The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light by Tom HarpurThe Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light by Tom Harpur

The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light

byTom Harpur

Paperback | October 1, 2005

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After more than 52 weeks on the Toronto Star's bestseller list and 43 weeks on The Globe and Mail's bestseller list, Tom Harpur's groundbreaking book, The Pagan Christ, is now available in paperback.

This new edition includes the twenty-page discussion guide, with more than 100 questions, to help facilitate a deeper, chapter-by-chapter analysis and more profound understanding of the findings and arguments found in the book. Subjects for discussion include: the ancient Egyptian roots of Christianity, the real meaning of the Bible, the key to whether Jesus really existed, the re-mythologizing of Christianity, the meaning of the Christ within all of us and the need to understand myth and allegory. With a new introduction by Tom Harpur, this paperback edition sheds further light on what has become one of the most talked about books of the new millennium.

Tom Harpur was a columnist for the Toronto Star, Rhodes scholar, former Anglican priest, and professor of Greek and the New Testament, and was an internationally renowned writer on religious and ethical issues. He was the author of ten bestselling books, including For Christ's Sake and The Pagan Christ. He hosted numerous radio and tel...
Title:The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost LightFormat:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.88 inPublished:October 1, 2005Publisher:DundurnLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0887621953

ISBN - 13:9780887621956

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Re-Interpretation of The Bible The author, a former Anglican priest, presents the case for a major re-interpretation of the New Testament (he also touches upon the Old Testament). His approach, in my view, is twofold: on the one hand some of his arguments are concrete and seem to be based on hard facts. In particular, he argues that, due to a complete lack of credible evidence, there is no reason to believe that a historic Jesus ever existed and that the Jesus stories in the New Testament are nearly verbatim retellings of stories from much more ancient civilizations, particularly Horus/Osiris in Ancient Egypt; the parallels that are presented are truly phenomenal. On these issues he provides a wealth of solid evidence to make his case and includes references to writings by many reputable scholars who have come to these same conclusions. On the other hand, some of his arguments are more subjective and ethereal in nature. Here, the author argues that the stories in the Bible were only meant to be interpreted spiritually (which he does at length), and not as historical facts - that they were meant to be viewed as the story/journey of every human’s inner piece of God or soul. The claim is that the early Church Fathers of the third and fourth centuries AD were responsible for falsely declaring that the hero in these stories (Jesus of Nazareth) was a real person and that their main reason for creating (what the author calls) this well-meaning lie was to make the biblical message more easily understandable to a wider audience. As a result, this unfortunate historical interpretation of the Bible remains with us even today. Here he also cites many scholars with the same view. The writing style is often clear and engaging, e.g., the historical/archaeological parts, but many passages, e.g., religious/spiritual issues, are a bit heavy on theological jargon and phraseology. As a result, as a general reader, I found some such passages a bit over my heard and difficult to fully appreciate. Although the accessibility of some parts may be a bit limited for a non-theologian, overall, any open-minded general reader could learn a lot from reading this book.
Date published: 2009-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For Those Who Question And Keep Their Minds Open Considering that this book is written by someone from the mainstream Anglican tradition, Tom Harpur is a very brave man. He asks the hardest questions that very few would dare ask, and has presented a challenging and mind-opening work. The main idea of this book is that the story of Christ has been adapted by various pagan myths that also told of a dying god-man who was then resurrected, and that ultimately the point that whether Jesus existed or not is not as important as the words that he preached. A comparative study of all world religions and mythologies would show that ultimately all these different roads lead to the same place. It's a scary idea for anyone who has unquestioningly adhered to a 2000-year old tradition. If you find comfort in the status quo, you're probably not going to get much out of this book. If you're disgusted by the bloody and violent history that has been caused by religious fanaticism, this is an awesome book that shows that religion and spirituality doesn't have to be that negative. If you like this book, I also recommend Acharya S's "The Christ Conspiracy" and Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's "The Jesus Mysteries".
Date published: 2006-12-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Pagan Garbage I recommend: Stanley E. Porter & Stephen J. Bedard, Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea (Toronto: Clements Publishing, 2006), 172 pages. ISBN: 1894667719. Harpur tells the reader that “the arguments advanced will lead inexorably to the conclusion that the entire Gospel story of Jesus—not to mention about 95 percent of the rest of the Bible—is a myth or a collection of the same” (16). How does he accomplish this? He uses questionable scholarship. He does not consider scholars who disagree with him. He uses bogus quotes from Church Fathers and offers an alternative history of the Church. He proposes implausible interpretations of Scripture. Harpur’s favourite “scholars” are Godfrey Higgins (1773-1833), Gerald Massey (1828-1907), and Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963). Much of Harpur’s book (including unsubstantiated etymologies, elusive quotes, revisionist history, and bizarre interpretations of Scripture) is based on the works of these three authors. Harpur claims that “there was a Jesus in Egyptian lore as early as 18,000 B.C.E.” (5). He mentions again: “According to the historian Herodotus, the ‘father of history,’ the Egyptian Jesus, known as Iu-em-hetep, or Iusu, was one of the eight great gods who were described in the papyri almost twenty thousand years ago” (39; cf. 206). First, we do not have any record of Egyptian lore 18,000 B.C.E. Second, Herodotus also could not have known about Egyptian beliefs of 18,000 B.C.E. Third, where does Herodotus mention Iu-em-hetep or Iusu? A