Elizabeth A. McCabe,
An Examination of the Isis Cult with Preliminary Exploration into New
Testament Studies. University Press of America, 2008.
Reviewed by Robert M. Price
book is essentially a glorified seminar paper, summarizing much that is
already known, but contributing little or nothing new. This is certainly
odd given that the book claims Jesus Christ for its author, and one
might think he would be in a position to know better. (“First and
foremost, all praise and honor go to the Lord Jesus Christ who made this
work a reality. I praise you, Lord, for leading me to the idea of the
Isis cult and entrusting me with such a task. [Etc., etc., etc…] You are
truly the author of this work and you have brought it to completion.”)
But, like most channeled revelations, its contents are pretty
disappointing. Jesus especially seems to suffer in this medium.
Elizabeth Claire Prophet has never been able to persuade Jesus to put
his name to anything that even remotely makes sense. Jesus is at his
worst in A Course in Miracles, of which he is also ostensibly the
author. At least this time Jesus seems to have done a bit of research,
but he is clearly out of his depth.
First Jesus merely
summarizes what we have long known from ancient sources about the
origins and beliefs of the Isis religion. Second, Jesus says that
numismatic and archaeological evidence indicates that Ephesus was more
of a stronghold for the Isis faith than we had imagined. Third, the Lord
points out a number of unsurprising parallels between Isis theology and
that of the Pauline Epistles. But all Jesus seems able to infer from
these is that former Isis believers might have found transition to
Pauline Christianity easier than otherwise, since conversion involved no
major shift in categories. It seems that, like his apologist minions,
Jesus is careful to avoid the whole ticking question of early Christian
syncretism. Do the numerous and striking parallels between the stories
of Osiris and of Jesus mean nothing? If this book is any indication,
Jesus seems to think not, and his amanuensis McCabe gives no hint
otherwise. But several scholars, even those without benefit of direct
divine inspiration such as McCabe boasts, have derived almost everything
including the title “Christ” from Osiris mythology. Is this not worthy
of discussion in a book with this title?
So serious is the myopia of
Jesus in this book that the only connection he can find between Isis and
the New Testament is the piddling possibility that the Isis and Osiris
myth lies behind the discussion of Eve and Adam in 1 Timothy 2:12-14.
But this counts as little more than a stab in the dark, and other
theories have much more going for them, such as the theory of Catherine
Clark Kroeger that the reference is to the Gnostic myth that Eve was
created before Adam and essentially created him in turn. That theory is
mentioned here but rejected on the grounds that it presupposes full
blown Gnosticism in the time of Paul. But that objection flies only if
Paul wrote the Pastorals, which this book thinks he did. “Jesus,” then,
hasn’t got a clue about historical or literary criticism.
Why is this book so
superfluous, so weightless? Here’s your problem: the wrong deity
dictated it. We would have had better luck had Isis wielded Elizabeth
McCabe as her pen.