“BEWARE, HE WHO ENTERS HERE.” I’m a heretic, while also a daily student of the Bible. Jesus of Nazareth was a heretic, too, and got executed for loving too much. I suppose it could also happen to you or me. But you? Well, you’ve been warned. (If you’re weak in faith, or simply prefer that old-time religion you could still turn back.) This book review may well rock your faith, or strengthen its foundation.
The book is by the late Anglican priest, seminary professor, and religion journalist, Tom Harpur. It first appeared in 2004 as a best seller in Canada, and was brought out in paperback, in 2006, by another publisher, with a new subtitle: THE PAGAN CHRIST Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? I’m linking the paperback edition, as it has a LOOK INSIDE feature at Amazon. (My copy is a hardbound copy; I’m not aware of any changes beyond a subtitle.)
Yes, Easter Sunday is also April Fools day this year. But, no joke – this is a book of major significance, even while some reviewers have tried to argue that Harpur is a Christ-denier. You decide. Here’s his thesis, from pp.10-13 of the hardcover edition: “I will clearly document that there is nothing the Jesus of the Gospels either said or did—from the Sermon on the Mount to the miracles, from his flight as infant from Herod to the Resurrection itself—that cannot be shown to have originated thousands of years before, in Egyptian Mystery rites and other sacred litrugies such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. ¶ Everything—from the star in the east to Jesus’ walking on water, from the angel’s pronouncement to the slaughter of the innocents by Herod, from the temptation in the wilderness to the changing of water into wine—already existed in the Egyptian sources. Egypt and its peoples had knelt at the shrine of the Madonna and Child Isis and Horus for many long centuries before any allegedly historical Mary lifted a supposedly historical Jesus in her arms. [. . .] Keep in mind throughout that however negative—even shocking—the evidence may seem at times, a vast hope shines through it all. The overwhelmingly positive conclusions finally reached point toward an exhilarating new approach to faith and to a sorely needed truly spiritual Christianity in this still very new millennium. [. . .] how the Bible is wonderfully illumined afresh, how a rational, cosmic faith not only is possible but indeed is the only thing that makes sense in our fast-changing, pluralistic world. [ . . .] The Jesus story will come alive and strike your heart and intellect as never before. [. . .] Belief in the Christ within will be established as the key to personal and communal transformation.” [emphasis mine]
It’s not too late. You can still turn back, but remember Lot’s wife! And remember St Paul’s admonition (1Cor3:8): If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
May Christ be made alive for you, to you, in you, thru you, today – or on Easter Sunday, (Fool’s Day) April 1st, 2018. Blessings to all.
POST SCRIPT: Harpur argues that Christ precedes Jesus of Nazareth, who did not exist, according to Harpur, which seems a logically impossible position to argue. (Try proving “there are no unicorns” and you will spend the rest of your career hunting for proof of this absence.) Jesus said I AM the light of the world; and he also also said you are the light of the world. The point here is that we are awakening to who we are. And this awakening is not exclusively invested in a single individual.