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The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?

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“Whether you conclude that this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read.” -- Fort Worth Star -Telegram What if . . . * there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus? * for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God? * this Pagan savior was also born of “Whether you conclude that this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read.” -- Fort Worth Star -Telegram What if . . . * there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus? * for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God? * this Pagan savior was also born of a virgin on the twenty-fifth of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion? * these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ? * the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth? * Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name?


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“Whether you conclude that this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read.” -- Fort Worth Star -Telegram What if . . . * there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus? * for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God? * this Pagan savior was also born of “Whether you conclude that this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read.” -- Fort Worth Star -Telegram What if . . . * there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus? * for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God? * this Pagan savior was also born of a virgin on the twenty-fifth of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion? * these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ? * the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth? * Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name?

30 review for The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Insightful reading. TO THE CHRIST IN YOU The chosen title for this first section of my review, To the Christ in You , it's the dedication that the authors used for this particular book. I knew that I made the right decision to read it. I am Catholic, I have a strong faith in God, but also I have no problem to know about the earthly origins of the foundation of the Christian-Catholic Church. Some people can see this book like a blasphemy and if so, well, I respect their position, but in my Insightful reading. TO THE CHRIST IN YOU The chosen title for this first section of my review, To the Christ in You , it's the dedication that the authors used for this particular book. I knew that I made the right decision to read it. I am Catholic, I have a strong faith in God, but also I have no problem to know about the earthly origins of the foundation of the Christian-Catholic Church. Some people can see this book like a blasphemy and if so, well, I respect their position, but in my case, I can separate my spiritual faith in a higher power from the humane history of the religion. So, I think that there is enough space between Earth and Heaven to fit our own each particular image of Jesus and that Christ in your hearts. RELIGION & FAITH In a novel that I read many years ago, Virgin by Mary Elizabeth Murphy, there is a quote that stuck in my memory... God made faith to unite us, people made religion to separate us. ... ...and I live pretty much by it. I am still a practicing Catholic. I guess that some people who knows me, they didn't realize how religious I really am. You don't have to say the name of God or Jesus on each sentence or being every Sunday in a concrete building to believe in God and to have faith. God is everywhere and in everything, when you believe that, you get gnosis and you see things in a different way. THEN WHY NOT A 5-STAR RATING? So, why 4 stars instead of 5? Simple, sadly, well sadly to my rating of the book anyway, I have read before a lot about the subject, and even recently I read the novel, The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow (amazing book, one of my favorites now), and I now got many about that kind of info that I already knew previously and I got it in more amusing and entertaining ways. I found the narrative in this book like a cold reading information text. And any related to religious faith should be told with passion, at least that's my thinking about the matter. However, this is still a great book if you don't much about the topic, or if you want to refresh about what you read before of the godman myth that almost every culture in the planet developed in their own way and in their own terms. I hardly losing respect of the Catholic Church, since I am always been amazed of how smart the founders of this religion were and how they acomplished such big task that convert to this faith a third of the people in this planet. You have to be clear that the churches on Earth are managed by human beings subject to failures and sins, so you don't have to be so rude when they do some wrong if it's for a greater good. Of course, if it isn't for a greater good but for personal avarice or lust, you should be brave enough and tell it, but don't judge the whole Church (any church) for the evil ones, but judge it for the faithful ones. Also, you have to be clear that any doing of the earthly churches is separate of the spirituality that you have in your mind and your heart about a higher power that you may call God or whatever you wish. It's YOUR faith and you have the right of defining it for yourself. Nothing can be between you and your God. Believe in your God. Do the right thing. And being able to see yourself into the mirror each day. Anything else can be solved on the way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name Controversial. Well researched. Informative. Theoretical. Blasphemous to billions. A religious mystery worthy of The Da Vinci Code. Based on a bestselling book The Pagan Christ, by an Anglican priest, Tom Harper: ordained for more than forty years, a Rhodes scholar, a professor of the New Testament and Greek studies. There is, after all, a great deal of unsubstantiated nonsense written about the 'real' Jesus, so any revolutio Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name Controversial. Well researched. Informative. Theoretical. Blasphemous to billions. A religious mystery worthy of The Da Vinci Code. Based on a bestselling book The Pagan Christ, by an Anglican priest, Tom Harper: ordained for more than forty years, a Rhodes scholar, a professor of the New Testament and Greek studies. There is, after all, a great deal of unsubstantiated nonsense written