How long did it take to research and write the book?
The underlying research was done over a period of about seven years. Writing and editing the book took a further year. Arranging for publication has taken about nine months.
Did you have any help?
I am grateful for help with verifying the logic in Chapters 4 to 6, and to those who contributed expertise to the tasks of editing and typesetting. As for the rest, my approach to the study of scripture differs substantially from what is mostly done by others. For this reason I had little choice but to work alone.
In any discipline, the experience of those who set aside convention will be much the same. When you do this you are on your own. To explain the nature of your work can prove quite a challenge. To explain your conclusions can be harder still, for you may be challenging assumptions hallowed by long use and widely considered not open to question. I found that some in the academic world struggled even to understand questions which from time to time I sought to ask.
The analysis in Why Call Me God? is remarkably succinct and convincing. How has such an explanation been subjugated for so long?
I too have asked this question. Relying upon the 2nd century opinions of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, the real 'subjugation' probably took place after Constantine came to power at York (306CE). Following the Edict of Milan (313CE), his 'Catholic' church gained steadily in influence, eventually integrating with the Roman state. Much learning from the ancient world had now been lost in the west. Scripture's theme was truly subtle, and from the new translations to Latin the deeper message could not be understood. Constantine himself, although brought up in the east, could barely read in Greek.
Before the 4th century was out, Catholic doctrine would be enforced. To make this possible, the Gnostic tradition was bundled up, labelled as gravely erroneous, and locked away in the cultural 'cupboard'. From there it has spooked the Christian church(es) ever since - and so much so that aggressive and paranoid responses are sometimes triggered if even the matter is raised. It is not mere instances of child abuse that the Catholic church worldwide may seek to keep from public knowledge. More important by far, it seeks almost desperately to divert attention from the pivotal mistake that from the first it has always made (ie. it's doctrinal error).
The next thing to say is this. It is quite possible that in the centuries since Constantine others have explained the 'mystery'... but that neither they, nor their explanation, survived for those who came after (ie. truth was extinguished once more).
One possibility here is the Cathars. Mentioned briefly on p.197 of Why Call Me God?, the name suggests (from Greek) that they are 'the clean ones'. It is difficult to be sure quite what they understood. But it looks as though they must have picked up on the Gnostic tradition. They rejected the Eucharist, which suggests they 'understood about the bread' [qv. Mk.6:52; 8:17]. They tended towards dualism, the belief in the powers of Good and Evil; and they understood that 'Hell' was right here on Earth, with the world itself created by Satan. You will surely recognise these ideas from what is explained in my book. Before long the church organised a Crusade against the Cathars, meting out systematic destruction (discussed here).
I believe there is evidence that the Cathar ideas arrived in the south of France along with migrants from eastern Europe, possibly from Constantinople. If so, it makes perfect sense because the Greek language remained in use in the east long after it vanished from the medieval west; and if the tradition of the gospel authors had survived at all, it would likely be in a Greek milieu.
Whatever the Cathars understood, they were plainly perceived as a serious threat to the Catholic church. Before long they were assaulted, killed outright or otherwise dispersed by a crusade sent from Rome. I suppose that records and books would also have been destroyed.
Moving on, why did the deeper message of scripture not come to light at the time of the Reformation, and get resolved then? As I mention in the Preface to my book, scholars such as Fisher and Erasmus discovered afresh the Greek and Hebrew texts. But this was a deeply troubled age, with European monarchs playing the tyrant, and insisting upon the 'Divine Right of Kings'. Henry VIII was 'head of God's church upon earth'... and woe to those who dared say otherwise! I fancy the time was not ripe.
The 'King James' translation of the bible to English (1611 CE), still popular in North America, was produced under supervision of the king himself. Genesis was translated from a Hebrew source, just as it had been in the 4th century, and the gospels again from Greek.
In this way the notion of historicity for the narrative of scripture survived intact at the Reformation. It derived largely from Eusebius, in the time of Constantine, and his 'invention' of Christian history. Every child might still see in the churches pictures of Jesus and his disciples portrayed to accord with the gospel narrative. So far as Christian doctrine was concerned, no one knew what was wrong. And how was anyone to realise?
What about Mary Magdalene - and the plot in Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code?
Leigh TEABING is the anagrammatically-named historian (after real-life Richard Leigh and Michael BAIGENT) in Dan Brown's popular novel. It is Teabing who refers to the 'marriage' supposed to exist between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, suggesting that this was a union hinted at by Leonardo in his famous painting The Last Supper.
Some Christian commentators have long cast doubt upon this scenario, seeking even to deny that Magdalene is the 'sinner' who comes to Jesus at Lk.7:37. Yet if they understood the deeper message of the gospels - if they understood the 'mystery' and knew who Jesus was supposed to be - they would not deny these things.
Brown's tradition of the sacred feminine, identified in his novel with the Holy Grail, is derived primarily from the non-canonical gospels (sometimes referred to as the Gnostic gospels). Dated to the early centuries CE, these texts - along with their characters, Jesus and Magdalene - are surely as much fiction as Dan Brown's own work. Nothing here is truly historical. Instead, these are traditions which can be traced back, just as Dan Brown suggests - but only traced back to the fictional confines of the Gnostic tradition itself.
The four canonical gospels (which by inspection must also be Gnostic fiction) give us several characters named Mary. It is difficult to be sure if these are intended to be truly distinct, or are merely different facets of one person, based upon the stereotype of Eve in the book of Genesis.
In the gospel narrative Mary Magdalene is amongst the women who are first to arrive at Jesus' empty tomb. Then there are extensive indications not only that Magdalene is a prostitute but that she is the 'sinner' who consorts with Jesus at Lk.7:37, anointing his feet with ointment and wiping them off with her hair.
The scenario recurs at Jn.11:2. Here Mary's sister is MARTHA - whose own name is an anagram (both in the Greek language and in English) of THAMAR, the prostitute who goes with Judah at Gn.38:15.
For these and other reasons, the theme in Dan Brown's book does make a great deal of sense. But in acknowledging this we should remember that this theme is entirely fiction... all the way from its origins in the book of Genesis.
How did you obtain reliable counts of those Greek words which exhibit a particular property?
Using the programming language Visual C++, I wrote my own software to search the Greek source texts for any combination of features I might then choose to specify. Examples could be a particular number value, or a particular word having its letters dispersed within other words.
In the ancient world it would have taken an army of scribes, and quite some organisation, to verify the number of words in the Greek book of Genesis which contain the four letters required to spell out the name of Cain (in Greek this is KAIN). Yet in our electronic age a task such as this can be completed in a fraction of a second, with results displayed instantly on a screen.