PDA

View Full Version : The Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth



Alkman
Thursday, October 14th, 2004, 03:06 AM
"Christianity didn't start with a big bang. Like every one else who ever started a religion, the first Christians got things going by adopting and adapting the ideas -- the theologies and rituals and myths -- that were part of the culture they lived in."

http://www.medmalexperts.com/POCM/getting_started_pocm.html

Taras Bulba
Thursday, October 14th, 2004, 03:10 AM
"During a period of time running roughly from about 1890 to 1940, scholars often alleged that primitive Christianity has been heavily influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan mystery religions, or other movements in the Hellenistic world....most Bible scholars regard the question a dead issue."
--Ronald Nash The Gospels and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? pg. I

Bruce Metzger in his studies on both pagan and Christian religious practices and beliefs heavily disputed the notion of Christianity borrowing from paganism. He even noted that the mystery religions were often characterised by secrecy among members: which not only made it harder for the Christians(outsiders) to copy elments of their faith; but also makes it harder for a modern-day scholar to even try to prove a conclusive link between the two. And if there was borrowing, it certainly was not(as one of your other sourcesd tried claiming) in one direction.

"Even when parallels are genealogical, it must not be uncritically assumed that the Mysteries always influenced Christianity, for it is not only possible but probable that in certain cases the influence moved in the opposite direction. In what T. R. Glover aptly called "the conflict of religions in the Early Roman Empire," it was to be expected that the hierophants of cults which were beginning to lose devotees to the growing Church should take steps to stem the tide. One of the surest ways would be to imitate the teaching of the Church by offering benefits comparable with those held out by Christianity. Thus, for example, one must doubtless interpret the change in the efficacy attributed to the rite of the taurobolium. In competing with Christianity, which promised eternal life to its adherents, the cult of Cybele officially or unofficially raised the efficacy of the blood bath from twenty years to eternity."
--Bruce Metzger Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, Christian pg.11

And of course modern research has proven Metzger's theory correct.

“We tend to think only in terms of ‘pagan survivals’ within the Church. We do not often give attention to the adaptation, by non-Christians, of Christian rituals….A lively process of the borrowing of rituals between pagans and Christians appears to have taken place in both directions. Pagan communities borrowed Christian signs and rites. The sign of the Cross would be made sacrificial banquets. The names of Christian angels and saints would be shouted at the solemn toasts around the table. Above all, monks and clergymen came to offer services which non-Christian ritual specialists had previously provided.”
--Peter Brown The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity AD 200-1000 Pg.153

And lets not forget Julian the Apostate. Paganism by the 4th century was heavily Christianized. In fact thats another reason why Metzger disputes the theory that Christianity was influenced by the Mystery religions: paganism changed from local to local;from period to period. It never had a stable nature through time nor did it have a common doctrine to unite around.

And I noticed quite a bit of white-horsing in that site trying to prove some link between the mystery religions and Christianity.

Alkman
Thursday, October 14th, 2004, 03:45 AM
Few people realize that the origins of a form of Christmas was pagan & celebrated in Europe long before anyone there had heard of Jesus Christ.
No one knows what day Jesus Christ was born on. From the biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover. One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?


The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.


In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.


In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.


Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means “wheel,” the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods.


The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.


In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.


Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ.”


The controversy continues even today in some fundamentalist sects.


Kelly Wittmann

Taras Bulba
Thursday, October 14th, 2004, 03:56 AM
Ok whats with all these anti-Christian threads?


http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.10docs/16-10pg12.html

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th
because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

Alkman
Thursday, October 14th, 2004, 04:07 AM
Ok whats with all these anti-Christian threads?


http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/16.10docs/16-10pg12.html

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th
because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.
"In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25." There was not a significant birth celebration of jesus before

Allenson
Friday, October 15th, 2004, 02:52 PM
Get ready for the Christians to argue that Christianity didn't incorporate any Heathen holidays, festivals, rites, etc. :eyes

Taras Bulba
Friday, October 15th, 2004, 05:32 PM
Get ready for the pagans to contradict themselves on whether or not Christianity destroyed or incorporated paganism. Of course those who claim it incorporated paganism further contradict themselves by claiming Christianity is an alien religion; yet just a moment ago they admitted it was a more successful version of paganism. :eyes

She-Wolf
Friday, October 15th, 2004, 06:10 PM
Get ready for the pagans to contradict themselves on whether or not Christianity destroyed or incorporated paganism. Of course those who claim it incorporated paganism further contradict themselves by claiming Christianity is an alien religion; yet just a moment ago they admitted it was a more successful version of paganism. :eyes
Who said this?

