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The Mythic-Only Jesus Theory (The Christ-Myth Theory)

Amazon Book Lists

Mythic-only Christ theory - has books in addition to those listed below.

Historical Jesus, or Christ Myth?

Christ-Myth Books


Pagan Christs, J.M. Robertson, 1903.  I read 95% of this so far.


The Christ Myth, Arthur Drews, 1910.  I read 67% of this so far.  My Amazon review:

Drews wrote this book in German and it was translated to English with sometimes difficult sentence construction, but the ideas are good and essentially clear. The ideas are not at all outdated. I've read the recent Christ-myth books, such as The Jesus Puzzle, The Christ Conspiracy, The Jesus Mysteries, The Jesus Myth, and Deconstructing Jesus. This book and The Jesus Mysteries are my favorites because instead of only refuting the historical Jesus and discarding the whole of the Jesus story, they ask what is the meaning and value of the myth, in terms of religious experiencing and insight into the relation of self and world.

The conclusion of this book is that given the choice between Jesus as myth and the historical Jesus, the right path for religion as religion is to choose Jesus as myth. If all we have is the historical Jesus of liberal Protestantism, then we no longer have religion, just mundane morality divested of both myth and the supernatural. But if we retain Jesus as myth, then we retain the religious redemption that is possible. He asserts that the Catholic Church could become legitimate by abandoning the historical Jesus and emphasizing the mythic Jesus as redeemer. Despite his elevation of redemption as the true essence of religion, Drews does not define redemption. (I'd define redemption as reconciliation between the self as moral agent and that from which it emanates.) Drews does not explicitly define this reconciliation and explain specifically how the Jesus myth assists this reconciliation.

He explains a main motive for creating the assertion of the historical Jesus. The early Jewish Christian leaders used a strategy of trying to limit authority to themselves and shut out competitors such as Paul and his Gentile/mythic Christianity by creating historical requirements that would serve to exclude others and restrict authority to themselves. Drews shows that this is the same strategy the Church fathers used: assert that the only spiritual authority is that of the person who spent time with the historical Jesus. If Jesus is allowed to be purely mythic, religious authority is potentially spread evenly among all people, but if Jesus is historical as well as mythic, the profitable and advantageous possibility of excluding other authorities arises.

Drews emphasizes the sacred meal as central to early Christian worship and compares it to the central role of soma (= "body") in Vedic religion, thus this book is useful for the entheogenic theory of religion. -- Michael Hoffman, theorist of ego death


Pagan and Christian Creeds, Edward Carpenter, 1920.  I read 78% of this so far.


The Myth of the Resurrection and Other Essays [Did Jesus Ever Live?, How Christianity "Triumphed"].  Joseph McCabe, 1926.  I read 40% of this so far.


The Sacred Mushroom & The Cross, John M. Allegro, 1970.  My Amazon review:

Allegro will be vindicated, so this book is worth having, although it is not the most persuasive and is severely corrupted by a pinhead flatland humanist attitude of sensationalist condescending dismissal of all religious experiencing. 

He has complete disrespect for his subject matter, exactly like Huxley's profoundly smug and ignorant, disgusted attitude toward entheogens before he had a clue.  Not only was the book 30 years ahead of its time, the book was 30 years ahead of its author's ability to understand entheogens. 

Jesus is none other than the Amanita, but the real meaning of this utterly escapes Allegro the reactionary, scorched-earth, anti-religion humanist.  A real mixed bag, and the befuddling swarms of etymologies limit the readability as well. 

But dense attitude aside, he was correct on the main points and is being vindicated: the Christians used Amanita, and there was no man Jesus; Jesus was none other than the Amanita. 

Because his theory is groundbreaking, important, and required vision and daring, the book deserves five stars.  I will refrain from subtracting a star, given the almost complete ignorance about entheogens that reigned when this book was published.


The Jesus Puzzle  Amaz.  Earl Doherty, 1999.  I read 50% of this so far.


The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Acharya S, 1999.  I read 100% of this and created a detailed table of contents.


The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, 1999.  I read 100% of this. 

Study guide -- Detailed table of contents and summaries of each section.

My Amazon review of Jesus Mysteries:

The most memorable of the Christ-myth books.  November 11, 2000.

I have now read the recent crop of Christ-myth books: The Christ Conspiracy, The Jesus Mysteries, The Jesus Puzzle, Deconstructing Jesus, and The Jesus Myth, as well as other required background books such as The Gnostic Gospels and The Mystery-Religions. The Jesus Mystery is the most readable, engaging, and exciting book of all these.

