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"Zeitgeist" Online Movie: Part One



Refuted©

 




Posted: August 23, 2007

 

Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, and Mithra (or

Mithras)—Is the Life of Jesus Christ Plagiarized from

their Myths?

The narrator proceeds to identify and describe five ancient deities known as Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, and Mithra (or Mithras). Each of these deities, according to the narrator, shared many mythical parallels with Jesus Christ. The majority, if not all, of the material is taken from The Christ Conspiracy, without mentioning any primary sources. Many of the proposed parallels have been exposed as exaggerations by both secular scholars and Christian apologists in the past.

Alleged Similarities Between Jesus & Pagan Deities provides an in-depth examination of alleged parallels between Jesus and pagan deities.

Further, a number of the parallels between Jesus and these other gods mentioned in the film do not even exist! Let’s examine the profile of each of the deities the narrator mentions.

 

1. Horus 1:


The narrator calls Horus “the sun god of Egypt around 3000 BC.” The narrator also asserts that the Horus myth is based on the sun’s movement through the sky being anthropomorphized.

Horus, according to the narrator, was associated with light and Horus’ enemy, Set, was associated with darkness.


Response: This is a far too simplistic representation of myths concerning Horus.
In reality, there were many versions of “Horus.”

What did the ancient Egyptians believe about Horus “from the earliest times” ?

  • “If Horus is said to be a falcon whose eyes are sun and moon and whose breath is the cooling north wind, we may think that this was a mere image to describe an impressive god of the sky. But the god was depicted as a bird from the earliest times and was apparently believed to be manifest either in individual birds or in the species.” 2

 

The narrator claims that Horus was:

  • “Born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25, his birth was accompanied by a star in the East, and three wise men were present 3 ” Oddly, the narrator also speaks of “the Holy Ghost impregnating Horus’s mother.”

 

  • Response: Christian apologist Glenn Miller responded to this claim: “One ancient Egyptian relief depicts this conception by showing his mother Isis in a falcon form, hovering over an erect phallus of a dead and prone Osiris in the Underworld (EOR, s.v. "Phallus"). And the Dec 25 issue is of no relevance to us--nowhere does the NT associate this date with Jesus' birth at all.”
  • The Egyptian religion scholar Adolf Erman writes the following: “While Isis hovered in the form of a sparrow-hawk over the body of her dead husband she became pregnant 4 . ” 5

 

  • The narrator does not mention any primary source that references a star in the East or three wise men, nor to the Holy Ghost impregnating Horus’s mother.

 

  • “Horus was a teacher when he was 12 years old.” 6

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary source states this?


  • “Horus had 12 disciples.” 7


  • Response: First, many traveling Jewish teachers in the first century C.E. had disciples. Second, Glenn Miller writes the following regarding Horus having 12 disciples: “But again, my research in the academic literature does not surface this fact. I can find references to FOUR "disciples"--variously called the semi-divine HERU-SHEMSU ("Followers of Horus") [GOE:1.491]. I can find references to SIXTEEN human followers (GOE:1.196). And I can find reference to an UNNUMBERED group of followers called mesniu/mesnitu ("blacksmiths") who accompanied Horus in some of his battles [GOE:1.475f; although these might be identified with the HERU-SHEMSU in GOE:1.84]. But I cannot find TWELVE anywhere...]”

 

  • “Horus was baptized at age 30 by Anup.” 8

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament source states this?
  • “Horus walked on water.” 9

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary source states this?

  • “Horus performed healings.” 10

  • Response: Glenn Miller writes: “Miracle stories abound, even among religious groups that could not possibly have influenced one another, such as Latin American groups (e.g. Aztecs) and Roman MR's, so this 'similarity' carries no force. The reference to this specific resurrection I cannot find ANYWHERE in the scholarly literature. I have looked under all forms of the name to no avail. The fact that something so striking is not even mentioned in modern works of Egyptology indicates its questionable status. It simply cannot be adduced as data without SOME real substantiation. The closest thing to it I can find is in Horus' official funerary role, in which he "introduces" the newly dead to Osirus and his underworld kingdom. In the Book of the Dead, for example, Horus introduces the newly departed Ani to Osirus, and asks Osirus to accept and care for Ani (GOE:1.490).”



