Since this book did not exist, it was necessary to create it.De Tribus Impostoribus
(aka The Three Impostors (but not The Three Impostors
, which is one of Machen's best works (and as long as I'm nesting parentheticals, I'll note that a pet peeve of mine is the misspelling 'imposter' which shows up all too frequently even in newspapers (I mean, no one would write 'mayer' or 'tracter' and say 'oh, that's just how we do it in English now'))))
Anyway. The three impostors of the title are Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. The work was long considered a near-fabulous work like the Necronomicon... a forbidden book that rejected revealed religion and exposed the impostors as impostors. Seriously, Pope Gregory IX ascribed the work to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, in twelve-freaking-thirty-nine. The book may have existed then, it may have come into existence in 1598, or 1716, or 1753, or 1904, or last Wednesday. The book I read is of last Wednesday vintage, but is a photocopy of the 1904 edition published in the US under the name Alcofribas Nasier (aka the pseudonymous anagram that Rabelais used to publish Pantagruel (but actually apparently one Samuel Briggs of Cleveland, OH). The text starts with an introduction that quickly namechecks the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, making the whole thing sound like some sort of Masonic prank
. However, since I first ran across a reference in a work about the founding fathers... oh snap, they were all masons, too.
Anyway. Although there is an interesting 'presentation' written by Frederick II to Otho, and a couple other details of the sort, very little of it reads as though it were written in the 1200's, even if it filtered through several translators and languages in the meantime. It smacks much more of Enlightenment deism, but really is such a strange sui generis sort of thing. Some of the arguments against revealed religion are old and tired, while others are strange and new. Hardly a Necronomicon that will corrupt your mind (well, maybe it is, but my mind is already corrupted) but still a really peculiar thing.
Yes, I pushed a bit to get this read by Easter. So sue me.