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March 28, 2006

What if everything we have been told about the origins of Christianity is a lie?
What if a small group had always known the truth and had kept it hidden . . . until now?
What if there is evidence that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion?
In Holy Blood, Holy Grail Michael Baigent and his co-authors Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh stunned the world with a controversial theory that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene married and founded a holy bloodline. The book became an international publishing phenomenon and was one of the sources for Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. Now, with two additional decades of research behind him, Baigent's The Jesus Papers presents explosive new evidence that challenges everything we know about the life and death of Jesus.

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"Great fun. A deluge of facts presented in a very readable style. I don't think Baigent pulls all his rambling conjecture together into a tight conclusion, but the whole thing is interesting and engaging."



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What if everything you think you know about Jesus is wrong? In The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent reveals the truth about Jesus's life and crucifixion. Despite—or rather because of—all the celebration and veneration that have surrounded the figure of Jesus for centuries, Baigent asserts that Jesus and the circumstances leading to his death have been heavily mythologized.
As a religious historian and a leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge, Baigent has unequaled access to hidden archives, secret societies, Masonic records, and the private collections of antiquities traders and their moneyed clients. Using that access to full advantage, Baigent explores the religious and political climate in which Jesus was born and raised, examining not only the conflicts between the Romans and the Jews, but the strife within the different factions of the Jewish Zealot movement. He chronicles the migrations of Jesus's family, his subsequent exposure to other cultures, and the events, teachings, and influences that were most likely to have shaped his early years. Baigent also uncovers the inconsistencies and biases in the accounts of the major historians of Jesus's time, including Josephus, Pliny, and Tacitus. The enduring influence of these accounts in forming our most common conceptions of Jesus reveals that spin is not a new phenomenon.
Taking us back to sites that over the last twenty years he has meticulously explored, studied, and in some instances excavated for the first time, Baigent provides a detailed account of his groundbreaking discoveries, including many never-before-seen photos. The evidence he has uncovered has lead him to make shocking new assertions that threaten the conventional account of Jesus's life and death and shake the very foundation of Western thought, based as it is upon the assumption of Jesus's divinity. Ultimately, his investigation raises the hope that we may gain a new understanding of Jesus.

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By Michael:

"My book is a journey seeking out the spiritual teaching and techniques of the historical Jesus, the real man who lived and taught in the early part of the first century of our era.

Since the publication of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in 1982 I have continued to research into Christ and Christianity. This book is the result.

It is also the record of a personal search through the complexities of the field, a search both intellectual and physical.  I have seen ancient texts and I have clambered down underground tunnels and into subterranean rooms and crypts seeking what they might reveal. 

I take the reader on a journey, slowly, step by step, in order that the reasons for the questions raised might be understood and that their implications might be explored.  One dramatic possibility concerns the crucifixion: it would seem that Pilate had no choice but to ensure that Jesus survived otherwise his own position as Prefect of Judaea would be in doubt. My hope is that the reader will gain insights into the historical Jesus and the way in which his message has been methodically subverted by powerful interests over the last fifteen hundred years.

This journey is conducted against a background of the secretive and mysterious clandestine antiquities network. I relate a number of anecdotes: a document translated in Paris late nineteenth century by an English theologian which he reported gave proof that Jesus had survived the crucifixion; two chests stuffed full of ancient texts which I saw and photographed in a London bank; two Dead Sea Scrolls from Cave 1 at Qumran held in Kuwait; a papyrus text purporting to be written to the Sanhedrin by “the Messiah of the Children of Israel” in which the writer is explicitly denying that he is God. I am intrigued by the close similarities between this document and the incident depicted in John 10, 33-35.

During the fourth century a theological Jesus was created - it began with the council of Nicaea when those who believed Jesus was divine demanded and obtained agreement within the Church creating the Nicene Trinity which converted the man Jesus into a God. During the course of this century the process of solidifying this artificial view of Jesus progressed. A new Bible - the Latin Vulgate - was produced in 384; Christianity became the official religion of the Empire and the pagan temples were closed down by Emperor Theodosius in 391; at the Council of Carthage in 397, the canon of the New Testament was definitively established. And during this time Rome was seeking to dominate the theological schools of Antioch, of Jerusalem and in particular, of Alexandria. By the mid fifth century the battle was won: the bishop of Rome, the “Pope”, asserted primacy over the Christian Church and another fifty years later this rule was extended to cover the secular authority of the Roman Emperor.

Dogmatic criteria were established by Church Councils in order to retrospectively decide what to believe - and what not to believe - about the life of the historical Jesus. The effect was to bury the historical Jesus and to silence his teaching, to subvert it in the cause of later political aspiration.

