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The Laughing Jesus: Religious Lies and Gnostic Wisdom (Anglais) Broché – 27 juin 2006


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Chapter 1: GNOSTIC SPIRITUALITY AND LITERALIST RELIGION

The letter kills but the spirit brings to life. —Paul, Letter to the Ephesians

Wake up! Rouse yourself from the collective coma you mistake for ‘real life’. See through the illusion of separateness and recognize that we are all essentially one. Although we appear to be isolated individuals, in reality there is one awareness dreaming itself to be everyone and everything. This is our shared essential nature. The simple secret to enjoying this dream we call ‘life’ is to wake up to oneness. Because, knowing you are one with all, you will find yourself in love with all. You will fall in love with living. This is the message of the original Christians, who symbolised this awakened state with the enigmatic figure of ‘the laughing Jesus’.

Have you ever seen a picture of Jesus laughing? Probably not, because we have inherited a distorted form of Christianity created by the Roman Church in the fourth century, which focuses exclusively on Jesus the ‘man of sorrows’. The image that has dominated our culture is that of a man being tortured to death on a cross. But the original Christians didn’t see Jesus as an historical man who ‘suffered for our sins’. They viewed Jesus as the mythical hero of a symbolic teaching story, which represents the spiritual journey leading to the experience of awakening they called ‘gnosis’, or ‘knowing’.

The original Christians were inspired men and women who saw how good life could be if we would just wake up and live in love. They imagined a new world that would no longer be divided into slaves or citizens, men or women, Gentiles or Jews. But inadvertently, this band of non-conformists gave birth to a totalitarian regime that would rule Europe with an iron fist for over a thousand years. The result was not Heaven on Earth, but the Holy Roman Empire. The dream became a nightmare.

The Roman Church did all it could to suppress the teachings of gnosis and the image of the laughing Jesus. It succeeded so well that it now seems strange to even suggest that Christianity was originally about awakening. But in the middle of the twentieth century some of the texts of the original Christians were found in a cave near Nag Hammadi in Egypt. In these texts the message of awakening is proclaimed loud and clear.

Those who have realised gnosis have set themselves free by waking up from the dream in which they lived and have become themselves again.

How can you bear to be asleep, when it’s your responsibility to be awake?

You are asleep and dreaming. Wake up.

Listen to my teachings, which are good and practical, and end the sleep which weighs so heavily upon you.

People are caught up in many vain illusions and empty fictions, which torment them like sleepers prey to nightmares. When they wake up they see that all those dreams were nothing. This is the way it is with those who have cast ignorance aside, as if waking from sleep. They no longer see the world as real, but like a dream at night. They value gnosis as if it were the dawn. Whilst they exist in a state of ignorance it is as if everyone is asleep. Experiencing gnosis is like waking up.

Such teachings of awakening are not exclusively Christian. Throughout history men and women of all faiths have woken up to oneness and love. We use the broad term ‘Gnostic’ meaning ‘knower’ to refer to all such individuals because, although they express their insights in the various languages of their diverse cultures, they all talk about the experience of awakening or gnosis.

These charismatic individuals often inspired the formation of small communities dedicated to waking up. But, ironically, the more successful such groups become the more they turn into their opposite. What begins as a loose alliance of free-thinking non-conformists degenerates over time into an organised, authoritarian religion, and people end up completely misunderstanding the original message. We refer to this degenerate form of Gnosticism as ‘Literalism’.

Gnosticism is sometimes called ‘the perennial philosophy’ because it has been found in all cultures and all times. It is not that Gnostics all say exactly the same thing. They don’t. It is rather that their teachings are like fingers pointing from different perspectives to the same experience of gnosis. Unfortunately, most people focus on the finger and miss the point. This is Literalism. Literalist religions are clubs for people who want to worship the finger of their founder as the One True Finger, but who have no understanding of the experience of awakening towards which it points.

This book is a damning indictment of Literalist religion and a passionate affirmation of Gnostic spirituality. Let’s start by clearly discriminating Gnosticism from Literalism:

Gnostics teach that the important thing is to wake up and experience gnosis for ourselves.
Literalists teach that the important thing is to blindly believe in religious dogmas.


Gnostics interpret their teachings as signposts pointing to the experience of awakening.
Literalists see their teachings as literally the truth itself.


