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The Marian Conspiracy: The Hidden Truth About the Holy Grail, the Real Father of Christ and the Tomb of Virgin Hardcover – March 24, 2000
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Through archeological evidence, historical documents, and logical, albeit subjective, conjecture, Phillips begins his complex and fascinating story with the assertion that the Mary we know as The Virgin was in reality the daughter of a high priest, and therefore of considerable social standing. In accordance with this stature, she married Antipater, the eldest son of King Herod. Through the machinations of his sinister sister Salome, Herod decided he wanted his younger son Philip, and not Antipater, to succeed him to the throne. Antipater and his family were subsequently murdered in order to extinguish that bloodline and any claims to Herod's power base. Mary, by now pregnant with Antipater's child, somehow escaped into Egypt. She was escorted and protected by the elderly Joseph, who eventually married her. Enraged that a legitimate heir to his throne (Jesus, at this point arguably King of the Jews) may have escaped the carnage, Herod, acting on faulty intelligence, ordered all infants in Bethlehem to be slaughtered. Of course, his grandson escaped, and the world was changed forever.
And that is just the start! The plot thickens, as it were, to document the post-crucifixion flight of Joseph of Arimathea, accompanied by Mary, who is by that time under his protection, from Palestine to the area of the northern-most reaches of the Roman Empire. Establishing a Christian community in Britain, Joseph built a chapel later attested to by St. Augustine in 597. Augustine writes to the Pope describing the chapel, where some of Jesus' original disciples worshipped; a chapel that was `sacred to Mary, the Mother of God'.
This is a fantastic and intricate read. It is a real life detective story that takes the reader from Vatican archives to Roman ruins in Ephesus; wanders through Arthurian legend to rest amidst ancient ruins on a "holy" island in Britain. It questions the most basic of Christian traditions about the origins and birthright of Jesus, and yet in no way desecrates the teachings of Christ or the most basic of that enlightened being's wisdom. I have read some of these theories as put forth by other authors and scholars, but none have written so convincingly, or with so much tangible authority as exists in the prehistoric and other records.
Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in Biblical archeology and Grail mythology, and who has an open mind.
As an example of a modern genre of pseudo-scholarship this book is rather well done. It contains some outright howlers when it strays into areas of actual historical knowledge, such as an idiosyncratic account of the early Church and some bizarre reflections on the Goths. Wisely, though, the author sticks mostly to gray areas where speculation is free. He's had plenty of practice and this is one of his best tales. Personally I wouldn't buy it - I prefer my fiction straight - but there are many who will.
I highly recommend this book for any reader, for it brings the symbolisms of religion to life.