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The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  450 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
s/t: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East
Professor Allegro (Univ. of Manchester) has hitherto been known for his several excellent books on the Dead Sea Scrolls. In an unusual reversal, he has now produced a book that will make The Passover Plot seem the last refuge of theological ultra-conservatism. The thes
Paperback, 381 pages
Published May 18th 1970 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (London)
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Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For such a dry book, this one really got my imagination going. Allegro is the philologist who translated The Dead Sea Scrolls. After initial acclaim, he was ostracized for carrying that work to its conclusion.

He keeps the book very much on topic. It would be extremely easy to find several rabbit holes to go down. His only concern is the words. He is not a psychedelic proponent like Terrance McKenna. He is not a biblical scholar or a Christian. He only wants to understand the oldest languages tha
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow. John Marco Allegro was the only non-Catholic member to help translate The Dead Sea Scrolls, and when he found the Sumerian glyphs that represented mushrooms and peered deeper into the text, he underwent an existential reforming, radically changing and casting off his Protestant beliefs. Yet as I read this amazing scholar's main work, I couldn't help but think that he was pressing his new-found dogma too hard, and that it would fall upon deaf ears. While the book has inspired many to look de ...more
Peter Lockhart
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Heavy going and really this man is a scholar. The fact is it ended his career because people prefer a simple lie to a complicated truth.

I thought the book was astounding.
Erik Graff
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: biblical scholars
Recommended to Erik by: Dennis Haas
Shelves: religion
When taking my first Hebrew Scriptures course, our professor, Grinnell College Chaplain Dennis Haas began a lecture with a display of this book, saying how he had been shocked by its thesis that the roots of Judaism and Christianity were in a psychedelic fertility cult. John Allegro, its author, he noted, was a very well respected scholar, one of the first involved in the study of the Qumran scrolls. That such an expert could make such claims was quite upsetting.

Years later, having gotten two de
Robin Boudreaux
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One day people will look back on this book and realize that it was the beginning of the revelation of the true history of RELIGION and Christianity!!! day.
Adam K
Feb 06, 2009 added it
In this book, the author goes back to the roots of civilization in Sumeria to trace the use of psychedelic mushrooms as tools for divine revelation, and breaks down the original language of the Bible to show, among other things, the story of Jesus to be a thinly-veiled, word-play filled chronicle of merits of the sacred mushroom.

It deals heavily with ancient languages, religions, and drugs, so if you're interested in any combination of those things, I totally recommend this book. Obviously, this
Deejay Nicke
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is not an "easy read" in any sense of the phrase, but it is a book that cannot be denied.

Originally published in May of 1970, it was attacked and buried - out of print for nearly 40 years!

It's author - John M. Allegro - with Masters degrees in Ancient Languages, Hebrew, and Ancient Studies - he was THE MAN asked to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls!

Yet this book ended his career.

This book was the result of 15 years of research and study, and yet critics dismissed it without even justifyin
Jun 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has schadenfreude whenever anything pertaining to faith takes a hit
I picked this up at a garage sale, TG I didn't pay very much for it. I later found out that this book was the downfall of Allegro and ruined his professional reputation. The man was a brilliant ancient linguist, but really went off the deep end with this one. Many people believe he deliberately wrote this sensationalistic book to generate badly needed money. I do know he was instrumental in bringing the errors (or perhaps deceptions) concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls interpretation to light, and f ...more
Emma Lucy
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have been a fan of Allegro for some time so I was already aware of his theories before reading this book. I did enjoy it, but some parts were a struggle to get through, especially the many Sumerian and Semitic names for fungus! I believe there is a lot of truth in his ideas, however like so many of the alternative thinkers out there, he starts to see his theory in every aspect of Abrahamic spiritualism. I enjoyed his opinions on the early Islamic movements in connection to magical shrooms very ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
What more can I say about this book that hasn't been written? This book is a classic, and the 40th anniversary edition of this book is a real gem, if only for the essay at the end by Professor Carl A P Ruck. The book's basic argument is that the bible is a fossil or a play that got built up from older cults and stories and bad translations--a huge game of telephone--and that by studying its linguistic predecessors, we can understand the strange stories of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

My favori
Trevor Luke
Jul 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Astoundingly absurd. The quest to find references to the amanita muscaria in Sumerian hidden in the Greek text of the New Testament must have originated in a little personal testing of the mushroom.
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Scholarly and informative very interesting.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was clearly very well researched book, the evidence of all that research filling up the second half of the book. I think the proofs contained herein are very relevant and important for our understanding of religion, history, and belief systems. I wish more people would read this book, and more people would research these topics, but unfortunately we seem to be surrounded by ostriches, and this book will continue to be largely overlooked.

