Jesus the Magician, by Morton Smith
Hampton Roads Press, 97815747150, 309 pp., 1978, 2014
The historical existence of Jesus has long been debated with varying degrees of bias on any side of the argument. The problem in the quest for the existence of Jesus is not so much if he existed, but who and what he was if he did live: sorcerer, fraud, divinity in flesh, healer, prophet? Unfortunately the sources we have detailing his life are almost exclusively Christian, making harder to sort out the real man due to the fact that Christian sources would want to push a certain image of Jesus, so things might be shifted, added, or deleted from his life.
This is where Morton Smith comes in with this classic book reprinted after more than 35 years, for he attempts to analyze the Biblical and Christian sources, as well as the few non-Christian sources in order to parse out who Jesus was, and how he was understood at the time. Continue reading
Advanced Sex Magic: The Hanging Mystery Initiation, by Maria de Naglowska, translated by Donald Traxler
Inner Traditions, 9781594774164, 119 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography and index), 2011
Originally published in French in a limited edition of 500, this is the second in a four book series translated, introduced and annotated by Donald Traxler. These texts outline the mysteries and initiation system of the order founded by Maria de Naglowska (1883 – 1936), the Brotherhood of the Golden Arrow.
The “divine mission” of the Brotherhood was nothing less than the redemption of Satan, which Naglowska saw as the redirection of “the Spirit of Evil onto the good path.” Her spiritual formula viewed Satan not as an external being, but as an indwelling nature to be managed or conquered. Jesus and Judas are seen as equal, and both necessary for the crucifixion to occur. The hanging of Judas is central to the philosophy behind Hanging Mystery employed in her spiritual system. Naglowska prophesized a new age, which she called the Third Term of the Trinity, overseen by the work of the Magnificent Invisible Heroes, sometimes called the Magnificent Invisible Knights, for which the Hanging Mystery serves as an initiatory test. Continue reading
Compassion and Meditation: The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity, by Jean-Yves Leloup
Inner Traditions, 9781594772771, 165 pp., 2009
A French Orthodox priest teaching meditation in a Zen dojo, this might seem strange but such is the life of Jean-Yves Leloup. A long time practitioner of Hesychast, a Christian form of meditation, Leloup shares his experience in this form as well as his understanding of and connection to Buddhism. He believes that meditation without compassion is lacking something, and in the same thought that compassion without meditation is incomplete.
While it would be an oversimplification to attribute compassion to Christianity, and meditation to Buddhism, and try to combine them; Leloup does think that both systems contain both compassion and meditation, but that their differences and similarities can support each other. He is not alone; he briefly traces an interesting history linking Christian and Buddhist practices and ideologies in religious texts going back to the 1700’s. Continue reading
Jesus the Wicked Priest: How Christianity Was Born of an Essene Schism, by Marvin Vining
Bear & Company, 9781591430810, 243 pp (with indexes), 2008
The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of writings from the Jewish scribal sect known as the Essenes, are often dated by experts as being produced between 350 BCE and 70 CE, and are generally read as having no connection to or mention of Jesus or early Christianity. Continue reading