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Author Topic: The Pagan Christ
WingNut
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posted 14 September 2004 11:15 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Has anyone read it?

He argues the historical Christ never existed and instead was a fraud perpetuated upon humanity. He argues, quite convincingly, that the story of Jesus is a myth that has been told many times by many different cultures and, in particular, by the Egyptions.

He says the story of Christ was never meant to be taken literally but instead provided a series of allegories to guide humans to the "Christ within." That the challenge of the Christ was to discover inner spirituality and to evolve, be transfigured, into a spiritual being.

He says the early church adopted the literal interpretation and perpetuated the fraud of the historical Christ in order to better appeal to the masses. In other words, it was the one of the earliest and most successful uses of media.

But, he argues, in order to sustain this fraud, the early church engaged on a mission to eradicate all evidence of the church's pagan roots and of those who adhered to the pagan origins. This involved murder, the destruction of entire libraries, the burning of books, and the embracing of ignorance.

Harper says it was the Christian church that hurled western society into the dark ages.

And then, he offers this alternative belief, the Pagan Christ, that he argues is universal and can bridge the divide among the world's many faiths. He says the church and the historical fraud has robbed us of a true spirituality. By externalizing spirituality, the Christ, we have relieved ourselves of the responsibilty to discover and nurture our own spirituality--to develop the Christ within.

It is a very interesting read and, I think, especially for atheists and believers alike. "With this kind of understanding (Christ as myth) all the years of conflict between religion and science are seen for what they were--sheer nonsense and a sad waste of both time and lives."


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jkun17
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posted 14 September 2004 11:19 PM      Profile for jkun17     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It is entirely possible.

The one thing that startled me about the 3 "big gospels" is that all three could not agree as to what Christ's last words were:

"I thirst"
"It is finished"
"Why have you forsaken me"

If any of these gospels were to agree at at least one point, it would be Jesus' last words.


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paxamillion
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posted 14 September 2004 11:34 PM      Profile for paxamillion   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wasn't Harpur's work challenged on the Historical Jesus Thread not long ago?
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rubberband man
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posted 25 September 2004 09:09 PM      Profile for rubberband man     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
tom harpur's website


...for those who dont want to buy the book (or cant get a copy from the library cause its always out). much of it can be found in his articles here


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arborman
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posted 26 September 2004 03:03 AM      Profile for arborman     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
His scholarship is appalling. The idea is interesting, but I've read first year papers that form more logical connections than he does.
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WingNut
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posted 26 September 2004 11:07 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
His scholarship is appalling.
In what way?

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jeff house
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posted 26 September 2004 12:56 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I haven't read it, though I want to. Generally speaking, I am receptive to the idea that much of the Christ story is an elaboration of earlier myths, including that of Horus, apparently cited by Harpur.

But there are a few alarm-bells ringing. For one thing, his main source, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, was not exactly a reliable scholar. He was an adherent of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky's esoteric cult which was one of the predecessors of Jung and many other anti-rational new age groups.

I note that Harper is making use of the term "the God within" and also claiming that the "Christ-myth" is repeated near-universally in other cultures.

This, too, was one of Jung's central contentions, based on Blavatsky and sloppy 100 year old scholarship.

------
So, while I intend to read Harpur (in paperback!), I have serious reservations, even at this stage.

Editted to add:

Those interested in his mentor, Kuhn's scholarship, might take a look at this:

http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/kuhnthesecretdoctrine.htm

To me, it is pretentious tripe.

[ 26 September 2004: Message edited by: jeff house ]


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skdadl
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posted 26 September 2004 01:02 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing about myths, as about smaller forms and structures in language: they deal with what is available to the human mind, which means they deal with human experience, although with a variety of forms, under different conditions.

And human experience repeats.

So do the forms and structures. That one story resembles an, or many, earlier ones demonstrates little.


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Vansterdam Kid
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posted 26 September 2004 06:39 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The claim that the Christian Church lunched Europe into the dark ages seems bizarre. Hello, barbarian invasions, a decedent Empire that once controlled much of Europe in in an obvious decline [hmm is there a parallel to that today, or at least will there be soon?], large migrations of people and ever fluent re-alignment of spheres of power influence thought the entire continent. I would think these things had a much bigger influence on Europe 'entering' the 'dark ages' than the Christian Church. And Ironically even though the Christian Church of the time, like many things, was somewhat barbaric (in our terms) it actually contributed a lot to preserving many historical documents and ancient knowledge that would've otherwise been lost.
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BleedingHeart
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posted 26 September 2004 07:12 PM      Profile for BleedingHeart   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It is more likely that the modern Christian Church is a product of the dark ages.

quote:
Originally posted by Vansterdam Kid:
The claim that the Christian Church lunched Europe into the dark ages seems bizarre. .

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'lance
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posted 26 September 2004 07:48 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Slightly off-topic, I'm amazed at how persistent is the notion of the "dark ages" in early medieval Europe. The idea is something over 700 years old now, and no better-supported by actual evidence than at its creation. Ah, well.
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Vansterdam Kid
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posted 26 September 2004 09:30 PM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by BleedingHeart:
It is more likely that the modern Christian Church is a product of the dark ages.


Not this again, some obviously ... anything Bush Supporters are active member in for instance.


