During the standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidians in 1993 at the Branch Davidians’ property outside Waco, Texas named Mount Carmel Center, David Koresh proclaimed that he was the Endtime Christ who would reveal the meaning of the Seven Seals of the book of Revelation. One hundred years earlier there was another Koresh, Cyrus R. Teed, who also claimed to reveal the Seven Seals from his Koreshan Unity center in Estero, Florida. David Koresh echoed many of Teed’s, i.e. the earlier self-proclaimed Koresh’s, teachings. What kind of connection, if any, existed between these two aspiring Endtime messiahs? Using primary sources, such as Teed’s magazine, The Flaming Sword, and transcriptions of the FBI audiotapes of negotiations with David Koresh and other Branch Davidians recorded during the 51-day siege in 1993, the answers emerge. Since these answers indicate a link between the earlier Koresh and David Koresh, they also raise the issue of how this information about the earlier Koresh and his theology could have been used by FBI agents to persuade the Branch Davidians to come out of the Mount Carmel Center residence and be taken into custody.
The standoff at Mount Carmel Center outside Waco, Texas between the Branch Davidians and federal agents began with a failed “dynamic entry” by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents on 28 February 1993, in which four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians died. Because federal agents had been killed, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents arrived on 1 March 1993 to take over the siege and negotiations. On 10 April 1993 a negotiator phoned the Branch Davidians inside the Mount Carmel Center residence and told the right-hand man Steve Schneider (1949–1993) of David Koresh (1959–1993) that there was an earlier Koresh whom David appeared to be plagiarizing. The negotiator asked Steve if he had heard of this earlier Koresh, whose original name was Cyrus R. Teed (1839–1908). The negotiator said that the proof was in a book entitled Koreshanity, The New Age Religion, by J. Augustus Weimar (1971) in the Waco Public Library about a “cult” leader named Teed who had changed his name to Koresh in 1892. Steve Schneider, who had a master’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Hawaii, pushed back saying that he had studied religious groups for years and knew nothing about that one.1 Then the negotiator drove the point home, saying that David Koresh must have stolen the name and teachings of this earlier Koresh to deceive his followers including Steve. Schneider asked David Koresh about it, and he said that he had never heard of a book about a previous Koresh and to send it in. The negotiator offered to send the book inside so Steve Schneider and the other Bible students of David Koresh could see it with their own eyes and confront David with the information. Schneider eagerly agreed, promising to show it to everyone.2
The Koreshanity book contains original writings of Cyrus R. Teed, who in 1892 changed his name to “Koresh.” Koresh is Hebrew for “Cyrus,” and refers to Cyrus the Great (d. 530 B.C.E.), ruler of Persia, who in 539 B.C.E. defeated the Babylonian Empire, after which he issued a decree to the Jews in exile in Babylon, saying that they could return to Jerusalem in Judah and rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonian military in 586 B.C.E., with King Cyrus providing the funding to do so (2 Chron. 36:23; Ezra 6:3–8). In the book of Isaiah 45:1, it is stated that Cyrus/Koresh was God’s “anointed” (in Hebrew, messiah; in Greek, christos). Koreshanity presents eighty proofs of Cyrus Teed’s “credentials” as the figure known by such terms as the end-time David, the final Koresh, and the Lamb who opens the Seven Seals.3
From these facts about Cyrus R. Teed as Koresh, the question arises whether there is a connection between David Koresh and the earlier Koresh, Cyrus Teed, and if so, how did it occur? Recent research has uncovered new information that assists in answering these questions. The following analysis of the evidence attempts to determine the relationship, if any, between David Koresh, formerly named Vernon Howell, and the earlier Koresh.
A comparison of the theologies of these two Koresh figures indicates that there is reason to think that David Koresh, né Vernon Howell, was influenced by Cyrus Teed’s interpretations of the Bible’s Endtime prophecies, either directly by reading the Korseshanity book in the Waco Public Library, or indirectly by being taught by someone who had read the book. During the 51-day siege in 1993 of the Branch Davidians at Mount Carmel Center, if FBI agents had sent in the copy of Koreshanity, it might have been utilized by negotiators to try to persuade David Koresh’s followers that David did not have an original divinely inspired interpretation of the Bible’s prophecies, as he claimed, and they should come out of the residence and send their children out.
