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The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect [Hardcover]

Kenneth G. C. Newport
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 22, 2006 0199245746 978-0199245741 0
What were the beliefs of the Branch Davidians? This is the first full scholarly account of their history. Kenneth G. C. Newport argues that, far from being an act of unfathomable religious insanity, the calamitous fire at Waco in 1993 was the culmination of a long theological and historical tradition that goes back many decades. The Branch Davidians under David Koresh were an eschatologically confident community that had long expected that the American government, whom they identified as the Lamb-like Beast of the book of Revelation, would one day arrive to seek to destroy God's remnant people. The end result, the fire, must be seen in this context.

Editorial Reviews


"An extended, well-documented, analytical treatment." --Nova Religio

"Acknowledging the passionate engagement with theological ideas that always characterized the small but intense membership of teh various splinter groups of the Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) church that made up the Davidian and Branch Davidian traditions, Newport's history patiently disentangles and lays out for examination their complex understandings of the Bible." --Journal of the American Academy of Religion

About the Author

Kenneth G. C. Newport is Professor of Christian Thought, Liverpool Hope University College.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199245746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199245741
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, factual, well worth reading November 7, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are looking for one complete study of the events leading up to the deadly fire of April 19, 1993, then this is the book you want to read. It reviews the founding of the Davidian sect, the breaking down into the various branches still with us today, and carefully tracks the development of Branch Davidian theology from its roots in the Seventh Day Adventist sect into the last days and hours of the siege itself. Despite the lack of written material available to researchers, there are dozens of audio tapes recorded during Bible studies led by David Koresh as well as interviews with many people who heard him speak, including survivors of the fire. The amount of material the writer worked through in creating this book is daunting, to say the least, and lends a great deal of credence to his conclusion.

By the time you read the last page, the writer will have convinced you that the fire at Mt. Carmel was all but inevitable. The only real question was when it would occur, not if it would occur. Due in no small part to inexcusable mistakes by the B.A.T.F.E (A.T.F. at the time of the fire) and the failure of the F.B.I. Hostage Rescue Team to bring in the appropriate expertise, the fire occurred much sooner than it needed to and probably took far more lives than it would have in different circumstances. However, hindsight is always 20/20 while foresight is blind, which is something this book makes abundantly apparent. In this case, as in many such cases, asking "what if" is not only foolish, it leads into useless speculation. A far better question is "why", and that is the question this book answers in crystal clarity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book on what happened at Waco May 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you had only one book to read on the happenings on Waco twenty years ago, let this be it. Meticulously researched and with detailed interviews of survivors, this book shows how the events of April 20, 1993 were the culmination of 50 years Davidian belief in current day prophets and the inevitability of the coming of the new kingdom of God through a violent purge. Koresh was just the latest and the most extreme in a series of self anointed successors to Christ only he took his delusion to a denouement that saw 80 people killed. And the author quite conclusively demolishes right wing conspiracy theories by stating unequivocally with proof that the Branch members willingly set the fire that killed them. A masterpiece of a book
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Insights into the Branch Davidians June 23, 2006
This is a truly excellent book that exposes the myths around the Waco tragedy and the Branch Davidians. It is essential reading for anyone interested in New Religious Movements. A thoroughly scholarly work this book removes the blinkers so many scholars wear when discussing religion. It clearly shows that while some religions may be good others are bad. Highly recommended

Karla Poewe, Professor of Anthropology, University of Calgary
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearing the Fog June 23, 2006
This superb book clears away the fog of intellectual confusion created by endless conspiracy theories all seeking to show who and why the Branch Davidian compound in Waco went up in smoke. Surprise, surprise, the evidence presented by Professor Newport shows very clearly that there was no conspiracy other than one dreamed up in the head of David Koresh and played out by his fanatical followers. This is an excellent book that challenges all Religious Studies scholars to seriously rethink the prevailing consensus that all New Religions are by definition misunderstood and essentially good.

Professor Irving Hexham, Department of Religious Studies, Univrsity of Calgary
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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I do find it most amusing whenever an Academic incorrectly assumes that David Koresh had any valid Theology based upon the Bible. From my own personal experience of David Koresh I can say that his so called "Message From God" was pure "Biblical Word Salad" which he happened to use to justify whatever (usually lustful) craving he had at any given time. If anybody can show me a passage in the Bible where it says you are allowed to have sex with married women and father 17 illegitimate children from mothers (girls) as young as 14 then please inform me by writing your own review.David Koresh's most unique, twisted and perverted interpretation of the Bible can be seen when he wanted to smoke Malboro Lights so he found a passage in the Bible about "smoke through nostrils".I do find it quite ironic that smoke from cigarettes did not kill him but the smoke from the fire that he and his followers lit would have most surely led to his demise.
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