  • “Horus was known as ‘The Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ ‘Lamb of God,’ ‘the Good Shepherd,’ ect.” 11


  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary sources attribute these titles to Horus?

 

  • “Horus was betrayed by Tryphon.”

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary source states this?


  • “Horus was crucified, dead for three days, and resurrected.” 12


  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary sources support these assertions?


  • Glenn Miller concludes his discussion of Horus by quoting from an entry in the Encyclopedia of Religions, which states:


    "In ancient Egypt there were originally several gods known by the name Horus, but the best known and most important from the beginning of the historic period was the son of Osiris and Isis who was identified with the king of Egypt. According to myth, Osiris, who assumed the ruler ship of the earth shortly after its creation, was slain by his jealous brother, Seth. The sister- wife of Osiris, Isis, who collected the pieces of her dismembered husband and revived him, also conceived his son and avenger, Horus. Horus fought with Seth, and, despite the loss of one eye in the contest, was successful in avenging the death of his father and in becoming his legitimate successor. Osiris then became king of the dead and Horus king of the living, this transfer being renewed at every change of earthly rule. The myth of divine kingship probably elevated the position of the god as much as it did that of the king. In the fourth dynasty, the king, the living god, may have been one of the greatest gods as well, but by the fifth dynasty the supremacy of the cult of Re, the sun god, was accepted even by the kings. The Horus-king was now also "son of Re." This was made possible mythologically by personifying the entire older genealogy of Horus (the Heliopolitan ennead) as the goddess Hathor, "house of Horus," who was also the spouse of Re and mother of Horus.

  • "Horus was usually represented as a falcon, and one view of him was as a great sky god whose outstretched wings filled the heavens; his sound eye was the sun and his injured eye the moon. Another portrayal of him particularly popular in the Late Period, was as a human child suckling at the breast of his mother, Isis. The two principal cult centers for the worship of Horus were at Bekhdet in the north, where very little survives, and at Idfu in the south, which has a very large and well- preserved temple dating from the Ptolemaic period. The earlier myths involving Horus, as well as the ritual per- formed there, are recorded at Idfu."

 

Just how similar is “Horus” to Jesus of Nazareth?

2. Attis 13 :

  • “Attis was born of a virgin on December 25.” 14

  • Response: J.P. Holding writes, “…let me add that I have found nowhere any indication that this date was associated with Attis in any way. That said, what of Attis' virgin birth? Herodotus records nothing about such a thing; the story alluded to comes much, much later, and rather than being a virgin birth, it is rather another case of Zeus playing the role of dirty old god -- albeit this time, much less directly.

  • As the story goes [Verm.CA, 90-1; VermLAGR, 4, 9], Zeus (as Jupiter) was running around looking for ways to get his jollies and saw Mt. Agdus, which looked liked the goddess Rhea. (Don't ask how, but I guess if you're a sexual maniac like Zeus, after a while maybe even a mountain looks good.) In the ensuing fracas, Zeus drops some of his seed on the mountain, and from this arises a wild and androgynous creature named Agdistis. The gods don't like the obnoxious Agdistis, so Dionysus sneaks up and puts wine in Aggy's water to put him to sleep. While Aggy is asleep, Dionysus ties a rope around Aggy's genitals, ties the other end of the rope to a tree, yells "Boo!" and -- well, you can take it from there. From the resulting blood, a pomegranate (or almond) tree springs up, and much later, Nana happens by, picks some of the fruit, and puts it in her lap, and then it disappears -- upon which, she finds herself pregnant with Attis. Virgin birth? Sort of -- virgin conception? No -- it's just Grandpa Zeus being the deadbeat dad again. The baby Attis is abandoned, but does end up being raised by goats.”


  • “Attis was Crucified.” 15

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary source states this?


