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Pagan Christ

by Tom Harpur
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publishing date: 01/03/2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780802714497
  • ISBN: 0802714498


For forty years and in nine previous books, scholar and religious commentator Tom Harpur has challenged church orthodoxy and guided thousands of readers on subjects as controversial as the true nature of Christ and life after death. Now, in his most radical and groundbreaking work, Harpur digs deep into the origins of Christianity. What he has discovered will have a profound effect on the way we think about religion. Long before the advent of Jesus Christ, the Egyptians and other peoples believed in the coming of a messiah, a madonna and her child, a virgin birth, and the incarnation of the spirit in flesh. The early Christian church accepted these ancient truths as the very tenets of Christianity but disavowed their origins. What began as a universal belief system based on myth and allegory became instead, in the third and fourth centuries A.D., a ritualistic institution headed by ultraconservative literalists. "The transcendent meaning of glorious myths and symbols was reduced to miraculous, quite unbelievable events. The truth that Christ was to come in man, that the Christ principle was potentially in each of us, was changed to the exclusivist teaching that the Christ had come as a man." Harpur's message is clear: Our blind faith in literalism is killing Christianity. Only with a return to an inclusive religion will we gain a true understanding of who we are and who we are intended to become. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Gerald Massey and Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Tom Harpur has written a book of rare insight and power.

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    From Amazon

    XXXXX Partial table of contents: 4 The greatest cover-up of all time: how a spiritual Christianity became a literalist Christianism 5 It was all written before in--Egypt 7 The Bible--history or myth? 9 Was there a Jesus of history? The above is a partial table of contents of this mesmerizing book by Tom Harpur. He is a columnist for "The Toronto Star" newspaper, a Rhodes scholar, a former Anglican priest, a professor of Greek and New Testament at the University of Toronto, and an internationally renowned writer and author on religious and ethical issues. In this book, Harpur researches deeply into Christianity's origins. What he has found is profound and may change the way you look at religion. His entire thesis is based on the distinction between objective history and myth. Harpur elaborates: "[A]nyone who wants to understand religious ideas, and religious documents--that is scriptures of any kind--must realize that the divine, the mysterious, the ineffable, the workings of the spirit in the human heart or the cosmos at large cannot be adequately expressed other than by myth, allegory, imagery, parable, and metaphor." Once this is understood, everything else falls into place. Why is what Harpur proposing important? Here is one good reason that Harpur states: "This has enormous potential for world peace, since there is currently an underlying religious dimension to almost every conflict on the face of the globe." One might get the impression that Harpur through his book is attempting to bash religion in general and bash Christianity in particular. NO. Harpur again explains: "The discoveries and revelations in this book have had a profound effect upon my own personal spiritual journey. It is hard for me even now to believe that throughout all my previous training in and inquiry into the spiritual and religious dimensions of life, I could have missed something so important. Indeed, the uncovering of these truths has been unquestionably the most transformative experience of my life. My hope is that my excitement and inspiration will be passed on to you." This book has three excellent appendices. My favourite is entitled "Two strange passages." This refers to two odd passages from the text of the New Testament. There is also a helpful glossary. It is brief but VERY important. Finally, I have read criticism of this book (mainly by religious folk) that states that it is not based on the work of "scholarly sources." What they mean is biblical scholarly sources such as theologians. This criticism is unjustified. Biblical scholars are biased (that is, they interpret events from always a religious perspective) while this book is unbiased. That is, this book presents the work of unbiased sources. As well, Harpur does some of his own interpreting of events found in the Bible. With his qualifications (see above), I trust his interpretations absolutely. In conclusion, this is truly an eye-opening book. I leave you with some crucial questions and answers from this book: "Ask yourself, is a poem true? Can it contain truth of infinite value even though its content is symbolic or fictional? Are the plays of William Shakespeare true?...Yes, through fiction, they are supremely true. But they are not exact history, nor can they ever be. That is precisely the case with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John." (first published 2004; author's note; acknowledgements; 10 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 195 pages; 3 appendices; glossary; notes; bibliography; index) <> XXXXX

  • Interesting....
    From Amazon

    Tom Harpur and his distractors have proven that Christianity has all along been a waste of time. Instead of us leading good and better lives on a daily basis, we prefer to investigate whether a man by the name of Jesus Christ walked the Earth 2,000 years ago....really, who cares. If he did,so what ? If he didn't, so what? It is tremendous effort and time that we spend our time on nonsense like this that we no longer have thing for the real stuff - the spiritual lives we all deserve. It reminds me of the Monty Python scene in Life of Brian, where the followers of the Brian's sandal fought with the followers of Brian's drinking gourd. And the best joke is that they didn't even realise Brian ( who had accidentally dropped those personal items ) is not even the Son of God. Makes me laugh everytime I remember that scene. See the parallel here ?