Jesus had always taught a two tiered spiritual system, as is made explicit in Matthew 13. Jesus was speaking to the “multitudes” using parables, he spoke of the seeds sown amongst the stony ground, amongst the thorns, and in the good ground. “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus said. Later, the disciples asked why he spoke in parables and Jesus answered, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.”

What did Jesus mean by “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven?” Seeking an answer to this question is the point of “The Jesus Papers.”

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I was first exposed to the great number of mysteries about the historical Jesus during my research for what became The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and its sequel, The Messianic Legacy. But I did not stop researching Jesus and the rise of Christianity even though I was working with my colleague, Richard Leigh, on other quite different books. In 1991 we published another book which returned to this subject, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception. Here we placed Jesus very firmly within the radical political context of Judaea and Galilee, a context well expressed by the underlying political ideology found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly the texts known as Peshers - contemporary commentaries on passages from the Old Testament.  I was satisfied that this allowed us to understand the historical Jesus. 

But I was wrong.

A couple of years later my attention was drawn to a passage in Luke 11: 34, Jesus said “…when thy eye is single thy whole body also is full of light…” I was speechless.  I had missed this and I recognised immediately that here was a statement expressing mysticism of the purest kind, something one might find in the writings of St Teresa of Avila, even of Buddhism, Taoism, the Bagavad Gita and the Upanishads.

I realised that in my exploration of the times, by focussing upon the turbulent politics of the Zealot movement in Judaea and Galilee, I had missed something crucial: the spirituality of the historical Jesus. 

My first question was: where in the world of Judaism did Jesus learn this? It certainly was not to be found in the politics of Judaea and Galilee. I had to look further afield. The Zealot movement was completely concerned with the political reality in Israel itself: it was concerned, above all, to rid the land of the Roman domination and see again a High Priest and King of a pure Jewish lineage. And Jesus, a descendant (according to the New Testament data) was heir to both lines and so was truly a candidate for “King of the Jews” as Pilate recognised. 

Coupled with this was a curiosity I had often pondered: the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed much of this anti-Roman ideology and hatred of foreigners yet, in Cave Seven at Qumran, the textual remnants proved to be written in Greek (the language of the oppressors) and on papyrus. To me they proved one thing - there were members of the Zealot movement for whom the only language was Greek. Where would they have come from? It had always seemed to me that the most likely place was Egypt where there was a large, dynamic, and influential Jewish community based particularly in the cities of Alexandria and Edfu.

I therefore began looking at Egypt and it was there that I found the strong strand of mysticism within which the statement of Jesus made sense. There was the work of Philo of Alexandria, his descriptions of the Therapeutae - a mystical group of Jewish men and women in their retreat outside Alexandria - and importantly, there was what is now known as the first Book of Enoch within which is a section describing in passionate detail a personal experience of Divinity. 

I concluded that the most plausible source for the mysticism of Jesus was in the Egyptian Jewish community. In other words, the statement in Matthew 2:14-15 “Out of Egypt have I called my son” needed to be taken seriously. I therefore added Egypt into the equation; this gave a new perspective by which to understand the teaching of Jesus and the subsequent development of Christianity.

Having noted the existence of this Jewish mystical tradition I then needed to journey through the mystical traditions of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to allow the reader to become familiar with the metaphors used and the techniques by which this experience was achieved. Following this, the book returns with new insights and understanding, back to Jesus and looks at his teachings from a completely new perspective. When, for example, John the Baptist said that “The kingdom of god is at hand” he was not talking about a coming political rule by Jesus but of an immanent mystical reality which might be sought and achieved by any man or woman; one experienced directly without the need for any religion, hierarchy, or dogma.


From this the reader will quickly see the lie beneath the exclusion of women from the active teaching of the Church, the nonsense of the male dominated apostolic succession and the fraudulence of the claim to primacy so long promulgated by the Bishops of Rome. But The Jesus Papers is not an attack on Christianity, rather, it exposes those centralised organisations which focus more upon their own survival than the direct spiritual experience Jesus taught two thousand years ago.

The figure of Jesus who emerges from this journey of discovery is a figure compatible with Christianity, Judaism and Islam and can serve to draw members of these three religions that much closer together. Sure, this concept may be too idealistic but we do need to have some aspiration towards harmony in this world riven by dispute.

I end the book with a quote from the Sufi teacher, Rumi: “Jars of springwater are not enough anymore. Take us down to the river!” And I comment: to drink from the river is our birthright. Let no one deny us that freedom!"


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