The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth About the Resurrection

Holger Kersten and Elmar R. Gruber

Jesus is alive and living in Las Vegas. Or was that Elvis? This is actually a less far-fetched idea than a water-walking, healing, immaculately conceived carpenter who dies on a cross, is resurrected, gets his own religion and becomes the invisible Supreme Being. The existence of God has been a healthy source of argument throughout the ages. But the religious side was always defended with the unanswerable “You can’t prove that he doesn’t exist.” Religious historian Holger Kersten and scientist Elmar R. Gruber have taken a first step in providing that proof.
The Jesus Conspiracy is a well-researched book that mostly deals with the Turin Shroud, the funeral cloth that bears the mysterious imprint of the crucified Jesus. For years its authenticity was questioned, and in 1988, three scientific laboratories working independently in different parts of the world used radio-carbon dating to prove that the cloth was a forgery. The authors have carefully re-created the events leading to the testing and conclude that ulterior motives were at work. The theory is presented that the cloth is authentic and the results have been tampered with. But why would anyone want to make the most revered relic of Christendom appear to be a fake? Kersten and Gruber’s research led them to a culture-shattering conclusion. The imprint on the cloth is of a man who was still alive when he was laid in the tomb. This challenges the fundamental core of Christianity, which is based on “the salvation” which Jesus is supposed to have vicariously obtained for all by his “death on the cross.” In short, what would become of the crucial sentence written by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, ‘And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain?’ (1 Cor. 15:14) The authors offer evidence that Christ was merely unconscious on the cross and the burial was a ruse to fool Pilate. His friends had given him an opiate-like substance that made him hang limp on the cross and be taken for dead, put him in the tomb, and rescued him when the coast was clear. The imprint on the burial cloth may have been made by a combination of chemicals, incense and body vapors. The rest of the story has been buried in 2,000 years of misinterpretation and theological manipulation. This theory also coincides with the recent uncovering and interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But, of course, zealots will still claim that this proves nothing. Perhaps the question should be posed that if Jesus was the Son of God and then later became the Lord, what ever happened to his dad? I’m sure he could answer a few questions. AN

Publisher: Element
Hardback: 373 pages

The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination

Johanna Drucker

Letters of the alphabet have always held a strange magical power. Each symbol represents a sound that when arranged in the proper sequence creates a new sound that unlocks the code to produce a meaning that is understood by only those familiar with the language. It is something that we all take for granted, this incredibly complex system of communication. The Alphabetic Labyrinth examines the strange history of this familiar tool: Plato saw the letterforms as reflecting ideas, Pythagoreans assimilated them to number theory, Romans made them monumental and an instrument of power, Judaism gave rise to the complex theory of the Kabbalah, Christ became the alpha and omega, the Middle Ages gave them magical powers to be used in spells, divination and occult practices; through to the emergence of Renaissance humanism and the invention of printing, which finally began to rationalize the alphabet. Theories of its divine origin and mystical significance continued into the 18th and 19th centuries but became more involved with nationalism and revolutionary political theory.
Drucker presents a well-researched and -illustrated book that compares the alphabets of many languages throughout the ages. Each one borrowed from another, but continued to pass the torch to allow the letters and language to evolve. The amount of thought and concern that our predecessors put into the development of different alphabets and the powers associated with them is sometimes strange, but more often amusing. The last chapter provides some of the more unique interpretations of the alphabet including one based on the Atlantis myth put forth by G.F. Ennis in a 1923 publication, The Fabric of Thought. “He suggested that in the nonsense syllables of a single nursery rhyme were preserved the sounds and symbols of an original human language. This rhyme, full of racist bias, he gave as: 'Ena Dena Dina Do/Catch a Nigger by the Toe/If he hollers let him go/Ina Mena Mina Mo.' Through elaborate charts arranging the letters in rows, squares, and columns, Ennis demonstrated that the nonsense syllables spelled out a primal code, each letter of which was the name of a god or king and filled with profound significance. As the English version of the rhyme was so close to the original language it proved that England was very close—geographically and spiritually—to the old Atlantis… Children and rustics, he concluded, were the true guardians of culture, and thus the continual repetition of this rhyme in the mouths of school children perpetuated the 'wonder of the code and the glory of life and death.'” AN

Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Paperback: 328 pages

Synchronicity: Science, Myth, and the Trickster

Allan Combs and Mark Holland

Synchronicity was coined by Carl Jung to describe meaningful coincidences that conventional notions of time and causality cannot explain. Everyone has them, but no definitive explanation can be given to fully explain them. “The most common meaningful coincidences are those seemingly random but apparently purposeful events which speak to us directly in terms of personal meaning. Jung's investigation of coincidences that occurred in his own life and in the lives of others led him to conclude that they are related to unconscious psychological processes. Alan Combs and Mark Holland use a unique transdisciplinary approach that not only sheds light on this strange phenomena, but also provides a glimpse into the hidden pattern of nature.”
The authors believe that nothing occurs independent of any other thing and that nothing that does occur is entirely random and prey to chance. This is a theory that has been revisited and repeated through-out history. Biologist Rupert Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields, networks of resonance that form webs of mutual influence beyond the usual limitations of space and time, is a return to the medieval notion that all things are connected. The book shows how modern science and ancient mythology are front and back of the same revolving door onto reality. The work of Jung and quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli is examined along with noted scientists Paul Kammerer, Werner Heisenberg, and David Boehm. The mystery is slowly unraveled to reveal these coincidences as phenomena that involve mind and matter, science and spirit, thus providing rational explanations for parapsychological events like telepathy, precognition, and intuition. This is an extremely interesting book that deals with a subject we are all familiar with but cannot explain. Is it a coincidence that you are right now reading this? AN

Publisher: Marlowe
Paperback: 184 pages

If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive …

Chet Fleming

The introduction to this book announces for “the need for an open debate” and begins with the following quote: “in simple and blunt terms, this operation involves cutting the head off of an animal, and maybe even a human someday, and keeping the severed head alive. Now you know why it’s going to cause controversy.” Sorry, Chet, I don’t, and apparently neither do you. Today, transplantation and xenotransplantation of both human and animal parts is commonplace. Some dialysis machines contain live pig kidneys that are attached to human beings. Pig valves are used in artificial hearts. Many other experiments are taking place to sustain body parts for transplantation and life extension. But today’s modern scientist is governed by large corporations whose only interest is adding to their financial portfolios. If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive… is a big thick book filled with sophomoric observations about the evils that may arise from this experiment, i.e., what if it had been done to ruthless dictators like Hitler and Stalin? Let’s see, the world would be controlled by a giant head?
Fleming misses a few fundamental points about the world we live in. Everything is ruled by the almighty dollar. Evil will always exist. Whether it is kept alive by a perfused head, printed in books, touted by hatemongers or any other way is completely irrelevant. The other missed point is that even if we could keep a severed head alive, there will always be ways to dispose of it. You could embarrass it with a bad haircut, pull the plug, put it in a box, make it wear funny hats, or bring it to trial for any crimes it may have committed with or without its body. Even if Hitler shaved his mustache off, it would be difficult for a severed head attached to tubes, wires and other life-support machines to blend in or hide. If you ignore the author’s personal observations, If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive… provides an interesting history of people who have attempted discorporation with various animal heads. AN

Publisher: Polinym
Hardback: 461 pages

Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars 1763-3749

I.F. Clarke

Once again, the power of the novel is examined, only this time it is the artist as prophet of doom. Voices Prophesying War examines the hundreds of books that have been written which describe the various phases of the third world war between East and West. The date of 1763 refers to the publication of The Reign of George VI, the first of many tales of future warfare. On September 2, 1871, the British prime minister, William Ewart Gladstone, addressed the nation about the dangers of alarmism. This was the result of a short story entitled “The Battle of Dorking.” The story was published in a popular Victorian monthly called Blackwood’s Magazine and was written by Lieutenant Colonel George Tomkyns Chesney. In it, the author, who wrote it anonymously, detailed a fictional account of a German invasion of the British Isles. Without realizing it, he had hit upon a novel method (no pun intended) to voice his concerns and fears for the future of his country.
But this was not the first time that satire was used for propaganda. Many pamphlets and stories had been written describing future wars and battles nearly a hundred years earlier. What made Chesney’s version so different, and as a result much more widespread, was his use of new weapons and technological devices having a decisive effect on the outcome of war. The story captured the imagination of the world. It was copied, re-written and added to. Other countries, including the United States, created their own versions. And a new genre, based on our fear of destruction, was created.
Today, the genre is facing numerous challenges: arms-reduction treaties, the end of the Cold War, and the fact that often-predicted nuclear disaster has never occurred. As a result, these future war books are still written, except the subject matter has changed. It is no longer other countries that we fear. Instead, the books are written about our battles with bacteria, genetic manipulation and the inevitable attack from outer space. The date 3749 refers to Walter Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), in which we learn the age-old adage that history repeats itself, and even after continuous destruction, there will always be survivors who will begin the cycle over again. Unfortunately, future war, be it military, biological, or extraterrestrial, is inevitable and the resulting destruction a natural part of our continuing evolution of death and rebirth. Perhaps future authors of this genre will help slow down the process. AN

Publisher: Oxford University
Hardback: 284 pages