citation would be helpful. Harpur quotes and alludes to Church Fathers and other people throughout Church history. These include Origen, Augustine, Eusebius, Justin Martyr, Gregory Nazianzen, Hernando Cortez, Plutarch, an unidentified “fifth-century pope,” Anselm, John Chrysostom, Bishop Dionysius, Papias, Irenaeus, and Jerome. However, Harpur does not provide references for the vast majority of these alleged quotes. Many of these alleged quotes appear bogus. If they are real, Harpur should provide references to primary sources. For the quotes that are certainly genuine, Harpur should have provided references to primary sources so that his readers can look up these quotes in context. If he has neither misquoted nor altered the context, Harpur has nothing to fear from providing detailed references. Harpur claims: “Paul never once mentions the man Jesus, in the full historical sense” (167). According to Harpur, Paul’s Jesus is a non-historical, Gnostic or mystical reality. If Paul wanted his readers to believe that Jesus is a non-historical, Gnostic or mystical reality, he did a very poor job of it. From Paul’s undisputed writings, we can learn that Jesus: was a human being, a Jew, a descendant of David; instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper; was crucified by earthly rulers, died, and was resurrected. (See Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 2:8; 11:23-25; 15:3-8; Gal. 3:16; 4:4; Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Thess. 2:14-15.) A Gnostic may read Paul’s letters and hope to interpret all of the statements about the life of Jesus symbolically. But one cannot easily pretend that the idea of a Gnostic Jesus arises from a reading of the text itself.
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Pagan Christ In his tenth book, The Pagan Christ, former Anglican priest and religious scholar, Tom Harpur, investigates the shadowy and distorted history of the Christian world in an attempt to illuminate what really lies at the heart of Christian belief. He presents a new image of Christian faith that begins with the assertion that Jesus of Nazareth was not born to a virgin, did not perform miracles, and did not die on the cross only to rise again in three days. The flesh and blood Jesus never really lived. The historical veracity of the person of Jesus Christ is integral to the doctrine of every established Christian church. It is only by God becoming man, and dying that human beings can be forgiven of our sins, and our souls be saved. If Jesus never existed then it is all bunk. Harpur, however, argues that it is only by recognizing the metaphorical and ahistorical nature of the Jesus myths that one can understand what the Bible is all about. The Pagan Christ was inspired by the work of three Egyptologists, most significantly Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963). After the Rosetta Stone was used to decipher the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics these scholars argued that before Jesus was Jesus he was the Egyptian god Horus. Harpur draws out the likenesses between the images, characters, and events in the lives of Jesus and Horus. His argument for the mythological origins of Jesus is a strong blow to belief in a historical Jesus. He also examines the history of Christian thought to show that our contemporary ideas of Christianity were arrived at through editing, censorship, and accusations of heresy that were aimed at the expansion of Church control. In the midst of this theological chaos what then is the true meaning of the Christ story? According to Harpur the story of Jesus is the story of the human soul; that the god-man is not a historical person, but the true nature of all beings. I do not appreciate overblown spiritual jibber-jabber, and the direct simplicity of this message was welcome. The information that Harpur presents is powerful, and the new vision of Christianity that he offers has the potential to speak deeply to those who are disillusioned by the closed mindedness, believe-this-or-see-you-in-hell nature of mainstream Christianity. He can be repetitive, and sometimes seems to only be skimming the surface. He aims for accessibility, but he could still afford to raise the intellectual standard without the risk of alienating any readers. He writes with enthusiasm, but he comes too close to an evangelical zeal that gives me the willies, because it is precisely the kind of thing that has kept people like myself out of church since the age of twelve. These are elements of Harpur’s book that are not to my taste, but the historical and textual analysis of the Bible in The Pagan Christ is still an exciting new vision of the world’s most influential figure of the past two thousand years.
Date published: 2005-12-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Harpur fails to convince The thesis of the book - that there was never a historical person named Jesus - is challenging to Christian orthodoxy, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and Harpur fails to provide. Instead he offers conjecture (e.g. I can only take this to mean, or the most likely possible r4eading of this is... ) or ad hominem arguments (if you disagree with his thesis, you're likely a fundamentalist Christian). I believe that the Bible can be read metaphorically rather han as history. But we lose something if we entirely do away with the historical Jesus. Why? Because for all Harpur's claims of parallels with Egyptian mythology, there is something unique about the Christ story. Unlike any religious figure before him, Jesus proclaimed a liberating spirituality for all, including those otherwise shunned and unwanted. It is this Jesus that the Jesus Seminar (which Harpur smugly dismisses in this book) was trying to recapture, and which is missing from The Pagan Christ.
Date published: 2005-07-22

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Paperback Edition
1 Discovery: A Bible Story I'd Never Heard Before
2 Setting the Stage: Myths Aren't Fairy Tales
3 Christianity before Christianity: Where It All Began
4 The Greatest Cover-up of All Time: How a Spiritual Christianity Became a Literalist Christianism
5 It Was All Written Before-in Egypt
6 Convincing the Sceptics
7 The Bible-History or Myth?: The End of Fundamentalism
8 Seeing the Gospels with New Eyes: Sublime Myth Is Not Biography
9 Was There a Jesus of History?: Where It All Began
10 The Only Way Ahead: Cosmic Christianity
Appendix A: Background on Three Experts on Mythology, Religion, and Ancient Egypt
Appendix B: More Similarities between the Egyptian Christ, Horus, and Jesus
Appendix C: Two Strange Passages
Appendix D: Response to The Pagan Christ for Discussion Purposes
The Pagan Christ: A Discussion Guide

Editorial Reviews

The Pagan Christ reminds us that beneath our political and economic systems, beneath both culture and character, lies the spiritual imagination. - The Republic