Gnostics use symbolic parables to communicate the way to wake up.
Literalists mistake Gnostic myths for literal accounts of miraculous historical events and end up lost in irrational superstition.


Gnostics know that all books contain the words of men.
Literalists believe that sacred scripture is the Word of God.


Gnostics understand that the way the wisdom of awakening is expressed must constantly evolve to address the ever-changing human condition.
Literalists want a fixed canon of scripture which has absolute authority for all time.


Gnostics want us to think for ourselves, so that we become more conscious and wake up.
Literalists want us to believe what they believe, so that we will join their cult.


Gnostics understand that life itself is a process of awakening.
Literalists believe their particular religion is the only way to the truth and condemn everyone else as lost in diabolical error.


Gnosticism is about waking up from the illusion of separateness to oneness and love.
Literalism keeps us asleep in an ‘us versus them’ world of division and conflict, inhabited by the ‘chosen’ and the ‘damned’.


Gnosticism unites us.
Literalism divides us.


Throughout history Gnostics have ceaselessly exposed Literalist religion as a pernicious source of ignorance, division and suffering. This Gnostic message has never been more relevant than today. The three great religions of the West—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—are on a collision course that threatens the security of the whole world. Taking religious myths literally is the root cause of the problems in the Middle East which led to 9/11 and a host of other atrocities since. But there is nothing new about religious violence. The present conflict is just the continuation of a long and gruesome history of killing and dying for God.

The burning of Christians by Pagans as flaming torches to light their games. The brutal Christian revenge on the Pagans. The relentless persecution of the Jews by Christians. The violent expansion of the Muslim empire and the bloody conquest of India. The barbaric crusades by Christians against the Muslims. The horrors of the Inquisition. The genocide of indigenous people in the New World. The mass burnings of witches. All were motivated by the desire to please God. All were justified with reference to sacred texts that not only condoned such behaviour but demanded it. These evils have not occurred because the perpetrators were bad people, but because they were in the grip of very bad ideas.

The Baby and the Bathwater

The time has come to say enough of this madness and consign Literalist religion to the garbage can of history. But we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Religion isn’t all bad. It has answered the profound human yearning to understand the mysteries of life and death. It has inspired people of all cultures to create sublime works of art, glorious cathedrals and temples, transcendental music and songs. It has this power because at its heart is Gnostic spirituality. In this book we want to rescue the teachings of gnosis from under the accumulated debris of religious dogma, so that we can jettison outdated religious Literalism but retain and revivify the perennial wisdom of awakening.

Let’s stop blindly believing in old books and listen instead to those heretical voices that have been drowned out by the cacophony of Literalist war cries. Just imagine for a moment that what Gnostics have been telling us throughout the ages is true. We appear to be separate, but essentially we are all one. The awareness that is conscious in you is the same awareness that is conscious in everyone. And if you recognise this, you will find yourself in love with all.

Imagine what would happen if we actually began to wake up and live by the Gnostic teachings of oneness and love. If we started to truly love our neighbours, and even our enemies, because we recognise that they are actually expressions of our own deeper self. If we saw through to the reality that there are no Jews, Christians or Muslims. There is no ‘us versus them’. There is only us. This is the Gnostic vision that has inspired us to write this book.

In Part 1, ‘The Bathwater,’ we undertake a religious detox to flush the poison of Literalism out of our system. We take a good hard look at the supposedly ‘sacred’ scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and demonstrate that these texts are far from divine. We show that they were not written or inspired by God, but created by men. And often by the worst kind of men. Politicians dressed up as priests. In Part 2, ‘The Baby,’ we bring ancient Gnostic teachings to life, using modern language free from worn-out religious jargon. We give the timeless wisdom of awakening a make-over for the twenty-first century, so that you can experience gnosis, here and now, as you read this book. We want you to get the joke and understand for yourself why the Gnostic Jesus laughs.


From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“A daring and thought-provoking book: Nothing you thought about the great monotheistic religions will ever look quite the same again.” —Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods

The Laughing Jesus is a manifesto for Gnostic mysticism. Freke and Gandy’s exposition of Gnostic enlightenment is lucid and accessible; their critique of Literalist religion is damningly severe.” —Robert M. Price, professor of scriptural studies, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, and editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism

The Laughing Jesus should be considered not merely a good read, although it is, but also a matter of burning urgency, for this is one of the most important books that has emerged in this infant millennium.” —Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things



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Amazon.com: 66 commentaires
231 internautes sur 238 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Timely, Compelling Read: Put On Your Seatbelt 27 juillet 2005
Par Frank MacEowen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is one of the most compelling books I've ever read.