Koresh: Cyrus R. Teed
There definitely was an earlier Koresh: Cyrus R. Teed, who was born in 1839 in New York, the son of Jesse and Sarah Teed. Cyrus was a man of many talents, serving as a doctor in the Civil War (1861–1865), and was well read in medicine, science, history, alchemy, and religion. Teed moved in the circles of New Thought and was very knowledgeable of Mother Ann Lee (1736–1784) of the Shakers, and especially the works of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772). In 1869 Teed had a life-changing experience, an “illumination,” when he was visited by a heavenly spirit woman, an angel with the appearance of the “woman clothed in the sun” (Rev. 12:1–6), who called him to a messianic mission to bring truth to the world.4 Though biblically oriented, this mission had a unique theological message. For example, Teed taught that God has a feminine aspect, a “biune nature” of male and female, and he insisted that celibacy would increase the transforming power of the Spirit to empower immortality of the physical body. He saw himself as the seventh and final messiah, whose persona consisted of the reincarnations of the previous six, including Jesus. In 1892, Teed changed his name to Koresh and called his group Koreshan Unity located in Chicago with over one hundred members.5
Leaving Chicago in 1894, Teed moved his followers to Florida where he acquired land in southwest Florida, in Estero, south of Fort Myers. There his grand plan was to build a community that would grow into a metropolis of millions of whites and blacks who would follow the principles of Koreshanity. He was successful in founding a community of several hundred persons, mostly women. It functioned well as a self-sufficient communal group of celibates holding things “in common.” Conflicts with locals emerged in time as Teed started a rival paper, The American Eagle, and the Progressive Liberty Party, to control civil affairs for his prospering community. However, in 1906, Teed and some other Koreshans were beaten in Fort Myers, in which Teed suffered a head wound that led to his passing in 1908. His followers waited by the side of his corpse for weeks believing that he would return to life, until authorities forced a burial. In 1921, a hurricane swept his tomb and coffin into the ocean. The community continued his work and published the Koreshan magazine, The Flaming Sword, on a regular basis. When the last member died in 1982, the property was donated to the state of Florida where it now serves as the Koreshan State Historic Site.6
Similarities in the Theologies of Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh) and David Koresh
The mystery remains: How can there be two Koresh figures in the same century? After all, in two thousand years of Christian history there are no other examples of an aspiring messiah taking the name Koresh. Therefore, it is striking to find two persons claiming messianic identity and changing their names to Koresh in the same century: Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh) in Florida and Vernon Howell in Texas who legally changed his name to David Koresh in 1990.7 FBI negotiators suspected a connection as did some scholars in 1993 since it appears too coincidental. But is there evidence of a connection between Teed and Howell? To answer this important question, an analysis of the sources is crucial.
The most valuable primary sources available to explore this question are the Koreshan publications and the recordings of the Bible studies given by Vernon Howell/David Koresh and Koresh’s statements to negotiators during the 1993 FBI siege at Mount Carmel Center. These sources show specific parallels between David Koresh and the earlier Koresh of Florida. In fact, there exist many more similarities than solely the name Koresh. After listing fifteen of these, an analysis of the most important ones will provide answers.8
Both taught that Christ [messiah, anointed one] has appeared on earth multiple times, and both regarded themselves as an “anointed/messianic” figure for the Endtime events.
Both changed their names to Koresh in reference to the statement in Isaiah 45:1, which refers to Cyrus [Koresh] of Persia who defeated “Babylon,” as “anointed” [messiah].
Both thought of themselves as a latter day “David.”
Both saw themselves as revealer of the Seven Seals of the book of Revelation.
Both identified themselves as the Rider on the White Horse in the First Seal in Revelation 6:2.
Both saw themselves as the one in Revelation 5:5 worthy to open the Seven Seals.
Both argued that when the book of Revelation says it is the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1), it does not mean the revelation “from” Jesus Christ; it means the revelation of his person [emphasis added].
Both saw themselves as being a “sinful messiah.”
Both found many other instances in the Bible where they were predicted to come in the Endtime.
Both taught that there is a female aspect of God.
Both promulgated celibacy for their followers.
Both used music as a vehicle for their message.
Both were aware of the Millerite movement in the 1830s and early 1840s, which predicted the Second Coming of Christ in 1843 or 1844, and of the Seventh-day Adventists.
Both had a fully functioning community with property that they owned.
Both claimed they had angelic visitations and special revelations from God.
