from its frequency and distinctive

usage in this commentary, it has come to be used of the commentary as a whole and of others

belonging to the same class. Quite a number of such pěshārîm have been found in the Qumran

caves, but this commentary on Habakkuk is not only the first to be known, but it is the most

complete of those that have come to light thus far.

It is, besides, of more than ordinary interest because it remains our chief source for some of

the most fascinating problems of Qumran study―the character and identity of the Teacher of

Righteousness (the founder and leader of the Qumran community), and his relations with various opponents, such as the Wicked Priest, the house of Absalom, the Man of Falsehood

and the Seekers after Smooth Things; together with the identity of the Kitti’im, the brutal

Gentile power whose domination of Judaea is regarded as a divine nemesis on the wicked

rulers of the land…

We can best understand the .book of Habakkuk when we read it in the light of its historical

setting in the reign of Jehoiakim (608-598 B.C.). We have it on excellent contemporary

authority that Jehoiakim was guilty of oppression and violence. (Jeremiah xxii 13-17).

Habakkuk complains to God about the oppression and violence which are rife in the nation,

and God tells him that the Chaldeans are being raised up to be the executors of his judgment

against the unrighteous rulers of Judah. But Habakkuk has to renew his complaint before

long, for the Chaldeans are acting with even greater brutality and impiety than those upon whom they executed God’s judgment.

This time God tells him that the Chaldeans, too, will be dealt with when they have served his purpose; righteousness will one day be established throughout the earth, but for the present the prophet and those like-minded must exercise patience and trust in God: ‘the righteous shall live by his faith’ (Habakkuk ii 4).

While exegetes may differ on details, the prophecy of Habakkuk is generally coherent and

intelligible when interpreted along these lines…

It is evident that the Teacher of Righteousness of the Habakkuk commentary and related texts

was the effective founder of the Qumran community; his was the original and creative mind

which stamped its impress on the whole brotherhood. But the movement led by Menahem,

and by Eleazar ben Jair after him, received its distinctive character not from either of them but

rather from Menahem’s father Judas and from Judas’s colleague Sadduk. If Menahem’s party

was indeed the Qumran community, then either Judas or Sadduk would be a better choice for

identification as he great Teacher of Righteousness.

Some of the Qumran documents were composed a considerable time after the Teacher of

Righteousness was ‘gathered in’ (an expression more suitable for a natural death than for the

way in which Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair died). But less than two years elapsed between

Menahem’s death and the destruction of the headquarters at Qumran, according to Père de

VAUX’s reading of the archaeological evidence; less than seven years elapsed between

Menahem’s death and the fall of Masada, the last outpost of his followers.

Dr. ROTH suggests that the Damascus residence of the community is to be literally

understood, and that it is to be dated between 4 B.C. and A.D. 6. But if it was in the literal

Damascus that the community found refuge at that time, it is surely to that time that the

Zadokite work must be ascribed. Yet in the Zadokite work the Teacher of Righteousness is

already dead: twice over he is said to have been ‘gathered in’,21 and in the second of these

passages about forty years elapse between his ‘gathering in until the destruction of all the men

of war who returned with the Man of Falsehood’. Dr. ROTH’s identification of the Man of Falsehood with Simon bar Giora is, fortunately, only tentative; if it were put forward as an

integral part of his reconstruction it would increase the complication still more. The

complication is acute enough already, unless the Teacher of Righteousness introduced at the

beginning of the Zadokite work is a different person from the Teacher of Righteousness in the

Habakkuk commentary.

Above all, it seems impossible to reconcile Dr. ROTH’s view with the palaeographical

evidence. The discovery of a number of dated manuscripts at Murabba’at has made it possible

to establish not only a relative, but an absolute; chronology for the Qumran manuscripts. If

the manuscript of the Habakkuk commentary was copied as late as A.D. 25―the latest date

which palaeographers have suggested for it (and it was probably copied half a century before that)―the composition of the work itself can have been no later; and the clash between the Wicked Priest and the Teacher of Righteousness was an event of the past when the commentator wrote.

Dr. ROTH’s thesis is attractive and stimulating, and one can only admire the skill and vigour

with which it has been presented. But the view which will ultimately triumph will do equal

justice to the internal evidence as interpreted by historians and philologists, to the

archaeological evidence as interpreted by archaeologists, and to the palaeographical evidence

as interpreted by palaeographers. It cannot be said that Dr. ROTH’s view does this.

#5. The Scrolls and the Scribes of the New Testament by Joseph H. Dampier Johnson City, Tennessee

The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls has brought with it an intense interest in the Essenes.

That the existence of this party or confraternity which is designated by Josephus as a

philosophic sect must have continued in Palestine with the Pharisees and Sadducees into the

period described in the Gospels is almost universally taken for granted. Then why are there no

Essenes in the New Testament?

The Qumran Community must have existed near the Dead Sea from at least 100 B.C. to 68

A.D. It is not mentioned in the Gospels. The size of the cemetery would indicate a sizable


The solution most generally accepted is that the Essenes and the Qumran covenanters were

the same people and, if not identical, were so closely identified that the one is a part of the


This does not answer the question of the silence of the New Testament on these contemporary

religious movements or sects. A possible solution to this problem is that Qumran and/or the

Essenes may have been known under more than one name and that they are present in the

New Testament under a different name than in Josephus and Philo.

The Qumran sectaries (perhaps known in Josephus as the Essenes) are known in the New

Testament as the Scribes. The Qumran Community hid a library of Biblical and non-Biblical

manuscripts, and the ruins of the monastery has a scriptorium with desks still in place. It is

rather obvious that they were scribes.

Qumran was a community of scribes, but were the Scribes of the Gospels connected with the

Qumran Community? Or, were they, in some way that we do not yet understand, indirectly


The Manual of Discipline and some other references in the Dead Sea Scrolls form the

connecting link of evidence which shows us the same sect. While the New Testament never

uses the term ‘Essene’, Josephus is almost equally silent about ‘Scribes’, for with the

exception of “holy scribes” in Jewish Wars and a single use of grammateus in Contra Apion

where it is not translated Scribe he makes little use of the term.

The first question that must be answered is whether the Scribes were a party or a profession.

In the Old Testament the Soferim were writers, keepers of the records, and in some cases

evidently official recorders. The LXX translated this as Scribe grammateus. By the time the

New Testament was written, writing must have been a more general skill, and the word

‘scribe’ had taken on other meanings. That some had become teachers and lawyers and

doctors of the law is not to be denied. But, that the word did not have a single meaning is

indicated by such terms as “Scribes of the Pharisees” (Mk. 2:13-17, Lk. 5:27-32) and “Scribes

of the people” (Matt. 2:4). The inter-testament period may have worked a change in the use of

the word.

The term ‘scribe’ in the New Testament does not refer to a trade or profession of copying

manuscripts or acting as amanuensis for illiterate sections of the population. It is rather

obvious that the term ‘scribe’ is never used to describe in any way these activities, but the

term itself grammateus would indicate at least such an origin for the word; but, of course, the use of a term at any given time is not necessarily the same as the origin of the same word.

We use the term ‘Mason’ (Freemason) for group that are not now connected with

the building trades, but we still continue to use it for those who are so employed.

The scribes appear in the Synoptics about fifty-five times,1 The term does not appear in John

except in John 8:3. The term is only used five times in the rest of the New Testamen

In nine of the fifty-five appearances of the Scribes in the Synoptics Scribes and Pharisees are

identified together. The Pharisees are known as a religious party. If the Scribes are not a

religious party, then the uniting of the two words might seem to be incongruous. It would be

similar to our referring to the Presbyterians and the printers. It might also be significant that

Scribes are never so linked with the Sadducees, This then indicates a religious community

that had a greater affinity for Pharisaic doctrine than for Sadducean.

In ten instances this group is linked with the priests, chief priests, elders, etc. But, with the

exception of the one instance of the nativity (Matt. 2:4), this relationship always appears after

the triumphal entry. During the last week Scribes and Pharisees seem to have separated and

the Scribes and Priests to have formed an alliance. Unless the Scribes were a separate

religious group, how did they do this?

Scribes alone without alliances appear ten times in the Synoptic accounts. (It should be noted

here that the discrepancy of the above numbers is due to some variation of terminology in the

Gospel accounts.)…

A comparison of the teachings and condemnations of Jesus that were particularly directed to

the Scribes rather than the Pharisees shows us a community whose doctrinal and community

life is also found in the Manual of Discipline and other documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls…

The idea that the Scribes are a party is presented by M. Jaques Basnage in his “History of the

Jews”. M. Basnage apparently had personal connections with the Koraites who believed

themselves to be the original Scribal Party who divided from the Pharisees because they

would not recognize the Oral Law and later the Mishna.

The Koraites also differed as to the calendar. They believed that only when the new moon

appeared and was observed could the month begin, and so outlawed the use of astronomical


The Koraites settled such disputes by an appeal to “Three able persons” and regarded

authority as “divided between the High Priest and a Prophet, but the prophet was not a man

inspired from heaven as Moses or Isaiah, but a skillful and experienced man”. P. 107…

The considerable number of scholars who have pointed out such connections do not seem to

have considered the claims of the Koraites that they were originally “Scribes, lawyers, and

doctors of the law.” Which, coupled with the idea of an authorative but uninspired prophet

brings up some interesting possibilities as to the teacher of righteousness and gives a possible

Post-Biblical link between the Qumran people and the Scribes of the New Testament.

#6. Jewish Apocalyptic and the Dead Sea Scrolls by H. H. Rowley

D.D., F.B.A. Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature in the University of Manchester

The Ethel M. Wood Lecture delivered before the University of London on 12 March 1957

The first of the texts to be published in full was the Habakkuk Commentary,7 and

this immediately turned the attention of scholars to a work which Solomon

Schechter first published in 1910, under the title Fragments of a Zadokite Work.8

This work had come down in two mediaeval manuscripts found in the Cairo

Genizah,9 which in part overlapped and in part supplemented one another.

Much discussion had followed its publication, and wide differences of opinion had been

expressed as to the date of the composition of the work and the particular Jewish

group from which it had come.10 It was generally believed that the mediaeval copies

were of a much older work, and the view that it came from a pre-Christian date was

taken by a number of scholars.11 It contained references to a Teacher of Righteousness,

who was at once connected with the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned

in the Habakkuk Commentary, when that commentary became available, and the

view that the Zadokite Work and the Habakkuk Commentary were both products of

the Qumran sect was widely shared. Since then fragments of the Zadokite Work

have been found in the Qumran caves,11a and it is now generally accepted that in all

discussions of the Qumran sect the Zadokite Work as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls

must be taken into account…

All this means that the Scrolls and the Zadokite Work should be studied together in

relation to our other surviving non-Biblical texts coming from Palestine in the two

centuries preceding the Christian era. But first it is necessary to establish that the

relevant texts of the Qumran sect are all of pre-Christian origin. I have already said

that we must not assume this, since the sectarian works might have been composed

at any time down to the deposit of the Scrolls in the caves…

The Teacher of Righteousness is not mentioned in all of the texts, but figures

especially in the commentaries and in the Zadokite Work. From the somewhat

cryptic manner in which he is referred to, it would appear that the first readers of

the texts might be expected to understand the situation presupposed more easily

than we can, and therefore that these texts were composed fairly close to the time

of the Teacher. So far as the Zadokite Work is concerned, this is confirmed by the

fact that the coming of the Messiah of Aaron and Israel seems to have been

expected about forty years after the gathering in of the Teacher of Righteousness.14

It would therefore seem to be clear that this work was composed within forty years

of his death. In the pre-Christian period three principal dates for the life and work

of the Teacher of Righteousness have been proposed.

The Manual of Discipline is less easy to place in relation to the Teacher of

Righteousness, who is not referred to in it. The Teacher of Righteousness seems to

have given authoritative interpretation of the Law to his followers,15 but he is not

said to have organized the sect. In the Zadokite Work there is reference to one

called the Star,16 who appears to have led the sect to Damascus,17 and he must have

lived and been the leader of the sect within forty years of the death of the Teacher.

Whether he is the author of the Manual of Discipline, however, we have no means

of knowing.

In the Zadokite Work we find reference to the Book of Hagu,18 which

seems, therefore, to have been in existence within forty years of the death of the

Teacher of Righteousness. In a fragment related to the Manual of Discipline, which

came from Cave I, there is another reference to the Book of Hagi, as it is called

here.19 This fragment is not a part of the work called the Manual of Discipline, and

there is some reason for thinking that it is earlier than the Manual. Its editor notes

that the congregation of the sect is here organized on a more military basis than the

community of the Manual, and he finds the fragment to reflect a situation which

recalls the congregation of the Hasidim described in I Maccabees, while the

Manual suggests an organization nearer to that of the Essenes as described by our

ancient authorities.20

The Manual may therefore be a revised manual, reflecting a later stage of the organization of the sect, perhaps based on earlier manuals, and its date in relation to the work of the Teacher of Righteousness is more problematical…

The First Book of Enoch is commonly divided into several sections, which are variously

dated. Charles dates chapters vi-xxxvi and the Apocalypse of Weeks (xciii. 1-10, xci. 12-17) in the pre-Maccabaean period,28 but I have elsewhere shown that his reasons are not

convincing, or even always self-consistent, and have argued for a Maccabaean date for these

sections.29 For chapters xci-civ, with the exception of the Apocalypse of Weeks, Charles

favours the period of Alexander Jannaeus.30 But here again Frey argues for a Maccabaean

date,31 and I think this is the more probable.32 For chapters xxxvi-lxxi, the Similitudes of

Enoch, Charles argues for a date in the first century B.C., either between 94 and 79 B.C., or

between 70 and 64. B.C.,33 and for lxxxiii-xc he puts a terminus ad quem of 161 B.C.34

Here once more Frey offers strong reasons for supposing that the Similitudes should be placed

in the previous century, and reflect the background of the Maccabaean age.35 He would assign the composition to a date soon after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164. B.C.36 He therefore concludes that all the principal sections of I Enoch come from the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, or shortly after his death,37 and this view seems to me to be convincing…

The Similitudes of Enoch raise problems of Christian interpolation and of the interpretation of their figure of the Son of Man. In the book of Daniel the Son of Man is a figure symbolizing the saints as invested with power in the coming kingdom,44 and there are some who think the Son of Man is here also a collective symbol.45 Others hold that he is a transcendental figure, a pre-existent

individual.46 For our purpose this is not material, since nothing of this character can

be found in the Scrolls. The term Anointed One, or Messiah, is found in the

Similitudes,47 but there is nothing to indicate that he is a human deliverer, and again

the view has been expressed that this is a collective figure.48

The book of Jubilees is commonly dated in the second century B.C.49 Albright50 and

Zeitlin51 have argued for earlier dates, but some years ago I offered reasons for

rejecting that view.52 Amongst the practices on which the book of Jubilees lays emphasis is the keeping of the Sabbath,53 which was prohibited by the Seleucid authorities in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.54 The observance of the Jewish food laws is also enjoined,55 and we know that in the time of Antiochus there was a vigorous effort to compel the Jews to eat unclean foods.56 It will be remembered that Dan. i is concerned with the same question. The author of Jubilees complains of

idolatry,57 and this again was an issue in the age of Antiochus,58 when the Temple

was profaned and an idol altar set up in the Temple…

Unlike the book of Daniel, the book of Jubilees gives no hint of any resurrection

from the dead. It contemplates an immortality of bliss for the righteous in the

hereafter, while their bones rest in the earth.72 The descendants of Levi are promised

both ecclesiastical and religious power.73 This does not appear to reflect approval of

the position under the Hasmonaeans, when civil and religious power was in priestly

hands, since immediately afterwards Judah is described as a prince over Jacob, who

should be feared by the Gentiles, and who should sit on the throne.74 It would seem

that the thought is that the king should be subordinate to the priest.