MOST mainstream Christians will attack this book. MOST mainstream Jews probably will too. And, I predict the authors will be probably be denounced by Islamic clerics at some point for their treatment of the religious personality Muhammad (which is very illuminating).

Freke and Gandy, working on the premise that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were all originally Gnostic (deep wisdom) traditions, completely pick apart the Literalist streams of each tradition, and their scholarship totally slams the self-serving ego-driven political shenanigans of each of the faiths as well--again, specifically in their Literalist forms.

The Jewish Fantasy Factory:

The section on the Jews is absolutely fascinating and asserts from the historical record how a monism of Jewish identity as a people is a problematic idea; the authors suggest multiple sources for the Jewish ethnic roots, and go on to suggest -- again from archaeological evidence and the historical record -- that their mythic odyssey out of Egypt, and the Israeli claim to Jerusalem, is a complete fabrication, driven, in essence, by a religious and cultural identity crisis of sorts that still fuels the conflicts of today and is driven by Literalist interpretations of what was originally a myth-line.

A number of the formative myths in the Jewish tradition, the authors assert, are actually derived and inspired from exposure to Greek tradition, while they go through the Tanakh/Torah (the Old Testament) with something of a fine-tooth comb and, in a truly riveting manner, show how its authors were essentially attempting to synthesize a number of competing desert Pagan traditions in the region.

The Most Famous Man Who Never Lived:

The premise of the section on Christianity I was already familiar with, having read one of their other equally powerful and controversial books, Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians. But, again, I found myself truly fascinated to learn that certain books that comprise the "universally agreed upon" Christian canon (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts--renditions of Peter and Paul) were almost single handedly emphasized (Bishop Irenaeus), whose word-sculpting was, quite intentionally, attempting to suppress and debunk the Gnostic stream of Christianity (which relates to the Jesus myth more as a personal initiatory, archetypal, and transformative process rather than a literal historical set of events involving a quasi-divine/human person).

Freke and Gandy articulate with a real shine how Irenaeus was simply attempting to compete for followers in Rome at a time when it had become a spiritual marketplace of sorts. Irenaeus sought to establish a viable tradition in Rome, and in time, thanks to Constantine, it worked, for the Literalist version of Christianity was offered political support by the state of Rome and all other versions were declared as heresy (funny, isn't it; heretics declaring those following the path closer to the original essence as heretics?)

Almost with the same deftness of a detective story one finds in such fictional works as The Da Vinci Code (only this book is real), The Laughing Jesus unveils how the theme, archetype, and imagery of: 1) the virgin birth, 2) the idea of the Son of God, 3) the murder/crucifixion of the "godman", and 4) the resurrection, are all connected to a number of Pagan myth lines (worked with symbolically in various Mediterranean mystery schools for thousands of years) that actually pre-date Christianity (and its myth formation) by 1,000 years.

Going through each tradition and their version of "Godman" -- Egypt (Osiris), Greece (Dionysus), Asia Minor (Attis), Syria (Adonis), Persia (Mithras), and Alexandria (Serapis), to name only a few -- Freke and Gandy articulate how the myth-formers of Christianity, in essence, borrowed (plagiarized) from these earlier compelling themes. They also clearly assert that such myth-forming and myth-following is not a threat in the Gnostic Christian context, whereas in the Literalist vein everything is, well, taken quite literally -- and therefore poses a real threat to the authority upon which the Church bases itself.

Muhammad: From Mystic to Mobster:

Pardon my French, so to speak, but Muhammad [The Religious Figure] in the book gets a serious ass-whipping. One senses the disappointment in the authors that such a beautiful tradition as Islam could fall prey to the clutches of the individual ego of Muhammad later on in his life (as he turned military war-lord), and then --really by example-- be hijacked by Literalists within the Islamic tradition to assert their own political goals, but the authors also reiterate that it was predictable; that it happened with the Christians and Jews as well.