  • Too Interesting To Pass Up:
    From Amazon

    Tom Harpur seems a bit of a wild man, as credentialed academics go, seeming to play fast-and-loose with his use of sources and such, not all of which seem entirely respectable or used with sufficient care. On the other hand, he writes intelligently, seems entirely in earnest, and the judicious reader can't quite escape a creepy sense that he just may be onto something. His assertions run to the effect that Christianity as we have recieved it is essentially a rehash, down to the last jot and tittle, of Egyptian mythology thousands of years older than itself, that originally it never pretended to be anything else, that Jesus Christ and all the rest of the New Testament cast of characters never really lived, nor were originally understood to have lived, as actual historical people, that it wasn't until the third century or so that anyone thought to historify the New Testament, in order to make a church out of it, that the way the early church went about its historification campaign was by means of a massive campaign of book burning meant to wipe out all memory of the past, and that in so doing the church fathers conspired to perpetrate one of real history's most heinous spiritual crimes ... the crime of robbing Western Civilization of the real Christology and the much needed, deeply healing powers that it could afford, particularly for such times as ours. No doubt Harpur's colleagues, both ecclesiastical and academic, think of him by now as a most excellent pagan, and perhaps rightly so, but however that may be, there is for me no escaping a sense that the claims of his overall thesis, whatever its particular flaws, may be generally true. It all fits, after all, and I have long been convinced, from deep discussions every chance I get with Fundies and others who believe in the literal and inerrant truth of scripture, that Bible literalism is more a matter of wishful thinking that certain personality types are inclined to than anything else. So far, there has been for me only one last sticking-point; what it all means for the understanding of a career like that of Paul, who presumably really was an actual historical character, and what exactly he may have been up to in his own seminal proselytizing mission. If I ever do finally figure that one out, I'll likely end up with Tom Harpur to thank, as much as Bart Ehrmann or anybody else, for driving home in my mind some extremely enlightening truths about not only human nature but Western Civilization itself, and what it all ultimately means.

