This book is an extensive reworking of the Jesus story with strong Theosophical
and Spiritualist influences. Of interest is the attempt to fill in the two decade gap in the Jesus's traditional biography. According to Dowling
, Jesus spent a lot of time in the mystical East where he learned esoteric methods from the masters, while rebelling against the caste system. The narrative, unfortunately, has numerous historical inconsistencies, including Jesus meeting historical figures who lived hundreds of years before or after the first century, e.g. Mencius. The book has Jesus studying in India in the Orissa area; while this is an historically important ceremonial area, it didn't come into prominence until nearly a millenium later. In addition, this work appears to be derivative of The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.
None of this lessens the charm or the esoteric insight of this book. Nor should its subterranean impact on popular spirituality in the United States be underestimated. The Aquarian Gospel was rediscovered during the spiritual ferment of the 1960s; a beat-up paperback copy of this book was de rigeur in every hippie pad, and it no doubt played an unsung role in naming the 'Age of Aquarius'. The Aquarian Gospel was probably one of the catalysts for the 'Jesus freak' movement. Although they would never admit it, many a staid evangelical Christian probably had their spiritual awakening while browsing this book in a head shop.--J.B. Hare
About the Author
Levi H. Dowling (1844-1911), who originally published The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ
under the sole name of Levi, was a Church of Christ pastor, a Civil War chaplain for the Union Army, a practitioner of homeopathic medicine, a New Thought lecturer, and a religious publisher. Dowling
was born in Bellville, Ohio, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he composed The Aquarian Gospel
-one of the formative works of New Age spirituality.