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs again raise questions of integrity and

interpolation, as well as of date. A recent study by a Dutch scholar has argued for a

post-Christian date, later than the date of the deposit of the Scrolls in the caves.75

Charles, on the other hand, argues for a date towards the end of the second century B.C., between 109 and 107 B.C.76 Pfeiffer

more broadly ascribes the work to a date between 140 and 110 B.C.,77 while Frey

assigns it to the second half of the second century B.C.78

Too many vexed questions surround the Testaments to be discussed here. Only one

or two of them can be briefly referred to, Of these the first concerns the thought of

the Messiah. Several passages are held by Charles to indicate a Messiah from the

tribe of Levi.79 Lagrange disputes this interpretation,80 but Beasley-Murray, after a

careful examination, concludes that Charles is right in two instances, but that the

others do not present this idea…

The Psalms of Solomon are to be dated in the middle of the first century B.C.109

One of these psalms is messianic in character, and the following psalm is headed

‘Again of the Anointed of the Lord’. It is the former of these, Psalm xvii, which

most concerns us here. After a historical survey it describes the coming messianic

age, and prefaces this description with the words: ‘Behold, O Lord, and raise up

unto them their king, the son of David.’110 It is therefore clear that here we have no

expectation of a Levitical Messiah, but only of a Davidic Messiah.

The terms in which his rule is described draw freely on Old Testament ideas, as is to be

expected. The Messiah will be righteous and pure and will shatter unrighteous

rulers and deliver Jerusalem from Gentile oppressors.111 He will reign over Israel,

and no alien will henceforth be admitted to the land.112 He will subject the nations

to his yoke, and his rule will be marked by righteousness and holiness, and Gentiles

will come from the ends of the earth to behold his glory, and will bring exiled Jews

to him as their gifts.113 The following psalm makes no mention of the Davidic

descent of the Messiah, but describes his rule in similar terms, though with less


The Battle Scroll describes the war whereby the nations should be successively conquered.

But it is to be noted that the Kittim are present throughout to the thought of the writer. He

says that after the Kittim are conquered the arms of the sect are to be led against nation after

nation in a specified order, and apparently the whole war is to occupy forty years.132 But

thereafter he reverts to the Kittim, and throughout the rest of the work he has nothing to say

about the other nations. This is very significant. I have already said that the Kittim of this

Scroll must be identified with the Greeks, and this view has been held by some who have

found the Kittim of the other texts to be the Romans.

We are therefore definitely in the second century B.C., when it was possible to think of the Kittim in Egypt marching against the Seleucid king of the north. It is true that in the first century B.C. Demetrius III led his army from Syria against Alexander Jannaeus, but there is no reason to think that this event would arouse the nationalist feelings of the sect, and one writer who would put the Teacher of

Righteousness in that age believed that the members of the sect were on the side of

Demetrius.133 This is on every ground improbable, and the conditions of that age would

scarcely seem to provide a suitable background for the composition of the Battle Scroll…

In one passage in the Testament of Levi137 it is said that a King should arise in Judah and

establish a new priesthood, to be called by a new name. Charles interpreted this of the

Hasmonaeans, and thought the new name was the revival of the title of Melchizedek.138 T. W.

Manson effectively answers this, and holds that the new name was ‘Sons of Zadok’, the

reference being to Solomon’s establishment of Zadok in the place of Abiathar in Jerusalem.139

He therefore disposes of this Hasmonaean hypothesis, and finds instead the conception of the

Zadokite priesthood, which was so dear to the Qumran sect…

It may be added that in the Nahum Commentary we have for the first time in the

Scrolls contemporary historical persons mentioned under their own proper names.

Antiochus is mentioned,161 and he appears to be Antiochus Epiphanes,162 though we

are here told nothing about him. There is merely a simple reference to the period

from Antiochus to the rise of the rulers of the Kittim. There is also a reference to a

king of Greece,163 who appears to be Demetrius, though the beginning of his name

is lost. This Demetrius is said to have sought to enter Jerusalem with the aid of the

seekers after smooth things. In the first century B.C. Demetrius III fought against

Alexander Jannaeus, but it is unlikely that the sect of the Scrolls was on either side

in this conflict. In the second century B.C., within a year or two of the death of

Antiochus Epiphanes, Demetrius I sent Nicanor to Jerusalem to secure control of

the whole city,164 including the Temple, and the story of his boast and subsequent

defeat by Judas Maccabaeus, and the hanging up in Jerusalem of the hand that had

been boastfully outstretched against the Temple is very familiar.165 At this time the

seekers after smooth things, who were on the side of Demetrius and Nicanor, would

certainly be the enemies of members of our sect.

It is unnecessary to say more of these converging lines of evidence. In the present

lecture it has been my purpose to add one more line of approach in the links

between the messianic and apocalyptic thought of the Scrolls with the events and

writings of the second century B.C. To have dealt exclusively with that restricted

question, without reference to the other lines of approach, would have been

unsatisfactory, since this evidence must be integrated with the other evidence at our

disposal before its full weight can be realized. It is that integration which I have

here attempted, and it seems to me to contribute materially to a case which on other

grounds I have found to be strong.

#7. The Teacher of Righteousness in the Qumran Texts By F. F. BRUCE, M. A.

Professor of Biblical History and Literature in the University of Sheffield

‘The Teacher of Righteousness’ is the name given in a number of the lately discovered

Qumran documents to a man who was held in high veneration by the religious community on

whose beliefs and practices these documents have thrown so much light. If he was not

actually the founder of the community, it was certainly he who impressed upon it those

features which distinguished it from other pious groups which flourished among the Jews

during the last two or three centuries of the Second Commonwealth. So far as we can gather

from our present sources of information, he is never referred to by his personal name in the

Qumran texts.1

The title bestowed on him by his followers, ‘The Teacher of Righteousness’

(Heb. moreh s£edeq or moreh has£s£edeq), may echo Hosea x. 12, where the prophet calls to his

people: ‘break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain

righteousness (Heb. yoreh s£edeq) upon you.’ The RV margin gives ‘teach you righteousness’

as an alternative translation to ‘rain righteousness upon you’; in any case, moreh s£edeq is the

participial form corresponding to the imperfect yoreh s£edeq which Hosea uses. Numerous

attempts have been made to identify the Teacher of Righteousness with some figure or other

mentioned elsewhere in Jewish literature;2 and as the career of the Teacher, in so far as it can

be pieced together from the Qumran texts, is linked very closely with the careers of one or two contemporaries who are mentioned in equally allusive terms, it might be more accurate to entitle the present study The Teacher of Righteousness—and others…

It is not at all certain if the Teacher of Righteousness can be identified with any historical

figure mentioned outside the Zadokite and Qumran literature. But we can put together the fragments of information about him which that literature supplies, so as to obtain as clear an impression as possible of the kind of man he was…

As we have seen, his followers believed that he had been initiated by God into the mysteries

of His purpose, so as to understand the true interpretation of the prophets of old. What he thus

learned from God he imparted to his disciples. The fragmentary pesher on Micah, found in

Cave 1, commenting on the words of Micah i. 5b (‘and what are the high places of Judah? are

they not Jerusalem?’) says:

[Their interpretation con]cerns the Teacher of Righteousness: he it is who [teaches the law to] his

[council] and to all those who offer themselves willingly to be gathered among the elect people [of

God, practising the law] in the council of the community, who will be saved from the day [of


It is equally plain that those who disregarded the words of the Teacher of Righteousness were

believed to have lost all hope of salvation. The appearance of the Teacher of Righteousness was regarded as a sign that the last days were approaching. He was not the Messiah, but his ministry signified that the messianic age would not be long delayed. Perhaps his followers believed at one time that the messianic age would be inaugurated within his lifetime; but after his death a revision of this opinion was necessary.…

The problem of identifying these ‘men of war’ may wait until something further is said about

the ‘Man of Falsehood’…

Is it possible that they expected one of these Messiahs—the Messiah of Aaron—to be the

Teacher of Righteousness himself, risen from the dead? It has been maintained that they did,3

and the possibility may be freely allowed. Mr. Allegro, for example, has pointed out4 that a

fragmentary biblical anthology found in Cave 4 looks forward to the time when the Davidic Messiah will arise ‘with the Expounder of the Law’; and it is a natural inference that the ‘Expounder of the Law’ in this instance is the Messiah of Aaron.

The same two figures are evidently associated in a comment on Nu. xxiv. 171 made in the Zadokite Admonition, where Balaam’s ‘star out of Jacob’ is ‘the Expounder of the Law who comes to Damascus’, while the ‘sceptre’ which is to ‘rise out of Israel’ is ‘the prince of all the congregation who, when he arises, will break down all the sons of Sheth.’ The ‘Expounder of the Law ‘, I suggest, was the title given to the Teacher’s successor as head of the community and was borne by several leaders one after the other.

The head of the community in office at the time of the end would sponsor and induct the Davidic

Messiah. But would that particular head of the community be the Teacher of Righteousness

himself, risen from the dead, and would he also be the Aaronic Messiah? Further information

must be awaited before a confident answer can be given.

In the present state of our knowledge, it seems more probable that the Teacher of

Righteousness in resurrection was expected to fill the rôle which in general Jewish thinking

was reserved for the prophet Elijah. For Elijah was widely expected to return to earth on the

eve of the ‘great and terrible day of the LORD’ to discharge a ministry of repentance and

restoration so that Israel might be ready for the dawn of that day.2 (It does not appear,

however, that Qumran expectation identified the Teacher redivivus with Elijah, any more than

it identified him with the other eschatological prophet, the second Moses for whom many

looked in fulfilment of Dt. xviii. 15 ff.) The Teacher, even in resurrection perhaps, as

certainly in his previous existence, would be a messianic forerunner rather than a Messiah.



The Dead Sea Scrolls


One of the most annoying things you will find about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) is that almost every author, whether in a book or magazine article or interview, will repeat the story of the discovery as if no one has ever heard it before.

There are many theories as to how the scrolls got into the caves. This website does not buy into most of them and leans towards the idea that a group of people stored them there for safe keeping before the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

This site rejects the notion that a few people smuggled them out of the city during the siege and attack as that would have been impossible. For details on that theory and others go to the following links and view the discussions there:

From Craig A. Evans, To Noel Freedman to Hershal Shanks there are a lot of good books written on the DSS. There is no shortage of information on them. What is speculated about the most is the mystery of how they came to be in the caves and who put them there.

The next most common debate is about the Essenes and who they were. Did they really copy the scrolls? Did they really live in Qumran? Are some of the main questions asked.  No one knows as there has been no manuscript discovered documenting the ownership or the details of the storage of the scrolls.

It is all a guessing game. It is also an issue filled with multiple conflicting theories as archaeologists and scholars take the side they think is the best it.  Some even go as far as saying that Qumran was only a pottery factory and could not house the Essenes but their evidence can only support part of that argument.

What follows will be similar to the other new pages: 10 blurbs on the issue of the DSS, with links to help you investigate further. Ten blurbs do not do the issue justice but for the sake of space and time it is a good number to get started.

You will discover that there is a wealth of information out there from all levels of biblical studies and scholarship. Just be careful as you read as most scholars are not Christian and do not care about the truth. They care more about discussion than finding and presenting answers.

The first blurb will be the official internet site of the DSS


The discovery of the first Dead Sea Scrolls in a remote Judean Desert cave in 1947 is widely considered the greatest archaeological event of the twentieth century. Bedouin treasure hunters and archaeologists ultimately found the remains of hundreds of ancient scrolls. These fragile pieces of parchment and papyrus, including the oldest existing copies of the Hebrew Bible, were preserved for two thousand years by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves where they were placed. The scrolls provide an unprecedented picture of the diverse religious beliefs of ancient Judaism, and of daily life during the turbulent Second Temple period when Jesus lived and preached.

Fragments of every book of the Hebrew Bible (except the Book of Esther) were found in the Qumran caves, the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls sites. Remarkably, some of these ancient copies are identical to the traditional text of the Hebrew Bible that is used today. Other copies preserve differences in the text, which was in the process of standardisation.

Non-biblical texts discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls offer us a tantalizing glimpse of life during the Second Temple period and the opportunity to understand the attitudes, desires and aspirations of the people of that time. Most of the scrolls from the Qumran caves are religious writings from the Second Temple period. Some of these reflect the life and philosophy of a distinctive group that called itself the “Yahad” (“Community”). At other sites, the major finds were administrative and personal documents dating from the catastrophic Judean revolt against Rome in 132–135 ce.

As part of the conservation efforts to preserve the Scrolls for future generations, the IAA has initiated the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls digitization project. Using the most advanced and innovative imaging technology, each Scroll fragment is imaged in various wavelengths and in the highest resolution possible then uploaded to the Digital Library. For the first time ever, the Dead Sea Scrolls archive is becoming available to the public online.


What is the most important archaeological discovery to date?

“Probably the Dead Sea Scrolls have had the greatest Biblical impact. They have provided Old Testament manuscripts approximately 1,000 years older than our previous oldest manuscript. The Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated that the Old Testament was accurately transmitted during this interval. In addition, they provide a wealth of information on the times leading up to, and during, the life of Christ.” — Dr. Bryant Wood

Description of the Scrolls

As soon as the announcement of the scrolls’ discovery was made, the scholarly debates about their origin and significance began. The debates increased when the amazing contents of the scrolls were successively revealed.

The seven original scrolls, from what came to be called “Cave One,” comprised the following:

  • a well-preserved copy of the entire prophecy of Isaiah—the oldest copy of an Old Testament book ever to be discovered
  • another fragmentary scroll of Isaiah
  • a commentary on the first two chapters of Habakkuk—the commentator explained the book allegorically interms of the Qumran brotherhood
  • the “Manual of Discipline” or “Community Rule”—the most important source of information about the religious sect at Qumran—it described the requirements for those aspiring to join the brotherhood
  • the “Thanksgiving Hymns,” a collection of devotional “psalms” of thanksgiving and praise to God
  • an Aramaic paraphrase of the Book of Genesis
  • the “Rule of War” which dealt with the battle between the “Sons of Light” (the men of Qumran) and the “Sons of Darkness” (the Romans?) yet to take place in the “last days,” which days the men of Qumran believed were about to arrive.

Those seven original scrolls were just the beginning. Over six hundred scrolls and thousands of fragments have been discovered in the 11 caves of the Qumran area. Fragments of every Biblical book except Esther have been found, as well as many other non-Biblical texts.

One of the most fascinating of the finds was a copper scroll which had to becut in strips to be opened and which contained a list of 60 treasures located in various parts of Judea (none of which have been found)! Another scroll, which Israeli archaeologists recovered in 1967 underneath the floor of a Bethlehem antiquities dealer, describes in detail the community’s view of an elaborate Temple ritual. This has been appropriately called the “Temple Scroll.”

The contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that their authors were a group of priests and laymen pursuing a communal life of strict dedication to God. Their leader was called the “Righteous Teacher.” They viewed themselves as the only true elect of Israel—they alone were faithful to the Law.

They opposed the “Wicked Priest”—the Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem who represented the establishment, and who had persecuted them in some way. This wicked priest was probably one of the Maccabean rulers who had illegitimately assumed the high priesthood between 150-140 BC. Most scholars have identified the Qumran brotherhood with the Essenes, a Jewish sect of Jesus’ day described by Josephus and Philo.


In 1987, as the Dead Sea Scrolls publishing controversy captured the world’s attention, a graduate student by the name of Peter Flint moved from South Africa to the United States. He took a doctoral fellowship at the University of Notre Dame and began to study under one of the figures at the center of the controversy, Eugene Ulrich, the chief editor of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.


By 1997, Dr. Peter Flint had published the second largest portion of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls: the Psalms Scrolls. This publication was full of discoveries that soon changed Bibles, Bible study, and biblical scholarship. Today, Flint is an editor of the largest intact Dead Sea Scroll: The Great Isaiah Scroll…

Yes. I have a beautiful example from the Isaiah scrolls. Do you remember the suffering servant of the Lord, the man of sorrows? If you go to Isa 53:11, it says, in reference to the servant, “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many. For he shall bear their iniquities.” According to the KJV, which follows the traditional Hebrew text, the servant will suffer, he will die, and he will be content. It’s Good Friday, right?