about the 'real' Jesus, so any revolutionary theory should be approached with a healthy dose of scepticism. But although this book makes extraordinary claims, it is not just entertaining fantasy or sensational speculation. It is firmly based upon the available historical sources and the latest scholarly research. Whilst we hope to have made it accessible to the general reader, we have also included copious notes giving sources, references and greater detail for those who wish to analyse our arguments more thoroughly. In sociology there is a concept of religion that fits right in with the gist of this book. All religions lead to God. The different religions build different bridges to God and in the end the bridges, instead of God, are worshiped by the different groups. The biggest wars in the world resulted from this intolerance for each other's bridges. This 'bridge'-concept is basically proven in this book. It leads to a much broader understanding of history and our own modern lives and can be recommended for those interested in a wider scope on civilizations since the beginning of time. The information has been known for several thousand years, and more recently, hundreds of years. The authors managed to write an easy-to-read text, sharing outstanding scholarly research spanning over many years. It is not the first time the information is shared, but it certainly is an entertaining, highly informative addition to history. There is so much to be said, shared and syncopated about the fascinating information in this book. It will take up too much time and space to lay it out here in a review. I am adding a long spoiler to allow this book, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? and the authors, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, to speak for themselves. (view spoiler)[Popular understanding inevitably lags a long way behind the cutting edge of scholarly research and, like most people, we initially had an inaccurate and out-dated view of Paganism. We had been taught to see it as a superstitious culture which indulged in idol worship and bloody sacrifice, and dry philosophers wearing togas stumbling blindly towards what we today call 'science'. We were familiar with various Greek myths which showed the partisan and capricious nature of the Olympian gods and goddesses. All in all, Paganism seemed primitive and fundamentally alien. After many years of study, however, our understanding has been transformed. Pagan spirituality was actually the sophisticated product of a highly developed culture. The state religions, such as the Greek worship of the Olympian gods, were little more than outer pomp and ceremony. The real spirituality of the people expressed itself through the vibrant and mystical 'Mystery religions'. At first underground and heretical movements, these Mysteries spread and flourished throughout the ancient Mediterranean, inspiring the greatest minds of the Pagan world, who regarded them as the very source of civilization. oOo At the heart of the Mysteries were myths concerning a dying and resurrecting godman, who was known by many different names. In Egypt he was Osiris, in Greece Dionysus, in Asia Minor Attis, in Syria Adonis, in Italy Bacchus, in Persia Mithras. Fundamentally all these godmen are the same mythical being. As was the practice from as early as the third century BCE.4 in this book we will use the combined name 'Osiris-Dionysus' to denote his universal and composite nature, and his particular names when referring to a specific Mystery tradition. From the fifth century BCE philosophers such as Xenophanes and Empedocles had ridiculed taking the stories of the gods and goddesses literally. They viewed them as allegories of human spiritual experience. The myths of Osiris-Dionysus should not be understood as just intriguing tales, therefore, but as a symbolic language which encodes the mystical teachings of the Inner Mysteries. Because of this, although the details were developed and adapted over time by different cultures, the myth of Osiris-Dionysus has remained essentially the same. The various myths of the different godmen of the Mysteries share what the great mythologist Joseph Campbell called 'the same anatomy'. Just as every human is physically unique yet it is possible to talk of the general anatomy of the human body, so with these different myths it is possible to see both their uniqueness and fundamental sameness. A helpful comparison may be the relationship between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Bernstein's West Side Story. One is a sixteenth-century English tragedy about wealthy Italian families, whilst the other is a twentieth-century American musical about street gangs. On the face of it they look very different, yet they are essentially the same story. Similarly, the tales told about the godmen of the Pagan Mysteries are essentially the same, although they take different forms. The more we studied the various versions of the myth of Osiris-Dionysus, the more it became obvious that the story of Jesus had all the characteristics of this perennial tale. Event by event, we found we were able to construct Jesus ' supposed biography from mythic motifs previously relating to Osiris-Dionysus: • Osiris-Dionysus is God made flesh, the saviour and 'Son of God'. • His father is God and his mother is a mortal virgin. • He is born in a cave or humble cowshed on 25 December before three shepherds. • He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism. • He miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony. • He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honour him. • He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. • After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory. • His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days. • His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine which symbolize his body and blood. These are just some of the motifs shared between the tales of Osiris-Dionysus and the 'biography' of Jesus. Why are these remarkable similarities not common knowledge? Because, as we were to discover later, the early Roman Church did everything in its power to prevent us perceiving them. It systematically destroyed Pagan sacred literature in a brutal programme of eradicating the Mysteries - a task it performed so completely that today Paganism is regarded as a 'dead'. (hide spoiler)] The book was well worth the read. In fact, I will have to read it again and again to remember more detail. This Youtube video actually inspired me to read the book. In fact, I strongly recommend it. Different viewpoints and evidence are provided of the discoveries. https://youtu.be/xxH1QdmDnpM

