A few years ago I read Willie Nelson’s It’s a Long Story: My Life. Of course, the background of his music and influences is great. Additionally, I was very interested in my fellow Texan’s take on growing up in a Texas church and on religion in general. In that books he says:
I’ve never doubted the genius of Christ’s moral message or the truth of the miracles he performed. I see his presence on earth and resurrection as perfect man as a moment that altered human history, guiding us in the direction of healing love. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve augmented my belief in Jesus with other philosophies that complement his.
Willie, if I remember correctly, mentions Samuel Angus’ The Mystery Religions and Christianity as one of the more formative spiritual books in his life. Based on that mention alone, I bought it immediately. It took me a few years to actually sit down and read it, but 2019 was the year, so here we are.
Unfortunately, this book was difficult to get through. What I was hoping to find, based on the title and Willie’s recommendation, is some information about how the “mystery religions” of history informed Jesus and vice versa. That’s sort of there, but not in a very accessible way. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the book is about a century old; it was originally published in 1924. The version I have is reproduction from the sixties with marginalia that someone scribbled on in the nineties. The writing style and scholarship just feels dated, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. (Example: Lots of Latin and Greek phrases are mentioned with no English translation. The book assumes you are Indiana Jones, which is flattering if not exactly helpful.)
DISCLAIMER: I’m 95% sure Willie mentions this book in his book. I could have just misremembered.