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on 20 May 2017
very good
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on 3 July 2017
I read this some time ago, and it has stayed with me as being at the intelligent end of writings on Christianity. It's very much, too, in the Gnostic field.

I believe this book to be essential reading if you wonder why the feminine principle (often identified with the soul, as opposed to spirit) has been so demeaned and diminished in our culture. I have a great many books that look at restoring the lost feminine; what this one clarifies, through careful and thorough research, is what happens when a metaphor - a profound and essential metaphor in the search for truth – is taken literally. Yes, the well-known struggles, oppression and bloodshed that come from a notion of in-groups and out-groups, when one group believes they alone have access to The Truth. Disastrous.

So there are literal truths and symbolic truths. They have a very different meaning, and range. How differently we'd look at the teachings of mainstream Christianity if we took that latter perspective.
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on 20 November 2015
This is indeed a thought provoking book. I think the authors do well in making a range of complex material accessible to the lay reader in their books. However, as I am aware that the authors very much endorse a 'do it yourself' kind of pirituality and are subsequently far less favourable of mainstream religion, and this agenda is very much clear here. Far more highly acclaimed scholars take issue with the credability of the authors research methodology behind some of their radical shock tactic claims (see Tom Wright). Having said this, I am sure that there are elements of truth in this book, even if at times it may have been exaggerated or twisted to suit their agenda. As for the historicity of Jesus, the overwhelming majority of academics would not entertain such radical claims, even the reknown scholar Bart Erham is convinced he existed, and he is certainly no fan of Christianity. It is easy to see how those readers that only explore such things on a superficial level may be so easily convinced of such claims. Truth is we don't know with a 100 percent certainty either way and the thus the wise are likely to continue to remain open minded.
Despite this, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who are interested in Gnosticism or cobbling together an idiosyncratic spiritual path, a popular undertaking today, and the authors provide validity and credability to such self aggrandising ideals. If you enjoyed this book you may also enjoy their interpretation of 'the Hermetica' another easy and enjoyable read by the authors, I too, found that a good read and helpful in providing an overview of what is otherwise a complex text in places (Corpus Hermetica) that is related to the Neoplatonic philosophy presented in this book. Having said all this I am not sure that Gnosticism really offers us anything better than what we have already got. No doubt it will be an appealing path for those who wish to believe that they have access to secret teachings or spiritual methods that others have not got. Naturally, this idea is attractive to the proud ego's that want to believe that we have the special key to enlightenment and others do not, I am more advanced than he etc, but the reality is that it is rooted in pride, and if we cannot see that then perhaps we are not as developed spiritually as we are inclined to deludedly kid ourselves. The impact of Neognosticism and its effectiveness in such spiritual pursuits remains to be seen and will undoubtedly unfold within the fullness of time.
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on 28 July 2015
Very well-documented claims made by the authors. Certainly an interesting reading that makes you think and look into yourself. It would also help bringing positions and views closer, if people read it and found the similar concepts underlying several religions.
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on 3 April 2014
The authors of this book have thoroughly research their work, and for me reading this book was like a revelation, it confirmed all that I questioned and confirmed that I was not insane, that religions (in the established institutions such as Christianity) were hiding something, I was brought up in a strict Christian Background, but was always rebellious and I'd ask my mother so many questions to do with Christianity and its effects was only youngster then.., fast forwarding to the present in my gut I knew there was something deeper I needed to search and this I found whilst surfing the net, it talks about the Goddess and the world religion's efforts to to get rid of the Goddess, if you want to look deeper into Christianity this book will fill you in nicely. Good job Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. I read this book quite a while back almost two years ago and don't know why I didn't write a review for it anyway this is it.
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on 8 May 2008
I think this book is indeed essential reading for the initiate. Written in a way that all may understand, it sweeps away any thought that somehow gnosticism is "elitist" I am indeed glad that I own this book as it clarifys most of the myths and early Christian writings I have been reading about in other books. Please do not let this one pass you by. Take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
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on 14 February 2002
This is an excellent book with much original research. Out of the three schools of thought in early Christianity (1)literalist (Pistis); (2)joint literalist-gnostic; (3)Gnostic; Freke and Gandy are strong supporters of number (3), the Gnostic Christians.
Freke and Gandy attack literalist Christianity with venom, who they accuse of hijacking early Christianity which was eclectic and tolerant, turning it into the most totalitarian nightmare the world has ever seen. This included systematic destruction of the Gnostic Christian and Gnostic Pagan intelligentsia of their day and all their powerful knowledge they had gathered. Replacing it with mass ignorance and complete nonsense that was the beginning of the dark ages in the west.