All hail the magic mushrooms! The word made flesh!
Alford Wayman
ehhh..Good hypothsis concidering Soma use in the vedas and ambrosia theories from the Greek texts. I say why not but to what extent. Conspiracy folks love books like this. But having read both Ancient Near Eastern and Greek ritual texts with translations more current I belive Allegro is stretching some things to the limits. Neither this nor that but both and.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I grew up with Christianity forcefully shoved down my throat despite frequent and vigorous protests. I no longer hold the stark views against Christianity that I did in my youth. Nonetheless, this book had me smiling and even laughing at the possibility of Allegro being correct. And, mostly because I want it to be true, I do believe he is onto something.

I feel that Allegro gives a good explanation for the motivation of a group of people to value the mushroom's psychoactive effects as the hand of
Peter Tucker
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I embrace my desire to
I embrace my desire to feel the rhythm, to feel connected
Enough to step aside and weep like a widow
To feel inspired, to fathom the power,
To witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
To swing on the spiral, to swing on the spiral,

To swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human.

Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Amanda Ure
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is complete nonsense! But it is interesting and a good read. I don't understand how a respected scholar could suddenly come out with this. On a side note, I think Philip K. Dick must've read it at some point.
Victor Negut
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't know how many of Allegro's conclusions are true, and the evidence to prove or disprove most of these beliefs has likely been forever lost in time. However, the book is astounding and compelling.

Certainly not for anyone who is set in their religious views, but for agnostics and atheists, it is worth a read.
Zack Kruse
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is a wonderfully strange and incredibly fascinating book, and the degree to which Allegro is right is less important to me than the pleasure of re-thinking ancient myths and mystery religions in this way.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: academic, dnf, borrowed
I will admit that I did not quite finish this book. Close to the end, I decided I'd gotten Allegro's point as well as I could expect to, and any further reading would merely confuse me further.

With only an English-department-mandated amount of linguistics background, coming to this book was incredibly difficult. I understood the point he was trying to make, and understood that there were already theories about Christianity rising from ancient pagan fertility religions, but I wasn't entirely conv
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
"If then, there seems little in the picture drawn for us of first-century Christians by contemporary
pagan historians that is in any way attractive, how far were the writers of the New Testament
homilies serious in their advocacy of love towards all men, and turning the other cheek? Was it
valid, if at all, only for members of the closed communities, as the Essenes were told to love one
another but detest the outsider?

Perhaps even more fundamentally, now that we no longer need to view the Bible
Aug 29, 2007 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: everyone
I actually started reading this book while getting my masters degree. Not in literature, or spelling, if you couldnt guess. anyway, it is a VERY interesting book. the beginning is very much on the nature of language and how words and their meanings change over time. or more importantly, how their original meanings get lost. I did not read the whole book yet. its is a little hard to read with so many entheogenist terms in it.. and the book has been long out of print and really hard to find.. I lu ...more
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Allegro's theory is fascinating: Christianity evolved from (retains components of and is possibly a cipher for) fertility cults and worship of a psychedelic mushroom. But, unless you're a philologist, there's no real way of telling how much is true and how much is, well, not. The evidence is expansive but esoteric and reads as such. Allegro's chock-a-block with ideas, but their far reach, similarly, makes it difficult to separate the signal from the noise for the reader, though he seems determin ...more
Roger Green
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an intriguing book that inspired a lot of controversy. I do not necessarily agree with all of it; in fact, I think the case is overstated. But Allegro was on to something and brave enough to put out a book that cost him his career. His book and his method open up alternative ways of thinking and it's useful for that. My lack Sumerian knowledge among other languages make it difficult to follow his arguments so I won't condemn or ascribe to the argument.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it
basically every reference in the bible is to a mushroom, penis, womb, or fertility. I did appreciate the analogy that like Jesus, the mushroom is born of a virgin (without seed) and he who eats of the flesh (amanita muscaria) will be like God. even the cover of the book is a copy of an ancient Christian depiction of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil being a mushroom.
Gabriel Evans
Perhaps the greatest work of scholarship I have ever experienced. At first the proposition and implications seemed ludicrous, even to a devotee such as myself. However, although I am in no position to corroborate interpretations of Sumerian cuneiform, Allegro puts the pieces together so thoroughly that I was forced to submit in awe to this highly developed intellect.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weirdo
Were the gospels actually a collection of coded recipes for psychedlic mushrooms misinterpeted as a literal narrative?
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 70-s-and-80-s
very thought provoking
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John Marco Allegro was a scholar who challenged orthodox views of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bible and the history of religion, with books that attracted popular attention and scholarly derision.

After service in the Royal Navy during World War II, Allegro started to train for the Methodist ministry but transferred to a degree in Oriental Studies at the University of Manchester. In 1953 he was invit
“But it is difficult to believe that the "pot"-smokers of today, the weary dotards who wander listlessly round our cities and universities, are the spiritual successors of those drug-crazed enthusiasts who, regardless their safety, stormed castles and stole as assassins into the strongholds of their enemies.” 1 likes
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