  • Found the errors in scholarship yet??
    From Amazon

    Oh no! I found some errors in scholarship here. Tom Harpur's "Pagan Christ" is based on the idea that Christianity borrowed beliefs from paganism. Many scholars have argued in favor of this during the Victorian era and even into the early 1900's. Many thousands of books by scholars later, the idea has been soundly refuted. Indeed, there is not a single reputable biblical scholars who believes this. That's how soundly, how utterly refuted the idea is. For a book that explains how all the ideas were proven wrong, please read "The Jesus Legend" by Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd, a book you can order from Amazon today. On the popular level, another book that talks about the "History of Religions" theory would be "The Gospel and the Greeks" by Nash. On the highest level of scholarship, try Martin Hengel's the "Son of God". The only modern authors Harpur relies on are Kuhn, a theosophist, and Freke and Gandy, two English teachers. These appear to be very dubious sources. At any rate, nearly every page in the book is marked by errors. Here are but a few: Harpur claims "Origen had no rebuttal" (p 29) to Celsus. Actually, Origen wrote an entire book that was a rebuttal called "Contra Celsus". Buddha "promises to send the Paraclete" (p 32). Buddhism began as a religion without a god, let alone a paraclete. "The indwelling of the central teaching of all ancient belief systems" (p 35). Untrue--and would certainly be news to pagans in Rome, Greece, Carthage, Incan, Mayan, Celtic, Confuscian, Taoist, Shintoist, African, etc. societies. "Every traditional faith..rests on...a dying and rising" (p 37) god. Untrue. Buddhism was an atheist system at first, Hinduism had no dying and rising god stories until the arrival of Christianity, nor Confuscianism, Shintoism, Taoism, etc., etc. "Constantine never quite gave up his hope of of further uniting the empire in the adoration of the one sun god" (p 42). Untrue. Pretty strange to suggest he wanted the empire to adore the one sun god when he was pushing Christianity instead. "The cross was always a symbol of life" (p 45). Untrue. Death on the cross was a death for slaves throughout the empire, and was considered an embarrassment by early Christians. Nor was the ankh considered a cross. "Christianity began as a cult with almost wholly pagan origins" (p 51). Wholly untrue. Christianity began with a Jewish Jesus, Jewish followers, in the time of the Second Temple, fiercely monotheistic Jewish religion. And the millions of Jews who died fighting for their religion in the centuries before and after Jesus prove it. In 70 AD, just one generation after Jesus' death, over one million Jews were slaughtered in the rebellion that ended in the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Of all the groups in the world to charge with pagan dogmas, the Jews??? "Books that were highly regarded in the movement...were condemned...within two centuries". (p 51) Wholly untrue. He may be thinking of gnostic gospels here, but, if so, all the gnostic 'gospels" were written--at the earliest--at least 100 years after the death of Christ, and therefore long after all the major Christian dogmas were in place. At any rate, the gnostics borrowed the names of Christian apostles to give credibility to their "gospels" and all such works were condemned by Christians. A good book on this subject is Peterment's "A Separate God". "Several doctrines that were held in high esteem..such as reincarnation...were later refuted" (p 51). Untrue. There is not the smallest shred of evidence that the early Christians believed in reincarnation. "Nearly all original thinkers who shared in the building of the movement...were refiled" (p 51). Untrue. And a very strange claim, since every single one of the documents from the first hundred years or so of Christianity either became part of the bible or were, as in the case of 1 Clement or the letters of Ignatius, full of an advanced, devout Christianity no different from the one advanced today. Anyone interested can Google the documents right now and see. "The mystical/allegorical method of interpreting sacred Scripture...was replaced by a wholly literal/historical approach" (p 51). Untrue. In fact, Origen's method of interpreting scripture was a combination of allegorical and literal, So is the way Catholics and the Orthodox Christians read scripture to this day. "Basilides..was highly regarded even by...Clement" (p 60). Clement thought very highly of Basilides until he left the church, renounced its doctrines, and became a gnostic. Then Clement wasn't so keen on him. "The Church's initial attempts to blame obvious similarities between Christian doctrines and the Pagan originals...Justin Martyr...said 'the wicked devils have attacked'" the Lord's Supper by copying it in Mithric rites. Another very strange claim. How does Harpur think Justin got the name Justin MARTYR? Because he was murdered for holding on to Christian beliefs. Pretty odd thing to do if he knew for a fact that Christianity was just a pale, second hand version of paganism. No, the reason that Justin Martyr was furious with the Mithric cult was that it stole ideas from Christianity, not the other way around. This is exactly what Justin Martyr wrote, by the way. And it has been proven by the last 100 years of archaeology. Why, why didn't Harpur at least look it up??? The Mithric religion was a tiny cult in the area of Iran until over one hundred years after Christ's death. Then it stole a number of ideas from Christianity and became a favorite cult of the Roman army (it was an all male cult). Again, please read Petermont's "A Separate God" for a thorough refutation. This is getting too long for me to go into all the false claims he makes about the Egyptian religion and Christianity, or his equally untrue charges about the early Christians. For a good refutation of the Egyptian religion claims please read "Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries" by Gu'nter Wagner. It's a pity I don't have time to go into the Egyptian section more because that section is so thick with errors, which could have been avoided if he had only researched the subject. For example, the idea of a happy heavenly future was lost by the Egyptians of the New Kingdom and the Late Period. Egypt was under attack from the growing empires of Alexander, the Greek states, and later Rome. During this time, Egyptian belief in a happy heaven vanished under the Hellenistic, and very Greco-Roman pagan idea of an afterlife. The afterlife for these pagans was a place of joyless, fearful, hopelessness. And with that malicious Fate always after you, life wasn't thought of as all that much better. The only thing that changed this grim belief was --surprise--Christianity. Frankly, it is embarrassing that this book was ever published. And I wince to realize that there are actually some positive reviews about it. Sorry, but those people who gave it good reviews must be very, very ignorant.

  • the pagan Christ
    From Amazon

    i read about 1 1/2 pages and threw it in the garbage. It is a mainstream attempt to discredit Jesus as the savior of the world .

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