From this list of similarities and parallels, there are several key points evincing a connection between David Koresh and Cyrus Teed (Koresh). First, David Koresh insisted throughout the negotiation tapes that the book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ, not a merely a revelation from him. This view was not a traditional interpretation of that phrase from Revelation 1:1 but for David Koresh it was crucial to the meaning of the book of Revelation. He insisted that it meant that when the book of Revelation is understood it will identify Christ. That is, the Seven Seals (Rev. 5–8) will reveal David Koresh as Christ come in the flesh. He wrote in 1993, toward the end of the siege, that the Seals will permit people to “see the king in his beauty.”9 This does not mean that David Koresh thought he was Jesus the Jew come again. For Koresh, the Christ is the messianic spirit that falls on a few chosen persons through the ages, much like the ancient Ebonite view that the Christ “hastens through the ages” seeking repose.10
In essays published in The Flaming Sword magazine, Teed wrote that the book of Revelation is the revelation of Christ, and he explained that understanding the book of Revelation would show that he, Teed, is the very Christ. Further, Teed explained that there have been six previous messiahs, and now he was the seventh and final Christ. He said that all the others who died before him were present in him, so he was the cumulative expression of them all. Teed confidently claimed that when he interpreted the book of Revelation, the Christ would be revealed because that book was the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” This claim, therefore, pointed to Cyrus Teed as the Christ. For both David Koresh and Teed to use the phrase “the revelation of Jesus Christ” to refer to themselves personally supports the conclusion that David Koresh was influenced by the teachings of his predecessor Koresh, Cyrus Teed. We have no other known interpreter of the book of Revelation in over two thousand years who takes that phrase to mean that the person interpreting the book is the Christ that is being revealed.11
Cyrus Teed also taught another doctrine so very unusual that it appears that no one else in history has ever said it—no one, except David Koresh. In The Flaming Sword, Teed offered an astounding proof of his “credentials” as the final Koresh. He cited 2 Thessalonians 2:3 in which Paul writes that in the last days a man will arise claiming that he is divine, but this figure will be “that man of sin.” Teed claimed that he, Cyrus Teed, was this “man of sin.” He said that even though he was the seventh messiah who is deity, he was born a man and thus was also the “man of sin” predicted to come in the Endtime. For Teed, the final Christ was a “conjunction” of the divine and sinful human. This is an unheard-of claim in Christian history from someone claiming to be a messiah.12
The fact that David Koresh also claimed to be a “sinful messiah” represents such an unusual claim that he must have duplicated it somehow from Cyrus Teed, either by reading Koreshan publications or learning about Koreshan teachings from someone who had access to them and passed the ideas to him while he was merely Vernon Howell. The Waco Tribune-Herald on Saturday, 27 February 1993, used the headline, “The Sinful Messiah,” on the article on the front page, which reported David Koresh’s claim to be a sinning messiah. David Koresh expounded Psalm 40:12 to refer to himself, saying “mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head.” Since Teed was prior to David Koresh and originated this unusual identification with the “man of sin,” David Koresh was likely copying Teed, either by design, or somehow unknowingly by what he was taught by another party.13
There is more evidence that David Koresh did not independently come up with these teachings, but was dependent on the teachings of Cyrus Teed, the earlier Koresh. We find that Teed also identified himself as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb who in Revelation 5:9 is the only one in heaven and earth able to open the Seven Seals and interpret them. Teed was so convinced there no one could interpret the Seals except him, and he challenged anyone in the world to come try it. David Koresh issued the same challenge to anyone as the litmus test to reveal the identity of the Lamb of the book of Revelation. Both Teed and David Koresh identified themselves as this figure, and they used the same scriptures to support it, and issued similar challenges to prove it.14
In addition to claiming the title of Lamb, Teed and David Koresh also claimed to be the Rider on the White Horse found in the First Seal in Revelation 6:2. Teed was reported to be “General Koresh” leading his “White Horse Army.” Not to be outdone, David Koresh saw himself as the White Horse Rider in his interpretation of the First Seal when he fleshed it out with Psalm 45 in which a rider on a horse has many wives. That psalm, he said, explained that the rider is the final figure to come and will have many wives. David Koresh taught that the “marriage of the Lamb” with his “perfect mate” will take place in heaven. There, the members of the “wave sheaf,” the “first of the first fruits,” those who were willing to give their all to God, will attend the wedding between the Lamb and his Bride. According to Clive Doyle (1941–2022), one of David Koresh’s students, “The Lamb is a figurative expression for the extension of God in the flesh, and the bride is the extension of the Spirit [which is feminine].”15 The marriage of the Lamb also includes the concept that the Lamb is also marrying the Church—the members of the wave sheaf—who will attend this celestial marriage. Until then, male members of the Branch Davidian community should remain celibate awaiting this heavenly marriage. Subsequently, in the Endtime scenario taught by David Koresh, those remaining on earth who will be included in Koresh/Christ’s earthly kingdom in the Holy Land, will be invited to the marriage supper, “the reception,” on earth.16
