- Copertina flessibile: 756 pagine
- Editore: Numismatics & History (21 novembre 2012)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0988556707
- ISBN-13: 978-0988556706
- Peso di spedizione: 1,2 Kg
The Secret Roots of Christianity: Decoding Religious History with Symbols on Ancient Coins (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 21 nov 2012
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I found the book entertaining and informative. The coverage of Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies, the explanation of astrology, the stories of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and on through to Jesus and his contemporaries, are absorbing. It practically functions as a storybook as well as a carefully researched piece of inquiry that uses ancient coins and other artifacts, along with a fresh examination of ancient writing, to state its case. I recommend this book and I'm sure I'll read it again.
The section where it fails is in Wray's evaluation of Christianity. He says that the gospels are not biographies, yet it has been conclusively determined by most scholars that they are definately forms of ancient biography (in fact, one writer calls them "classical forms" of ancient biography) but they are not like modern biographies. He also complains that the four gospels are full of contradictions because they relate incidents differently, but they were written by four different writers at four different times using various sources. These are not contracitions but different source accounts.
It is interesting that Wray accepts without question the accounts of ancient biographers and historians such as Plutarch, Josephus, Philo, Strabo, Suetonius, and others, while the gospels and Acts are only treated with skepticism. The reason, I believe is that Wray relies mainly on two biblical scholars who are known for their skepticism, Bart Ehrmann and James Tabor. Ehrmann has publically renounced his faith in the verasity of the New Testament and since then has written and lectured many times, but all from a skeptical point of view. While he has a lot of good information integrating textual criticism and archaeology, it is all primarily slanted toward sensationalist viewpoint and he hardly ever accepts the biblical accounts at any kind of face value. It is fairly easy to spot the axe Ehrmann wants to grind AGAINST any biblical proclamation. James Tabor, who readily admits that he is neither an archaeologist nor theologian, has written outlandish books on "The Jesus Dynasty," which has not been accepted positively by any biblical scholar I know. The Talpiot cave tomb, which Tabor believes is Jesus' family tomb, and with an ossurary (bone box) intact with the name "Jesus" on it is dismissed by almost all archaeologists as having no merit as the Jesus' family tomb. Why would Jesus, who lived his whole life in Galilee, have a family tomb near Jerusalem? And another cave, which Tabor believes to be the sight of John the Baptist's baptisms has no merit, as any scholar will tell you. Wray needs to seriously examine the leading scholars in the field of the New Testament, such as EP Sanders and his groundbreaking book, "Paul and Palestinian Judaism," Ben F. Meyer, "The Aims of Jesus," N.T. Wright and his series of monumental books, "The New Testament and the People of God," "Jesus and the Victory of God," "The Resurrection of the Son of God," "Simply Jesus," and "How God Became King." These are some of the leaders in biblical research into the beginnings of Christianity.
Yes, Christianity is composed of both myth and history. The gospels ARE biographies. Yes, they tell stories in different ways, but ask any police official and they'll tell you that three people viewing an auto accident will give three different interpretations of what they saw.
I was dissapointed to have read so much fine information only to have the main thrust of the book fall apart at the end. He could have done better -- much better.
The basis of his book and his two SRC courses is his presentation and interpretation of many hundreds of excellent photographs of both sides of coins from his extensive ancient coin collection. (Such an enthusiastic lecturer is he that he even allows us to hold many coins and examine them at close range.) The images on ancient coins present an empirical view into the minds of the leading people, their politicians and generals, their ideas of gods and goddesses, their cult beliefs, and the real and mythological stories that were the foundations of their evolving civilizations. David Wray's book emphasizes that, because of the difficulties of long-range communications in ancient times, "organized religions" as we know them currently, did not exist. "Religions" were local and are, therefore, described as "cults" in his book.
Many "histories" - in my cynical opinion - are just heavily footnoted regurgitations of the writings of other "expert" authors. There seem to be few, if any, regurgitations in this book. David Wray brings portions of his ancient coin collection to class to implant the meanings of the ancient histories and mythologies depicted on the silver, gold, and electrum coins even more firmly in our minds.
The 25 chapters are short, well written and easy to read. The coin images are individually identified and are clearly explained. This book is worth buying just for the images of the coins and the stories they tell. David Wray's knowledge of mythology, astronomy, and astrology seems to be encyclopedic, and a lot of reading at home is required just to keep up with his lectures.
One of these forces was Hellenization. The spread of Greek language and culture throughout the vast area ruled by Alexander the Great and his successors caused Greek pagan beliefs and philosophical ideas, to confront the indigenous cult practices throughout Sicily, Egypt, Judea, Syria, and the entire Middle East. The result was sometimes syncretism - the combining of like beliefs - such as Zeus/Amon, a combination of Greek and Egyptian gods, and sometimes change, as when the Septuagint - the translation of the Old Testament into Greek - changed the Hebrew word for "maiden" into a Greek word for "virgin."
A second major social force was the penetration of Eastern mystery cults into Roman culture. The chapters here are explanations of how a people with a conservative state-controlled cult that punished any other worship as sacrilege, came to embrace a radical Eastern religion that promises salvation - survival after death. Rome was not converted in a day. These chapters move us from step to step: Exposure to Eastern beliefs; acceptance of the Eastern cult of Cybele into Rome; the conversion of Roman soldiers stationed in the East to Mithraism, which promised salvation; the cult of the divinity of Julius Caesar and the status of Augustus as the Son of God; the disillusionment with the imperial cult during the reign of Tiberius, and the vacuum that created. From one chapter to the next, each step seems a small one from what preceded, and finally the openness of Rome to Christianity seems to be no longer unimaginable, but almost inevitable.
The book ranges over a large geography and covers centuries, and yet it does so without discontinuities; it is organized in such a way that one thing leads to the next.
There are plenty of "Aha!" experiences; you may well know some of the facts, in isolation, but never connected them. One of them, for me, was the parallel between the apples of the Hesperides, and the Garden of Eden. Mr. Wray draws the connections. Another is the lunar occultation of Jupiter, and the death and resurrection of Jesus.
These "Aha!" parallels are woven throughout the whole book. You will frequently encounter saviors, miracles, astrological wonders, signs, portents, symbols, and practices, all of which are pagan but seem ever-so-familiar to readers of the Bible.
Throughout the book there are handsome illustrations of religious symbols on coins, and the coins are of the very best. There are time-lines, including parallel lives of the first Triumvirs. David Wray's treatment of this material is balanced, being both objectively factual, and respectful. If you read this book thoughtfully, you will be deeply rewarded.
Strongly recommend this book to everyone.