Book Review: Original Christianity

Original Christianity:  A New Key To Understanding The Gospel Of Thomas And Other Lost Scriptures, by Peter Novak


This book fails in its fundamental premise.  In order to instruct regarding original Christianity, one has to know what that is, and this author has zero clue about this very pertinent subject.  The entire structure and virtually all of the content of this book is a failure because the author conflates original Christianity with gnosticism [1] with original biblical Christianity and engages persistently in a false dilemma by which there is a satanic dialectic between left-leaning gnostic churches and right-leaning authoritarian types in Orthodox/Catholic world and the Republic Party, whereas the author thinks that his BS doctrine (bodily soul doctrine, abbreviated as BSD dozens of times in the book) serves as a synthesis between these two approaches.  After one reads enough of this book, one realizes that it is pointless and counterproductive to cite every example or argument that this book gets wrong because the entire argument of the book is deeply flawed.  This is a book that seeks to promote a belief in reincarnation among Christian circles, a viewpoint that comes up surprisingly often in my readings.  If this book was not original, it was certainly irritating and contradictory.

The structure of this book is deeply unbalanced, which is perhaps about as well as one would expect from its author given its subject matter and approach.  Covering a bit less than 250 pages of text, about 100 pages or so if it is devoted to a lengthy exegesis of the Gospel of Thomas that manages to make the work coherent but which sabotages any chance that a fair-minded reader would view its contents as biblical if they have any understanding of the biblical approach to the resurrection and the mortal soul.  Much of the rest of the book is dedicated to supporting a thoroughgoing esoteric view of public and private teachings, ad hominem attacks on mainstream Christianity, bogus ideas about the afterlife, the second death, and a host of other subjects, and a curious and remarkable tendency to behave as if he was an expert on subjects on which he knows less than nothing, because at least an ignorant person would be willing to learn instead of convinced of his own profound and deep knowledge and insight.  The author’s approach resembles original Christianity in the same way that a painful splinter resembles an original tree, and is about as useful.

If this book has any use, it is in its larger context rather than in its woefully mistaken content.  The content of this book is rubbish–the author manages to imitate the medieval Roman Catholic Church in a massive case of conflation by which Barsabbas, Judas Iscariot, Jude, and Thomas Didymus are all conflated with an imaginary twin of Jesus Christ.  The author ignores some biblical matters and outright misrepresents others, claiming that Paul’s reference to what God has prepared for us in 1 Corinthians 2:9 has no biblical reference except for the Gospel of Thomas (which is not biblical), ignoring the reference in Isaiah 64:4.  The more one knows about the Bible, the more dishonest this book appears in its approach, and the less one will be interested in what the author has to say, because he is not looking to discuss those who are knowledgeable about the scriptures but instead those who can be convinced that within the Gnostic corpus there is some hidden truth that was squashed on by evil Orthodox and Catholic Christians and which has now come to light in such a way that the heathen and mystical faiths of the world can come together in perfect harmony, like the ebony and ivory found on the mysterious and occult Templar flags in days gone by.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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