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Comment: Condition: Used - Good. Good hardback in fair dust jacket Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton. Publication Date: 1970. Edition: 1st ed.. Description: Delivered from the UK in 10-14 days. Tidy copy in tight binding; rather musty smelling. black cloth with gilt titles on spine; bright colour frontis. Dust jacket tatty at edges wit small chips & a little loss on edges. Jacket protected in removable clear film.
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The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East Hardcover – May 18, 1970

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"Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (May 18, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340128755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340128756
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Ken Bingenheimer on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It has been slow going as I've been reading The Sacred Mushroom & The Cross but I'm ready now to give my appraisal of the basic thesis. Which is to say, I don't have a clue. Let me recap.

John Allegro, the author, makes the argument that Christianity got its start as a subterfuge used by ancient Jews to hide their true religion from the Romans. He argues that they created an imaginary fertility cult based around the usage of the amanita muscaria, or "magic" mushroom. Then, by an ironic twist, the "fake" religion caught on and took on a life of its own. I think this quote does a good job of summing this up:

"The whole point of a mystery cult was that few people knew its secret doctrines. So far as possible, the initiates did not commit their special knowledge to writing. . . . When such special instruction was committed to writing, care would be taken that it should be read only by members of the sect. This could be done by using a special code or cypher, as in the case with certain of the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, discovery of such obviously coded material on a person would render him suspect to the authorities. Another way of passing information was to conceal the message, incantations, or special names within a document ostensibly concerned with a quite different subject.

"Plant mythology, known for thousands of years over the whole of the ancient world, provided the New Testament cryptographers their 'cover.' . . . Those most deceived appear to have been the sect who took over the name of "Christian" and who formed the basis of the Church, the history of which forms no part of the present study."

So I repeat: I don't have a clue. The information Allegro presents seems well researched but I have a couple problems with it.
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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Although the major premise of this book is hard to swallow, that Christianity was founded on a secret Jewish mushroom cult that was misconstrued by the Gentiles, it is nonetheless a fascinating foray into the origin of written language. The author's vast knowledge of ancient languages is magnificently displayed as he charts the birth of the alphabet from Accadian cuneform to the Greek alphabet.

The focus of the particular words he traces centers on the mushroom cults of the amanita muscaria, or fly agaric mushroom, which indeed had numerous cults in the Mideast, India, and China. The mystic significance and almost freudian connotations of the words for the mushroom capture the richness of ancient thought.

His brief and often wry digressions exhibit a great and playful mind at work. For example, in a discussion of the origin of the word "assassin" he comments on the sloth of the 1960's hippie.

Ultimately, his argument for the secret Jewish mushroom society rests on a handful of odd word origins in the New Testament, and though it does lead one to postulate the use of drugs by the early Christians, it does not thoroughly debunk the possibility of an historical Jesus Christ. Apparently Prof. Allegro discounted the references purported by some to be contained in certain versions of Josephus' "History of the Jewish War," which I find compelling.

Even though the major premise is flawed, the process of investigating it is riveting. Standing on the shoulders of this intellectual giant, the panorama of the ancient world comes vividly into view and the journey from picture-glyphs toward symbolic characters reveals mental operations that may be inherent forces in human cognition.
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54 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Julian O'Neill on May 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I can honestly say that my reading of Allegro's book The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross very much changed my life. The book inspired my deep interest in researching further into comparative mythology, whereas before I had never really understood the 'point' of most of the complex tales, and the Bible I had always felt was utterly depressing! But when i saw how playful, humourous, and earthy the mythographers could be, I was HOOKED. As a visual artist now (probably also insome way inspired by that book) I love layers - of colour, meaning, and so on. So it makes sense that mythological writing also aspires to this aesthetic. Whatever the critics of Allegro's revolutionary work say, it IS extraordinarily plausible, and much more so for those who have partaken of sacred sacraments!!!!
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66 of 83 people found the following review helpful By thomas_rw@aps.edu on July 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I first read this book back in 1972, I thought it would revolutionize Christianity coming from such a scholar as Allegro. And of course, that is why his book and his thesis have been shunted aside. Although true. Like so many truths, it is threatening to "Christians". A fact remains. Human rteligion was built upon psychoactive plants. I have read the book many times since 1972. Jon Thomas-Weger
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49 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Makes perfect sense when read in conjunction with Darwin's "Origins of Species", E. O. Wilson' "On Human Nature", Wasson's "Soma", Sagan's "Demon-haunted World", Campbell's "Masks of God", etc. This book is not for those who are content to keep their heads buried in the religious sand. If only Velikovsky had read this book before scribbling his "worlds in derision".The hardcover contains a bibliography which can be used to check interpretation of heiroglyphs but not much is known about the Sumerian language. This book should be compulsary reading for everyone. Thank God (Yahweh ) for Allegro.
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