Tag Archives: Jesus Potter Harry Christ

Jesus Potter Harry Christ The Bible & A Scholar

basiccoverHow Is Harry Potter Different Than the Bible? — that’s a recent post by Christian-believing scholar James McGrath, and as one might expect from the title by such faithful convert the post is in effect an exhortation for people to read the Bible more seriously and diligently than they do their Harry Potter novels.

The majority of Harry Potter fans actually READ Harry Potter.

James McGrath continues:

In fact, they read it all the way through, paying close attention to detail, on more than one occasion.

Mmm, yeh, well . . . I happen to know many apologist jerks who can boast just that — having read the Bible right through, close attention to detail, several times.
Yes, yes, of course we all know the next line,

many Christians who claim to take the Bible seriously actually merely pay lip service to it

But isn’t there one little detail being missed here?
The Bible is NOT a single book by a single author like any Harry Potter novel. Unless one believes a supernatural mind was using human scribes to write it all in 66 chapters.
So what motivates a biblical scholar, a professional scholar, to compare the Harry Potter novels with a texts composed across centuries and cultures and compiled some time around the fourth century by a warring church council?
One does not get the feeling that one would be able to engage in a serious non-partisan academic discussion with such a scholar.
But to see the real relationship between Harry Potter and Jesus Christ one can’t go past Derek Murphy’s analogies in Jesus Potter Harry Christ.

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch. 10: From Mystery to History . . . .

This post covers the final chapter of Derek Murphy’s Jesus Potter Harry Christ. All chapter by chapter reviews are collated here and on the Jesus Mysteries discussion group. I will do one more overview review of the entire book, but that may not be on this blog, but on amazon or such. A special thanks to Derek Murphy for sending me a review copy. His book has opened up for me a broader perspective on the question of Christian origins than I had till now been used to. (Recent posts on the place of “astronomics” in the ancient world may have been prompted by questions Derek Murphy has raised in my mind.)

Having argued in the preceding chapters that Christianity began as another type of mystery religion, or really a spread of “interactive and heterogeneous communities”, and not with a historical Jesus, Derek Murphy in this final chapter explains why such “mystery” type religious communities were displaced by something quite different based on a belief in the historical truth of the Jesus narrative. Murphy shows that the rise and spread of what became the orthodox Christianity that we know had very practical political and psycho-social causes, and can hardly be said to be the result of any miraculous forces. One of the main sources Murphy draws upon for this chapter is the reputable The Rise of Christianity by W.H.C. Frend.

The message of the literalness of the Jesus story was simple to grasp. Its message was uncomplicated: have faith in this historical event. Justin Martyr, for example, as Murphy points out, describes his conversion to Christianity explaining that its attraction lay in it being a much simpler set of understandings than other complex philosophies of his day. read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch. 9: “Stupid Galatians and Resurrection of the Flesh”

Signorelli, Luca - Resurrection of the Flesh, ...
Signorelli, Luca – Resurrection of the Flesh: Image via Wikipedia

Continuing here my reviews of Jesus Potter Harry Christ by Derek Murphy. All reviews are archived here, and on the Jesus Mysteries discussion group.

In this chapter Derek Murphy offers an explanation for how and why the original teachings of Christianity, and Paul in particular, were lost and replaced by the narrative we are familiar with today, that Jesus was a literal flesh and blood historical person. Having begun with a spiritual message, Christianity eventually emerged with a teaching of a physical Jesus and even of a physical resurrection.

Paul’s Mystery Initiations

What Murphy describes as a “Jewish mystery cult” (addressed in the previous chapter) was a two-edged sword.

The Jewish mystery cult, a greater spiritual synthesis than even the mighty and popular Serapis, was immediately successful. It was fueled by both the desires and needs of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, and the lust for a greater and more powerful magical name. It also allowed Jews to integrate more fully into their cosmopolitan pagan environment. But there was an inherent and powerful conflict in this new religious practice. Jesus was the anathema of everything the Jews believed in; he was a repugnant, crudely constructed, pagan mystery god dressed up as the Jewish Messiah and appropriating Jewish scripture for his own. (p. 338)

So those who embraced the “mysteries” were faced with practical questions and issues, such as details of law observance, paying taxes, etc. Competing teachers arose. read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch. 7 — Review

St. George and the Dragon, detail of the left ...
Image via Wikipedia

Continuing here the series of chapter by chapter reviews of Jesus Potter Harry Christ by Derek Murphy. The series is archived here and on the JesusMysteries discussion group.

This chapter, titled Jesus the Handsome Prince: Reuniting With the Higher Self, surveys the way ancients appeared to interpret many of their myths as symbolic of spiritual processes common to all humanity. The central mythical idea he explores in this chapter, and one with clear links to the Christian myth, is the one that tells the tale of a descent into a world of matter, often accompanied with torment, and a desire to return to an earlier blissful state, often accomplished through another who descends for the purpose of rescue, ascension and reunification.

