The Anglo-Israel Thesis: Compelling Evidence That Caucasian Europeans Descended From The Ancient Israelites, by Reed Benson
A great many readers will understand what this book is about from their own research and will find it a bit puzzling how the author can mix both sound and unsound reasoning together in such quantities. As a reader, I found this book to be a sobering reminder of why it is best that novices read books and not try to write them, for although this book had a substantial amount in it that I appreciate, for academic and purely personal reasons, it also had some very curious shortcomings that a more seasoned writer would have been able to successfully avoid. What is perhaps most noteworthy and praiseworthy about this book is that the author has some excellent sources that are themselves worth investigating, and anyone who enjoys this book will likely find a lot to appreciate by examining those sources for themselves.
The book is a short one at less than 200 pages and is divided into twelve chapters. The book begins with a preface, and then provides a discussion of the historical evidence of the broken and battered nation of Israel at the time when it was taken into captivity by the Assyrians (1). After this the author examines the linguistic and archaeological evidence of Israel’s wanderings to Europe and America (2). The author then discusses the antiquity of the Anglo-Israel thesis (3), while also providing New Testament evidence that this connection was well-understood by Paul and others (4). The author gives a theological perspective of election as it relates to the children of Israel (5). This is followed by chapters that look at the Davidic covenant and its relationship to British royal genealogy (6), as well as the Levitic covenant and British history (7). The author then tackles the familiar prophecies from Genesis 49 and their fulfillment in history (8). The author then provides an eschatological perspective on the focus of prophecy on Israel (9), considers some objections to the book’s thesis (10), and then spends its last couple of chapters discussing the identity of the Jews (11) and dealing with the question of genuine and supposed Jews (12), after which the book ends with a note from the author as well as a bibliography and recommended works.
This book is at its strongest when it is dealing with the historical case of ancient Israel’s wanderings after captivity and how it is that they found themselves in Western Europe, which is by no means a new argument but is not one that many readers will likely be familiar with. This book is at its weakest, though, when it discusses issues of theology, and that is largely because the author has some massive blind spots when it comes to dealing with biblical interpretation that seriously hinder his ability to come to sound biblical conclusions. In particular, the author seems to fail to grasp the way that genuine outsiders on a physical level could be considered to be genuine Israelites through conversion to Israel’s ways, which leads him to misunderstand the nature of both ancient Israel as a community of faith rather than ancestry alone, and the same being true of the New Testament church. In particular, his discussion of the converted Jewish Khazars is needless because a true Jew is not one by ancestry alone but by faith, something this author seems not to understand in the least. At times, the author’s thesis comes dangerously close to asserting that salvation is by race and not grace, if not actually crossing over that line. One can appreciate the survival and endurance of ancient Israel into the contemporary age without such shortcomings.