Thursday, July 7

Is Jesus A Copy Of Pagan Gods?

According to Dan Brown, author of titles such as The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, "Nothing in Christianity is original." This is a rather large claim. These titles by Dan Brown are considered to contain, though fiction, some historical fact, such as Jesus having been married to Mary Magdalene, Jesus having been copied from ancient Pagan gods, and a plethora of other things - yet none of them actually based in historical fact. The closest we ever find Mary and Jesus is in the gnostic gospels, where he kisses her on the cheek as a sign of friendship, no more, no less. No ancient work ever suggested the two were a pair, it is not based in historical fact. But does the claim leveled by Brown and many others regarding Jesus and Pagan gods have credence, or is it mere fallacy? (Photo credit: 3-18-2009 - Kyle Beshears)

First, do not misunderstand me, Brown writes good fiction novels. However, these claims against Christianity must be understood in their proper context: the claims leveled by Brown are nothing more than an effort to degrade the veracity of the Bible, to plant seeds of doubt in the individual's minds and heavily criticize it. In all reality, these claims are not in any way based in historical fact, but historical fiction, and should not be taken as fact. Sadly, the claims by Brown as well as those found in the Zeitgeist movie and other sources have led many to discredit Christianity and not even take it into consideration. It was not Brown who originated these claims, however. Brown merely advocated them.

The claim that Jesus was based off of ancient Pagan gods originated in the nineteenth century, proposed by certain liberal German theologians. It was alleged that Jesus was nothing more than a mere copy of ancient pagan gods such as Osiris from Egypt, Adonis in Syria, Tammuz in Mesopotamia, and Attis in Asia Minor. However, these claims fell flat, and were found to not be based in historical fact, and thus the allegations for the most part died out. In recent years, though, there has been an explosion of critical and skeptical opinions, popularized by the Zeitgeist movie, Dan Brown, and others, along with the internet and the mass media.

"This leads us to the next area of investigation—do the mythological gods of antiquity really mirror the person of Jesus Christ? As an example, the Zeitgeist movie makes these claims about the Egyptian god Horus: • He was born on December 25th of a virgin - Isis Mary • A star in the East proclaimed his arrival • Three kings came to adore the new-born “savior” • He became a child prodigy teacher at age 12 • At age 30 he was “baptized” and began a “ministry” • Horus had twelve “disciples” • Horus was betrayed • He was crucified • He was buried for three days • He was resurrected after three days. However, when the actual writings about Horus are competently examined, this is what we find: • Horus was born to Isis; there is no mention in history of her being called “Mary.” Moreover, Mary is our anglicized form of her real name ‘Miryam’ or Miriam. “Mary” was not even used in the original texts of Scripture. • Isis was not a virgin; she was the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris."[1]

"• Horus was born during month of Khoiak (Oct/Nov), not December 25. Further, there is no mention in the Bible as to Christ’s actual birth date. • There is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. The Bible never states the actual number of magi that came to see Christ. • Horus is not a “savior” in any shape or form; he did not die for anyone. • There are no accounts of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12. • Horus was not “baptized.” The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water he was placed into. • Horus did not have a “ministry.” • Horus did not have 12 disciples. According to the Horus accounts, Horus had four semi-gods that were followers and some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him. • There is no account of Horus being betrayed by a friend. • Horus did not die by crucifixion. There are various accounts of Horus’ death, but none of them involve crucifixion. • There is no account of Horus being buried for three days. • Horus was not resurrected. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and going to be the lord of the underworld."[2] 

Upon comparison of the two, it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus was not based upon Horus/Osiris. The Zeitgeist movie also claims that Jesus never even existed, which, as this ministry previously demonstrated in the April entry, "Did Jesus Really Exist? Is There Any Historical Evidence?", Jesus was truly a historical figure. F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was a professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester. He once said, "Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories."[3] Otto Betz also said, "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus."[4]

Regarding Horus, as noted, no historical records show that Horus was crucified. In one story, we find Horus torn to pieces, followed by Iris imploring the crocodile god of the Nile to pull him out. Also to note, the Zeitgeist movie places the origination of the account of Horus at 3000 BC - a problem historically, not merely because it disagrees with Modern Egyptian Chronology which places its formation at 2100 BC (see: "Unwrapping the Pharaohs"), it also is historically inaccurate in that crucifixion was not invented nor practiced in that time! Evidently, these claims concerning Horus and Jesus are based in fiction, not matters of mere fact. The Zeitgeist film also alleges that Krishna (from Hinduism) was also crucified and resurrected.

