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Far from the maddening orthodoxy
on 15 June 2014
John Allegro was a heretic or defector from the clique who processed or delayed the processing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Allegro's book can be seen as a welcome relieve from the insistence of both academic and popular writers that religion in the ancient world was an inevitable progression towards the modern religious orthodoxies with divergent heresies and cults relegated to the footnotes.
That said there is much to question in Allegro's book. It is one thing to suggest that religion, as it emerged at the start of settled agricultural life in Mesopotamia, was a fertility cult, but quite another to say that this was still the case in other parts of the Fertile Crescent thousands of years later. There is also no recognition of the fact that there was more than one type of psychoactive plant or plant parasite in the area, or other ways of acheiving altered states. In general, the book may be thought to depend too much on linguistic material, unqualified by reference to other historical evidence.