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Stuff you need to know before the POCM makes sense. Ideas, rituals and myths Christianity boosted from the Pagans. Some of the Pagan's dying-resurrected godmen The Triumph of Christianity Discover mainstream scholarship about Christianity's Pagan origins What did the Christians borrow? So what?
Good books
Miracles, the soul, monotheism, etc.
Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook for the study of New Testament Miracle Stories
by Wendy Cotter

Miracle working was the chief method of proselytizing in the early Church.  Why? Miracles were a standard part of ancient culture.  This book offers dozens of examples -- given directly from the ancient texts -- of Pagan miracles, including healing, raising the dead, exorcising demons, controlling nature and magic in general.

Available at



The Early Greek Concept of the Soul
by Jan Bremmer

One of the key Pagan ideas assimilated into Christianity is the notion of the soul.  This book traces the history of the soul from Homer through later Greek antiquity. 

Short.  Not particularly well written.

Available at


[Interestingly, at the time of Jesus, the Jews had  not all assimilated the Hellenistic (Greek) notion of a body-soul split -- which is why some Christians (the ones whose views became orthodoxy) insisted on the resurrection of the actual physical body, not just of the soul.  That's not in this book, by the way.]

The Golden Bough Studies in Magic and Religion
Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) 

No library is complete without this essential cultural reference.  The Golden Bough traces western myth -- specific stories and general ideas -- back to the iron age.  Chapters on Adonis, Attis and Osiris cover the historical development of three important dying-reborn Gods. Solid scholarship based on original ancient sources [but you don't have to read it through, just pick the chapter / section you're interested in], yet it reads as easily as a novel.  Wow!

This book changed the world -- before the Golden Bough historians and anthropologists saw "primitive" religions as meaningless ceremonies practiced by savages;  Frazer understood that every religion has deep meaning to it's adherents, and he set out to understand that meaning.   

At several thousand pages the original 13 volume Golden Bough was unwieldy, so Frazer himself put out a trimmed down single volume in 1926 -- that's the version available at Amazon.  The full 13 volume version is also available - for $450 !!

Full copies of the original books 5 and 6 (aka Volume 4) of the 13 volume set were reissued as a single book in the late 1950s and again in the early '60s.  Out print now, you can still find it used, as Adonis Attis Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion


by Ramsay MacMullen

The conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 AD is arguably the most important event in the history of western civilization -- it lead directly to the conversion of the Roman empire, to the end not just of Pagan religion but also of Pagan culture and really to the end of ancient civilization.

MacMullen is a historian of ancient religion, so he focuses the book on the religious history of the conversion.  Interesting story, but the writing is terrible.


Available at Amazon .com.



Birth of a Worldview Early Christianity in its Jewish and Pagan Context
Robert Doran

A solid scholarly look at the theology (as opposed to myths) Christianity inherited from earlier Ancient religions, and at the new ideas the early Christians developed on their own. Easy to read and rigorous. Recommended for serious students.

Available at



Pagan Monotheism in late Antiquity

Haven't got it, but it looks good.

Available at Amazon .com.