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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dr. Robert Price's Review of "Suns of God"

I am delighted to announce that I have just now posted online the review by Dr. Robert Price of my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. This review is long awaited, and the hard copy of it, appearing in Price's "Journal of Higher Criticism," is going to press as I write. Bob has kindly allowed me to post this preview copy online. As one can see, after the previous debacle with my book "The Christ Conspiracy," Bob has come forth to prove himself a real mensch.

Dr. Robert Price's Review of Suns of God



Steven Bently said...

We need to invent a mythical figure that people will be willing to worship 2000 yeras from now, maybe Harry Potter will do.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent and even handed review.

My own view is very similar.

I think that AS has stated her theory in the strongest form. This is good science. She has demostrated that the Jesus we learn about in Sunday School just did not exist - period. She next disposes of the Jesus of the Gospels and Epistles - too much of this is myth for a coherant biography to be drawn out of it. Finally, we have to say 'is a Jesus who really lived a necessary hypothesis to account for the development of Christianity? It turns out it is not. There are other ways of accounting for the phenomenon. One is a conspiracy of scholars who rewrote myths as pseudo-history. It is tempting to dismiss this as a 'conspiracy theory' until we remember that the orthodox theory that it all happened as we have been taught is also a conspiracy theory because it supposes that someone destroyed all the evidence and as this would have been counted as blasphemy it is even more mysterious. Moreover, there is some evidence for conspiracy and AS shows this. We might pick away at some of it but there is enough that is undeniable to show that some kind of secret revisionism went on.
The other main theory is of course that the all the themes are archetypal and appear in any kind of hero myth. Here I part company with Price because I see no reason to suppose that these two theories really are mutually exclusive. In fact, a priesthood that kept quiet the archetypal nature of the myth bridges both theories. Price doubts that this kind of knowledge of the archetypal and essentially astronomical nature of the myths could endure. He suggests that priests would tend to forget that these mythical hero figures were simply personifications of the sun and come to believe that they really existed and it is unlikely that any kind of hidden tradition would preserve the truth as a kind of initiatic, inside knowledge. That is of course just his opinion. It is possible to argue this either way. Leaving aside the evidence that may be martialled pro and con, there is no doubt that in modern historical times, carious individuals have made the claim that Jesus and other supposedly historical figures are mythical and based on solar myths at that. If they can draw that conclusion in modern times then what is to stop an educated Greek or Roman from doing the same? It is merely intellectual snobbery to suggest they were incapable and if they could, they probably did. So how likely is it that the educated of the ancient world - often a highly privileged priest class - actually believed that Jesus was a solar mythical figure? I think it is highly probable indeed. And how likely that this information tended to be passed on from parent to child? Again, it must surely have happened - it is the scale that we cannot know. AS has gathered circumstantial evidence that suggests that - however garbled - something was known and passed on.
As for false etymologies; there are parallel cases of modern mystics using word play employing different languages. Mystics DO tend to do this. Blake did it, the Persian Sufis did it and the modern Sufis do it too. The tendency of mystics is to work with two languages - a kind of ancient, mythic language and a vulgar tongue and play one off against the other. Words in an ancient language have an archetypal power. With their popular translations, Born Again Christians and New Agers alike often do not appreciate this and thereby miss a trick.
AS shows - as has been noted by others = that some of the names are priestly titles and leftovers of a cult. Thus, there may have been any number of Jesus' or Joshuas or Yeshuahs who imitated the mythic Jesus the Sun God. In the end, we are forced to the conclusion that the idea that any one is historical more than another is whimsical - even if it is an extremely widespread and enduring whim.
Audrey Hepburn is a modern icon. She exemplifies beauty and grace and not only has these qualities in spades but she sings like an angel - as anyone can 'prove' from the film "My Fair Lady". THAT is the myth, The reality is that for much of her life she struggled with an eating disorder and her singing was dubbed by someone else. The Audrey Hepburn of myth did not exist. This does not matter becaues the reality we find is a woman of great courage, who did a lot of humanitarian work and as a child worked with the underground against the Nazis - an example to us all, no doubt. Some people who are so in love with the myth can never believe that she could not sing. They want the Audrey Hepburn of myth - and so this leads them to further the myth of beauty and idealise someone who was merely doing a job as a film actress but who had a far richer life that was ignored by the media. A similar postion obtains with the Christ Media. They give us an impossible, archetypal hero and divert our eyes from the real human miracle that is - in the words of Jesus - "in the midst of you."