Although Teed did not take “many wives,” he did teach that in the Endtime, Koresh would be united with the heavenly Bride at the “marriage feast of the Lamb.” Both Teed and David insisted that in Genesis 2 Eve was taken out of Adam, therefore the female was part of the original Adam. From this, both concluded that God is both male and female because the text states "male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27). If Adam was both male and female, then so is God. To be reunited with one’s perfect mate, David Koresh said that a high state of spiritual purity must be obtained. In his 1989 New Light teaching, he urged the male members of the Branch Davidian community to remain celibate to purify themselves spiritually and physically. Teed also insisted that celibacy would prepare the Koreshan community for immortal life as the Bride of Christ. For Teed, celibacy would help transform the mortal body into an immortal body. Although David Koresh did not say that the physical mortal body could be made immortal as Teed did, Howell spoke of “light bodies” that the Spirit could bring to members.17
In addition to these major similarities, the presence of other significant ones indicates that David Koresh derived his distinctive interpretation of Bible passages from Cyrus Teed either directly or indirectly. After all, both taught the female aspect of God, both used music as a way of expressing their beliefs, and both scoured the Bible for prophecies pertaining to themselves and their mission, including an interest in the prophecies in the book of Daniel and the modern location of the “lost tribes.” Both Teed and David Koresh taught that some of the “lost tribes” of Israel migrated to the northern Europe and found their way to Great Britain and the United States. Therefore, prophecies in the Bible that refer to the “lost tribes” pertain to the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain and America. These points join with the unusual fact that both persons changed their names to Koresh.18
Available Information on Cyrus R. Teed (Koresh) in Waco, Texas
The cumulative evidence supports the contention that Vernon Howell/David Koresh was exposed to key teachings of Cyrus Teed through his own reading or through someone close to him conveying Teed’s ideas to him. Knowledge of the existence of Cyrus Teed was potentially available to Howell and other Branch Davidians in the 1980s, because in the Waco Public Library there was the very book that the negotiator told Steve Schneider about on 10 April 1993, Koreshanity, A New Age Religion. It would appear that someone with an interest in Cyrus Teed and Koreshan Unity had ordered this unique book back then. The library records show that this marked-up Koreshanity was checked out in the 1980s, but does not indicate by whom. Also, there are some hints that there was a book about the earlier Koresh at Mount Carmel Center. In a conversation with long-time Branch Davidian and survivor of the fire on 19 April 1993, Clive Doyle, this author asked whether there had been any knowledge of an earlier Koresh. Doyle replied that he thought there might have been such a book around Mount Carmel Center. He did not elaborate further. From this, one might ask if Clive Doyle or Perry Jones (1929–1993), both of whom researched for Lois’ SHEkinah, may have come across the Teed book and introduced his ideas to Lois and Vernon in informal Bible discussions without attributing them to Teed. However, it seems more probable that Lois had discovered Teed while researching the femininity of the Holy Spirit since that was a major subject in publications about Teed and his Koreshan community. This would fit well with her statement that she had been convinced of this doctrine through her personal study prior to her vision of the shimmering female angel in 1977. That vision, so like Teed’s vision of a female entity in 1869, confirmed her conclusions that she had come to through her reading19
Nevertheless, we know that on 11 April 1993, Steve Schneider told the negotiators that he asked David Koresh if he knew about the book about Cyrus Teed, Koreshanity, and Koresh said that he had never heard of it and to send it in. David Koresh’s denial of knowledge about the book and his willingness to have the book examined by Steve Schneider and his followers suggests that Koresh was not bald-faced lying about his scriptural interpretations, which he felt were original to him. It would seem that if David Koresh had a “secret copy” of a Teed publication that he was consulting as a sort of “script,” over time, someone would have found him out. Further, to date no one has brought forth any comment or “slip of the tongue” from David Koresh that would reveal his awareness of some of the eccentric pseudoscientific views of Teed, such as the “hollow earth,0” or physical immortality through celibacy.
