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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pagan Christ - Review
Recently the CBC in Canada aired a program which examined the views put forward by Theologian Tom Harpur in his bestselling book - The Pagan Christ. Harpur's book challenged the literalist view of Christianity and it is not the first time this position has been brought to light.

The mythological figure of the dead and resurrected god-man have long been exposed...
Published on December 13, 2007 by Steven Nixon

versus
30 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good and bad in different ways
This book probably should have fallen dead from the press, but it seems to have acquired something of a following, both among latter day Gnostics, and among literalists/fundamentalists who delight in digging up and pointing out the inadequacies of books such as this, which deviate from conservative orthodoxy.

The author, Tom Harpur, despite a resume which...
Published on July 26, 2006 by Dick Marti


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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pagan Christ - Review, December 13, 2007
This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
Recently the CBC in Canada aired a program which examined the views put forward by Theologian Tom Harpur in his bestselling book - The Pagan Christ. Harpur's book challenged the literalist view of Christianity and it is not the first time this position has been brought to light.

The mythological figure of the dead and resurrected god-man have long been exposed as universal myth motif that has been enshrined by a long list of cultures predating Christianity as we know it today. The universality of this motif has been meticulously documented, not only by Harpur and one of his main references Gerald Massey, but also the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and more recently Joseph Campbell. Jung wrote a detailed account of the origins of Christian myth motifs in "Symbols of Transformation" first compiled in 1920. He was later followed by Joseph Campbell whose most recognized work amongst many was "The Hero With A Thousand Faces".

Massey's comparative examination of Christian religon and Egyptian myth produced a staggering number of points of comparison - roughly two hundred in number. His entire volume works are freely available online for examination. While the documentary focused mainly on the Egyptian figures of the Horus and Isis, they could have extended the list to many more mythological figures that share the same characteristics. A detailed comparative examination is included in Harpur's book and reveals a list that includes Tammuz, Adonis, Mithras, Dionysus, Krishna, amongst many others shared these key characteristics that are attributed exclusively to Christ - miraculous births, turning water into wine, death and resurrection, a spiritual leader accompanied by twelve deciples, to name only a few. Many of these motifs are not only confined to the Mediteranean cultures but can been seen in north american myths as well pointing to the fact that they products of human imagination that attempt in symbolic form to enshrine the immeasurable value of the human spirit.

This spirit is myopically viewed as the life force found in the human emotion of love and is in many cultures extended to be the source of a broader range of qualtities that include creativity, memory and in some instances the very "the seat of intelligence". The journey of the archetypical hero in all of these myths was an attempt to enshrine the journey of self-discovery in stories so that they would inspire this inward journey and in turn draw the power of this force outward to the benefit of society.

The path of literalism has left humanity and our collective psyche in a state of fragmentation by obsessing over the tribal peacock feathers of cultural forms and lead us to our present deplorable state that can nowhere be seen more clearly in the eternal Greek tradgedy of the middle east where the world's great religons face off in the endless insanity of war while they defend mythological belief structures that were originally intended to unite humanity by recognizing the common element of the human spirit, or as Joeseph Campbell aptly put it "they're dying for metaphors".

Harper's work is an attempt to draw those people whose adoration of the beauty and power of the human spirit has been lost in the outward projected symbolic forms of religon. The release of the outer forms is the first step in the journey to rediscover what myths were originally intended to represent - the inward journey of self-discovery. To inspire this journey is the goal of Harpur's book. The book is not anti-christian and the idea that it is anti-christian leaves one with great concern as to whether his critics even opened it. Harpur is not requesting that readers dismiss the human spirit, but embrace it on the hopes that as a species we can more forward united and in peace.

Steve - Toronto
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Provocative Read, May 29, 2006
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This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
It is said that the most powerful thing on Earth is an idea, and Tom Harpur has tapped into the idea of "God within", that runs like an underground river in the mystical branches of the Abrahamic religions of our time, and on the surface of ancient religions and modern Eastern spirituality. Harpur ladles out a generous cup of this enlightenment and offers it to a spiritually parched mankind.