  • “Attis was placed in a tomb.”

  • Response: Which pre-New Testament primary source states this?


  • “Attis was resurrected after three days.” 16


  • Response: Which pre-Christian primary source states this?


3. Krishna 17 :

  • “Krishna was born of a virgin named Devaki.” 18


  • Response: This claim is completely false.


  • Glenn Miller notes Joseph Campbell’s comments on page 342 of Campbell’s book, Occidental Mythology:

    • "In India a like tale is told of the beloved savior Krishna, whose terrible uncle, Kansa, was, in that case, the tyrant-king. The savior's mother, Devaki, was of royal lineage, the tyrant's niece, and at the time when she was married the wicked monarch heard a voice, mysteriously, which let him know that her eighth child would be his slayer. He therefore confined both her and her husband, the saintly nobleman Vasudeva, in a closely guarded prison, where he murdered their first six infants as they came.” (emphasis is Glenn Miller’s).

    • Glenn Miller continues: “According to the story, the mother had six normal children before the 7th and 8th 'special' kids--a rather clear indication that the mom was not a virgin when she conceived Krishna [remember, this is not an issue of 'special births', but of 'virgin' ones].”



  • The rest of the narrator’s claims regarding Krishna are identical to those found on pages 116-117 of The Christ Conspiracy.


  • Historian Michael Licona contacted the Hinduism scholar, Dr. Edwin Bryant , Professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University. Licona asked him about the parallels that Acharya S draws between Krishna and Jesus.


  • Licona relates:


  • “I emailed him regarding her 24 comparisons of Krishna to Jesus which the reader may find in The Christ Conspiracy.(26) He stated that 14 of her 24 comparisons are wrong and a 15th is partially wrong.(27) What about her 9 _ that are correct; especially Krishna’s virgin birth, the story of the tyrant who had thousands of infants killed (a parallel to Herod), and Krishna’s bodily ascension? Benjamin Walker in his book, The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism provides an answer. After tracing similarities related to the birth, childhood, and divinity of Jesus, as well as the late dating of these legendary developments in India, "[t]here can be no doubt that the Hindus borrowed the tales [from Christianity], but not the name."(28) Bryant also comments that these parallels come from the Bhagavata Purana and the Harivamsa. Bryant believes the former "to be prior to the 7th century AD (although many scholars have hitherto considered it to be 11 century AD."(29) Yet this is hundreds of years after the Gospel accounts. Of the Harivamsa, Bryant is uncertain concerning its date. However, most sources seem to place its composition between the fourth and sixth centuries, again hundreds of years after the Gospel accounts had been in circulation.(30) An earlier date is entertained by David Mason of the University of Wisconsin, who states that there is no consensus on the dating that he is aware of but that it may be as early as the second century.(31) Even if this early date is accurate, it is still after the Gospels, not before as Murdock’s thesis requires.”


4. Dionysus 19 :

  • The movie displays an amulet, which seems to depict Dionysus as a crucified figure.


  • This amulet, which dates centuries after the first century A.D., may even be a forgery!



  • Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy feature a picture of this amulet on the cover of their book, The Jesus Mysteries.


  • When readers questioned the authenticity of the amulet, Freke and Gandy identified their sources of information about the amulet.


  • James Hannam, the author of the web site known as Bede’s Library , conducted research on these sources. Hannam writes:



    “The first they” (Freke and Gandy) “supplied was R Eisler, Orpheus the Fisher (Kessinger Publishing reprints), first published in 1920 and where the fourth century date for the amulet is given and it is illustrated. Interestingly it is dated to the fourth century simply by virtue of its representation of a crucifixion so could, in theory be older or more recent.


    The second reference was WKC Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek Religion Princeton University Press, 1952. This is the second edition and discusses the amulet at some length on page 265. He mentions the views of Eisler and Otto Kern who was a very distinguished German expert on Orpheus. At the time, both considered the gem to be an ancient Orphic artifact and Eisler suggested their was a tradition of a crucified Orpheus. Pointing to the evidence of Justin Martyr, who denies there ever was a crucified pagan, Guthrie rightly rejects this interpretation.



