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The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,218 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
“Whether you conclude that this book is the most alarming heresy of the millennium or the mother of all revelations, The Jesus Mysteries deserves to be read.”
-- Fort Worth Star -Telegram

What if . . .
* there were absolutely no evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus?
* for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God?
* this Pagan savior was also born of
Paperback, 360 pages
Published September 25th 2001 by Harmony (first published January 1st 1999)
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Mar 14, 2016 Alejandro rated it really liked it
Insightful reading.


The chosen title for this first section of my review, To the Christ in You , it's the dedication that the authors used for this particular book.

I knew that I made the right decision to read it.

I am Catholic, I have a strong faith in God, but also I have no problem to know about the earthly origins of the foundation of the Christian-Catholic Church.

Some people can see this book like a blasphemy and if so, well, I respect their position, but in my case,
Apr 01, 2008 Nat rated it it was amazing
An interesting thesis, easily accepted by serious students of comparative religion, but probably highly irritating and/or distasteful to fundamentalist sects. If you're truly interested in the history of religion, I highly recommend it.
Evanston Public  Library
Have you: 1) Ever heard that not a single contemporary first-hand account of the Jesus of Nazareth exists? And wondered why? 2) Ever taken a shot at understanding the very strange 2nd-4th century Gnostic Gospels (discovered in an Egyptian cave in 1948), but found them too bizarre to wrap your arms around? 3) Ever heard of the Egyptian, Persian, and Pagan man-Gods, worshiped during the 1st-5th centuries B.C., who were born of a virgin, died on a cross/tree, buried in a cave, descended into hell, ...more
Sep 26, 2010 Lesley rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Most non fundamentalist Christians accept that aspects of the traditional gospel narratives were likely drawn from the myths of other cultures. Gandy and Freke's premise is radically different: that the "historic" Jesus may not have existed at all, but is a complete amalgam of Osiris, Dionysus,etc filtered through a 1st century Jewish mystery tradition.Like other mystery religions, what we now read as the "true" gospel story may never have been intended to be read literally, but served as an "ou ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Rebyj rated it liked it
“I'm not real familiar with gnosticism but having been raised in a fundamentalist type religion I was brought up believing the Catholic church adopted a lot of pagan practices in their worship. This book was a good resource as far as delving much deeper in the history of all Christian worship. The references and bibliography was detailed enough to keep me busy searching for points of interest to me. I think it's a great book for anyone who's wanting to look beyond what they've been raised to bel ...more
Jan 24, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
I always imagined that during the first century there were many, many versions of what happened to Jesus of Nazareth.. Out of that primordial soup of belief emerged orthodox Christianity and Gnostic Christianity, and afterward it was one long process of natural selection which eventually produced the religion we know today. It was survival of the fittest, and Paul’s interpretation of the life and death of Jesus won, driving all other versions into extinction. This book posits a radically differe ...more
May 25, 2012 Tepintzin rated it liked it
Shelves: pagan
Read it, didn't buy the theory. The authors didn't know the difference between Mithra (Persian deity) and Mithras (god of the Roman legions) to start with, and that's a pretty critical distinction. They also didn't talk enough about the story of Dionysus to get a real feel for any comparisons between Dionysus and Jesus, and there are some. Nonetheless, a "mystery religion" lens for viewing the Jesus narrative is useful for mining more significance out of it when the usual way of reading it runs ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 03, 2011 Pete daPixie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-jesus
'The Jesus Mysteries' was a Sunday Times bestseller and The Daily Telegraph's Book of the Year, when published back in 1999. As it states on the book's cover, 'drawing on the cutting edge of modern scholarship, this astonishing book will change everything you ever thought you knew about Christianity.' Amen to that.
The book's two authors, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have dumped an enormous amount of research between it's covers. If I have one teeny weeny criticism it's the fact that hardly a pa
Dec 29, 2010 Hayden rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
The Jesus Myth thesis is a very controversial one of late, particularly after the string of new atheists and controversial publishings; but I'm afraid to say that the thesis is ultimately the epitome of misconstrued articles on gnosticism, paganism, and Christianity. Now, let me make it perfectly clear, there is obviously history in their [Freke and Gandy] product, but rather than assuming that all of their citations and references to other "historians" are reliable, actually read a Greek, Mesop ...more
David Sarkies
Oct 02, 2015 David Sarkies rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody, it's rubbish
Recommended to David by: It looked interesting
Shelves: christian
Is Christianity a Mystery Cult
28 October 2011

I recently had a look at my review of this book and must admit that I was very disappointed in that I gave it just a brief glance and then threw it on my shelf and forgot about it. I have kept my original review below but after reading the book that I am reading now (Orpheus and Greek Religion) I felt that this particular book requires another look.

