5 March 2015


Philippe Walter: Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins. Inner Traditions, 2014

In this extensive study of the Christian mythology that animated Europe in the Middle Ages, author Philippe Walter reveals how these stories are based on ancient pagan rituals and myths with little or no connection to the Bible. Walter, a French Professor of medieval literature, concentrates mainly on his area of expertise, primarily Celtic and Gallic material, with many allusions to earlier Indo-European themes.
With a highly academic approach, it makes rather heavy reading at times, although it does undoubtedly provide a very well researched, accurate and convincing historical argument for its basic premise. The book conclusively explains how and why certain ancient pagan festivals that were related to the changing seasons, i.e. solar and lunar cycles, were transposed into a Christian context. Obvious examples are Easter and Christmas, which need no explanation for readers of this review.
However, it is important to be aware of the advice of Pope Gregory to Augustine and his fellow missionaries sent from Rome to England to convert the heathen inhabitants of this blessed island nation. In a letter dated 596 AD, the advice was "to leave the pagan shrines alone, and try to introduce Christian worship gradually alongside pagan practices." In another direct quote from the book, "This involved Christianity's annexing of paganism's sacred sites (trees, springs, stones of worship)...and the Christian reformation of ancient mythology into a doctrinal context that conformed to the Gospels."

And so, as they say, the rest is History... -- Kevin Murphy

No comments: