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I first heard about the book, The Revelation of King Arthur: Deceit, Intrigue, and the Guard’s Account, after its author, Robert Bruce Fruehling, posted a comment on my blog and told me he believed the story of King Arthur’s return would be used to bring about the coming of the Antichrist. I was intrigued but skeptical by that statement and first thought Fruehling meant King Arthur would be the Antichrist. His argument is not that radical but rather that the Antichrist will present himself as being King Arthur.

The Revelation of King Arthur Robert Bruce Fruehling

The Revelation of King Arthur by Robert Bruce Fruehling

Fruehling has an M.A. and M.Div. from Ashland Theological Seminary and ministers through “aviv Ministries.” And he clearly knows the Bible well from the way he has researched his theories and quotes from the Bible in this book.

The Guards’ Account in the subtitle refers to theories, based on lies spread by Roman soldiers following the Crucifixion, that Jesus’ body was stolen and that he did not rise from the dead but simply had not died. This story spread as a lie throughout the ancient world and Fruehling shows it is the origin to more recent works like The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail that claim Jesus had children with Mary Magdalene. Basically he explores in great detail the reasons why these stories are not true and debunks these myths.

I have never bought into these fantastic theories about Jesus’ descendants, although Jesus’ siblings were likely to have descendants, among whom King Arthur is usually included. And in my research for writing King Arthur’s Children, I never came across any legitimate claims that King Arthur was directly descended from Jesus, nor do I believe that to be the case. Fruehling does an effective job of showing how unbelievable these theories are.

The second part of Fruehling’s book explores the Arthurian legend. Fruehling relies on some unreliable scholarship—especially that of Norma Lorre Goodrich, although he assumes her work is impeccable—but ultimately, her often contradictory theories have little bearing on Fruehling’s main argument. Nevertheless the book wanders about in places talking about Martin Luther’s opinions of the Jews and how they influenced Hitler, how the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was a secret society (highly questionable) and misunderstanding history—such as attributing Princess Diana’s ancestor being a King of Jerusalem to refer to her being descended from Jesus via the Merovingians—I guess he never heard of the Kingdom of Jerusalem set up by the crusaders. He also acts like Laurence Gardner, the late author of Bloodline of the Holy Grail, was a legitimate scholar—something I have yet to believe considering he could never document anything properly in his books.

Aside from such wanderings and relying upon weak sources, Fruehling’s primary focus is upon how the images in the Book of Revelation relate to King Arthur—particularly the image of the red dragon on the flag of Wales being the beast in Revelation, a sign of the AntiChrist.

I won’t go into detail about the comparisons made between King Arthur Book of Revelation, but those interested can explore all the evidence Fruehling cites there. I have to admit that while Fruehling gives plenty of evidence to back up his theories, I remain skeptical simply because plenty of biblical scholars have tried to explain Revelation ad nauseam. Frankly, I don’t believe the biblical book of Revelation accurately depicts how the end of the world will happen and I think the book has done more harm than good. If only the Church fathers had been wise enough to leave it out of the Bible.

Fruehling also takes issue with novelists who depict King Arthur’s return, primarily Stephen Lawhead, who is generally regarded as a Christian author, and influenced by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis—also considered Christian authors. He shows how all of these authors strayed from orthodox Christianity and introduced and blended pagan myths with Christianity which is not acceptable as a belief system for a true Christian. Fruehling is completely correct in these charges against these authors, but they wrote great fiction nonetheless.

I can’t say that I agree with Fruehling’s religious beliefs wholeheartedly, but he makes a solid argument that will win over orthodox Christians, and it does give much pause for thought. I suspect we will never see the return of King Arthur in reality, or the events of Revelation, but perhaps both will result in some new fiction depicting a false King Arthur as the Antichrist. I don’t wish to be cynical, but after two thousand years of waiting for Jesus to return and countless people trying to analyze the book of Revelation to determine when and how that will happen, despite Jesus himself stating that no one will ever know that hour, I remain skeptical. Still, I have to admit I found myself wondering why the legend that King Arthur will return is so fascinating to us—perhaps because we want a savior who does not have a religious context. Much as I am a fan of the King Arthur legend, and I am more than willing to write fiction about his return because it makes fabulous fiction—it would be just that, fiction. Jesus is, by comparison, a much more likely to be historical person, and from all written about King Arthur and Jesus, King Arthur could in no way compete with Jesus to be the better savior.

