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The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History (Plus) [Paperback]

Michael Baigent
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061146609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061146602
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.1 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,625,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
2.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No revelations here 3 April 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Conspiracy theories abound - such is the basis of the wildly popular 'Da Vinci Code', and such is the basis of 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail', another earlier book by Baigent that details in a nonfiction manner much of the same conspiracy theories that are at the heart of the fictional novel by Dan Brown (soon to be a major motion picture, coming to a cinema near you, et cetera...).
There is nothing new in this book. True, some of the photographs are 'never before published' as the press kit will put it, but they aren't really earth-shattering images, just some standard fare imagery apropos to the topic. Baigent explores the history of the Zealots and other sects in first century Judea, their relationship with the Roman dominating apparatus, and the possible motivations behind the writing of the gospels and other writings in the way that they were. There were differing interpretation of the Christian events from the earliest times, and these controversies were not settled for generations (indeed, some still have not been). But this is far different from conspiracy and intrigue that is being hinted at in this publication.
Pointing out inconsistencies in the texts of the Bible is an old game, and many scholars freely acknowledge the difficulties of resolving some of the issues. This doesn't seem to be acknowledged by Baigent in very clear tones.
I am disappointed in this text in that I cannot say much about anything new, as it is a recycling of information to get a publication out when the timing is right, a 'strike while the iron is hot' kind of publishing move. For those unfamiliar with some of these theories, it may be interesting read. For those already acquainted with the issues (even those whose exposure is limited to 'Da Vinci Code' elements), it might prove less worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A question 11 April 2006
By A Customer
If Jesus is 'just this guy' then what's so special about his bloodline? Somehow the author wants to 'have his cake and eat it'!
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2.0 out of 5 stars the jesus papers 10 Dec 2010
By eric
nothing new in this book,i lost interest near the end,still worth reading if you like new ideas and a differant outlook on history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  191 reviews
64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was hoping for something new.... 3 April 2006
By Richard Grisham - Published on
I give the book three stars because it should get people thinking. The problem is the book just covers old theories laid out by Baigent and colleagues from their earlier books: Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the Messianc Legacy. Baigent does streamline and give a more direct approach to laying out the theory that Jesus was something more than a Dog and Pony show for the sake of humanity. Baigent will be hounded by critics for not having solid proof. The fact is Baigent fails to give anything more too the story other than a couple anecdotes, personal stories, and assumptions. I was hoping for more. A title as provocative as Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up. A person would think that this book would have some profound earthshaking information in it. The fact is the Messainc Legacy first chapters covers the life and times of Jesus much better and too greater detail. However,this book does give a more direct path to the theory about Jesus as a literal King of Jerusalem,possiblely married and a rebellious figure head but it does not reveal anything that hasn't been covered before. The book does give tons of valuable information about the Church of Rome's delibrate and successful attempt to change the world's view of JEsus. Chapter thriteen in this book has its most solid and orignal writting on historical JEsus. The chapter does a good job of showing ancient christian script compared too the Romanized New Testiment. Baigent does a good job of covering Eygpt and its influence over JEsus' teachings. The book would be a good read for somebody wanting alternative source of information about Jesus; besides the bible. The book is not a Da Vinci Code book its actual attempt in trying to find a more realistic story of Jesus and the events of his time.
215 of 254 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. The author brings independent facts to support his arguments. 18 Mar 2007
By Gaetan Lion - Published on
This is a very well written easy to read fascinating history of Jesus life. Based on Baigent's research, Jesus was not a blond Northern European, but instead a dark skinned Palestinian. He was married to Mary Magdalene who was not a woman of the street but instead a wealthy, well respected woman called Mary of Bethany. The latter is the woman who anoints him. He was not a god, and was not divine. He admitted so in letters he wrote being held today by a private collector. He had no intent of starting a religion as he was an active Jewish messiah among many others. However, Judaism was highly factionalized. Jesus belonged to the Egyptian Therapeutae Jews who had different beliefs than the Zealot Jews of Judea. When he recommend that the Zealots accept Roman taxation, the Zealots turn on him and ask Pilate for his crucifixion. The Jewish Sadducee priesthood also asks for Jesus death, as his charismatic leadership threatened their authority. The author provides several independent sources suggesting he survived crucifixion. It is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark in original Greek. It is also mentioned in the Koran. And, it is vividly described by a couple of Renaissance paintings.

