5,0 su 5 stelleThe Secret Roots of Christianity won't be a secret after you read this book (Reviewer: email@example.com)
17 ottobre 2014 - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
David Wray teaches four courses at Rivier University in Nashua NH. Two of his courses closely follow his book "The Secret Roots of Christianity." The empirical evidence that is the foundation of this weighty (2.6 pounds) high-quality paperback tome are his SRC book's hundreds of photographs of his extensive ancient coin collection (at least 1500 BC to 300 AD). His other two courses show graphically how ancient Middle Eastern astronomy, astrology, and current archaeology results supply additional empirical evidence background that enable older students like me to understand where our Western civilization's religions and customs have come from. I always wondered - ever since reading "Gods, Graves, and Scholars" fifty years ago - and thanks to David Wray's book, now I know. 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.
There isn't any other book like this one. It traces the historical and social forces that brought pre-Christian forms of worship into contact with each other and caused them to interact, borrow, and sometimes fuse. It shows how these forces prepared the way for Roman Christianity.
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.
I just recently had the pleasure of reading "The Secret Roots of Christianity." If you are the kind of Christian who has long ago decided that the faith you've known all your life and are comfortable with should remain unquestioned, I think it would be best to avoid this book. No disrespect, but you likely won't appreciate the unforgiving scrutiny. The dispassionate and curious reader, on the other hand, will enjoy how the author has objectively put forward the notion that Christianity is the result of an evolutionary process dating back to the early pagan myths, and not something that spontaneously began with the birth of Jesus. According to the evidence he laid out, there is nothing original about Christianity at all, right down the the idea of savior of mankind (the offspring of a mortal virgin and a god) who was born on December 25 and later was murdered and rose from the dead. But the story of this evolutionary process is fascinating, and really serves as a tale of mankind's early spiritual and political development.
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.
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