The issue is that Hindu teachings deny this, as they clearly teach that Krishna was "killed by an arrow shot from a hunter who accidentally hit him in his heel, and after he died, he ascended to be with Brahman. None of the pagan deities, when accurately examined, mirror the Son of God recorded in the New Testament Gospels. Of course, neither does the movie note the following facts: • The many archaeological details confirming New Testament accounts. • The historically confirmed references to the details of the life of Christ. • The early dating of the Gospel accounts during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. • The deep moral convictions of the authors and their commitment to truth. • The accounts of the apostles going to their deaths for what they believed. • The typology of Joseph and Jesus (used by the film to supposedly debunk the actual existence of Christ) is very well known and accepted by conservative Christian scholars as a foreshadowing of the first coming of Jesus. • All the good produced by Christianity (see How Christianity Changed the World by Dr. Alvin Schmidt), which is brushed aside with only the crusades and other like events being highlighted."[5]

This claim also concerns a relation between Mithras and Jesus. Mithras was another ancient pagan god. The same claims made about Horus and Jesus (December 25, born of a virgin, resurrected, etc.) are also made of Mithras. A historical and religious issue arises, since Mithras was born out of solid rock, not a woman. He is also recorded as having battled first with the sun and then a primeval bull, which was thought to be the first act of creation. Mithras proceeded killed the bull, which then became the ground of life for the human race. This is not what the Bible teaches. While it is true that the birth of Mithras was celebrated on December 25, it was also celebrated on the Winter solstice. None of the record shows that the pagan god was ever claimed to be a teacher, Mithras did not have twelve disciples, he also had no bodily resurrection.[6]

"The myth is told that Mithras completed his earthly mission then was taken to paradise in a chariot, alive and well. The early Christian writer Tertullian did write about Mithras believers re-enacting resurrection scenes, but he wrote about this occurring well after New Testament times, so if any copycatting was done, it was the cult of Mithras copying from Christianity."[7] It is apparent that Jesus was not based off of either Mithras or Horus. Mithras was the sun god worshiped by people in what is now modern Iran, and by many Roman soldiers.[8] Lee Strobel, in his book The Case for Christ, interviewed Gregory A. Boyd, Ph.D., well known for his scrutiny of the Jesus Seminar and his written works refuting their thinking and finds, along with many other books. When Boyd was asked about the "mystery religions" and ancient pagan gods which some believe Jesus is based off of, Boyd replied:
"While it's true that some mystery religions had stories of gods dying and rising, these stories always revolved around the natural life cycle of death and rebirth. Crops die in the fall and come to life in the spring. People express the wonder of this ongoing phenomenon through mythological stories about gods dying and rising. These stories were always cast in a legendary form. They depicted events that happened 'once upon a time.' Contrast that with the depiction of Jesus Christ in the gospels. They talk about someone who actually lived several decades earlier, and they name names - crucified under Pontius Pilate, when Caiaphas was the high priest, and the father of Alexander and Rufus carried his cross, for example. That's concrete historical stuff. It has nothing in common with stories about what supposedly happened 'once upon a time.'"[9]
Boyd concludes, "And Christianity has nothing to do with life cycles or the harvest. It has to do with a very Jewish belief - which is absent from the mystery religion - about the resurrection of the dead and about life eternal and reconciliation from God. As for the suggestion that the New Testament doctrines of baptism or communion come from mystery religions, that's just nonsense. For one thing, the evidence for these supposed parallels comes after the second century, so any borrowing would have to come from Christianity, not the other way around. And when you look carefully, the similarities vanish. For instance, to get to a higher level in the Mithra cult, followers had to stand under a bull while it was slain, so they could be bathed in its blood and guts. Then they'd join the others in eating the bull. Now, to suggest that Jews would find anything attractive about this and want to model baptism and communion after this barbaric practice is completely implausible, which is why most scholars don't go for it."[10] 

Indeed, there is very little evidence to suggest that pre-Christian beliefs included those found in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. While it is true that Osiris, Mithras, and Krishna pre-date Christianity, the beliefs found in the New Testament do not, nor did they originate with these ancient pagan gods. The New Testament is the most historically accurate and reliable document of antiquity, with over 24,600 existing copies and fragments, from which we can use comparative literature techniques to establish what the original documents conveyed. Compared to other works of antiquity, such as Caesar’s Gallic Wars, written in the first century B.C. - only 10 manuscripts are in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,000 years after the original. Also, Aristotle’s Poetics was written in the fourth century B.C., and there are only 5 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,400 years after the original.[11] Even if we did not have any of these New Testament copies, from the early letters and writings of the Church Fathers, all but eleven verses can be reconstructed from the New Testament.