This would mean that the catalyst that brought the idea of an end-time Koresh into the Branch Davidian community was research into other groups that taught that the Holy Spirit was female. Once Teed’s literature was scoured for evidence supporting the femininity of the Spirit, his other ideas began to filter into the community, either through Lois or such researchers as Clive Doyle and Perry Jones. In this scenario, with these ideas circulating in the community in the early 1980’s, Vernon Howell would conclude that many of them applied to him and would begin to transform himself into Koresh without perhaps knowing anything about Teed.
From the presence of so many of Teed’s key biblical ideas coupled with the absence of evidence that Vernon Howell/David Koresh read Koreshan publications, it leads to the view that Howell might have received these interpretations by means of oral transmission before his 1985 experience in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, which convinced him that he had received the Christ Spirit for the Endtime events.20 If this connection between Howell and Teed is dependent on some unknown person(s) telling him about a predicted Koresh as the Christ for the Endtime events, that person would have laid out very specific claims for Howell to make in order to become David Koresh. It is possible that whoever conveyed Teed’s teachings did not tell Howell that the ideas originated with Teed. This person may have claimed to have discovered these “truths” by themselves or by “divine revelation.” This would have taken a very rare person with a serious commitment to the task of interpreting the Bible’s prophecies about the Endtime, especially if they kept the existence of Teed secret from Howell and all others at Mount Carmel Center.
The most qualified and likely person at Mount Carmel Center able to do this would have been Lois Roden (1916–1986), the 65-year-old leader of the community when Vernon Howell arrived in 1981 at age 22. She had gained a national profile as an advocate of the view that the Holy Spirit is female, and she proclaimed that view through her journal SHEkinah. In it, Lois Roden and Clive Doyle reprinted articles from a very broad range of religious figures and contemporary feminist theologians advocating the female aspect of God and Christian women’s ordained leadership.21 Also, Lois Roden traveled throughout the United States and abroad, so it is conceivable that she might have come across the Koreshan Unity site in Florida and read about the earlier Koresh, especially since they agreed on the female aspect of the divinity. If so, she could have revealed these biblical interpretations to her young designated successor, Vernon Howell, with whom she thought she was pregnant in the early 1980s as a way of increasing her prophetic charisma.22 Those who joined the community later after hearing David Koresh’s message, like Steve Schneider, would not have been there in the early to mid-1980s to observe any interchange between Lois Roden and Vernon Howell.
Given the fact that not one Branch Davidian has expressed any knowledge of Cyrus Teed and his Koreshan Unity, it is apparent that someone concealed the existence of the earlier Koresh from the members. Lois Roden is the prime candidate since a “regular member” would have no reason to conceal from the young Vernon Howell and the other Branch Davidians that they knew about a person named Cyrus Teed, who over one hundred years ago had called himself Koresh.
One might ask if these similarities could be explained by a sort of determinism in which once a person identifies with, say, the biblical Cyrus, it inevitably leads to subsequent identifications with King David, Messiah, the Lamb of the Book of Revelation and other Endtime figures. While it is true that identifying with the Cyrus of Isaiah 45:1 could include using the term “messiah” found there, it does not include the adoption of these other titles and names that David Koresh applied to himself. Not one of these names serves as a first step leading to all of them. Others have had messianic pretensions without forming the same constellation that Teed and David did. This point is supported by the fact that David did not call himself “Cyrus,” but translated it into Hebrew as “Koresh.” It is one thing to identify with the “Cyrus” of the King James Version that David used, but quite another to both identify with and change one’s name to the Hebrew “Koresh,” as both David and Teed did. The fact that both men proclaimed they were sinful messiahs, and both used the same Hebrew name, argues against the view that adopting one or more of these identifications would necessarily lead to an independent recreation of that which Cyrus Teed did over one hundred years earlier. Instead, it indicates a dependence on the only known figure in history who assembled this constellation, Cyrus Teed.