Gnosticism claims that all men have a spark of divinity within, and that enlightened religion involves developing this divinity and manifesting it in the world. The connections to ancient Egyptian sources are documented by authors Massey and Kuhn, and are used to show where many Biblical ideas may have come from. I would have added Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian, and the Greek Mystery religions to this, although one might argue that they had a common source.

Whether or not authors Massey and Kuhn are historically accurate, the "God within" theme is a mythologically based spirituality that can empower humans. Egyptian religion developed many powerful ideas in it's long history, and it's libraries were an important source of learning and diffusion of ideas.

Harpur makes the point that religion has too often used literal interpretation of scripture to justify hate and war. He offers the "God within" alternative as a fruitful way to break through the tribalism of modern religions into inclusiveness.

The Jesus story may well be a mythological reenactment of an older stories. As several authors have pointed out, there are few aspects of his story that can't be found in the various mythologies of the dying and resurrecting God/men in previous religions. The idea of a Creator God putting a spark of divinity into humans may also be mythological, but does speak to human aspiration to goodness in a way that both the religious person and the heretic can relate to. I would prefer to think of such a spark as "Godlike" rather than God endowed. All the same,The Pagan Christ is a provocative read.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, December 12, 2007
This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
Some critics would like to persuade us that Tom Harpur is alone in his opinion but if they would take the time to read the works of other great minds such as C. J. Jung, Joseph Campbell, G.A. Wells and Northrop Frye it will be clear that these scholars are all of the same thinking.
An example of proof of Harpur's claim that Christianity is fashioned after ancient Egyptian themes is found in the fact that the Goddess Isis was referred to as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven ( Theotokos in Greek) well over 1,000 years before the Church gave such titles to Mary.
Some people like to dwell on insignificant details obscuring the core message of the book: Christ is within each and everyone of us.
I found The Pagan Christ very inspiring giving me hope for the future of the church.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dared to ask for evidence, December 10, 2007
This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
Tom Harpur has dared to ask the question most scholars avoid: What is the evidence for a historical Jesus? His answer is that there is none...nada...nothing and he backs it up with superb scholarship citing the writings of Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn (surely one of the great scholars of our day)and Gerald Massey (surely one of the most overlooked scholars of his day and ours). Harpur is one of a growing number of religious writers who are bringing to our attention that the Emperor has no clothes! There's an elephant in the room and it's about time someone admitted it. Harpur does just that. It's about time that New Testament scholarship gave us answers to the questions: What is the evidence for a historical Jesus? Could there have been a historical person upon whom Jesus is modeled? Is Jesus the Christian version of other pagan gods? Is Jesus based on the Joshua figure of the Old Testament? We wait for their response. To his great credit and courage Harpur has taken them on. It's my conviction that in time he will be proven correct.
Rev. Larry Marshall
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30 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good and bad in different ways, July 26, 2006
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This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
This book probably should have fallen dead from the press, but it seems to have acquired something of a following, both among latter day Gnostics, and among literalists/fundamentalists who delight in digging up and pointing out the inadequacies of books such as this, which deviate from conservative orthodoxy.

The author, Tom Harpur, despite a resume which includes the Anglican priesthood, professor of Greek and New Testament, and authorship of several other books, has not done his homework. The result is a very incomplete and uneven work. It is good in places, particularly in the discussion of the grievous errors made by literalists and fundamentalists who read allegory, metaphor, and symbol as history. Harpur points this out well and rightly blames the early Church fathers as the source of the problem. Particularly interesting is the discussion of Paul's epistles, in which Harpur points out that Paul's infrequent mention of Jesus indicates that reference to a symbolic, not historic, personage is intended. This discussion was good, but brief. The topic deserves a book-length treatment, with adequate citations. Much weaker is the series of connections, correspondences, or coincidences between Biblical, and particularly New Testament, references and Egyptian religious literature. Elementary mistakes creep in, such as mention of Egyptian papyri from 5000 bc; the Egyptian Old Kingdom did not begin until about 3200 bc. Particularly irksome is Harpur's frequent insistence of the derivation of the name "Jesus" from the Egyptian "Iesu". The relation seems merely convenient or coincidental, and not proven. If it is proven in other works, the citations indicating it are glaringly lacking. Indeed, the lack of citation is a major problem throughout this book. Even when discussing another author's work, Harpur fails to provide the origin of the material he is citing. Many examples of this could be given. Harpur, perhaps intending this book for the unwashed masses, thinks that full citation, as one would provide in a more scholarly work, is unnecessary. It is a near-fatal flaw.