Now what do we find when we turn to the scrolls? I went to the Great Isaiah Scroll in Jerusalem and I discovered there is a different reading. Not, “He shall see of the travail of his soul.” Instead, there’s a new word there, “Out of the travail of his soul he will see light.” That is explosive. In that verse we do not only have Good Friday, we have Easter Sunday. Hope, life, resurrection—there it is in the Great Isaiah Scroll. The sermons will have to be repreached, the commentaries will have to be rewritten.

Some might say, “You know what Dr. Flint, just hold on. Maybe ‘He shall see light’ is there because this community thought they were the ‘sons of light.’ Maybe they added it.” I reply to that by asking, “Is this a good and supported reading?” Well, there are two other scrolls that have this, which would seem to suggest it is.

Imagine your minister saying, “I’ve got good news for you—the scrolls tell us the suffering servant will not only find satisfaction, but ‘will see light.’ ” This reading is based on the oldest copies of the Word of God in the world…

The Scrolls demonstrate that your Bible is 99% accurate. We are confirming the Word of God and getting to that 1% of readings that are difficult. The NRSV adopts 85 readings like the “He will see light” reading. The NIV has adopted 22. At this early stage, there are about 100 better readings discovered in the Scrolls that have been proposed for English translations. Some of the bibles that adopt these readings are the RSV, RSV and NIV. However, there are some that stick to the traditional Hebrew text, like the KJV. Those translations will not adopt the 1% better reading

You can read more about Peter Flint and his work at the following website


The years between 1951 and 1956 were marked by accelerated activity in both the search for caves and the archeological excavation of sites related to tile manuscripts. An eight-kilometer-long strip of cliffs was thoroughly investigated. Of the eleven caves that yielded manuscripts, five were discovered by the Bedouins and six by archeologists. Some of the caves were particularly rich in material. Cave 3 preserved two oxidized rolls of beaten copper (the Copper Scroll), containing a lengthy roster of real or imaginary hidden treasures-a tantalizing enigma to this day. Cave 4. was particularly rich in material: 15,000 fragments from at least six hundred composite texts were found there. The last manuscript cave discovered, Cave II, was located in 1956, providing extensive documents, including the Psalms Scroll, an Aramaic targum of Job, and the Temple Scroll, the longest (about twenty-nine feet) of the Qumran manuscripts. The Temple Scroll was acquired by Yigael Yadin in 1967 and is now housed alongside the first seven scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. All the remaining manuscripts, sizable texts as well as minute fragments, are stored in the Rockefeller Museum building in Jerusalem, the premises of the Israel Antiquities Authority…

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls caused heated controversy in scholarly circles over their date and the identity of the community they represented.

Professor Sukenik, after initially defining the time span of the scrolls as the Second Temple period, recognized their special significance and advocated the now widely accepted theory that they were remnants of the library of the Essenes. At the time, however, he was vociferously opposed by a number of scholars who doubted the antiquity as well as the authenticity of the texts. Lingering in the memory of learned circles was the notorious Shapira affair of 1883. M. Shapira, a Jerusalem antiquities dealer, announced the discovery of an ancient text of Deuteronomy. His texts, allegedly inscribed on fifteen leather strips, caused a huge stir in Europe and were even exhibited at the British Museum. Shortly thereafter, the leading European scholars of the day denounced the writings as rank forgeries.

Today scholarly opinion regarding the time span and background of the Dead Sea Scrolls is anchored in historical, paleographic, and linguistic evidence, corroborated firmly by carbon 14-datings. Some manuscripts were written and copied in the third century B.C.E., but the bulk of the material, particularly the texts that reflect on a sectarian community, are originals or copies from the first century B.C.E.; a number of texts date from as late as the years preceding the destruction of the site in 68 C.E. at the hands of the Roman legions.


What is the consensus about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the people who wrote them? Charlesworth outlines several points of consensus, some of which follow. First, the scrolls were all written by Jews; none of them have been edited by later Christians, as is the case with some other Jewish literature. Second, all the scrolls (except a treasure map known as the Copper Scroll) can be dated prior to A.D. 68 or 69, when the Qumran settlement was believed to have been destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish revolt. Third, the oldest of the scrolls probably goes back to the middle of the third century B.C. – about a century before the Qumran community was established. Fourth, the Qumran community was established in the middle of the second century B.C. by a group of priests who had been expelled from the Jerusalem temple, led by the man known as The Teacher of Righteousness. Fifth, the archenemy of the Qumran community was the ruling high priest and one of the Maccabean revolutionaries of the second century, probably Jonathan or Simon. They called him the Wicked Priest and the Liar. Sixth, the people of Qumran believed that the Holy Spirit had left the Jerusalem temple and now dwelt with them. Seventh, the people of Qumran belonged to a Jewish religious group known as the Essenes.

The evidence for this last point is overwhelming. What we know about the Essenes from ancient writers like Josephus and Philo is remarkably similar to what we know about the Qumran community from their archaeological remains and their literature. Pliny the Elder, who died during the volcanic destruction of Pompeii in the year 79 A.D., described a community of Essenes living on the western shore of the Dead Sea, close to where Khirbet Qumran is situated. If the Qumran community was not made up of Essenes, then they were completely ignored by every ancient writer and historian. That seems very unlikely.

What seems even more unlikely is the theory of Robert Eisenman which is endorsed by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. According to Eisenman, the Teacher of Righteousness was James the brother of Jesus. The people of Qumran were not Essenes but Zealots, violent rebels, and James was their leader. The enemy they called the Liar was Paul the apostle, and the Wicked Priest was Ananias, the high priest of Jerusalem. After Ananias put James to death Judea revolted, the Romans responded by destroying Jerusalem, and Paul won out by inventing Christianity and turning Jesus into a God. In other far-out theories, the Teacher of Righteousness has been identified as Jesus. But the most interesting theory yet was published by an early Dead Sea scholar named John Allegro. In his book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross,Allegro contended that Jesus was not a historical person but an image invoked by the use of a hallucinogenic mushroom. I did read a short story based on that theory once, but I don’t know of any scholar who has verified that thesis. The book was an embarrassment to the publisher.

Barbara Thiering has another theory. In the television program mentioned earlier, Thiering talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and a secret method of interpreting the Gospels. She believes that Jesus was born and raised, not in Bethlehem, but in Qumran. Using her secret method of digging beneath the stated meaning of the Biblical text, she argues that Jesus was not really born of a biological virgin but of a woman who could technically be referred to as a virgin because she was betrothed to an Essene. The Holy Spirit which conceived Jesus was actually a code-name for Joseph, Jesus’ father. Jesus grew up to be one of the leaders of the Qumran community, alongside John the Baptist. Together they were regarded as the two Messiahs. But in the year 29 A.D. Jesus turned against the community by rejecting baptisms, law observance, and the ascetic lifestyle, and preached the priesthood of all believers. Jesus then became known as the Wicked Priest and the Liar and John the Baptist became known as the Teacher of Righteousness.

Jesus, meanwhile, became part of a group known as the 12 Apostles. The group split into two factions: the Christians, led by Jesus, and the Zealots, led by Judas Iscariot. The temptation stories recorded in the Gospels are really secret accounts of the argument between Judas, represented by the figure of the devil, and Jesus. Judas offered to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would subordinate himself to Judas and become his second-in-command, but Jesus refused.


But hearing the dramatic recitation, Peleg, 40, rolls his eyes. “There is no connection to the Essenes at this site,” he tells me as a hawk circles above in the warming air. He says the scrolls had nothing to do with the settlement. Evidence for a religious community here, he says, is unconvincing. He believes, rather, that Jews fleeing the Roman rampage hurriedly stuffed the documents into the Qumran caves for safekeeping. After digging at the site for ten years, he also believes that Qumran was originally a fort designed to protect a growing Jewish population from threats to the east. Later, it was converted into a pottery factory to serve nearby towns like Jericho, he says.

Other scholars describe Qumran variously as a manor house, a perfume manufacturing center and even a tannery. Despite decades of excavations and careful analysis, there is no consensus about who lived there—and, consequently, no consensus about who actually wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“It’s an enigmatic and confusing site,” acknowledges Risa Levitt Kohn, who in 2007 curated an exhibit about the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego. She says the sheer breadth and age of the writings—during a period that intersects with the life of Jesus and the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem—make Qumran “a powder keg” among normally placid scholars. Qumran has prompted bitter feuds and even a recent criminal investigation.

Nobody doubts the scrolls’ authenticity, but the question of authorship has implications for understanding the history of both Judaism and Christianity. In 164 B.C., a group of Jewish dissidents, the Maccabees, overthrew the Seleucid Empire that then ruled Judea. The Maccabees established an independent kingdom and, in so doing, tossed out the priestly class that had controlled the temple in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon. The turmoil led to the emergence of several rival sects, each one vying for dominance. If the Qumran texts were written by one such sect, the scrolls “help us to understand the forces that operated after the Maccabean Revolt and how various Jewish groups reacted to those forces,” says New York University professor of Jewish and Hebraic studies Lawrence Schiffman in his book Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls. “While some sects were accommodating themselves to the new order in various ways, the Dead Sea group decided it had to leave Jerusalem altogether in order to continue its unique way of life.”

And if Qumran indeed housed religious ascetics who turned their backs on what they saw as Jerusalem’s decadence, then the Essenes may well represent a previously unknown link between Judaism and Christianity. “John the Baptizer, Jesus’ teacher, probably learned from the Qumran Essenes—though he was no Essene,” says James Charlesworth, a scrolls scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary. Charlesworth adds that the scrolls “disclose the context of Jesus’ life and message.” Moreover, the beliefs and practices of the Qumran Essenes as described in the scrolls—vows of poverty, baptismal rituals and communal meals—mirror those of early Christians. As such, some see Qumran as the first Christian monastery, the cradle of an emerging faith.

But Peleg and others discount Qumran’s role in the history of the two religions. Norman Golb, a University of Chicago professor of Jewish history (and an academic rival of Schiffman), believes that once Galilee fell during the Jewish revolt, Jerusalem’s citizens knew that the conquest of their city was inevitable; they thus gathered up texts from libraries and personal collections and hid them throughout the Judean wilderness, including in the caves near the Dead Sea. If that’s the case, then Qumran was likely a secular—not a spiritual—site, and the scrolls reflect not just the views of a single dissident group of proto-Christians, but a wider tapestry of Jewish thought. “Further determination of the individual concepts and practices described in the scrolls can be best achieved not by forcing them to fit into the single sectarian bed of Essenism,” Golb argued in the journal Biblical Archaeologist.


There are two competing theories about the scrolls. The first is that they belonged to a single religious sect living nearby the caves, most likely the Essenes. The second theory is that the scrolls are a random collection of texts reflecting the beliefs of many Jewish groups of the period; the caves, under this theory, are a repository for sacred texts from various Jewish communities fleeing the Romans during the Jewish revolt of A.D. 68.

The issue is whether these fragments of parchment tell the story of the religious activity of a particular, arguably proto-Christian, denomination or, alternatively, the story of a wider swath of the Jewish people. In other words, are the scrolls a lens affording an unparalleled view of Jews at a crucial, pre-Diasporan moment or, rather, an in-depth account of a single sect’s intellectual development?

This theory — that the scrolls represented an intellectual precursor to Christianity — actually came first and was even propounded by the man who discovered the caves and their scrolls, the Rev. Roland de Vaux, a French biblical scholar, archaeologist and monk. After reading the scrolls, he announced with pride that they had been authored by an Essene sect and asserted that the sect was the forebear of his own Dominican movement.

The early scholars, many of them Christian, “wanted the scrolls to be sectarian,” according to Philip Davies, a British professor of biblical studies. “Christians saw in them the forerunner of Christianity.” He explains that “now that the scrolls are in Israeli hands, they are being interpreted as more mainstream, even proto-rabbinic,” meaning that they could be read as precursors to the time when the Jewish oral tradition was transformed into an edited, written text.


By September 1952 the PAM/Department of Antiquities had exhausted its resources, and the Cave 4 fragments were just beginning to pour onto the market. In a letter dated 29 September 1952 (the day the excavation of Cave 4 ended) to Carl Kraeling of the Oriental Institute, Chicago, Harding estimated that £15,000.00 = $42,300.00 was necessary to cover the acquisition, conservation and publication of these fragments. Where was the money to come from? Not only had sellers to be paid, but scholars had to eat and support families.

There was no alternative but to beg. One might have thought that it would be easy to raise funds for documents important to so many people throughout the world. Over many years the opposite has proved to be true. It is one of the leitmotifs of Fields’ book that the lack of funds caused Harding and de Vaux consistent anxiety and crippled the speed of publication. It is noteworthy that none of those who cried most loudly for access to the scrolls ever offered to put their hands in their pockets. In this connection Fields makes a startling revelation. “As I write this there are as many as 16 Hebrew biblical fragments and one fragment of Enoch languishing in a vault in Switzerland, 140 Greek fragments in Jerusalem, and a large fragment of Genesis elsewhere, for whose purchase I have not been able to get one penny despite four years of work, scores of letters and meetings, and hundreds of dollars’ worth of phone calls” (157). Fields estimates that between 1988 and 2005 alone at least $4 million was spent on publishing the scrolls…

The team turned out to be international and interconfessional but these were not the criteria for selection. Fields’ precision with respect to each member is admirably illustrated by his summary of how Cross was recruited, “From the documentation that survived it is obvious that the invitation [to Cross] came from Kraeling to Harding to de Vaux to Cross” (543 n. 22). On rather slender evidence Fields concludes that “it is virtually certain that Jewish scholars would have been invited to join the Cave 4 team had Jerusalem not been divided in 1953 (sic!)” (541 n. 4). The complex way in which the team was funded over time is laid out in great detail in a report of de Vaux to the Director of Antiquities of Jordan dated 12 June 1960.

The way the Cave 4 team worked is described by Cross, “Initially we all worked on all materials, only specializing when the team had to split up. We searched out and identified particularly the manuscripts which interested us, but also we all contributed to the plates of manuscripts belonging to others. Often we passed over whole manuscripts to others. I got rid of the so-called Pentateuchal paraphrases as soon as Strugnell agreed to take them. The lots remained somewhat fluid until 1956” (232). In a long interview Strugnell describes how fragments were assembled into a document by first identifying the scribal ‘hand’. Thus everyone looked at everything in a quest for the ‘hand’ on which he was currently working.

In this atmosphere there could be no secrets. It would have been impossible to hide fragments considered damaging to Christianity or to the Vatican. Not surprisingly those who cried conspiracy never even quoted anything from memory. In an unguarded moment Allegro wrote, “I am convinced that if something turns up which affects the Roman Catholic dogma, the world will never see it. De Vaux will scrape the money out of some other barrel, and send the lot to the Vatican to be hidden or destroyed” (432 my emphasis). In other words, Allegro was keeping his fingers crossed that such a document would emerge from a still undiscovered cave! It never did…

1956 was a bad year for the Scrollery. Harding was forced out of office on the basis of a farrago of absurd charges regarding improprieties with the scrolls. In contrast to his usual approach Fields here leaves us to deduce the accusations from Harding’s response. The Suez crisis led to the departure of the Cave 4 team from Jerusalem, and the scrolls were packed and stored for security in Amman. They were eventually returned, but the complete team never worked together in the Scrollery again. Worse was to follow. On 6 January 1957 the Minister of Education of Jordan formally claimed full rights with respect to “all ancient manuscripts which were discovered in the area of the Dead Sea” (363). The following month the same minister established a board to oversee the scrolls at the PAM. The members were to be the Director and Assistant director of Antiquities and the Directors of the École Biblique and ASOR, presided over by the mayor of Jerusalem. This almost amounted to nationalization of the PAM, which turned out to be rather less of a success when the authorities discovered the extent of its borrowings to acquire fragments. Not surprisingly, therefore, on 28 December 1957 the Jordanian Council of Ministers declared the actions of the Minister of Education to have been illegal and thus null and void. These momentous events had the potential for great disruption but seem to have had little impact on those free to work on the scrolls. The amount of material led to a proposal to enlarge the Cave 4 team by two, Joseph A. Fitzmyer and a German, but nothing came of it.


The Works of Flavius Josephus

Translated by William Whiston

Book II. Chapter 8.

