Monday, July 05, 2004

Firstly, please could the Greek gentlemen who sent me a feedback about Scythopolis email me again? I can't reply at present as I don't have an email address.

I've been in a bit of an argument about The Jesus Mysteries by Freke and Gandy, specifically regarding my review of the book here. Now, I have to admit that I am very rude about it because I think it is unadulterated rubbish and that the authors are not honest about the way they set to work. That said, the heading and some other editorial content are by the webmaster, JP Holding, who is even ruder than me!

Defences of The Jesus Mysteries fall into three categories. There are those who claim they are right, at least in part. To be fair, these people usually admit they didn't know enough to make a judgement once they have seen some of the howlers in the book. They then admit the book contains many mistakes and join the second category. These people say that the book is only intended as a popular work and it is unfair to expect it to expect scholarly rigour from it. Quite why this means sloppiness and dishonesty are suddenly allowed, I have no idea. The people who are in this category might be the first to rip a part popularist Christian books for not being au fait with all the latest critical scholarship, but are much more forgiving of Freke and Gandy. As far as academics are concerned, the 'duty of care' owed to the reader when writing a popular book is actually much greater than writing one for scholars. Fellow professionals might spot when you have assumed too much or slipped in a dodgy axiom. The general public have no chance. Besides, The Jesus Mysteries contains hundreds of endnotes and certainly appears to be pretending to have some of the scholarly rigour it actually lacks.

Finally, there is the sort of person who prides herself on being open minded says that The Jesus Mysteries is 'interesting' and other points of view should be treated with respect. When these people start to be respectful of creationism and conservative Christianity (which I respectfully disagree with in many ways) I will start to be open minded about the Jesus Mysteries.

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