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    An interesting thesis, easily accepted by serious students of comparative religion, but probably highly irritating and/or distasteful to fundamentalist sects. If you're truly interested in the history of religion, I highly recommend it. An interesting thesis, easily accepted by serious students of comparative religion, but probably highly irritating and/or distasteful to fundamentalist sects. If you're truly interested in the history of religion, I highly recommend it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Evanston Public Library

    Have you: 1) Ever heard that not a single contemporary first-hand account of the Jesus of Nazareth exists? And wondered why? 2) Ever taken a shot at understanding the very strange 2nd-4th century Gnostic Gospels (discovered in an Egyptian cave in 1948), but found them too bizarre to wrap your arms around? 3) Ever heard of the Egyptian, Persian, and Pagan man-Gods, worshiped during the 1st-5th centuries B.C., who were born of a virgin, died on a cross/tree, buried in a cave, descended into hell, Have you: 1) Ever heard that not a single contemporary first-hand account of the Jesus of Nazareth exists? And wondered why? 2) Ever taken a shot at understanding the very strange 2nd-4th century Gnostic Gospels (discovered in an Egyptian cave in 1948), but found them too bizarre to wrap your arms around? 3) Ever heard of the Egyptian, Persian, and Pagan man-Gods, worshiped during the 1st-5th centuries B.C., who were born of a virgin, died on a cross/tree, buried in a cave, descended into hell, and rose again on the third day? In The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy not only document the once-prevalent belief in these ancient Man-gods, but link them directly to the Gnostic Gospels and Jesus of Nazareth, who—according to the authors—was merely a mythical Jewish adaptation from the Pagan Man-god “Mysteries” religion of Rome. Although released in 2000, the recent surge of public interest in books by the likes of Christopher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins makes The Jesus Mysteries a fascinating read with a controversial thesis. (Russ K., Ref.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tepintzin

    Read it, didn't buy the theory. The authors didn't know the difference between Mithra (Persian deity) and Mithras (god of the Roman legions) to start with, and that's a pretty critical distinction. They also didn't talk enough about the story of Dionysus to get a real feel for any comparisons between Dionysus and Jesus, and there are some. Nonetheless, a "mystery religion" lens for viewing the Jesus narrative is useful for mining more significance out of it when the usual way of reading it runs Read it, didn't buy the theory. The authors didn't know the difference between Mithra (Persian deity) and Mithras (god of the Roman legions) to start with, and that's a pretty critical distinction. They also didn't talk enough about the story of Dionysus to get a real feel for any comparisons between Dionysus and Jesus, and there are some. Nonetheless, a "mystery religion" lens for viewing the Jesus narrative is useful for mining more significance out of it when the usual way of reading it runs dry. There are also some very nice colour photos.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erica Zahn