Fruehling closes by saying “We are on the eve of the revelation of King Arthur. We are also on the eve of the return of Jesus of Nazareth. Which ‘messiah’ will you choose? May we choose our hero wisely.” I imagine most of us would choose wisely—I’m just skeptical, after centuries of hearing we are “on the eve” that we will need to make a choice. As I said, Revelation has probably done more damage than anything else the way it has held our imaginations hostage for all these centuries.

Despite my personal qualms with the arguments in Fruehling’s book, I did find it compelling reading and I encourage people interested in Christianity and King Arthur to read The Revelation of King Arthur and make decisions for themselves.

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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The first two charts on the Arthurian Genealogy page of www.ChildrenofArthur.com have been posted with more soon to come. Both of these charts are reprinted with detailed commentary in my book King Arthur’s Children.

These first two charts show possible claims by families to be descendants of King Arthur. The first is scholar Geoffrey Ashe’s theory for how the English royal family might be descended from King Arthur. The other is an obscure claim by the Scottish Clan Campbell for descent from King Arthur. These are two of a few claims by living people to be of Arthurian descent. Both are questionable of course. Other claims have been made by numerous people. While Ashe’s claim for English royalty’s descent goes back through the House of Wessex, later claims for the English royal family go back to the Tudors, who claimed descent not through their own royal blood that could be traced back to King Edward III, but to Owen Tudor, himself a Welshman, just as King Arthur was himself Welsh.

Most Arthurian genealogies, if not all, are fabricated for political reasons–royal houses trying to make legitimate their claims to rule over Britain–or simply the creative fancy of authors. Numerous authors have tried to trace ancestors and descendants for King Arthur, perhaps most notably the late Laurence Gardner, in books like Bloodline of the Holy Grail. Gardner’s books are great entertaining reading as he traces royal lineages from ancient times through the Middle Ages, although he rarely cites his sources in detail so that they can be verified–or believed. Whatever legitimacy his sources may have had are unlikely to be known now since he died in 2010. They make a great source of ideas for novelists, however–including Dan Brown apparently having been influenced by Gardner’s theories when he wrote The Da Vinci Code.

Gardner’s own theories were probably inspired more by imagination than research, but they spring from medieval traditions concerning King Arthur and his ancestors. Medieval writers were obsessed with Christianity, and they created traditions about many of the saints and apostles. One notable such legend is that Joseph of Arimathea was a relative (possibly uncle to Jesus Christ) and settled in Glastonbury, England. Medieval Arthurian writers depicted Joseph of Arimathea as an ancestor of the Grail Kings (see Gardner’s Genesis of the Grail Kings and Realm of the Ring Lords for more elaborate discussion); the Holy Grail being a significant part of the Arthurian legend, King Arthur was of course then a relative to the Grail family. In Gardner’s Bloodline of the Holy Grail elaborate charts show Arthur’s descent on both his maternal and paternal sides from St. Joseph of Arimathea.

Medieval traditions also cited Magnus Maximus, a Roman Emperor, among Arthur’s ancestors, and Roman blood ultimately allowed them to trace him back to Aeneas, founder of Rome. Arthur often makes a bid for being Roman Emperor in versions of the legend, a title he feels is his by right, based on Magnus Maximus being among his ancestors, and Welsh tradition often claims Magnus Maximus as the founder of several Welsh houses. Geoffrey of Monmouth drew on these Welsh legends in writing History of the Kings of Britain, a work that chronicled the various kings of Britain–some legendary, others possibly historical. The work highly influenced later romancers and chroniclers who expanded upon and kept creating more relatives, descendants, and ancestors for Arthur.

Who really were King Arthur’s ancestors and descendants? Since no amount of scholarship has yet been able to pinpoint whether King Arthur was a historical person, probably we will never know, but the more theories we spin, the more fascinating versions of the Arthurian legend are created–a story that we never seem to tire of hearing and recreating.

Check out the two genealogy charts at www.ChildrenofArthur.com. More are to come, including Arthur’s ancestors, as well as my own possible descent from King Arthur, and Arthurian family trees as represented in various modern novels.

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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