Also, from research and historical data, we can conclude that the Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul, Jude, Peter, and the book of Hebrews, were all written between 40-95 AD, which clearly demonstrates that it was too early for myth to develop, as studies have shown that it typically takes about two centuries for myth to develop. The New Testament was written well within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses of the events described within, yet we find not record in history of a refutation that anything in the New Testament did not happen. In fact, we find archaeological and historical evidence which gives much credence to the New Testament. (see entry: "Does Archaeology Support the New Testament?"

"Finally, the New Testament attests to the fact that the portrayal of Jesus was not mistaken for that of any other god. When faced with Paul’s teaching, the elite thinkers of Athens said this: 'He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,'—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean' (Acts 17:18-20). Clearly, if the accounts of Jesus were simply rehashing stories of other gods, the Athenians would not have referred to them at 'new.' teaching. If dying and rising gods were plentiful in the first century why, when the apostle Paul preached Jesus rising from the dead in Acts 17, did the Epicureans and Stoics not remark, 'Ah, just like Horus and Mithras'?"[12]

Early Christians argued that their celebration of December 25 had nothing to do with trying to paganize Christian worship. An anonymous Christian stated in the 300's AD, "We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it."[13] Jesus, who historical data and archaeology conclusively demonstrates was a historical figure, was not based on the myths or legends of ancient pagan gods, but was based ad grounded in matters of factual historicity. Ancient pagan deities such as Krishna, Mithras or Horus were not the basis for Jesus, on the contrary, evidence suggests that the myths about these pagan gods dying and rising from the dead actually arose between the second and fourth centuries AD, as a way for these different religions to deny the originality of Christianity (Zoroastrianism will be addressed in another entry, but likewise, Christianity and Judaism were not based on Zoroastrianism). The New Testament is a historical document, and Jesus is a historical figure. When we hear the claim, "Nothing in Christianity is original," we can rightly say, "Christianity is original, it is the legends that arose after Christianity that are un-original."

The Truth Ministries would like to thank you for reading this entry of "The Truth." As always, we understand that many will disagree with our conclusions and beliefs, but this we understand. It is not our intention to "preach at you," but to inform and educate you so that you may make the decision for yourself: will you or will you not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? Feel free to email vexx801@yahoo.com or The Truth Ministry at thetruthministryweb@gmail.com, visit our facebook page, and be sure to visit our ministry website. Take care, and may God richly bless you. Troy Hillman


Sources:
[1] ""Is Jesus a myth? Is Jesus just a copy of the pagan gods of other ancient religions?"." Got Questions.org. Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 7 Jul 2011. .
[2] Ibid.
[3] Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Fifth revised edition. Downers Grove, III. 60515: Intervarsity Press, 1972. Print.
[4] Betz, Otto. What Do We Know About Jesus? SCM Press, 1968. Print.
[5] ""Is there any validity to the Zeitgeist movie?"." Got Questions.org. Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 6 Jul 2011. .
[6] Ibid, [1].
[7] Ibid.
[8] Miller, Stephen M. The Jesus of the Bible. 1st ed,. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing Inc., 2009. 48-49. Print.
[9] Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. 1st ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998. 121-122. Print.
[10] Ibid.
[11] "The Manuscripts." ICR. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 7 Jul 2011. .
[12] Ibid, [1].
[13] Ibid, [8].

