Anna Bjørner & the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel


by Mikkel S. Kragh


Anna Larssen Bjørner (1875-1955) is, alongside her husband Sigurd Bjørner (1875-1953), viewed as the founder of the Pentecostal movement in Denmark. She also founded the Apostolic Church in Denmark, which to this day is the largest Pentecostal denomination in Denmark. There were other Pentecostals in Denmark before the Bjørner couple started their preaching.

Anna Bjørner is most famous for preaching the Gospel in general and preaching the Pentecostal message about the Holy Spirit. But another subject which was of great importance to her was the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel.

We will start with a summary of the history of the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel, and then present a biography of Anna Bjørner, and finish with what Anna Bjørner said and wrote about the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel.


The Lost 10 Tribes of Israel


The history of the 12 Tribes of Israel is basically that originally, the nation of Israel consisted of 12 tribes. The 12 Tribes of Israel left Egypt under Moses in the Exodus, and conquered the Land of Canaan, where they at first lived in a confederacy. Under Saul, the 12 Tribes united into one kingdom. Saul was followed by David, who was followed by his son, Solomon. Solomon started his reign by following the God of Israel with all his heart and all his soul, but in his old age he erected pagan temples to pagan gods and goddesses, because he wanted to please his numerous pagan wives and concubines. Therefore, God decided that He would punish Solomon by letting 10 of the Israelite tribes secede from Solomon’s royal house in Jerusalem, but it would only happen after Solomon’s death. It did happen app. 931 BC in the start of the reign of King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, where the 10 northern Israelite tribes seceded from the Royal House of David in Jerusalem.

The new king of the northern 10 Tribes of Israel, King Jeroboam, decided that the 10 Tribes should only worship pagan gods, and not the God of Israel, so they would not return to the Royal House of David in Jerusalem which still followed the God of Israel. The 10 Tribes of Israel continued to worship pagan gods and goddesses, and this eventually made the God of Israel so angry that He decided to remove the 10 Tribes of Israel out of the Promised Land which He had given to their fathers.

That took place app. 745-721 BC, where the Assyrian Empire invaded the Kingdom of the 10 Tribes of Israel and deported the vast majority of them to northern areas of the Assyrian Empire. We read about this in the book of 2nd Kings in the Old Testament:

“Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. … Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.” (2 Kings 17:5-6, 18)

Mainstream historians do not know for sure what happened to the 10 Tribes of Israel after that. The remaining two tribes in the Kingdom of Judah became known as Jews (Judah = Jews), and since then, Jews have tried to find the 10 Tribes of Israel. For example, Chabad Lubavitsch, oe of the largest Orthodox Jewish organizations, write on their website:

Regardless of the current whereabouts of the ten tribes - whether they are hidden in some remote, impenetrable place, or whether they have been ‘swallowed up’ within the other nations - G‑d has decreed that they will ultimately return in the time of the final redemption: ‘It shall come to pass on that day that a great shofar shall be sounded, and those lost in the land of Assyria and those exiled in the land of Egypt shall come, and they shall prostrate themselves before the L‑rd on the holy mount in Jerusalem.’” (Yehuda Shurpin: “Where are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel? The saga of the ten lost tribes of Israel – part 3”:

But we are, like many other people, convinced that the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel migrated to Europe, and they today make up the core of the nations of north-western Europe and their descendants across the world. For example, the Israelite tribe of Dan came to make up the core of the people of Denmark, my country. We are certainly not saying that the peoples of north-western Europe are only of Israelite ancestry, but we are saying that the Israelite elements in them are so numerous that they fulfill the prophecies of the Bible about Israel and the individual Israelite tribes.


