Dowling, Levi H. (1844-1911)

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Dowling, Levi H. (1844-1911)

Levi H. Dowling, the channel who received the classic Spiritualist text The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, was the son of a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a conservative Christian church founded in the early nineteenth century on the American frontier. As a teenager, Dowling began preaching and at the age of 18 was pastoring a small congregation and serving as a chaplain for the Union Army during the Civil War (1861-65). After the war, he became involved in the publishing of Sunday school literature. He reportedly attended two colleges prior to switching professions from the ministry to medicine, but the nature of his education is unknown. He possibly attended one of the eclectic or homeopathic schools that thrived during the period but have since disappeared.

The next years of Dowling's life are largely undocumented. He only noted that he spent much time in meditation, attempting to make contact with the akashic records according to Theosophy, the comprehensive records of all of human history that exist upon an etheric plain. The idea derives from the Hindu concept of akasha, the primal substance out of which the universe has been created. In theosophical thought, the akashic records can be accessed while in certain altered states of consciousness, especially by some psychics who have prepared themselves. Dowling claimed to have spent four decades preparing himself.

Toward the end of his life, messages began to flow to Dowling. He rose early in the morning (between 2 and 6 A.M.) and wrote down the words as they were received. The result was the volume known as the Aquarian Gospel, published in 1911, the year of Dowling's death. It has been periodically republished over the years since and has circulated quite freely through theosophical and Spiritualist groups where many have accepted it as a truer record of Jesus' life, work, and teachings than that recorded in the Bible. Among a few small groups, it has attained the status of scripture. It was written in chapters and verses like the modern translations of the Bible (which was divided into chapters and verses only many centuries after the various books were written). The Aquarian Gospel covers the life of Christ and describes a number of incidents unknown in the older records, such as a trip to India. The overall purpose of the work, as the name implies, is to announce the coming of a new age, the Aquarian Age.


Beskow, Per. Strange Tales about Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.

Dowling, Levi H. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Los Angeles: The Author, 1911.

Goodspeed, Edgar. Strange New Gospels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931. Rev. ed. as: Modern Apocrypha. Boston: Beacon Press, 1956.

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Dowling, Levi H. (1844-1911)

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