2. For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, – insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one’s possessions are intermingled with every other’s possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please. 5. And as for their piety towards God, it is very extraordinary; for before sun-rising they speak not a word about profane matters, but put up certain prayers which they have received from their forefathers, as if they made a supplication for its rising. After this every one of them are sent away by their curators, to exercise some of those arts wherein they are skilled, in which they labor with great diligence till the fifth hour. After which they assemble themselves together again into one place; and when they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water. And after this purification is over, they every one meet together in an apartment of their own, into which it is not permitted to any of another sect to enter; while they go, after a pure manner, into the dining-room, as into a certain holy temple, and quietly set themselves down; upon which the baker lays them loaves in order; the cook also brings a single plate of one sort of food, and sets it before every one of them; but a priest says grace before meat; and it is unlawful for any one to taste of the food before grace be said. The same priest, when he hath dined, says grace again after meat; and when they begin, and when they end, they praise God, as he that bestows their food upon them; after which they lay aside their [white] garments, and betake themselves to their labors again till the evening; then they return home to supper, after the same manner; and if there be any strangers there, they sit down with them. Nor is there ever any clamor or disturbance to pollute their house, but they give every one leave to speak in their turn; which silence thus kept in their house appears to foreigners like some tremendous mystery; the cause of which is that perpetual sobriety they exercise, and the same settled measure of meat and drink that is allotted them, and that such as is abundantly sufficient for them.


Since the archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, the word “Essene” has made its way around the world–often raising a lot of questions. Many people were astonished to discover that, two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization. This brotherhood–more or less persecuted and ostracized–would bring forth people who would change the face of the world and the course of history. Indeed, almost all of the principal founders of what would later be called Christianity were Essenes–St. Ann, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Evangelist, etc.

The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people–not because of external signs like skin color, hair color, etc., but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. They considered themselves to be also a group of people at the center of all peoples–because everyone could become part of it, as soon as they had successfully passed the selective tests.
They thought, and rightly so, that they were the heirs of God’s sons and daughters of old, the heirs to their great ancient civilization. They possessed their advanced knowledge and worked assiduously in secret for the triumph of the light over the darkness of the human mind.

They felt that they had been entrusted with a mission, which would turn out to be the founding of Christianity and of western civilization. They were supported in this effort by highly evolved beings who directed the brotherhood. They were true saints, Masters of wisdom, hierophants of the ancient arts of mastery.

They were not limited to a single religion, but studied all of them in order to extract the great scientific principles. They considered each religion to be a different stage of a single revelation. They accorded great importance to the teachings of the ancient Chaldeans, of Zoroaster, of Hermes Trismegiste, to the secret instructions of Moses and of one of the founding Masters of their order who had transmitted techniques similar to those of Buddhism, as well as to the revelation of Enoch.
They possessed a living science of all of these revelations.
Thus, they knew how to communicate with angelic beings and had solved the question of the origin of evil on the earth.

One of their major preoccupations was to protect themselves from any contact with evil spirits, in order to preserve the purity of their souls. They knew that they would only be on earth for a short time, and they did not want to prostitute their eternal souls. It was this attitude, this strict discipline, this absolute refusal to lie or compromise, that made them the object of so much persecution through the ages.

The Essenes considered themselves the guardians of the Divine Teaching. They had in their possession a great number of very ancient manuscripts, some of them going back to the dawn of time. A large portion of the School members spent their time decoding them, translating them into several languages, and reproducing them, in order to perpetuate and preserve this advanced knowledge. They considered this work to be a sacred task.


Theologia Germanica



This work was discovered and published in 1516 by Martin Luther, who said of it that “Next to the Bible and St. Augustine, no book has ever come into my hands from which I have learnt more of God and Christ, and man and all things that are.” It has since appealed to Christians of all persuasions.


There are 54 chapters to this work but only 98 pages in total length. As tempting as it is to place the whole work on this website, we will stick to excerpts only and encourage you to either purchase the Ages software {AGES Software • Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 1997} or find it under the public domain arena.

These excerpts are placed here for education and research purposes only.


Of what Sin is, and how we must not take unto ourselves any good Thing, seeing that it belongeth unto the true Good alone. The Scripture and the Faith and the Truth say, Sin is nought else, but that the creature turneth away from the unchangeable Good and betaketh itself to the changeable; that is to say, that it turneth away from the Perfect to “that which is in part” and imperfect, and most often to itself. Now mark: when the creature claimeth for its own anything good, such as Substance, Life, Knowledge, Power, and in short whatever we should call good, as if it were that, or possessed that, or that were itself, or that proceeded from it, — as often as this cometh to pass, the creature goeth astray. What did the devil do else, or what was his going astray and his fall else, but that he claimed for himself to be also somewhat, and would have it that somewhat was his, and somewhat was due to him? This setting up of a claim and his I and Me and Mine, these were his going astray, and his fall. And thus it is to this day.


How Man, when he claimeth any good Thing for his own, falleth, and toucheth God in His Honor. God saith, “I will not give My glory to another.” This is as much as to say, that praise and honor and glory belong to none but to God only. But now, if I call any good thing my own, as if I were it, or of myself had power or did or knew anything, or as if anything were mine or of me, or belonged to me, or were due to me or the like, I take unto myself somewhat of honor and glory, and do two evil things: First, I fall and go astray as aforesaid: Secondly, I touch God in His honor and take unto myself what belongeth to God only. For all that must be called good belongeth to none but to the true eternal Goodness which is God only, and whoso taketh it unto himself, committeth unrighteousness and is against God.


Touching that true inward Peace, which Christ left to His Disciples at the last. Many say they have no peace nor rest, but so many crosses and trials, afflictions and sorrows, that they know not how they shall ever get through them. Now he who in truth will perceive and take note, perceiveth clearly, that true peace and rest lie not in outward things; for if it were so, the Evil Spirit also would have peace when things go according to his will which is nowise the case; for the prophet declareth, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”. And therefore we must consider and see what is that peace which Christ left to His disciples at the last, when He said: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.”

We may perceive that in these words Christ did not mean a bodily and outward peace; for His beloved disciples, with all His friends and followers, have ever suffered, from the beginning, great affliction, persecution, nay, often martyrdom, as Christ Himself said: “In this world ye shall have tribulation.” But Christ meant that true, inward peace of the heart, which beginneth here, and endureth for ever hereafter. Therefore He said: “Not as the world giveth,” for the world is false, and deceiveth in her gifts. She promiseth much, and performeth little. Moreover there liveth no man on earth who may always have rest and peace without troubles and crosses, with whom things always go according to his will; there is always something to be suffered here, turn which way you will. And as soon as you are quit of one assault, perhaps two come in its place. Wherefore yield thyself willingly to them, and seek only that true peace of the heart, which none can take away from thee, that thou mayest overcome all assaults.

Thus then, Christ meant that inward peace which can break through all assaults and crosses of oppression, suffering, misery, humiliation and what more there may be of the like, so that a man may be joyful and patient therein, like the beloved disciples and followers of Christ. Now he who will in love give his whole diligence and might thereto, will verily come to know that true eternal peace which is God Himself, as far as it is possible to a creature; insomuch that what was bitter to him before, shall become sweet, and his heart shall remain unmoved under all changes, at all times, and after this life, he shall attain unto everlasting peace.


How, seeing that the Life of Christ is most bitter to Nature and Self, Nature will have none of it, and chooseth a false careless Life, as is most convenient to her. Now, since the life of Christ is every way most bitter to nature and the Self and the Me (for in the true life of Christ, the Self and the Me and nature must be forsaken and lost, and die altogether), therefore, in each of us, nature hath a horror of it, and thinketh it evil and unjust and a folly, and graspeth after such a life as shall be most comfortable and pleasant to herself, and saith, and believeth also in her blindness, that such a life is the best possible. Now, nothing is so comfortable and pleasant to nature, as a free, careless way of life, therefore she clingeth to that, and taketh enjoyment in herself and her own powers, and looketh only to her own peace and comfort and the like. And this happeneth most of all, where there are high natural gifts of reason, for that soareth upwards in its own light and by its own power, till at last it cometh to think itself the true Eternal Light, and giveth itself out as such, and is thus deceived in itself, and deceiveth other people along with it, who know no better, and also are thereunto inclined.


How we are to take Christ’s Words when He bade forsake all Things; and wherein the Union with the Divine Will standeth.

Now, according to what hath been said, ye must observe that when we say, as Christ also saith, that we ought to resign and forsake all things, this is not to be taken in the sense that a man is neither to do nor to purpose anything; for a man must always have something to do and to order so long as he liveth. But we are to understand by it that the union with God standeth not in any man’s powers, in his working or abstaining, perceiving or knowing, nor in that of all the creatures taken together.

Now what is this union? It is that we should be of a truth purely, simply, and wholly at one with the One Eternal Will of God, or altogether without will, so that the created will should flow out into the Eternal Will, and be swallowed up and lost therein, so that the Eternal Will alone should do and leave undone in us. Now mark what may help or further us towards this end. Behold, neither exercises, nor words, nor works, nor any creature nor creature’s work can do this. In this wise therefore must we renounce and forsake all things, that we must not imagine or suppose that any words, works, or exercises, any skill or cunning or any created thing can help or serve us thereto. Therefore we must suffer these things to be what they are, and enter into the union with God. Yet outward things must be, and we must do and refrain so far as is necessary, especially we must sleep and wake, walk and stand still, speak and be silent and much more of the like.

These must go on so long as we live.


On what wise we may came to be beyond and above all Custom, Order, Law, Precepts and the like.

Some say further, that we can and ought to get beyond all virtue, all custom and order, all law, precepts and seemliness, so that all these should be laid aside, thrown off and set at nought. Herein there is some truth, and some falsehood. Behold and mark: Christ was greater than His own life, and above all virtue, custom, ordinances and the like, and so also is the Evil Spirit above them, but with a difference. For Christ was and is above them on this wise, that His words, and works, and ways, His doings and refrainings, His speech and silence, His sufferings, and whatsoever happened to Him, were not forced upon Him, neither did He need them, neither were they of any profit to Himself. It was and is the same with all manner of virtue, order, laws, decency, and the like; for all that may be reached by them is already in Christ to perfection. In this sense, that saying of St. Paul is true and receiveth its fulfilment, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” “and are not under the law, but under grace.”

That meaneth, man need not teach them what they are to do or abstain from; for their Master, that is, the Spirit of God, shall verily teach them what is needful for them to know. Likewise they do not need that men should give them precepts, or command them to do right and not to do wrong, and the like; for the same admirable Master who teacheth them what is good or not good, what is higher and lower, and in short leadeth them into all truth, He reigneth also within them, and biddeth them to hold fast that which is good, and to let the rest go, and to Him they give ear. Behold! in this sense they need not to wait upon any law, either to teach or to command them. In another sense also they need no law; namely, in order to seek or win something thereby or get any advantage for themselves.

For whatever help toward eternal life, or furtherance in the way everlasting, they might obtain from the aid, or counsel, or words, or works of any creature, they possess already beforehand. Behold! in this sense also it is true, that we may rise above all law and virtue, and also above the works and knowledge and powers of any creature.


How we are not to cast off the Life of Christ, but practice it diligently, and walk in it until Death

But that other thing which they affirm, how that we ought to throw off and cast aside the life of Christ, and all laws and commandments, customs and order and the like, and pay no heed to them, but despise and make light of them, is altogether false and a lie. Now some may say; “Since neither Christ nor others can ever gain anything, either by a Christian life, or by all these exercises and ordinances, and the like, nor turn them to any account, seeing that they possess already all that can be had through them, what cause is there why they should not henceforth eschew them altogether? Must they still retain and practice them?” Behold, ye must look narrowly into this matter. There are two kinds of Light; the one is true and the other is false. The true light is that Eternal Light which is God; or else it is a created light, but yet divine, which is called grace. And these are both the true Light. So is the false light Nature or of Nature. But why is the first true, and the second false?

This we can better perceive than say or write. To God, as Godhead, appertain neither will, nor knowledge, nor manifestation, nor anything that we can name, or say, or conceive. But to God as God, it belongeth to express Himself, and know and love Himself, and to reveal Himself to Himself; and all this without any creature. And all this resteth in God as a substance but not as a working, so long as there is no creature. And out of this expressing and revealing of Himself unto Himself, ariseth the distinction of Persons. But when God as God is made man, or where God dwelleth in a godly man, or one who is “made a partaker of the divine nature,” in such a man somewhat appertaineth unto God which is His own, and belongeth to Him only and not to the creature. And without the creature, this would lie in His own Self as a Substance or well-spring, but would not be manifested or wrought out into deeds. Now God will have it to be exercised and clothed in a form, for it is there only to be wrought out and executed.

What else is it for? Shall it lie idle? What then would it profit? As good were it that it had never been; nay better, for what is of no use existeth in vain, and that is abhorred by God and Nature. However God will have it wrought out, and this cannot come to pass (which it ought to do) without the creature. Nay, if there ought not to be, and were not this and that — works, and a world full of real things, and the like, — what were God Himself, and what had He to do, and whose God would He be? Here we must turn and stop, or we might follow this matter and grope along until we knew not where we were, nor how we should find our way out again.


How there is deep and true Humility and Poorness of Spirit in a Man who is “made a Partaker of the Divine Nature.”

Moreover, in a man who is “made a partaker of the divine nature,” there is a thorough and deep humility, and where this is not, the man hath not been “made a partaker of the divine nature.” So Christ taught in words and fulfilled in works. And this humility springeth up in the man, because in the true Light he seeth (as it also really is) that Substance, Life, Perceiving, Knowledge, Power, and what is thereof, do all belong to the True Good, and not to the creature; but that the creature of itself is nothing and hath nothing, and that when it turneth itself aside from the True Good in will or in works, nothing is left to it but pure evil. And therefore it is true to the very letter, that the creature, as creature, hath no worthiness in itself, and no right to anything, and no claim over any one, either over God or over the creature, and that it ought to give itself up to God and submit to Him because this is just. And this is the chiefest and most weighty matter.

Now, if we ought to be, and desire to be, obedient and submit unto God, we must also submit to what we receive at the hands of any of His creatures, or our submission is all false. From this latter article floweth true humility, as indeed it doth also from the former. And unless this verily ought to be, and were wholly agreeable to God’s justice, Christ would not have taught it in words, and fulfilled it in His life. And herein there is a veritable manifestation of God; and it is so of a truth, that of God’s truth and justice this creature shall be subject to God and all creatures, and no thing or person shall be subject or obedient to her. God and all the creatures have a right over her and to her, but she hath a right to nothing: she is a debtor to all, and nothing is owing to her, so that she shall be ready to bear all things from others, and also if needs be to do all things for others. And out of this groweth that poorness of spirit of which Christ said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (that is to say, the truly humble), “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” All this hath Christ taught in words and fulfilled with His life.


How nothing is contrary to God but Self-will and how he who seeketh his own Good for his own sake, findeth it not; and how a Man of himself neither knoweth nor can do any good Thing.

Now, it may be asked; is there aught which is contrary to God and the true Good? I say, No. Likewise, there is nothing without God, except to will otherwise than is willed by the Eternal Will; that is, contrary to the Eternal Will. Now the Eternal Will willeth that nothing be willed or loved but the Eternal Goodness. And where it is otherwise, there is something contrary to Him, and in this sense it is true that he who is without God is contrary to God; but in truth there is no Being contrary to God or the true Good.

We must understand it as though God said: “He who willeth without Me, or willeth not what I will, or otherwise than as I will, he willeth contrary to Me, for My will is that no one should will otherwise than I, and that there should be no will without Me, and without My will; even as without Me, there is neither Substance, nor Life, nor this, nor that, so also there should be no Will apart from Me, and without My will.” And even as in truth all beings are one in substance in the Perfect Being, and all good is one in the One Being, and so forth, and cannot exist without that One, so shall all wills be one in the One Perfect Will, and there shall be no will apart from that One. And whatever is otherwise is wrong, and contrary to God and His will, and therefore it is sin. Therefore all will apart from God’s will (that is, all self-will) is sin, and so is all that is done from self-will. So long as a man seeketh his own will and his own highest Good, because it is His and for his own sake, he will never find it; for so long as he doeth this, he is not seeking his own highest Good, and how then should he find it? For so long as he doeth this, he seeketh himself, and dreameth that he is himself the highest Good; and seeing that he is not the highest Good, he seeketh not the highest Good, so long as he seeketh himself. But whosoever seeketh, loveth, and pursueth Goodness as Goodness and for the sake of Goodness, and maketh that his end, for nothing but the love of Goodness, not for love of the I, Me, Mine, Self, and the like, he will find the highest Good, for he seeketh it aright, and they who seek it otherwise do err. And truly it is on this wise that the true and Perfect Goodness seeketh and loveth and pursueth itself, and therefore it findeth itself.