Anna Bjørner: biography


Anna Bjørner (née Halberg) was of Danish, Norwegian and Italian-Swiss ancestry. She began her acting career app. 1891. At this tender age she was, for a short while, engaged to the satirist author Gustav Wied, who wrote the Danish classic Livsens Ondskab (The Evil of Life, 1914), but the engagement was terminated when Wied tried to seduce her. In 1895 Anna got married to the author Otto Larssen, and they got a boy. Otto Larssen was a drunkard and violent, and the couple were therefore divorced in 1899 and the boy was adopted by an acquaintance.

At this stage Anna Larssen was one of Denmark's leading actresses and was instructed by Herman Bang, the overt homosexual author who is known for his Danish classics Haabløse Slægter (Hopeless Families, 1880) and Tine (1889).

Anna Bjørner was the major star of the Dagmar Theater in Copenhagen, but in 1909 she converted to Christ. The rest of the theater world did not understand why. At the prime of her career, she gave up the theater and got married to the YMCA secretary in Elsinore (Danish: Helsingør), Sigurd Bjørner. There had been smaller Pentecostal meetings and congregations in Denmark since 1912, but the Bjørner couple were in effect the ones who started the Pentecostal awakening in Denmark.

The Bjørners did missions in Denmark in Evangelievognen (the “Gospel trailer”), a sort of camper trailer of those days. Sigurd Bjørner became leader of Evangelieforsamlingen (the “Gospel Assembly”) in the affluent Østerbro district of Copenhagen. In 1924 the Bjørners founded the Apostolic Church in Denmark, which was a branch of the Apostolic Church in Britain, and they planted congregations all over Denmark. Their magazine Evangeliebladet was sold door-to-door in larger numbers, and it had an easy to understand but straightforward and no-compromise Gospel. The power of the crusade was great and was warmly welcomed by many unsaved and Christians, but the meetings which the Bjørners held were also attacked by the Young Socialists.

As early as 1923 you could read articles in Evangeliebladet about 'the fig tree is blooming', and that the Jews would soon establish a Jewish state in Palestine. These articles were especially inspired by the British-Irish Bible teacher H. Grattan Guinness who in Light for the Last Days (1886) had written that Britain would free Jerusalem in 1917, which also took place when General Allenby conquered Jerusalem out of the hand of the Muslim Turks, on December 9 to 11, 1917.

One of the main subjects in Evangeliebladet was the Lost Tribes of Israel, which were identified as the Anglo-Saxons and related peoples. Several times the main article in Evangeliebladet was on the subject the Lost Tribes of Israel, and they were primarily written by Anna Bjørner. There were also articles by the prominent British-Israelites of those days, including William Pascoe Goard, Edward Odlum, J. Llewellyn Thomas, Stephen Jeffreys and Grattan Guinness. There were several articles which were directly translated from The National Message, the official magazine of the British-Israel-World Federation. The only foreign magazine which Evangeliebladet advertised to be sold at the Apostolic Church's meetings was The National Message. There were app. 10-15 articles translated from The National Message, which by far was the largest number of articles translated from any foreign magazine. There was an article by the Norwegian-Israelite author Albert Hiorth and many articles by the Swedish-Israelite Pentecostal Pastor Nils Ramselius.

For reasons which remain unclear, Anna and Sigurd Bjørner left the Apostolic Church and Evangeliebladet in April 1936. From the one week to the following, even the slightest reference of the existence of the Bjørners vanished. At the same time all mentioning of the Lost Tribes of Israel and the Jews vanished from Evangeliebladet - for two years, then, all of a sudden, it was the diametrically opposite point of view. The new leadership of the Apostolic Church now claimed that the Jews were all 12 Tribes of Israel.

Nonetheless, the Bjørners continued undaunted on their own. In 1944 Sigurd Bjørner mentioned the Tribes of Israel in a booklet defending Pentecostalism, and in 1947, and 1949 Anna Bjørner was translator for the evangelistic meeting which the British-Israel Pentecostal preacher George Jeffreys held in Copenhagen and Slagelse.