5 comments:

  1. When we begin to examine the gospels and the letters of the New Testament, we find that Jesus appears as the central figure in them. The four gospels tell us about His life here on earth while the epistles describe the meaning of His death and resurrection according to Christian belief. We can actually say, that if He hadn’t lived on earth, none of these would have been written.
    As we examine the historicity of Jesus, we can find proof of His life on earth. This proof has been preserved by His successors, such as the early church fathers, and also His opponents. Both sources refer to various parts of His life.

    http://www.jariiivanainen.net/historicityofJesus.html

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  2. Zeitgeist movie says that Horus (Egyptian god) was born on December 25th of the virgin Isis-Meri. The movie says that the birth of Horus was accompanied by a star in the east, and upon his birth, he was adored by three kings. The movie says that at the age of 30 Horus was baptized. The movie says that Horus was known by many names such as the truth, the light, god's anointed son, the good shepherd and the lamb of god. The movie says that Typhos betrayed Horus, and Horus was crucified, buried for three days and resurrected.

    Zeitgeist movie tries to make as empty believing to the Lord Jesus taught by the Bible. However, Zeitgeist movie doesn't manage to success in it. In the matter of fact, Egyptian Horus god is a legend and not true. Legend says that Hathor (queen of the heaven) bore son (Horus) to the sun god Ra. Another legend says that Isis awaken Osiris from the dead by magic powers and Isis came to pregnant and bore Horus. According to Egyptian mythology Horus was born October or November. In the mythology of Egypt have not told that Horus would die, and neither, there can't be any crucifixion. Maker of Zeitgeist movie is guilty of the complete lie. Where he has been distorted mythology of Egypt, that it would look as the Bible has been copied the story of Jesus from the mythology of Egypt. Zeitgeist movie's narration about legend of Horus is false.


    http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/zeitgeist_movie.html

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  3. Horus is better than Jesus. All religions copied something from another religion. Open your eyes people. No religion is right nor wrong.

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  4. Anonymous,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment. However, we respectfully disagree. You state, "Horus is better than Jesus," but provide no reasoning or information to back up this claim. You then state, "All religions copied something from another religion," a bold claim, and supply no evidence to back up your claim. You proceed to say, "No religion is right or wrong," again, with no evidence to support your claim.

    Based on the lack of support in your argument, it is not senseless to declare it weak. Horus is a mythical being, whereas Jesus actually existed in history. Jesus, who claimed to be God, is documented in approximately thirty-nine ancient historical sources apart from the New Testament (which would include another twenty-seven documents), and after examining the different theories of His resurrection, it is the contention of this ministry that Jesus truly rose from the dead. To examine these different theories for yourself (hallucinations, wrong tomb, did Jesus faint, the like) see: http://thetruth-blog.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html

    To claim that "No religion is right or wrong" seems to strike as a Relativistic comment. Relativists tend to believe that there is no absolutes, that truth is relative - with everybody having their own truth. But to state that "there are no absolutes" is in and of itself a self-refuting statement, because it is making an absolute claim. Likewise, to claim that no religion is right or wrong appears to imply a relativist point of view, though it would be improper to make an assumption based upon one statement.

    However, all religions cannot be right. Consider the following: Hinduism teaches a plurality of gods, that there are thousands of gods such as Vishnu, Ganesh, Krishna, the like. When examined with Christianity, we find the Trinity - three in one, much like, as illustrated by St. Patrick, a clover: three leaves sprung from one stem, yet all connected and still three in one. Christianity teaches that there is One God, and that no other gods exist, nor was there any gods before or after god (Deuteronomy 4:39, 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6-8, 46:9; Mark 12:29-31; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1st Timothy 1:17; James 2:19, etc) There is a distinct difference between Hinduism and Christianity: one is polytheistic, one is monotheistic. This is merely one example; one could compare Buddhism to Islam, Judaism to Hinduism, Greek to Egyptian, the like.

    Essentially, dear commenter, claims require support. Be sure to bear this in mind when commenting on these types of things. We did not need to publish your comment, but thought it best to provide an example. Great claims requires evidence, support. We appreciate your comment, and if you wish to continue this discussion, feel free to email vexx801@yahoo.com or thetruth.ministryweb@gmail.com

    God bless you,
    The Truth Ministries

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  5. People choose to have their ears itched and believe what they want to believe. Praise God. The Bible teaches that more of this unbeleif will surface in the latter days. So it has. Jesus was without doubt an historic figure. Read the gospels and there are places, times and other historical figures there. But read concering Horus or Mithra or other so-called divines and you find fables- But people prefer tochoose to bdlieve fables rather than the truth, prefer to wordhip the their profane desires/thoughts rather than believe the truth

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