The most interesting aspect of the book is the author's study of Jesus' mysticism. Instead of starting Christianity, Jesus taught mysticism he learned from the Egyptian Therapeutae Jews. The latter studied Egyptian mysticism including "The Book of the Dead" and the "Far World." For the Egyptian, the dead represent a world that is just as alive but in a more etheral form not subject to linear time. One can travel to the World of the Dead and come back after training in mysticism. This includes the technique of incubation, meditating in silence in the dark in special designated chambers underground within pyramid or elsewhere. The meditation leads to mystical experiences uncovering the Far World. The Therapeutae adopted Egyptian mysticism and renamed the Far World the "Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus wanted to teach all others on how to reach this Kingdom that is within us. The Therapeutae believed in a simple life with no artifacts, temples, and religious hierarchies. They also believed that men and women were equal in their potential for reaching mystical experiences. Jesus could have also learned this mysticism from other sources. One of them is the Books of Hermes written by Egyptian priests in Greek who wanted to transfer their knowledge beyond Egypt. Another source includes the presocratic Greek philosophers (Parmenides) who had also imported similar beliefs from Egypt regarding the dead. Even Homer in The Odyssey mentions Odysseus traveling to the world of the dead when he sails to the "city of perpetual mist."

Unbeknown to Jesus, Christianity will take a different path from his mystical teachings. This religion will become obsessed with male chastity, female virginity, the immaculate conception of Virgin Mary and ultimately with misogyny as women are treated as inferior beings that are not allowed to become priests, bishops, or popes. During the Middle Age, women were persecuted and killed by the Christian religious orders who started the inquisition (The Dominicans). Between A.D. 1230 and 1480 30,000 were killed under the guise of witchcraft. This Christianity so estranged from Jesus mysticism was established through selected Gospels written hundreds of years after his death. Those were later screened, censored, modified, and selected to construct the New Testament. Within it, Jesus mysticism is entirely eradicated. These scriptures also assign a divine status to Jesus that historical facts do not support. It also assigns him supernatural capabilities including miracles (walking on water, resurrection, multiplication of breads and fishes, and ultimately creation of our entire universe in a mere week in the Genesis).

The author indicates that Christianity's interpretation of Jesus life is increasingly disconnected from any historical facts. New findings include the Dead Sea Scrolls and the related Gnostic Gospels and Gospels of Mark further question the historical veracity of Christian's interpretation of Jesus life. None of those scriptures made it in the New Testament.

Using the author's own plausibility framework contrasting what we have been told about Jesus (creation of Christianity, born of immaculate conception, chaste, resurrection, walking on water) vs what Michael Baigent reveals (Jewish messiah, surviving the crucifixion, married to Magdalene) one can state that Baigent's version does not breach the laws of physics and mammal biology. That's a basic step to have history on his side.

I strongly recommend this book. This is the first book I read on this very specific subject. I suspect that many other books covering the Gnostic Gospels, the Gospels of Mary Magdalene, and the Dead Sea Scrolls provide further opportunities for studying this fascinating subject.
124 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Context Brings Understading 29 April 2006
By M. L Lamendola - Published on
I enjoyed this book. Before I get into the review, I want to make some general comments.

On some of the hoopla surrounding this book

There is an enormous gap between Catholicism and Christianity, if you base Christianity on the Gospels or anything else in the New Testament. That's not "an opinion." Just start reading and comparing. It's also helpful to remember that Martin Luther--a Doctor of Divinity and Biblical scholar--sought to reform the Catholic Church to principles of Christianity back in the 1500s. The two religions are fundamentally and diametrically opposed. Luther exposed the Catholic Church for the fraud it was, over half a millennia ago. And yet it's still going strong today. So, no book is a threat to Catholicism.

This book isn't a threat to Judaism, which is more a hereditary religion than one based on conversion.

Nor is this book a threat to "Literal Bible Christianity." Yes, it sheds credible doubt on many of the key Biblical concepts--such as the resurrection. However, it has long been beyond doubt that the Bible was concocted many decades after the Apostles died--and is thus full of errors (or, as many scholars hold, fraud). So, the "Literal Bible" folks already live with delusions. They aren't going to be swayed by even more evidence piled on what is already before them.

Would this book be a threat to other Christians? Probably not. Most Christian groups have officially come to terms with the errors, inconsistencies, and deficiencies of the Bible. That's why they don't take it literally. They take from the Bible and from tradition the core concepts on which they build their religious system. They have a faith that sustains them and through which they help make the world a better place. They don't pretend that their faith is based on knowledge, they know it's based on faith. So, they aren't threatened by research that provides even more evidence of fraud in the Bible.

If Jesus had survived the crucifixion, rather than having died and being resurrected, would these people live any differently? My guess is most Christians are far more inspired by the central message Jesus gave rather than the messages imputed to him long after his ministry concluded.

Conclusion: This book will not change the face of religions that claim to be Christian in nature.

On the Dan Brown controversy

Brown lied to the readers. That's what a novelist does. Brown's book, while entertaining and a source of millions of dollars of income for the author, isn't history. It's fiction. The fact that Brown pretended to present fact does rankle many people, and it certainly rankled Baigent and other scholarly types.

The dispute between Brown and Baigent has nothing to do with this book. That dispute has to do with an earlier Baigent work. And the decision in that dispute basically says Brown is a novelist (fiction, by definition) and Baigent is a researcher (fact, by definition). Plagiarism is not an issue because the works are inherently so different. Where Baigent and others are correct is in their claims that Brown made incorrect claims in his book. But Brown can legitimately do that because he wrote a work of fiction. If Brown had written a research piece, then we could all get upset and make him play by the rules of published research. If you simply remember that Brown is telling a story and not teaching a class, the controversy (as stated) is moot.

The review

I like Baigent's approach. He gives extensive background information, so the reader gets a feel for how he arrived at his thesis that Jesus survived the crucifixion. He also provides us with insight as to why the crucifixion story, if false, would have come to be in the first place. That insight fits well into the current literature from others in this field of historical religious studies.

Some readers may have expected a one-sided approach that clearly sets forth the thesis as fact. Such an approach is what we find when people want to convince those who already agree with them. This is not what Baigent did; he took a much more fair approach. Context is a huge factor when trying to understand Christian texts and beliefs from any given era. This is why Baigent took the time to present the context. He didn't meander, as some impatient readers claimed in other reviews, he provided the necessary context.

This book is not a novel. There isn't a plot, and there are no cliffhangers at the ends of the chapters. It's a non-fiction work produced by a researcher for the layman. Baigent could have hidden behind jargon and unexplained concepts, but he didn't. I found myself intrigued after reading the first few pages. I think Baigent did a good job of making his case. But he was also careful to present his conclusion as an alternative to consider. He did not present it as the only logical conclusion. In no way does he imply the reader has to be an idiot to disagree with him.

Baigent does not claim that the resurrection absolutely never took place. He shows the weaknesses in the claims that it did, and explains those weaknesses in historical context. He then explains what most probably did take place, and why that's probable--again, in the historical context. I found his scholarly approach appealing.

Something else I found appealing in this book was the inclusion of a large number of informative photographs. Even if you (mis)read the text by coming at it with preconceived notions, this book is worth more than its price for these photos alone. They even have good captions to go with them.

When reading this book, you have to remember that it's an examination and presentation of the research, not an opinion piece developed to defend or attack a particular dogma or belief set. Baigent does challenge the reader to examine traditional beliefs, and by necessity some particular dogmas and belief sets aren't treated kindly. That doesn't, however, diminish the value of the book. Imagine a book on plate tectonics accommodating a belief that the earth is flat--it just doesn't work. Similarly, this book can't accommodate certain ideas. It does present ideas that make sense, especially when you understand the historical context in which those ideas are presented.

