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RE: [XTalk] Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (See Notice Below)

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  • David C. Hindley
    Hope, ... Two authors who like controversial subjects. Freke seems to be the idea man, and I imagine that Gandy is the guy who does the composing. As one of
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 2, 2001
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      Hope,

      >>Who are these guys? What is their reputation?<<

      Two authors who like controversial subjects. Freke seems to be the
      idea man, and I imagine that Gandy is the guy who does the composing.

      As one of the reviews linked to their web page says, the idea is not
      new. The parallels with Dionysius were apparent to pagans as early as
      the mid 2nd century (Celsus draws attention to it, and possibly Pliny
      the Younger ca. 117). Earlier than that I am not so sure, and this is
      where many biblical scholars will no doubt disagree with them.

      In the past I have noted that Jewish tradition seems to confuse the
      Jesus of the Christians with a figure who lived about 100 years
      earlier in the reign of Alexander Janneus. The parallels with Pagan
      religious traditions have been seriously studied since the 19th
      century, especially among those associated with the "History of
      Religions" school of thought. I'm sure you'll find something about the
      19th and very early 20th century works on the subject in A.
      Schweitzer's _Quest_. In more recent times I have read _Religious
      Syncretism in Antiquity_ (AAR Series on Formative Contemporary
      Thinkers, vol 1, ed. Birger Pearson, Scholars Press, 1975) which is a
      collection of essays concerned with how and why one tradition gets
      combined with another. In between these extremes I am a little fuzzy
      on details...

      However, there has been widespread resistance to the idea that Jesus
      is an entirely mythical figure, as it seems too much other evidence
      exists that he once existed. Where everyone differs in opinion is in
      defining what kind of person the historical figure actually was, and
      what kinds of things he would have likely done. There are minimalists
      (and I confess to being one) and maximalists (by far the majority).
      How much of that evidence is historical and how much is legend or myth
      is the question, and perhaps the authors in question can expand some
      of our perspectives.

      Regards,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • David C. Hindley
      Hope, I was able to buy a copy of this book a couple days ago. According to the dust jacket, Timothy Freke has a BA in philosophy and Peter Gandy has a MA in
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 10, 2001
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        Hope,

        I was able to buy a copy of this book a couple days ago. According to
        the dust jacket, Timothy Freke has a BA in philosophy and Peter Gandy
        has a MA in classical civilizations, and have co-authored three
        previous books, _The Complete Guide to World Mysticism_, _Hermetica:
        The Lost Wisdom of the Pharoahs_ and _The Wisdom of the Pagan
        Philosophers_. Pretty much popular level stuff, it seems.

        Usually when I check out a new book I look first at the critical
        notes. These take up about 64 pages out of a total of 343 (18% of the
        book), and it appears they want this book to be taken seriously. These
        cite all sorts of authorities, including primary sources, but rely
        heavily on secondary sources even for points that are seminal to their
        thesis. They also have a bibliography (7 pages with roughly 220 works
        cited), which features authors who are all over the map as far as
        orientation. I noticed J. Allegro, G. R. S. Mead, G. A. Wells, and
        Carl Jung mixed in with specialists on the Greek mysteries and
        translations of the classics (no LCL editions, only Penguin editions).

        Another technique I like to employ is to look at the final chapter
        first, as this usually tells you the most about the authors'
        orientation and/or agendas. They appear to believe that "[m]ystics of
        all spiritual traditions have taught that there is only one Truth,
        ever present and never changing" (pg 255). To them, Christian
        mythology was created to serve the purposes of a mystery religion and
        is not based in any way on a real Jesus, but rather is synthesized
        from the common myths of mystery religions in general. This truth has
        been hijacked in the interests of "Literalist Christianity," which
        "has ... been the cause of deep divisions". They hope that their Jesus
        Mysteries Thesis (it's official, I guess) will offer an "opportunity
        to heal the wounds left in the Western soul by these dreadful schisms"
        (pg 254).

        Reading through several chapters, I found them using generalities
        quite a bit more than made me comfortable. The portions on the
        mysteries themselves are less tedious than those on Christianity,
        which almost come across as a lecture (in the negative sense). They
        come across as people who "know" exactly what has going on in ancient
        minds, and all things seem to be interpreted from their perspective
        that a universal mystical truth existed (and exists).

        As for the parallels between Christian traditions and the myths of the
        mystery religions, which on the face of things do make me scratch my
        head and ponder, I would think that the reader would derive most
        benefit by tracing back the footnotes to the primary source documents
        and creating a database of parallels as well as devising a means to
        grade their similarities and differences. The worse that could happen
        would be that the reader would know a whole lot more about such
        parallels than s/he did before. I am very probably going to do just
        this at some point in the future, solely due to the prompting of this
        book.

        Regards,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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