The picture emerges that Vernon Howell in the early 1980s processed several of Teed’s ideas provided by someone in the Branch Davidian group, which had been founded in 1955 by Lois Roden’s husband, Ben Roden (1902–1978).23 This person(s) would have filtered out Teed’s pseudoscience while communicating the biblical ideas to Howell who felt inspired to make them his own. So, it should come as no surprise that Vernon Howell/David Koresh did not mention the cosmogony presented by Teed in which the Earth is said to be a hollow sphere with inhabitants living on the inside. Nor did David Koresh use the word “reincarnation” as does Teed to refer to how persons continue after death. Neither did David Koresh teach that conserving sexual energies would make the physical body immortal as did Teed. This would seem to indicate that when the young Howell arrived at Mount Carmel, there was already awareness of the earlier Teed among Lois and perhaps her closest confidants. It formed an esoteric eco-system which privately nourished Howell and in time gave birth to David Koresh.24
Vernon Howell/David Koresh taught major biblical ideas proclaimed originally and uniquely by Cyrus R. Teed and integrated them into his messianic mission. These were primarily the name Koresh, the Seven Seals as the revelation of the Christ, his identity as the Lamb and as the sinful messiah, and teaching the female aspect of God. Over time, Howell would have applied his own creativity to Teed’s ideas and molded them for his own religious purposes, including shaping them to the situation that he and his Bible students faced before and during the 1993 conflict with federal agents.
Since Howell chose not to reveal the fact that he had received these ideas to become “David Koresh” from Lois Roden or some other human source, no one at Mount Carmel Center during the 51-day standoff knew about it. Even Steve Schneider believed that David Koresh had gotten his identity and message of the Seals solely from divine revelation beginning in Israel in 1985. His Bible students did not know that David Koresh was indebted directly or indirectly to an earlier Koresh, who alone was the first person to put together this constellation of ideas that would signal the appearance of the Endtime Koresh.
During the 1993 siege, this situation was ripe for exploiting by FBI negotiators to weaken the resolve of Koresh’s followers, causing them to doubt what they believed were David Koresh’s divinely inspired and original interpretations of the Bible’s prophecies. All the FBI agents had to do was to carry through on their offer to send in the book Koreshanity. After reading parts of the book, and seeing the similarities in biblical interpretations, disconfirmation might have begun to infect the members as they learned that David Koresh had taken his identity and many teachings from the long dead Cyrus Teed, the earlier Koresh. The effect could have caused doubts in group members and more might have decided to exit the residence, thereby peacefully rejecting David Koresh’s claim to be who he said he was. Instead, the FBI officials changed their minds and declined to send in the book, and on the morning of 19 April 1993 sent in CS gas and tanks.25
Kenneth G. C. Newport, The Branch Davidians of Waco (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 4. Steve says, “I’ve never heard of the book.…No, honestly. I never have. Never have.” Carl Stern, Public Affairs Director, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation: Negotiation Tape transcript 207, 10 April 1993, 9:08 p.m.-11:29 p.m., 54.
James Augustus Weimar, Koreshanity, The New Age Religion (Miami: Koreshan Foundation, 1971.) Weimar (1855–1919) had been affiliated with Charles T. Russell’s Bible Students until 1895 when he followed Teed. Citations herein are from transcripts from Carl Stern, Public Affairs Director, United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation: Negotiation Tape 207, 10 April 1993, 9:08 p.m.-11:29 p.m., 37ff; Negotiation Tape 208, 10 April, 1993–11 April, 1993, 11:29 p.m.-1:34 a.m., 8; Negotiation Tape 210, 11 April, 1993, 11:25 a.m.-7:38 p.m., 3, 49–52; Negotiation Tape 211, 11 April, 1993, 7:38 p.m.-11:42 p.m., 28ff; Negotiation tape 222, 13 April, 1993, 5:49 a.m.,1 ff. Steve Schneider requests several times that the Koreshanity book be sent in for all to read. The agents might have hoped that the effect on David Koresh’s followers of discovering an earlier Koresh would be similar to the effect on the disciples of Jesus if they discovered there was an earlier Jesus whom Jesus was secretly copying.
Weimar, Koreshanity, 140–41; Lyn Millner, “Koreshans,” World Religions and Spirituality Project, 7 July 2016, https://wrldrels.org/2017/01/11/koreshans/.