    [Please note that I wrote this review many months after my original reading, so it does not consist of my original thoughts from the time.] The subject of this book is certainly highly provocative, and the authors certainly capitalise on that within the text, but I nevertheless felt they were fair in their assessment of the main topic of the book, i.e. whether the portrayals of Jesus we see in our texts might have been influenced by pagan traditions, which have several figures that bear similarit [Please note that I wrote this review many months after my original reading, so it does not consist of my original thoughts from the time.] The subject of this book is certainly highly provocative, and the authors certainly capitalise on that within the text, but I nevertheless felt they were fair in their assessment of the main topic of the book, i.e. whether the portrayals of Jesus we see in our texts might have been influenced by pagan traditions, which have several figures that bear similarities with Jesus. Some of this is explicit in the historical context already, such as Mithras’ birthday being borrowed for the birth of Christ (though their confusion of the Roman Mithras with Mithra, the Persian deity, betrays that they are not really experts on this subject!); others are implicit, but widely accepted by scholars; other points are more dubious, such as claiming that it was common for pagan gods to be ‘born of a virgin’, though they often have unusual births. My main criticism is that much of what they have written is stated with confidence when it should be highly speculative (this is what I mean about the provocative tone), when it would have been better to explore it in a more speculative fashion. It also seems to ignore a lot of the pretexts for Jesus’ qualities and behaviours in the Jewish tradition, and in particular how the role of ‘Messiah’ was characterised both in prophecy and in the purported Messiahs roaming around Judaea in his own time, when a more accurate reading should put both traditions alongside one another to assess the influence in each (since it is at least clear that they both to some extent influenced the portrayal of Christ). I read this mainly for the discussion of communion, which related to my research at the time, and I thought it covered the potential pagan influences well but did not compare it at all with, for instance, the Judaic Didache. On the other hand, this was one of the more convincing parallels (though of course I am biased by my own interest in the subject). As you can see, there is a lot to criticise about this book (in my view), but I am giving it a middling rating because it is at least brought up some interesting passages and ideas and made me give them a second look. I also respect them for tackling this subject without making an outright attack on Christianity. To anyone offended by the content, it is worth remembering how C. S. Lewis treated pagan beliefs in his work — despite wanting to spread a Christian message, he intertwined pagan elements with those themes, and saw no contradiction in doing so. I would go so far as to say that his fellow Christians, likewise, should not find any inherent conflict in realising the elements that Christ and some pagan deities have in common.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Most non fundamentalist Christians accept that aspects of the traditional gospel narratives were likely drawn from the myths of other cultures. Gandy and Freke's premise is radically different: that the "historic" Jesus may not have existed at all, but is a complete amalgam of Osiris, Dionysus,etc filtered through a 1st century Jewish mystery tradition.Like other mystery religions, what we now read as the "true" gospel story may never have been intended to be read literally, but served as an "ou Most non fundamentalist Christians accept that aspects of the traditional gospel narratives were likely drawn from the myths of other cultures. Gandy and Freke's premise is radically different: that the "historic" Jesus may not have existed at all, but is a complete amalgam of Osiris, Dionysus,etc filtered through a 1st century Jewish mystery tradition.Like other mystery religions, what we now read as the "true" gospel story may never have been intended to be read literally, but served as an "outer" mystery for new initiates. Only later was this reinterpreted as fact, forming the literalist Christian narrative. Provocative, well-argued and thoroughly documented, a worthy read for Christians and non-Christians alike.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I always imagined that during the first century there were many, many versions of what happened to Jesus of Nazareth.. Out of that primordial soup of belief emerged orthodox Christianity and Gnostic Christianity, and afterward it was one long process of natural selection which eventually produced the religion we know today. It was survival of the fittest, and Paul’s interpretation of the life and death of Jesus won, driving all other versions into extinction. This book posits a radically differe I always imagined that during the first century there were many, many versions of what happened to Jesus of Nazareth.. Out of that primordial soup of belief emerged orthodox Christianity and Gnostic Christianity, and afterward it was one long process of natural selection which eventually produced the religion we know today. It was survival of the fittest, and Paul’s interpretation of the life and death of Jesus won, driving all other versions into extinction. This book posits a radically different theory. The Gnostics were first! Heavily influenced by Greek culture, the Gnostics, like the Greeks, relied on myth as a means of accessing the divine that dwells within us all. Like the Greeks, like the Egyptians, like the Persians, the Gnostics seized upon the dying / resurrecting godman as a beacon to the transcendent. Over time, however, there were those who insisted on looking at the gospel through the lens of history rather than mythology, and thus the great struggle between the literalists and the Gnostics began. The literalists labeled the Gnostics heretics. They co-opted the message of Paul. (The authors make a very convincing case that Paul was a Gnostic sage.) To quote the book: “They… created a religion that required blind faith in historical events from what was originally a spiritual path through which each initiate could experience mystical knowledge or gnosis.” The literalists eventually won, and history, as we all know, is written by the victors. The theory rings true to me. Draining the life out of our stories, our ideas—it’s what we do. Kentucky Fried Chicken wants us to march to the beat of a different drumstick. Snoopy goes from iconoclast to insurance company mascot. And Christianity hardens into history.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    The authors of this book are, according to their brief biographies, amateur readers of the bible. Freke holds a degree in philosophy, Gandy a master's in classical civilization. What they do, constructively speaking, is to show many of the formal similarities between early Christian texts and traditions and those of other, earlier and contemporary cults on the ancient Mediterranean world. In other words, they correctly illustrate how the figure of Jesus relates to other figures. Where they are mi The authors of this book are, according to their brief biographies, amateur readers of the bible. Freke holds a degree in philosophy, Gandy a master's in classical civilization. What they do, constructively speaking, is to show many of the formal similarities between early Christian texts and traditions and those of other, earlier and contemporary cults on the ancient Mediterranean world. In other words, they correctly illustrate how the figure of Jesus relates to other figures. Where they are mistaken is in taking this problem to the extreme of denying the historicity of Jesus. It is one thing to say that the 'quest for the historical Jesus' is ever uncertain, it is quite another to claim that the quest has no subject. Jesus, however shadowed, remains one of the most well attested figures of antiquity. The authors further posit that something they call 'Gnosticism' antedates the original Jesus movement. The term being a modern, not an ancient, rubric, they would have a point were they to be referring instead to something like a perennial esoteric tradition, a mysticism, detectable throughout Western antiquity. As it is, however, those texts commonly so classed are late, third and fourth century productions, much later than many certifiable holographs of the canon. The texts are also so, often floridly, variant as to define 'gnosticism' as essentially, radically eclectic. This book might be recommended to naif readers of the bible as another antidote to fundamentalism. To others, not familiar with the canon(s) of Christianity, it would be misleading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

    The Jesus Myth thesis is a very controversial one of late, particularly after the string of new atheists and controversial publishings; but I'm afraid to say that the thesis is ultimately the epitome of misconstrued articles on gnosticism, paganism, and Christianity. Now, let me make it perfectly clear, there is obviously history in their [Freke and Gandy] product, but rather than assuming that all of their citations and references to other "historians" are reliable, actually read a Greek, Mesop The Jesus Myth thesis is a very controversial one of late, particularly after the string of new atheists and controversial publishings; but I'm afraid to say that the thesis is ultimately the epitome of misconstrued articles on gnosticism, paganism, and Christianity. Now, let me make it perfectly clear, there is obviously history in their [Freke and Gandy] product, but rather than assuming that all of their citations and references to other "historians" are reliable, actually read a Greek, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, or even a Christian text that is written by a scholar with credibility and experience (Or, even read the actual reference, because they often quote mine). For example, when online bloggers make connections between Osiris, Dionysus, Buddha (wtf?), and other religious icons to Jesus they tend to blur the line on what historians actually know about such mythologies and what they say about them. The most heavily distorted is obviously, if I remember correctly, their comparisons of Siddhartha to Jesus Christ. I'll concede one point in jest: that they both probably wore sandals in the Middle-East. Before reading this text, read actual documentation of the varying beliefs that receive mention in The Jesus Mysteries. Also, afterwards, read the critiques of Freke and Gandy's work; the most accessible critique is Gary Habermas' The Historical Jesus, which confronts the many allegations on this topic. However, DO NOT READ LEE STROBEL. PLEASE!! HE'S AN IDIOT! Haha, thank you for your time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve Werner