It is a great folly when a man, or any creature, dreameth that he knoweth or can accomplish aught of himself, and above all when he dreameth that he knoweth or can fulfil any good thing, whereby he may deserve much at God’s hands, and prevail with Him. If he understood rightly, he would see that this is to put a great affront upon God. But the True and Perfect Goodness hath compassion on the foolish simple man who knoweth no better, and ordereth things for the best for him, and giveth him as much of the good things of God as he is able to receive. But as we have said afore, he findeth and receiveth not the True Good so long as he remaineth unchanged; for unless Self and Me depart, he will never find or receive it.


How entire Satisfaction and true Rest are to be found in God alone, and not in any Creature; and how he who Will be obedient unto God, must also be obedient to the Creatures, with all Quietness, and he who would love God, must love all Things in One.

It is said, that he who is content to find all his satisfaction in God, hath enough; and this is true. And he who findeth satisfaction in aught which is this and that, findeth it not in God; and he who findeth it in God, findeth it in nothing else, but in that which is neither this nor that, but is All. For God is One and must be One, and God is All and must be All. And now what is, and is not One, is not God; and what is, and is not All and above All, is also not God, for God is One and above One, and All and above All.

Now he who findeth full satisfaction in God, receiveth all his satisfaction from One source, and from One only, as One. And a man cannot find all satisfaction in God, unless all things are One to him, and One is All, and something and nothing are alike. But where it should be thus, there would be true satisfaction, and not else.

Therefore also, he who will wholly commit himself unto God and be obedient to Him, must also resign himself to all things, and be willing to suffer them, without resisting or defending himself or calling for succor. And he who doth not thus resign or submit himself to all things in One as One, doth not resign or submit himself to God. Let us look at Christ. And he who shall and will lie still under God’s hand, must lie still under all things in One as One, and in no wise withstand any suffering. Such an one were a Christ. And he who fighteth against affliction, and refuseth to endure it, is truly fighting against God.

That is to say, we may not withstand any creature or thing by force of war, either in will or works. But we may indeed, without sin, prevent affliction, or avoid it, or flee from it.

Now he who shall or will love God, loveth all things in One as All, One and All, and One in All as All in One; and he who loveth somewhat, this or that, otherwise than in the One, and for the sake of the One, loveth not God; for he loveth somewhat which is not God. Therefore he loveth it more than God. Now he who loveth somewhat more than God or along with God, loveth not God, for He must be and will be alone loved, and verily nothing ought to be loved but God alone. And when the true divine Light and Love dwell in a man, he loveth nothing else but God alone, for he loveth God as Goodness and for the sake of Goodness, and all Goodness as One, and one as All; for, in truth, All is One and One is All in God.


How this present Time is a Paradise and outer Court of Heaven, and how therein there is only one Tree forbidden, that is, Self-will.

What is Paradise? All things that are; for all are goodly and pleasant, and therefore may fitly be called a Paradise. It is said also, that Paradise is an outer court of Heaven. Even so this world is verily an outer court of the Eternal, or of Eternity, and specially whatever in Time, or any temporal things or creatures, manifesteth or remindeth us of God or Eternity; for the creatures are a guide and a path unto God and Eternity. Thus this world is an outer court of Eternity, and therefore it may well be called a Paradise, for it is such in truth. And in this Paradise, all things are lawful, save one tree and the fruits thereof. That is to say: of all things that are, nothing is forbidden and nothing is contrary to God but one thing only: that is, Self-will, or to will otherwise than as the Eternal Will would have it.

Remember this. For God saith to Adam, that is, to every man, “Whatever thou art, or doest, or leavest undone, or whatever cometh to pass, is all lawful and not forbidden if it be not done from or according to thy will, but for the sake of and according to My will. But all that is done from thine own Will is contrary to the Eternal Will.”

It is not that every work which is thus wrought is in itself contrary to the Eternal Will, but in so far as it is wrought from a different will, or otherwise than from the Eternal and Divine Will.


How a Man shall not seek his own, either in Things spiritual or natural but the Honor of God only; and how he must enter in by the right Door, to wit, by Christ, into Eternal Life.

If a man may attain thereunto, to be unto God as his hand is to a man, let him be therewith content, and not seek farther. This is my faithful counsel, and here I take my stand. That is to say, let him strive and wrestle with all his might to obey God and His commandments so thoroughly at all times and in all things, that in him there be nothing, spiritual or natural, which opposeth God; and that his whole soul and body with all their members may stand ready and willing for that to which God hath created them; as ready and willing as his hand is to a man, which is so wholly in his power, that in the twinkling of an eye, he moveth and turneth it whither he will.

And when we find it otherwise with us, we must give our whole diligence to amend our state; and this from love and not from fear, and in all things whatsoever, seek and intend the glory and praise of God alone. We must not seek our own, either in things spiritual or in things natural. It must needs be thus, if it is to stand well with us. And every creature oweth this of right and truth unto God, and especially man, to whom, by the ordinance of God, all creatures are made subject, and are servants, that he may be subject to and serve God only.

Further, when a man hath come so far, and climbed so high, that he thinketh and weeneth he standeth sure, let him beware lest the Devil strew ashes and his own bad seed on his heart, and nature seek and take her own comfort, rest, peace, and delight in the prosperity of his soul, and he fall into a foolish, lawless freedom and licentiousness, which is altogether alien to, and at war with, a true life in God. And this will happen to that man who hath not entered, or refuseth to enter in by the right Way and the right Door (which is Christ, as we have said), and imagineth that he would or could come by any other way to the highest truth. He may perhaps dream that he hath attained thereunto, but verily he is in error. And our witness is Christ, who declareth: “Verily, verily, I say unto you,

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” A thief, for he robbeth God of His honor and glory, which belong to God alone; he taketh them unto himself, and seeketh and purposeth himself. A murderer, for he slayeth his own soul, and taketh away her life, which is God. For as the body liveth by the soul, even so the soul liveth by God. Moreover, he murdereth all those who follow him, by his doctrine and example. For Christ saith: “I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” And again: “Why call ye Me Lord, Lord?” as if he would say, it will avail you nothing to Eternal life. And again: “Not every one that saith unto Me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven.” But He saith also: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And what are the commandments? “To love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and to love thy neighbor as thyself.” And in these two commandments all others are briefly comprehended.

There is nothing more precious to God, or more profitable to man, than humble obedience. In His eyes, one good work, wrought from true obedience, is of more value than a hundred thousand, wrought from self-will, contrary to obedience. Therefore he who hath this obedience need not dread Him, for such a man is in the right way, and following after Christ.

That we may thus deny ourselves, and forsake and renounce all things for God’s sake, and give up our own wills, and die unto ourselves, and live unto God alone and to His will, may He help us, who gave up His will to His Heavenly Father, — Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be blessing for ever and ever. Amen.


Christian Denominations & Cults

List of Christian Denominations

Knowing that there are several web pages out there with lists of denominations, we still decided to present our own using different websites. In this way we hope you get all the information you need without having to waste time searching the web

Obviously we do not consider all those listed on this page to be Christian, especially those that are cults and the Roman Catholic Church (though there are Christians in this organization)
Definition of denomination: a religious group, usually including many local churches, often larger than a sect ( )

What is a denomination: Christianity has divided into three major branches over the centuries. Over the centuries, Christianity has divided into numerous denominations. Each denomination has its own distinctive beliefs or practices, but they are generally considered a branch of mainstream Christianity if they agree on core doctrines like the divinity of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible. Relationships between denominations range from mutual respect and cooperation to denial that the other group is really “Christian…”

…For the first thousand years of Christianity, there were no “denominations” within the Christian church as there are today.

Various offshoot groups certainly existed, but they were considered “heresies” and not part of the Christian church. Most were small and, until the 16th century, were never very influential. From the beginnings of Christianity through the Middle Ages, there was only one the catholic (“universal”) church. Basically, if you did not belong to the Church, you were not considered a Christian.

The first division within Christendom came in 1054 with the “Great Schism” between the Western Church and the Eastern Church. (More on this in the article on Orthodox Christianity.) From that point forward, there were two large branches of Christianity, which came to be known as the Catholic Church (in the West) and the Orthodox Church (in the East).

The next major division occurred in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was famously sparked when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in 1517, but “Protestantism” as a movement officially began in 1529. That year marked the publication of the Protestation, directed at the imperial government. The authors, German princes who wanted the freedom to choose the faith of their territory, protested that “in matters which concern God’s honor and salvation and the eternal life of our souls, everyone must stand and give account before God for himself.” {1}

With its emphasis on individual interpretation of scripture and a measure of religious freedom, the Reformation marked not only a break between Protestantism and Catholicism, but the beginning of denominationalism as we know it today. This historical perspective is perhaps the best way to make sense of the initially astounding variety of Christian denominations. ( )

According to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there exist roughly 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012. That is up from 500 in 1800 and 39,000 in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025.

Currently, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates that a new Christian denomination is formed every 10.5 hours, or 2.3 denominations a day.

Here is a mashup of some their data. Since Church Relevance focuses primarily on Protestantism, I will elaborate on that data.


Catholicism – (1,200,000,000 adherents)    Roman Catholic Church (1,187,000,000)

Protestantism – (792,000,000 adherents)

Pentecostalism/Charismatic (612,000,000)

>> Assemblies of God (60,000,000)

>> New Apostolic Church (11,200,000).

>> Foursquare Church (8,000,000).

>> Church of God in Christ (6,500,000)

Baptist (100,000,000)

>> Southern Baptist Convention (16,000,000).

Lutheranism (87,000,000)

>> Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (5,000,000).

Methodism (75,000,000)

>> United Methodist Church (12,000,000) Click for beliefs.

>> African Methodist Episcopal Church (3,000,000*)

Reformed Churches (75,000,000).

>> Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (3,000,000).

>> United Church of Christ (1,000,000).

Non-Denominational Evangelicalism (40,000,000).

>> Calvary Chapel (25,000,000).

>> The Vineyard (15,000,000)

Restorationism (20,000,000).

>> Seventh-day Adventists (17,000,000).

>> Church of Christ (5,000,000).

>> Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1,000,000).

Anabaptism (4,500,000).

>> Mennonites (1,500,000).

>> Amish (250,000).

Eastern Orthodoxy – (230,000,000 adherents).

Oriental Orthodox Church – (82,000,000 adherents).

Anglicanism – (85,000,000 adherents)

Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. (2,400,000).

Nestorianism – (600,000 adherents).

Links to other lists:


List Of Cults


What is a cult?

What is a cult? Sociologists tend to distinguish cults from more established religious organisations based on such factors as group size, membership characteristics and types of beliefs. While the term ‘sect’ classically refers to a breakaway movement from a mainstream church, the term ‘cult’ became a popular way of referring to new and different religious groups, particularly those groups surfacing in the 1960s and 1970s in America. The most prominent and well-known cults include, for example, The Unification Church (known as the ‘Moonies’ after their leader Sun Myung Moon), ISKCON (known as ‘Hare Krishna’),Scientology and the Children of God. Unlike sects, cults provide radical alternatives to western Judaeo-Christian traditions, for example in the form of groups influenced by eastern religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. However because of the negative connotations associated with the term ‘cult’, researchers prefer to use the more neutral term ‘new religious movement’ (NRM) to refer to those groups in particular that emerged and came to prominence in the west after about 1960.

While it may seem pedantic to spend time arguing about how to define something that seems straightforward, this is not just an academic exercise. It is important to be clear about exactly which groups come under the definition of NRM and which do not, especially if governments consider introducing legislation to curb their activities. We also need to be clear about exactly what activities are considered to be acceptable and unacceptable in society and to be sure that there is sufficient evidence to justify curtailing what some may seem as their religious freedom guaranteed under the constitution. ( )

Alamo Christian Foundation

Anthroposophical Society


Children of God


Christian Family Fellowship

Christian Identity Movement

Christian Science

Church of Armageddon

Divine Light Mission



Foundation of Human Understanding (Roy Masters)

Jehovah’s Witnesses


Life Spring


Oneness Pentecostal



Self Realization Fellowship

Silva Mind Control


The Farm

The Unification Church

The Way International


Two by Two’s

Transcendental Meditation

Unitarian Universalist

Unity School of Christianity


Links to other lists:


Exactly What Is Accreditation and How is it Different from Certification? by Dr. Dennis Frey

Accreditation is essentially a statement of approval.  In the United States, if it is to be meaningful, it must come from an independent association having attained its own approval from the United States Department of Education (USDE).  In the U.S., the government (USDE) does not accredit schools.  However, the USDE is in the business of approving the associations which do accredit schools (for the purpose of serving as gate keepers for Title IV Funding).  You must understand this if you are to properly understand accreditation. Title IV Funding is the nearly 60 billion dollar congressionally approved annual money stream that flows from taxpayers to educational institutions that are accredited by an agency approved by USDE.  The reason that USDE approves accrediting agencies is to assure quality control over the flow of Title IV Funds.  The greater part of accreditation requirements is geared toward satisfying the USDE mandated standards that are specifically designed to safeguard the huge taxpayer investment in higher education.

Accrediting associations in the U.S. are not required to seek USDE recognition, but without it, the value of such accreditation may be questionable, and schools they accredit are not eligible to receive Title IV Funds.  That is why schools promoting accreditation from sources not approved by the USDE are considered “unaccredited.”  BEWARE: There are dozens of so-called accrediting agencies (some with very official sounding names), that are nothing more than a fraud designed to deceive.

EXCEPTION: Accrediting agencies (just like schools), must first operate according to accepted practices and attract a sufficient number of clients before they can petition the USDE for possible acceptance.  Unrecognized agencies that are in a petitioning status with USDE, and are operating openly within the general parameters set forth by USDE (though still not considered recognized), ought to be considered valid, but their members’ schools are still not qualified for Title IV Funds.

The following quote is taken from the web site of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  “There are accrediting organizations that may not be recognized but are not accreditation mills. For example, the accreditor may be seeking recognition, but the process is not complete. Or the accreditor does not meet the requirements of CHEA or USDE for reasons that do not relate to quality.”

Certification is also essentially a statement of approval, but significantly different from accreditation in several important ways.  Most importantly, certification is not tied to Title IV Funding.  Only USDE recognized accreditation qualifies institutions to receive such funding.  Certification is not generally recognized as being equivalent to accreditation since certification criteria is not geared toward satisfying the requirements for Title IV Funding.  Therefore, certifying agencies are not as well known, and their value not as readily appreciated.

Legitimate certification is similar to legitimate accreditation in that it also involves voluntary peer review through private agencies accountable to their constituents and the public at large, but not to the federal government since Title IV Funding is not involved.  Much of the misunderstanding that arises between the two is due to the lack of consumer awareness, and the generally held belief that accreditation is the only standard for academic legitimacy.  This is one reason why accreditation mills thrive while certification mills generally are not popular targets for scam artists.

Furthermore, certification is a term more often associated with professions, products, and processes.  For example, there are “Certified Financial Planners”, “USDA Certified Agricultural Products”, and “Procedures Certified” by certain medical associations.  Of course, the term “accredited” is also used in many of these situations.  This is because the two terms often serve as synonyms.  However, when it comes to higher education, accreditation is tied to Title IV Funding and certification is not.  Schools may be accredited but not certified, certified and not accredited or both or neither.  The important thing is that the school not misrepresent itself.

Exactly What is an Accredited Degree?

This may come as a shock, but in point-of-fact, there is no such thing as an accredited degree.  Only schools or programs within schools are accredited.  Period!  Look carefully at any degree earned from an accredited school, and you will not find one word that even suggests that it is an “accredited” degree.