    ...But there is a final kicker to this story that Freke failed to mention. I found an endnote to the 1952 edition of Guthrie's work (page 278) states:



    "In his review of this book [Orpheus and Greek Religion] in Gnomon (1935, p 476), [Otto] Kern [unfeasibly esteemed German expert on Orpheus] recants and expresses himself convinced by the expert opinion of Reil and Zahn [more distinguished Germans] that the gem is a forgery."



    I looked up the review in Gnomon but it is in German so I can't make anything of it. Still, the gem has been branded a forgery by noted experts. Luckily for Freke and Gandy that they don't think the gem important to their thesis, but you still have to ask what it was doing on the front cover of their book. And one can also have suspicions as to why they didn't give a reference to where the picture came from.”

 

  • Thus, the film’s depiction of the amulet manifests its uncritical use of sources.


  • The film also utilizes outdated scholarship. For example, it claims that “Dionysus turned water into wine.” The film implies, then, that the author of John’s gospel based the story of Jesus at Cana on this Dionysus myth. In reality, however, no myth teaches that Dionysus turned water into wine.


  • Glenn Miller quotes several scholarly sources during his evaluation of the Dionysus wine stories’ relationship to Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine:


    • “Some scholars view the glory of Jesus here set over against that claimed for Dionysus, the provider of wine, and the fullness of life experienced in intoxication. Various stories were told of this provision, such as the placing of three empty basins at night in the temple at Elis and finding them to be full of wine the next day; or of the spring of wine that flowed in the temple of Bacchus in Andros on the festal day known as Theodosia (see Dodd, Historical Tradition, 224–25). An exhaustive examination of the evidence relating to such parallels was made by H. Noetzel (Christus und Dionysus); he has convinced most scholars that the parallels are insufficient to support the claims made for them. In particular the motif of changing water to wine is not present in the Dionysus legends; the jugs of Elis, for example, were not filled with water but were empty, and the fount of wine in Andros did not replace one of water. To suggest that the Evangelist or his source wished to demonstrate through the Cana miracle that a greater than Dionysus has appeared is a speculation without warrant. [Word Biblical Commentary (multi-volumes)]



    • "Most writers acknowledge that in the Johannine narrative there is an implicit contrast between water used for Jewish purificatory rites and the wine given by Jesus; the former is characteristic of the old order, the latter of the new. There can be little doubt that the change of which the miracle is a sign is the coming of the kingdom of God in and through Jesus. The picture of the kingdom of God as a feast is prominent in Judaism and in the synoptic teaching (see, e.g., Matt 5:6; 8:11–12; Mark 2:19; Luke 22:15–18, 29–30a), and abundance of wine is a feature of the feast (e.g. Isa 25:6). The glory of Jesus, manifest in Cana was a sign of his mediating the grace of the kingdom of God in his total ministry. The glory of God is seen precisely in God’s bestowal of life in his kingdom, and this he gives through the Son. [Word Biblical Commentary (multi-volumes)]



      "Older attempts to interpret this sign as a Christianized version of the Dionysus myth (Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, the one who supplied the abundance of life and joy associated with inebriation) or of related stories have largely been abandoned in the light of evidence that the alleged parallels are wholly inadequate. " [D. A. Carson, John, Eerdmans:1991]



    • "Indeed, in the ancient literature Plutarch says that there was a spring at Haliartus with clear, sparkling, wine-colored, very pleasant-tasting water in which the newly born Dionysus was bathed . Also, Pliny says that at Andros, on the festival known as Theodosia, a spring in the temple of Bacchus flowed with wine. Pausanias says that at Elis the priests of Dionysus placed three large empty cauldrons in a sealed room to find them filled with wine when they returned the next day. And Ovid says that Liber, the Italian god identified with Bacchus, gave the daughters of the Delian king Anius the power to turn things into wine, a story associated with Dionysus...However, from these references it is obvious that there are significant differences between the Dionysus legend and the story in John 2: the spring at Haliartus flowed with water, and the one at Andros flowed with wine, not water that had once been wine; and the empty cauldrons in the Elis temple were filled with wine rather than water subsequently changed into wine, key elements in John's story. These differences have convinced most scholars that John or his tradition is not dependent on the Dionysus legend for this story." 20



  • “Dionysus was born of a virgin.” 21


  • Response: The available evidence indicates that Dionysus was NOT born of a virgin, and that the accounts of Dionysus’ birth do not closely resemble the narrative of Jesus’ birth.