Murphy is aware of the danger of over generalizing and explains that

not every myth should be interpreted strictly in this manner, and many have other cultural or historical meanings. Still, it is relevant to understand that Greek and Roman myths were usually intimately tied with ethical and spiritual teachings, and intended to hide esoteric truths. The myth of Demeter and Persephone, for example, which is often taken as a simplistic vegetation story describing the changing seasons, was also the foundational myth of the Eleusinian mysteries . . . .   (p. 258) read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch.6: Meeting Satan Again for the First Time

The Draco (constellation) constellation from U...
Image via Wikipedia

Continuing my review of Jesus Potter Harry Christ. All review posts are archived here. (Updated 1 hour after original posting)

I found this chapter one of the most interesting so far because of the questions and possibilities it raises. In my youth I was a keen amateur astronomer but knew much less about the northern than the southern sky. Since those days I have become much more interested in ancient cultures and beliefs, so I was especially interested to learn that the constellation of Draco (= Dragon) marked the northern celestial pole and appeared to be eternally turning the cosmos around that pole. Another serpentine constellation, Hydra, surfaces and submerges along the horizon. Derek Murphy writes an interesting chapter suggesting how the movements of these constellations could have given rise to a number of our famous myths, and have been the basis for certain religions making symbolic use of them. read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch.5 – astrological foundations

This post belongs to a series of chapter by chapter reviews archived here.

I have yet to read the pioneering Christ myth arguments of the eighteenth century French savants Dupuis and Volney who, I understand, argued that Jesus Christ was based on astrological, in particular solar, myths. So I looked forward to Derek Murphy’s chapter 5 where he (re-)introduces astrological arguments purportedly underlying the Gospel Jesus myth.

This chapter of Jesus Potter Harry Christ turned out to be a mixed bag for me. I’ll give the good stuff first. This is from the second page of the chapter, with the underlining and bold being my own emphasis:

While I will not claim that Jesus Christ is just a sun myth or solar deity, I hope to demonstrate that certain symbols and motifs found in Christianity can only be fully explained after exploring this ancient tale of the sun’s journey. I will also establish that at least some early Christian communities associated Jesus with the sun (or previous solar deities) and deliberately incorporated astrological symbolism into their texts, rituals and practices. (p. 186)

Most biblical scholars would acknowledge that there is much mythology bound up with the Jesus tales in the canonical gospels, and Murphy himself reminds readers that to this extent there is nothing radically new about the grounds upon which the question of Jesus’ historicity can be asked. read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ, ch.4: Going Pagan — a review

The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Cover art b...
The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Cover art by Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(All posts in this series are archived here.)

Chapter four of Jesus Potter Harry Christ is predominantly a survey of pagan deities and heroes whose stories contain echoes of the Jesus Christ story: Gilgamesh, Dionysus, Pythagoras, Orpheus, Asclepius, Osiris, Tammuz (Adonis), Attis, Mithras. Derek Murphy is not arguing that the Jesus story was a direct borrowing of any of these or that these pagan gods and heroes are the same thing as Jesus. What Murphy does argue is that it is important to understand the cultural and ideological background from which Christianity emerged. To this end, the very clear similarities between these pagan figures, and certain practices associated with the worship of some of them, are significant, and especially so in an age of unprecedented religious tolerance and syncretism.

The title of the book is an attempt to focus readers on the argument that literary borrowing is often a more subtle and complex cultural process than a simplistic, deliberate, one for one correspondence from earlier iconic figures and stories. The author is currently a PhD student in comparative literature so it is not surprising to find a wider range of literary models than the Harry Potter series sprinkled throughout the book. read more »

“Jesus Potter Harry Christ” review, part 3: Where’s the Proof?

All posts in this series are collated here.

Chapter three of Derek Murphy’s book, Jesus Potter Harry Christ, discusses the evidence commonly cited for the historical existence of Jesus. In his view the arguments used to support the historicity of Jesus

are often a mixture of inferences, deductions and references to common knowledge and unfounded associations. (p. 68)

He uses Lee Strobel’s claims for “overwhelming evidence” for Jesus’ existence as his foil, beginning with the claim that gospels such as that of Luke are “so painstakingly accurate” in their historical details. Murphy knocks this argument out flat by comparing the many researched minute details and accurate facts in the tales of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Rowling’s Harry Potter.

Other common arguments are addressed and refuted with reference both to the facts of the historical record and the logic of the claims themselves: read more »

Jesus Potter Harry Christ ch.2: The mythicist controversy ancient and modern

jesuspotterharrychristSo what has kept the mythicist controversy alive despite frustrated assertions among biblical scholars that the debate was settled long ago? Derek Murphy demonstrates in chapter two of Jesus Potter Harry Christ that the modern controversy over the historicity of Jesus “has a long and substantial history, and that, in effect, the jury is still out.” Derek Murphy is well aware that some of the works he uses have been questioned and disputed with the advance of academic research. His purpose is thus limited to showing the existence and heritage of the debate.

My goal is only to demonstrate that a modern controversy over the historical Jesus exists, that it has a long and substantial history, and that, in effect, the jury is still out.

I also want to show that certain claims regarding Jesus are not modern delusions of “fringe” scholars — in fact there are few claims made about Jesus today that were not made centuries earlier. (p. 47)

Dismay among many believers in the historicity of Jesus reminds us that few people are aware that the question can be raised at all, and that the evidence used to support Jesus’ historicity is not universally accepted. read more »