The books great strength is that is unifies early Christian Gnostic thought, by identifying common themes that existed in all denominations of the Christian Gnostics, despite their individual differences. Describing the processes of hylic, psychic, pneumatic initiates and gnosis as the final prize for the initiate, in original Christianity.
The one big criticism of the book is Freke and Gandy's denial of the historical Jesus. Just because the independent evidence is weak for the existence of an historical Jesus, it doesn't mean he didn't exist as a person.
The totalitarian literalist Christians who seized power in the 4th century AD, may well have destroyed independent evidence of an historical Jesus fearing it would do damage to their ignorant vision, particularly if Jesus was a radical individualist and a Jewish Gnostic, such as an Essene or a Therapeutae initiate and not the totalitarian figure the new powerful Christian church wanted to falsely portray. Freke and Gandy don't address this argument.
Also another criticism is that Literalist Christian may not have always been this total monster that Freke and Gandy portray. Because Literalist offered a sense of community, self-belief and faith, that gave its followers in face of persecution, an intuitive sense of strength in unity before the 4th century AD. Literalist Christians were a solid movement, while the Gnostics Christians were no match, being only a loose network. Only after the 4th century AD and the seizure of power by the literalist Christians, one could argue, the democratic literalist vision was hijacked and twisted by these new, sinister, totalitarian literalists who seized power for their ignorant uses and plunged the west into darkness for 1000 years, before the Reformation restored some sanity.
I am sure Clement of Alexandria and his pupil Origen would have agreed with much of the above paragraph and that is why both these early Church Fathers were supporters of the joint literalist-gnostic school of thought. This expressed both the literalist exoteric outer mysterious (historical, the community and faith emphasis) and Gnostic esoteric inner mysterious (mythological, the individual and self knowledge emphasis), which the writer believes was the framework of original Christians, before the church split in two, with the literalist and Gnostic factions disastrously going their separate ways in the 2nd century AD.
Despite these criticisms get a copy of this book now. This is an important book in the "Jesus Debate". It shows how easily a philosophical religion of inclusive, democratic freethinkers with "unity in variety" and a "freedom to question" as their message can be hijacked and turned into the control religion of the exclusive, authoritarian personality (see your psychology books), with "them and us" and a "duty to believe" as their message. That is what happened to Christianity and many of today's Christian denominations are a misguided product of this.
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on 2 January 2002
Following on from their last book - was Jesus a myth based on pagan elements - this book looks at the early Christians themselves. Although the book itself is written in a populist style, the extensive notes help to present a good argument that Christianity was a more spiritually centered, inclusive religion before the Literalist view, largely derived from the Romans, took its hard grip on this religion. In a changing world where Gnostic views, often not acknowledged, have gained advocates from the happy clappy wing of the church through to the numerous New Age sects, this is a welcome re-evaluation of where Christianity came from, and a possible agenda for it to move forward again.
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on 9 June 2006
This book certainly had a profound impact on me. I lost my 'faith' a few years back and drifted away from the Christian Church but still wanted to believe in something. I have to thank Dan Brown for pointing me in the direction of this book (and others). If I have to say anything good about The Da Vinci Code it was the fact that it challenged my current thinking about Christianity. In the last couple of years I've become interested in Reiki, meditation, spiritualism and all things esoteric. I've always been drawn to these areas but now feel I've come home. It's what I believe and accept to be the truth and this book helped me realise it. It now makes perfect sense to me that Jesus could not possibly be a real living breathing person and I do feel a certain amount of frustration and anger that the Christian Church supressed a lot of the original Christian teachings. This book is not an easy read and it took me a couple of attempts to get my head around a lot of it. But it is definitely worth it. Yes, it won't be everyone's cup of tea but then I bought this book because I am seriously interested in Gnosticism and the authors' ideas didn't horrify or upset me. Certainly if you find the idea that your life is all an illusion to be abhorrent or utter codswallop then don't buy it. If you are seeking some answers and have lost faith in organised religion then I would say give it a try.
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on 14 December 2001
If you consider everything you have been conditioned to believe in all your life and then suddenly find that after reading this book you need to reasses these facts...then I think it has had the desired effect. This is an excellent account of how modern society finds itself today with factional religions everywhere - nothing has changed then....
The pace and detail keep you reading and gasping for more. If you dare put it down, you wonder if you have missed something. It provides direct relationships to religious writings which were misinterpreted. You will find this a tough book if you are looking for easy reading, but it will be a delight to those who want to look within and realize just how power, greed and control have effectively perpetuated these misinterpreted religious teachings for millenia.
More please!
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