  • There are multiple versions of Dionysus’ birth. Here is the best-known myth:


    "Philandering Zeus fell in love with Semele, princess of the house of Thebes and daughter of the Phoenician immigrant king Gadmus . Zeus came to her disguised as a mortal man, and Semele was soon pregnant. Hera, Zeus's queen, inflamed with jealousy, disguised herself as an old woman and hurried to Semele's door; her hair was straggly and her skin furrowed with wrinkles. For a while the two women chatted. When Semele revealed her affair with Zeus, the disguised Hera suggested that his claim to be king of the gods might be only a ploy; perhaps he was an ordinary mortal who made up the story to bring Semele to his bed. The old woman departed, and Semele doubted. When Zeus next came, she asked for just one wish. Zeus swore by the underworld river Styx that he would give whatever she asked. "Appear to me as you appear to Hera, when you make love to her!" Semele asked. Sorrowful, yet true to his word, Zeus appeared in all his glory, burning Semele to a crisp. Hermes saved the fetus and carried it to Zeus, who sewed it into his thigh. Three months later he removed the stitches, and Dionysus was born again. He was the twice-born god." 22


  • Here is another version:


    "Another myth told about his birth even more clearly established him in this role as a god of the mysteries. Zeus mated with his daughter Persephone, who bore a son, Zagreus, which is another name for Dionysus. In her jealousy, Hera then aroused the Titans to attack the child. These monstrous beings, their faces whitened with chalk, attacked the infant as he was looking in a mirror (in another version, they beguiled him with toys and cut him to pieces with knives). After the murder, the Titans devoured the dismembered corpse. But the heart of the infant god was saved and brought to Zeus by Athena; Dionysus was born again--swallowed by Zeus and begotten on Semele. Zeus was angry with the Titans and destroyed them with his thunder and lightning; but from their ashes humankind was born." 23


  • How closely do these stories resemble the accounts of Jesus’ virgin birth? Not much at all.


  • “Dionysus was born on December 25” 24


  • Response: Which pre-Christian primary sources state this? J.P. Holding writes: “I have noted no allusion to any birthdate of Dionysus in any of the literature on him yet, other than Freke and Gandy's note that Dionysus’s birth was celebrated January 6 by some in Alexandria -- and this comes from a later church source, St. Epiphanius, which makes it of no relevance for copycatting claims. Acharya S has lately said that Macrobius is the source for this date, but he is also too late to be of any relevance.”



  • “Dionysus was called King of Kings” 25

  • Response: Which pre-Christian primary sources state this?


  • “Dionysus performed miracles.” 26

  • Response: This is not unique to the myths concerning Dionysus. Miracle claims are found in many religions. Does this challenge the credibility of the miracles ascribed to Jesus? Not at all.

  • Miracles in non-Christian religions are generally poorly supported. However, the lack of evidence in support of these miracle claims does not nullify the possibility that a genuine miracle (i.e., Jesus’ resurrection), which is strongly evidenced, could occur. 27



  • “Dionysus was called Only Begotten Son.” 28

  • Response: Which pre-Christian primary source applies this title to Dionysus?



  • “Dionysus was called Alpha and Omega.” 29


  • Response: Which pre-Christian primary source applies title to Dionysus?


