Posted: August 21, 20091:00 am Eastern
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One of the central tenets of the Christian belief in a coming Roman Antichrist is under fire because, as the author of a new book shows, the destruction of the Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was actually carried out by peoples from the Middle East, not Europe.
As Joel Richardson, author of "The Islamic Antichrist," writes today in WND's commentary section, one of the pillars of the European Antichrist theory is a prophecy in Daniel 9: "The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary."
When the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and the city of Jerusalem sacked, while under Roman occupation, many prophecy scholars assumed the future dark prince needs to be Roman. However, historical research by Richardson now suggests otherwise.
He points out Emperor Augustus made a series of sweeping reforms that led to dramatic changes in the ethnic make-up of the Roman armies. After this time, the army was increasingly composed of anything but Italian or European soldiers. Instead, he writes, they were composed of what were known as "provincials," or citizens who lived in the provinces â€“ the outer fringes of the empire.
Richardson's research found the army that destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem was actually overwhelmingly comprised of Middle Eastern peoples, not Europeans. Explicit accounts cited come from Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Titus Flavius Josephus as well as more modern scholars and historians.
"All said, the historical evidence is overwhelming. After examining a sampling of evidence from both ancient historians as well as the most cutting-edge modern scholarship to date, we may very confidently conclude that the 'Roman' soldiers in the Eastern provinces that destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple were in fact Eastern peoples â€“ the inhabitants of Asia Minor, Syria, Arabia and Egypt," Richardson writes. "Again, they were the ancestors of the modern-day inhabitants of the Middle East."
Richardson's "The Islamic Antichrist" has debuted at No. 1 on Amazon in two religious categories and held those positions for nearly two weeks.
It's not only a hot book at Amazon, it is also hot in e-book format at Scribd. But it is offered autographed only at the WND Superstore.
In "The Islamic Antichrist," Richardson, a student of Islam, exposes Western Christians to the Muslim traditions. He says most Christians have no idea of the stunning similarities between the biblical Antichrist and the "Islamic Mahdi."
Richardson's book stands in stark contrast to most other popular prophecy books of the last 40 years.
The student of the Middle East says that after decades of reading popular prophecy books and even best-selling fiction like the "Left Behind" series, millions of evangelical Christians around the world are expecting the Antichrist to emerge from a revived Roman Empire, which many have assumed is associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union.
Not so, argues Richardson. His book makes the case that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran's Muslim Mahdi.
"The Islamic Antichrist" is a book almost certain to be greeted in the Muslim world with the same enthusiasm as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." The author is prepared. He has written the book under a pseudonym to protect himself and his family.
"The Bible abounds with proofs that the Antichrist's empire will consist only of nations that are, today, Islamic," says Richardson. "Despite the numerous prevailing arguments for the emergence of a revived European Roman empire as the Antichrist's power base, the specific nations the Bible identifies as comprising his empire are today all Muslim."
Richardson believes the key error of many previous prophecy scholars involves the misinterpretation of a prediction by Daniel to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel describes the rise and fall of empires of the future, leading to the endtimes. Western Christians have viewed one of those empires as Rome, when, claims Richardson, Rome never actually conquered Babylon and was thus disqualified as a possibility.
It had to be another empire that rose and fell and rose again that would lead to rule of this "man of sin," described in the Bible. That empire, he says, is the Islamic empire, which did conquer Babylon and, in fact, rules over it even today.
Many evangelical Christians believe the Bible predicts a charismatic ruler, the Antichrist, will arise in the last days, before the return of Jesus. The Quran also predicts that a man, called the Mahdi, will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. Richardson makes the case these two men are, in fact, one in the same.
Richardson is the co-author with Walid Shoebat of "God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible" and co-editor of "Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out." "The Islamic Antichrist" is published by WND Books and is available autographed in the WND Superstore.