As a rational theorist of religious experiencing, I was able to immediately revise my theory of the visions of Christ at my Egodeath site after reading this book -- it saved my whole theory. The Christ-myth theory so vividly and compellingly explained in this book enabled me to make very slight adjustments to suddenly move from an untenable Christianity-centric explanation of the entheogenic ego-death experience to a largely universal and ecumenical, non-Christian theory of the experience of Christ.

This book marks a major turning point or breakthrough past the impasse of the popular assertion that Christianity is uniquely inspired. It turns out that the unique inspiration of the Christ vision is not the property of Christianity; Christianity stole and monopolized the idea that everyone already believed (the Christ-myth), literalized the story, and then killed all the mythic-Christ believers and burned their writings.

This book has freed the Christ myth from the clutches of Literalist, historicist Christianity. These authors have a high regard for The Gnostic Gospels, which I then read; taking the two books together, it becomes clear how the Literalist view garnered power for the authorities through creating an artificial scarcity of seeing Christ.

Christ as a mystery-religion renders the savior-vision democratically and directly accessible to all people, rather than forcing people to access Christ through the narrow conduit of the priestly hierarchy.

This book is fun, exciting, profound, and easy to read. It also explains some of the pagan philosophy of the ego-death experience. It is more informed by pagan and non-Christian philosophy than most of the Christ-myth books, which focus on Christianity in too much isolation from the surrounding religious philosophies.

The Jesus Mysteries is not coming from within Christianity and coming into contact with pagan religious experiencing; it moves the other direction, which is historically more comprehensible and vivid: from a universal mediterranean backdrop of pagan religious thought, the book shows how Christianity developed by combining and modifying ideas about the mythic Christ figure.


The Jesus Myth. G. A. Wells, 1999.  I read 30% of this so far.


Jesus-God, Man or Myth: An Examination of the Evidence. ___, Feb 2000.


Deconstructing Jesus. Robert M. Price, Mar 2000.  I read 55% of this so far.


The Myth of the Historical Jesus and the Evolution of Consciousness.  Oct 2000.


The Fabrication of the Christ Myth    Amaz.  Harold Liedner, Apr 2000


Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians.  Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Oct 2001.  I read 100% of this.


Jesus Is a Myth: A Handbook to Reclaim Your Celestial Inheritance.  Zain Winter, Dec 2000


Related Books

The Gnostic Paul: Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters.  Elaine Pagels, 1975.  I read 100% of this.  My 3/29/2001 posting lists the ideas of the gnostics vs. orthodox; the gnostics side with the Christ-myth theory.


The Gnostic Gospels.  Elaine Pagels, 1979.  I read 100% of this.  As great as The Gnostic Paul.  More general.


The Jesus Conspiracy.  Holger Kirsten, 1995?  I read about 40% of this.  Believes Jesus existed and Turin Shroud shows him but believes the swoon theory, not supernaturalist thinking.  For a Christ myth theorist, it's not terribly important who the man in the shroud is; the lasting contribution of this work is that one learns to read the crucifixion story as an aborted sacrifice modelled after that of Isaac (I haven't seen this powerful connection-idea of mine expressed in any book).


The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth.  John M. Allegro, 1979; 1992 2nd ed.  I read about 18% of this so far.


Discussion Groups

These use the wonderful Yahoo groups interface.  I suggest selecting "text", not "HTML" format for emails.  Parentheses show the number of members as of May 2001.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/egodeath (11) - Ego-death discussion group (unmoderated. public archives)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JesusMysteries (359) - JesusMysteries discussion group (moderated)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JesusMysteriesDiscussion (39) - Unmoderated.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GreccoRomanStudyGroup (7) - "Religions of the ancient Greek and Roman Mystery Traditions and their Gods."

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GnosticThought (89)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/J2K (37) - "Jesus Christ, The Jesus Mysteries, Gnosticism, Hermetica, Paganism, world religion, ancient history, mythology; primarily interested in logically discussing Christian theology, Laws of Science and Christian dogmas. Osiris- Dionysus- Attis- Adonis- Bacchus- Mithrasic Pagan beliefs."

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnostics (19) - "Coptic Gnostic tradition, Nag Hammadi texts, Pistis Sophia, and Nazorean roots of gnostic dualism. Cosmogony and Cosmology of the Egyptian Gnostics, especially the Valentinian Schools."

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ReligioRomana (139) - "Ancient Roman Religion and its modern reconstructed practice; rites and rituals, deities, the Mysteries, religious history and archaeology; honoring the ancient Roman Goddesses and Gods."

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alexand (107) - "Western cosmological traditions. Spiritual, philosophical, and scientific traditions that flourished in Hellenistic Alexandria: Platonism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism, the mystery religions, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, mathematics, harmonics, Gnosis, Hermeticism, Greek religion and mythology, mysteriosophical traditions, and emerging Christianity."

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