Now, the idea that the authors proposed, after thinking about it for a bit and considering the elemen
Jan 25, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians, skeptics, Pagans
This is the best book I've found that explains Christianity's place in the pantheon of world religions. The authors start with the question of whether it's possible that Jesus was not, in fact, the true son of God. They examine the evidence of numerous god-men that preceded Jesus, each living pretty much the exact same life: virgin birth, miracles, water to wine, feeding thousands with a few fish, crucifixion, resurrection. They go on to explore the role of the New Testament as a handbook for th ...more
محمد الهاشمي
Jan 31, 2013 محمد الهاشمي rated it really liked it
مع أنني قرأته منذ وقت ليس بقريب إلا أنني لم أنس هذا الكتاب وإن كنت قد نسيت بعضا من أطروحاته وتفاصيلها. ذلك أن الكتاب أثر في كثير من آرائي حول المسيحية ونشوئها وتركز في لاوعي حواري حول الأديان.

ليس من السهل التشكيك في نصوص الكتب المقدسة التي يتبعها ملايين بل مليارات الأشخاص ويصدقون بها. من المستفز أن تقرأ كتابا يمس جوهر العقيدة في دين سماوي حتى وإن لم تكن من أتباع ذلك الدين. لكن الكتاب قتل كثيرا من التساؤلات التي استثارتني عندما قرأت الاناجيل المختلفة. إن المسيح الذي يؤمن به مسيحيو اليوم له أكثر م
Bruce Morton
Sep 05, 2011 Bruce Morton rated it did not like it
Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have produced a book with copious research. Their study is saturated with ancient testimony and much thought. This is not a superficial look at the area of Theosophy. However, the flaw in their study comes as they acknowledge that much of their thesis depends on Paul's writings. They argue that the apostle Paul was one of the earliest Christian writers. And they are convinced he was one of the earliest Gnostics (the true Christians). Freke and Gandy are convinced th ...more
Steve Werner
Aug 31, 2015 Steve Werner rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this book. My biggest gripe is that the authors come across as snarky, and are extremely liberal with their exclamation marks. People tend to say that showing some myth or story to be symbolic, or highly similar to other myths, disproves any sort of literalist interpretation of that story. For instance, in The Jesus Mysteries they make a very convincing argument that the stories of Jesus from the gospels are rehashes of older allegories from other traditions (Osiris, Mythras ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. If you have wondered what the real story was at the time Christianity began, and why it has not translated very well through the centuries, this explains it. For everyone that thought the bible was allegorical and not literal, this explains why it unfolded the way it did. This is a magnificent piece of work. I read the sequel before this, and I like this one better.
Oct 11, 2015 Jaye rated it really liked it
I am an atheist, but I have always found religious material to be fascinating. I picked up this book on the recommendation of a colleague who considers himself to be a Gnostic rather than a Christian. I can only imagine how this book might be received by a person of faith, because of the controversial subject matter. The central premise is that there is no historical evidence of Jesus, but there is considerable evidence that early Christianity was cribbed together from a host of pagan Mystery re ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Chuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture_history
Timothy Freke's philosophical arguments have piqued my interest, much like Joseph Campbell did with Hero With A Thousand Faces.
Krassi Zourkova
Feb 26, 2015 Krassi Zourkova rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orpheus
Maybe it just meshed perfectly with where my own spirituality is at the moment, but this book blew me away. I read it while doing research for the sequel to my novel, Wildalone. It is brilliant and convincing in its astounding theory, yes. But I also found it to be deeply affecting on a personal level. It envisions a world where everyone, Christian or non-Christian, has found inner wisdom, peace and freedom. And it offers the hope that the spiritual wisdom of the ancients, while seemingly eradic ...more
Mark Colenutt
Jul 08, 2013 Mark Colenutt rated it it was amazing
The origins of Christianity are something that are taken for granted and therefore are rarely if ever questioned. That is if you are not a Gnostic or Jewish by descent. And yet the source of primitive Christianity is one of the most illuminating and fascinating histories to follow.

