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VINE VOICEon January 24, 2004
This book is not an attack on Christ, it is rather an exaltation of the universal Christ principle.
I found that everything that ever disturbed me, or rang false, about the gospels was washed away by the authors' Jesus Mysteries Thesis. I also realised why I have been so strongly drawn to Gnosticism over the years- it was the original faith, a faith hyjacked and perverted by an authoritarian, worldly, imperial, bureaucracy.
There have been many Christs in many cultures: Osiris, Dionysis, Attis, Adonis, Bacchus, Mithras.... The central theme to all their stories was a son of God coming to earth, to learn, teach, and grow before being crucified on a cross of matter, and returning to the place from whence he came. This was also the central mystery in all cases: we are to realise that we too descended from another place and that we are to learn, grow and teach before we return there. This is the great truth to the Christ principle.
How could this truth be a threat to anyone with a spark of spiritual insight?
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on January 2, 2000
At first I feared this would be another book in the Michael Baigent or Barbara Thiering mold. But the fact that John Shelby Spong, George Wells and Alvar Ellegard were all willing to say nice things about it convinced me to give it a go. I'm glad I did.
Christianity developed, according to the thesis, as a Jewish adaptation of the mystery religions that were common in the First Century. Jesus was a mythical figure with no solid historical existence. Gnostic Christianity was truest to this original understanding, but the growing literalist tradition ultimately supplanted it.
Sound a bit hairy? The case is put strongly, and builds on the work of scholars like Elaine Pagels. While the authors are not specialists in the field of Historical Jesus/Early Church studies, they have produced a well documented and tightly argued case that can't be dismissed too lightly. This book will reach an audience not usually exposed to concepts like these, and it seems to mesh in several essentials with earlier studies. After completing it I had the same mixture of astonishment and conviction that I felt after reading Ellegard's Jesus - One Hundred Years Before Christ. If you want a swift kick in your Christian comfort zone, this is the place to start.
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on November 14, 1999
This is a scary book for Christians who believe in the uniqueness of the Christian message or the inerrancy of the Bible.
The book shows quite conclusively that most of the events in Jesus' life, from the virgin conception to his resurrection and ascention are copied from prior mythical "godmen" who were worshiped by surrounding Pagan cultures.
Yeshua of Nazareth is simply the Jewish equivalent to Egypt's Osiris, Greece's Dionysus, Italy's Bacchus, Persia's Mythra, etc.
Still, by identifying which parts of the Gospels are pure Pagan myth, we can strip them away and get closer to the historical Jesus.
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on November 27, 1999
Freke and Gandy have done a spectacular job in writing a succinct, well-argued, credible history of the origins of christianity. Their extensive survey and reasoned analysis of comtemporary scholarship leads them to reject as implausible the idea of a literal, historical christ. This stance will undoubtedly upset some readers. However, to get stuck with the issue of whether or not they are right about this - and it seems likely to me that they are - is to miss the bigger (and better) picture. For if there was no Christ, then the question has to be: What was all the fuss about? In addressing this question, they open a door of understanding onto what they have called, "The Jesus Mysteries." With integrity and insight, they have begun an exploration into the true meaning of Christ and Christianity. It is compelling stuff. I can only hope they continue. And I for one look forward to reading another book.
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on July 17, 2013
This was an interesting book, have several other books by these same authors and did find it to be a little confusing and hard to follow at times, all in all a good book, found some of the correlations to be hard to follow.
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on November 10, 1999
The evidence these guys present looks pretty solid to me - every point they made was backed up by not one but several references to experts in this field.
It is clear the evidence points to a big hole in the heart of "Literalist" Christianity, and it is ruthlessly exposed, but Freke & Gandy never once attack the truth of the spirit behind it all.
No wonder the authorities the authors refer to have kept their heads down over this.
As an open-minded Christian, I was rocked and then uplifted by the revelations held here. There are many other Christians who require the certainty of the outer forms - and an authentic history - for their belief. They'll have to either ignore The Jesus Mysteries completely, or do the "Please Close Your Mind Before Opening This Book" trick.
This is a well written, easily read book that every thoughtful, spiritually-inclined Christian will read.
It is a book that every Christian should read!
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Co-authors Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have also collaborated on Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians,The Complete Guide to World Mysticism,The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs, and Wisdom of the Pagan Philosophers (Wisdom of the Masters).

