Upstaging Da Vinci: The Jesus Papers

If “The Da Vinci Code” wasn’t enough, now Michael Baigent – author of the apparently forgettable “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” and one of the plaintiffs in the suit claiming that Dan Brown stole their work – has just published a new book entitled The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. Now I think we know a bit more about what’s behind his lawsuit; by strategically putting himself in the limelight just before the release of his new book, he’s probably doubled or tripled his initial sales. Not that I’m cynical, or anything. (Also curious that it’s released the same day as The Da Vinci Code comes out in paperback.)

060327 jesusPapers vsmall vsmall 1 The Publisher’s (HarperCollins, who will seemingly publish almost anything) blurb states, “What if everything you think you know about Jesus is wrong? In The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent reveals the truth about Jesus’s life and crucifixion.” The “shocking new truth” is apparently that Jesus never died on the cross after all; it was apparently a cover up engineered by none other than – Pontius Pilate! Who would have guessed? (Apparently all of the blood & stuff was borrowed from Jim Caviezel.)

Now, claims that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross are not new. What is apparently new is the assertion that letters written by Jesus himself have been found where he reveals the scheme, and also clarifies that he was not divine. (It makes you wonder why he never bothered to tell that to Peter or the other apostles who died claiming that Jesus was God.)

The Publisher’s blurb also claims, “As a religious historian and a leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge, Baigent has unequaled access to hidden archives …” Baigent apparently has a Masters Degree in “Mysticism and Religious Experience.” Now, that’s credibility. I saw an interview of Baigent by Lester Holt, which was actually quite revealing. Baigent apparently has not actually seen these “incontrovertible” documents, but he’s assured that they exist. (So, now he’s taking journalism lessons from Dan Rather.)

Furthermore, Baigent makes reference to hints of this in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), which he claims were not written until the 2nd Century. It’s obvious that his research methods are not that dissimilar to Dan Brown’s in that they both seem to completely ignore any credible source or authority, and instead rely only upon other “arcane” sources.

Again, this book is certain to be a hit with those insistent upon becoming foolish, but will change nothing in the real world.

Well, if nothing else, I guess we now know the plot of Dan Brown’s new book… (okay, that wasn’t quite fair – even Brown says that he would never suggest that the resurrection didn’t happen).

So, another forgettable book by … what was that guy’s name again?

3 thoughts on “Upstaging Da Vinci: The Jesus Papers”

  1. Nothing in existance persists without some cultural weathering, even if its been in a time capsule. There is always a political element to an action senario, and this is no different. This enactment of the passion play by Jesus wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last. What it won’t be is the only time in history the story gets retold.
    It might be best to just look at it as an archetype, and let it go at that. If we change the way we regard all such manifestations, perhaps we will begin to appreciate the messages, and see deeper into what they are trying to convey to us………………………….E.

  2. Ken,

    I have to disagree, on all points. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by the “truths of early Christianity,” but I really don’t believe there is much question about what the apostles believed. While much of the New Testament was not necessarily written as history, some was – and it has proven to be historically reliable. The Bible’s description of the Pool of Bethesda in John 5 is a good example. There were enough witnesses still around when these documents were written to have raised issues with anything that wasn’t true.

    I strongly disagree with your assessment of the importance of the resurrection. Check 1 Corinthians 15, for example, verses 17-19: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Obviously, to Paul the resurrection was of great importance.

    And, concerning the “apocraphal” writings, I think there has been a great deal of research; there’s not much that’s really been kept hidden. Associating Mary M with the woman who “sinned much” was an error, but there’s nothing hidden there.

    My belief is that the truth has in fact emerged, and will continue to emerge, which is why I don’t worry too much about conspiracy theories, science or bad theology.

  3. Sir:

    I read the info on the Jesus Papers with most interest. I do believe that the jury is still out on many of the so called “truths” of early Christianity. We must keep in mind that the Bible is theology and not history. Even if a physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth did not occur in reality, that would change nothing regarding the essence of Christianity. Our faith as Christians is based on the faith of those who knew and loved Jesus of Nazareth. Even if Mary Magadalen were Jesus’ wife, so what! Making her out to be a prostitute was done by early church officials. Let us do more research into the so called “apocraphal” gospels. These have been hidden and kept from our view for centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. The truth will emerge, evenuallly!

    Ken Elliott

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