- Brossura: 343 pagine
- Editore: Three Rivers Pr; American Pbk. edizione (settembre 2001)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0609807986
- ISBN-13: 978-0609807989
- Peso di spedizione: 476 g
Seriously, though, I found The Jesus Mysteries to be one of the bravest and most thought-provoking pieces of work I've come across in years. It is a lucid and exhaustively researched expose of the history of Christianity and its battles with Gnosticism put forth in laymen's terms that really gets the mind racing and the heart pumping. In it, Freke and Gandy make an excellent case for the idea that Christianity is actually a Jewish version of earlier Pagan Mystery Religions then in vogue in the Roman Empire with Jesus but a mythological character designed to reflect earlier Pagan mangod beliefs. They show--successfully, I think--that what started out as a mystical Gnostic Christianity was ultimately superceded by a Literalist Christianity (by which they mean Christians who intepret the Jesus stories as literal, historical events rather than mythological analogies and metaphors as did the Gnostics) that denied the very mystical, mythological underpinnings that created the movement in the first place. Their reports on some of the early church fathers and their complicity in destroying what they consider to have been the original "true faith" of Gnostic Christianity are brutal, especially in using these men's own writings and words against them, and their overview of the role of the Catholic Church in suppressing all belief systems that were at variance with their own is nothing short of savage. These men name names and take no prisoners, and have the references to back it up!
That's not to say this book is perfect. Freke's and Gandy's attempts to demonstrate the modern gospels to be "full of contradictions" was weak at best in using examples that have been largely successfully refuted by modern apologists, though they did score a few good solid "hits." And their use of the Book of Hebrews to bolster their claim that Paul was a Gnostic entirely ignored the fact that almost no modern scholars consider Hebrews a genuine Pauline writing in any case, making any "pro gnostic" statements in it irrelevant to their argument. They also have little to support their contention that some of the Pauline letters are later forgeries while others are genuine other than an apparent bias against any supposed Pauline statements that do not support their original contention. Yet even then, I still had to admit that their case for a Gnostic Paul was not entirely without merit; I only question their methodology. Finally, to bolster their arguments that the literalists "doctored" the Bible to suit their needs, they date the main Gospels along with the Book of Acts (with the possible exception of Mark) to the mid second century, much later than even most liberal scholars are usually willing to accept.
Yet despite these problems and a few lapses in logic, Freke and Gandy make a good solid case for Christianity being but another reflection of much earlier and widespread Pagan mythologies that should give many open-minded Christians much reason to pause. I also found it heartening at the end of the book when they demonstrated that their intention was not to destroy Christianity--which is where the book initially seems to be going--but to restore it to its original spiritual meaning and vitality. Like Bishop John Shelby Spong, their intent seems to be to save Christianity from itself. Only time will tell whether they have succeeded, but knowing the mindset of the average fundamentalist--and I was one myself once--I doubt if they have a Gnostic's chance in Hell of being successful.
The influence of the Mystery Cults on Judaism didn't start with Christ. It may have even predated the influence of Alexander the Great; there's a strong argument that it reflects the influence of Egyptian religion and older religions that arose in the Mediterranean family of tribes and nations. These arguments cannot be discounted or dismissed because of the use the authors have put them. The book relies on the most recent studies by archeologists and Bibical scholars, two fields that have virtually exploded in the last 20 years with more accurate pictures of the Meditarranean cultures and writings and more accurate datings of familiar events. In fact the notes and the bibliography alone are worth the price of the book.
This book has led me on a wonderful voyage of exploration and discovery. If there are any out there who would like to plot their own voyage, I encourage you to get the book and start now on your trip. You won't be disappointed.