If it does, you may be certain that the degree is bogus.  That’s because degrees are not accredited.  You can earn a degree from an accredited school or program within a school, but you cannot earn an accredited degree from that same school.  It may seem like only a matter of semantics, but it much more.  You can earn a degree from either an accredited or unaccredited school, but the degree you earn is neither accredited nor unaccredited.

Here is an example (admittedly extreme, but it makes the point):  Sam Smith graduated from MYU before it was accredited.  His degree is from an unaccredited school.  Sam’s son (Sam Jr.) graduated from MYU after it received accreditation.  Sam Jr. earned a degree from an accredited school.  Sam’s grandson graduated from MYU during the time that it lost its accreditation.  Sam III earned a degree from an unaccredited school.

Sam’s great grandson earned his degree from MYU after it regained its accreditation.  Sam IV earned a degree from an accredited school.  Now let’s look back, the fact that MYU was accredited when Sam Jr. attended, was of no consequence to Sam.  His degree was still earned at an unaccredited school.

Why?  Because there is no such thing as “grandfathering” when it comes to accreditation.  The same is true for Sam Jr. at the time MYU lost its accreditation.  Sam Jr. still earned a degree from an accredited school.  Why?  Because even though a school may lose its accreditation (it happens), there is no reverse of grandfathering.  The school will always be considered accredited at the time that it held accreditation, and unaccredited at the time it did not hold accreditation.  The bottom line, there is no such thing as an accredited degree.  One either earns a degree from an accredited or unaccredited school.  All accredited schools in the U.S. were at one time, unaccredited, and all accredited schools are subject to the loss of accreditation (it does happen).

Are Schools Required to Obtain Recognized Accreditation?

No.  For the most part, accreditation in the U.S. is strictly voluntary.  Many states require, or provide for, a kind of “state approval.”  However, this is not the same as accreditation.  There are many schools in the U.S. that operate as top-quality institutions with high academic standards and yet have elected to not seek accreditation.

The following quote is taken from the web site of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  There are institutions that may not be accredited but are not degree mills. For example, the institution may be seeking accreditation, but the process is not complete. Or a legitimate institution may choose not to be accredited for reasons that do not relate to quality.

The following quote from the United States Department of Education makes the point. “It should be noted that some institutions have chosen not to participate in the federal student aid program and therefore do not have to be approved by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department. While these institutions do not appear on the Department’s list, they may be legitimate schools. Stroup encouraged consumers and employers to use the list as an initial source of information and to investigate further whenever an institution does not appear on the list.”  (February 1, 2005)

The former executive director of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education), as quoted in that agency’s September 2005 quarterly publication stated that “There are hundreds of Bible Colleges and Seminaries in the United States and Canada that are offering good solid theological training, yet they are not accredited.  This would be the case with our Affiliate institutions that take advantage of the programs and services that we offer.”

Of course, all schools in the U.S. attempting to seek recognized accreditation must first operate as an unaccredited school and provide sufficient proof of institutional credibility prior to applying.  All accredited schools in the U.S. were, at one time, unaccredited.  In fact, the common qualifying procedure for schools seeking recognized accreditation is the development of a “Self Study” through which the institution demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the accrediting agency, that it is operating in a manner sufficiently consistent with the criteria required for accreditation. On a practical level, this demonstrates that it is possible for an unaccredited school to operate at a level generally equivalent to that of an accredited school.  The very same logic can be applied to certification as well.

What Are Some Advantages of Recognized Accreditation?

Access to government sponsored or approved student loans and grants (Title IV Funds).

Easier recognition for transfer of its credits to other accredited schools.

Easier recognition of its degrees by other schools and organizations.

Greater likelihood of acceptance of its students by other schools for further study.

Greater probability of the recognition of its educational programs meeting the qualifications for some goals, requirements, and licenses.

What Are Some Disadvantages of Recognized Accreditation?

More difficult entrance requirements into its programs of study.

Program requirements which may limit certain individuals or prevent them from being accepted into its programs.

Significantly higher tuition and related costs for all programs of study.

Less accommodating schedules and course offerings.

Fewer options for the older or nontraditional student.

What Are Some Advantages of Not Having Recognized Accreditation?

Less difficult entrance requirements for desirable programs of study.

Lower tuition and related costs making it possible to graduate without debt.

More accommodating program schedules and course offerings making it possible for busy adults to study anywhere anytime.

Unaccredited schools are likely to be more innovative and liberal in the development of specialized courses, unique study concepts, the use of emerging technology, and the design of nontraditional certificate and degree programs.  In this regard they are often pioneers and early adopters.

Providing the school is properly dedicated to its mission, the student will have an opportunity to gain an education comparable to that offered at accredited schools for similar courses and programs, but at a fraction of the total cost.

What Are Some Disadvantages of Not Having Recognized Accreditation?

No access to government sponsored or approved student loans and grants (Title IV Funds).

Transfer of credits earned may be more difficult.

Acceptance of graduates by accredited schools for further study more difficult.

The recognition of educational qualifications earned for meeting some goals may be problematic.

Certain licenses and professional requirements may not permit the acceptance of degrees earned from unaccredited schools.

Does Recognized Accreditation Assure A Quality Education?

No.  Even though recognized accreditation is a very good indicator that a program meets acceptable standards, the quality of an education is still largely dependent upon the value of the course content, the background and competency of the instructor, and the willingness of the student to get the most out of the course.  It is quite possible to attend even a top-rated accredited school and obtain an inferior education.  No level of accreditation can force a professor to do her or his best, and no professor, however gifted and dedicated, can force a student to learn.  It’s always possible for a less than sincere person to beat the system.

Can A Program Without Recognized Accreditation Provide A Quality Education?

Yes!  Again, since the quality of an education is largely dependent upon the value of the course content, the background and competency of the instructor, and the willingness of the student to get the most out of the course, it is quite possible to attend a well organized unaccredited school and receive a first-class education.  In fact, there is no reason why the level of learning between an accredited and unaccredited program offering similar courses and programs should not be comparable.  The honest student truly seeking to learn, will quickly discover whether the program is meeting the need.  If the course of study is meeting the need, and the student is doing her or his best, whether the school is accredited or not may be immaterial.
Beware of those who suggest that there is “no reason to attend an unaccredited school.”  Such logic suggests that there is no need for new schools, or for the older and established schools to become accredited.  How so?  In order to become an accredited school, an unaccredited school must first demonstrate through a pattern of evidence [to the satisfaction of the accrediting agency], that it is operating in a manner sufficiently consistent with the criteria required for accreditation.  In other words, in order for any school to become accredited, there must be a sufficient period of time during which the school is unaccredited but operating as if it were accredited, before it can be accredited.  This cannot be done unless the school is enrolling and graduating students!  Furthermore, without the pressure from innovative and immerging institutions, competition would be stifled, resulting in fewer choices and even higher tuition.

Will a Degree Earned Through an Unaccredited School be Accepted and Considered Legitimate?

This depends upon what is meant by accepted and legitimate.  Here is the blunt truth.  There is a difference between a legitimate degree and a degree earned legitimately!  Depending on the law of any given state or country, even a cheap degree may be legally legitimate.  But was it legitimately earned?  A degree is legitimately earned providing the entrance requirements, course work, and completion requirements are appropriate for the degree awarded (whether it is earned through an accredited or unaccredited institution).

Will a Degree from an Unaccredited School be Accepted by My Church or Place of Employment?

While there certainly are some situations when only a degree from an accredited school can qualify one for certain positions and privileges, for the most part, you are judged and accepted on you, not the school from which you graduated.  Example: Are you already in ministry?  If so, when was the last time a member of your church asked you if you had a degree at all, much less if it was earned at an accredited college or seminary?

CAUTION!  Do not fall victim to the myth that earning a degree from an accredited school is a ticket to ministry success.  It is not.  Ministry is one of those places where what you do with what you know trumps everything else.  In fact, for those already serving in ministry, a degree from a highly credible though unaccredited school may be the most logical choice.  We ought never to forget that especially in the Christian tradition, academic freedom is considered a cornerstone of religious liberty.  Of course, so is academic responsibility!  Therefore, any program of study leading to a theological degree ought to be both Biblically sound, and academically honest.

However, if you are concerned whether your church or place of employment will accept you with a degree earned through a credible though unaccredited school, you are strongly urged to ask!  Even in the case of degrees earned from accredited schools, there may be restrictions on what kind of degree is recognized, and what kinds of schools are considered acceptable.  For example, in some cases, denominations and ministries may not accept degrees from secular schools, or schools not affiliated with the group.

Will a Degree or Credits Earned Through an Unaccredited School be Accepted  by Other Schools?

First of all, it should be understood that no school is required to accept credits ore degrees from another school (accredited or unaccredited).  However, generally speaking, degrees earned through unaccredited schools will often be recognized by other unaccredited schools providing the school meets the standards of the receiving school, and the learning discipline is relevant.  On the other hand, most accredited schools will accept only a very limited number of students from unaccredited schools.  Such acceptance, when granted, is usually based on degree or credit relevancy, the coursework and degree requirements, and the background and ability of the person applying.  The bottom line…an accredited school may accept credits and degrees from an unaccredited school, but don’t count on it!  If this is a real issue for you, ask first!

However, in the case of Master’s, because of our commitment to educational excellence, credits and degrees earned a MISD have been accepted at many regularly accredited institutions.  In addition, MISD has formal agreements with several faith-based institutions of higher learning regarding the acceptance of credits and degrees, and friendly relations with more than ninety others.  Names of these institutions are available upon request.

Why is Master’s Certified, but not Accredited?

Master’s is a relatively young institution (founded March 30, 1999), and is not financially endowed as in the case of institutions associated with denominations .  The process of seeking and obtaining legitimate accreditation is one that requires considerable institutional resources, and a sufficient number of years of successful operation in order to be adequately prepared.

Since our founding in 1999, we have pursued a policy of developing a Divinity School that operates in a manner consistent with Biblical guidelines, and have promoted and maintained appropriate academic and business standards.  Consequently, we have received a remarkable level of credibility among our ministry peers.

This affirmation of institutional integrity has attracted thousands of students from around the world.  Our alumni serve in practically every ministry calling within the denominational and independent structures of the church-at-large.  A careful examination of our Endorsements and Cooperatives bears witness to this fact.  Our goal is to remain faithful to our mission and purpose, to continue to promote appropriate academic standards, and to be vigilant in our pursuit of institutional development.

Nevertheless, we do recognize and honor the value of legitimate academic and institutional peer review.  For this reason, Master’s has achieved certification with the Council of Private Colleges of America. The mission of the CPCA is to serve private faith based educational institutions through quality standards and practices.  The purpose of the CPCA is to promote quality faith based education, and provide support services for faith based educational institutions to accomplish their individual purpose and mission.  The CPCA represents member faith based educational institutions before government or other educational agencies, and provides certification to member faith based educational institutions through quality peer review and onsite certification visits verifying CPCA standards.

In addition, understanding the value of USDE recognized accrediting agencies, Master’s has achieved affiliated status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (a USDE recognized agency).   As such, we participates in and contribute to collegial and professional development activities of the Association.  Our affiliate status does not, however, constitute, imply or presume ABHE accredited status at present or in the future.

Does Master’s Have A Plan to Seek Recognized Accreditation?

First, let’s make something quite clear…one of the “tricks” of unscrupulous schools is to falsely hold out the promise of accreditation sometime in the near future.  No unaccredited school can promise students that it is going to be accredited (and no accredited school can promise that it will always remain accredited).  Even though Master’s is currently engaged in the process of  preparing for recognized accreditation, if we are successful, that will have no bearing on degrees earned prior to accreditation (see above).  Furthermore, the process by which recognized accreditation is achieved can take years.  If you are seriously considering Master’s, and do not need to earn a degree from an already accredited institution, then your decision should be based upon our currently achieved level of credibility.

OK, but How Can I be Sure That Master’s International School of Divinity is Really Valid and of High Quality?

Check us out for yourself. DO NOT rely on published guide books, Internet message boards, blogs or chat rooms for accurate information (this holds true for any other school you may be considering). Such places as message boards and blogs are often populated by one or more “self-proclaimed experts” whom only rarely possess any actual first-hand knowledge about the schools they suppose themselves to be competent to rate (or rant against).  These individuals seem to crave whatever attention they may get from their pontifications.

In addition, the few books and online guides that profess to give “expert” guidance, are too often out-of-date or just plain wrong, simply because it is physically impossible for these individuals to actually visit the schools they profess to know about.  Consequently, information is notoriously inaccurate, out-of-date and suffers from the fact the few if any of the schools rated have received an actual on-site visit or even been afforded the benefit of submitting a formal validation document.  Information is usually gleaned from the internet, school catalogs as well as second and third-hand sources.  One serious indication of poor research is the use of unprofessional language and the strongly worded personal opinions of the author or compiler.  While such sources may provide some useful information, caution should be exercised when accepting information as accurate.

Furthermore, be aware that some unscrupulous admissions recruiters often profess to have “inside knowledge” in order to berate competing schools as a way of convincing you to enroll at the school they represent.  The only sure way is to check it out for yourself.  In the case of Master’s, read everything on our web site, call and speak with anyone or any organization named on the web site that is of interest to you. Request an academic evaluation for yourself, and ask every question that you think is important.  Don’t settle for anything less than a satisfactory answer. After that, you will be able to make an informed decision.

IMPORTANT:  Please visit us in person if that is possible.  These days, legitimate schools are trying very hard to present themselves as best they can by having a first-rate web site (such as Master’s is trying to do).  However, easy degree mills and outright degree mills are also doing so.  That’s why a visit can be worth a thousand pictures!  Of course, you may not be able to visit, but perhaps you have a friend or a colleague from your church or business contacts who may be able to come on your behalf, if so, we would be pleased to meet with them in your place.  If none of these options are practical, you may wish to contact the Council of Private Colleges of America.  The on-site team that recommended our five-year certification will be able to answer any questions concerning the quality of Master’s.

Ten Commandments for  Degree Mills

1.  Thou shalt seduce them with ridiculously low tuition.

2.  Thou shalt boast of being accredited by a worthless agency.

3.  Thou shalt offer as many different degree titles as possible.

4.  Thou shalt give life-experience credit for everything.

5.  Thou shalt not require too much work for anything.

6.  Thou shalt not refuse anyone entrance into any program.

7.  Impress them with your “accredited” faculty, they won’t know that there is no such thing.

8.  Always appeal to their vanity by offering them what they “deserve.”

9.  Provide high quality printed degrees and transcripts to deflect questions about the  low quality of the program.

10. Encourage skeptics to visit your web site, discourage them from visiting your office.


Leading Questions


This age is to provide you with information on what are leading questions and how to use or defend against them. This work is also authored by Drs. Phillips & Cherian and please compare all these words with other Christian sources to make sure you are getting the right information.
Leading Questions

Whenever there is a conflict between two viewpoints, a thorough examination of all

the proofs on both sides becomes essential. This is why the Courts of Law allow plenty

of time for cross-examination to both of the sides.

Asking proper questions and getting an honest response is essential for discovering

truth. While this procedure is always followed in Courts of Law, Christian Apologists

often overlook this approach. Many of them feel that making affirmations is better that

conducting an interrogation. This is a misunderstanding. While making affirmations is

essential in all defense of truth, an Apologist should never depend upon it alone.

Human depravity biases people from accepting the truth. Thus in many situations the

opponent can dismiss the entire labour of the Apologist with a simple, “I am not

convinced”. On the other hand, if the Apologist can lead his opponent through a series of

questions, with each question bringing him closer to truth, then the opponent cannot

easily get out of it. After all the conclusion now depends upon numerous assertions that

the opponent has made.

The erroneous opinion of a person on a given subject often depends upon numerous

other subjects and assumptions. Thus to show the truth to that person, it is necessary

first to expose all those related assumptions in his mind that are false. This can be done

only by questioning him on important assumptions, so that in the process of defending

them his false stand is exposed. No amount of lecture or harangue in front of a person

can force him to think. But when he asked to defend his assumptions, he is forced to

make decisions. Only this method can force a resistant or blind person to see truth. Thus

the importance of asking Leading Questions.