They describe Muhammad as someone who was profoundly influenced by both Jewish and Christian thought (and culture), and -- as a response -- initially began a powerful process of bringing forth a mystical path of Gnosis for the Arab world. However, they then describe, again drawing straight from the historical record of battles, and from lines within the Qu'ran, how, after having been snubbed by both Jews and Christians (not acknowledged as a prophet), Muhammad began to interpret his divine mission as one of imposing Islam on the world (not at all different in tone from the early Christian Church's Inquisition, or the evangelizing, missionizing, and proselytizing of a great many Literalist Christians today).

The chapter on Muhammad, which does give a nod to the Gnostic Sufis within the cultural milieu of Islam, is a compelling read that requires that we look at the personality and full psychological range of Muhammad. I also found it personally very interesting that such Islamic customs as ordering women to wear veils actually was derived from early Byzantine Christian practices.

The first half of The Laughing Jesus is a radical debunking of all Literalist interpretations of each of these traditions. The second half of the book is dedicated to exploring Gnosis in the present day, as educated people, what the authors suggest certain Christians, Jews, and Muslims *knew* and *know* was the truly transformative core of the traditions but which were hijacked by political agendas.

The fact that the real spiritual essence of each of these traditions was overcome by Literalist propaganda shouldn't cause a person to lose sleep at night. The fact that the holders and followers of each of these Literalist traditions hold the seats of power in global politics, however, is disturbing. This book touches on how this reality is a phenomenon that is dictating decisions that determine what is happening to our economy, foreign policy, and the environment (note: Armageddon-minded Christian Literalists don't really care about global warming or the financial viability of future generations if they believe it's all going to end up in a fire ball in the end anyway; why concern ourselves with sustainability, environmentally or financially?).

On the one hand, I find such a book promising. It can potentially shock some people out of religious apathy and/or cultural sleepwalking, or out of the absurd cultural monism and religious conditioning that leads toward the huge barriers to interfaith dialogue.

On the other hand, I find some of my own personal conclusions that I derived from the book to be troublesome; that given the particular ideologies that are running this country (Christian Literalists), and the particular ideologies that are *required* to oppose the West (Islamic Literalists), we could be barreling full steam ahead toward a much more prolific global clash than the likes of 9/11 or the Iraq war.

Hopefully not.

But, that is probably one of the clearest articulations in the book of all -- that the environmental crisis, as well as the conflict in the Middle East is all tied to Literalist propaganda, not just by Islamic Literalist/Fundamentalists, but also by Jewish Literalists and Christian Literalists/Fundamentalists alike.

The conclusion of Part One of the book (called The Bathwater), which I completely agree with, is that all of this is a formula for disaster if the leaders of these faiths, the practitioners of these paths, and the larger society as a whole does not find its own authentic Gnosis. This is where Part Two of the book (called The Baby) comes into play...which I won't comment on because it would be like telling you the end of a really good movie.

Summary and Conclusion:

Practicing Christians, Jews, and Muslims definitely need to read this book. Everybody else probably should too, because much of what it describes assists greatly in understanding what is both truly redeeming in each of these wisdom traditions, while also helping to paint a clear picture why each of these traditions are also being hijacked by a narrow-but-widening band of religious psychopaths who could end up making Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy.
--Frank MacEowen, M.A., (...)
209 internautes sur 222 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Gnosis is the Perennial Philosophy, the goal of the Mysteries 13 juillet 2005
Par OAKSHAMAN - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
_The first thing to remember when reading or speaking about this book is that it is in no way an attack on the existence of God. What this book is, is an attack on false, literalist dogma that has so dangerously distorted the true Reality of God for so much of Western history. Let me say that I read the authors' first two books on this subject (more than once), and this third volume is a more than worthy culmination.

_The first half solidly deconstructs and demolishes any claim to historical accuracy or legitimacy for the Holy Books of the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religious traditions. All Holy Books are the work of men, not of God (including Gnostic books, but Gnostics realize this.) Personally, while I was aware of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources in the Tanakh, I was amazed to find that it appears to have been compiled as late as the first century BCE- and by the Maccabees in order to justify a rule so ruthless that it would put the Taliban to shame. Nor did I realize that the Romans were actually allies of the Maccabees against their Syrian Greek foes (which explains much in terms of creating a false religion and history for political ends.) An excellent case is also made for the origin of monotheism among the Greeks and not the Jews (read your Heraclitus, Pythagoras, and Plato.) It is also this first half that emphasizes the difference between the Gnostic and Literalist traditions. The Gnostic is the true and original Christian (or pre-Christian) who sees in Jesus the allegorical ideal of man awakening to his true origin and nature. The Literalist is one who bullies everyone into blind belief in dogmas that obstruct and distort true experience of God. There is an excellent table that spells out the specific differences between the two. As for the critique of Islam, well, how could a copy of a copy of a bad original be anything less than the worst of them all...?

