This book, written by authors Lynn Pickett and Clive Prince, is an intriguing look at some of the historical threads which have persisted throughout history since biblical times. The overall view is that there are, and have always been, wide diversity in how the stories about Jesus’ time on earth have been revered and interpreted. “We had to remind ourselves, however, that there are always pilgrims, always fervent believers, in any or in every, thing, and that belief is in itself not a measure of historical authenticity.” (p 58)
The authors basically let the reader in on their own exploration of various “heretical” (to the Church, at least) beliefs, sharing with us the paths down which their questioning led them. They discuss the Knights Templar, the subsequent developments of this movement, such as the Free Masons and its many iterations, the Priory of Sion, etc. They look at the truths contained in extra-bibilical sources, such as the Gnostic Gospels, as well as looking at the biblical accounts themselves. They explore traditions rejected (and persecuted) by the Church, such as the Cathars and others. They look at some works of art, particularly those of Leonardo da Vinci. Apparently da Vinci was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion.
This book looks at traditions surrounding the biblical characters of John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, etc. They look at ideologies such as Sophia, or wisdom, usually treated as female wisdom. And they look at some possible historical roots of these various ideas, usually being able to connect them to ancient Egyptian beliefs. The stories of Isis and Osiris in this tradition often come to the forefront in the authors’ investigations.
Underlying the threads of their investigation is the fact that throughout history much of this truth has been considered threatening to the Church. So, to avoid persecution from organized religion, these secrets have been zealously guarded.
One way or another, the Magdalene holds the key to a great mystery, one that has been jealously and ruthlessly guarded for centuries. And part of this secret intimately involves John the Baptist (and/or perhaps John the Evangelist). Once we realized that there was such a secret, we were keen to dust off the cobwebs of history as quickly as possible and throw some light on it. . . . All we knew was that all the evidence points to the mystery being constructed over foundations that essentially comprised Sophia and John. Those themes were central–but we had no idea why, although one clue lay in the fact that whatever the secret is, it is certainly not one that would reinforce the Church’s authority. Indeed, this great unknown heresy would seem to pose the greatest threat, not just to Catholicism, but to Christianity as we know it. The groups who kept the secret clearly believed themselves to have been in possession of some knowledge about the real origins of Christianity, and even about Jesus himself. (p 222)
In a sense, this book continues the line of thinking begun by The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, a book by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln. Ideas such as Jesus and Mary Magdalene being married, Mary Magdalene living out her life in southern France, are all considered. These themes were later taken up by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, and then made into a movie.
As Picknett and Prince conclude their book, The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, they state this:
We have traced the continuing line of ‘heretical’ belief in Europe, the underground stream of goddess mystery, of sexual alchemy and of the secrets that surround John the Baptist. The heretics have, we believe, held the keys to the truth about the historical Church of Rome. We have presented their case in these pages, step by step as we ourselves made the discoveries and saw the overall picture emerging from the welter of information–and, indeed, of misinformation. (p 364)
Yet if any one lesson can be gleaned from the journey we undertook in this investigation and the discoveries we made, it is not so much that the heretics have been right and the Church wrong. It is that there is a need, not for more jealously guarded secrets and holy wars, but for tolerance and an openness to new ideas, free from prejudice and preconception. (p 365)
There is a lot of information in this somewhat lengthy treatment of the subject, but it is well worth wading through for those interested in such esoteric ideas. It will make you think, and perhaps reconsider and inform some long-held beliefs. Let me know what you think!