The Myth of Richard Brothers
Through the years that the Canadian British-Israel Association has distributed books and literature, we sometimes receive anonymous emails rather rudely asserting that no scholar supports B.I. teaching. One might simply laugh off such a remark except for the fact that the major media and publishing houses have suppressed British-Israel scholarship to such an extent that this false impression has grown. Not only that, but an internet search on the topic of British-Israel brings up a plethora of websites who have obviously spent an inordinate amount of time and effort in attempting to attack and “debunk” our belief. There has indeed been a very great effort exerted to prevent the spread of our message.
One of the most egregious falsehoods repeated continuously by our critics is that “Richard Brothers the madman” was the founder of the British-Israel movement. Even Wikipedia, the most popular online encyclopedia, asserts that Brothers’ 1796 book gives a “detailed” presentation of the British-Israel message. This is of course patent nonsense. After having taken the time to carefully read (and suffer through) Brothers’ book from start to finish, I found that there is absolutely nothing about Israel’s lost tribes migrating to Britain, nor anything about the British royal family’s link to the throne of David, nor any other portion of British-Israel belief. Instead, Brothers asserts that he, himself, is David’s heir, and that he will personally lead the Jews back to Palestine. In fact, the book clearly assumes that the Jewish people alone constitute all there is of Israel in the world, aside from Richard Brothers himself!
Obviously, the book has nothing to do with British-Israel belief, nor did his book inspire the formation of a B.I. movement in 1796. Although there is absolutely no truth at all to the claim by Wikipedia (and repeated by nearly all of our critics) that Brothers founded our movement, they continue to repeat this blatant falsehood. I strongly suspect that the persistent repetition of this false claim exists for only one reason: it is calculated slander promoted for the sole purpose of undermining our belief.
The Myth of a Lack of Scholarship
Are there no scholars who support our belief? In fact, there are numerous, and would be many more if not for the media intolerance jeopardizing jobs and reputations today.
In spite of this, there are wonderful examples of reputable educators supporting our teaching. Among Biblical scholars in the nineteenth century was Ferrar Fenton. Fenton spent fifty years producing “The Holy Bible In Modern English,” which was one of the first Bibles to be translated into modern English. Quite tellingly, he dedicated it to “the race that sprang from the British Isles.” Fenton himself told of his British-Israel beliefs in an interesting letter I have reprinted in full in “Wisdom From The Past,” found in the commentary section of the Israelite.info website. To quote only a brief portion, Fenton said, “After many years I accidentally was asked by an illiterate lady ‘if the English were descendants from the Jews?’ She had read yesterday in a magazine that they were! ‘No,’ I replied, ‘they are not descended from the Jews, but they are the sons or descendants of Abraham. They are the posterity of the Ten Tribes who fled before the Assyrian Invaders according to Isaiah, to Tarshish (Spain) and the Isles of the Sea, or Isles of the West!’” The Fenton Bible, published by Destiny Publishers, is their featured book this month. (destinypublishers.com)
Another great British-Israel scholar was Benjamin Wilson, the compiler of the Emphatic Diaglott, an interlinear Bible that is still popular today. I had it in my library for years before learning its author’s background. Wilson stated, “I am deeply interested… and believe in our Israelitish origin!” An interesting letter from Benjamin Wilson on his life, and how he came to an understanding of British-Israel belief, is included in the Israelite.info article referenced above.
A well-known Christian leader from a century ago was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science denomination. Although few B.I.’s would subscribe to her teachings, she was an ardent believer in our message.
A number of language scholars in the last two centuries have commented on the definite connection between Hebrew and English. One of the 19th centuries’ most notably famous language experts was James Cowles Pritchard, who lived from 1786 to 1848. Called ‘the founder of modern anthropology,’ one modern reviewer stated that he had “unquestionably done more than any other single individual to place Ethnology on a scientific basis.” In his “EASTERN ORIGIN OF THE CELTIC NATIONS” (1857), he says that there is “a remarkable analogy” between the Hebrew-Semitic languages and the Celtic (which he spells old-style with a ‘k’ as in ‘Keltic’). He further states that the Celtic language “forms an intermediate link between [the Indo-European] and the Semitic, or perhaps indicates a state of transition” from Semitic to European languages. (p.349)
Distinguished language scholar, William H. Worrell, Associate Professor of Semitics at the University of Michigan, proved that the Celtic language evolved in some way from both the Hebrew and Egyptian languages. His research was published in his 1927 book, “A STUDY OF RACES IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST,”
In the past half-century, Danish scholar, Dr. Louis Hjelmslev, completed independent research into the root structure of languages. His book, “LANGUAGE: AN INTRODUCTION” (University of Wisconsin Press, 1970), pointed out the great influence of the Semitic tongue upon the Indo-European languages.
In his encyclopedic work, “THE WORD, THE DICTIONARY THAT REVEALS THE HEBREW SOURCE OF ENGLISH,” Hebrew language scholar, Dr. Isaac Elchanan Mozeson, gives over 5,000 English words with a Semitic origin. Dr. Mozeson teaches the English language at Yeshiva University, and completed ten years of original research in this subject. His conclusion was “that English and Hebrew are profoundly connected.”
Dr. Terry Blodgett, chairman of the Southern Utah State College Language Department, received international attention in 1982 as a result of his research, which discovered “a major Hebrew influence” in the roots of the English language. A newspaper report commented, “Recent discoveries concerning the Germanic languages suggest there must have been extensive Hebrew influence in Europe, especially in England, Holland, Scandinavia and Germany during the last seven centuries of the pre-Christian era [700 B.C. to Christ].”
More about these scholars and their research is included in my research paper, “Five Scholars Prove the Link Exists” available from CBIA.
In these trying times, let us redouble our efforts to correct the misconceptions and falsehoods concerning the Bible and the British-Israel belief. May God bless you for taking part in promoting Biblical truth!