If understanding is something you desire, then you will like this book. If your self worth is wrapped up in holding to a particular belief set, then you probably won't like this book.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed 9 April 2006
By Dr. James Gardner - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the follow-up to the highly successful and compelling Holy Grail book published some 20 years ago. It comes out at a time when the plagurism case by Baigant and his co-authors against Dan Brown and the DaVinci Code was just announced (in Brown's favor).

The book is well written and has lots of information about lots of topics, all of which revolve around Jesus in some way or another. Unfortunately, it's hard to know what the point is, since Baigent tends to skip around a lot. First he's in London taking pictures of something he knows not what, then we're in 1st Century Israel, then the Cathars, then... This style worked well in the Holy Grail book when there was a thread that held everything together. In this book, though, I can't find the thread. Sometimes it appears to be an opportunity for Baigent to use the photos and stories he didn't use the first time.

Then there's the errors. Lots of errors. Baigant focuses on a picture in a church in France that shows Jesus being taken into the cave after he is crucified. Baigant claims that "the full moon has risen" (p. 18) but in fact the picture shows that the moon is rising, not risen, and could be much earlier than Baigant proposed. He claims "no Jew would have handled a dead body after the beginning of Passover" (p. 18), but no claims are being made that the people handling Jesus are Jews. He claims that the body "is being carried out" (p. 18), but anyone can see from the physics that the body is being carried in.

Here's some more choice errors...

"According to the gospel accounts, everyone except Jesus' disciples seemed to want him dead." (p. 21). Completely false. The high priests even admit their fear that any reprisals against Jesus could lead to trouble since he is so popular.

"44 AD. Execution of James, the brother of Jesus." (p. 22) Nonsense. Almost every scholar places James' death in the early 60s.

"The Jewish execution for this particular transgression [political crime] was death by stoning." (p. 24). Nonsense. Death by stoning was allowed for blasphemy, not political crimes. Only the Romans could punish for political crimes.

"he was commonly called Jesus of Galilee." (p. 32) By whom? That name was never mentioned. He was called Joshua the Nazarene.

"AD 30. Crucifixiion of Jesus...c AD 35...John the Baptist is executed." (p. 44) So now John dies 5 years after Jesus???

"We get no information about Jesus from Paul..." (p. 72). Not true. Paul talks about the crucifixion (1 Cor 1:17), the last supper (1 Cor 11:20), Jesus' brother James (Gal, 1:19), his descent from David (Romans 1:3), etc. It's true, Paul doesn't tell us much. But Baigant's claim that Paul tells us nothing is not true.

He does get some things right: Jesus was surrounded by Zealots (but then Baigant neglects to mention "the brothers of thunder" which surely is another name for zealots), Sicarri is another name for dagger-men and the probably reference to Judas, Josephus had been with the Zealots (although I suspect he had been with the Essenes prior to becoming a Zealot)

It's too bad this book is spoiled by such poor scholarship. Had he done a better job, the breadth and scope combined with his very interesting writing style would make this a real find. In it's current shape it is a mere curiosity.
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re; Going the way of Zeus 3 Feb 2007
By Samuel H. Rushing - Published on
Historical Jesus or mythological Jesus, Michael Baigent does an excellent job at differentiating between the two with facts and intelligent speculative conclusions. As more and more "newly" discovered ancient manuscripts are revealed, the religious leaders are horrifed that their deceit is being slowly exposed for what it is. Baigent contributes to the ever growing evidence that if Jesus did exist, he was a man, nothing more, nothing less. The divinity of Jesus that was invented by the early church is a myth as much as the divinities of Zeus, Apollo, Mithra, or Chrisna. Jesus will certainly join these late great gods one day in the future. It is only a matter of time and thanks to Baigent and people like him, we can enjoy our wonderful life on earth instead of believing in fairy tales and waiting to die to experience happiness. "The only gratification that science denies is deception" - Carl Sagen.
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