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Reviewed by Teodora Totorean for Readers' Favorite
Starting from the premise that there are two types of Christians – the ones that interpret the Bible literally and believe that everything within is true and the ones that read the Bible allegorically, being aware that the cultural context of the time can change the way we interpret it, Myths of Christianity by Jedediah McClure concentrates on the latter, offering a cultural background of the times when the Bible was written. The scope is not to demystify Christianity, but to open people’s minds. What is common knowledge for Biblical scholars is not for some Christians still preoccupied with their version of Christian truth, rejecting other sects and faiths. The author hopes to offer Christians a starting point in accepting differences, tolerating one another and finding the essence of this great religion which is love, generosity and charity. The book has three main parts, covering the existence of various Christian groups during the first and second century AD, and the development of the Bible as we know it today; the belief in God, angels and the Devil, and the cultural context of biblical texts. The author analyses many myths and mythologies that are similar to the stories in the Bible and offers an array of beliefs and folklore specific to those times.
Myths of Christianity by Jedediah McClure is a challenging read on many levels. It can be read as an intellectual pursuit if you are passionate about mythology; as an eye opener for Christians without trying to dent their faith; as another point of view if you reject the scholastic approach to interpreting the Bible and so on. The chapters are well organized, well written and researched; the vocabulary is specific to this genre and specialized words are explained. At the end of each chapter, there are the notes that indicate thorough research. The scholastic explanations are intertwined with examples from the author’s personal life and beliefs, from current politics, economy and popular culture making the concepts easy to understand. I particularly enjoyed the reference to Plato’s allegory of the cave which was the starting point for the final conclusion of the book, as well as where Halloween, Christmas and Easter celebrations come from.