  • “Dionysus was resurrected after his death.” 30

  • Response: The New Testament scholar Everett Ferguson writes, “Neither Dionysus nor the initiates were thought of as rising from the dead. Rather, the mysteries removed anxiety about death by depicting life in the other world as a Dionysus revel.” 31


  • J.P. Holding writes the following:


    In terms of rising from the dead, there have been a variety of ideas: one, a single inscription from Thasos that describes Dionysus as "a god who renews himself and returns every year rejuvenated" [Col.VFG, 280] -- whatever that means, we have no context with which to refer it; an idea that Dionysus went into Hades to rescue his momma, and came back (Frazer says that this return was celebrated annually by one group, the Argives; and he notes that whether it was a spring festival -- not even guessing at an exact date -- "does not appear"); a story that Dionysus was chased and persecuted by Lycurgus and descended to the depths of the Alcyonian Sea, and to the land of the dead [Ott.DMC, 68]; also the heart-rejuvenation above, which in another version has the heart placed in a body made of gypsum [Harr.PGR, 490]. Frazer [Fraz.GB, 323] did try to piece together such a story of resurrection; he did so first by appealing to a version of the Titan story in which Apollo (or Rhea), at the command of Zeus, reeassembled the pieces and buried them. Frazer goes on to say that "the resurrection of the slain god is not mentioned, but in other versions of the myth it is variously related"! How? In one version, which has Dionysus as son of Demeter, momma reassembles the pieces and makes Dionysus young again (our scholar calls this "an eccentric minority variant"). In others, "it is simply said that shortly after his burial he rose from the dead [in what form???] and ascended up to heaven; or that Zeus raised him up as he lay mortally wounded; or that Zeus swallowed the heart of Dionysus and then begat him afresh by Semele...[or] the heart was pounded up and given in a potion to Semele, who thereby conceived him." With such a panoply of options, it may be no surprise that at least one variation bears a superficial resemblance to what happened to Jesus ("rose from the dead and ascended to heaven"), but this vague description does not match with the Jewish concept of resurrection (which the pagans found abhorrent our scholar adds, "Exactly - and where's the Dionysiac promise of resurrection for all believers?"). There are also notes of a grave of Dionysus found at Delphi, and of a date associated with the awakening of Dionysus as an infant -- November 8th, except on one island where the date is in January [Ott.DMC, 103, 194].

5. Mithra (Mithras) 32 :

  • “Mithra was born of a virgin”—Acharya S even claims that “Mithra was born in a cave.” 33

  • Response: Glenn Miller notes:


  • "ALL of our data about the Mithraic cosmogony (including his 'birth') comes from art works--there is NO primary textual data whatsoever to work with.…By the time we DO get some textual data, it shows up in varied and contradictory snapshots--from the various religions--and it DOESN'T support this claim... Mithras was portrayed in art works as having been made out of rock, and then CREATING the world-cave 34 --NOT being originally born 'in a cave'.”


  • Concordantly Ronald Nash writes, “Mithra was supposedly born when he emerged from a rock.” 35


  • “Mithra was born on December 25.” 36


  • Response: J.P. Holding writes: “…the Dec 25 issue is of no relevance to us--nowhere does the NT associate this date with Jesus' birth at all." This is something the later church did, wherever they got the idea from -- not the apostolic church, and if there was any borrowing at all, everyone did it, for Dec. 25th was "universally distinguished by sacred festivities" [Cum.MM, 196] being that it was (at the time) the winter solstice.

  • “Mithra had 12 disciples.” 37

  • Response: J.P. Holding writes:


    I have seen this claim repeated a number of times, almost always (see below) without any documentation. (One of our readers wrote to Acharya asking for specific evidence of this one...she did not reply, although she had readily replied to a prior message.) The Iranian Mithras, as we have seen, did have a single companion (Varuna), and the Roman Mithra had two helper/companions, tiny torch-bearing likenesses of himself, called Cautes and Cautopatres, that were perhaps meant to represent the sunrise and sunset (whereas "Big Daddy" Mithra was supposed to be noon), spring and autumn, the stars Albedaran and Antares [Beck.PO, 26] or life and death. (Freke and Gandy absurdly attempt to link these twins to the two thieves crucified with Jesus! - Frek.JM, 51 - because one went to heaven with Jesus [torch up] and one went to hell [torch down]! Why not link instead to Laurel and Hardy, because one was repentant [torch down] and the other was a bully [torch up]!) Mithra also had a number of animal companions: a snake, a dog, a lion, a scorpion -- but not 12 of them.