    I learned a lot from this book. My biggest gripe is that the authors come across as snarky, and are extremely liberal with their exclamation marks. People tend to say that showing some myth or story to be symbolic, or highly similar to other myths, disproves any sort of literalist interpretation of that story. For instance, in The Jesus Mysteries they make a very convincing argument that the stories of Jesus from the gospels are rehashes of older allegories from other traditions (Osiris, Mythras I learned a lot from this book. My biggest gripe is that the authors come across as snarky, and are extremely liberal with their exclamation marks. People tend to say that showing some myth or story to be symbolic, or highly similar to other myths, disproves any sort of literalist interpretation of that story. For instance, in The Jesus Mysteries they make a very convincing argument that the stories of Jesus from the gospels are rehashes of older allegories from other traditions (Osiris, Mythras, Adonis etc...). I can see why people come to this conclusion, but I don't think things are so black and white. It's possible that there was a real Jesus, whom many of his contemporary jews considered the messiah. There are other instances of this happening in the history of Judaism. Perhaps the man Jesus (if he existed) purposely was trying to mimic these allegories, or fulfill these prophecies that were written of in the older texts. Or perhaps the Church of Rome took the original stories of Jesus and doctored them to match these pagan(ish) dying god myths. Still, the similarities with these 'dying god' myths or most certainly there, and I learned a great deal about these various traditions as well as early Christianity from this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Morton

    Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have produced a book with copious research. Their study is saturated with ancient testimony and much thought. This is not a superficial look at the area of Theosophy. However, the flaw in their study comes as they acknowledge that much of their thesis depends on Paul's writings. They argue that the apostle Paul was one of the earliest Christian writers. And they are convinced he was one of the earliest Gnostics (the true Christians). Freke and Gandy are convinced th Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have produced a book with copious research. Their study is saturated with ancient testimony and much thought. This is not a superficial look at the area of Theosophy. However, the flaw in their study comes as they acknowledge that much of their thesis depends on Paul's writings. They argue that the apostle Paul was one of the earliest Christian writers. And they are convinced he was one of the earliest Gnostics (the true Christians). Freke and Gandy are convinced that Jesus was not flesh-and-blood, but only a myth -- a Gnostic myth. Colossians 1:22 clarifies what Paul believed and leaves Freke and Gandy with nothing to say.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Is Christianity a Mystery Cult 28 October 2011 I recently had a look at my review of this book and must admit that I was very disappointed in that I gave it just a brief glance and then threw it on my shelf and forgot about it. I have kept my original review below but after reading the book that I am reading now (Orpheus and Greek Religion) I felt that this particular book requires another look. Now, the idea that the authors proposed, after thinking about it for a bit and considering the elemen Is Christianity a Mystery Cult 28 October 2011 I recently had a look at my review of this book and must admit that I was very disappointed in that I gave it just a brief glance and then threw it on my shelf and forgot about it. I have kept my original review below but after reading the book that I am reading now (Orpheus and Greek Religion) I felt that this particular book requires another look. Now, the idea that the authors proposed, after thinking about it for a bit and considering the elements of the Greek Mystery religions, the concept of Christianity being a mystery religion isn't something to simply write off. However, the arguments that the authors base their thesis upon is wrong. The reason I say this is because they open their thesis with the argument that Jesus did not exist. Now, granted, my position as a Christian is biased in that regard, but taking that bias out of the equation I still believe there was an historical Jesus. There is just too much evidence supporting his existence, and the author's arguments against this are spurious at best. However, let us consider the elements of what we know of the mystery religions (remembering that our knowledge of them is limited at best considering that the whole concept of the mystery cult is that outsiders did not know what went on inside, and when Christianity rose to become the dominant religion of Europe, many of the other mystery cults vanished). The main aspect is that they seem to have a focus on a dying and resurrecting God-man. Jesus was not the only figure to die and then come back to life. Others included Orpheus (who descended into hell to rescue his wife), Odysseus (who descended into hell to obtain information on how to return home), Dionysius and Osiris, just to name a few (this was something that scholars refer to as the katabasis or the descent below). The second element is that these religions have an initiation rite: with Christianity that is baptism. However there are a few differences, one being that with mystery religions the knowledge available to the initiates is not available to those outside of the religion. With Christianity (at least the one that Christ set up) prides itself on its transparency. However, while Christianity desires to propogate itself, and to tell others about the benefits of the religion, there are concepts within Christianity (such as the doctrine of the Trinity and Salvation by Grace) which many of the young adherents simply do no understand, let alone non-believers. Another element is a phrase that I read in my current book, and that that is that 'life is a veil of tears where death is the only release.' That statement is Christianity through and through. The Christian life is a life of suffering as we make our way through to the glory that is awaiting for us beyond death (and this makes me question why Christians simply don't kill themselves, but that is an argument for another time, and is also addressed by many of the ancient writers). It is true that many of the ancient anti-Christian writers (such as Celsus) point out that Christianity is little more than a mystery cult, and it is interesting that many of the ancient adherents disputed this, though Paul was not necessarily one of them (in which he refers to the mysteries of Christ a few times in his letters). It is also interesting to note that the more fundamentalist a Christian sect becomes then more elements of a mystery cult that it takes on, with baptism always being present as a form of initiation. Now, I'm evangelical Anglican, which means that our take on baptism is that it is a public declaration of our faith in Christ, and while there is nothing magical or mystical about the act, many evangelical Christians will baulk at the idea of being baptised more than once. Once you have been baptised that is it, you do not do it again. Sounds very much like an initiation to me. Mystery religions actually became quite popular during the Imperial Roman age, where Christianity was not the only 'new' religion that arose. We also had Mithraism and a following of the Egyptian God Isis. However what we need to note is that Christianity survived. It is interesting to note that Constantine, the emperor who made Christianity the state religion of Rome, was a sun worshipper himself (and it is said that Orpheus received his knowledge from Apollo, another Sun god) and was himself very resistant to becoming baptised. However, that is beside the point because the question that I raise is 'why did Christianity take the form of a mystery cult?'. A Biased Load of Rubbish (18 July 2010) To be honest, this book is rubbish. It is biased, biggotted, based on flimsy facts and mistranslations. Basically it is guilty of everything it accuses us Christians of doing. Personally, I don't think we're the best bunch of people on the earth, but considering the rubbish that these jokers were propagating, I personally prefer Christianity by a long shot. There are parts that I do agree with, and parts that helped me understand my faith better, such as the myths of the dying god-man (which I see as the pagan myths being fulfilled in Jesus Christ), and the overtly spiritual nature of Paul's letters. However, the thesis, I don't buy it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joel Adamson