They wrote in the first chapter of this 1999 book, "When we first began to uncover such extraordinary similarities between the story of Jesus and pagan myth we were stunned... To account for the wealth of evidence we were unearthing we felt compelled to completely review our understanding of the relationship between Paganism and Christianity... We have become convinced that the story of Jesus is not the biography of a historical Messiah, but a myth based on perennial Pagan stories. Christianity was not a new and unique revelation but actually a Jewish adaption of the ancient Pagan Mystery religion." (Pg. 2) They add, "While the Jesus Mysteries Thesis clearly rewrites history, we do not see it as undermining the Christian faith, but as suggesting that Christianity is in fact richer than we previously imagined. The Jesus story is a perennial myth with the power to impart the saving Gnosis, which can transform each one of us into a Christ, not merely a history of events that happened to someone else 2,000 years ago." (Pg. 13)

They argue, "It would seem that, like [Jesus'] confused disciples in the story, the Christian Church has failed to understand for 2,000 years that what it has taken as literal events are in fact carefully constructed mystical allegories. With the destruction of the Inner Mysteries of the Gnostics, the keys to decode the allegories have been lost and we can only guess at much of the profound metaphor at work in the Jesus story." (Pg. 117) They ask, "So how could Paul have come to be both the hero of the Gnostics and the Literalists?... the Gnostics taught that the Jesus story works on two levels at once: as an introductory story for Psychic Christians initiated into the Outer Mysteries and as a mystical allegory for Pneumatic Christians initiated into the Inner Mysteries." (Pg. 168)

They observe, "Both Matthew and Luke give us long and detailed genealogies to show that Joseph is of the line of David, yet both of them also tell us that Jesus is not Joseph's son at all, but God's son... Did Matthew and Luke not realize the absurdity of what they were saying?... surely such a paradox could not have been unintentionally allowed to remain in the gospels! The Jesus Mysteries Thesis... solves this otherwise strange enigma by suggesting that the gospel writers were well aware of the contradiction they were setting up. They knew that what they were writing was a myth encoding secret teachings. So, they each presented a genealogy to make it appear that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, son of David, while at the same time telling those 'with ears to hear' that Jesus was actually Osiris-Dionysius, the Son of God and a virgin mother." (Pg. 192-193) [But note that Luke 3:23 says that Jesus 'was the son, SO IT WAS THOUGHT, of Joseph.'] They conclude, "the traditional 'history' of Christianity was nothing less than the greatest cover-up of all time." (Pg. 249)

Though very popular, this book is very similar to other "Pagan Christ" interpretations that have previously been offered (though not written with the freshness and vivacity of this book); those looking for a "modern" version of such theories will probably enjoy the book.
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on April 12, 2000
I must agree with the reviewers who precede me that this is an entertaining and enlightening book, and it was based partly on their reviews, plus a high recommendation from friends in Avignon (when not in Cambridge), who are responsible for my reading it.
Just where did Christianity come from? From the Gnostics. And did they give credit to their forebears? No, they condemned them.
I still do not agree with Freke and Gandy's position concerning Paul, though I do agree that he borrowed heavily from the Mystery Schools and was acquainted with them well before he began following Christ's teachings. However, Paul was too much an oppotunist not to have taken advantage of certain rites of the Gnostic mysteries and amalgamating them into his own methods in order to more easily convert followers. I think the authors miss the point why Paul was in contention with John, James and Peter, and that he was first to break with Judaism, having never been a Jew himself.
Also, Messrs. Freke and Gandy miss the point that Luke was a late-comer, perhaps the only "educated" apostle (having been a Greek doctor) who also had been familiar with the mystery schools and Gnosticism before he joined with the apostles.
Further, I am surprised that these authors don't cite "Gnosis, The Nature & History of Gnosticism" by Kurt Rudolph, a leading world authority on how some Christian Gnostics broke away to became the Roman Church. At least it does not appear in their bibliography. However, Professor Rudolph made it quite clear how Christianity arose from the Gnostic sects. His book was published in English in 1980 and was given very good reviews by James M. Robinson and Elaine Pagels.
Nonetheless, I do recommend The Jesus Mysteries to those with ears to hear and eyes to see.
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on March 12, 2002
The facts are o.k., but some of the inferences are a bit tenuous. Like a lot of writers in this genre' they have part of the truth or 'big picture' Those of us who seek the truth, who want to understand our world and society, come to understand that there are spiritual mysteries that are real.
Sadly major institutions like the church, have hidden these things, through misunderstanding, ignorance, and lies. It can be hard to overcome the apriori beliefs that are conditioned into our minds from birth onwards. I suggest you read this book, but also look further into the origins of the christian religion.
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on March 4, 2015
This book proves Christianity is created by political purposes (Roman Catholic) and religious purpose people.
I gave up faith of Christianity that I believed all my life (74 yrs old) feels like a prisoner who freed out .of a life sentence. Appreciate to the writers.
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