    Now here's an irony. My one idea as to where they got this one was a picture of the bull-slaying scene carved in stone, found in Ulansey's book, that depicts the scene framed by 2 vertical rows with 6 pictures of what seem to be human figures or faces on each side. It occurred to me that some non-Mithraist perhaps saw this picture and said, "Ah ha, those 12 people must be companions or disciples! Just like Jesus!" Days later I received Freke and Gandy's book, and sure enough -- that's how they make the connection. Indeed, they go as far as saying that during the Mirthaic initiation ceremony, Mithraic disciples dressed up as the signs of the zodiac and formed a circle around the initiate. [Frek.JM, 42] Where they (or rather, their source) get this information about the methods of Mithraic initiation, one can only guess: No Mithraic scholar seems aware of it, and their source, Godwin, is a specialist in "Western esoteric teaching" -- not a Mithraist, and it shows, because although writing in 1981, well after the first Mithraic congress, Godwin was still following Cumont's line that Iranian and Roman Mithraism were the same, and thus ended up offering interpretations of the bull-slaying scene that bear no resemblance to what Mithraic scholars today see in it at all. (To be fair, though, Freke and Gandy do not give the page number where Godwin supposedly says this -- and his material on Mithraism says nothing about any initiation ceremony.) However, aside from the fact that this carving is (yet again!) significantly post-Christian (so that any borrowing would have had to be the other way), these figures have been identified by modern Mithraic scholars as representing zodiacal symbols. Indeed, the top two faces are supposed to be the sun and the moon!



    Acharya in her latest now acknowledges that Mithra's dozen are the zodiac, but goes on the defense by saying, "the motif of the 12 disciples or followers in a 'last supper' is recurrent in the Pagan world, including within Mithraism" -- with the Mithraic supper compared to the Last Supper (see below). She also adds: "The Spartan King Kleomenes had held a similar last supper with twelve followers four hundreds years before Jesus. This last assertion is made by Plutarch in Parallel Lives, 'Agis and Kleomenes' 37:2-3." This is only partly true -- I was alerted to this passage by a helpful reader: "For [Cleomenes] sacrificed, and gave them large portions, and, with a garland upon his head, feasted and made merry with his friends. It is said that he began the action sooner than he designed, having understood that a servant who was privy to the plot had gone out to visit a mistress that he loved. This made him afraid of a discovery; and therefore, as soon as it was full noon, and all the keepers sleeping off their wine, he put on his coat, and opening his seam to bare his right shoulder, with his drawn sword in his hand, he issued forth, together with his friends provided in the same manner, making thirteen in all." It's a "last supper," but it isn't invested with any significance in itself (least of all, atoning significance! -- and these guys clearly had to have a "last meal" at some point!), and the twelve companions don't have any real role beyond this pericope. We'd put this own down as natural coincidence (as there are people with five, 10, or other numbers of companions as well.)”


  • “Mithra performed miracles.” 38

  • Response: J.P. Holding writes: “Mithra did perform a number of actions rather typical for any deity worldwide, true or false, and in both his Iranian and Roman incarnations. But this is another one of those things where we just say, "What's the big deal?" We agree with Miller:

  • It must be remembered that SOME general similarities MUST apply to any religious leader. They must generally be good leaders, do noteworthy feats of goodness and/or supernatural power, establish teachings and traditions, create community rituals, and overcome some forms of evil. These are common elements of the religious life--NOT objects that require some theory of dependence...The common aspect of homo religiosus is an adequate and more plausible explanation than dependence.

  • Of course, our pagan-copycat theorists are welcome to try and draw more exact parallels, but as yet I have seen no cited example where Mithra turned water into wine or calmed a storm.


