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Yes No Jesus Theories
Sourcebook Anthologies Sourcebooks: ancient texts
Ancient Civilization Ancient Religion Early Christianity
Special topics Mystery Religions Ancient Judaism
Pagan Origins Hablo Greek-o
Miracles, the soul, monotheism, etc.

Demonology of the Early Christian World
by Everett Ferguson

What you'll find:

Jesus and the demons, in the New Testament.

Greek Views on demonology

Jewish views on demonology

Early Christian views on demonology

All based on a detailed scholarly review and presentation of the primary ancient evidence. Highly, highly recommended.

You can buy this book through Amazon, but I've never seen it there for less than $85. Ouch. See if your local library can get a copy from a university, through inter-libary loan.


Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt
by John H. Taylor

A glossy coffee table book full of beautiful pictures of Egyptian Gods taken from surviving papyruses, etc., and, who'd a thunk it, of lots of fun scholarly information about ancient Egyptian religion.

Surviving ancient texts, including Egyptian book of The Dead and the Pyramid Texts, etc. describe an afterlife of happiness for good people and torment for bad people, mediated by the great savior Gods Ra and Osiris.

The Egyptians had not one soul, but several—the ba, the ka, the shadow, the name—all of which survived death.

A well written, pretty, wonderful book, if you like this sort of thing.



Life After Death
A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion

by Alan Segal

What you'll find:

A 700 page, evidence based history of ancient ideas about eternal life, and how they moved from paganism into Judaism and Christianity.





Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity
A Sourcebook for the study of New Testament Miracle Stories

by Wendy Cotter

Lousy with miracles Like chocolate chips in mama's cookies, miracles were a basic ingredient in ancient people's understanding of how the world works. Every bite—another miracle. The ancient world was lousy with miracles.

Don't believe me, believe the ancients. This excellent sourcebook gives hundreds of examples—250 pages—of ancient miracles recorded by the pens of ancients themselves.

You'll read short excerpts from ancient texts describing Pagan Gods who healed the sick (blindness, paralysis, lameness), raised the dead, exorcised demons, controlled nature, turned water into wine, walked on water, calmed storms, and more.

Well organized, easy to read. Highly recommended.




Ancient Science and Dreams
Oneirology in Greco-Roman Antiquity
by Andrew Holowchak

What you'll find:

A readable scholarly survey of ancient ideas about dreams.

The dream related ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Stoic philosophy, Artemidorus, Synesius.

Dreams in ancient medicine. Hippocrates, Roman secular medicine, ancient religious incubation.

A nice bibliography of ancient sources.

An excellent, readable, evidence based survey of the basic facts. Highly recommended.


Born Divine
The Births of Jesus & Other Sons of God
by Robert MIller

What you'll find:

Professor Miller compares Jesus divine birth with the divine births of other ancient godmen, Herakles, Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyana, Plato, Augustus Caesar, Alexander the Great, Theagenes the Olympic Champion.




Dying For God
Martyrdom and the of Christianity and Judaism
by Daniel Boyarin

What you'll find:
A Poindexter professor writes about the cult of martyrdom among early Christians, and recounts academic theories about its origin -- Jewish or Roman?

You've probably heard the willing martyrdom of the early Christians cited as "proof" of Jesus, or of Jesus' resurrection, etc. "Jesus must be real," we're told. "Why would anyone die for something they knew to be false?"

Here's why else. Turns out at least on strain of proto-orthodox early Christianity was a death-cult, whose members sought to attain God by imitating the suffering and death of the godman Jesus. If you've read Ignatius' letters, you already know this. Boyarin fills in details.

Powerful stuff.


Magika Heira [Sacred magic]
Ancient Greek Magic & Religion
by Christopher Faraone and Dirk Obbink, editors

What you'll find:

Primary ancient evidence—archaeology, inscriptions, and texts— detailing the overlap of magic with Greek religion

Chapters include, among others:
Incantations and Prayers for Salvation on Inscribed Greek Amulets
Dreams and Divination in Magical Ritual
Prayer in Magical and Religious Ritual
Magic and Mystery in the Greek Magical Papyri

Poindexter heaven.


The Golden Bough Studies in Magic and Religion
Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) 

No library is complete without this essential cultural reference.  The Golden Bough traces western myth—specific stories and general ideas—back to the iron age.  Chapters on Adonis, Attis and Osiris cover the historical development of three important dying-reborn Gods. Solid scholarship based on original ancient sources [but you don't have to read it through, just pick the chapter / section you're interested in], yet it reads as easily as a novel.  Wow!

This book changed the world—before the Golden Bough historians and anthropologists saw "primitive" religions as meaningless ceremonies practiced by savages;  Frazer understood that every religion has deep meaning to it's adherents, and he set out to understand that meaning.   

At several thousand pages the original 13 volume Golden Bough was unwieldy, so Frazer himself put out a trimmed down single volume in 1926—that's the version available at Amazon.  The full 13 volume version is also available - for $450 !!

Full copies of the original books 5 and 6 (aka Volume 4) of the 13 volume set were reissued as a single book in the late 1950s and again in the early '60s.  Out print now, you can still find it used, as Adonis Attis Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion


Greek & Roman Slavery
by Thomas Wiedemann

What you'll find:

250 pages of primary source material detailing the workings of Greek and Roman slavery

Organized by topic. Sections include:
The slave as property
Moral Inferiors
Status Symbol or Economic Investment
Sources of Slaves
Domestic Slaves and Rural Slaves
Slaves Owned by the State
The Treatment of Slave: Cruelty, Exploitation, and Protection
The True Freedom of the Spirit: Stoics and Christians

An excellent source of primary material.


The Gnostic Paul
Gnositc Exegesis of the Pauline Letters
by Elaine Pagles

What you'll find:
Princeton hot shot and gnostic expert Elaine Pagles goes through the New Testament writings of Paul, more or less verse by verse, explaining how the early gnostic Christians understood Paul himself as an early gnostic.

For advanced students.