Thursday, June 24, 2004

TOM HARPUR'S bogus Egyptology and other problems with his latest book, which claims Jesus is a mythical figure who never actually lived, are exposed by W. Ward Gasque of Regent College in "Comment: Was Christ's life based on pagan myths?" ( Excerpts:
Harper does not quote any contemporary Egyptologist or recognized academic authority on world religions, nor does he appeal to any of the standard reference books, such as the magisterial three volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (2001) or any primary sources. Rather, he is entirely dependent on the work of [Alvin Boyd] Kuhn [(1880-1963)], who he describes as "the most erudite, most eloquent, and most convincing . . . of any modern writer on religion I have encountered in a lifetime dedicated to such matters.


As it turns out, Kuhn was a high school language teacher who earned a PhD from Columbia University by writing a dissertation on Theosophy. A prodigious author and lecturer, he had difficulty finding a publisher for his works; most of them were self-published. His only link with an institution of higher learning was a short stint as the secretary to the president of a small college.

I sent an email to 20 of the world's leading Egyptologists, outlining the following claims put forth by Kuhn (and hence Harpur):

* That the name of Jesus was derived from the Egyptian "Iusa," which means "the coming divine Son who heals or saves".

* That the god Horus is "an Egyptian Christos, or Christ.... He and his mother, Isis, were the forerunners of the Christian Madonna and Child, and together they constituted a leading image in Egyptian religion for millennia prior to the Gospels."

* That Horus also "had a virgin birth, and that in one of his roles, he was 'a fisher of men with twelve followers.'"

* That "the letters KRST appear on Egyptian mummy coffins many centuries BCE, and . . . this word, when the vowels are filled in, is really Karast or Krist, signifying Christ."

* That the doctrine of the incarnation "is in fact the oldest, most universal mythos known to religion. It was current in the Osirian religion in Egypt at least four thousand years BCE."

Only one of the 10 experts who responded to my questions had ever heard of Kuhn, Higgins or Massey! Professor Kenneth A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool pointed out that not one of these men is mentioned in M. L. Bierbrier's Who Was Who in Egyptology (1995), nor are any of their works listed in Ida B. Pratt's very extensive bibliography on Ancient Egypt (1925/1942). Since he died in 1834, Kitchen noted, "nothing by Higgins could be of any value whatsoever, because decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs was still being finalized, very few texts were translated, and certainly not the vast mass of first-hand religious data."

Another distinguished Egyptologist wrote: "Egyptology has the unenviable distinction of being one of those disciplines that almost anyone can lay claim to, and the unfortunate distinction of being probably the one most beleaguered by false prophets." He goes on to refer to Kuhn's "fringe nonsense."

There's more. Read it all if you if you were ever tempted to take Harpur's book seriously.

No comments:

Post a Comment