Harpur constantly mentions the works of Godfrey Higgins, Gerald Massey, and Alvin Boyd Kuhn. These three appear to be near-crackpots. Another reviewer contacted several Egyptologists and could only find one who had heard of these three authors. Perhaps their obscurity could be attributed to the fact that they were not Egyptologists per se, but rather were a species of religious historian. Before citing these authors in a serious work, some effort should be made to rehabilitate them, if possible. Otherwise they, and authors such as Harpur who rely heavily on them, become easy targets of the conservatives.

A constant and irritating recurrent phrase in this book is a dualistic "entry into matter", used by Harpur to describe incarnation. This is said to be the nadir or low point of a soul's existence, indeed he says it is the "death" of the soul to be imprisoned in matter, in a body. Read Ayn Rand ("Atlas Shrugged"---look for John Galt's monologue) for a different view. I suppose all sorts of viewpoints can be found in religion if one reads widely enough, but this one seems to me, as a biologist, to be exactly backwards of what more likely occurs. (Not that biology should instruct religion, but I think some clues can be provided, one of which is the genetic origin of the brain, the seat of consciousness and source of self-awareness. Another clue is that the spark of life is transmitted genetically. Only growth and elaboration are necessary for a full expression of the genome. Science simply finds little evidence for a soul of the sort described by Harpur, one which dips into matter to die.)

This book tries to accomplish too much in only 196 text pages. It is a rush job, with sloppy citations, good in places, but needing much more detail to make serious sense. It is highly vulnerable to criticism. Yet instead of cleaning this book up, the author writes that he is moving on to other writing projects, perhaps equally as weak as this one.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hope for religion is spiritual renewal, November 30, 2007
This review is from: The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Paperback)
Tom Harpur's "The Pagan Christ" presents a convincing and lucid case that Christianity (and religion in general) can be revived by a return to its spiritual roots. He believes that the spirituality of Christianity has been eroded by the elevation of Jesus to equivalence with God. In fact, the myth of Jesus' virgin birth, martyr's death on the cross and Resurrection is common to ancient pagan myths, specifically of ancient Egypt. It was intended, like all myths, to be allegorical, and in this case the message is that the suffering of Jesus, like the suffering of man, leads to a spiritual oneness with God. As St. Paul said, "The spirit of God dwells in you," meaning that every person is "imbued with a latent divinity" (Carl Jung). Assigning divinity to Jesus alone detracts from this powerful spiritual concept. Jesus never claimed that he was the son of God, and believing it dilutes his message of love and forgiveness and humility.
The idea that God is within every man is also the central tent of Gnosticism and Sufism. Hindus also believe that in their Heaven, Nirvana, the human soul is united with the World-Soul or supreme God.
A return to the spiritual basis of religions will combat the fundamentalist trend of today, not only within Islam, but also within Christianity and other religions. Dogmatic adherence to ancient religious tenets and scriptures is not the way to spiritual revival.
Max Swanson - author of "Religion Unplugged: Spirituality or Fanaticism?"
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4.0 out of 5 stars still reading it, July 5, 2014
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good read
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5.0 out of 5 stars History of Religion, June 26, 2014
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If you have an open mind and would like to consider how religion came about from times of old this is a book that will give you wonderful things to consider. One important point is why is Christianity an exclusive community when it claims to be (inclusive) a religion for everyone? Religion is one of the major causes of war and strife in our world and Christianity is a leader in encouraging such outrageous behavior. They claim there is only one truth and one way to salvation and it is called Christianity. What sinners we truly are.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book., January 14, 2014
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I really liked this book. Full of reference and very easy to read. The analogies, surprised me. I would recommended it to anyone that is wondering about the origins of Christianity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read!, January 13, 2014
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Great book and interesting information provided by this author. Enjoyed this reading experience. I would recommend it to anybody with questions regarding the historical Jesus and the god-man myths of ancient religions.
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The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity?
The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? by Tom Harpur (Paperback - May 2, 2006)
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