Robert S. Fogarty, The Righteous Remnant: The House of David (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1981), 138–39; Millner, “Koreshans.” Lyn Millner The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2019), presents an excellent account of Teed’s life and the history of Koreshan Unity. In the chapter, “An Age of Wisdom, An Age of Foolishness,” in Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict, ed. Stuart A. Wright (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1995), 3–19, Robert S. Fogarty incorrectly states that Teed died from a “boating accident” and also fails to recognize the indebtedness of Vernon Howell to Teed’s original constellation of ideas (12). For a photograph of Teed’s tomb, see “Koreshans Gathered around Tomb of Dr. Cyrus Reed Teed at Ft. Myers Beach on Estero Island, Florida,” ca 1909, Florida Memory: State Library and Archives of Florida, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/256835, accessed 22 October 2022.
Catherine Wessinger, “Branch Davidians (1981–2006), World Religions and Spirituality Project, 10 October 2016, https://wrldrels.org/2016/02/25/branch-davidians-2/.
The magazines titled The Flaming Sword and The Guiding Light published by Koreshan Unity serve as primary sources for the study of Teed’s life and teachings. These magazine issues refer repeatedly to elements in this list identifying Teed’s biblical titles and his Koreshan belief system in articles by him and others. The transcripts of the FBI negotiation audiotapes serve as primary sources for David Koresh’s claims and teachings that are similar to those of Teed, from the author’s collection and also in the Texas Collection archive at Baylor University, Waco Branch Davidians: FBI Letters and Negotiation Transcripts Collection, Accession #3849. These similarities are repeatedly discussed in these primary sources, and from them I have compiled the fifteen similarities. For David Koresh’s teaching that the Christ Spirit has taken on human form on Earth multiple times before the final Endtime Christ, see Clive Doyle’s theology chapter in Clive Doyle with Catherine Wessinger and Matthew D. Wittmer, A Journey to Waco: Autobiography of a Branch Davidian (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), 75–98, specifically 78–79.
Both Cyrus Teed and David Koresh fit the category of “restricted charisma” in which the leader is viewed by followers as being the one who accesses the divine. See Catherine Wessinger, “Charismatic Leaders in New Religions,” in The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements, ed. Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 85–86.
David Koresh, “The Decoded Message of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation” [Mount Carmel Center, 19 April 1993], 9, available at Internet Archive, https://archive.org/stream/iambomonomo_gmail_375/375_djvu.txt, accessed 21 October 2022.
“Recognitions of Clement” Book II, Chapter 22 in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, (Buffalo: Christian Literature Company), 103; Epiphanius, Panarion, II, 3:3 Frank Williams, translator, 1987 (Leiden, Brill), 44–47, 112–51.
Cyrus Teed (Koresh), “Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Part II,” The Flaming Sword, February 1923, 1–2; “Interpretation Part VIII,” The Flaming Sword, August 1923, 2. A forerunner of the use of the name Cyrus for an Endtime messianic figure appears in the 1699 “Sixty Propositions” by English mystic Jane Lead (1624–1704) who prophesied the coming of a David, a Cyrus, and a Christ in the flesh who would restore “total and full redemption” after the Seven Seals are opened. See Fogarty, The Righteous Remnant, 147–52, for the “Sixty Propositions” and a connection to celibate communities. Another religious leader who identified with figures in the book of Revelation and sought to open the Seven Seals was Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), who after his ascent to heaven in 1837 became known as the younger brother of Jesus Christ and led the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864) against the Manchu “demons.” See Jonathan D. Spence, God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996), 295.
[No author, stylistically Cyrus Teed], “Interpretation Part II,” The Flaming Sword, February 1923, 2; “Interpretation Part VII,” The Flaming Sword, July 1923, 2.
Mark England and Darlene McCormick, “The Sinful Messiah,” The Waco Tribune-Herald Tribune, 27 February 1993, 11A; and 1 March 1993, 6A.
“Theology, David Is the Christ,” The Flaming Sword, 7 October 1893, 1–2. Teed is identified with the Endtime David, the Branch, Cyrus of Isaiah 44:28, the Messenger, the Lion/Lamb as Husband of the Bride; “Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Part VIII,” The Flaming Sword, August 1923, 1–2, where Cyrus is said to contain within himself six manifestations of earlier messianic persons, such as Abraham and Jesus; James D. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher, Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 54–55, 78, 86, 195, 209; “The Science of Religion,” The Flaming Sword, 17 September 1892, 2, where it says that the Lion of Judah becomes the Lamb. Throughout the fifty-one days of negotiations after the ATF raid, David Koresh cites his ability to interpret the Seals according to the biblical prophets as proof that he is the Lamb. See J. Phillip Arnold, “The Davidian Dilemma—To Obey God or Man?” in Lewis, From the Ashes, 23–31. For example, on March 26, 1993 David offers to allow a Rabbi to explain the Seals, implying that no one could explain them except the Lamb, and he expresses to negotiators a desire to discuss his views with the author and James Tabor of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte (FBI Event Log, Box 25, March 26, 1993.) See Flaming Sword, 23 July 1892, p. 6 and 6 August 1892, for Teed’s challenges.
