Jesus was a … shaman (heterodox Christologies II)

Jesus the shaman

Jesus the shaman

Next up in what is quickly becoming a series on heterodox Christologies: Jesus was really a shaman. This claim was found in Norwegian media last week – more precisely in the Sami branch of the state channel NRK’s online news site. The (neo)shamanic healer Eirik Myrhaug went on record saying that he saw Jesus as “a great shaman”: “after all he was 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, and that’s a typical shamanic seance”.

This news item caught my attention because I have recently been working on an article on neoshamanism – or rather, on the genealogy and mythology of shamanism, as created by a motley crew of explorers, romantics, nationalists, psychedlelic gurus, anthropologists and historians since the 1600s – before it finally became a new religious movement in the 1960s. Myrhaug himself is of Sami descent, but his shamanic techniques appear to be derived from the anthropologist Michael Harner’s “core shamanism” – as is the case with the entire “revival” of shamanism in a Sami context. What struck me the most, however, was that Myrhaug’s shamanic interpretation of Jesus – which was heavily and predictably criticised by a Lutheran minister in the same news article – has a long history. “Jesus was a shaman” is in fact a stock element in the continuously expanding “universal shamanism” franchise.



Coptic scholars are in a strange position compared to most other researchers of arcane and obscure corners of history: their field occasionally makes world-wide news headlines, especially when there is some text claiming something about a certain carpenter from Nazareth. Last week newspapers across the world announced that someone writing in  coptic on a piece of papyrus some time possibly in the 4th century had insinuated that the carpenter might have had a wife. Sensational, but well: it turns out the papyrus fragment is most likely not authentic. Read more about the arguments in this excellent post by Hugo Lundhaug and Alin Suciu. (For the record – this is the first time I reblog anything, so bear with me).

Alin Suciu

First of all, it should be clearly stated that, although in the following lines we shall express our doubts concerning the authenticity of the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, our suggestions remain hypothetical until the ink of the document has been properly tested. Secondly, our analysis does not refer either to the figure of the historical Jesus, or to his marital status, which are beyond our field of expertise, but only to a literary fragment written in Coptic, whose identity is suspicious.

During the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies, which took place September 17-22, 2012 in Rome, the Harvard Professor Karen L. King introduced to us a previously unknown Coptic papyrus fragment.


Her paper was delivered on Tuesday, September 18, from 7.00 o’clock P.M., in one of the rooms of the Patristic Institute ‘Augustinianum.’  We estimate that about…

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