The Tomb of God by Andrews & Schellenberger
The Tomb of God (Amazon.com)
The Tomb of God (Amazon.co.uk)
The Tomb of God (Powell's Books - new or secondhand)
Richard Andrews & Paul Schellenberger
The Tomb of God - the Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2,000-year-old Mystery
Update your knowledge of the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery! What did the priest Berenger Sauniere find hidden in Rennes-le-Chateau, his parish in the South of France, in the late 19th Century? Whatever it was, it made him a rich man.
Certain parchments were published a number of years ago by Gerard de Sede, purporting to be parchments that Sauniere is rumoured to have found. These are supposed to have been hidden by Antoine Bigou, resident priest at Rennes-le-Chateau at the time of the French Revolution. Andrews & Schellenberger believe that a geometric analysis of the parchments reveals that they are maps. However, the correspondence of these to twentieth century maps shows that the parchments could not be the ones Sauniere is supposed to have discovered. Nevertheless, the authors contend that they *are* genuine, except that they have been "tampered with" (by Sauniere? Or de Sede?)
Another rumour about Sauniere is that he went to the Louvre to get copies made of three paintings. These are (1) Nicolas' Poussin's second version of Les Bergers d'Arcadie, painted some time in the 1630's; (2) another 17th Century painting St Antony and Saint Paul by David Teniers the Younger; and (3) the 16th Century Coronation of Pope Celestine V by artist unknown. These share a certain geometry, which Andrews & Schellenberger applied to an old map of the area around Rennes-le-Chateau, revealing to them the *Site*, which they identify as Mount Cardou, where they think that whatever made Sauniere rich was/is buried. They claim to have examined many other paintings and only found two other significant examples of the geometry: La Fontaine de Fortune (an illustration from the 15th Century Grail romance Le Cuer d'Amours Espris) and a 13th Century circular map of Jerusalem from the Royal Library at The Hague. Does this show ongoing secret knowledge of the Site from the 13th Century onwards? Unfortunately, there's no more evidence offered.
Andrews & Schellenberger believe the Site contained/contains the remains of Jesus. On the one hand, they pour cold water on the work of Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh (authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail ) and their unsubstantiable evidence for a *bloodline* flowing from Jesus through the Royal families of Europe to Pierre Plantard, the Grand Master of the Prieure de Sion (and they devote more specific negative criticism to Lincoln's The Holy Place, another book about the role of geometry in the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery); but on the other hand they use The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail as a source for much of their historical information. Oh, no...
They believe that the Prieure de Sion, as de Sede's source for the parchments, are the cognoscenti of the Secret. They swallow the Prieure de Sion's claim to be the same organization that existed in 1152 and the claim that the *Splitting of the Elm* at Gisors in 1188 had to do with them. The authors do attempt to answer the question of why the hell initiates into the Secret would spend their time putting out tidbits of information for the likes of de Sede and Lincoln to *misinterpret*. They argue that by having speculation about the Prieure de Sion's Secret in the public domain, its power is strengthened in French esoteric circles. That indeed may be true. No doubt all this stuff helps Plantard's *career*. However, knowing the fact that the Prieure de Sion are the source of not just the parchments but many of the stories about Sauniere, is there any justification for believing any of it at all?
Then there's the *conspiracy*. Like B,L & L, Andrews and Schellenberger do not understand that hermetic symbolism is shared by different groups throughout history for intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual reasons, not because there are direct links between historically separated groups or that there is some physical *Secret* (such as the location of the body of Jesus) of which every Tom, Dick and Templar from the Gnostic Gospels to the Rosicrucian Manifestoes is an initiate.
To what purpose was this body of Jesus put? A & S think it was useful as a defence of Gnostic doctrine against Pauline doctrine. Well, obviously it wasn't much of a defence!
After Gnosticism disappeared, it survived in different forms through the hermetic tradition, though not, as A & S think, continuously.
It is also worth remembering that not every group condemned by the Church was heretical. Chapter 18 of this book assumes that the heresies ascribed to the Knights Templar during their persecution have their basis in fact. Senior Templars confessed to all sorts of absurdities under torture but then so did the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six. *Baphomet* is nonsensical both as a word and as a supposed Templar deity. I would refer anyone interested in the suppression of the Knights Templar to chapter 5 of Norman Cohn's Europe's Inner Demons - the Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom.
Furthermore, I cannot overlook the description in chapter 17 of Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found) as a settlement of Essenes. It was not. The Essenes were pacifists, whereas archaelogical data indicates that Qumran was a military site, defending the road into Jerusalem. The Essenes were ascetics, so why are there are graves of women and children at Qumran? Also, the fact that these graves are oriented North-South, in the Roman style, means they were not buried by their own people, i.e. it was not a cemetary, it was the aftermath of a massacre of Jews by Roman soldiers when they took Qumran. Interestingly, if there hadn't been such pseudo-Christian enthusiasm for erroneously believing Qumran to be a religious settlement, Bishop James Pike would not have died in the desert on his journey there in 1969, the subject of Philip K. Dick's last novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.
I should add that the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves are by no means the "testimony to the true origins of Christianity" that A & S say they are. Even a cursory look at academic studies of the scrolls will make this obvious.
The most entertaining part of The Tomb of God is concerned with the fate of the remains of Jesus. With one story - about a preserved mummy hidden in the Languedoc region - Andrews & Schellenberger can only provide myth and legend as a source. With another story - that Jesus and his family lived in the region on estates owned by Herod - the "convincing" (i.e. highly dubious) writings of Barbara Thiering are given as a source.
I think you get the idea. More holes than a pack of polo mints.
- Barry Kavanagh
barry at June 10, 2006 4:35 PM