The Origin of the Karaites in the 8th Century CE

The Origin of the Karaites in the 8th Century CE
James Scott Trimm

The following are taken from two old Jewish History books which were in my father’s library, and which I inherited many years ago:

“The Karaite Movement – Mahomed did not succeed in converting the Jews, but nevertheless the indirect influence of the faith he preached, helped perhaps a little by communal disputes, did produce a distinct sect among the Jews about the middle of the eighth century…. A party in Islam rejected the stricter traditions of the Sunnah and a party among the Jews about the same date, grew openly impatient with the Rabbinical ruling of the Talmud.  Rebellion of any sort is catching, and there can be little doubt that each set of grumblers helped the other… The man who first gave expression to the Jewish discontent with tradition was a certain Anan, son of David, a native of Babylon.  Anan had a personal grievance of his own, a position which gives a certain point of eloquence to any general sense of injury.  He had wished to be made ריש גלותא. But the election had come and gone, and he had been passed over; and worst slight of all, a younger brother of his own had been appointed to the office.  So Anan, disappointed of being patriarch of his people, and of leading them on the old orthodox road, determined to become their spokesman and advocate in a new direction.”

(Outlines of Jewish History by Lady Magnus Revised by M. Friedlander, Ph. D.  Second Revised Edition, Philadelphia; Jewish Publication Society of America, 1890)

“Anan Ben David was a learned Jew of high station in Babylonia.  Indeed he was heir of the Prince of the Exile.  But about the year 762, when it came his turn to succeed to that office, the rabbis of the day elected his younger brother in his stead… And when Anan found he had been cheated out of what he considered his birthright, the commotion raised by him rocked the whole Jewish world.  A new sect, almost a new religion was founded by him.  Anan declared war on the Talmudic Law, taxing it with being all false and ridiculous.”

(Stranger than Fiction; A Short History of the Jews from the Earliest Times to the Present Day; By Lewis Brown; New York; The Macmillan Company; 1932; p. 200-201)

There were no Karaites in the first century. Yeshua and his original followers were not Karaites, they were an unlikely union of School of Hillel Pharisees and Essenes. The efforts by Nehemiah Gordon and others to paint Yeshua and his original followers as Karaites is a blatantly anachronistic venture into historical revisionism.

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