    Somewhere between whacked-out conspiracy theory and scholarly history, this book presents an interesting theory about the origins of Christianity and contains a lot of untold history of the ancient Mediterranean.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lefki Sarantinou

    Έργο που αποκαλύπτει πόσο μεγάλη είναι η σχέση του παγανισμού με τον χριστιανισμό και μελετάει διεξοδικά όλες τις πτυχές του, από τον ρόλο του Αποστόλου Παύλου, τη σωκρατική διδασκαλία της αγάπης, τους γνωστικούς και τους άλλους παγανιστές Θεούς που κρεμάστηκαν επί ξύλου όπως και ο Χριστός. Κάθε χριστιανός που σέβεται τον εαυτό του θα έπρεπε να το διαβάσει για ν ερευνήσει τις καταβολές της θρησκείας του, αλλά και να κατανοήσει πόσο μπορεί να παραχαράξει την αλήθεια το ανθρώπινο χέρι.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    'The Jesus Mysteries' was a Sunday Times bestseller and The Daily Telegraph's Book of the Year, when published back in 1999. As it states on the book's cover, 'drawing on the cutting edge of modern scholarship, this astonishing book will change everything you ever thought you knew about Christianity.' Amen to that. The book's two authors, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have dumped an enormous amount of research between it's covers. If I have one teeny weeny criticism it's the fact that hardly a pa 'The Jesus Mysteries' was a Sunday Times bestseller and The Daily Telegraph's Book of the Year, when published back in 1999. As it states on the book's cover, 'drawing on the cutting edge of modern scholarship, this astonishing book will change everything you ever thought you knew about Christianity.' Amen to that. The book's two authors, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have dumped an enormous amount of research between it's covers. If I have one teeny weeny criticism it's the fact that hardly a paragraph goes by without having to refer to the hundreds of listed notes at the end of the book. However in the end it's all well worth it. The notes refer to everyone from Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Celsus, Origen all the way to modern day writers like Gibbon, Bultmann, Wrede, to the excellent Elaine Pagels and everyone in between. Plato...'We beheld the beatific visions and were initiated into the Mystery which may be truly called blessed, celebrated by us in a state of innocence. We beheld calm,happy,simple,eternal visions, resplendent in pure light. The Gnostics called those who identified with their body 'Hylics',because they were so utterly dead to spiritual things that they were like unconscious matter, or 'hyle'. Those who identified with their personality,or 'psyche',were known as 'Psychics'. Those who identified with their Spirit were known as 'Pneumatics',which means 'Spirituals'. Those who completely ceased to identify with any level of their seperate identity and realised their true identity as the Christ or Universal Daemon, experienced Gnosis. In both Paganism and Christianity these levels of awareness were symbolically linked with the four elements, earth,water,fire and air. The initiations leading from one level to the next were symbolized by elemental baptisms. Baptism by water symbolizes the transformation of the Hylic person who identifies solely with the body,into a Psychic initiate who identifies with the personality or psyche. Baptism by air symolizes the transformation of the Psychic initiate into a Pneumatic initiate who identifies with their higher self. Baptism by fire represents the final initiation which reveals to Pneumatic initiates their true identity as the Universal Daemon, the Logos, the Christ within, the Light-power. Such an initiate has reached Gnosis. Psychic Christians had experienced the first baptism by water and been initiated into the Outer Mysteries of Christianity. They understood the story of Jesus as an historical account of a person who literally returned from the dead. Pneumatic Christians had experienced the second baptism of air (holy breath or holy spirit) and been initiated into the secret Inner Mysteries of Christianity. They understood the Jesus story as an allegorical myth encoding teachings about the spiritual path travelled by each initiate. Gnostics had experienced the final baptism of fire and realized their identity as the Christ (the Logos or Universal Daemon). Then, along came the Roman church.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is the best book I've found that explains Christianity's place in the pantheon of world religions. The authors start with the question of whether it's possible that Jesus was not, in fact, the true son of God. They examine the evidence of numerous god-men that preceded Jesus, each living pretty much the exact same life: virgin birth, miracles, water to wine, feeding thousands with a few fish, crucifixion, resurrection. They go on to explore the role of the New Testament as a handbook for th This is the best book I've found that explains Christianity's place in the pantheon of world religions. The authors start with the question of whether it's possible that Jesus was not, in fact, the true son of God. They examine the evidence of numerous god-men that preceded Jesus, each living pretty much the exact same life: virgin birth, miracles, water to wine, feeding thousands with a few fish, crucifixion, resurrection. They go on to explore the role of the New Testament as a handbook for the latest (at the time) in a series of mystery religions. They explore the eventual corruption of the Jesus myth, from its combination with the Jewish messiah prophecy (and adoption of the Old Testament) to the rise of a strict literal interpretation as the one true Christianity. The section about its early history is interesting, though a bit brief. In the end, the authors condemn the early Christians for launching "a cultural revolution that laid waste the ancient wonders and achievements of Paganism, setting Western civilization back 1,000 years."

