Jesus Myth, The
"This book is bursting with common sense and inspiration".
A look at the nature of myth as a carrier of deep truth and that we all have our own internal myths about ourselves and life. Exploring what was and is meant by the term Messiah, both in the 1st century and now.
"Here is a book bursting with common sense and inspiration, written by someone who has known life in all its rich complexity... It's a book that has to be read by all those who dare to ask for more"
Revd Dr Terry Biddington FRSA, Dean of Spiritual Life, Winchester University.
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The series of short reflections by a priest and psychotherapist takes myths to represent deeper archetypal truths in the perennial human search for meaning in an uncertain world. The life and death of Jesus is one such path of love inviting us to participate in the work of changing ourselves and the world in terms of the Kingdom of God, both within and without. The author conveys a radical perspective of authenticity rather than conformity, embracing the spirit rather than the letter and the law. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
This very short and accessible book carries high-toned encomiums from such luminaries as Richard Holloway and Martin Percy. This praise is richly deserved. The book’s thesis is simply summarised: we would be wise to view the story of Jesus through the prism of Jungian archetypes rather than as historical narrative. This writing is much less guarded than mainstream theology tends to be: ‘...to believe in Jesus Christ as an historical and supernatural figure prevents the believer from actually having to discover his or her own Christ archetype and live it in the world’. (p38). The author concedes nothing to the prejudice of those who suppose that a mythic account is somehow less true than a historical one. Rosemary Haughton pointed out long ago that humans have recourse to the language of myth to express truths that would otherwise remain unexpressed. Dogmatic religion is seen here as protecting us, individually and corporately, against fears which beset us. At the same time Christian orthodoxies ‘have killed, tortured, silenced and psychologically damaged thousands of people’. (p41). The author is especially severe on all claims to religious superiority. Yet our denominations came into being because of the claims made by the different groups concerned. Scott believes that every revelation has something to give and something to learn. He argues that ‘religions try to point in the direction of God, but because we are limited by human perception and historical circumstances it is inevitable that all fall short of the reality’. (p51). Modern church leaders insistently emphasise the importance of mission. But this author thinks that in these terms the mission is only to say the same old things only louder! As one who has been exposed over the years to many such proclamations not least by popes, I can only echo this conclusion. I recall the sinking feeling that accompanies the realisation that there is nothing creative here. Such weariness of spirit is effectively countered in this determinedly hopeful book. ~ Nicholas Peter Harvey - Sea of Faith Group, East Anglia
THE RELUCTANT RADICAL: A BOOK REVIEW Chris Scott, The Jesus Myth. John Hunt Publishing. Alesford UK, 2021, ISBN 978 1 78904 848 3 Reviewed by Bert Horwood Chris Scott brings his experiences as a psychotherapist and priest to consider the role of myth in the lives of people today. The ancient myths developed by what he calls “Bronze Age “ Jews about Jesus and Christ are the chief subjects of inquiry in this slender (65 pages) readable book. But he also treats myths in general, recognizing that readers will not necessarily have a relationship with Christian mythology. Myth making is a critical part of all cultures, peoples and places. Their role is to provide an explanatory basis of how the people live their lives. Myths ought to be more about behaviour than about belief. The author’s experience with gospel myths is that they have been rendered more and more irrelevant as we have moved during two thousand years from the flat earth world view of the first Century C.E. to the present understanding that we are a remote and tiny speck in a vast cosmos. Scientific and spiritual experiences today demand new mythologies. That demand is the radical content of the book. It forms a basic analysis of the myths of Jesus, Christ as Messiah, and God. As a psychotherapist influenced by Carl Jung, the author includes consideration of the archetypes involved. The book is a basic summary of the publications of the Jesus seminar, which it does not reference. In its few pages it comes to roughly the same point as do over a thousand pages of highly technical scholarship in the two major volumes of the Jesus Seminar. Both sources having found the myths wanting for modern life, still cling to residual values in the ancient stories and do not encourage seeking new ones. The author uses his clinical experience to reduce the centrality of sin in Biblical stories. He explains that sin is a symptom of deeper problems such as fear and alienation. For conventional Christians this radical idea throws the point of much Biblical mythology into doubt. I was uneasy with references to other religions. Scott’s grasp of Judaism and Buddhism is not strong. In general he asserts the legitimacy of other faiths but remains convinced that only Christianity has solutions for global humanity. As if to rub this point in, the book ends with a lovely prayer called St. Patrick’s Breast Plate. It dates to the fourth Century C.E., definitely a “flat-earth” period.This prayer is also notable for being identical in form with an element in Navajo ceremony. In short he moves from extreme critique of Jesus myths to reclaim their value. Quaker readers will appreciate the emphasis on experience. The experience of new insights we call continuing revelation, while not specifically mentioned, is a potent way to reconcile traditional myths with current understanding. Being free of a myth-driven creed and liturgy we can practice a faith with relatively few barnacles attached. The style of the book is approachable. The author speaks directly to the reader in places. He is perhaps a little careless with numbers, preferring to speak of some people, many people, most or few people. I had to wonder how he could possibly know. Interesting quotations are set off in boxes that do not interfere with the flow of the text but are well worth reading. (This same device is used in he Jesus Seminar books.) Each chapter ends with three provocative questions that invite individual readers or groups to grapple with the challenges raised. The questions would be excellent for use in worship sharing groups. Over all, the book is a worthy addition to the shelves of people who are ready to engage the largest and most important ideas. Bert Horwood is a member of Thousand Islands Monthly Meeting and worships with Prince Edward County Quakers Worship Group in Picton, Ontario. ~ Bert Horwood, Review
An excellent and accessible read looking afresh at who the man Jesus was and what his life could really mean for us today. ~ Amazon, Review
This book is small in length but big in ideas. I learnt a lot- for example, that the "Virgin Birth" was a mistranslation. It is ultimately full-hearted support for living a life spreading kindness and love, focusing on what we do, not what we believe or avow to believe. It strips away many of the old ideas dating from the Bronze Age-Old Testament or the first century New Testament and goes back to the heart of God, Jesus, and Christianity in a new, loving, and inspiring book. Highly recommended. ~ Amazon, Review
So thoughtful and engaging. A book of thoughts and ideas for anyone, everyone and from any standpoint. ~ Amazon, Review
Whether you’re a Christian (or of any other belief) or simply a happy heathen, “The Jesus Myth” will speak to you. This extraordinary little book will wrench your mind free from the rigid thinking that has gradually ossified the religious message over the centuries. Agree or disagree, Chris Scott will loosen your little grey cells and allow them to breathe afresh, as you step forth where Angels fear to tread. ~ Amazon, Review
Simply put, if you are looking to have your spirituality challenged, and if you are of the mindset that a good, honest, well thought out, well-balanced conversation (nay, educational and informative debate) is just what your beliefs currently need, well, welcome to the book that you have been waiting so patiently for. As a whole, and just to get us all on the same page (no pun intended), the Christ myth theory (in its acorn), also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism, or the Jesus historicity theory, is the view that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no substantial claims to historical fact. Compiled of ageing beliefs of conventional, Church-taught Christianity alongside both old and new conversations, and which along the way get embodied by Carl Jung (a man influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and, of course, religious studies) and Joseph Campbell (who coined the term The Monomyth, and which is commonly referred to as The Hero’s Journey), Scott delivers his fresh-reading approach to the subject matter both succinctly and, importantly, passively. Allowing time along the way for the reader to pause for personal reflections and considerations, The Jesus Myth: A Psychologist’s Viewpoint is most definitely a thought-provoking treaty, and one where the author even encourages these aforementioned readers, who might already not be wholly on board with Jesus, as a whole, that following in some of his more righteous footsteps wouldn’t be the worst idea. Full Review : https://annecarlini.com/ex_books.php?id=309 ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Chris Scott provides a quick, interesting read with The Jesus Myth. He manages to cover a lot of ground in a mere 80 pages, starting by laying the groundwork for myths with Jungian psychology. He then takes the biblical narrative of Jesus and applies those same principles bringing a challenging perspective to the Gospel and showing many layers of meaning within them. Giving Jesus the mythic treatment doesn’t sink his faith, it just redirects it to the basic concept of what faith is and raises the question of whether faith best serves us and others centered on verifiable fact or the very message of the Gospel. Joseph Campbell’s quote is very fitting: “Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.” ~ Ryan White (Reviewer), NetGalley
“Living afresh the Christian message..” This is a hugely stimulating read for those prepared to have their spiritual life both challenged and enriched. In quoting Buber’s “Nothing is so apt to mask the face of God as religion” Chris Scott’s purpose is revealed as helping us to see behind and beyond the ailing beliefs of conventional Church dogma, which all too often have fallen victim to merely ‘historic’ and literalist accounts. Here can be found, as he very clearly lays out, the energizing life of archetypes and myth, those deep underground streams, which have fed and nourished the Christian story, and one might add all great faith traditions. The insights of C G Jung and Joseph Campbell among others serve to amplify the narrative voice, sparingly and effectively. As a psychotherapist and priest Chris Scott is well placed to discern how the book might be of use to the reader. Questions for personal reflection conclude each chapter in this brief book, (all too brief it felt to me) which could equally serve as an idea; focus for a church discussion group, wishing to see afresh through a different lens, the significance of Jesus the Christ, with the mask of 2000 years of religion gently but firmly peeled away. ~ Waterstones Stephen Hanvey, Review
Scott (Goodbye to God), a psychologist and retired Anglican priest, delivers a thought-provoking treatise that examines the enduring appeal of biblical narratives and advocates for a nonliteral interpretation of the Bible. Each chapter homes in on a core Christian “myth” or belief—including Jesus’s resurrection, Mary’s immaculate conception, and the existence of God—and provides an alternative to its traditional meaning that focuses on what it means to live out Christianity’s precepts. For instance, Scott argues that the true intention of the virgin birth story is to inspire humans to love one another: “It is not for us to believe in the nativity story, but to live it. To bring love to birth in our lives.” Scott elsewhere explains how viewing Christ as the archetypal hero appeals to people’s desire to find figures who embody their moral sensibilities, suggesting that readers would do well to follow Jesus’s example regardless of its basis in historical fact. While those looking for a figurative take on Christian scripture should find Scott’s musings stimulating, those hoping for the promised psychological perspective will be disappointed to find it consists of a handful of nods to psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Still, Scott provides ample material to challenge preconceived beliefs and will likely spark some lively conversation. ~ Publishers Weekly
I would heartily recommend this book, not because I agree with everything within it, but because it continues to make me think afresh about my own faith. Chris Scott, writing from the perspective of being both a priest and a psychologist, whilst enabling his readers of faith to allow their intellect to engage afresh with their received beliefs, has a passion to encourage those who have never had a faith or have rejected their faith, to be courageous enough to join him on a journey of discovery, or maybe even of rediscovery, and to be open to the possibility of unlocking hidden religious truths from a bygone age. Whilst acknowledging that the language and concepts expressed within the Old and New Testament of the Bible date from the Bronze and Iron Age respectively, they point to universal truths which need to be clothed afresh and anew in each successive generation. This he does through the medium of myth. Whilst many may mistakenly understand myth to be made up stories and therefore unable to be factually accurate, he defines myth as, whist not being true on the outside, is true on the inside. Jesus’ parables provide examples of this kind of mythological truth. Thus truth is seen to be so much bigger than we might at first suppose. However he goes on to apply myth not just to much of what has been recorded in the Old Testament, but to the recorded miraculous events of Jesus life, including his birth, resurrection and ascension. In an attempt to engage one’s brain with received tradition, he may have here gone too far for some, as I feel at times he has for me. But he is to be congratulated for challenging much of what passes for mission nowadays where the old shibboleths are in danger of being shouted ever louder, preferring rather to dig beneath contextual material to mine the pearl of great price which is the unconditional loving force which many refer to as God, that he believes lies behind all things. For the author this is perhaps best manifested in right actions far more than in right beliefs. Whilst his book may appear small, be assured that it packs a punch. Rev’d Dr. Gregory Clifton-Smith, Canon Emeritus, Winchester Cathedral ~ Gregory Clifton-Smith, Waterstones
"This fine little book is filled with both spiritual insight and religious challenge." ~ Richard Rohr, Richard Rohr
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A book that explains how one can be the type of Christian that is a follower of the Christ without believing the literal writing of the Bible. The Christ archetype that is a manifestation of love transcends the fallible interpretation of the Bible story of Jesus told through the lens of that time period. Makes so much sense. ~ Teri Thomas (Bookseller) , NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Chris Scott's "The Jesus Myth" is a short read that packs a powerful spiritual punch! I highly recommend this book to any spiritual seeker! ~ Mark Karris (Educator) , NetGalley
"Here is a little book bursting with common sense and inspiration, written by someone who has known life in all its rich complexity. It is an honest book that deals with the issues that are on the lips of so many current, former, or would-be church attenders. Yet, in downplaying these issues and ignoring those who raise them, the church has betrayed its vocation by confusing its lazy preference for tired and cliched certainties with the energising quest for truth. It’s a book that has to be read by all those who dare ask for more." ~ Rev. Dr Terry Biddington, Dean of Spiritual Life, Director of the Winchester Institute for Contemplative Education and Practice, Lecturer in Practical, Direct
‘This simple yet profound book might be the antidote for those wracked with religious doubt. Read before rejecting religion!’ ~ Canon Dr Ed Newell, Chief Executive, Cumberland Lodge, Direct
Martyn Percy has written the Foreword. ~ Rev Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxforf, Direct
When promoting themselves nowadays, publications like to assert what are called USPs or unique selling points. It is a valuable device for getting to what is distinctive about a book. The USP of Chris Scott's new book is the way it combines different human paradigms in its interpretation of the enduring significance of Christianity. Chris Scott is an Anglican priest but he is also a psychotherapist, and he brings the wisdom and experience of both perspectives together in this text. He does more than offer a fresh way of reading the Christian message. He offers an experiential approach that allows readers to explore the issues involved through a number of exercises that ground theory in practice. Not many books on this controversial topic do that. This one does, and it does it well. ~ Richard Holloway, Bishop and Author
Chris Scott’s "Exploring the Jesus Myth", as the title suggests, is for explorers, rather than for those content to tread the well-worn path of autocratic religion. Wisely and compassionately, in a soft, honest voice without pretension, he engages and guides the reader along a less-paved and yet direct route to the heart of every true religion: love. ~ Professor Robert Emmet Meagher, Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Amhurst, Massachusetts., Direct
Drawing on his own rich experience, Chris Scott succinctly and with clarity examines the Jesus myth, shedding light on the meaning to be found in Christianity in the twenty first century. A highly rewarding read, it challenges each reader to find not only their personal myth, but also meaning in and for their own lives. An excellent book. ~ Melanie Gibson, UKCP, IAAP. Jungian Analyst