What do we know of the mystical numbers that the ancient Greeks and wrote down in the oldest surviving biblical text from which all others have been translated and what too of the Virgin Mary, was that really her descr
John Herceg
Nov 13, 2011 John Herceg rated it it was amazing
Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy collaborate to write this nonfiction elaboration of the ancient Pagan Mystery cults and how they relate to modern Christianity. With careful attention to detail, these two authors explain the traditions in existence during the arrival of the early Christian Church and the process by which the Church uprooted them. Freke and Gandy write with an authorial voice while sharing information, discovered through their research, that has been lost to the ages (sometimes inte ...more
Susan Janke
Oct 11, 2012 Susan Janke rated it it was amazing
I found this book fascinating to read. I have spent a lot of time teaching myself about ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc., and truly appreciated the amount of work that went into weaving this vast amount of literature together. I am not convinced we will ever know what actually happened, but I do find it interesting we know so much more about other spirits, prophets, gods, etc. than what we know about Jesus. I also find it disconcerting that the majority of the New Testament is written by Paul, ...more
Michal Schmalz
Sep 09, 2014 Michal Schmalz rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It was easy to read and its topic is very interesting. It has quite provocative thesis but its authors give plenty of references to support their arguments. Even though I didnt go as far as to check them all, it definitely made a good impression on me. ...more
Oct 08, 2009 Cara rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cara by: Chris VW
I really, really, really enjoyed reading this book. It helped clear a lot of things up that for, well, my whole life, I was confused about; specifically, the supernatural elements to the Jesus story. Not only did it teach me about Christianity, but Paganism as well, and even some history. I like nonfiction books like this that not only explain the "what" and "how" but also the "why" - as in, why is this important to know? I thought it was very well written, with sources to back up the facts simi ...more
Apr 12, 2010 Denise rated it it was amazing evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus...for thousands of years Pagans had also followed a Son of God...this Pagan savior was also born of a virgin on the twenty-fifth of December before three shepherds, turned water into wine at a wedding, died and was resurrected, and offered his body and blood as a Holy Communion!..these Pagan myths had been rewritten as the gospel of Jesus Christ...the earliest Gnostic Christians knew that the Jesus story was a myth...Christianity turned out ...more
Billy Candelaria
Apr 25, 2011 Billy Candelaria rated it it was amazing
had to pass time reading something out of the norm of the lenten week. Philippines being a christian country that believes in the dogmas and rituals of the christian church is the usual stuff i grew up with but i tried to make sense of those teachings which for me seems more then the outer form rather than the inner meaning of what christianity. even before i had this feeling that christianity might be more stranger then what we suppose to believe. thanks to these two authors this had been confi ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Michele rated it liked it
This wasn't new information for me. I've read very similar ideas in a few other books. If you're familiar with the hero's journey, the story is much the same. All of our legends are meant to be instructional in some way. Whether you believe the characters to be actual historical figures or myth, they have meaning.
J.P. Ashman
May 14, 2015 J.P. Ashman rated it it was amazing
It's a long time since I read this, but I do remember really enjoying it and if this is a subject you are interested in, it is worth a read.
Mar 02, 2007 Joe rated it really liked it
Freke and Gandy make a compelling argument that the "historical" Jesus never existed. The pagan mystical god "Mithras" (among other names) was the original pre-Jesus that performed miracles, had 12 disciples, turned water into wine, was crucified and rose from the dead 3 days later, born on Christmas Day, died and reborn at Easter, ... etc., etc., etc. Warning: You will like this book if you read textbooks for fun, or if you like dry, humorless non-fiction. If this is not you, and you still feel ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Lelisia rated it really liked it
I relished every page of this book. The authors' thesis is presented lucidly and quiter persuasively. My one complaint is that instead of citing secondary sources, they should have gone straight to the primary sources themselves. Instead, for example, of citing an ancient author referenced in another modern historian's book, Misters Freke and Gandy should have gone to the ancient writer's text and taken their citation firsthand. I know many of these ancient authors' books are readily available, ...more
Paul Valente
Nov 19, 2012 Paul Valente rated it really liked it
Jesus Christ was born of a virgin in a stable, crucified on the cross and resurrected 3 days later: this was an established God-myth in many cultures way before the Christians adopted it for their God! I really enjoyed this, an in depth and intelligent look at the links between Christianity, earlier pagan religions and the Gnostic gospels. Rich in detail and full of interesting facts and interpretations, the one weakness is they overstate their case too often and over extend the similarities to ...more
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Timothy Freke has an honors degree in philosophy and is the author of more than twenty books on world spirituality. He lectures and runs experiential seminars throughout the world exploring gnosis. For information, see Both Freke and Gandy live in England and are the authors of five previous books, including The Jesus Mysteries and Jesus and the Lost Goddess.
More about Timothy Freke...

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“The traditional version of history bequeathed to us by the authorities of the Roman Church is that Christianity developed from the teachings of a Jewish Messiah and that Gnosticism was a later deviation. What would happen, we wondered, if the picture were reversed and Gnosticism viewed as the authentic Christianity, just as the Gnostics themselves claimed? Could it be that orthodox Christianity was a later deviation from Gnosticism and that Gnosticism was a synthesis of Judaism and the Pagan Mystery religion?” 1 likes
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