  • Further, again, see my comments above regarding miracle claims in non-Christian religions.


  • “Mithra was dead for three days and then resurrected.” 39

  • Response: Ronald Nash writes: “Allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth—at least during its early stages.” 40


  • In his book Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World, Richard Gordon writes that there is “no death of Mithras,” 41 and thus there is no resurrection of Mithras.

  • Dr. Edwin Yamauchi states: “We don’t know anything about the death of Mithras…We have a lot of monuments, but we have almost no textual evidence, because this was a secret religion. But I know of no references to a supposed death and resurrection.” 42


  • “Mithra was known as ‘Way, the Truth, and the Light'.” 43

  • Response: J.P. Holding writes:


    We have several titles here, and yea, though I searched through the works of Mithraic scholars, I found none of these applied to Mithra, other than the role of mediator (not, though, in the sense of a mediator between God and man because of sin, but as a mediator between Zoroaster's good and evil gods; we have seen the "sun" identification, but never that title) -- not even the new ones were ever listed by the Mithraic scholars. There is a reference to a "Logos" that was taught to the Mithraic initiates [MS.206](in the Roman evidence, which is again, significantly after the establishment of Christianity), but let it be remembered that "logos" means "word" and goes back earlier in Judaism to Philo -- Christians borrowed the idea from Philo, perhaps, or from the general background of the word, but not from Mithraism.


  • Similarly, Dr. Yamauchi stated the following in response to these titles ascribed to Mithras: “No, again that’s reading Christian theology into this.” 44

 

  • “Sunday as a day of worship.” 45

  • Response: J.P. Holding writes: “In terms of Sunday being a sacred day, this is correct 46 [Cum.MM, 190-1], but it only appears in Roman Mithraism, and Acharya here is apparently assuming, like Cumont, that what held true for Roman Mithraism also held true for the Iranian version -- but there is no evidence for this. If any borrowing occurred (it probably didn't), it was the other way around.


In conclusion, it is apparent that the narrator or the narrator’s sources frequently provide partial or completely inaccurate information when comparing Jesus to the deities mentioned above.

 

Endnotes:

1. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

2. H. Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion An Interpretation by H. Frankfort (New York: Columbia University Press, 1948), 10.

3. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

4. Pyramid. 154. ( = T. 277 etc.). Sculptures at Abydos and Denderah (Mar. Dend. IV. 88, 90).

5. Adolf Erman, A Handbook of Egyptian Religion (Boston, MA: Longwood Press, 1977), 34.

6. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

7. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

8. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

9. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

10. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

11. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

12. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 115.

13. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 107.

14. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 107.

15. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 107.

16. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 107.

17. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 116-117.

18. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 116-117.

19. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

20. Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (IVP:1999), 192.

21. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

22. Barry Powell, Classical Myth (3rd ed) (Prentice Hall: 2001), 250.

23. Mark Morford and Robert Lenardon, Classical Mythology (6th ed) (Longman, 1999), 223.

24. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

25. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

26. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

27. See The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Dr. Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona (Kregel Publications, 2004), page 143, for further information.

28. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

29. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

30. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 112.

31. Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1993), 248.

32. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

33. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

34. Jack Finegan, Myth and Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World (Baker, 1989), 203-207; W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Fortress: 1984), 276-279.

35. Ronald Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? Second Edition (Philipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 1992, 2003), 134.

36. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

37. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

38. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

39. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

40. Ronald Nash, The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? Second Edition, 137.

41. Richard Gordon, Image and Value in the Greco-Roman World (Aldershot: Variorum, 1996), 96, cited in “Mighty Mithraic Madness: Did the Mithraic Mysteries Influence Christianity?”.

42. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: ZONDERVAN, 2007), 172.

43. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

44. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Grand Rapids, Michigan: ZONDERVAN, 2007), 172.

45. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited, 1999), 119.

46. Franz Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra (New York: Dover, 1950), 190-191.

 


Continue to: Did Any of these Pre-Christian Deities Really Rise from the Dead?

 

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