Review: The Jesus Papers. Exposing The Greatest Cover-Up In History – Michael Baigent

My version: Paperback
Genre: Non Fiction, Christianity, Jesus
Harper Element
First published: 2006
ISBN: 0-00-724122-4
Pages: 321

From the cover:
The answers to the following questions may change everything you believe.

What if everything we have been told about the origins of Christianity is a lie?
What if a small group had always known the truth and had kept it hidden…until now?
What if there is incontrovertible proof that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion?

Twenty years ago, Michael Baigent and his colleagues stunned the world with a controversial theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and founded a holy bloodline. His best-selling book ‘Holy Blood Holy Grail’ (with co-authors Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh), became an international publishing phenomenon and was one of the sources for Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Now, with two additional decades of research behind him, Baigent’s ‘The Jesus Papers’ takes the reader step by step through explosive new evidence that challenges everything we know about the life and death of Jesus.

What were the most influential social and political events of Jesus’ day?
Who could have aided and abetted Jesus and why?
Where could Jesus have gone after the crucifixion?
What is the truth behind the creation of The New Testament?
Who is working to keep the truth buried and why?

I first read this book many years ago, before I joined Goodreads anyway. Joining Goodreads I have used as a convenient way to start my book reading and blogging lists from. Goodreads is bugger-all use for anything else, you ask me. Anyway…I also read Holy Blood, Holy Grail back in the day too, and was pretty shocked, convinced, excited by its iconoclast-ism. Maybe ‘shocked’ is too much, but it did shake up my previous ideas about what had happened back then. I remember being later pretty surprised that they hadn’t been able to take Dan Brown to the cleaners for The Da Vinci Code, as I read that and thought it was pretty much HB,HG made into a novel.

It then struck me – after having read many more books about the origins of Christianity, especially from Bart D. Ehrman – that there are two sides to that field. The one, where they’re not necessarily uncovering new evidence, but re-interpreting the known facts, using them in new ways to back up their idea(s). The other, as here, where they are saying they’ve uncovered new evidence which proves their theory. The problem is, if they have ‘explosive new evidence’ which would/might ‘change everything you believe,’ these days, would it? Probably not. reinforce scepticism, certainly. Reinforce belief, by dismissing the new evidence, equally certainly. Look at the current situation in the USA, for instance. You’ve got people who otherwise seem perfectly capable both of dressing themselves properly in the morning and holding down seemingly decent jobs, yet decide to vote for someone whose bungling and lies has directly caused the deaths of over 200,000 of their fellow citizens. You’ve got supposedly Christian ministers appearing on TV, with a hot-line to god, waving their arms about and affirming that angels are on the way to the polling stations presumably, to ensure that the shaved Orangutan wins the election. Are they gonna have their faith shaken by any revelation Michael Baigent is likely to come out with about Jesus? I don’t think so. And anyone else who doesn’t already believe doesn’t really care. The fact that their Christianity isn’t based on anything the actual Jesus might have said or done, hasn’t occurred to them. It doesn’t matter.

I’m not going to drop any of the new evidence he writes about, as I don’t like giving spoilers. I’ll just ask – who hasn’t seen any of those ‘Lives Of Christ’-films and mini-series down the years, and hasn’t hoped at some point in the last half hour, that he (He) gets away with it? Come on, you all have. I will mention being particularly struck by the Egypt-angle, it certainly explains a lot. The book is very readable and is indeed a page-turner (whatever that might mean). There are many new angles, and confirmations of other angles that I have come across in further reading this last year, of the good Dr. Bart‘s books. So he’s not really out on what the ‘mainstream’ might call a wild goose hunt. You won’t have to ‘believe’ in one or the other, is what I mean. A complimentary way of working your own angles out.

If you’re wanting to get started on this line of reading, then I could recommend this as a place to get going. Over Holy Blood, Holy Grail, anyway, though that is only because the ideas that were presented in it, while being new at the time, seem more clichéd nowadays.

You can buy what seems to be an up-dated version (2007) of The Jesus Papers Exposing The Greatest Cover-Up in History from The Book Depository

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