The Bjørners were thrilled when they in 1952 got together with the church they themselves had founded. After one year of illness, Sigurd unfortunately died in 1953. Anna, who was a widow now, was expressly forbidden by the new leadership of Apostolic Church NOT to mention anything on the Tribes of Israel or the return of the Jews to Palestine when she was speaking at the meetings in the Apostolic Church. Anna Bjørner said that she felt that “they stabbed her in the back when she spoke about those things,” that is the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel. (According to Johannes Rasmussen: Ægteparret Bjørners Liv og Virke, p. 32, 1969) According to Johannes Rasmussen’s biography of Anna and Sigurd Bjørner, the reason why the new leadership of the Apostolic Church prohibited Anna Bjørner from talking about the Tribes of Israel was because they believed women should not preach to the congregation. Even in her final years Anna Bjørner persevered on her own, and, for instance, spoke at Hotel Prindsen in Roskilde in September 1953 on the subject “The Tribes of Israel”. She passed away in 1955, two years after her husband.


Anna Bjørner on the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel


In Evangeliebladet Anna Bjørner wrote about the 10 Tribes of Israel: “There are so many Christians who cannot see that Jesus is the Redeemer of Israel. In John Chapter 11 we read that the high priests and the Pharisees have summoned a meeting to discuss what they should do about Jesus, who does so many signs among the people, and if it continues like this, they say, the Romans will come and take away both the land and the people. But Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said: 'Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.' - 'And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation (The Jews in Palestine): And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad (The 10 Tribes of Israel).' Christendom believes that these are the Christians who are spoken of here, but it is obvious that it is not possible - there were no 'scattered Christians' at that time. It was Israel that Jesus came to. And the high priest says: It is better that one man dies for the whole people, but not the whole people should perish. It is a prophecy, he knows not himself what he says; but he proclaims that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, should redeem not only Judah, but also the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes which were in the dispersion. It was 'the Children of God' who were to be gathered as one nation with Judah. But Judah did not receive Him, only a small band of men from Galilee - of the Tribe of Benjamin.” (Anna Bjørner: “Kajfas' mærkelige profeti” (“Caiaphas's Strange Prophecy”). Article in Evangeliebladet: Organ for den apostolske Kirke i Danmark, August 7, 1935, pp. 1-2)

“The 10 Tribes of Israel, however, did not return from their captivity in Assyria, but migrated north across the Caucasus, around the Black Sea, until they landed in Central Europe and finally came to the place which God had given them as a refuge: 'The Isles in the Sea' (The British Isles), from where Ephraim-Israel at last shall come, whereas Judah shall come from the 'four corners of the world'. The searchers of history tell us that Hebrew memorials, grave tombs, and other things left behind, marks the way which they had wandered. The Gospel of Jesus, which had been rejected by Judah, was there proclaimed for the Gentiles, and among them were the Ten Tribes of Israel as the 'Lost Sheep of the House of Israel'. Here the Gospel was received, and today these Lost Ten Tribes make up the core of the Christian nations of the globe.” (Anna Bjørner: “Den store Pyramide” (“The Great Pyramid”). Article in Evangeliebladet: Organ for den apostolske Kirke i Danmark, April 21, 1927, p. 1)


Sigurd Bjørner on the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel


In 1944 Sigurd Bjørner wrote an apology for Pentecostalism entitled The Pentecostal Awakening – a Sect? where he wrote that Israel's identity would one day be revealed:

“'And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.' Thus said the angel to Joseph in a dream, before Jesus was born, and those words were already fulfilled when Jesus walked on earth. All who believed in him got the peace and joy of the redemption of sins into their lives. But we must not forget that the words of the angel about him also have another side to them, and that is that the nation of Israel, comprised of 12 Tribes, one day shall stand forth as God's people - saved by him from the bondage of sin unto the glorious freedom of a child of God.” (Sigurd Bjørner: Pinsevækkelsen - en Sekt? (The Pentecostal Awakening – A Sect?), p. 8)


May 2024