  18. 5 out of 5

    محمد الهاشمي

    مع أنني قرأته منذ وقت ليس بقريب إلا أنني لم أنس هذا الكتاب وإن كنت قد نسيت بعضا من أطروحاته وتفاصيلها. ذلك أن الكتاب أثر في كثير من آرائي حول المسيحية ونشوئها وتركز في لاوعي حواري حول الأديان. ليس من السهل التشكيك في نصوص الكتب المقدسة التي يتبعها ملايين بل مليارات الأشخاص ويصدقون بها. من المستفز أن تقرأ كتابا يمس جوهر العقيدة في دين سماوي حتى وإن لم تكن من أتباع ذلك الدين. لكن الكتاب قتل كثيرا من التساؤلات التي استثارتني عندما قرأت الاناجيل المختلفة. إن المسيح الذي يؤمن به مسيحيو اليوم له أكثر م مع أنني قرأته منذ وقت ليس بقريب إلا أنني لم أنس هذا الكتاب وإن كنت قد نسيت بعضا من أطروحاته وتفاصيلها. ذلك أن الكتاب أثر في كثير من آرائي حول المسيحية ونشوئها وتركز في لاوعي حواري حول الأديان. ليس من السهل التشكيك في نصوص الكتب المقدسة التي يتبعها ملايين بل مليارات الأشخاص ويصدقون بها. من المستفز أن تقرأ كتابا يمس جوهر العقيدة في دين سماوي حتى وإن لم تكن من أتباع ذلك الدين. لكن الكتاب قتل كثيرا من التساؤلات التي استثارتني عندما قرأت الاناجيل المختلفة. إن المسيح الذي يؤمن به مسيحيو اليوم له أكثر من صورة في النصوص كما أن تلك الصورة تكاد تتطابق مع عديد من الأديان الوثنية الشرقية التي سبقت السبي البابلي من ناحية مفهوم الخلاص والتضحية والثالوث المقدس وغيرها من النظريات التي أعلنها مؤتمر نيقية بعد قرون من قصة الصلب. قصة الصلب نفسها يتناولها الكتاب بكثير من الاستدلالات وتمحيص الوقائع التاريخية التي تحيل المسألة برمتها إلى كثير من الشك والريبة إن لم يكن الارتباك على الأقل. الكتاب رائع لمن يهتم بتاريخ الاناجيل ونشوء الدين المسيحي.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jaye

    I am an atheist, but I have always found religious material to be fascinating. I picked up this book on the recommendation of a colleague who considers himself to be a Gnostic rather than a Christian. I can only imagine how this book might be received by a person of faith, because of the controversial subject matter. The central premise is that there is no historical evidence of Jesus, but there is considerable evidence that early Christianity was cribbed together from a host of pagan Mystery re I am an atheist, but I have always found religious material to be fascinating. I picked up this book on the recommendation of a colleague who considers himself to be a Gnostic rather than a Christian. I can only imagine how this book might be received by a person of faith, because of the controversial subject matter. The central premise is that there is no historical evidence of Jesus, but there is considerable evidence that early Christianity was cribbed together from a host of pagan Mystery religions, and more evidence that the early Church fathers went to considerable effort to suppress this knowledge. Some of the information here is old news, but I was impressed with the authors' scholarship as well as their sources.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    ...no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus...for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God...this Pagan savior was also born of a virgin on the twenty-fifth of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion!..these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ...the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth...Christianity turned out ...no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus...for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God...this Pagan savior was also born of a virgin on the twenty-fifth of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion!..these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ...the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth...Christianity turned out to be a continuation of Paganism by another name. This book blows up the concept of Christianity and exposes some painful ideas. Opened my mind and broke down the wall that 50+ years of careful indoctrination had built.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    This book was extremely fascinating, full of exciting ideas. The problem is that I don't know how much of it I can believe. After doing some cursory reading online about the book, it appears that the "Jesus Mysteries Thesis" has been around a long time and resurfaces every 10 or 20 years as exciting new research. In the end, though, even if the authors are not scholars, and even if their point is a bit heavy-handed at times, the book still led me into areas of interest I wouldn't have known abou This book was extremely fascinating, full of exciting ideas. The problem is that I don't know how much of it I can believe. After doing some cursory reading online about the book, it appears that the "Jesus Mysteries Thesis" has been around a long time and resurfaces every 10 or 20 years as exciting new research. In the end, though, even if the authors are not scholars, and even if their point is a bit heavy-handed at times, the book still led me into areas of interest I wouldn't have known about otherwise. So it goes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Reijo Oksanen

