8.10.12

BURIED IN CONFUSION

Neal Sutton. Buried by the Church. Matador, 2012.

"
The Da Vinci Code lit the fuse… Now… The Explosion”.

So goes the publisher’s promotion at the top of the cover of this book. We are led to believe that Mr Sutton is going to stun everyone who ever opened a Bible. Indeed and, (spoiler alert) with Dan Brown’s staggering bombshell that Jesus had offspring that survived into the present day, one may expect that if this tome is to top that kind of Christian spanner in the works then it really does need to pull something very spectacular indeed from out of the scriptural hat.

Neal Sutton is unimpressed with conventional, organised Christianity. He spends most of his book proposing an alternative based on the unconventional, rebellious Jesus. His is a Christianity of love, spirituality and all-encompassing acceptance. I personally found Neal Sutton’s version of Christianity to be quite seductive in many ways. He advocates the inclusion of homosexuals and the treatment of women as equal to men, especially having the right to join the priesthood. The main thrust of his vision is towards a faith that roundly rejects materialism and is redolent with empathy and compassion. Hardly like most organised Christian bodies at all, in fact. He especially and specifically rejects the Roman Catholic Church as a male-led conspiracy against many of those things that Jesus himself stood for. He then tells us of what He did in that famous gap in the Gospels where we hear nothing of Jesus from his early teens until his reappearance at the age of thirty (Luke 3:23). He finishes off by rejecting the divinity of Christ and emphasising that the resurrection was stage-managed to make the best out of a situation that had gone wrong.
 
What I also liked was the inclusion of what might be thought of as a glossary to the Bible. There is a table of terms and expression commonly used and misunderstood. They have been translated literally and, as a result, have changed the meaning of the message that they originally intended to convey. To give the two most common examples, Almah is normally translated as virgin but means young woman, and ho hecton (Greek) and nagger (Semitic (sic)) which are both translated as carpenter, whereas they mean craftsman, scholar and/or teacher. These alone drastically change what virtually all of us were taught about what happened in the New Testament.
 
Interestingly, although the author refers to books that directly or indirectly influenced The Da Vinci Code, he never raises it himself. This indicates that the publishers are hoping to get sales in connection with the popularity of the aforementioned blockbuster. Maybe not a terrible thing to do in itself, but it does create an expectation that isn’t fulfilled.
 
Now to the real controversy of this publication. In this book we are told that Jesus was the son of Joseph the Essene. Then Jesus, whose later sermons and sayings reflect concepts and phrases found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Prayer of Isis, went off the radar in that time before he was thirty to study under a body of priests that kept knowledge otherwise lost. During that time he met and married Mary Magdalene, plus he also learned of the First Times when the spiritually-advanced alien beings that lived near the constellation of Orion came to Earth, passed knowledge on to mankind and left marks of their coming. The Egyptians, in order to perpetrate their knowledge, entrusted it to Jesus and Mary Magdalene to pass down through the ages. This went a little off-kilter when the Roam Catholic Church turned Jesus’ message into a tool of social control. However, the Freemasons and the Priory of Sion kept the faith and saved the day by finding and keeping the information in various ways.
 
Where to start? I admit to not being a Christian. I am not offended by any of the theories and opinions above. Indeed, Sigmund Freud hypothesised about the Egyptian origins of Judaism in his 1937 book Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion so that is not the biggest surprise in this volume. I am also aware of the works of Graham Hancock and some attendant disagreement (see http://www.hallofmaat.com/modules.php?name=Articles&file=article&sid=28). These in themselves do not faze me.

What I find somewhat strange is that the author presents such astonishing claims as facts based on little actual evidence, and certainly no original research that I could find. Something which also jarred somewhat was the author’s very personal style. Passion can be a good thing in many ways, but quite a few of his points were repeated to such an extent that this book could have been a much slimmer volume. The way that information is presented is patchy as well. Personal opinions appear both at the front and the back of the book, with the tale of Jesus in the middle. I was also baffled as to the substantial references to various practices of the Native Americans. Even if you accept that such an inclusion was just to use as an illustration of the way that the author thinks that the Church should be going, it was hardly “buried by the Church”. Although the book has a bibliography, there is no index.
 
All in all this is a confusing book. Information freely mingles with opinion and many sources (the table of Bible terms on page 11, for instance) have no reference so that original research may be checked. Credibility of his claims aside, it would be a better book if some more organisation had gone into it. – Trevor Pyne
 

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