Invasion of the Karaites
Posted by James Trimm on August 31, 2011 at 8:00am
Invasion of the Karaites
James Scott Trimm
It may sound like a Grade B Sci-Fi flick from the 50’s but in reality it has been happening for the last few years in the Hebraic Roots movement,
Soon after the advent of Islam, a set of traditions grew up around the new religion. No sooner than this occurred than a group of Muslims arose who rejected any such traditions in favor of the Koran and the Koran only. These tradition rejecting Muslims were called Koranists.
This movement inspired a parallel movement among Jews who lived in the Islamic World, of tradition rejection. These Jews used the Tanak and the Tanak only and took the name Karaites from the Hebrew root KARA “to read or recite” the Hebrew cognate of the Arabic word KORA “to read or recite”. One who recites the text of the Koran is called in Arabic a Kari, and in Hebrew a Karaite is called a Ka’ari.
The Karaite movement was instigated by a Jew named Anan who lived in Babylon. Anon had desired to become RISH GALUTA (Head of the Disperstion) in Babylon, but lost the election to his own younger brother. Having failed to become patriarch of his people within the realm of traditional Rabbinic Judaism, he set out in a new direction, creating a new sect which he could be head of: Karaitism.
The Karaite sect never became very big, and only a remnant of the movement has survived to this day. One thing that came out of the conflict was the standardization of the text of the Tanak with the advent of the Masoretic Text.
One leader among the modern Karaites is Nehemiah Gordon, who has done much in efforts to infiltrate the Hebraic Roots movement with Karaitism.
While the Karaite sect never gained much steam, it did come to inspire a parallel movement in Christianity of a tradition rejecting “Bible and the Bible only” Christianity in the form of the English Reformation and Protestantism and the cry of “Sola Scriptura” (The Bible Only).
While the Protestants did well to reject many Catholic traditions which were rooted in paganism, they also retained many pagan traditions (like Christmas, Easter, Steeples etc.) while at the same time rejecting many remnants of Jewish traditions that had survived in Catholicism, often throwing out the baby with the bath water. (Examples: the skull cap worn by arch-bishops, cardinals and popes; the stole – which evolved from the tallit; the eternal flame and liturgical services).
One footprint of the Karaite inspiration for Protestantism is the questioning of the traditional Christian canon in favor of the Jewish canon of the Masoretic Text, moving the other books of the “Old Testament” to an appendix they labeled “Apocrypha” (hidden). These books were ultimately removed entirely by Protestants, mostly because it was cheaper to print less bulky Bibles without them.
It is for this reason that many who come from a Protestant Christian background have been very susceptible to the error or Karaitism, because they are from a parallel movement originally inspired by Karaitism. But in doing so, they are not returning to their Hebraic Roots, they are returning to their Islamic roots and they don’t even know it.
The bottom line is that Karaitism is a sect that did not exist until post-Islamic times, and originated under Islamic influence. The only sect of Judaism that rejected the Oral Law in the Second Temple Era were the Sadducees.
Now it is important to understand the first century world from which Nazarene Judaism emerged. There were three major sects of Judaism at the time: Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes.
The first century writer Josephus writes of the Pharisees:
“…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by
succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of
(Josephus; Ant. 13:11:6)
The Pharisees became what is known as Rabbinic Judaism and eventually wrote these traditions (known as “Oral Law”) down in the Mishna and later the Talmud. The Mishna and Talmud are not the Oral Law, but they do contain the Oral Law as recorded by the Pharisees.
The Sadducees rejected these traditions, as Josephus continues:
“…for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we
are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written
word, but are not to observe what are delivered from the tradition of our
The Sadducees HAD to reject the Oral Law. They did not believe in a resurrection or an afterlife. They had rejected the things that Judaism has always held to. It was hard enough to make their views compatible with the Written Torah, it was easier for them to simply reject the Oral Torah out of hand. In fact they HAD to reject the Oral Law if they wanted to reject any understanding of the written Torah that included a resurrection and an afterlife!
Yeshua and his Emissaries were not Karaites in any form, they had backgrounds in Essene Judaism and Pharisaic Judaism, but none in Sadducean Judaism.
For more on the Pharisaic and Essene roots of Nazarene Judaism see:
For more on the Nazarenes and the Oral Law see:
Much of the historic information cited in this article can be found in the book
Outlines of Jewish History
By Lady Magnus
Which is available for sale in reprint at: