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Christ Conspiracy: Greatest Story Ever Sold


R. S. Martin
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I'm posting this in the Coliseum, with the hope for a civil, intellectual discussion. I got the book through inter-library loan (with no renewals so my access to it is limited till the end of this month). I have seen a lot of discussion or rants on these forums denigrating the work of Acharya S, which is the reason I got Christ Conspiracy. I consider it her seminal work and I wanted to see first hand what her published work looks like.

 

I started at the beginning of the book, reading preface, introduction, and am now in the first or second chapter. She expresses beliefs that I have seen expressed many a time on these forums by many different members. Her account of the history of Christianity, biblical criticism, and the search for the historical Jesus agree with what I've read, learned, or deducted from other, academic, sources.

 

My question to my fellow exChristians on these forums is: Why do so many of you denigrate her work?

 

I am not challenging your position. I am merely curious and would like to discuss it for furthering understanding, if this is possible. Thank you.

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Take a hard look at the sources she lists at the end of each chapter. Google them, look them up in wikipedia. The research she does is, imo, shoddy and could easily be better while still coming to the same conclusions. Instead, I feel the level of her research diminishes the impact of the claims because it is too easy to dismiss so many of her sources for one thing or another. Some of the claims she makes are far reaching and not referenced in any way. Some of the sources she lists in her bibliography are websites that are no longer operating. As you keep reading you may notice much of the book are the words of her sources, not her. She quote mines and assembles that which fits her theory and uses the references to back up her claim. But after my experiences with xtians and "creation science", I'm wary anytime I see a lot of quote mining like that. You can never tell if the quote is completely accurate or reprinted in it's entirety, etc.

 

Christ Conspiracy is the book I have as well, and I also don't like the way it is presented. The only way I can describe it is "Fox-Newsy", which would basically mean presented in a "shocking" and sensationalized dramatic manner rather than just a discussion of the facts. I agree with a lot of the ideas she has in there. But I have other books by other authors I would use to back me up in a debate that say the same thing. She feels, to me, like the Geraldo of anti-xtian "apologetics" for lack of a better word.

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While I have not read her full book, I've read many of Acharya's articles and exerpts from it. A lot of what she says makes sense, but unfortunately it cannot be refferenced in a debate, because of the holes in her sources. But, same token too, there is a huge online campaign of Fundies against Acharya, which in reality shows that they are afraid of her work. So, if it were that easy to dismiss her claims, then why would the dissenters need to work so hard to slander her name and make up lies about her affiliations?

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Take a hard look at the sources she lists at the end of each chapter. Google them, look them up in wikipedia. The research she does is, imo, shoddy and could easily be better while still coming to the same conclusions. Instead, I feel the level of her research diminishes the impact of the claims because it is too easy to dismiss so many of her sources for one thing or another. Some of the claims she makes are far reaching and not referenced in any way. Some of the sources she lists in her bibliography are websites that are no longer operating. As you keep reading you may notice much of the book are the words of her sources, not her.

 

<snip>

Christ Conspiracy is the book I have as well, and I also don't like the way it is presented. The only way I can describe it is "Fox-Newsy", which would basically mean presented in a "shocking" and sensationalized dramatic manner rather than just a discussion of the facts. I agree with a lot of the ideas she has in there. But I have other books by other authors I would use to back me up in a debate that say the same thing. She feels, to me, like the Geraldo of anti-xtian "apologetics" for lack of a better word.

 

Marty, thank you for responding. I have been reading more in Christ Conspiracy. Basically, I opened it here and there and read bits and pieces, verifying that the pattern I notice at the beginning holds throughout. It does.

 

She uses secondary sources when original documents would be available. For example, she quotes what others say about ancient writers or about Greek and Hindu gods, rather than quoting such documents as the Early Christian writings, or Hymns to Isis.

 

I think that is what you mean by quote mining.

 

Also, she does not discuss the quotes she uses from other sources. Instead, she uses them to support her views; she does not explain why she uses this one rather than that one. Nor does she discuss what part of a quote supports her view and what part contradicts her view, or why. All of these are things that real, competent, scholars do. Yet she is presented as a real scholar.

 

In the Preface, Kenn Thomas quotes Acharya as saying, "The believers/theists feel my views are intolerant...while the nonbelievers/atheists object to the mysticism and perceive me as creating new beliefs..." (p. i). I personally don't see her as "creating new beliefs," so much as I see her making sweeping statements that she is not qualified to make, based on the information available to her.

 

Re "information available to her." Last night I was reading about her ideas regarding an ancient "global civilization." She has some pretty interesting ideas, but she states them as facts based on solid research and archaeology.

 

When I looked at all the fields she "examined," and then looked at her photograph on the back of the book, I realized that something is very wrong. This woman is young. Each of the fields she presents to have a thorough knowledge of--thorough enough to base exhaustive research statements on--requires a lifetime of dedicated study, not the ten or twenty years she has had.

 

Here are the sub-titles of her chapter on the "Evidence of an Ancient Global Civilization" (p. 391ff):

 

  1. Religion, Rituals, and Customs
  2. Astrology/Astronomy
  3. Language and Etymology
  4. Archaeological Evidence
  5. The Enigma of North America
  6. Evidence of Cataclysm
  7. Age of Mankind
  8. The Evolution of Religion

That's eight fields, eight lifetimes in collaboration with colleagues. In 1999, when Christ Conspiracy was published, the author was nowhere near retirement age.

 

Somewhere in her blogs I read that she has an undergraduate degree and that she feels that is sufficient for what she is doing. I would say the level of her research is perhaps the level I did for my undergraduate papers. At least for the first few years until I learned to look at original documents to see what people actually said--not just what someone said they said. There's a major difference.

 

But after my experiences with xtians and "creation science", I'm wary anytime I see a lot of quote mining like that. You can never tell if the quote is completely accurate or reprinted in it's entirety, etc.

 

That's what I can't believe--she's doing exactly what the Christians like William Lane Craig with PhDs are doing.

 

I don't think I can finish this book. While I find the ideas fascinating, I also find it makes me sick. There is too much that makes me ask: HOW DO YOU KNOW?

 

As you say, there are other books that lead to the same conclusions and provide much better basis for the conclusions. Thanks again for responding.

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That is exactly what I meant by quote mining. You articulated my discomfort with her book better than I did.

 

I've still got her book out, I read a little bit every morning, and last week I actually did find something I find interesting and I've been meaning to start a topic about it, but I haven't had the time yet. Perhaps I'll try tomorrow and I'll just stay within this thread rather than start a new one.

 

I don't know if your book is the exact same as mine, but check out page 297. In case there are changes to the manuscript, here is the link from when I first posted it. This is the best example I can think of her "Fox-Newsy" ideas that dilutes the power of other things that may actually be true.

 

It's late and I've had a busy day. I'll write more tomorrow. I would still make an effort to read the entire book Ruby, but I admit I may have a selfish desire to hear more of your insights. :grin:

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Sorry I didn't find this post until after I had already returned the book so I cannot check the reference or context. However, I searched the internet for information on cock symbolism for St. Peter. I was unsuccessful in finding the one you posted on the other thread, but I found two textual references on RC sites.

 

On the St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Catholic Church website, under "Feast Day and Symbols" 3/4-ways down the page:

 

In liturgical art, Peter is depicted as an elderly man holding a key and a book. Symbols of St. Peter include an inverted cross, a boat, and the cock.

On Saints.SQPN.com, under "Representations" is a link for "rooster or cock." The link is broken and does not show the picture, but its very existence indicates that the representation exists. For Christians, the connection between Peter and the cock or rooster is evident in the story about Jesus telling Peter the cock would not crow before Peter denied having ever known him.

 

According to other information I found in my search, I learned under Rooster: Animal Symbols that:

 

The rooster is a symbol meaning courage, readiness to fight and defense to the death.

Reference is made to use of roosters and chickens in China by the wealthy to guard their property. Apparently, these poultry are good at telling strangers from the homefolks.

 

Snakes, as many of us probably know, are interchangeable with the phallus when it comes to ancient fertility rites and symbols. Read up on that. It would be easy to conclude--though I don't know if this is true--that for the Catholics the statue of the phallic rooster/cock symbolizes the fearless courage and life-giving creativity of St. Peter as the first pope.

 

Regardless of whether the statue came from India or China or Europe, it could be legitimate. I'm Canadian and don't know Fox News, but I imagine once in a while they happen to hit on facts.

 

To know if it's true, we need to look at a lot of other stuff, such as whether it could be true, and ask questions such as: What circumstances would have to be in place for it to be true?

 

I have already shown that a number of the necessary circumstances were in place:

 

  1. the story about Jesus and Peter and the rooster
  2. the status of chickens
  3. the fertility rites and symbols

In other words, the cultural mentality could have accommodated it. In addition, we know from historical records that there was sufficient travel between the Vatican and far corners of the Asia-Africa-Europe landmass for the collection of all kinds of unique objects. Both merchants and crusaders carried stuff with them from one place to another, some of which inevitably ended up in the Vatican.

 

Something else we need is accurate size of the object, precise description of materials used to make it, etc., as real archaeologists use in their standard everyday scholarly work. Does Acharya include this? Another question that occurs to me to ask is: Why does the picture you posted from her book look more like a sketch than a photograph if the object is real? Were no cameras allowed where she was doing her research in the Vatican? If so, does she mention this in her book?

 

On the other hand, I've heard of a lot of strange and uncatalogued things turning up in the Vatican. It does, after all, date back almost to Constantine. Consider what a thousand years of Dark Ages might have accumulated in there, providing the Darkness has yet left those ancient dungeons...

 

That's about all I can scratch together in my brain about a topic about which I know nothing. Hope it helps you figure out how to sort truth from untruth. First, check to see that the obvious is stated. Then go from there.

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Ruby, I don't doubt that Peter is symbolized by the cock (rooster). What I doubt is that cock was/is a word for both rooster and penis in languages other than modern English. IIRC, Acharya S has also made the connection to "sun" gods and the "son" of god, which is another example of words that only sound similar in English. I feel that by making claims like this it diminishes the other, much more factual links to Paganism in her books.

 

That said, you made an interesting point about the cultural mentality of the time. We do know that the Phallus was a popular fertility symbol in ancient Rome, and with that knowledge I can better understand how a statue like that could exist and the modern English slang “cock” could be nothing more than a interesting coincidence. According to etymology.com the word cock has meant penis since around 1610, so, depending on the age of the statue, it very well could exist. Since Acharya gives us no information about this other than it is stored in the Vatican I guess I will never know for sure...

 

Now, I'd like to finally post about what I read a few weeks ago and get some of your thoughts on it. Even though you no longer have the book, you do have a degree in some area of religion history, correct? I remember you were in school, but I can't recall what degree you obtained.

 

Basically, the issue Acharya brings up (on page 317) is that it appears that by the time Paul was writing the earliest of the epistles, there was already a somewhat vibrant community of churches across the area. The very fact that Paul was writing to existing churches and not founding any of them is the proof she discusses that xtianity could not start with a historical person, because an active community could not have just sprung up overnight. Some of the evidence supplies for this is:

 

In Mark, John says to Jesus, "Master, we saw one casting devils out in thy name, and he followeth not us"...

 

"A form of xtian faith later declared heretical, Gnosticism, clearly preceded the establishment of orthodox beliefs and churches in whole areas like northern Syria and Egypt. Indeed, the sheer variety of xtian expression and competitiveness in the first century, as revealed in documents both inside the NT and out, is inexplicable if it all proceeded from a single missionary movement beginning from a single source...Paul meets rivals at every turn who are interfering with his work whose views he is trying to combat. The "false apostles" he rails against in 2 Corinthians 10 and 11 are "proclaiming another Jesus" and they are certainly not from Peter's group. Where did they all come from and where did they get their ideas? The answer seems inevitable: Xtianity was born in a thousand places, in a broad fertile soil of Hellenistic Judaism. It sprang up in many independent communities and sects, expressing itself in a great variety of doctrines.

 

The existence of “Xtian” churches before “Jesus of Nazareth” is also attested to by the author of the epistle to the Philippians attributed to the early church father “Polycarp”, in which he says of christ, “For he glories in you in all the churches who then only knew god; for we did not then know him”.

 

 

As we have seen, the Zadokites/Sadducees of the scrolls constituted a major part of the eventual xtian edifice. However, as also demonstrated, there were numerous other religions, sects and brotherhoods, including and especially the Gnostics, whose earliest efforts to create a new religion were in fact non-historicizing and non-Judaizing, such that xtianity was not born solely of Judaism by any means. It was, in actuality, the creation of the Pagan priesthood, with a Jewish overlay.

 

That the original gospels and epistles were in the possession of the Therapeutus is attested to by Church historian Eusebius. In his admission, Eusebius first relates what Philo said of the Therapeuts:

 

“They possess also short works by early writers, the founders of their sect, who left many specimens of the allegorical method, which they take as their models, following the system on which their predecessors worked”.

 

As noted, the Therapeuts were also the Gnostics, as is evidenced by the acknowledgment that their “short works” were allegorical rather than literal. The change from Gnostic to orthodox xtianity, in fact, constituted the switch from knowledge of the allegory to blind faith in the literal. Eusebius goes on to say:

 

“It seems likely that Philo wrote this after listening to their exposition of the holy scriptures, and it is very probable that what he calls short works by their early writers were in the gospels, the apostolic writings, and in all probability passages interpreting the old prophets, such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews and several others of Paul’s epistles”.

 

 

She has many more pages of this, but these were what I felt the most promising proofs of this particular chapter, and in my limited knowledge of scriptural history, this seems very plausible. However, and perhaps I’ll post more about this later, she does go on and become (imho) a bit racist in her explanation of why a Pagan mystery religion would get a Hebrew overlay. Basically, she states that the Jewish belief in being the chosen people made dealing with the destruction of the temple really hard, so they took a Pagan religion about a savior and put a Hebrew slant on it, then insisted it was literal history and not allegory.

 

As I’ve stated before, I am a member of the “jesus is a myth” camp, but I must admit I never thought of churches and communities already existing when Paul began to preach. I find this an intriguing idea and I am wondering how solid the evidence for this truly is. There is a large part of my mind that is telling me that having a "battle" to fight makes good literary sense. If everyone just swallowed up what Paul had to say it wouldn't make for a very exciting founding of a new religion. Drama requires conflict, so these churches Paul "fights" against could be nothing more than literary embellishment.

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I looked again at the sketch of the statue in your other thread. In the caption, Acharya says, "The inscription [on the sculpture] reads, 'Savior of the World.' "

 

Marty, in the OP of that thread you say:

 

Without buying Walker's book myself, I seriously doubt this statue exists. Although I do not know for certain (perhaps someone can elaborate), I have a feeling the word "cock" meaning penis and "cock" meaning a male rooster, is only similar in english, so this similarity is the same as claiming that the "son" of god is the same thing as the "Sun god". Or something similar...

I do not know where you get this idea. Does Acharya say in her book that "cock"="penis"? And does she further say that this cock=penis lingo is the evidence that proves the existence of the statue?

 

That aside, as explained above, the penis/cock stood for life in fertility cults. Jesus said, "I am the way, the life...." He also said to Peter, "Thou art the rock on which I will build my church." Later theologians said life was to be found only inside the church, and that St. Peter basically was the Church.

 

I don't think we need to look at pronunciation of words and names for body parts and animals in order to determine whether or not the sculpture exists. I think we need to go look and see whether or not it is physically there in the Vatican. Short of that, we need to apply common sense and scholarly inquiry as indicated in my other post.

 

You also keep raising the issue of sons/suns of god. Again, I don't think the real question is one of language but of empirical, provable fact. An argument I keep encountering is this:

 

In the northern hemisphere, the sunrise reaches its southern-most point on Dec. 22nd. For three days it does not move either way (north or south), i.e. for Dec. 22, 23, and 24 it remains at the same point of the horizon. On Dec. 25, it moves one degree north again. In other words, it is reborn. The sun is born.

 

There are also three stars, called kings, that line up with sunrise on Dec. 25. These are called the Three Kings.

 

The argument further claims that many Pagan religions used these celestial observations as the basis for their myths.

 

This ten-minute YouTube, Myth of Religion; The Solar Messiahs God's Sun Christ Horus explains and illustrates the argument.

 

To check the validity of the argument, I would do a number of things:

 

1. Check with history of astronomy to be sure things actually worked this way two to four thousand years ago. It has been noted that things change slightly over the course of about two thousand years so that the spring equinox may no longer be on the date it was at one time. David Ulansey may be a good authority on this.

 

2. Read up on the myths of the gods covered in the video to learn whether the claims hold true. English translations exists of original documents of many of these myths about Egyptian, Greek, etc., gods. We don't have to depend on second hand sources such as Acharya S and Zeitgeist. These books and movies give us names with which to start our research.

 

RE the origins of Christianity. I, too, believe Christ was a mythological figure. My degree--the one I finished--is in theological studies, but I also took courses in religious studies and NT studies.

 

Two courses that had a lot of impact on my thinking were Mystery Religions and Early Christianity After the New Testament. It was the Gnostics in "After the NT" that caught my interest and attention. I've also read quite a bit since graduating and in connection with these and other forums, not to mention the Bible itself.

 

When you read Paul's epistles, it is quite clear that he is competing with fellow evangelists. When you study the beliefs of the Gnostics and other contemporary society at the time of Paul and other NT writers, you begin to see how much competition there was for the minds of the people, i.e. you come across ideas and doctrines condemned in the NT and think, "So this is why this or that idea is condemned. I never knew why it was written."

 

When I learned about the Mystery Religions, it seemed possible to me that what eventually turned into orthodox Christianity was but one small strain of mystery religions among a wide variety to choose from around the so-called birth of Christ.

 

Here is my theory: It was a myth played out on stage in a Jewish context for its inspirational value. Probably no one knew its origins; hence the mystery. Baptism was the initiation rite. In the early days the myth was simple, but by the middle of the first century AD, a community of people existed who believed Jesus had lived as a real person in recent history.

 

A story told by Lucian of Samosata (c. A.D. 125 – after A.D. 180) on the Passing of Peregrinus shows me the liberty people took in those days in embellishing what we call truth or fact. Since he was writing at or about the same time as the NT writers, I take this as an example of how people of his day treated the subject of the death of a saint/wise or prominent man, and the subject of "truth."

 

Since Lucian's story emulates the NT writers to a t, it helped me formulate some of my ideas. This is not to say my ideas are correct. You asked for my insights so that is what I'm giving here.

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I do not know where you get this idea. Does Acharya say in her book that "cock"="penis"? And does she further say that this cock=penis lingo is the evidence that proves the existence of the statue?

 

 

No, she doesn't say that specifically, but the statue that is shown is of an erect penis with testicles on the face of a rooster on the torso of a man, the implication being since Peter is associated with the rooster, or cock, this statue is a representation of him. The drawing does come at the end of the chapter titled "The bible, sex and drugs", so maybe there is more information in that chapter. I will read it tonight and post back tomorrow about it.

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I tried to find a picture of this statue, but I only find a hand drawing by some anonymous person. And when I looked into the Vatican Museum website, I couldn't find a picture of it either. If anyone finds an actual photo of it, it would be interesting to see.

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The drawing does come at the end of the chapter titled "The bible, sex and drugs", so maybe there is more information in that chapter. I will read it tonight and post back tomorrow about it.

 

Please do.

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I tried to find a picture of this statue, but I only find a hand drawing by some anonymous person. And when I looked into the Vatican Museum website, I couldn't find a picture of it either. If anyone finds an actual photo of it, it would be interesting to see.

 

Can you post the link to the drawing?

 

It occurs to me that it is the kind of object that patriarchal Christians today would not allow visitors to see and photograph, for obvious reasons.

 

I read up a bit on Barbara Walker and she comes across to me like the kind of scholar who would dig up stuff that nobody has seen for many centuries. When I was in seminary, her name was quoted as a respected feminist scholar so I am not quite ready to discount the sketch just because no photograph is easily available.

 

We might have to look in specialized academic journals for real information. Or talk to a live, flesh and blood scholar who happens to be interested in the topic. I don't know who to recommend.

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