THE GREEN MAN AND THE KING OF SALEM

khidrborder

Christians who delve into the Qur’an will be surprised how many old friends they find there, including Jesus and Mary, of course, and a lengthy roster of prophets and patriarchs. Exploring the Qur’an can be an excellent way of understanding the Christian and Jewish worlds of Late Antiquity, roughly the sixth and seventh centuries BC. [Read More...]

THE CAVE OF TREASURES

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Throughout history, both Jews and Christians have been extraordinarily prolific in producing alternative scriptures, which we conventionally divide into Old and New Testament apocrypha (or pseudepigrapha). Some texts, though resist such neat divisions. While apparently expanding on Old Testament events and personalities, they actually present Christian doctrines so strongly that they certainly belong alongside New [Read More...]

THE SECRET RESURRECTION OF SALVATOR ROSA

'Pythagoras_Emerging_from_the_Underworld',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Salvator_Rosa

I think I’ve discovered a long-lost secret society that transmitted its religious message through coded paintings. No, I have not lost my mind, nor have I changed my last name to Brown. The main problem in studying the history of secret societies and underground ideas is that they are all so, well, secret. On the [Read More...]

FORGETTING EZRA

Latimer_Ridley_Foxe_burning

In October, 1555, the regime of Mary Tudor burned two former English bishops for their stubborn Protestant convictions. As they went to the flames, one of the martyrs, Hugh Latimer, addressed his comrade, Nicholas Ridley, in stirring terms that have inspired successive Protestant generations. He urged him, “Be of good cheer, master Ridley, and play [Read More...]

ENOCH ABIDES

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Although the Book of Enoch was highly regarded in the early Christian church, it fell out of favor by the fourth century. From the ninth century, it virtually disappeared from European churches at least, and the text would be lost for a millennium. But the work proved surprisingly durable. Centuries after it was denounced by [Read More...]

THE FOUR BEASTS

Peter_Paul_Rubens-Die_Vier_Evangelisten

Crowded, isn’t it? I don’t suppose the four evangelists ever met under one roof, but if that marvelous event ever occurred, it’s highly unlikely that they would have assembled like they did in this painting, by Rubens. An extra guy in the group is fine, even if he is an angel. But an ox? A [Read More...]

LOSING ENOCH

The scriptures attributed to the Biblical figure of Enoch commanded immense respect in the early Christian church, but by the ninth century or so, these had largely vanished from use, in Europe at least. Not only were they treated with less respect, but they effectively disappeared. Why and how did this happen? What does this [Read More...]

WHY MARY?

polyptych-annunziata-assumption-of-mary

I recently posted about the historic devotion to the Virgin Mary, and the range of alternative writings and even pseudo-gospels that it inspired. These texts made Mary a close facsimile of Christ, with a comparably miraculous story of conception, birth, death and (in a sense) resurrection. Mary’s birth-story is described in the Protevangelium, and the [Read More...]

THE MYSTERY OF ENOCH

Idris_the_prophet

And Enoch walked with God and then he was gone, for God took him. I am investigating a mysterious disappearance. As I am a mere academic, there’s no actual blood involved, but it’s still a puzzling case. Briefly, I am trying to explain why the Book of Enoch vanished as thoroughly as it did, and [Read More...]

PAPIAS AND THE MIRACULOUS VINES

Jesus the true vine

Based on my study of Christian history, I offer a couple of strictly non-scientific impressions. The first is that the religion is more consistently weird in its expressions than we usually assume. Also, we can find a remarkable number of long-term continuities and connections, if we remain open to noticing them. And finally, any long-term [Read More...]


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