Jesus Potter Harry Christ: The Fascinating Parallels between Two of the Worlds Most Popular Literary Characters by Derek Murphy, Holyblasphemy Press, Portland, OR, 2011; 478 pages, ISBN o6155430937, paperback $19.95.

Using the popular Harry Potter series as a jumping off point, the author explores the evidence for Jesus as a historical figure, concluding that there is no evidence that stands up to impartial scrutiny.  His chapters on the arguments and proofs for and against the historicity of Jesus are particularly clear and worthwhile. He then gives brief accounts of prominent pre-Christian Mediterranean savior figures who share so many qualities with Jesus and so many rites and beliefs with Christianity.  Taking Jesus as a mythical or literary figure, he then discusses some of the meanings these stories have.  Jesus is presented as one in the line of epic heroes whose tales were so widespread in ancient times and which are still very popular today, while also exploring the astrological meanings at some length. 

The last section of the book argues that Christianity was a mystery-religion with lesser and greater (exoteric and esoteric) mysteries.  The tragedy of the religion, as the author sees it, is that the inner mysteries were lost with the dominance of followers who believed that the outer fables centered on the savior-figure Jesus were biography instead of  mythology.  His interpretation of Paul's letters is particularly interesting, and he points out that all the letters remaining to us are written to groups who were having problems with his teachings. Many disputing sects arose so quickly in early Christianity precisely because there was no historical person or event to anchor the new religion: it a myth that was declared historical fact and finally accepted as such. I found it a book well worth reading. – Sarah Belle Dougherty

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