Book review: The Illusion of “Truth”: The Real Jesus Behind the Grand Myth
by Thomas Daniel Nehrer
Wanna meet the real Jesus? From page one, I was hooked by Nehrer’s jaded dismissal of believers and scholars alike, and his promise of delivering the real Jesus. Nehrer, the mystic, reveals Jesus, the visionary … and he does it entertainingly well.
Nehrer is not religious, and finds no value in the Bible (other than as a historical oddity) outside the parables of Jesus. No sugar-coating, here. But don’t let Nehrer’s self-aggrandizing style turn you off. He over-values his credentials a bit–for example, his mystical background allows him to “see clearly what Jesus meant with his parables”–and thus commits the same error he warns us against: perceiving Jesus through the lens of his own worldview. But there’s nothing wrong with a little positive endorsement, right?
Nehrer promotes embracing “Oneness,” by which he means the connection between Self and experienced Reality. He prefers the term “Clear Awareness” for seeing deep into the Oneness and understanding how life works. That was Jesus’ insight: he understood life.
140 pages into the book, it shifts unexpectedly into a fictional narrative of Jesus’ “lost years.” Jesus is a smart, hard worker able to contribute at multiple jobsites, but he is driven to keep moving and learning. Nehrer feels he is “uniquely qualified” to take a stab at reconstructing where Jesus’ wanderlust carries him, because of his own extensive travel and spiritual journey as a young man. This fictional account continues for roughly 200 pages, and was my favorite part of the book, as Nehrer’s fiction is quite engaging.
In Nehrer’s recreation, Jesus is self-confident, not a goody-goody but quite likeable. He speaks in religious language when necessary, perhaps inventing a Heavenly Father image to help his listeners displace the vindictive, judgmental Yahweh. His vision is encapsulated in what he calls the Kingdom of God, describing (you guessed it) how life really works, but his greater knowledge is so contrary to the established religious regime–particularly the Temple class–and so difficult for everyday people to grasp that he struggles to make progress, and is eventually put to death.
A final section then discusses how Christianity was born out of the misunderstood message of Jesus. An interesting take on the life of Jesus, but far from the direction my own studies have led me.
Christian Alternative Books, © 2014, 401 pages