Gnostic origins of Christianity... the real story!

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This one comes at the end of a lifetime of research in Christian Origins. Having earned several theological degrees I made a frenzied foray into Literature and Philosophy at Cowell College, the University of California at Santa Cruz (way back there when it was brand new and boasted such faculty giants as Norman O. Brown and Gregory Bateson). The result is this novel, a primer perhaps for what we used to call History of Consciousness. It's rather radical.

Marcellus's last ride

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Action and adventure!


It’s One Hundred a.d. in Antioch, Syria. In an ancient night club, a bizarre ménage a trois is taking shape. Don’t look now, but the next dance will turn the world inside out.


Call it Camp...  Fine with me. But just remember: my intent is serious. Something like this must surely have gone down. Behind the parody is a core of authenticity. There really was a Marcellina. There really was a famous painting of Jesus, said to have been commissioned by Pontius Pilate. Look it up. Marcion, Valentinus, Carpocrates---they all existed. Simon Magus too. Ignatius really was the Bishop of Antioch, before anyone ever thought of writing the Book of Acts. There was even a Serbonian Bog. Google it, see for yourself. And there were all those Gnostics running around, each with his own private Jesus...


Have a draft of something strong, if you dare to read on. And be sure you’re sitting comfortably. Or even reclining.

"Strange, true and exciting fiction about the early Jesus movement..."

           Kirkus Reviews

                               see full review below

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author Marshall Motz

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Kirkus Review, November 2017   Stranger Than Fiction, The Gospel According to Marcellus

...A novel offers a religious-political-erotic romp through second century West-Asia---and a primer on the story of Christian origins. 

It is often assumed that Christianity was born with Jesus--and that the Church emerged fully formed on that first Easter. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the first few centuries after the death of Jesus played host to a fierce battle among competing interpretations of the Jesus movement. Motz's (The Cosmic Lady Was Right, 2009) head-spinning tale is set smackdab in the middle of all this Sturm und Drang, and it follows the exploits of Marcellus, a kind of test case for the many flavors of early Christianity. He filrts with Mithraism in his youth, becomes initially attached to the proto-Roman Catholic Bishnop Ignatius, but finds himself also drawn to the Gnostic sects flourishing at the time. If you don't know what all these words mean, that's fine: read Motz's book, which is, among other things, a religious studies textbook masquerading as a sexy novel ('Marcellus is philosophizing again. It's what every person in the world wants most: one gigantic mind-blowing orgasm, the ultimate thrill'). Suffice it to say that Marcellus' story is both an engaging yarn and an alluring glimpse at what might have been had the wars over the meaning of Jesus turned out differently. From one angle, this book is historical fiction; the author strives to give life and color to the ancient world. But in doing so, he takes some license and there are anachronisms and modernisms. These are intentional: Motz says he is seeking 'a higher species of authenticity.' Readers should forgive the author such grandiloquence because his project largely succeeds. As for the religious studies aspect, Motz says that those who want to know more should 'Google it, see for yourself.' Sure. But first read G.R.S. Mead. Then peruse Elaine Pagels, Marvin Meyer, and Karen King. Academic work on early Christianity is progressing at a dizzying pace, and perhaps the only flaw of Motz's novel is that it doesn't come with a bibliography. 

Strange, true, and exciting fiction about the early Jesus movement. 

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