Successful Christian Apologists should constantly strive to make their interrogation yet

more powerful every day. Interrogation of the type mentioned in this chapter is called

asking “leading questions”. They are useful not only for the apologist, but also for

anyone who is involved in bringing out truth. Thus parents, counsellors, news analysts,

and many other kinds of people would also benefit from the information given in this

What Are Leading/Non-Leading Questions

Discussions and debates help people to discover truth. However, most of the times

people are not interested in arriving at truth. Rather, many of them are more interested

in establishing their viewpoint as true (even if it is not the truth). In such a situation,

instead of becoming a tool for inquiry, debates become a tool for suppressing the

opponent. Often the apologist has to work in this kind of a hostile situation.

All sincere inquirers must be shown the truth. This is an important responsibility of the

Christian apologist. However, most people who argue against the truth of the Christian

faith are not sincere inquirers. Thus they debate not to discover the truth, but to

overpower truth with their own brute force techniques. In such a situation, mere

affirmative or negative assertions made by the Christian apologist does not suffice. The

opponent can always escape by saying that he is not convinced.

Rather than depending upon his own assertions, the Christian apologist should

cross-examine the opponent to truth. This carefully planned cross-examination should

proceed in such a way that the opponent to truth is forced to accept the weakness or

falsity of his argument. He should be brought to a point where he is no longer able to

defend himself. If possible, he should be made to confess that the Christian apologist’s

position is stronger than the opponents.

A cross-examination of the kind mentioned above has to proceed mostly through

questions. Since these questions are aimed at leading the opponent into a definite

direction, these questions are called “leading questions”. It must be noticed carefully

that all questions are interrogative in nature, but not all of them lead into a definite

direction. It is possible to keep on piling a person with questions, yet not move in any

specific direction. It is also possible for the questions to be very tough, and even look

very intelligent, yet be useless for the over-all purpose.

In Apologetics, all questions must definitely lead everyone to the ultimate goal.

Questions that do this are called “leading questions” while questions that do not attain

this goal are called “non leading” questions. Even the most sophisticated-looking

questions might not lead into any definite direction, thus every apologist must master

the subject thoroughly for using this tool effectively. Every apologist must also make it a

point to listen to the way in which more experienced apologists and communicators use

this technique effectively and effortlessly.

Though the Christian apologist uses leading questions to arrive at truth, some clever

radicals use the same tool to deliberately lead people away from truth. Thus the

Christian apologist should listen also to those who use leading questions for sidetracking

honest inquirers. This would give them great insight into the way critics misuse

The Need For Asking Leading Questions:

In addition to leading people into truth through effective cross-examination, leading

questions offer many other advantages too. Since all of them ultimately lead to more

successful Apologetics, it is helpful to know these aspect also.

TO CONSERVE TIME: Time is precious, and more so in the modern world. However,

once there is a debate or discussion even on the most trivial subject, no amount of time

might suffice to arrive at a useful conclusions. Once a certain amount of time is

expended, the opponent might be able to escape defeat by appealing to the busy

schedule and his need to go. Thus in spite of all the energy spent, the apologist might

have to go home without coming to the real issues. At the same time, this

incompleteness might give a false sense of pride to the opponent to truth who feels that

by not losing the debate he has won his case.

The problem of time becomes more acute if the opponent is determined to sidetrack the

Christian apologist. Thus some strategy to conserve time by eliminating unnecessary

discussion is essential. Leading Questions play a very important part here by separating

the significant from the trivial and the useless.

TO LEAD INTO A DEFINITE DIRECTION: As said before, though all interrogation

involves asking questions, not all such interrogation leads into a definite direction.

Leading involves aiming at a goal and then asking questions in a manner to lead the

respondent into that definite direction. This can be achieved only if the general and

aimless questioning is abandoned and leading questions asked.

Anyone who has attended committee meetings knows that often a discussion can

prolong endlessly, dwelling on trivial issues, without ever moving into any definite

direction. At the same time, committee meeting chaired by able and perceptive

chairmen does not suffer this problem because the chairman repeatedly brings them

back on track with the help of rightly planted leading questions.

TO GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: A logical analysis of statements, cause and

effect, deductions, and other ways of reasoning often uncovers many hidden

assumptions. Further, often the issues involved are so complex that the discussion goes

on without ever touching the root of the problem. Only leading questions can expose the

hidden assumptions and the root cause of the problem being discussed.

As mentioned in the previous point, committee meetings are a good example. Often the

discussion might prolong for hours without actually discussing the root problem. Only

the appropriate questions planted at the appropriate time can lead people to address the

real issues. So in all discussions.

TO CONVINCE THE RESPONDENT: Often the person responding the apologist is not

convinced of truth, or is not willing to see the truth. Affirmations made by the apologist

does not create much impact because the logical thinking and reasoning has passed only

through the apologist’s mind.

Often the issues involved are so complex, that the opponent is unable to see it unless he

is forced to go step by step through his process of reasoning and deduction. At other

times the willingness of the respondent is so opposed to discovering truth, he does not

come to the right deduction unless he forced to reason step by step. Only leading

questions can help the apologist to force the opponent to go through the steps needed

to arrive at truth.
Types of Questions

Once it is understood that only leading questions would help the apologist to lead

discussions into meaningful directions, it is time to look at questions in general. Before

going further into the details of leading questions, it would be good now to have a look

at all the possible types of questions and their results. Leading questions can be isolated

and studied after getting this general orientation.

Questions are of two types. Intelligence-based and intelligence-devoid. Both of have

some more subsections, and it would be helpful to briefly study all of them.

1-Intelligence-Based Questions: Man learns a lot of things in life through curiosity.

Curiosity creates many questions in his heart, and in seeking their answers he discovers

much about his surroundings. This questioning eventually becomes such a part of his

nature that often no intelligence is needed for asking random questions. However, such

random questions do not lead into any definite direction. For that the person would have

to ask questions that are more specific and goal-oriented. Since forming such specific

questions needs intelligence and insight, they are called Intelligence Based Questions.

Not all Intelligence Based Questions are used for good purposes. Clever people can

misuse them for destruction also. Thus the Christian apologist should clearly understand

the various types of Intelligence Based Questions, used for good purposes as well as for

destructive purposes.
Intelligence Based Questions can be divided into the following categories:

INQUIRING QUESTIONS: Questions that are purposefully asked to inquire into a

subject fall into this category. The progress of science, technology, philosophy, theology,

and numerous other fields of knowledge and information depends upon asking inquiring

questions. At the same time, not all intelligence-based inquiring questions lead into

specific direction. Since moving into a specific direction is essential in many fields, often

questions have to be asked with those goals in mind. This type of activity is placed into

another category of intelligence-based questions, called leading-questions.

MISGUIDING QUESTIONS: Many debaters use questions to confuse their opponents.

As mentioned several times in this book, often the observations, the real issues, their

mutual relationship, and the correct deductions are all very complexly related to each

other. In such a situation it is very easy for even knowledgeable people to get

sidetracked into insignificant and irrelevant subject. Debaters know this weakness of

people, and they often throw in questions to sidetrack everyone.

Misguiding questions do not come randomly. Rather, they are the products of clever

minds. These people know that they would lose the argument if the issues are analyzed

systematically. Thus they ask misguiding questions so as to confuse the whole debate.

Since the real issues are avoided, these people emerge as the apparent victors.

LOADED QUESTIONS: Guns are loaded for firing and killing. In a similar manner, a

clever person can use a judicious combination of words in such a way that they hurt the

recipient. These questions are of such nature that whatever the answer the recipient

chooses, he is hurt. There is no easy way to escape from the destructive effects of a

Loaded Question.

The Pharisees, Judaizers, and even the Scribes at the time of Jesus were in the habit of

asking Loaded Questions to hurt Jesus. For example, when they asked Him whether it

was lawful to give taxes unto Caesar, a YES answer would have antagonized the Jewish

hearers while a NO answer would have antagonized the Roman Rulers. Similarly when

the woman caught in adultery was brought to Him, a suggestion to stone her (according

to Old Testament Laws) would immediately antagonize the public who thought that

Jesus was a teacher of love. On the other hand, asking them to leave her would

immediately make him an enemy of the Old Testament Law, the infallible Word of God.

The ultimate purpose of Loaded Questions is to destroy the opponent, and unless the

Christian Apologist is trained in detecting them, he cannot effectively counter the ill

effects of this attack.

LEADING QUESTIONS: All difficult discussions have a way of going astray from the

main point and confuse the entire effort. Leading Questions are those that lead the

entire discussion into a definite direction.

If the opponent or the respondent is a dishonest person, a person given to crooked

thinking, a person given to confusing the opponent, etc., it becomes very difficult to

proceed in the right direction. At the same time, if the issues being tackled are quite

complex and if they involve a large number of variable factors, then also it is possible for

the discussion to go astray. In all such cases it is necessary to bring the discussion to

the right direction and concentrate upon the right aim. Questions asked to achieve these

goals are called Leading Questions. Such questions help every person attempting to find

truth whether he is an apologist, a counsellor, or a researchers.

2-Intelligence Devoid Questions: Though it is assumed by most of us that questions

can be posed only by people with reasonable intelligence, this need not always be true.

Every human being is capable of asking questions, whether he be a moron or a

super-genius. Thus not all questions can be called intelligence-based questions.

Further, not every person is capable of perceiving and analysing every subject in the

world. Thus even the super-genius might be unable to understand the basics and

fundamental issues of many subjects. Thus he might end up asking questions in that

subject which might not be very intelligent. Further, it must be remembered that for

correct interrogation, insight is also needed in addition to intelligence. When all these

factors are taken into consideration it becomes obvious that in many situations even

intelligent people can end up asking Intelligence-Devoid questions.

An inquirer for truth or an apologist must understand this possibility clearly lest he lose

the battle to lead by erroneously assuming that all questions asked by people of

intelligence are Intelligence-Based Questions.

The Intelligence-Devoid questions can be of many types, some of which are explained


IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS: In this case the inquirer might ask a lot of questions that

seem to have an appearance of intelligence. In fact he might even have used much

intelligence to formulate these questions. However, not having an insight into the

problem under discussion, his questions become irrelevant in the given context.

In a mutual discussion many counsellors and debaters fail to come to a conclusion

because almost all their carefully crafted questions leave them stranded without leading

into any definite direction. Thus even though the interrogator might be an intelligent

person, such questions are rightly labelled as “intelligence devoid”. Further, since they

are not useful for attaining their goal, they have to be labelled as Irrelevant Questions.

CONFUSED/CONFUSING QUESTIONS: Irrelevant and Intelligence-Devoid questions

posed continually by intelligent people many time result in great confusion. What is

worse, at times they confuse the issues to such levels that no meaningful discussion is

possible anymore. Unfortunately this benefits only those who would like to confuse the

issues and cloud the subject.

There are many clever debaters who resort to the tactic of asking “Confusing Questions”

with the sole purpose of misguiding the discussion, and this tactic has already been

mentioned. However, even sincere people often produce the same effect upon the

ongoing discussion by asking Intelligence-Devoid questions that confuse everything and

ultimate aid only those who would like to oppose truth.

Sincere people who in all sincerity ask Intelligence-Devoid Confusing questions can

greatly hinder the process of debate. The Intelligent debater and Apologist must learn to

spot these people and the harm they can cause because of their lack of insight. It is

always advisable to keep this kind of people away from the occasions of serious

Why Do People Ask Wrong Questions

There is a natural assumption in the hearts of many that humans naturally want to know

the truth. Even believers fall into this trap of believing that people want to know the

truth. This is a false belief. The Bible makes it very clear that man’s natural tendency is

NOT to receive light but to oppose it. “And the light shineth in darkness; and the

darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). “And this is the condemnation, that light is

come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds

were evil” (John 3:19).

Since man’s natural tendency is against wanting to know truth, and since his human

wisdom works against the discovery of divine truth, it is obvious that the way people ask

questions would only lead them AWAY from truth. This is the primary reason why people

ask all the wrong questions, but very seldom the right ones. However, a growing

believer can learn to see the truth and ask the right questions to bring out the truth.

But before we go further, it is helpful see some of the specific reasons because of which

people ask wrong questions:

1-Because Of Human Stupidity And Blindness: The natural mind is not only enmity

against God, but is also full of stupidity and blindness when it comes to discovering

ultimate truth. True, man by his own abilities is able to discover a lot of bare information

(as witnessed in science and technology), but this does not imply that he is able to

discover ultimate truth related to the important issues of life. Else he would already

have solved much of the human problems.

In fact in the last century there was an increasing optimism all over that in less than a

century man’s discoveries would finally help him to totally control his own destiny.

However, at the dawn of the twentieth century everyone accepts that all the human

progress that has come by ignoring God has resulted only in destruction.

The crime rate, the complexity of crime, murders, immorality, human viciousness,

exploitation, corruption, and whatever else one can think of, have only degenerated.

None wants this to happen, but it happens because humans by themselves are stupid

and blind in matters of ultimate truth. This most people do not realize, and only

appropriately asked leading questions can help people to see that their human thinking

is not the answer to ultimate questions.

2-Because Of Spiritual Stupidity And Blindness: The rise of the Protestant

Movement brought back Bible to the place that it should have occupied in the Church.

Once the Bible became the supreme authority in all matters of Faith and Conduct, a new

era of freedom dawned all over the world. Before this many of the European countries

were controlled by the Roman Catholic church, and personal freedom for people was

nonexistent. People lived and struggled under the discipline of iron rod and exploitations

of the worst kind.

Once the Protestant Movement brought freedom, people looked forward to freedom.

However, within centuries this hope was shattered. The basic reason was man’s spiritual

stupidity and blindness. True, the freeing of Bible from the clutches of the Romish

dictators brought freedom, but soon people arrived at a situation where they did not

know how to use this newfound freedom. The assumption that the new freedom for

independent study and meditation of the Bible would bring freedom worked for some

time, but not as long as they expected. The reason was spiritual stupidity and


Freedom alone does not guarantee bliss. To maintain freedom it is necessary to follow

the Biblical principles of conduct. However, the spiritual people themselves forgot this.

Instead of Bible as the source of truth they substituted human wisdom of spiritual

people. Thus began the decline. Spiritual people are spiritual, but the wisdom from their

own minds need not always be wise.

Many believers argue humanly upon spiritual matter and try to settle the issues using

spiritual wisdom. This is foolishness, and that is the reason why many discussion lead to

destruction instead of taking people to truth. Even spiritual people are blind and foolish

when the discussion originates purely from human mind. Thus in all such situations the

spiritually enlightened people have to repeatedly ask leading questions to lead others

back to the Bible. This becomes even more important when a Christian Apologist,

Communicator, or Counsellor tries to help people to see and embrace Biblical truth.

3-Because Of Ignorance And Confusion: The correct perception of many real-life

issues and subjects might depend upon the understanding of several related subjects.

People interested in a subject might not know that their discussion depends upon

several other more foundational subjects. Still others might have some idea of things,

but there might exist a confusion in their minds about the relative connection of these

subjects. The net result would be an inability to deduce the conclusions correctly.

Thus when the subject of abortion for family-planning comes up, most people brought

up under pure humanist propaganda might discuss the subject only by considering

population-explosion as the foundation. On the other hand, a Christian knows that in

matters of life and death the Sovereignty of God must also be taken into consideration.

Unless this is done, one can never arrive at an answer proper for a child of God.

Ignorance and confusion of basic and foundational truths is common among believers,

specially in our generation. Thus to open their eyes to the underlying truths it often

becomes necessary to ask leading questions and show them the truths.

4-Because Of Deliberate Deceptions: Not all opponents in a debate indulge in

deliberate deceptions, and thus the error on the part of most of these people can be

attributed to the reasons mentioned above. However, the number of people who resort

to deliberate deception in debates has been on the increase, more so in a generation

where there is plenty of freedom to attack Biblical truths.