    Chasing Jesus in in the wrong place, in time, in the past. Most people have understood that the New Testament story of Jesus is an historic fact. This book tries to prove that the historic Jesus, not only existed, but was a pagan. How could one go more wrong? We all need help in finding out the real knowledge, direct knowledge, not belief. That is the meaning of the Gnostic view. This means that the story of Jesus takes place in us, right now and not 2000 years ago in a geographical place. If it Chasing Jesus in in the wrong place, in time, in the past. Most people have understood that the New Testament story of Jesus is an historic fact. This book tries to prove that the historic Jesus, not only existed, but was a pagan. How could one go more wrong? We all need help in finding out the real knowledge, direct knowledge, not belief. That is the meaning of the Gnostic view. This means that the story of Jesus takes place in us, right now and not 2000 years ago in a geographical place. If it does not, it has no meaning.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This is one of the most important books I have ever read. If you have wondered what the real story was at the time Christianity began, and why it has not translated very well through the centuries, this explains it. For everyone that thought the bible was allegorical and not literal, this explains why it unfolded the way it did. This is a magnificent piece of work. I read the sequel before this, and I like this one better.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Presents Jesus as the central figure of the Hebrew dying-and-rising savior myth so common in the ancient Mediterranean world; debunks historical Christian claims; modern gnostic approach.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    Timothy Freke's philosophical arguments have piqued my interest, much like Joseph Campbell did with Hero With A Thousand Faces. Timothy Freke's philosophical arguments have piqued my interest, much like Joseph Campbell did with Hero With A Thousand Faces.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    The red pill down the rabbit hole of Western Spirituality.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)

    Loved the open discussions within this book..

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bruce clark

    Whooee! A lot of revelations in this book. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE the only Christians found in the Holy Land were a small sect of Ebionites. The Jesus story likely originated in Alexandria, Egypt by a group of Gnostic Christians who adapted the Jesus story to Pagan myths. Paul's various missions did not convert many Jews to Christianity but did attract Pagans who were familiar with Paul's mystical approach to religion. The first century debate among Christians was whether to Whooee! A lot of revelations in this book. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE the only Christians found in the Holy Land were a small sect of Ebionites. The Jesus story likely originated in Alexandria, Egypt by a group of Gnostic Christians who adapted the Jesus story to Pagan myths. Paul's various missions did not convert many Jews to Christianity but did attract Pagans who were familiar with Paul's mystical approach to religion. The first century debate among Christians was whether to allow Pagans to join or only Jews. The 2nd and 3rd century debate was between literalism and gnosticism. In 312 CE Constantine made Christianity the state religion and the literalists had won. By 412 CE all gnostic believers and writings had been purged from the empire. The Visigoths sacked Rome 3 years later. Gandy and Freke put together a compelling theory to depict Christianity's first 3 centuries. By the end of the 4th century the Christian canon and major doctrines were completed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Were the Mysteries of Osiris, Dionyses, Mithra, Attis, and others the blueprint for the Redeeming God, Jesus of Nazareth? Are the writings in the New Testament actual eyewitness accounts. Did Jesus really live? Questions many of us have asked over the years as we studied the texts and learned more of t he ancient gods. The authors come to their own conclusion from the evidence gathered and invite you to use what Creator gave you and think for yourself.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dann Gauna

    Lectura interesante Crecí católico, y siempre estuvo esa duda "¿de donde sale todo esto"? A medida que pasaban los años. Los autores demuestran por medio de datos y mucha info de donde proviene Jesus y el cristianismo. Creo que es un libro que debe ser leído por todes y más por los cristianos fanáticos. Sin herir las creencias de nadie. Seguiré leyendo más de éste autor. Lectura interesante Crecí católico, y siempre estuvo esa duda "¿de donde sale todo esto"? A medida que pasaban los años. Los autores demuestran por medio de datos y mucha info de donde proviene Jesus y el cristianismo. Creo que es un libro que debe ser leído por todes y más por los cristianos fanáticos. Sin herir las creencias de nadie. Seguiré leyendo más de éste autor.

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