Alkman
Friday, May 26th, 2006, 01:46 AM
Jesus son of man, or myth of man?

The first question we have to ask really is how accurate a historical account are the stories of the New Testament?
Do they describe a coherent and solid picture, or are they fraught with contradictions?

Lets see whether it’s the Gospel truth.

We can only date the Gospels to, at the earliest, the first century CE, meaning they were written 3 to 4 generations after the events they are supposed to describe.
There was no mention made by any contemporary non Christian scholar at this time which in any way supports the idea of a historical miracle working Christ.
It is important to note that the lands that these stories take place in were under the jurisdiction of the Romans who, despite their many failings were meticulous record keepers.
As such there is a large amount of information available to us about imperial decrees, taxes and sentences of law.

According to the Gospel of Luke, Emperor Augustus issued a decree that ‘all the world should be registered’, this was supposedly the reason why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem, unfortunately there is absolutely no record of any such decree ever having been made.

Again according to Luke, Jesus was born during the term in which Quirinius was governor of Syria, while according to Matthew he was conceived during Herod the great’s administration in Judea.
As Herod died in 4 BCE and Quirinius took up office in 6 CE that means that if both these versions are to be believed then poor Mary must have had a 10 year pregnancy.

According to Matthew Jesus was Born in Bethlehem, while according to Luke his birthplace was Nazareth.
The city of Nazareth (and the bible states specifically that it was a city!) as mentioned in the Gospels appears as somewhat like shangrila, since there is absolutely no trace that any such city existed. Nor is there any town or village known of existing at that time and under that name.

Herod was supposed to have ordered the slaughter of children in Judea, once again this decree appears to be absent from the remarkably complete roman records.


We also have extensive and complete records made during Pilate’s governorship. These records detail no trial and execution of any ‘Jesus’, though several Jewish dissidents were executed who may have served as the seed around which the myths accumulated.

Upon Jesus’ death a supernatural darkness was said to have descended on the land, the ground shook and the dead emerged from their graves. However once again no mention is made of this in any of the non-christian records.

In addition to the obvious historical inaccuracy, the writers of the Bible stories appear to have absolutely no grasp of geography.
We’ve already seen that one supposed home of Jesus, the city of Nazareth, is entirely fictitious, but that’s not all;

John 12:21 says, "The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee. . . ." Bethsaida resided in Gaulonitis (Golan region), east of the Jordan river, not Galilee, which resided west of the river.

John 3:23 says, "John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim. . . ." there is no such place as Aenon near Salim.


More information can be found here:
http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm


As we can see the only evidence that Jesus the man actually existed is self contradictory hearsay, and as a historical account appears at best garbled and more often just plain wrong.
If some proto Jesus did exist then it’s pretty certain that he was quite different from the Jesus of the Bible stories.


Well it would appear that there is little to no evidence that he existed, but let’s not give up our search that easily, maybe there is another source than literal historical events for the truth about Jesus.



Jesus the Myth?

Myths seldom simply appear out of thin air, most often they are woven together from pre-existing tales, beliefs and religions, and so if Jesus were not a literal figure, but rather a mythic one we should be able to find evidence of this in previous Myths.

We really don’t need to look far.

During Biblical times the holy land was dominated by 2 great cultures.
The Romans are the most obvious since they ruled these lands, but slightly less obvious are the Greeks, who while they didn’t have the temporal might of Rome had developed a great civilisation that almost universally impressed the cultures that came in contact with it and was widely emulated.

Early Christian writers couldn’t fail but notice the incredible similarities between the life of Jesus and the myths of that popular Greek demigod Dionysus as well as the Roman Mithras.

One small problem, both Mithras and Dionysus pre-date Christianity, by a loooooong way.

So great were the similarities in-fact that these Early Christian scholars claimed that knowing that Jesus was due to come the Devil pre-empted God by sending Dionysus before him to test the faith of mankind.

Discounting satanic time travel as a possibility, lets instead objectively look for points of similarity between Jesus and the God of the Vine.


BothWere born in a cowshedHave mothers who were mortal women, but fathers who were godsTurned water into wine at a marriage ceremonyAre bringers of spiritual salvation and rebirthHad 12 disciplesHave Initiates who were baptised by immersion in waterHave rituals involving the symbolic consumption of bread and wineDie and are reborn in the Spring (Easter)Are represented as being hung upon a cross (stylised vine in the case of Dionysus)There were even coins minted around the 5th century CE which show Dionysus on one face and the Jewish god YHVH on the other.

http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com/no_3_dionysis.htm

However Dionysus isn’t the only dying and reborn god-man, even pre-christian scholars recognised that there were a whole stable of related myths sharing many key themes and stories in common, among these are Attis, Adonis, Mithras, Osiris/Horus and Samothrace.

