The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? is a 1999 book by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy that attempts to reconstruct the true origins of Christianity. It relies heavily on the Gnostic gospels found at Nag Hammadi.
The cover of The Jesus Mysteries features a gem of Dionysus/Orpheus. This gem was pronounced a forgery by Otto Kern
The authors suggest that a number of pagan mystery religions, such as those of Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, and Mithras, were all manifestations of a single cult of a dying and rising "godman" myth, whom they call Osiris-Dionysus. The authors also assert that Jesus did not really exist, but was instead a syncretic re-interpretation of the fundamental pagan "godman" by the Gnostics, who were the original sect of Christianity as a consequence. Freke and Grandy, therefore, offer their own argument in support of the Jesus-Myth theory. Orthodox Christianity, according to them, was not the predecessor to Gnosticism, as conventional wisdom states, but a later outgrowth that rewrote history in order to make literal Christianity appear to predate the Gnostics.
Critics have labeled the claims of The Jesus Mysteries far-fetched and based on insufficient research. For example, David Allan Dodson, a reviewer for CNN, found the book to be interesting, he stated that "while the authors discuss many examples of elements of Osiris/Dionysus in the Jesus story, they virtually ignore the more direct ties to Jewish tradition and prophecy. This oversight undermines the credibility of many of their arguments, and could have the tendency to mislead the novice reader in this subject". (CNN.com, "Review: Jesus -- man or myth?", September 21, 2000).
Among common complaints are that Freke and Gandy make selective use quotations (suppressing those that count against their thesis), that they use out of date scholarship and that they are driven by a new age and anti-Christian agenda. The most damaging allegation has been that the striking image on the cover of the book of a 4th century amulet showing Orpheus crucified has long been suspected of being a fake. Freke and Gandy knew this but gave no hint of it in their book.
“... they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god” (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96).
So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own peculiar doctrine (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 5).
Now the Apostle John, in the Apocalypse, describes a sword which proceeded from the mouth of God as "a doubly sharp, two-edged one." This may be understood to be the Divine Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law and the gospel--sharpened with wisdom, hostile to the devil, arming us against the spiritual enemies of all wickedness and concupiscence, and cutting us off from the dearest objects for the sake of God's holy name (Against Marcion, Book 1).
In the first half century of Christian correspondence, including letters attributed to Paul and other epistles under names like Peter, James and John, the Gospel story cannot be found.
The Gospel Jesus and his story is equally missing from the non-Christian record of the time.
“that the Earth could be conceived as a Global Brain which was in the process of awakening to itself, with the explosion of connections being made across it right now comparable to neural networks.”
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