Bible Review 9:5, October 1993

Apocalypse at Waco—Could the Tragedy Have Been Averted?

FBI spurns advice of Bible scholars

By James D. Tabor

The government doesn’t understand, I said to myself as I watched the drama of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, unfold on CNN day after day. Was there anything I could do to help, I wondered. As my frustration mounted, I decided to offer my services to the FBI, which by this time had taken over for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It was clear to me that the drama at Mt. Carmel, as David Koresh called his Branch Davidian compound, was being played out as a fulfillment of the New Testament Book of Revelation—and the authorities were dangerously ignorant of the apocalyptic world in which David Koresh was living.

I first called my friend Phillip Arnold, director of Reunion Institute in Houston, Texas, who was physically closer to the scene than I. I told him that I thought we could be of help. Like me, Phil has a Ph.D. in New Testament and has specialized in both ancient and modern apocalypticism. He shared my assessment of the situation and we agreed to present ourselves to the FBI as a team—experts in the Bible, apocalypticism and especially the Book of Revelation.

The FBI welcomed our assistance. It was obvious that, whatever their expertise in siege warfare, they knew little about the Bible.

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