7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Excellent little book but flawed by lack of references
, June 14, 2011
This review is from: The Myth of the Resurrection and Other Essays (Freethought Library) (Paperback)
Joseph McCabe's publisher touted him as "the world's greatest scholar." You would think that "the world's greatest scholar" would have been more appreciative of references and citations (these can be obtained if one looks elsewhere). Also, an index would have helped. Other reviewers have noted these deficiencies.
These deficiences aside, this is an excellent little book and McCabe is well-qualified to write it. At the age of sixteen he entered a Franciscan seminary, was ordained at twenty-three and appointed to teach philosophy. Subsequently, he found his faith "bankrupt" and abandoned both the priesthood and Catholicism. He was a scholar of the first magnitude, steeped in the classics, and proficient in Latin and Greek. He was able to translate the ancient manuscripts from their original sources even the ones (as he points out) which were never translated because they reflected adversely on Christianity. Here was someone who "knew the secrets" and "spilled the beans."
In "The Myth of the Resurrection", McCabe points out that resurrection myths, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Persian, Phrygian, or Greek go back to long before the time of Christ. Centuries before nations annually celebrated the death and resurrection of Osiris, Tammuz, Attis, Mithra and other gods. Christianity was not unique and was far from the first.
St. Paul, according to McCabe, truly believed in the resurrection of Christ. However, the resurrection accounts of the four evangelists (which were written after Paul's epistles) contain numerous conflicts, contradictions and clumsy fabrications. Read all four Gospel accounts and you will become thoroughly confused. Obviously, says McCabe, some early life of Jesus, in which he was conceived merely as a good man, and was correspondingly mourned, has been crudely tampered with by these later resurrectionists; and, as the first interpolations were not strong enough, more were added. The Church, which the Catholic imagines as "guarding the deposit of revelation", was improving it every half century.
In "Did Jesus Ever Live?" McCabe points out that the Gospels are worthless on this question. No one knows who wrote them, they are based on hearsay and oral tradition, and there is no evidence that they existed before the end of the first century. They gradually developed over time. After examining Jewish and pagan witnesses to the existence of Jesus, McCabe concludes that no non-Christian writer of the first century mentions Jesus with the possible exception of Flavius Josephus. Here McCabe alludes to that famous passage in Josephus which glowingly describes Jesus as a miracle worker and suggests that he was the son of God. However, Josephus, who was a Jewish zealot, could not possibly have written such a passage. It is obviously spurious and a Christian interpolation. However, McCabe believes that a real reference to Jesus may have been cut out by the interpolator and replaced by this clumsy forgery. McCabe concludes that Jesus was a little-known holy man who lived at this time and was gradually turned into a god.
In "How Christianity Triumphed," McCabe clains that St. Paul founded Christianity and St. Ambrose established it. At the time of Constantine Christians numbered about four or five percent of the empire. How did four or five percent become one hundred percent? Through persecution of the pagan religion by a series of Christian emperors which, McCabe says, was relentless for 150 years.
The triumph of Christianity may be dated at the year 420 after which Europe underwent a fearful degeneration. The world passed rapidly into a state of semi-barbarism. The fifth century was worse and the sixth far worse. The succeeding centuries increasingly worse. The great Roman system of education was completely destroyed and all Europe passed into a condition of complete illiteracy and dense ignorance in which vice and violence were only surpassed by superstition. The Church had triumphed and humanity fell deeply into the sordid middle ages.
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