40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a brilliant and well researched work, 9 May 2000
This book might be aimed at different types of reader. It succeeds on several levels. If it is aimed at the newcomer to critical review of the canonical sources then it is an excellent work to start with. If it is aimed at more experienced person, then it succeeds even more. I am well familiar with critical evaluation of the gospels, Paul's letters, Acts, etc. together with the Apocrypha, the early Church Fathers and all the ancient sources. Likewise I am familiar with the ancient religious rituals and myths. No one who has studied Frazer's Golden Bough and Graves' The White Goddess or his Greek Myths will find too much here that is horrifying. The authors themselves modestly and honestly point out that there is nothing much here that is new. Their revelation of the Osiris/Dionysus cults' similarity with the story of Jesus reminds me of when I read Joel Carmichael's the Death of Jesus when I was at college many years ago. He compares the Mithras cult with that of Christianity and, like messrs. Freke and Gandy, he is not surprised that the 'new' religion took hold in the mediterranean world.
But even an old hand like myself is impressed by the clarity of these authors. They set out all the arguments in a way that is of great use in discussion. I might have known much of the stuff from different sources but Freke and Gandy set them out in a way that relieves me of the need to refer to a number of works. They may have set out to produce a 'popular' type work to bring the arguments to 'the masses' but I feel quite at home with them on a scholarly level as I do with EP Sanders, Geza Vermes etc.
To be honest, like Sanders, Vermes, A.N. Wilson, Carmichael, Brandon and Winter, I am of opinion that there was an historical Jesus of Nazareth and I applaud their laudable efforts to produce such a personage. But I do agree with Freke and Gandy that, even as strongly as I hold this view, I cannot gainsay anyone who asserts that Jesus never existed; and this is another example of the value of this book. The authors succinctly set out the arguments that show that there is no evidence that this person ever existed. That is not the main argument of this book but it is one of the many gems which are but side issues to the argument.
This book should be required reading from secondary schools up.