_The second half of the book deals with the nature and obtainment of Gnosis. The authors' model holds that Gnosis is a natural state akin to lucid dreaming (dreaming, yet consciously recognizing that you are dreaming.) You experience a shift in consciousness and perspective. Your ordinary world and life does not disappear as you enter some new supernatural state or dimension. No, but your consciousness expands to the point that you realize that your old everyday life, including the your old sense of self, is not the totality of existence. You realize that you are part of a greater "life-dreamer" which is dreaming both itself, as well as, everyone and everything. You realize that we are all part of this great dreamer and are all connected at this higher level. We are all One. The purpose of life is to awaken and personally experience to this knowledge- this Gnosis. This section of the book points the way.

_Having first touched upon the Gnosis over a dozen years ago, I like to think that I possess an intuition when it comes to teachings on the subject. I am not saying that reading this book will get you to the ultimate goal, but it will put you on the right path. It will plant the genuine seeds that will burst forth from dreaming unconscious.
150 internautes sur 158 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Fascinating Read 17 juillet 2005
Par Eric Gross - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The first half of the Laughing Jesus is a fierce attack on "literal" Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The authors claim that Judaism's claim to the be the world's first monotheistic religion is a lie, that the God of the ancient Judeans was cruel and jealous, and that the stories of Moses are utterly false. The authors also claim that Christ never lived and that the "literal" church fathers trashed Gnostic Christianity to create a severe patriarcal faith; one that is often brutal. Of Islam they describe Mohammed as a man (actual in this case) utterly corrupted by his own faith and power. He becomes a kind of spiritual mobster. This corruption led to his becoming egomaniacal and creating a faith at war with the rest of the world - at once militant and bloodthirsty! For some readers these claims will astonish and create many new questions, others will find it repeditive and predictable. I found the writing a little too "easy" and personal to be as credible as the authors I believe would have preferred.
The second half of the book is a description of gnostic Christianity, which I found very compelling. It is a form of philosophic thought with many similarities to taoism, Buddhism, and Indian Vedantic thought. However, I really liked how the authors were able to differentiate gnostic Christianity from these other traditions and describe an approach to living that was creative and dynamic. Eastern philosophies often fail to provide approaches to living that capture the spontaneous quality of living in preference to modes of life that are synthetic, espousing requirements for "loving-kindness" and other life modalities that are subtly judgmental and coercive. Also in their rigorous denial of selfhood and existence of the "I", they leave readers in a kind of static limbo where choice is absent and irrelevant. The authors of the Laughing Jesus provide readers with a way of understanding choice and action without undermining the integrity of the philosophy. Strongly recommended.
46 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Severe indictment of religion....A gnosis for the 21st Century 7 septembre 2005
Par Hal Nash - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is the fourth or fifth book I've read of Timothy Freke's and/or Peter Gandy's. This particular book is the culmination of The Jesus Mysteries and Jesus And The Lost Goddess. The full impact of this book is realized when read as the third installment of this trio of books. However, it can be read alone without those and the impact will still be great.

The first half of the book is a severe indictment of the three Western religious traditions...Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The fundamentalist, literalist spirit of these three religions is exposed for all to see. Each one is an anachronism, way past its time, and really of no value to the 21st century.

After delivering this stinging polemic against the literalist spirit, the authors offer up for our consideration a new perspective... an expansion of a very old perspective but in 21st century language and explanation. This perspective is referred to as Gnosis...simply the experience of Oneness. Freke and Gandy take the ancient Perennial Philosophy, strip it of archaic language and talk to us in modern, 21st century lingo.

The authors excell in making this presentation real and meaningful to us moderns. They shine in applying this ancient wisdom of Gnosis to our world today, to our experience today. Going even beyond the gurus of the 19th and 20th centuries, the authors inform us that we still get to be HUMAN and get to be the All...the One. This is the glory of the message of gnosis...We get to experience BOTH the fullness of being human...sometimes separate, alone, and afraid, AND the peace and serenity of knowing that we are safe and One with all that is. Gnosis is BOTH/AND and not EITHER/OR. It is a recognition of one's individuality AND one's unity with the All.

Gnosis, or Lucid Living, is a viable and necessary alternative to the separateness and alienation so prevalent on the planet today. Go for it. You won't regret it.
27 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting and Informative 8 juin 2006
Par Dr. James Gardner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is the third in Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's books about Jesus (The Jesus Mysteries and Jesus and the Lost Goddess having preceded this one). The book is actually 2 books, split almost exactly at the mid line. The first book is an indictment of Literalist religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The second book is an introduction for people who might be interested in Gnosism. In some senses, the first part of this book is a shortened version of their first book, while the second half is a shortened version of the second book. Because I think their first book was one of the most powerful books ever written in this field, all their subsequent books have a hard act to follow (I gave that one 5 stars).

Part 1 goes over briefly a lot of the material Freke and Gandy cover in their previous books. This time, however, much of their focus is on Islam and Judasim rather than Christianity. They systematrically dismantle all the pillars of the Jewish and Muslin religions, and show the interplay between the 3 systems. If you're like me, and unacquainted with the Qu'ran and the history of Muhammad, you will find this section particularly interesting.

While this is a well written book and represents a good deal of scholarship, there is an angry tone to Part 1 which weakens the merits of their otherwise sound case. In addition I have some disagreements with the authors on a few minor points. For example...

"...the Tanakh appeared as an incoherent mishmash of texts cobbled together by a bunch of religious extremists in a few generations." (p. 41). Yet doesn't the very mishmash indicate centuries of development, rather than decades. One would expect more coherence if it were a small group of people over a short period.

"Why does Paul never mention an historical Jesus in his letters?" (p. 61). In fact he does. Several times. It may not be the types of detail that Freke & Gandy are looking for, and it may come from OT prophecies and ideas, but one can find traces of the historical Jesus in Paul (e.g., Romans 1:3, 6:4, 6:6; Galatians 1:19, 3:13; Cor 11:23, 15:4) . These references may not actually apply to a Jesus figure who lived at that time, as Ellegard (1999) and others have pointed out, but they do talk about Jesus as if Paul had some knowledge of a real life Jesus.

"...the words 'brother of Jesus' had been added to the inscription [ossuary of James] in the 3rd century." (p. 60). This is by no means a concensually validated point of view. The debate continues.

"Jerusalem was an insignificant place a long way from Rome." (p. 67). There is quite a bit of evidence and opinion that Jerusalem/Israel was a strategically important area not only for its geographic position close to major trade routes and population centers, but also for its agricultural production.

[Constantine] "adopted Christianity as the religion of the empire." (p. 77). I believe that his successor Emperor Theodosius adopted it in 381 AD. Constantine simply no longer made it illegal, and then personally adopted it when on his death bed. Needless to say, this opened the road for Christianity

"...Jesus had appeared to Constantine the night before a great battle..." (p. 77). According to Eusebius in the Church History it was the Chi Rho, taken to be a symbol of Christianity (which may or may not be the case) which Constantine saw, not Jesus. In a later work he changed the story considerably, to include the appearance of Jesus and the impending battle.

Needless to say, these points are relatively minor. Freke & Gandy show their usual level of scholarship throughout, although in this work there seem to be far fewer and shorter footnotes than in previous editions.

Part 2 of the book is a recruitment speech for Gnosism, followed by a brief self-help exercise manual for developing gnostic wisdom. Depending upon your point of view, this part of the book will be viewed with anticipation or gloom. My personal predilictions are on the side of the authors, hence I enjoyed this part. However, I can imagine that for others it may be unsettling.

This section of the book is further weakened by a lack of structure, lots of repetition, and a curious lack of mention of all of Jesus' own gnostic sayings. This is not to say that Freke & Gandy completely ignore Jesus' (or Paul's) gnostic wisdom, but I would have expected more references.

In summary, Freke & Gandy's book is well worth reading, and the sections on Judaism and Islam add value to the wonderful wisdom of their first book. Anyone interested in the historical Jesus, Gnostics, and early biblical literature will find value here. And for those of you, like me, who have little knowledge of the Qu'ran and its relationship to Judiasm and Christianity, the book is an excellent bridge.
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