Opponents of Christianity, and opponents of all kind of self-evident truth, have in the

last hundred years devised a lot of methods and strategies to attack truth. Truth hurts

those who love error, and thus their deliberate deception. It is these people who place

the greatest hurdles in the path of investigation. They use all tricks at their disposal to

deceive the inquirers and oppose the Christian Apologist. Mere affirmations on the part

of the Apologist is not enough in most such cases. Rather, the Apologist would often

need to force this truth-twister to defend himself (which he would not be able to do).

Only Leading Questions can force the truth-twister and logic-twister to defend himself,

and only this would force him to grapple with monstrosities of his own making. Only this

would enable to Christian Apologist to establish himself forcefully. This is all the more

the reason why the Christian Apologists must master the art of leading erring people to


Those who distort truth can in turn use it for two purposes, and identifying these can

often be helpful to understand their motives. These motives can be:

TO FLEE FROM TRUTH: Many people do not like truth and run away from it. It might

be because of their rebellion, because truth hurts them, or because of any number of

such reasons. They hate at the thought of facing truth, and thus they purposely deceive

their opponents in a discussion. Leading Questions can help the Apologist to firmly bring

these people to face truth.

TO HIDE OR SUPPRESS TRUTH: Many people would like to hind or suppress truth

because they know the consequences of the truth becoming known might hurt them

seriously. It might hurt their name, fame, position, and prestige. They might have to

lose face in front of people who have been respecting them for years together. Thus

they might reason that suppressing the truth for as long a period as possible is better

than exposure.

Whatever the motive of people behind suppressing truth, if it needs to come out in the

open, the Apologist has to see to it that it come out. The best method that he has at his

disposal to expose the falsehood and establish truth in such cases is to ask leading


People love a lot of things, including ‘some’ truth, but not all the ultimate truths. Man by

nature has a greater love for DARKNESS than for light. He will use all the arsenal at his

disposal to dodge the truth. In such cases, the best approach might not be affirming

truth. Rather, the falsehood has to be established first, and then truth has to be

affirmed. Asking Leading Questions is one of the best approaches towards this goal.
Formulation of Leading Questions

The discussion in the last chapter on Leading Questions might lead many to think that

formulating Leading Questions should be quite an easy task. After all, they might

reason, we all ask a lot of questions and after all Leading Questions are not different.

They are mistaken.

The very fact that a whole chapter had to be devoted to introducing this subject

indicates that Leading Questions are not ordinary questions. They cannot be formulated

easily or without some instruction in this art. Thus in this chapter we would look at the

different aspects of formulating Leading Questions.
Why Learn To Ask Leading Questions

Once in a while one might be able to meet an individual who intuitively asks Leading

Questions, but such individuals are rare. The others have to learn it, and the following

are some of the reasons:

1-Leading Questions Don’t Come Automatically: Leading Questions require the

interrogator to understand several things at the same time. He has to understand the

confusion or deception on the part of the respondent, the actual issues involved, the

best way of approaching the problem, and several other things. It is not easy to take all

these things into consideration, and thus Leading Questions do not come automatically

to the mind of the Apologist.

Much training is required in the fundamentals of theology, logic, science, philosophy, and

many other fields before an Apologist can successfully formulate Leading Questions.

Also, much insight and even exposure to the way in which other formulate such

questions, is needed before one can begin to ask such questions. Even here, the greater

the experience, the sharper would be the questions. All the above reasons put together

demands that the Christian Apologist or Teacher should consciously devote time to learn

the art of formulating and asking Leading Questions.

2-To Overcome The Destructive Effects Of Stupid And Sidetracking Questions:

As mentioned before, many seemingly good and intelligent questions are actually stupid

in essence. Their net result is sidetracking the debate into non-issues, and even into

discussion damaging to the cause of the truth. Thus it is necessary to eliminate all such

questions and get the discussion going into the right direction.

Thus if more than the Apologist and the respondent are involved in the question-answer

session, some people might ask stupid and sidetracking questions. The presence of

people who ask such questions is damaging to the cause of truth. Enemies of truth love

this kind of question-answer session where there is a lot of talk but no solid movement

into the direction of truth. It is falsehood that emerges as the winner in all such

undirected discussion. The Apologist can minimize the damages and lead the discussion

in the proper direction only by asking pertinent leading questions.

3-To Establish And Defend Truth And Justice: It is more than obvious to any

defender of Biblical truth that the world does not love God’s truth. Thus all discussion on

important subjects have a tendency to move into the direction of error and falsehood.

The aim of the Christian Apologist is not to start an animated discussion on any subject

that goes into any arbitrary direction, but rather to discuss in a manner such as to arrive

at truth. Also, he has to lead people to arrive at this truth in a manner that leaves a

strong impact for truth. This can be done only when he eliminates all unnecessary

discussion using Leading Questions. In this process he can exert tremendous pressure

upon the opponent to come to grips with the truth.

Since Leading Questions leave very little opportunity to the opponent to manoeuvre

himself out of the discussion, it forces him to admit that he is helpless to argue against

Biblical truth.
How To Frame Leading Questions

Now that the importance of asking Leading Questions has been established, our next

concern is: how to frame Leading Questions. The question arises because any intelligent

person recognizes that most questions asked in a discussion are meaningless. This is so

because framing and asking Leading Questions are not easy. Else all those who wish to

defend truth would have done so.

There are several things to be understood before one can begin framing effective

Leading Questions, and they are summarized below:

1-Only Experience And Insight Will Help: Conversation and eliciting information

through language is not only a science, but also an art. Anything that is an art has to be

learnt, and then has to be improved with practice. The same is the situation with asking

of Leading Questions.

In the points that follow we explain some of the scientific aspects essential for

formulating Leading Questions. However, experience and insight should be added to

them for better results. The more one learns and reflects upon a subject, the greater is

the insight gained. Also, observing others doing it, and learning from their insight also

adds to one’s effectiveness.

Thus every Apologist and Christian Communicator interested in defending the truth

should make it a lifelong commitment to learn how to ask appropriate Leading


2-Biblical World-view And Norms/Standards Are Necessary: Even the wisest

human (even a believer) cannot by himself think correctly on issues of life and death.

There is a vast gulf between God’s thoughts and man’s. Thus no Apologist can hope to

ask the right kind of questions using his human wisdom or outlook.

Answers to questions dealing with holiness, righteousness, personal responsibility,

choices and consequences, personal discipline, personal obligation, etc. look totally

different to a person who looks at them humanly and to another who looks at them with

a Biblical insight. Since a believer’s mind is not changed instantly and automatically into

a new one at the moment of salvation, even believers tend to look at life from human

point of view instead of the divine. For example, many believers find it difficult to find

why David was a man after “God’s own heart”. They see only his fallen side and

evaluate everything on the basis of that.

This is the reason why Romans 12:1, 2 reminds believers to be “transformed through

the RENEWING of their minds”. Only this transformation would guarantee that the

believer thinks rightly, and only a right-thinking believer can lead another person to

truth. Thus the minimum that a person needs is acceptance of Biblical World-View and

Biblical Norms/Standards before he can begin to do it all.

Biblical World-View refers to that collection of Biblical standards and outlooks which is

used to evaluate everything in life. Obviously, this World-View comes only with much

study and growth. Thus, to become a person expert at framing Leading Questions, the

Apologist or Communicator must be a dedicated student of the Bible.

3-Study Human Nature (In The Light Of Bible): Human Nature and Human

Behaviour are complex subjects. They cannot be studied and understood as though one

is studying the functioning of a machine.

Since the human nature plays a significant part in creating problems, and since this

nature prevents people from accepting or appreciating truth, an understanding of the

basics of human nature is essential for leading anyone to truth. However, a mere

psychological understanding of human nature is not sufficient. This is because

psychology can tell only superficial things about the human behaviour. Only the

Scripture can give an in depth and realistic account of human nature and behaviour.

Bible contains a large amount of information about human nature and behaviour. All this

should form the basic framework against which human nature is studied. Such a study is

made easy by the Bible itself. Both the Old as well as the New Testaments give

numerous character stories, along with partial analysis of many of these characters and

their behaviour. This partial analysis of some of these human stories provides us a lot of

information about how to analyze the human nature in the light of a Biblical


4-Learn To See Below Surface And Attempt To Bring It Into Light: Many of us

tend to evaluate thoughts, actions and events as they are seen outwardly. However,

many of them have deeper roots in human nature, attitudes, and expectations. Thus to

make proper sense out of these things it is essential for the Apologist to go below the

surface and bring out the underlying reality.

For example, when discussing the problem of abortion, many people bring the question

of population-explosion as a supporting argument. However, that is only a ploy to hide

human selfishness (and unwillingness to bring up a child) because the same people show

utter neglect when it comes to other things that affect world population. Only probing

questions can bring hidden motives to light, but the Apologist must have an

understanding of these things in advance if he has to expose the undercurrents.

Bible is a believer’s most authoritative guide to understand things as they are. Only the

Scripture would help him to peer below surface and bring everything to light.

5-Understand Cultural/Linguistic Peculiarities: Even in a geographically small

country like India there are tens of thousands of different cultures. Each cultural and

linguistic group has its own peculiarities. Not only that, often a small linguistic group

(say, the Malayalam-speaking Keralites) would have wide variation in manner of speech,

expression, and expectation. Thus what is seen as normal by one person in this group

might be seen as offensive by another person who hails from another region of the same

small state.

Thus the Apologist should be careful when he speaks with a person who is from even a

slightly differing group because the cultural and linguistic peculiarities might often hide a

lot of information. A sensitivity to these differences would enable a person to ask more

accurate leading questions.

Sensitivity to cultural and linguistic peculiarities is particularly by Christian

communicators and counsellors. Personal problems are expressed differently in different

areas of the same country or region. For example, recently there was the story of a

counsellor who was approached by a lady asking for a remedy to the problem of “hurting

bed”. The counsellor thoughtlessly answered that “changing the hurting bed” would be

the best, which was a totally erroneous counsel in this case.

Fortunately, a counselling-assistant stepped in, and explained to the counsellor that in

some local regions the expression “bed” is also the equivalent of sexual relationship.

Thus the linguistic and cultural meaning of the question posed was totally different from

the apparent meaning. Of course this is not common occurrence, but there are times

when an awareness of cultural and linguistic differences helps Christians to minister

better to others.

6-Ask The Person Questioned Or Counselled To State Conclusions And

Evaluations: People hate to accept truth, specially when it is contrary to the stand that

they take. Thus in a losing debate many respondents would prefer to remain silent

rather than accepting that they were wrong. However, if at all possible, the Christian

Apologist should try to elicit a verbal response from the respondent.

A verbal response from the respondent offers several advantages. First, he cannot claim

disagreement or lack of understanding at a later stage. Second, the Apologist can know

for sure whether his leading questions have led the discussion in the right direction. And

finally, such an oral response puts the burden of taking action (upon the truth

discovered) totally upon the respondent.

Examples Of Leading Questions

The discussion of principles related the framing and asking of Leading Question might be

sufficient for many of our readers. However, all the observations and suggestions given

above might not make sense to some readers if we do not give some examples. Thus

we would now give some examples from practical life.

Often people argue that God does not exist, or that Bible is full or errors and is therefore

not to be taken seriously. If a person argues in this manner, the Apologist must always

ask him in the following order:

1-Do you firmly believe in what you have stated ?

2-If yes, then please give me some concrete proofs !

3-If you have no concrete proofs, how can you be so firm in your beliefs ?

4-Do you know that beliefs without sufficient proofs are called blind

dogmatism ?

In a counselling session, to someone many people say that they have been facing a

problem (Devotions, Laziness, Lust, Bad Language, Temptations, etc.). They want a

solution, but are often not willing to implement these solutions. They are willing to listen

to the counsellor, but are not willing to change. Their problems are self-created, but

they somehow want the counsellor to say that others are responsible for these


In such a situation the counsellor has to expose the root causes before he can do

anything. The following sequence of questioning would be very helpful in such cases:

1-What habit(s) of yours aggravated the problem ?

2-What have you done so far to solve the problem yourself ?

3-What are you going to do now (specially after this person accepts his

wrong/sinful involvement)

Many who come for counselling or discussion find it very difficult to open up and speak

out. To open up such persons during a counselling session you might ask:

1-What is the present condition of your spiritual life ?

2-How is your prayer life ?

3-Are you enjoying intimacy with God these days ?

Many times people pass comments or make evaluations about Bible, Christianity,

Christians, or about spiritual subjects with improper an non-sincere motives. Often it

becomes necessary to expose their motives before any further conversation can take

place in a meaningful direction. The following questions are helpful in such situations:

1-Do you mean that you CAN’T do that or that you are NOT WILLING to try or

pay the cost.

2-Did he says that to build up, create harmony, due to his brotherly love, due

to his concern, etc.

3-Am I (you) doing, speaking, or choosing it out of competition, for status, for

ego, etc ?

4-Does this action, attitude, phenomenon contribute more to the solution or to

the problem ?

At times it becomes essential to evaluate an action, a movement, a movie, a book, a

song, or a gathering of people. The following questions can help:

1-Does it encourage wholeness, holiness, pure conduct, etc.

2-Does it in its totality bring glory or shame to the Lord.


Formulating Leading Questions is neither an automatic phenomenon, or does it come

easily. Much experience, insight, and wisdom is needed before a person can start asking

Leading Questions effectively. Taking the steps mentioned in this chapter can help every

interested Christian Apologist and Leader to get started effectively on the path of asking

effective Leading Questions.


Maybe They Weren’t Slaves

We got the following in a newsletter we subscribe to:


Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a largely juvenile slave force, numbering in the thousands, buried in Egypt. These slaves had worked to build the city of Amarna, Egypt’s new capital city under Akhenaten, the eccentric pharaoh of the New Kingdom’s 18th Dynasty who is thought to have adopted a form of monotheism. Evidence from the graves indicates there was oppressive treatment of this disposable and possibly foreign workforce. Naturally, some have latched onto this find (and its similarities to the Exodus account) to propose that this might be evidence of Israelite slaves. Assessing that idea by examining the finds and then applying a patterns approach will be the subject of this two-part Thinker post.

The city of Amarna (located about 200 miles south of Cairo) had a very brief history. Pharaoh Akhenaten’s religious revolution exchanged the traditional pantheon of Egyptian gods for worship centered on the single deity Aten (depicted as the rays of light extending from the sun’s disk). After this shift, Akhenaten had the entirely new city of Amarna constructed for his grand capital in a matter of five brief years. Once completed, it would only serve as a thriving city for about a decade, as it was quickly abandoned and demolished after the death of the heretic king. Most of its stones were scavenged for building projects at other locations. Conventional dates for the city are from 1346 BC to shortly after 1332 BC, which marked the death of Akhenaten. His successor Tutankhamun (King Tut) moved the capital to Memphis, and Amarna was never rebuilt.

That is just the beginning of a long address on the title discovery. As we read through this information the thought struck us that there is actually nothing that ties those skeletons to slavery. Being badly buried, badly injured and so on does not indicate the skeletons belonged to slaves. These bones could have been the remains of prisoners, forced child labor policies, they could have been runaways and so on. Tying them to slavery may be difficult, even if some DNA samples proved that some of the remains originated somewhere else.

The archaeologists would have to prove that the Egyptians had slaves at that time to make this theory credible. The only reason the Egyptians had Hebrew slaves was because they Egyptians were afraid that the Hebrews would ally themselves with the Egyptian enemies and overthrow the current government. There is nothing tying these young people to the Hebrews. So why mention it? Because mentioning the Hebrews means more clicks and readers that is why.

Shepperson proposes that at this early stage of the investigation there are three main options for considering who these people were. Because of the likely separation from families (who would normally have provided the proper burials that were so important to ancient Egyptians)

Or the families were to poor to properly bury their young dead. Without documentation explaining the who’s and why’s it is all pure reading into the discovery on the part of the archaeologist. Archaeologists prefer good bedtime stories and not the truth. We will withhold judgment on this discovery until there is something more than ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’, ‘could be’ and so on. There is nothing in these graves that we have read so far that even dates these graves to Akhenaten.

Then Akhenaten could not be the Pharaoh linked to the Exodus. That Pharaoh believed in many gods not one, he was killed and his eldest son/daughter was killed in the plaque. Look for someone else to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

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