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voice of the damned
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posted 29 September 2004 07:35 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And Ironically even though the Christian Church of the time, like many things, was somewhat barbaric (in our terms) it actually contributed a lot to preserving many historical documents and ancient knowledge that would've otherwise been lost.

And isn't it also the case that much of what we consider to be anti-scientific Christian superstition was actually a holdover from the theories of pre-Christian thinkers, which the Church had inherited? So, the whole Galileo vs. The Church thing wasn't so much "science vs. religion", as it was "old science vs. new science" with the Church siding with the old?

Not that this exonerates the Church's willful blindness to facts, but my impression is that Galileo would've gotten roughly the same treatment from the ancients as he did from the Christians.


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voice of the damned
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posted 29 September 2004 07:38 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, and as for the book in question:

it sounds as if Harpur, true to form, is just popularizing ideas that have been around for some time now. Someone has already mentioned Jung, and didn't Frazier's THE GOLDEN BOUGH put forth the same ideas?


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WingNut
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posted 29 September 2004 09:08 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
it sounds as if Harpur, true to form, is just popularizing ideas that have been around for some time now

And isn't that what he argues christianity did?

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jeff house
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posted 29 September 2004 12:49 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It sounds to me that Harpur is publicizing really BAD ideas that have been around for some time now.

A casual reading of his columns over the years has suggested to me that he has been a believer in Christian ethics.

Now, he seems to be claiming that Christ was just a man, (something I think is quite true and worth saying), but also that he was a pagan in the sense of Jung, Blavatsky, and so forth.

If so, Christian ethics dissolve, and are replaced by gobbledeegook such as "the God within", the cult of the sun, the collective unconscious and other flimflam.

I hope Harper hasn't ended up there. We have enough new age "thinking" as it is.


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WingNut
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posted 29 September 2004 01:49 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Now, he seems to be claiming that Christ was just a man, (something I think is quite true and worth saying), but also that he was a pagan in the sense of Jung, Blavatsky, and so forth.

If so, Christian ethics dissolve, and are replaced by gobbledeegook such as "the God within", the cult of the sun, the collective unconscious and other flimflam.



I think he is saying there was never a historical Jesus, deity, man, or otherwise.

But why is all of that "flim-flam?" Why is it any less credible that pre-destination, virgin births, fish from loaves, water to wine and other such nonsense?

(I sound like Dr. Conway!)


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Michelle
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posted 29 September 2004 02:15 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
If so, Christian ethics dissolve, and are replaced by gobbledeegook such as "the God within", the cult of the sun, the collective unconscious and other flimflam.

Jeff, I've been reading your thoughts on this subject for quite a while now, and I'm trying to get a handle on something. Do you think it's a bad thing if Christian ethics dissolve? Or, more precisely, do you have a problem with it if someone argues that the reasoning behind following Christian ethics (e.g. these rules are correct because God says so) should dissolve?

What makes Christian ethics any less "flimflam" than the new-agey stuff (for which I share your disdain)? If I remember correctly, that was your critique of Nietszche and Jung and other thinkers who were hung up on human myth theories, wasn't it? That they argued against the validity of Christian ethics and instead espoused an ethics based on what they considered to be timeless human myths.

Or am I getting totally confused about what you're trying to get across?


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skdadl
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posted 29 September 2004 02:27 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by 'lance:
Slightly off-topic, I'm amazed at how persistent is the notion of the "dark ages" in early medieval Europe. The idea is something over 700 years old now, and no better-supported by actual evidence than at its creation. Ah, well.

I don't think that you are off-topic at all, 'lance.

In his great essay on the Enlightenment (subtitled "The Rise of Modern Paganism"), Peter Gay argues convincingly that the so-called Dark Ages were a political invention of propagandists like Voltaire (and I adore Voltaire, but my love is not blind).

Voltaire and his allies had important political reasons for trashing the Middle Ages generally; but he was certainly lying, on purpose, about the culture and thought of the European Middle Ages, and he was, of course, seriously ignorant of much of it, particularly of Spanish history, and of any other culture anywhere else.


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'lance
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posted 29 September 2004 02:35 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I remember reading Peter Gay and quite liking him when I was in school. I'll have to look him up again.

You could write a whole essay or even book on the contemporary political/polemical uses of the notion of the Dark Ages. But it certainly seems to flatter Western smugness, or something, to suppose that "we" dragged ourselves up out of a swamp of ignorance and falsehood thanks largely to the efforts of a few Great Men, or however one wants to put it.


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WingNut
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posted 29 September 2004 02:36 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The era known as the dark-ages is from a history that is, of course, euro-centric. Not surprising.

I will leave my analysis of that period to Monty Python:

"How do you know he is a king?"
"He ain't got shit on 'im"


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'lance
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posted 29 September 2004 02:41 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The era known as the dark-ages is from a history that is, of course, euro-centric. Not surprising.

Yes but that's the least of the criticisms of the idea. You don't have to be Euro-centric to believe in the European Dark Ages. Often people will say "over in China at the same time they were making marvellous Progress" and similar. In fact you can be quite anti-European and still talk of the Dark Ages.

[ 29 September 2004: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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WingNut
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posted 29 September 2004 03:10 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, you got me there.
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skdadl
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posted 29 September 2004 03:25 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He's got you?

Wingy! Faithless deceiver!


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