In recognition of their many similarities these deities are often referred to as Osiris/Dionysus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osiris-Dionysus

An additional mythic figure worthy of mention, though commonly not included in the bracket of Osiris/Dionysus figures is the Norse god Odin.
I haven’t drawn from the Norse myths however as there is no indication that they directly influenced christianity, they do however demonstrate how one culture can adopt and personalise the myths of another (in this case the Norse borrowed from the Greeks, corroborating evidence for this contact can also be found in the similarities between other figures in their pantheons as well as their Alphabets.) and probably represent one branch of Osiris/Dionysus's family tree.


So drawing more generally from the Osiris/Dionysus figure lets see if we can find any further points of agreement with Christianity.His Birth is prophesied by a star.The Forces of evil try and prevent his birth by slaughtering childrenBorn on the 25th of December in the presence of 3 shepherds in a cave or cowshedThe forces of evil try and prevent his birth by slaughtering infantsRides triumphally into town while townsfolk wave palm fronds to honour himAfter his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in gloryHave rituals celebrating his death and resurrection at the same datesThe empty tomb is visited by three women followersHis corpse is wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrhHis followers await his return as the judge during the Last DaysAnd if we add to the search famous pagan sages further similarities appear…Jesus is betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, a motif found in the story of Socrates.Jesus heals the sick, exorcises demons, provides miraculous meals, helps fishermen make miraculous catches of fish and calms the water for his disciples; all of these marvels had previously been performed by Pagan sages.The holy man who baptizes Jesus with water has the same name as a Pagan god of water and is born on the summer solstice celebrated as a Pagan water festival.Jesus is visited by the Magi, who are followers of Osiris-DionysusThe Magi bring Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which a sixth-century BCE Pagan tells us is the way to worship God.Jesus is born in Bethlehem, which was shaded by a grove sacred to Osiris-Dionysus.http://www.medmalexperts.com/POCM/pa...s_mithras.html

Also:

Egyptian sarcophogi were often inscribed with heiroglyphys that translate to KRST, standing for ‘Karast’ which is a byname for Horus as well as the root from which the title ‘Christ’ is derived- (both words meaning ‘the annointed one’, or messiah).
Another byname for Horus is Iusa (also Iusu) meaning "The ever becoming son" of Ptah.
Latinised the male ‘Iusu’ becomes ‘Iusu-us’.

So Horus is quite literally ‘Iusu’us Karast’


Osiris is raised from the Dead by Horus,
Osiris (or more properly ‘Asar’), is commonly referred to as lord Osiris, or in other words ‘El-Asar’. (the El prefix is from the Hebrew for Lord)
Adding the latinised ‘-us’, the male suffix, (hence the latin scribes rendered Asar as Asar’us, which gradually became the "Osiris" that we are familiar with today), makes "Lord Osiris", "El-Asar’us" ‘Lazarus’?

Horus is often depicted as a child being suckled by his mother Isis, this iconography is so close to the traditional Christian depictions of Mary and the infant Jesus that they are often confused for one another.


I will leave the comparisons at this point, but should just like to point out that this represents only the smallest fraction of the extensive and compelling similarities that have been found between figures of Jesus and Osiris/Dionysus.


The Metaphors

So far we have explored the possibility that the biblical Jesus was not a real person at-all, but rather a Mythic amalgam, constructed from the myths of other older religions and the tales of pagan sages.

These religions shared many common elements, but there is one further thing they all have in common, they are all mystery religions.

A mystery religion may be best thought of as being like a circle within a circle, the outer ‘exoteric’ circle encompassing a body of tales taught to the general public, but concealed within these stories are metaphorical inner or ‘esoteric’ meanings that are only taught to the initiated few (literally the inner circle).

Assuming that Christianity derives from these mystery religions, then it would make sense to expect that the Myths of Christianity hold similar metaphorical meanings, and possibly even similar enough to their pagan counterparts to allow comparison.

These mystery religions universally assert that there is something within the being of man, possibly spirit or consciousness, that can be awakened and developed in life. This is the single central idea, the rosetta stone if you will by which we may understand them.

The state of this human ‘inner life’ is alluded to by a host of different metaphors.

If it is poorly developed or not developed at all the person is referred to as ‘sleeping’, or even ‘dead’, and thus the aim of these teachings are to ‘awaken’ the person or ‘bring them back from the dead’.