Doyle with Wessinger and Wittmer, A Journey to Waco, 88.
Doyle with Wessinger and Wittmer, A Journey to Waco, 88.
“Koreshan Science and Its Application to Life,” The Guiding Star, October 1887, 254–56, where the titles belonging to Teed are discussed, such as the White Horse Rider, the Messenger, Lamb, Joseph’s “bough,” and “shepherd stone.” These titles are frequently found in many issues, such as The Flaming Sword, 14 May 1892, 20, which discusses the Rider on the White Horse being Elijah who is the Endtime Messenger; and Cyrus as “General Koresh” leads the “White Horse Army” in The Flaming Sword, 20 August 1892. See Tabor and Gallagher, Why Waco? 57. See Weimar, Koreshanity, 50, 51 for Teed’s views on the marriage of the Lamb.
“Koreshan Science,” 254–56; “Closing and Opening of the Seals,” The Guiding Light, April 1888, 115–17, where the Lamb that opens the book is a “peculiar Lamb.” These sources show that Teed was convinced that the 2,300-year prophecy in the book of Daniel predicted his birth in 1839 from descendants of one of the “lost tribes.” Sourced from the author’s private discussions with David Koresh’s mother, Bonnie Haldeman, and various members after 19 April 1993, and comments by David Koresh during phone negotiations during the FBI siege.
The author found the book in the Waco Public Library and confirmed that it had been checked out in the early 1980s, but there were no records remaining identifying readers. The author spoke directly to Clive Doyle about the existence of a book on the earlier Koresh. For more on Clive Doyle, see Doyle, with Wessinger, and Wittmer, A Journey to Waco. The author also discovered the existence of Cyrus Teed in March 1993 and communicated it to the media that month, after which the FBI found the book Koreshanity in the Waco Public Library and told Steve about it in early April.
Newport, The Branch Davidians of Waco, 180–83. FBI Waco negotiation audiotape 198, 8 April 1993, side A; transcript available at Waco Transcripts Tapes 197–199, FBI Records: The Vault—Waco, https://vault.fbi.gov/waco-branch-davidian-compound/waco-fbi-transcripts-tapes-197-199/view, accessed 27 November 2022.
Lois Roden, editor-in-chief, and Clive Doyle, editor, SHEkinah, issues dating from December 1980 to June 1983, World Religions and Spirituality Project, https://wrldrels.org/2022/10/26/shekinah-newsletter-editions/. Copies of the SHEkinah issues are in the Texas Collection archive, Baylor University.
William L. Pitts, Jr., “SHEkinah: Lois Roden’s Quest for Gender Equality,” Nova Religio 17, no. 4 (May 2014): 37–60.
Eugene V. Gallagher, “Davidians and Branch Davidians (1929–1981),” World Religions and Spirituality Project, 3 August 2013, https://wrldrels.org/2016/10/08/davidians-and-branch-davidians/.
“Re-incarnation or the Resurrection of the Dead,” The Guiding Star, February 1888, 36ff, 61–62; Koresh, “Interpretation Part XII,” The Flaming Sword, December 1923, 1–2.
Catherine Wessinger, “Branch Davidians, 1981–2006: An Extended Profile, with Material from Internal FBI Documents,” World Religions and Spirituality Project, 6 July 2014, https://wrldrels.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/The-Branch-Davidians-An-Extended-Profile-.pdf; Minji Lee, dir., The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? 2:53:00, (Houston: The Reunion Institute, 2020), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ASYZbOPpXQ; “Bibliography for the Scholars’ Discussions in The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy,” World Religions and Spirituality Project, December 2021, https://wrldrels.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/PUBLISHED-Bibliography-for-The-Waco-Branch-Davidian-Tragedy-Final.pdf.