Another primary metaphor for this is as ‘light’, and often specifically the source of all light, the sun.

Thus we find many solar parallels within these religions; The yearly celebrations timed to correspond with the equinoxes (Christmas, Easter e.t.c.), The dying and reborn nature of the central god figure which at once celebrates disentangling one’s self from the material in order to realise or be reborn as this inner life (consciousness), as well as the daily and yearly solar cycles, The 12 disciples which represent the 12 zodiacal stages that the central ‘solar’ figure passes through. These 12 stages also have allegorical meanings, however limitations of space and laziness prevent me from exploring them here.

This developing inner life was also alluded to by the metaphor of Winemaking, and therefore just as the red watery and blood like juice of the grape can gradually begin to develop a special ‘inner’ (alcoholic spirit) quality under special conditions, so too could the inner ‘spirit’ be fermented.


A common metaphor used in these religions is to equate Water with the material world, into which we are all plunged upon birth (and metaphorically so in baptism)

This attribution of water to materiality and wine to developing spirit within the water (materiality) also allows for a completely different understanding of the miraculous transformation of water to wine.

Considering the metaphoric meaning of Water, ‘fish’ become a powerful symbol of the living inner spirit within the material ‘Watery’ world.
This greatly helps in explaining the numerous biblical allusions to fish and fishing;

Jesus’s appearance to his disciples ‘walking upon the water’ i.e. walking upon and above the material world, as well as his multiplying their catch, or realisation of this inner life that can survive even when submerged in ‘water’.

As eating bread represents a sharing in the essence of the God/man myth, and fish represents the inner spirit within the material life of man, then we can also see the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as metaphor for the enlightening of a mass of people rather than as a barbie on the lakeside.


So what happened?


Obviously something must have happened to Christianity to cause the loss of these inner meanings and thus the descent towards the purely literalist fundie interpretations we see today.

We don't know for sure just what this could be, but the best explanation I've heard is that some 'outer circle' members decided to expound their incomplete 'exoteric' understanding of these tales as the complete truth, and that this view gradually gained in power and influence, eventually usurping and destroying the original mystery cults.

Maybe this goes some way towards explaining the uniquely violent stance that the early church took to the many Gnostic sects?




"Incarna"

Gorm the Old
Friday, May 26th, 2006, 04:21 AM
I must make one minor correction. Christmas occurs close to a Solstice, not an Equinox. I know of no Christian holiday which corresponds with the Autumnal Equinox. The etymology of Jesus Christ and of Lazarus given is fanciful, at best. Jesus is derived from the Aramaic name Yeshua (Not Joshua as some claim. If it had been Joshua, the name would have been Latinized via Greek, into "Josus", not Jesus.) The Greeks. ever tin-eared, rendered this as Iesous, which was Latinized into Iesus. Yeshua's followers called him "Hamashua", Aramaic for "anointed". The Greek word used for this epithet was Xaristos, pronounced "Khareestaws", which oddly enough, means something like "debonair" . The Latin version of this became "Christus". "Lazar" already existed as a personal name in Aramaic. The "-us" ending is just the Second Declension masculine Nominative singular ending in Latin.

Sigrid
Saturday, May 27th, 2006, 12:27 PM
I have heard some very disoriented Celts naming Jesus after the Celtic god Esus. And this goes together with the whole Glastonbury and Joesph of Arimathea myth. A really dreadful thing to do to the Celtic heritage, I think.

Ælfhere
Saturday, May 27th, 2006, 06:18 PM
I have heard some very disoriented Celts naming Jesus after the Celtic god Esus. And this goes together with the whole Glastonbury and Joesph of Arimathea myth. A really dreadful thing to do to the Celtic heritage, I think.

Then of course there is the "lost" chapter in the Book of Acts which the British Israel adherents use to "prove" our Semitic origins. :thumbsdow

Lost Chapter of Acts Of Acts Of The Apostles (http://www.advweb.com/kw/misc/misc/kw_lostcactsap.html)

Here are more websites which make this claim:

Have a good laugh

The Association of the Covenant People (http://www.associationcovenantpeople.org/)
The Ensign Message (http://www.ensignmessage.com/)
Assembly of Yahweh (http://assemblyoftrueisrael.com/)

Sigrid
Saturday, May 27th, 2006, 07:08 PM
:D The British Israelites and their various oddball ramifications and I have had some rather spectacular fights. They can range way out into deep space with this stuff.

Thanks for the links to the lost book, V. Isn't it amazing how many people claim to have specialized knowledge of things that are supposedly "lost" to everyone except a chosen few? :screwy